Lori O'Neill rolled across the mattress towards the warm body of her husband Jack, and raked her expensively manicured fingernails up the inside of his thigh. His hand gently took her wrist and picked up her hand, brought it to his lips, kissed it softly and let it go.
"Not tonight, baby. I got a big game tomorrow," he whispered.
"That seems to be your usual excuse these days, Jack," Lori pouted. "How come you never make love to me anymore?"
Jack threw his arm behind his head and sighed, "Aw, for cryin' out loud. I do make love to you. Just not every night."
She nuzzled into him further and purred, "You used to."
Jack stiffened, a wave of anger flooding through him and threw the comforter off. He sat up in bed and swung his legs over the side, facing the wall as he spoke. "Lori, I have a tough job. We're playing game 5 in the fucking Stanley Cup series tomorrow. We're 2 all with the North Stars - not so's you'd know - and I have enough on my mind without worrying about whether or not you're satisfied...which you never are."
"And whose fault is that?" she snapped.
Jack stood and turned around, a cold fire burning in his eyes. "I give you everything you ask for - and that's plenty - you spend money like it's water and you never say 'thank you', you never ask me how I'm doing." He threw up his hands in exasperation. "You never talk to me, dammit! All you seem to want is my dick or my wallet! I'm telling you that tonight...just for tonight; you can't have my dick, that's all. Jesus Lori, I'm a Pro hockey player - which I'm fully aware is the only reason why you married me, by the way - and I have probably the biggest game of my career in..." he looked at the bedside clock, which glowed 1:30am, " ...fifteen and a half hours. I need to relax and I need some sleep and I'd really appreciate some support, but seeing as I'm not gonna get any of those things up here, I'm going down to the basement with the dog!"
"You do that, Jack O'Neill!" Lori fumed. "One of these days I'm going to ban you from this bed altogether! Then you'll have to sleep with the fucking dog every night!"
Jack pulled on his robe and put on his slippers, "That's just fine by me!" he yelled, then stormed out of the bedroom muttering, "He'd probably be a better lay than you anyhow. At least he hasn't been fucked by half the NHL."
"I heard that, you bastard!" Lori screeched after him.
"Yeah, fuck you," he mumbled, padding down the stairs.
Jack sighed heavily and went into the kitchen to get a bottle of water from the refrigerator. He heard soft footsteps coming up from the basement and came out of the kitchen to be met by a pair of huge, limpid brown eyes gazing up at him.
"Hey Oz," Jack said softly, ruffling the shaggy head of his large, German Shepherd, Oscar. The dog shook Jack's hand off, and then licked it affectionately. Jack sat down at the top of the basement steps and Oscar rubbed his head against Jack's, licking his ear and making Jack smile.
"You and me, boy. Just you and me." Jack told him and cuddled up against Oscar's thick, warm coat.
The following morning Jack was up early, as usual. He threw on some sweatpants and a hooded sweatshirt then tried to find his running shoes. Oscar leapt around the basement, barking excitedly as Jack put them on.
"Calm down, buddy. You'll wake 'Her Highness'. C'mon, let's get outa here," he smiled, as the dog bounded up the stairs to the ground floor.
There was a distinct chill in the air as Jack opened the front door, and he shivered slightly as he took his first breath in. Oscar sat obediently at his side, his voluminous tongue already hanging out of his mouth in anticipation of their morning run.
Jack jogged down the steps and along the driveway, which eventually led to the security gates and out onto the street. It only took a minute for Jack to settle into his rhythm, the pounding of his feet on the sidewalk creating a comforting drumbeat as Oscar ran beside him. Jack's morning run was the favourite part of his day. Most of the people in the neighbourhood knew him, and knew him well enough to leave him alone. This was his time. The only time, day or night, when he was completely alone with his thoughts and no one demanding anything of him; just Jack, his dog and the open road.
This morning was a little different, however. Although the streets were still quiet, occasionally a car would go by and beep its horn, the driver giving him an encouraging wave, or shouting sentiments of good luck for the upcoming game. It seemed like the entire city was behind them. People waved at him from the other side of the street, smiling as he and Oscar passed. For once, Jack didn't mind the interruption. He felt fantastic. He was at the top of his game and although he knew that nothing is ever certain in hockey, Jack was convinced they could win the next two matches against Minnesota for the honour of winning the Stanley Cup, the supreme trophy in the National Hockey League. It would be the pinnacle of a long, solid career in the game. Jack O'Neill, #38 would have a Stanley Cup medal, he would have made it, at last. Maybe it would even make him good enough for his wife.
Jack's team, the Pittsburgh Penguins were currently 2 - all with the first NHL team Jack had ever played for - a million years ago, it seemed - the Minnesota North Stars. After their couple of losses in this 'best of seven' series, Jack felt that the 'Pens' were getting into their stride at last. Their defence (of which Jack was an important part) was tight, their forwards were moving the puck well and clicking into a rhythm, and Mario Lemieux, their star player, was finding the net with monotonous regularity. The only possible spanner in their well-oiled machine was a long-standing feud between Jack and one of the North Stars' wingers, Stan Pankowski.
Neither of them could remember how it had started, but Jack O'Neill and Stan Pankowski had always disliked each other. In Jack's opinion, Pankowski was an animal and way too keen on using his stick illegally. He had caused injuries to various players on all of the teams Jack had played for during his career, even back into junior hockey: including himself. His left eyebrow still bore the scar of a particularly vicious high stick way back when Jack had been in his second year with the North Stars and Pankowski had been a Boston Bruin.
Jack had spent more than enough time over the years in the 'sin-bin' as a result of knocking Pankowski on his ass. The guy had a glass jaw, and sometimes it was just too easy. No matter how many fights they had, the good feeling it gave Jack to see Stan drop to his knees like a sack of potatoes never got old. It was always worth the two or five minutes he spent out of the game, even though he usually got his ass kicked by the Coach in the interval between periods.
The Penguins' Head Coach, Scotty Bowman, had warned Jack to keep his temper in check when they'd found out the Penguins would be playing the North Stars in the final. Scotty was justifiably concerned that Jack could pick up careless penalties as a result of losing his rag and force Pittsburgh to be short-handed. This was especially worrying when Minnesota's power play was among the best in the league. The Coach knew the score though; he'd played against Pankowski too, and hated the guy as much as anyone else.
Jack had already picked up two five-minute penalties for fighting in the four games they had played so far, and both times he'd been pitched against the big Polish-American player. Jack vowed to himself and the Coach that this time, he wouldn't allow 'Stan the Man' to push him over the edge. Too much was at stake. Two more wins would do it. Two more wins and Jack would be the proud owner of a Stanley Cup medal. He turned the corner back onto his street and sprinted all the way back up to the house with a broad grin on his face and an exhausted Oscar panting at his heel.
At the Marriott Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh, Daniel Jackson towelled off his hair and looked out of the window across the street at the Mellon Arena, where later he would be watching the fifth game in this year's Stanley Cup series. A goofy grin spread over his face as it finally sank in that in a few hours time, he'd be over there watching his hero, Jack O'Neill, play again. His boyfriend Brad, who was still peacefully sleeping, had managed to get tickets as a Christmas present for him, before they'd even known who would be playing. Brad knew Daniel well enough to realise that it wouldn't matter; his lover just worshipped the game, but Daniel could remember how especially excited he'd been when Pittsburgh reached the final.
Pressure of work meant that they had unfortunately missed the first four games and they were both extremely grateful that the series hadn't been won by a landslide, but here they both were for game five, possibly the most crucial game in the series. Whoever won today would be only one game away from winning the Cup.
It had been many years since Daniel had seen Jack play in New York, while O'Neill had been playing for the Rangers. He'd had Jack's poster on his bedroom ceiling and it had fuelled many a hot, sticky fantasy on lonely nights during the time he was discovering his sexuality. When he'd first laid eyes on the tall, lean defenseman, with his deep, brown eyes, a shiver had gone through him of a kind he'd never felt before. In the days when all his friends were finding girlfriends, dating, making out and discussing which base they'd got to, all Danny could think about was having Jack's strong arms around him, holding him and making love to him and touching Jack's hard, muscular body.
To begin with, no one at school had taken much notice that Danny didn't seem interested in girls. He had been a well-built teenager: not bad looking, very bright, but bookish and a little shy. Even though he was a hockey player - and a good one at that, few of the girls had seemed interested in him, either. He'd dated a couple of the 'puck bunnies' who had made it their mission to screw their way through the whole school team, but when they hadn't achieved their goal, they'd dropped him like a hot stone. They had put the word around the school that Danny Jackson was a faggot and if he was honest, it hadn't been a major news flash either to the rest of the school or to him. The boys had accepted the girls' assessment without question, on the grounds that any guy of that age who would refuse full sex when it was offered to him on a plate would have to be gay. However, to the team's credit, it hadn't affected their attitude towards him. He was still Danny Jackson, defence, #19 and one of the hardest checkers the team had ever seen.
His foster family had been mostly accepting of it, while being a little sad and disappointed, particularly his father. Ted Jarvis had great difficulty dealing with the fact that although his foster son was a hockey player and built like a barn door, he wanted to have sex with men. In his mind, the two things just didn't go together. Fags were dancers, figure skaters, or actors: prissy, weak, flouncy types, not big, powerful hockey jocks. His brother, C.C. had been surprisingly supportive, always backing him up when the gay-bashers decided it was Daniel's turn for a beating. Many times they had walked home, arms around each other's shoulders, wiping off the blood from each other's faces.
His father had been immensely proud when Daniel had decided to try his luck as a professional hockey player. Daniel had thought that perhaps in the back of his father's mind was the idea that he'd be able to shake off this 'phase' he was going through, find a nice girl and settle down. Much as he'd wanted to please his father, by the time he left New York for British Columbia, Daniel had known his place in life. He was a homosexual and there was no point in trying to change that, even if he'd wanted to.
Daniel had been picked to play for Kelowna Rockets in the Canadian West Coast League and had acquitted himself well. He'd always known he wasn't good enough for the NHL but as long as he could play -and better yet be paid for it, Daniel was happy. He'd stayed with the Rockets for four seasons, until intellectual restlessness had made him re-evaluate.
He'd still loved the game, but he'd felt his mind was beginning to atrophy. He needed to exercise his intellect as much as his body and he'd felt a sense that something other than a partner had been missing in his life. Eventually, the pull of the books and the need to back into a world where he could meet other men like him began to overtake his desire to play professional hockey and he'd decided to go back to school.
A conversation with his brother while C.C. had been in British Columbia for a visit, helped Daniel to consolidate his decision to quit the game and hit the books again. They had discussed Daniel's options several times, and between them had tried to make the choice of which course would be the best for him to take. During one of these conversations, C.C. had told Daniel that he'd always been a 'people watcher', so why didn't he try anthropology?
Daniel had considered his brother's advice for the rest of the season, and had spent some time checking out the various colleges offering anthropology at degree level and above. He had finally settled on the University of California in Berkeley on the grounds that not only did they have an excellent Anthropology Department, their hockey team wasn't half bad either.
During his studies, Daniel had discovered a joy in anthropology that he hadn't imagined could be there. C.C. had been right, he'd been an anthropologist all along and never realised it. It was also at college where Daniel finally lost his virginity. He had been a freshman; Mike McCoy had been in the third year of an English degree.
To this day, Daniel had continued to be grateful to Mike. The older man had wooed him gently, had taken his time and never forced their relationship any further or faster than Daniel had been comfortable with. In fact, on a couple of occasions it had been Mike slowing him down. As a result, Daniel's first real adult relationship held nothing but good memories. Mike had taught him a great deal about loving and being loved and although theirs had been a relatively short relationship, Daniel still had feelings for him years after Mike had left Berkeley. He'd stayed pretty much alone since then...until Brad.
Brad Nelson was as persistent as he was cute and had gradually worn down Daniel's reticence until the older man had agreed to a date. Eight months later they were still together.
Brad sneaked up behind him and put his arms around Daniel's waist.
"Hey, sugar. Gettin' all excited about the game?" he asked, his slight Georgia drawl still evident even after all his time of living in California.
Daniel smiled enigmatically, "Oh yeah."
"Excited about seeing your teenage jerk-off fantasy play again, I'll bet," Brad grinned, kissing his neck. "Got a little competition, do I?"
Daniel turned in his embrace and kissed him softly, pushing him back towards the bed. "After last night? Are you nuts?" he laughed.
Brad returned his kiss, deepening it and slipping his tongue inside the other man's mouth, walking backwards and pulling Daniel with him, until he could feel the back of his knees touch the bed.
"Mmmm, I'd say he's got a fight on his hands, baby," Brad murmured, smiling.
Daniel grinned. "They don't call him 'Fighting Irish' for nothing y'know," he teased.
"I say 'come on'. If there's gonna be a fuckin' contest, I'll take him. No problem. You are mine, Danny Jackson."
Daniel chuckled and pushed his lover down so that he was sitting on the edge of the bed, " Baby, have you any idea how many potential double entendres were in that sentence?"
Brad's eyes widened as he gazed up at him, trying desperately to avoid looking at his lover's erection. "Really? How many?" he asked, as innocently as he could fake it.
"Well," Daniel began, " there was 'come', and 'fucking', and 'take him'"
Daniel punctuated his words with kisses, working his way down from Brad's neck, then to his hairy chest. After the last word, Daniel knelt, opened the young man's robe and took his thickening cock into his mouth, sucking it hard as he looked up into Brad's eyes, wickedly.
"Hooooly Toledo, Danny. You should come with a health warning," he gasped and flopped back onto the mattress.
Jack walked into the locker room in silence, acknowledging no one, as was his tradition. None of the other players took offence at his apparent ignorance, they knew this was the way Jack always prepared himself for a game and they respected it; besides, they all had their own little idiosyncratic ways of psyching themselves up. They respected Jack as the elder statesman of the team and knew that no matter what; Jack O'Neill would get the job done out there, where it counted.
Sportsmen tend to be a superstitious breed and O'Neill was certainly no exception. He put his bag down on the bench in front of his locker and scratched his play-off beard. Some of the other guys on the team seemed to have trouble even growing designer stubble, but after not shaving since Pittsburgh reached the play-offs, Jack was by now doing a passable imitation of Grizzly Adams. He walked into the bathroom and looked at his face in the mirror while he took a leak, inwardly grimacing at the copious amount of grey in his beard. His face was still handsome, he supposed, not too many wrinkles anyway, and his almost shoulder length hair was still light brown; no grey there and no chemical assistance to keep it that way either, but the beard showed the passage of time and Jack sighed, knowing that he was looking at the twilight of his professional career.
He was determined to go out with a bang, not a whimper. He wouldn't be one of those ex-NHL players who were so desperate to keep playing, they joined teams in leagues further and further down the hierarchy as the seasons passed, only finally hanging up their skates when injury forced them into it. Jack's back was beginning to give him more trouble than he would admit to the team physiotherapist as it was, and Jack figured he only had at most a couple more useful seasons with the Pens, then it would be time to bow out gracefully. Maybe this year would be it. With a Stanley Cup winner's medal in his trophy case, he could retire at the top and no one would ever need to know that he was past it. There would be nothing more soul destroying for him than being traded to another team because he couldn't cut it out there any more.
After that, who knew? There were plenty of openings in coaching for ex-NHL players, although the lucrative endorsements that the stars of the game were offered were never going to come Jack's way. O'Neill had been a journeyman player his entire career. No matter what team he'd played for, Jack had always been a hard worker, but he'd never quite pulled in the stats to be in the spotlight. The truth was though, that Jack was happy to not be a star. Since he was naturally a little shy, the public part of being a successful hockey player made him slightly uncomfortable. Being asked for his autograph still surprised and unnerved him, and he was grateful in a way, that he'd never become a Brett Hull or a Wayne Gretzky. He'd spent his adult life being paid to do something he loved and regularly thanked his lucky stars that he hadn't been forced into a plumbing apprenticeship like his father and two brothers.
He smiled as he watched one of the equipment guys walk past him with a Styrofoam cup in his hand from Tim Horton's. If worst came to worst, he could always buy a coffee franchise. He chuckled quietly to himself at the thought and began to unpack his gear.
Daniel toyed with his Caesar salad, the excitement building up inside him killing off any hunger pangs. He looked at his watch for the fourth time in ten minutes, making Brad laugh out loud.
"Jesus, Danny. Calm down."
Daniel grinned, embarrassed. "Sorry. Can't help it. I've never been to a Stanley Cup game before and it's been so long since..."
"Wow, you really are stuck on this guy aren't you?"
Daniel's face reddened. "You have to understand, I spent my entire teenage years with Jack O'Neill on my ceiling. I even took the poster with me when I left for Kelowna. You have no idea how I wove my fantasy life around him."
"Bordering on too much information there, Dannyboy," Brad grinned.
"I used to watch him play at the Gardens," Daniel continued, wistfully. "Sometimes my High School team got a little ice time there before the Rangers training sessions and once I'd gotten changed, I'd go back out and sit in the stands, just watching him. Memorising the drills. Checking out his technique."
"And his ass," Brad interrupted.
"Yeah, that too," Daniel admitted.
"Did you ever meet him?"
"A couple of times. He seemed really shy and sweet, nothing like the animal he is out on the ice. He autographed one of his sticks for me once," Daniel smiled. "I spent hours just touching that stick; running my fingers over his signature. God, I was a hopeless case!"
Daniel took a sip of his iced water. "Now? Now I'm a grown up...and the prospect of seeing him again has got my stomach doing back flips. I feel like I've dropped about fifteen years off my age! It's like I'm that besotted kid again, waiting impatiently for him to skate out onto the ice, watching his every move, even looking at him sitting on the bench between shifts. He had the most incredible eyes, y'know? Deep brown, really deep, like bitter chocolate. I'd never seen eyes that dark before. It was like...when he was angry, when you just knew he was going to hammer some guy into the floor, they seemed to shine kind of golden, as if there was fire in there or something. I used to get the biggest boner when he was fighting. There was such a passion in him that...Christ. Would you listen to me?" he laughed.
A veil came over Brad's eyes as he listened to Daniel talking. It wasn't so much what Daniel was saying, or even the way he was saying it, it was the look in his eyes as his memory took him back to those days. If he hadn't known better, Brad would have thought that Daniel was actually in love with this guy. A shiver of jealousy ran through him. He may have had Daniel's body - for the moment - but his heart obviously still belonged to #38. No one can compete with a fantasy and it was a battle Brad knew he had no hope of winning.
"We'd better make a move, babe," Brad suddenly announced, jolting Daniel out of his reminiscences.
As they entered the main part of the arena, Daniel's breath caught. The atmosphere was electric, the crowd murmuring as they all took their seats in anticipation of the game to come and loud rock music playing over the sound system. A huge grin spread over Daniel's face as the smell of the ice hit his nostrils, eliciting a thousand memories of games watched and games played. Brad glanced sideways at Daniel and he was suddenly gripped by a feeling of sadness. He was desperately in love with Daniel and although he knew that the older man didn't feel quite the same way about him, it hadn't struck him this hard before. Standing on the steps looking at his lover, Brad had the feeling that it probably wouldn't have mattered whether he was there or not.
They weaved their way between hockey fans dressed in black and gold for Pittsburgh and green for Minnesota, down to their seats, which were behind and slightly to the side of the Pittsburgh bench. Brad had deliberately tried to get seats near to the front, but hadn't known that the Penguins' bench would be so close. Brad smiled at the irony of it, realising that once Daniel saw O'Neill again, his presence would be completely superfluous.
Daniel sat down and pulled his gold and black scarf tightly around him, shivering more from excitement than cold. His stomach was churning and he could feel his heart thumping in his chest. He mentally berated himself for allowing his adolescent crush on an untouchable - and almost certainly straight - hockey player to affect him so much at his age, but couldn't seem to help himself. He was going to be seeing Jack O'Neill again. The man who had made Daniel realise he was gay by doing nothing at all but being.
From the time he'd begun to have sexual feelings, he'd seemed to be more attracted to men than women, but it was seeing Jack for the first time and falling so hard for him, which had confirmed what he'd suspected all along. So many nights he'd fallen asleep after masturbating to orgasm, while gazing at O'Neill's poster and imagining what it would be like to have Jack inside him; feeling Jack's hairy, sweaty chest across his back as Jack fucked him hard, hearing Jack's low voice growling out his name as he came. Even now, the fantasy of seducing O'Neill in the showers after a game was guaranteed to get him off in no time. Sometimes, to his shame, he even used it when he was sleeping with Brad. He shivered again and tried to think of something other than Jack O'Neill naked, as his cock began to betray him.
"You okay, Danny?" Brad asked, a little concerned.
Daniel smiled, "I'm fine. Just got a chill, that's all."
The crowd suddenly roared and Daniel's stomach clenched as the Pittsburgh Penguins began to skate onto the ice one by one, introduced by the announcer.
Jack stood in line in the tunnel, leaning on his stick and shifting from one skate to the other as he tried to control his breathing and his rapid heart beat. He remembered what the coach had said to him in the locker room before they lined up.
"Just do your job, Jack. Forget Pankowski and don't let him needle you. I can't afford to have my best D in the box for half the game. You got that?"
He'd nodded in agreement. They had to win this one and Jack wasn't going to jeopardise that by allowing his temper to overtake his control. Every time he saw 'Stan the Man', Jack wanted to punch his lights out and Stan loved goading him into doing it. Pankowski knew as well as anyone how weak Pittsburgh could be when they were short-handed, and without Jack they were that much weaker.
"Just do your job."
Jack shuffled towards the front of the line and heard his name over the speakers. He skated out to join the rest of his teammates and raised his hand to the crowd as he circled the icepad. Daniel was standing up, clapping like a maniac and cheering loudly. As Jack skated past Daniel's seat, he turned and for a split second Daniel was convinced their eyes met.
Daniel remained standing, dumbstruck, as Jack skated to the end of the line.
Finally, he found his voice again. "Jesus H. Christ, would you look at him?" he muttered in awe, half to himself.
"He's lookin' fine, Danny. I can see what you saw in him," Brad conceded.
"He's...he's...fuck. I gotta sit down." Daniel flustered and sat heavily down in his seat as the Minnesota North Stars took to the ice. When Stan Pankowski skated past their section, Daniel rose and yelled after him.
"Pankowski! You sorry sonovabitch! Irish is gonna kick your ass!"
Pankowski raised a gloved hand in his direction, flipping Daniel the bird, he was sure, even though he couldn't see it. Brad grabbed his sleeve and dragged him back down to his seat.
"Jesus! Are you always like this? Siddown, you're embarrassing me!" Brad complained.
As it turned out, Daniel didn't have to sit down. As the American national anthem began to play, he remained standing, removed his Pens cap and placed it across his heart. He'd never been what one would call patriotic, but he always sang the 'Star Spangled Banner' when it was played at a hockey game. He had always sung 'Oh Canada' too, in the days when he'd been playing for Kelowna. It was just something you did, part of the experience. The cheer went up around the crowd almost before the last words of the anthem had been sung and the atmosphere was palpable as everyone sat down to wait for the teams to take up their positions and the first puck to be dropped.
Jack skated around the outer edge of the rink, deliberately passing Pankowski on his way to his slot in defence, opposite Grant Jennings. O'Neill and Pankowski eyed each other warily as Jack skated by and spat on the ice just in front of him, knowing he risked a misconduct penalty, but hoping that the referee wasn't paying attention. Pankowski gave him a feral, mostly toothless smile and tapped his stick on the ice several times. Words were completely unnecessary as the two men swapped threatening glances.
Jack skated back into the Penguins' zone, nodding towards his partner, and then went over to tap helmets with Tom Barrasso, the Pens netminder, thus fulfilling another of his pre-game traditions.
"Stay solid, Tomcat."
"You too, Irish."
Daniel watched the exchange between O'Neill and Pankowski and grinned, rubbing his hands together, his eyes twinkling with wicked glee.
"Oh yes! C'mon Irish, gimme a hard-on. Gimme some Old-Time hockey and pummel that sonovabitch Polack to ground beef," he muttered.
Brad stared open mouthed, and then shook his head. "Unfuckingbelievable! Y'know Danny, if I'd known you were gonna be like this, I'd never have got the tickets."
Daniel shoved his elbow into Brad's ribs and smiled. "Aw c'mon, Brad. You're not getting jealous, are you? Let a boy fantasise. The guy's straight, for God's sake!"
Brad snorted derisively, "Like that would make a difference."
"Not to mention married."
"What did I just say? I've seduced more than one married guy, y'know."
"Maybe, but let's say Jack O'Neill got you down a dark alley or in a men's room and wanted to fuck you. You'd drop your pants so fast they'd leave a vapour trail. Am I right?"
The roar of the crowd mercifully interrupted Daniel's impending plea of the Fifth Amendment as the puck was dropped to begin the game.
Daniel became mesmerised as he watched Jack play: only Jack. He wasn't particularly interested in the rest of the game. When the big defenseman wasn't on the ice, Daniel would watch him on the bench; taping up his stick, taking a drink, wiping off the sweat from his face with a towel. Brad didn't think he'd ever seen such slavish devotion before. He was beginning to worry. Daniel had watched O'Neill's every move with unblinking eyes since the buzzer had gone for the start of the game. In between periods, Brad went off to grab them a beer and a burger each, while Daniel sat silently with his chin on his hands, frowning.
It was wonderful for Daniel, being able to watch Jack again. It had been a very long time, but all the things that had attracted the young Danny Jackson in the first place were still there in abundance. Forgetting for a moment the sheer power and presence of the man, (not to mention his beautiful eyes) Jack still gave the best hip check in the business and his slapshot put some of the new guys completely to shame. He still had a fair turn of speed up the ice and his stick handling was as awesome as ever. It was obvious to Daniel that the younger guys in the team looked to him for leadership, even though the 'C' was on someone else's shirt. As the game had progressed, O'Neill's line had stayed tight under his guidance, only allowing two shots on goal for the entire period but Daniel was worried. He'd been watching very closely and could see that O'Neill was in pain. Whether it was from his knees or his back, Daniel couldn't tell, but he was hoping that Jack was getting some treatment in the locker room.
He'd been watching Pankowski, too. The big Polack had a predatory look on his face and it seemed inevitable that they would lock horns again; it was just a matter of when. Daniel hoped that Jack could stay out of trouble for as long as possible, because the other defensive lines were struggling and the last thing the Pens needed was to have Jack taken out, either by penalty or injury. He was way too important for that. Daniel nervously chewed on his fingernails as Brad returned, almost unnoticed, with the food and beer.
"You sure you're not takin' this a little too seriously, sugar?"
"This from a man whose home state has never had an ice hockey team," Daniel snorted. "This is the Stanley Cup, Brad. The Stanley Cup. For a hockey fan, this is it. Don't you understand?"
Brad sighed sadly, a little hurt that Daniel could snap at him so easily. "I didn't mean that, Danny. I meant him. I know he was your pin-up babe, but c'mon. You haven't taken your eyes offa him the whole game so far."
Daniel bristled. "I haven't seen him play in a long time. You have no idea how much he means to me," he retorted defensively, then quickly recanted. "How much he meant to me when I was growing up."
"No, I guess I don't."
Daniel's features softened as he looked at his young lover. Brad was right; he felt way more than he should for a man he'd never have and was angry for allowing Jack so far under his skin. The scary thing was, Daniel knew that if he just got so much as the crook of a finger from O'Neill, his eight month relationship with Brad wouldn't come into the equation. Daniel would go. He'd crawl over the proverbial half mile of broken glass. He nudged Brad gently and smiled sheepishly.
"Sorry. I'm being a prick, aren't I?"
"You are kinda distracted."
"I have this giant crush. It's like my hormones take over whenever I look at him. I don't mean to upset you. Honestly. He doesn't mean as much to me as you do." He said it with such sincerity he almost believed it himself.
Brad leaned in close to Daniel's ear and whispered, "Just drink your beer, eat your double chilli cheeseburger and fuck me into the bed later on, sugar. That'll do it."
The older man took a bite and nearly choked, as some chilli sauce stuck to the side of his throat on its way down. It burned like hell, making his eyes water and his nose run. He figured it was poetic justice for being a lying bastard. He chugged on the beer and eventually the burning subsided, just in time for the teams to come back out onto the ice. Daniel's eyes were locked on O'Neill again as he skated past to get onto the bench and Jack looked up just as he passed Daniel's seat and he smiled. Daniel's cheeseburger did a somersault inside his stomach.
Jack sat carefully down onto the bench, wincing. The team physio hadn't had time to give him a massage to loosen up the spasming muscle in the base of his back - one of the superstars had a pain in his finger - so Jack was stuck with the pain until the next interval. He cursed the pretty boys under his breath and his mind wandered as they waited for the buzzer to go. It wasn't his shift first up in any case, so he had a couple of minutes' grace. He looked over at where the young man in the glasses was sitting. Jack could almost feel his eyes boring a hole in the back of his skull. Their eyes met again and this time the young man smiled at him. He had nice eyes, Jack thought, a nice blue, what there was of it. Jack couldn't remember seeing pupils quite that dilated before. They were warm and sympathetic. He wondered if he was good with his hands. Jack smiled back and time seemed to slow down as they looked into each other's eyes.
All kinds of thoughts went through his mind, none of which were for public consumption. It really wouldn't do for an NHL hockey player to 'come out'. He'd never play again. He'd played with gay guys in the minors, but down there it didn't matter. Besides, Jack wasn't gay. Of course he wasn't. He was married. He had a very hot little wife at home, thank you very much. The fact that they hadn't had sex for weeks was irrelevant, as was the fact that right about now, Jack wanted to take the young man he was looking at somewhere quiet and comfortable and show him exactly how good his stick handling was. He shuffled up as the last shift came back to the bench, and reluctantly broke eye contact with the young man in the crowd as he waited for his own shift change.
Daniel's heart was beating a million times a minute. He didn't know how long he and Jack had been looking at each other, but there was sparkage there, Daniel was sure of it. He looked down at his hands: they were shaking. He quickly put them in his pockets and tried to calm his breathing. Could it be true? Could Jack O'Neill actually be interested in him? The rational side of his brain told him not to be such an idiot; that of course Jack O'Neill wasn't interested in him sexually. The guy was straight. Married. And his wife was some piece of eye candy but Daniel had seen that particular look a hundred times before and it was usually attached to a hard-on meant only for him. Maybe Jack didn't realise the desire that was shining out like a beacon. Daniel sighed. It was a moot point. Even if they were mutually attracted, there was nothing either of them could do about it. He moved to the edge of his seat as O'Neill prepared to take his shift.
Brad wasn't completely clueless; he'd noticed the look pass between the two men and wondered if he should just get up and walk away. It was doubtful that Daniel would notice. He decided to stay put for now; it was a crush, that was all. He'd have to get over it at some stage and Brad would be there for him when he did.
Brad had been struck by Daniel's beauty from the moment he clapped eyes on him in the university cafeteria. It had been a warm day, and Daniel had been wearing a tight white t-shirt with faded jeans. Brad had been standing four or five people behind him in the food line and had been hypnotised by the sensuous movement of Daniel's shoulder muscles as he moved along the galley. When Daniel had finally reached the check out and paid for his food, Brad had almost dropped his tray while he watched Daniel's ass cheeks fighting inside the tight denim as he walked over to find a table.
Daniel had been a little shy, and reticent to start a relationship with him. Brad had been determined however, and finally convinced him to go on a date. He smiled at the memory; he had little interest in the game anyhow and preferred at this point to retreat inside his own mind. At least that way he didn't have to watch his lover's heart leech away.
Brad had taken him to see the Red Hot Chilli Peppers in concert and then to a club. They'd ended the evening swaying in each other's arms to 'The One' by Elton John. Brad could remember a slightly tipsy Daniel singing the words to him.
'All I ever needed was The One
Like freedom fields where wild horses run
When stars collide, like you and I
No shadows block the sun
You're all I've ever needed
Ooh baby you're the one'
They'd gone back to Daniel's apartment and spent the night making love. Brad had been pleasantly surprised at how abandoned Daniel was in bed and what a sensitive lover he was. Actually, the sensitive part hadn't been a surprise. The man positively exuded compassion. Brad had been deliriously happy for the last eight months and completely head over heels in love, hoping against all hope that he really was 'the one'. Daniel on the other hand wasn't ready to abandon his heart. Brad knew that Daniel cared about him as much as he allowed himself to, but he could also tell that something was holding the older man back.
He'd thought that it was Daniel's first lover, but now, as ridiculous as it seemed, he was beginning to think that the reason Daniel couldn't love him was right there on the ice. He glanced over at his lover, his eyes still fixed on Jack O'Neill, a deep frown clouding his features. It was pointless trying to talk to him. Maybe it would be worth them having a heart to heart after the game. Brad had invested all of himself into this relationship. Surely it wasn't unreasonable to expect the same in return? The more that Daniel showed how deep his obsession really was, the more Brad was inclined to cut loose, find someone who could give him everything. He was no-one's second best, as much as he loved Daniel.
Daniel rose suddenly and shook Brad out of his daydream. O'Neill had stolen the puck from one of the Minnesota forwards in the Pittsburgh zone and was breaking away through a gap in the Minnesota defense. He raced up the ice, beating off a slash from a recovering defenseman, and handling the puck with expert skill. He let a blistering slap-shot go from the point, which wrong footed the net-minder and slammed into the back of the net, over the keeper's left shoulder.
The arena erupted in a sea of black and gold, flags waving, scarves waving and for the first time since the game began, Daniel acknowledged Brad's presence. He threw his arms around the younger man and hugged him tightly, whooping like a madman in his ear.
"Did you see it? Did you fucking see that? Holy shit! He's still got the moves. What a slap-shot. Jeeesus! WOOHOO!!! WAY TO GO, IRISH!!!"
Brad smiled, a little sadly. "Yeah, baby. I saw."
Daniel sat down in his seat, still bouncing, breathing hard with a huge smile on his face. The rest of the team was congratulating Jack as he skated back to the bench, searching the crowd again with his eyes. He grinned when he caught sight of Daniel beaming all over his face, and winked. It was good to know he could still cut it and nice to see a face that friendly. No-one had looked at Jack that way for so long he couldn't remember. A part of him wanted to go over there and kiss the guy. Jack sat back down on the bench, the twinge in his back much diminished by the adrenaline coursing through his system. He figured it would take him several minutes to get out of bed the next morning, but it would be worth it.
He'd just scored a goal in the fucking Stanley Cup, eight minutes into the second period. It could be enough to take them to a 3 -2 lead in the series. Even if it didn't, the North Stars would have to come back from behind. See if that didn't shut that dumb motherfucker Pankowski up. The exhilaration of scoring was multiplied by the expression on the young man's face. It was hard to miss adoration that obvious and it made Jack feel good. Damned good, in fact. He'd forgotten he had fans of his own. He was an old man in hockey terms and certainly no Mario Lemieux. People tended to leave him alone after games and he quite liked it that way, but sometimes just sometimes it was nice to know that someone in the world still rated him.
Daniel was thrilled by Jack's little gesture and feeling about sixteen years old. He was even surer now that there was sparkage, and still as desolate that it was going nowhere. Daniel was coming to the conclusion that one of two things had to happen; either he had to pull himself together and come back to the real world, which was Brad, or he let Brad go to find someone who could love him the way he deserved and pursue his dream. As that percolated through his mind, another more disturbing thought occurred to him. Now that Jack had scored, it was even more likely that Pankowski would try to take him out of the game. O'Neill would have to be very careful for the next two periods- Daniel couldn't put it past the defenseman to deliberately injure him.
Daniel was particularly watchful during Jack's next few shifts, which thankfully passed without incident. Jack flopped back onto the bench breathing heavily and looking as if the pain was beginning to bother him again. The coach patted his shoulder and spoke briefly to him. Daniel couldn't hear what they were saying, but whatever Jack's request was, it had been denied.
Jack grimaced and tried to stretch. He was in agony and had practically begged the coach to let him go to the locker room for an injection of anti-spasmodic into his back muscle. The coach had told him to hang in for another couple of shifts to see if they could consolidate their lead, then he could go. Jack wasn't sure he could play another two shifts, but this was the Cup and everyone had to make sacrifices.
Jack gingerly made his way up the bench towards the door. There was no way that he'd be able to do his usual leap over the boards. The call eventually came and Jack skated out with his line, immediately catching up to one of the Minnesota forwards and checking him hard into the boards behind the Pittsburgh net. Daniel stood up and yelled out "NOOOOOOO!!!!!" as he saw Pankowski charging towards them.
Jack and the other player were scrambling for the puck against the boards and neither of them saw Pankowski until it was too late. The huge defenseman hit Jack at full speed, hitting Jack with his full weight and slamming his head into the boards. The Minnesota forward's stick was jammed between Jack's legs and as the 300 pound defenseman connected, blackness descended and Jack crumpled onto the ice, unconscious. A split second later, as Pankowski fell to the floor on top of him, both the forward's stick and Jack's leg broke with a sickening crunch.
The colour drained from Daniel's face and he was gripped by nausea. Brad helped him sit down, and he tried to take deep breaths to stop himself from barfing all over the glass. Jack was spark out; at least Daniel hoped that was all. His lower leg was bent at an unnatural angle and Daniel figured that he'd broken both tibia and fibula - badly. It was a career ending injury and Daniel was almost moved to tears, silently praying that Jack would be all right.
The game stopped immediately and the Pittsburgh fans exploded in anger, all of it directed towards the Minnesota defenseman currently holding up his hands to fend off various Pens players who seemed intent on taking off his head. The linesmen broke up the fight and escorted Pankowski to the penalty box to await the referee's decision. The medics, carrying a metal stretcher, were being helped across the ice surface by a couple of the rink workers and they crouched down to where Jack lay, still seemingly lifeless.
One of them removed his helmet gently after attaching a collar around his neck to immobilise his head, then checked his vital signs, while the other carefully inspected his leg, paying close attention to the pulses.
"Do we splint it?" one asked.
The doctor nodded. "Right now, I'd say a transverse fracture tib and fib and it looks like the bones are displaced. We need to immobilise his leg so that the bones don't move any further. Let's get him splinted and on the stretcher. Call the hospital and tell them to get an OR ready and check his blood group. It looks like a bit of a mess."
Jack groaned and tried to lift his head, moving his arm in the process and eliciting a cheer from the crowd as they saw it. He still wasn't fully conscious and the pain in his leg was indescribable, but Daniel breathed a sigh of relief that at least he'd come to.
"What what happened?"
"You got checked outta the game, buddy. Your leg's badly broken, so we're taking you to the hospital. Just relax. I'm going to give you something for the pain, okay?"
Jack nodded, his face contorted in agony.
The doctor pulled up the sleeve of his shirt and tried to work around the padding to give the injection as one of the medics asked, "Will someone call his wife?"
Jack grimaced and mumbled, "Like she'll fuckin' care. Get that guy in the crowd. At least he feels somethin'. Nice eyes. I like him" then lapsed into unconsciousness again.
They gently strapped him onto the stretcher and members of his team carefully carried him across the ice to the locker room and then the medics took over to carry the stretcher out to the waiting ambulance. The doors were shut and the ambulance roared away, sirens wailing.
Back in the arena, the atmosphere was turning ugly. The fans hadn't started fighting yet, but in a few blocks it was a close thing and security were much in evidence. The referee spoke to both Captains, and then skated over to the announcer's booth. After exchanging a few words, the referee skated back to centre ice to begin the game again as the announcer informed the crowd.
"Number 26, Stan Pankowski, game misconduct for a deliberate attempt to injure."
Pankowski began to protest and was swiftly silenced by his coach.
"Get in the fucking locker room you dumb bastard. I'll deal with you later!"
He rose from the bench and stomped down the tunnel back to the Minnesota locker room, smashing his stick from side to side and showering splinters all over the floor.
Daniel's first instinct was to leave and follow the ambulance. He'd been to Pittsburgh several times, although he'd never been around for a home hockey game, and he knew where they'd be taking Jack. He had an overwhelming desire to be with him, but Brad laid a gentle hand on his arm.
"They'll take care of him, sugar. Let me take care of you. D'you wanna stay, or shall we go back to the hotel?"
"I I don't know. I I guess at least if we stay they'll keep us up to date on how he is. They'll probably take him to the University Medical Centre. Oh God. Jack"
Jack moved in and out of consciousness as the ambulance raced through the city streets to the university. He was disoriented and despite the injection the doctor had given him, he was still in a great deal of pain. What the hell had hit him? A truck? No, it couldn't have been a truck; he'd been on the ice. He still had his uniform on. The Cup, that was it, he was playing in the Stanley Cup. Didn't he score? Yes, he seemed to remember the crowd going crazy and that guy that cute guy in the crowd.
"He's nice," Jack mumbled.
"Hey Jack, how're you doing?" the doctor asked.
Jack smiled, groggily. "'m fine. What am I ah! Fuck that hurts! What happened to my leg?"
The doctor patted him on the shoulder. "You got a bad break there. We'll have to operate, get the bones back into line again. I need to take some details from you; name address, that kinda stuff. D'you know what your blood group is?"
"Ah crap. B. I think. Head's fuzzy. Can't think straight."
The doctor nodded. "You got a mild concussion too. That Pankowski hit you like a freight train. Sonovabitch. Should be banned."
"Pankowski? Fuck!" he tried to get up, but was gently restrained by a hand on his chest. "What's this thing on my neck?"
"Easy, now. We put a collar on you, just in case of any neck or spinal injury. I don't think there is, but we should get you X-rayed to be sure. I've given you some morphine for the pain; it should start kicking in soon. Just relax. We'll get you fixed up." He smiled, "That was a helluva goal, Jack. Nice job."
Jack smiled back, weakly. "Thanks. See if the pretty boys can't keep it goin'"
Daniel couldn't concentrate. He kept checking his watch, trying to gauge how long it would take the ambulance to get to the medical centre, wondering how Jack was doing and wishing he was with him. His hands drummed nervously on his thighs, and he had to wipe the sweat off them on his pants leg every few seconds. He was worried sick, but Brad was just becoming more and more pissed off.
"Daniel, what is it with you? It's a damned shame, but your man will be fine. His leg's broke, they'll operate. I guess he won't play again, but dammit he's nothing to you! You don't even know the guy. What the hell is all this about?" Brad's eyes narrowed. "Unless unless you're bullshitting me about just how well you know him?"
"NO! No, I'm not bullshitting. God knows I wish I did know him. Look, I know this is ridiculous. I know it is. I I can't help it. I'm sad and pathetic and completely devoted to Jack O'Neill. It's juvenile and ridiculous and I should grow up. I should forget about him and concentrate on loving you. I'm sorry. Maybe we should go."
Brad put on his coat and began walking up the steps to the arena exit and Daniel slowly followed, still torn about going, just in case the announcer was able to update the crowd on Jack's condition.
They walked along the mezzanine in silence, both men's hands in their pockets. Neither of them spoke until they were back in their hotel room, where Brad threw his coat onto the bed and went straight for the mini-bar. Daniel sat on the armchair, his head bowed.
Brad chugged on the beer he'd taken from the fridge and sat on the edge of the bed.
"You wanna tell me what this is all about? Cause I'll tell ya somethin' for nothin', I'm nobody's also-ran. You got that?"
Daniel sat in silence.
Brad walked over and lifted his chin, softly. "Talk to me, sugar. I love you, but I'm not wasting my time and my energy on someone who won't love me back."
The older man shrugged. "I don't know what to tell you. I didn't know it was going to have that effect on me, I really didn't. I wish I could help it I think, but I can't. Like I said, I know it's stupid and I know it's pointless, but" he looked at Brad with sadness and confusion. "I don't think I've ever felt like this about anyone before. Maybe maybe we should call it quits, at least for a while. I can't concentrate right now; I can't give you what you want or what you deserve. It's not fair."
Brad sighed. "No, it's not." He knelt between his lover's open legs. "God, Danny. I feel more for you than I ever have for anyone, but I can't compete with a fantasy. You have to do what you have to do, and when you're done and you've decided how it's gonna go, you never know, I might still be waiting."
"I'm so sorry, Brad. I'm really fucked up. You'd be better off without me anyway. I need some space to get my head straight."
"I'll pack my stuff and head back to L.A. I'll see you at school, hmm?"
Daniel nodded. "Come down and say goodbye before you go, yeah?"
Brad nodded his ascent and Daniel left him to pack alone. He went down to the bar and ordered a beer, then took out his cell phone and began to dial.
"Pete? Hey, long time no speak. It's Danny Jackson. Yeah, I know, it has been a while, eh? Listen, maybe we can meet later to catch up on what's been going on, but right now I need some information. You've just had a hockey player admitted with a badly broken leg. Can you find out how he is and let me know? His name is Jack O'Neill."
Brad sat down on the bed for a few minutes after finishing his packing. 'One dumb way to lose a boyfriend,' he thought bitterly. 'I'm trying to compete with something I have no hope of beating. It would have been easier if it were someone real, even a woman. I could cope with that, but this?'
"Sad bastard," he murmured to the empty room, and it wasn't entirely clear in his mind who he meant.
Daniel was on his second beer by the time Brad came down to the bar, carrying his holdall. A wave of guilt and shame rolled over Daniel as he looked as his crestfallen ex-lover. He'd never meant it to go down this way; never realised how hard he'd fall as soon as he saw O'Neill again. The whole scenario was utterly ridiculous, he was behaving like a stalker for God's sake, but until he at least knew that Jack was recovering, he could barely think of anything else. He could hardly blame Brad for walking away.
"Hey," he said, softly.
"Hey," Brad replied, unable to look him in the eye.
Brad stopped him with a raised hand. "Enough 'sorries', Danny. Enough. Work your way through whatever this is; just don't forget how much I care about you. This worries me, y'know. To see you this obsessed, it's it's weird man, I don't know how to handle it, other than shake you up and I don't think even that would work. Just just be careful, sugar. Okay?"
Daniel nodded and pulled him in for a hug. Tears pricked at both their eyes and Daniel wanted to kiss him goodbye, but didn't dare in a public place. He settled for squeezing the very life out of him, then sniffing. "See you back at school, yeah?"
Brad nodded. "Sure. See you back at school." He picked up his holdall and turned away, walking slowly out of the bar and into the hotel lobby.
Daniel watched him go, not knowing if he was doing the right thing, only knowing that it was the only thing. His cell phone rang shrilly, interrupting his train of thought.
"Hello? Oh! Hi Pete. What's the news?"
Pete told him that Jack had been admitted, and was currently having surgery to reset the broken bones. It was a reasonably straightforward operation and although Pete couldn't say exactly what was happening, he tried to reassure Daniel that Jack would be fine.
"Is there any chance of me getting to see him?"
"Are you a friend?"
"Kind of," Daniel lied.
"Well, I'd give it at least until tomorrow. Let him stabilise and get comfortable after the operation. I expect he'll have a private room; the team insurance is paying the bills and they usually have us pulling out all the stops. How come you know a hockey star, Danny?"
"It's a long story."
"Oookay. Listen, are you free for dinner? I haven't seen you in months. You feel like coming over to my place, about 7:30?"
"Sounds great. Thanks Pete."
"No problem. See you later."
Daniel clicked off his cell and let out a long breath. He'd have to work out some kind of story before the evening, and tomorrow tomorrow he'd go see Jack.
Lori O'Neill sauntered into the hospital, heavily made up, with her blonde hair immaculately styled in a French plait. Her spiked heels clicked across the tile floor and she sashayed up to the nurse's station in a cloud of Chanel.
"My name is Lori O'Neill," she announced. "You have my husband here. Jack O'Neill, the Pittsburgh Penguins player? I'd like to see him, please."
The nurse looked up from her report and glanced up and down at Mrs. O'Neill, with the phrase 'mutton dressed as lamb' running through her mind. She smiled. "Just one moment, Mrs. O'Neill. I'll find out if he's out of surgery yet."
The nurse made a brief telephone call, discovering that Jack was indeed out of surgery and settled in his room. She was surprised that Mr. O'Neill's wife had left it so long to come down and see him, and that she didn't seem overly concerned. The nurse had heard about Jack coming in and it sounded like he'd been pretty badly hurt. She mentally berated herself for being judgemental. It must have taken some time to put that face on.
"Room 1703, down the hall and to the right."
"Thank you," Lori replied haughtily and clicked down the hallway to Jack's room.
She swept in and sat down, frowning at Jack's leg, which was stuck out in front of him surrounded by metal rings and pins.
"Will you play again?" she asked.
Jack smiled, humourlessly. "Why, hello dear. I'm not too bad, all things considered. Thank you so much for asking. The morphine shots the Doc keeps giving me are making the world look nice and rosy. Which is why I didn't throw up when you came in. How are you, Lori?"
"Hmmph. I see he didn't break your sarcastic sense of humour. So. What have you done? How much will it cost? I hope the team insurance is paying for all this."
"Jesus H. You never cease to amaze me. I have a busted leg, if the fucking metal screws sticking out of it didn't throw you a clue. That sonovabitch, bastard, fucking Polack, Pankowski. He was after me the whole damned series. He must be yuckin' it up big style to know he ended my fucking career. Asswipe. The chances are I won't ever play again, but don't panic, I have good insurance and my pension is up to date. You won't miss so much as a manicure, sweetiepie."
"Glad to hear it. I have to have some compensations for being married to you," Lori spat.
Jack's façade crumpled and he rested his head back onto the pillow, closing his eyes.
"Christ, Lori," he whispered. "Has it really been that bad?"
"Well, you were the one who said it, Jack. I only married you because you were the first NHL player to ask me. It hasn't exactly been a stellar ride for either of us, has it? I sometimes wonder if you only asked me because of all the rumours going around that you were a fag."
Jack's eyes snapped open and his jaw dropped in shock. "Is that what you think? Dammit Lori, if you really think that, I guess you never knew me at all."
Lori smiled, coldly. "Let's call a spade a spade, Jack. Knowing you wasn't part of the brief. Come to think of it, loving you wasn't part of the brief either."
"God, you're a bitch. You never were much more than a puck bunny. Why don't you just get out? Leave me alone."
She rose from the chair and slipped her fur stole around her shoulders. "Oh, I will. I've done my duty as the loving wife. I'll come see you tomorrow and we can trade insults all over again. Bye, Jack."
The door closed gently behind her and Jack rested his head back on the pillow again with silent tears trickling down the side of his face as he listened to her clicking up the corridor. He angrily wiped them away with his forearm and reached for the phone. He could hardly see the numbers as he made the call to his manager; the tears still pooled behind his eyelids, making his vision blurred. Someday soon he'd be rid of that bitch once and for all.
So, they all thought he was a fag did they? He thought back to the young guy in the crowd and how he'd made him feel. Maybe they were right. And maybe he just didn't give a shit anymore.
"Jeff? Jack O'Neill. I'm at the hospital. What do you mean no-one told you? Weren't you watching the damn game? Fuckin' Jesus. Is there no-one in my life who gives a shit? Get your ass down here. I want to protect my money, what there is of it, and get rid of that fucking leech that calls herself my wife."
Daniel watched the TV in the room he'd shared with Brad, trying to catch the end of the game. Thank God for ESPN. Jack's injury had moved the Pens up into a higher gear and not only did they not lose their goal advantage, they scored twice more before the end of the game. Daniel smiled. That might take the sting out of things a little for Jack.
Knowing that Jack was fine other than a broken leg was a huge relief. Realising that he had fucked up a perfectly good relationship for the sake of a teen crush was a huge disappointment, but that said, he knew that he could kick his own ass from here to Cincinnati and it would make no difference. Something had passed between them at the rink. Something. And Daniel couldn't rest until he'd at least followed it up. He'd been convinced up to now that Jack was straight, but that look had his gaydar throbbing, let alone twitching. He could feel his balls tingling just thinking about it, and what he'd like to do to Jack if he was given half a chance. He massaged them and his burgeoning hard on, preparing to drift away into fantasy and take care of business before going off to Pete's for dinner.
Jeff Cohen arrived at the hospital clutching his briefcase and slightly out of breath. Every year he took out a gym membership, and he hadn't once taken advantage of it. Still, if you were going to have a heart attack, this would be the place to have one. He'd been nicely settled in his bed when Jack had called his cell phone. Of course he hadn't been watching the goddamn game. He'd been balls deep inside an eighteen year old girl, Sandy. The latest in a long line of young lovelies to share Jeff's downtown love nest. They loved his money, his power and his Mercedes 300. He loved their youth, their vitality and their tight little pussies.
He'd offered to share with Jack more than once, but although he knew that Jack and Lori had a less than perfect marriage, Jack never took him up on it. Jeff found it a little suspicious, but didn't dare open his mouth. Jack was his only high profile client, even though he was on the lower rungs of the NHL ladder and coming to the end of his career. Jeff figured that discretion was the better part of keeping his bank balance healthy.
He knocked on Jack's door.
"Yeah, what?" came the grumpy reply.
Jeff poked his head tentatively round the door and smiled. "I take it Lori's already been in?"
"Hmmph. Ya think?"
"Okay. What do you want from me?" Jeff asked, sitting down beside the bed.
"I don't want anything from you, Jeff. I want a divorce from her. Yesterday. With as small a settlement as I can get away with. Can you do that?"
"Well, now, Jackare you sure you want to do this? It could prove very expensive."
"Yes, I'm fucking sure. I don't want that bitch's French fucking manicure on my money, my stuff, my dog, my car, my pension are you getting the picture, Jeff?"
"Getting the picture, Jack."
"I want you to schedule a meeting with Zack for this evening. I don't care what he's doing, I've earned the pair of you enough fucking money in my time and now it's my turn. I want a pre-emptive strike before she gets the idea that I'm planning anything. I want her and her fucking fur coats, and her inch thick make-up and just get her out of my fucking life, Jeff."
Jeff sighed and nodded. "I'll speak to Zack and see what I can do."
Jack relaxed. "Thanks Jeff. Now, if you don't mind, I'm tired. I think I should try and get some sleep."
"Sure. Rest up, buddy." He picked up his briefcase and prepared to leave.
"Which one was it this time?"
Jeff chuckled. "Sandy."
Jack smiled. "I hope she was a good fuck, bubbeleh. I was out there breakin' my leg for you."
"She was. See you tomorrow, Jack," Jeff grinned and closed the door quietly behind him.
Jack lay back and closed his eyes, memories of the young man at the rink running through his mind, as he drifted into sleep with a small smile on his face.
The nap didn't last long and Jack was just about to kiss the beautiful young man with the kind blue eyes, when the door opened and wrenched him out of his dream.
"Mr. O'Neill! Time for you to get up and about."
Jack jerked awake and instinctively covered his groin.
"Hi. I'm Mike, your physical therapist. We need to get you moving and do some therapy. Don't want you keeling over with a thrombosis, now do we?"
There was something about the young man's jaunty manner in the face of Jack's pain, that made him bristle immediately. He could see a difficult relationship looming.
'Fuck! Not another one,' he thought.
"Mike. Howya doin'?"
"Oh I'm fine, thanks. And you'll be feeling better once we get you up on these crutches. Have you used crutches before?"
Jack shook his head.
"They're not too bad. It'll take a short while to get into the rhythm, but once you do, piece of cake for a strong, fit guy like yourself. C'mon, swing your legs over the side of the bed and let's see if we can't get some weight bearing on that leg."
Jack sighed and did as he was told. It was something he was famliar with. The external fixator was a royal pain and took some getting used to, not to mention being heavy and looking like some alien device. Still, Jack figured it would be no heavier than a cast and at least there wouldn't be the irritating question of itches beneath the plaster.
The few minutes of PT and the short walk up the corridor tired Jack more than he'd expected, and he had the world's worst headache. All in all though, Mike had been pleased with him, and he'd been right, the crutches weren't too bad. Jack began to feel a little better, especially when he was told he'd be out of hospital in a couple of days.
That piece of information was a double edged sword, however. Coming out of hospital meant going home, which was fine, he missed Oscar already, but what to do about Lori? He couldn't bear the thought of walking into his home and her still being there, but Zack would need time to sort out the paperwork and get her out of the house. He shifted awkwardly in bed and turned on the TV. Fifty seven channels and nothing on. He sighed and picked up the phone again.
Daniel's dinner with Pete had gone well. Pete had prepared a delicious light meal of grilled halibut, julienne vegetables and potatoes Dauphinois. He always had been something of a gastronome. The wine they shared had been equally light and just the right side of sweet for Daniel's taste. It had been a long time since he'd enjoyed a meal like that; Brad's taste was more for fast food and take out and Daniel was delighted to be spoiled.
They traded news and stories, tales of boyfriends and work, until finally Pete asked the question.
"So, you were going to tell me, Danny. How do you know Jack O'Neill?"
Daniel took a long slurp of wine and swallowed.
"He was my pin-up in High School. Played for the Rangers then and my school team sometimes trained up at the Gardens. I met him a few times, but we lost touch when I went to Berkeley. I was at the game today. I saw it happen. That stupid bastard Stan Pankowski steamrollered him. I just want to stop by and show a friendly face, that's all. How long is he likely to be in hospital?"
Pete shrugged. "If it's a straightforward fracture and there aren't any other complications, a few days. They'll get him up on his crutches and he'll be away. He's married, isn't he?"
Pete grinned. "Pity. I could go for him myself. He's just my type."
Daniel chuckled. "You always were a slut."
"So sue me," Pete laughed. "I took my chances where I could get 'em, even if most of them were your cast-offs. You planning to seduce him?"
The colour rose in Daniel's cheeks and he hoped that he could blame it on the wine.
"Seduce him? Are you kidding? He's straight."
Pete leaned across the table. "Not necessarily. You and I both know that just because a man has a wife, doesn't mean he can't take the occasional ride on the other bus, if you know what I mean?" he winked. "Besides, you must have heard the rumours."
"That his marriage is a sham and he's really one of us."
Daniel almost choked on his wine. "You're kidding!"
Pete shook his head. "Maybe it's just gossip, maybe it's not, but I'll tell you this, he married the biggest puck bunny in Pennsylvania. I don't think there's been anyone on the Pens team for the last five seasons she hasn't had. And all while she's been 'married' to Jack O'Neill." He poured himself another glass of wine. "I haven't heard anything about him having a boyfriend or cruising, anything like that. I expect the poor boy's been celibate. You're just the man to show him what he's been missing, Daniel. I seem to remember your French being outstanding," he grinned. "Just one request, sweetheart, don't give him a blow job in the hospital. We couldn't cope with the scandal."
Jack slept fitfully. The meds helped the pain, but he couldn't turn properly with the fixator on his leg, and besides, it didn't help that every time he closed his eyes he thought of the guy in the crowd. Right now it felt like he was the only one who gave a damn; and he was a stranger. The rest of the team were concerned about him, and several of them had called to speak to him, but they had all taken a plane out to Minneapolis straight after the game and no-one was able to come visit.
It was 11 o'clock in the morning and Lori had already done her wifely duty. She'd come in and asked him about his finances, how much money he'd be likely to get from his own health insurance and from the NHL insurance fund, how long it would be until he was home, would he need help, if they'd pay for that too because she certainly wasn't about to help him to the bathroom. She'd stayed for all of fifteen minutes and he was glad to see the back of her, but her visit had left him feeling desolate and alone.
Daniel walked up to the nurse's station with sweaty palms and a rapidly beating heart. His stomach was tying itself in knots and even now there was a part of him that told him to stop. Fortunately – or not – the other side of him, the side that was in love with O'Neill, won out and after finding out his room number, Daniel made his way down the corridor.
He knocked softly on the door and heard Jack say 'Yeah?', then took a deep breath and sidled into the room. At first O'Neill looked a little puzzled, but then recognition swept over his face and he smiled.
"Hey! You were at the game, right?"
Daniel smiled and nodded, offering his hand. "Daniel. Daniel Jackson."
Jack shook it and motioned him to sit beside the bed.
"You didn't have to come see me, y'know."
A slight flush crept up Daniel's cheeks. "Yeah, I did. I needed to see how you were. I guess the rest of the guys are already in Minneapolis, so they can't come see you. Besides, I was worried. That was a helluva hit you took."
Jack smiled. "Yeah, it was. If I ever catch up with that motherfucker I'll rip his lungs out."
"Does it hurt a lot?"
"Nah, they keep sticking me with morphine injections, which kinda makes the world look a little fuzzy around the edges, but it keeps most of the pain away."
A slightly awkward silence descended as Daniel fought his nervousness and tried to think of a way to make conversation. As it happened, Jack pre-empted him.
"I'm glad you came," he said quietly, looking down and picking imaginary lint from the blanket. "I saw you looking at me at the game y'know. It… it was nice to see a friendly face. I don't seem to see many of those these days. I'm gettin' past it."
Daniel's mouth opened in shock. "No way! That was an awesome goal! You're every bit as good as you were in New York."
Jack raised his eyebrows. "You watched me with the Rangers?"
The younger man chuckled, "I was a fan: A big fan. I played defense for my High School team and you… you were my hero."
Jack grinned. "Well, how 'bout that? I don't think I've ever been somebody's hero."
"You're the best D I've ever seen!" Daniel exclaimed; then pulled himself up. "Jesus, listen to me. I didn't intend to come in here and prostrate myself on the floor chanting 'I'm not worthy'!" he laughed, relaxing a little. "I just wanted to say 'Hi' and see how you were doing. When d'you think you'll get home?"
Jack snorted, "With any luck about ten minutes after the whore I'm married to moves out."
Jack waved his hand. "Fuck! I'm sorry, Daniel. That just kinda came out. I guess one of the side effects of the morphine is losing your sense of decorum. You don't need to know all my sordid secrets."
"Maybe, but if you need anyone to listen… I guess you have plenty of friends and fans who'll be there if you need 'em. I don't mean to intrude."
Jack laughed. "Friends? Ah yeah, friends. Well, I reckon I'll probably have quite a few less now I won't be in the NHL any more. The only real friends I have are back in Chicago. They've known me since I played Pee-Wee and they've always been more than ready to kick my ass if I got too big for my skates. Here? Here they're concerned with your stats, how big your house is, whether you have a kidney shaped pool. As for fans… I reckon you're it, buddy."
Daniel blushed and looked at the floor, then at Jack who had the same look in his eyes as he had at the rink. Time slowed down just as it had the previous evening, and neither of them knew quite what to say or do about it. Daniel wasn't sure enough of anything to make a move, even a subtle one, and Jack wasn't even sure what he was feeling. Daniel coughed and smiled. "Well, I'll leave you to rest."
"Can… can you come back tomorrow? I mean, if you're not too busy. I could really use the company," Jack asked tentatively.
Daniel's face lit up. "Sure! Of… of course, I'm in town for a while. Can I bring you anything?"
"Food!" Jack laughed. "Bring me food, for God's sake. The slop they serve in here I wouldn't give to my dog!"
Daniel chuckled with him. "What should I get?"
"Oh anything. Chips, dip, Twinkies, all the essential food groups," the older man smiled. "I'll straighten up with you when you come back."
"No! Wouldn't hear of it. It's the least I can do. You helped me a lot when I was a teenager, even though you never knew."
Jack was genuinely moved. "Really? Gee, I… I don't know what to say. You're welcome?"
"You don't need to say anything, Jack. I'll see you tomorrow," he smiled and rose from the chair. He offered his hand and Jack took it, squeezing gently, but not shaking it this time. Their eyes met again and Jack pulled him closer, putting his free arm around Daniel's shoulders and hugging him. Daniel nestled further into Jack's shoulder than he intended and would have been happy to stay there for at least the rest of the week, but Jack let go and Daniel moved back sheepishly.
"Thanks," Jack said quietly. "I needed a friend today and I guess I just made one."
Daniel smiled and stepped out of the room, then practically floated up the corridor, beaming. He was certain: absolutely certain, that there was a mutual attraction. Whether Jack realised it was another matter. Daniel had the feeling that Jack was in denial and had been for a long time. It was going to be a challenge to drop the scales from his eyes and Daniel would have to be very patient, but he'd waited twenty years, a few more weeks or even months would be hardly noticeable and definitely well worth it.
Jack felt… odd. Cared about, for the first time in so long he couldn't remember: Desired? He didn't really know. This Daniel kid had stirred up feelings he hadn't had since… since the Pens signed that cute forward the year he married Lori. He could remember jerking off and having filthy fantasies about him, then feeling unbelievably guilty and ashamed. Did that mean he was gay? Or maybe bisexual? He certainly felt attracted to the young man who had just visited and was looking forward to seeing him again and getting to know him. However, although his dick perked up at the thought of having Daniel's lips around it, or being buried inside him, a deep rooted voice in his mind continued to tell him that it was wrong; that he shouldn't feel that way toward another man. He closed his eyes and sighed, cursing his lack of privacy.
Daniel had had a very hot night, his already detailed fantasies fuelled by the smell and touch of the object of them. By the time he'd woken, jerked off (again) and showered, he had to hustle to get groceries and head out to the hospital.
The 7-11 was fairly empty and Daniel wracked his brains as he wandered through the aisles; chips and various dips duly went in the cart, along with a half dozen Twinkies, but he wanted to make a fuss of O'Neill; get him something special. The trouble was he had no idea of Jack's likes and dislikes, so he loaded the cart with an assortment of cold-cuts, fresh bread, cheese and fruit.
He arrived at the hospital loaded with bulging paper bags just in time to see a woman, whom he presumed was Lori, slamming the door of Jack's room and storming noisily back down the corridor towards him. He pushed the door of the room open with his ass as Jack let rip with a stream of abuse. Jack paused in mid-rant, his jaw wide open as he realised that it wasn't Lori coming back, but the young man who'd caused his dick to be half hard all night.
"Daniel! Fuck! I'm sorry, come in. You just missed the lady wife, and I use the term 'lady' very loosely."
Daniel smiled, "I saw. You had a fight?"
"Our whole marriage has been one long fight. Man, are you a sight for sore eyes. Wow! Did you buy up the 7-11?"
"Food you want? I bring food." He began slinging packages on the bed, being careful to avoid Jack's leg. "We have cheese, we have bread, we have meats – various - we have Twinkies for dessert, or fruit if you're feeling pious, we have chips; Phileas Fogg, naturally, and a coupla dips. I wasn't sure how spicy you liked it, so I brought sour cream, hummus and salsa. I brought Sprite and Coke, too. I guessed they wouldn't let you have beer in here."
"Oh my God! I think you just saved my life."
Daniel chuckled and passed Jack a plastic plate and utensils, so that the starving man could eat his fill. The two men ate and talked about everything and nothing, getting on so well that the regulation hour passed way too quickly. The bell rang for the end of visiting hours and Daniel groaned in disappointment.
Jack waved his fork in the air, dismissively. "Pay no attention to that. I have this private room and I can pretty much have visitors whenever I like. Stay. If you want to, that is. Hope I'm not boring the ass off you with my hockey tales," he grinned.
"God, no! It's great hearing them. I just don't want anyone to get into trouble. Are you sure it'll be okay?"
"Hell, yeah. I'm paying enough, or I should say my insurance company is paying enough and over the years I've paid them enough, so, sit. Eat. Have another Twinkie. Y'know that reminds me of when…"
Daniel laughed and sat on the bed as Jack recounted yet another tall tale of the NHL. They were both guffawing when Jeff Cohen and Zack Wolff arrived, both of them stern faced.
"Hey guys, c'mon in a grab a bite. What's up? You got faces as long as the Mishnah, both of ya."
Jeff cleared his throat. "We need to speak to you, Jack." He glanced at Daniel. "In private."
Daniel got off the bed and finished his mouthful. "I'll go. I'll leave you my cell, then you can let me know when you get home, okay?"
"You don't have to go. This is just business crap."
Daniel smiled as he saw the faces of the two 'suits'. "Yeah, I do. It's okay, Jack. I'll see you before I get back to L.A."
"You make sure you leave me that number, kid."
"I will. Look. Writing it down now."
"All right. I'll be in touch, and… thanks Danny. For everything."
"You're welcome. Get better and do as you're told," he grinned, and then left the room.
Jeff and Zack looked at each other, then at Jack. "Touching," Zack noted with a hint of sarcasm.
"And who peed on your fries, Zachariah?"
The lawyer snorted and turned to look out of the window, watching Daniel walk across the parking lot to his car. Jeff sat in the armchair and drew a sheaf of papers from his briefcase.
"She wants the house, Jack."
"What?! That's my home goddammit! I was living there for two fucking years before she moved in. How the hell…?"
"And the Lexus, and a monthly payment of ten grand for 'expenses'."
Jack pounded his fists into the mattress. "Fucking bitch! We're not letting her get away with that…" he looked at his two advisers. "Are we?"
Zack shrugged. "It's up to you, Jack, but if we don't she says she'll go public and 'out' you."
"Out you as gay, Jack. She'll go to the press, tell them you haven't had sex for years, that you prefer men," Jeff clarified.
"But that's complete bullshit!" Jack protested. "We had sex…shit, when was it? Just before the play-offs! Not that it was much good, but… D'you think they'd believe her?"
Zack shrugged again.
"Jesus Christ, Zack. I know you're Jewish, but can we please stop with the shrugging?"
"I don't know, dammit! What else am I supposed to do? Look, there were rumours flying around the place before you two got married. I know there are some members of the local press who thought it was a scam to begin with."
Jack's jaw dropped. "Where do they get this stuff from? I've always been straight. My whole fucking life! I've never been with a guy for cryin' out loud!"
"Because they know Lori," Jeff sighed. "She's pretty much the bottom of the heap as far as the hockey whores are concerned, and I know you won't take offense at that. They figured that because you married so late on, and because you'd drifted from girl to girl before you married her…"
"So, I had a lot of girlfriends, and all of a sudden I like fucking guys? Come on. That's the most feeble excuse I ever heard!"
"Whether or not it's true is irrelevant at this point, Jack," Zack interjected. "The point is, she can say it. And mud sticks. Worst case scenario, she gets into it with Pankowski – you did know she was fucking him… didn't you?"
Jack was rendered speechless.
"I guess you didn't. Anyhow, they could easily cook up a little story, now it looks like Stanley is going to be suspended pending a hearing with the Commissioner. Stan tells the press you made a pass at him, which is why he went so hard for you out on the ice, Lori chips in with the fact that your sex life is nil and when you were having sex you had to get yourself ready by reading porno mags or something… It's so easy, Jack."
"But… she'd do that to me?" he asked, the hurt evident in his face.
Jeff nodded, sadly. "Could and would, buddy. She's in it for the money, pure and simple."
"Jesus. Y'know, I actually thought I loved her once."
"Well, I suggest you forget that small fact and concentrate on not becoming bankrupt. She could cripple you financially just as easily as her lover has crippled you physically."
Jack wiped his face with his hands. "Can we deal?"
"Possibly on the monthly payment. Absolutely not on the house and car, oh and you have to take the dog."
"There's no way I'd leave Oscar with that whore in any case."
"Do you have anywhere to stay?" Jeff asked.
"What?" Jack was stunned and confused.
"She doesn't want you to go back. She found out somehow that you were planning a divorce; either that or she put two and two together. She wants you and your stuff out of the house. You can't go back there. I can go and get your stuff and move it into the loft downtown if you want? It'll piss Sandy off, but I was gonna cut her loose anyway."
Jack nodded dumbly.
Zack patted him on the shoulder. "We'll do what we can to get you as good a deal as possible, go through your accounts, see what we can hide away and what we can't. We'll do our best, Jack."
"Thanks Zack, Jeff. God, this was something I needed like a hole in the head. I'm fucked. I have a busted leg, no home, no car, and no job. What the hell am I going to do?"
The two sharp suited advisers wandered slowly down the hospital corridor towards the entrance; their expressions grave.
"So," asked Zack. "Whadya reckon?"
"About what?" Jeff answered.
"About Jack being a fag," Zack replied, bluntly.
The smaller, portlier man shrugged. "How the fuck should I know? He's never made a move on me."
Zack chuckled. " I doubt you'd be his type, Jeff."
"Yeah, and fuck you too," Jeff snorted. "Why do you ask, anyway? Do you think he is?"
"Alls I know, is that there's no smoke without fire and I'm saying no more."
Jeff stopped him with a restraining hand on his arm.
"Are you telling me you know something?" he asked, raising his eyebrows.
Zack sighed. "Look, it makes no difference to me one way or the other. Most of my best clients are gay, for God's sake. They earn a lot of money and they pay their bills on time. Who they get their rocks off with is none of my concern and I'm happy that way."
"C'mon Zack Dish the dirt."
"There's no dirt, Jeff, I swear on my grandmother - oleha ha shalom. Just rumours, that's all. They've followed him around since he was in New York, but no-one ever had any hard evidence. If you'll pardon the pun."
"Whether he's gay or straight, or bi or into having sex with kangaroos, we have to save him as much as we can from that little bitch. He's a decent guy and he's been a lucrative client for both of us."
"Yeah. Who knew she was that bright?"
"Not bright, Jeff. Just a good eye for a patsy, and unfortunately 'Irish' back there was that patsy. I guess she'll move on to that dumb fucking Polack now. If both his brain cells ever bashed together there'd be a nuclear explosion and his whole head would be sucked into a black hole."
"Oooh, Zacariah, now that was profound. And nasty. He welch on a bill?"
"No and enough with using my full name, already. His family are Polish Chasidim; mine are Mitnagdim from Lithuania. Does that give you a clue?"
Jeff nodded, knowingly. "Okay, old country politics. I'm down with that. You wanna go down to Manischevitz and get some blinis?"
"Lead the way. I'll need something in my stomach if I'm going to pull O'Neill's ass out of the fire on this one."
Jack was becoming more depressed by the hour. He wondered if there were any more nasty surprises on the horizon. The only positive thing to come out of this whole mess so far was the kid. Daniel. Jack sighed. He couldn't exactly be surprised at the rumours; as much as he wanted to tell himself it wasn't so, he was attracted to guys as well as women. Maybe it was worth facing up to it and letting the whore do her worst? One thing was for sure, he wouldn't ever play again; not with this kind of injury, but truthfully it had only robbed him of a couple more seasons and then he'd have been forced to retire anyway. Sonovabitch could have waited until after the Stanley fucking Cup though.
It pissed him off to let her win and the thought of that ugly bastard Pankowski sleeping in his bed, swimming in his pool and, worse yet, driving his car made Jack nauseous… or maybe that was the pain meds; but in any event, it would almost be worth the furore of coming out as bisexual to stop that scenario from happening. It might even be a good thing; maybe he could become a role model for young bisexual and gay guys who were damned good hockey players, but unable to show it for fear of having the crap beaten out of them in the locker room. The people of the twentieth century weren't as enlightened as they purported to be, if the bald truth were told.
He was torn. Afraid that he'd never get any kind of job in hockey again, yet unwilling to just lay down and let that bitch walk all over him in her Jimmy Choo's. He wanted to call Daniel… but why him? They'd only just met, yet Jack couldn't deny to himself – even if he would deny it to anyone else 'til his dying breath – that he was more than attracted. He wanted to do things with this guy that he wasn't even sure were legal in Pennsylvania. He'd never felt so strongly drawn to a man before: physically, perhaps, but with Daniel there seemed to be the possibility of so much more than that. Love even? Maybe, but Jack didn't know how to fall in love with another man and besides, he wasn't completely sure the kid was that way inclined. Perhaps that was the other shoe; the fact that Jack was falling for a man who was straight. He chuckled to himself : yep, that would just about ice the cake. He settled back and flicked on the TV while munching on the leftover chips Daniel had brought with him. After a couple of days of hospital food, he figured he could fall in love with the kid just for that.
Back at the Marriott, Daniel was restless. He couldn't help wanting to go and see O'Neill again, but didn't want to push his luck. At some point, he was convinced that Jack would see through the 'fan' façade and realise that not only did Daniel have an adolescent crush, it was becoming inescapably deeper every time Daniel was with him. 'Jack's straight,' Daniel kept telling himself. 'He wouldn't be interested in you that way. He couldn't be,' but in the back of his mind he'd replay the look at the arena, the way Jack had held his hand in the hospital, and allowed Daniel into his personal space by hugging him. Was he making too much of it? Probably, but damn it felt good to be that close. Holding his pillow tightly, he tried to remember the smell of Jack's hair, the tangy fragrance of his sport shampoo mixed with sweat, and the touch of h is hand, its finger pads slightly callused from years of having them wrapped around a hockey stick for hours on end, day after day.
Daniel's balls ached and his dick throbbed with wanting him and after he'd relieved the tension accompanied by a beautiful fantasy, Jack making love to him slow and deep, both of them looking into each other's eyes and holding on tight while they came together, Daniel cried with frustration that the man he'd waited his whole life for would probably never be his. He was just cleaning himself up when his cell phone rang.
"Hi Daniel, it's… ah… it's Jack. Jack O'Neill."
"Hey Jack, how's it going?"
"Well, ah… are you… I mean, can you… ah shit, I'm just gonna say it. Can you come down and see me again today? I'm gettin' bored outta my melon here. I really want someone to talk to that isn't after my money, one way or another."
Daniel smiled, "Sure. I'll see you in a half hour, okay?" He could hear Jack's sigh of relief.
"Thanks kid, I owe ya one."
"Don't worry about it," Daniel replied, trying not to chuckle as he imagined how he'd like to collect. "See you later."
Jack grinned like an idiot at the thought of seeing Daniel again. He wondered how long he could keep him in Pittsburgh before he really had to go back to school. He would need a little help for the first few days after coming out of hospital, after all; someone to make sure he didn't fall on his ass in the shower, someone to help him clean the pin sites in his leg… it was possible. He felt guilty, however. It was almost as if he were using Daniel, but what if Daniel wanted to do it? That would make it okay, surely?
It was nice being someone's hero; Jack hadn't felt so valued in a long time. Goals like the one he'd scored had been few and far between, which was okay for a defenseman, but not scoring goals didn't get you noticed. Jack had always been a hardworking D, out there doing the job with no fuss and no flourish. The most people had to say about him these days was, 'Hey, he's doin' pretty good for an old guy' and yet here was Daniel, whose beautiful blue eyes shone with genuine happiness whenever they met, who seemed eager to do anything he could to make Jack's life easier, and who was currently racing down to the hospital as fast as the traffic would allow.
There was a soft knock at the door and Jack wondered who it could be. It was too soon for Daniel, Jeff and Zack hadn't been gone all that long and the bitch wouldn't be back 'til the morning.
"Yeah, come in."
It was his physician, Doctor Reynolds. "Afternoon, Jack. I'm just going to have a little look at this leg of yours and if all's going well, I think we can let you go, once we've completed the paperwork."
Jack perked up at the news. "Really? Oh Doc, that's great! Not that the service around here hasn't been outstanding y'understand…"
The doctor smiled. "I'm guessing that's why there are empty packets of chips, dip, ooh look, Twinkies! And all kinds of other good foodstuffs all over this room, hmm? Fully satisfied with the accommodations?"
"Well, er, I mean, a friend brought them in and…"
"Don't worry, Jack. I think hospital food is designed to make the patients want to get well as quickly as possible," he chuckled, while completing his exam. "We'll need you to come in for physio three times a week, and you'll have to keep the fixator on for six weeks. We'll X-ray again after that to make sure the bones are knitting together, but to be honest, Jack, although it was a bad break, it wasn't a complicated one from a medical point of view. There's no reason why you shouldn't be walking reasonably well on it in a couple of months."
"Cool, thanks Doc. What about skating?"
"I think we both know your career is over, don't we?"
Jack sadly nodded his agreement.
"But as for rec skating, give it a few months; maybe 'til the season starts up again in September and start slowly. The ACL problem in that other knee still giving you trouble, by the way?"
Jack nodded, rubbing it reflexively. "Always does when I've been on my back for a while. It gets stiff."
"I'll ask the physio to work on it when he comes down. Maybe we should look into fixing that up for you in a few months time. Anyway, I'll get the paperwork done and filed and you can be out of here by dinnertime. How's that?"
"Sounds good to me, Doc. Thanks a lot."
"No problem, Jack. Looks like the Pens only have one more game to go to win the whole thing. Have you seen the highlights?"
"No, I didn't. I think the meds you guys gave me knocked me out," Jack smiled. "That's cool. I'd like to see 'em finish it, it might wipe the smile of that bastard's face who did this to me."
The doctor frowned, "Yeah. That was a nasty move. I hope they ban the sonovabitch, he's had it coming his whole career."
"Anyway, let's get you out of bed and see if you can walk up the corridor a little bit for me. Mike tells me you've taken to the crutches pretty easily."
Jack eased himself around and hung his legs over the side of the bed. "Yeah, he seems pretty pleased. Pocket dictator," he grinned.
Reynolds laughed, "That's what he's for. To be on your case until you get better. Think of him as another Scotty Bowman."
Jack chuckled, "I don't think the world's ready for another Scotty Bowman." He bore his weight on the crutches and his good leg and slid gingerly off the bed, placing his feet on the floor. At least he'd managed to get a pair of pyjamas to wear, even if they did have to cut off one of the legs to get it over the fixator. Hospital gowns weren't designed for public display and Jack was always afraid that someone would get a good look at something they weren't prepared for.
He slowly edged towards the door, taking a little weight on his bad leg and the rest on his relatively good one. The doctor smiled. "Doin' good, Jack. You've taken to those like a natural; it's just a matter of balance and rhythm. Like skating."
"Now that I can do," Jack replied, concentrating and making his way slowly up the corridor. "Only thing is it puts more strain on my bum knee. Can you do anything 'bout that?"
"I'll tell Mike, he can do a little manipulation for you, ease out the hamstrings a little. That might make it easier. When we get the fixator off, I'll authorise you to use the hydrotherapy pool – unless you have a Jacuzzi at home? That would do just as well."
Jack snorted bitterly. "I don't have a home anymore, Doc," then brightened as he saw Daniel walking down the corridor towards him, smiling broadly.
"Hey Irish, lookin' good!"
"Flattery'll get you everywhere, kid," Jack grinned through the discomfort. Daniel was quite a sight in shorts, tight-fitting tee and sandals. It showed off enough skin and muscle definition to pique Jack's interest, but not enough to make him embarrass himself.
"Okay, Jack. That's probably enough for now, besides, I have rounds. I'll send Mike down later on to put you through your paces again and have a look at that knee."
"Gee thanks, Doc. You're all heart," Jack grumbled.
"Can I help him back to his room?" Daniel asked.
"If it's okay with Jack. He's pretty steady on the crutches now, I don't think he'll be falling," the doctor replied, grinning. "He wants to get out of here today."
Jack smiled. "Sure, c'mon back and let me bore the ass off you some more. And you, get outta here and get that paperwork through."
Doctor Reynolds walked away up the corridor, chuckling.
Back in Jack's room, Daniel gently helped him onto the bed and put his crutches in the corner.
"Aaah, that's better. Hurts like a sumbitch when I walk. I know I gotta, but it's a royal pain. Thanks, Danny." He leaned forward and began to rub his aching knee.
"Welcome. That ACL thing kicking off again?"
Jack looked surprised. "How did…?"
Daniel smiled. "19…87, you were playing for… Vancouver. You only played for half the season, but I managed to get to a couple of games. I was playing in B.C. myself at the time. Kelowna Rockets."
Jack nodded in recognition.
"The Canucks were playing… Winnipeg, and you were checked hard against the boards by…Craig Endean, their left wing man," Daniel continued. "He popped your knee and you've had trouble with it ever since."
"Jesus Christ! You really have been keepin' an eye on me, haven't you?" Jack asked in amazement.
Daniel felt the colour rushing up to his face and chuckled. "I told you, I'm a fan. Anyway, let me have a look at this knee."
"It's right there, under the jammies. Kinda bends a little to let me skate and walk, but it's not much different from any other knee you ever saw."
Daniel rolled his eyes. "I'm a qualified sports masseur, Jack. Maybe I can help you with it."
"Oh! Oh… well… okay, go for it," Jack replied, instantly regretting his choice of words and hoping that having the young man's long, elegant hands around his leg wouldn't cause an unwanted reaction in other parts of him. What did the Doc say about stretching out the hamstrings to alleviate the pressure?
Daniel applied pressure around the joint, over the top of Jack's clothing. It wouldn't be as effective at treating the injury, but it might take Daniel's mind off the fact that he had his hands on Jack O'Neill's thigh. He really didn't intend to do any more than help Jack with the pain and was conscious of keeping up his professionalism and keeping down anything else.
Jack tried to relax while the young man worked. His fists were clenched, as was his jaw, but he could still feel stirrings as Daniel's long fingers rubbed around his knee and applied pressure either side. Worse was to come as Daniel began to strip the muscle of Jack's thigh to alleviate some of the tension in his hamstring. The young man's hands stroked all the way up from knee to groin, pressing hard, which was the only saving grace. Jack's head lolled back on the pillow as a bolt of sensation shot through his dick and an involuntary groan escaped his lips.
"Oh that's good, Daniel. Oh… ah…" His eyes snapped open. "Ah! Danny… I… er… I think we'd… oh… better stop…before I…"
Daniel looked up at him, with a half-smile. "You okay, Jack? I'm not hurting you, am I?"
Jack shuffled up the bed, away from Daniel's teasing fingers and put his hand over his groin.
"No! No, not at all, I'm just… I think we should… ah fuck!"
Daniel moved back slightly, and took his hand. "You know I'm attracted to you, don't you?" he asked quietly.
"Ah… I hadn't really… um…"
"And I'm not on my own here, am I?"
"Well, I… I mean… I don't…ah Christ, Danny. I don't know. I mean I do know but I… Look, I'm in a difficult position," he began, absentmindedly stroking Daniel's knuckles with his fingers. "Yeah, I am attracted. Of course I am, I'd be blind not to be: but not only do I not know what to do about it, because I've never been with a guy before – at least not since I was sixteen – but my wife has threatened to out me as gay if I don't let her have all my worldly goods. I'm not saying I don't want to. Jesus, thinking about having you in my bed has been keeping me up since I first laid eyes on you, so don't think it's that, I just…"
"I think I understand, Jack. It's cool. Listen, do you want me to come home and help you out for a few days, 'til you get more steady on your feet and can look after yourself?" he raised his hands. "No strings. Scout's Honour."
Jack snorted. "You were so never a Boy Scout."
Daniel chuckled. "Okay, you got me there, but I promise I won't push. It's your call: whether we take this any further or not, how far we take it, all up to you, Jack. I care about you too much to fuck it up. Even if we part as friends and nothing more happens, I'm happy with that. I just want to help."
Jack smiled and stroked his face. "Danny, you have no idea how much you've helped me already. If you won't get into trouble for not going back to school, that would be great."
"I've finished for the semester. I don't have to go back to L.A. until September. Think that'll be long enough?" he grinned.
Jack looked at Daniel's beautiful face, his eyes full of happiness, affection and desire for him and something inside him said, 'Fuck it.'
Daniel's heart somersaulted in his chest and he swallowed hard.
Jack pulled him down and their lips tentatively met, sending electric shocks through both of them. Daniel steadied himself on the pillow with one hand and stroked Jack's bearded cheek with the fingertips of the other while slipping his tongue gently inside Jack's mouth. Jack moaned and thrust his own tongue inside Daniel's mouth and they kissed until they were gasping for air.
Jack stroked Daniel's face with a look of wonderment on his own.
"Holy shit, Danny. That was amazing!" he whispered.
"There's plenty more where that came from, Irish," Daniel smiled. "Give me the chance and I'll rock your world."
"Is that a promise?" Jack smiled, pushing an imaginary strand of hair from Daniel's brow.
"Scout's Honour," Daniel grinned.
Jack chortled. "Again with the Scouts. Jesus. I never… I can't remember what it was like, y'know? The last time. Hell, it was the only time and it was so long ago."
The phone began to ring just as Jack was about to kiss Daniel again.
"Let's be careful for now, hmm?" Daniel said, leaning away from him, but running the back of his hand down Jack's cheek.
Jack picked up the telephone. "Yeah? Oh hi, Jeff. Nothin' much, I'm in hospital, y'know? What's the news? Uh –huh… Oh, she has, has she? Okay, well can you do me a coupla favours? Go to my place and pick up my truck, then take Oscar down to Jared's. He likes it down there. Yeah, that's the one. Oh and throw some clothes in a bag, would ya? I'm gettin' out this evening. I know, how 'bout that, huh? So after you drop Oscar off, can you come get me and Daniel? Yeah, Daniel. You met him when you were here. He's gonna give me a hand for a coupla days while I get back on my feet. Well, I don't give a fuck how it looks, Jeff and I object to the fucking question! I'm not gonna take on some bimbo agency nurse with big tits, just so that Lori has less ammunition to throw at me. What's she going to ask for next, hmm? A goddamn rectal exam? Yeah, whatever. See you later."
He slammed the phone down and growled, sending a shiver down Daniel's spine.
"Hmmph. Why? Why is this so goddamned hard? Would somebody please mind telling me? That little whore and that sonovabitch, bastard fucking Polack. FUCK! If I had any clue of how to go about it, I'd put a contract out on the both of 'em, I swear to God!"
Daniel sat close to him on the bed, putting a comforting arm around his shoulders and holding him gently. Jack rested his head on Daniel's chest as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
"Christ, Danny. What did I ever do? I wasn't the world's best husband, I know that, but for Chrissakes she wasn't the world's best wife either. I feel like an idiot. I feel like she's taken me for a ride and I've just been thrown off. Is love always like that? I mean, I did love her, once upon a time."
"No, love isn't always like that, Jack. One day I'll show you."
Daniel smiled, kissed the top of Jack's head tenderly and then rested his cheek there.
"Sure. Listen, I have to go get my stuff and check out of the hotel. Will you be okay?"
Jack nodded and Daniel got off the bed. He held Jack's hand and kissed him softly on the lips, just a ghost of a kiss to let Jack know.
"I'll be back. That's a promise, too."
"Okay," Jack replied, miserably.
Daniel hated to leave him like that; he looked so vulnerable and alone. He just wanted to put his arms around him and never let him go. However, although he was going to stay with Jack, he wasn't taking anything for granted. There was a very long way between a kiss and full sex, and Daniel was well aware that for his own good, if for no other reason, Jack would have to make baby steps. Besides, they had to keep their relationship beyond reproach while the mess with Lori was straightened out. Daniel cursed both her and Pankowski under his breath. He was dumbstruck that they could treat Jack this way, but he also knew that he didn't really know the man at all. Yet.
Jeff swung his big Merc around the circular drive of Jack's house, and parked by the small fountain. His Gucci shoes crunched on the gravel as he walked up to the front door and rang the bell. He stood impassively as Lori opened the door in a red silk housecoat, looking him up and down like he was last week's liverwurst.
"Mister Cohen," she spat.
"Lori. How are you?"
"Rich. How are you? Come to plead for that useless maggot… or should I say faggot?"
"Jesus Lori, what did Jack ever do to you to deserve this?" he asked, exasperated.
"Off the record? Nothing. He was just in the right place at the right time and he had a hard-on for me like a California Redwood. He's no different to most guys, damned easy to lead around by their dick. On the record, he's gay, we haven't had sex in years and even when we did, he couldn't keep it up for more than five minutes at a time."
"He's right, you really are a bitch," Jeff retorted, his voice full of contempt.
"Make that a rich bitch, Jeff. A girl has to take care of herself, y'know. Jack was getting old in any case, and now his career is over. How in the world am I supposed to keep up with the new season's wardrobe if my husband is a crippled ex-NHL hockey player? Look, I really don't have anything against the guy personally, I just have to make sure my lifestyle is protected. Surely you can see that? I guess I'm sort of sorry that he's being hurt by all this… actually I'm not. If he wasn't bright enough to see that I was marrying him for status and money, he's got it coming. If he did know, he obviously didn't move fast enough. You snooze, you lose."
"Can I at least come in the damned house? I have to pack him some stuff and pick up Oscar. Oh, and I'm taking the truck."
Jeff stomped upstairs to Jack's bedroom and through to the walk-in closet. As he hurriedly packed a hockey bag with various items, he made a promise that he'd do whatever was necessary to see Lori O'Neill out of this house. As an attorney, Jeff Cohen was no stranger to ruthlessness and manipulation, but Lori O'Neill was in a different league altogether. She'd be tough to beat, but Jack didn't deserve this from anyone and besides, he had a little leverage of his own which neither of them knew about.
After packing Jack an assortment of clothes and toiletries, Jeff wanted to get the hell out as quickly as possible. The stench of her not-so-cheap perfume was beginning to clog his sinuses. That left one more job to do. Pick up Oscar.
"Are you done?" Lori asked, the front door still open.
"Almost, where's Oscar?"
"Out in the yard. I only put up with that mutt because of Jack. I guess he's the only friend the poor sap has." She smiled, grimly.
Jeff walked outside to the yard to find Oscar chained up and looking forlorn. His ears pricked up a little when he saw Jeff coming towards him, but he was missing his master, that was painfully obvious. Jeff knelt down, scratched him behind the ears and spoke to him softly as Oscar slurped Jeff's ear with his long tongue.
"Hey Oz. Don't you worry a bit, I'm takin' you out of this hellhole. It'll be okay, Jack'll come to see you in a day or so. C'mon."
The big German Shepherd visibly brightened at the sound of his master's name and happily followed Jeff out to Jack's truck and jumped in the back.
"Hey! What about the Mercedes!" Lori yelled as Jeff revved up the big Chevrolet's engine.
"Someone from my office'll come get it. In the meantime, why don't you pretend it's yours, sweetheart? You may as well, if I've got anything to do with it, you won't be driving the Lexus for long!"
Lori's face was like thunder as Jeff eased the truck out of the gates and into the street.
By the time Jeff arrived back at the hospital, Daniel was there and looking out of the window. Jeff looked at the young man and frowned. He didn't like this one bit. Zack had now planted a seed of doubt in his mind that perhaps Jack wasn't completely straight and although he didn't give a shit from a personal point of view - being honest, having Lori O'Neill as your wife was enough to turn any man gay – from a legal point of view it was bad. In fact it was potentially disastrous.
He wandered up the corridor with his hands in his pockets. He didn't think he'd be able to get away with telling Jack the young man couldn't stay with him, yet Jack couldn't afford to have the kid in his home long-term without giving Lori exactly what she was looking for. He knocked on the door of Jack's room and went in.
"So. We ready?"
"Absofuckinglutely. How's Oz?" Jack asked.
"He misses you, but he's basically fine. He perked up pretty good when we got to Jared's. Him and Jared's dog tore across the yard like they'd been chained up for a year."
Jack smiled. "That's good. He's known Rebel since they were pups, he'll take Oz's mind off me not bein' there and as soon as I get back to my house, I'll go get him. Thanks for takin' him down there, brother."
Jeff frowned. "Don't worry about it. We need to talk about the house, Jack. We have to devise some kind of strategy. Zack is at work with your bank accounts, and he thinks he can salt a lot of it away into your offshore company. Lori doesn't know about that one."
Jack eased his way down the corridor gingerly, with Daniel at his side. " Bexel Inc.? You sure about that, Jeff?"
"Positive," he nodded as the automatic entrance doors opened.
The girls in reception waved him goodbye as they left.
"Come see us soon, Jack!" yelled one.
Jack turned and grinned, losing his balance slightly and causing Daniel to hold him protectively. "Don't worry Lucy, I will. You gals look after yourselves."
The girls watched sadly as he left; he always had a smile or a joke for them as he wandered up and down the corridor and even though he had only been there for a couple of days, they'd been captivated.
"He could charm the birds from the trees," one of the girls sighed.
Another looked at her with amusement. "How old are you, Cheryl?"
"57," she sighed again. "But I could sure give that one a run for his money…and his cute buddy."
The four of them collapsed into giggles as they continued watching him limp across the parking lot.
Fortunately, there was plenty of leg room in the front seat of Jack's brand new Chevrolet Silverado. He was grateful that Lori had deemed the truck unworthy of her behind. She hadn't so much as touched it since it had arrived three weeks before. At least it meant there was something in his life that she hadn't tarnished. Before Daniel helped him in, Jack stroked his fingers down the metallic midnight blue paintjob and smiled.
"Mine," he muttered. "All fucking mine."
"C'mon Jack, I want to get you settled into the loft. Kim has some people coming over for some WIZO charity thing tonight, d'you feel like some company?" Jeff asked.
Jack coughed. "Nah, we'll be fine. Thanks anyway, Jeff. You'd better get yourself a new piece of ass now whatshername is outta the picture," he grinned.
"If you say so, Jack. If you say so," Jeff conceded, inwardly wincing at the use of 'we'. He pulled out of the hospital parking lot and drove down the street towards downtown Pittsburgh.
The loft was spacious and open-plan. The whole of the lower area was covered with light cedar floorboards and comprised the living space, a well-equipped kitchen and a dining area. Underneath the open stairway was a bathroom with a toilet and shower, then upstairs was the bedroom and another large bathroom, with a shower cubicle big enough for two and a similarly sized Jacuzzi bath. The loft was light and airy and its location down in North Shore offered wonderful views of the Ohio River through the large picture window.
Daniel followed Jack inside, carrying his and Jack's luggage, and looked around.
"Wow! Classy digs."
Jeff smiled. "Why, thank you. It's the culmination of a lot of hard work and beats the shit out of taking Prozac for keeping me sane. The couch over there pulls out into a double bed with an orthopaedic mattress. You should be comfortable."
Jack looked at the stairs and grimaced. "Tell you what, Jeff, I'll take the couch. Daniel can have the bed. The idea of tackling those stairs with these crutches scares the crap outta me. Besides, it'd be a bitch if I got the munchies in the middle of the night. I'd probably go head first down the damned things and really fuck myself up!"
Jeff sighed with relief that they weren't intending to share a bed - at least not at the moment.
Daniel grinned. "Don't tell me. They hit at two or three in the morning. Peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches and a glass of milk."
Jack chortled as he eased himself into the large leather Chesterfield, which was in front of the TV. "Shit! The stuff they put in my bio!"
"That wasn't your bio, Jack. I have the same problem," he laughed. "Used to drive my Mom nuts. She'd come down in the morning and there'd be no milk left for cereal, so she'd kick my ass out down to the store to get some more, whether I was awake or not!"
"Ah, memories," Jack smiled wistfully.
Jeff coughed. " Well, ladies, as compelling as these little reminiscences are, I have to go. I've still got work to do to save your ass, Mr. O'Neill. Not to mention your money, your reputation," he counted off on his fingers, "shall I go on?"
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Listen Jeff, I really appreciate you comin' through for me like this. You're a real mensch, y'know that?"
The attorney chuckled. "Yeah? Well, tell that to my Rabbi. Actually, tell that to my wife!"
"Send her over, buddy. Just send her over. I'll bet we could have a real interesting conversation about some of the long hours you're about to work on my behalf," Jack grinned.
Jeff laughed. "I'll get a cab back down to the office and I'll call the insurance company to let them know Daniel will be driving the truck."
"It's insured for any driver," Jack pointed out.
"I know," Jeff replied. "It's a courtesy call more than anything. Say, you're not wanted in seventeen states for parking violations are ya, Daniel?"
Daniel grinned. "Nah, only twelve. Oh, and in another three for speeding."
"Hmmph. Okay, I'll keep in touch, Jack. You, keep him on the straight and narrow," Jeff instructed Daniel, immediately regretting his choice of the word 'straight'.
"Got it," Daniel replied, saluting.
"See ya later," Jeff waved as he dropped the keys on the coffee table and left.
"So," Jack began. "Just you and me, then?"
Daniel squirmed in his seat, as his heart beat a little faster. "Yep. I guess."
"So… y'wanna lay another lip lock on me, Danny?" Jack asked with a mixture of teenage nerves and bravado.
Daniel smiled, a glint of mischief and amusement evident in his eyes. He wandered slowly over to Jack's chair and equally slowly straddled his hips, careful not to put all of his bodyweight on Jack's thighs and groin. Jack's eyebrows rose and his breathing quickened as Daniel fixed him with a challenging look.
"It was a little difficult to kiss you properly in the hospital. Someone might have come in, and besides, I couldn't get the angle right with you in bed and all."
"Is this more comfortable?" Jack asked, his voice a little shaky.
Daniel leaned forward and whispered in his ear. "Much."
The sensation of Daniel's breath around the sensitive outer shell travelled straight to his dick and Jack let out a sigh as Daniel licked around his ear with the tip of his tongue. He planted small kisses around Jack's neck where the beard wasn't growing, and then across his cheek to eventually capture Jack's lips in a tender kiss. This time it was Jack's turn to enter Daniel's mouth with his tongue. He figured that kissing was a technique that crossed the gender barrier and he curled his tongue around Daniel's, drawing it into his mouth and sucking it softly.
Daniel wriggled on his lap, his ass cheeks rubbing over Jack's dick, which was becoming harder by the second. Jack moaned and broke the kiss, trailing his tongue down the side of Daniel's neck and lapping gently at the dried sweat on the pulse point at his shoulder. Daniel rolled back his head to allow Jack better access; his neck had always been particularly sensitive and he'd been known to come just by stimulation of that part of his body alone. He was convinced he'd died and gone to heaven, having his neck nibbled, sucked, kissed and licked by the object of his fantasies; but he was a mere object no longer. Jack O'Neill was real. And here. A flesh and blood man, writhing beneath him and so damned hot, it was all Daniel could do not to rip off both their clothes and impale himself in one go on the impressive hard-on straining to escape the co nfines of O'Neill's shorts.
"Ah God! Jack! You have to… Stop! One second!"
Jack stopped immediately with a slightly puzzled and apprehensive expression.
"You don't like it? You seemed like you liked it."
Daniel laughed, cradling his cheek in his hand. "Jesus, did I like it? I'm about to come in my pants, Jack. I just thought we should slow things down a little. See how far you want to go."
"Hell, I don't know! How far do you want to go?"
"That's a completely unfair question, don't ask me that one."
Jack smiled. "Seriously, how far do you want to go?"
Daniel's eyes darkened and his face took on a look that scared Jack a little.
"How far? How far inside me d'you think you could get? Your cock embedded so deep in my ass that neither of us knows where the boundary is. You thrusting into me so hard it feels like I'm going to split in two. Me making you crazy and both of us coming like the end of our dicks are going to explode and our balls are going to disappear inside our bodies forever. That's how far I want to go: but not tonight. Tonight it's all down to you, Jack. What can I do for you? What do you want to do to me?"
Jack's breath was by this time coming in ragged gasps and his pulse pounded in his ears and through his cock. He didn't know. The kid was giving him the choice and he didn't know! Something. Anything. Everything.
"I… I don't know. I want… I want to touch you. I… I want you to touch me…I…"
Daniel leaned forward and kissed him softly, then got off his lap. He kicked off the sandals and peeled off the tee as sensually as he could, then unfastened the zipper on his shorts slowly, teasingly, allowing Jack to see his erect cock an inch at a time. The shorts pooled around his ankles and Daniel stepped out of them, moving closer to Jack. Pre-come glistened on the circumcised head of Daniel's cock as it bobbed in front of him. Unable to resist giving O'Neill a show, Daniel ran his fingertips along the length of his shaft, pausing at the end to spread pre-come all over his dick's plum coloured head.
Bending forward, he set to work freeing O'Neill's own aching erection and Jack had to use much of his control not to come on the spot. He felt like a virgin all over again and in a way he figured he was. A sixteen year old fumbling with another sixteen year old hardly counted as sexual experience. His fingers dug hard into the leather of the couch as the scent of sex assailed his nose and his fingers itched to wrap themselves around the silky length of Daniel's cock.
Gently, Daniel removed Jack's shorts and underwear, drawing them all the way down to his feet, taking care not to touch the fixator. His breath sucked in when he saw how hard Jack was for him. He wanted to suck him so badly he salivated at the thought of it, but a promise was a promise and whatever Jack wanted was so much more than fine.
Daniel sat beside him and stroked his thigh as Jack put his arm along the back of the sofa.
"Touch me, Jack. Please. It's all right."
Jack tried to steady his breathing as he reached over to wrap his long fingers around Daniel's length. He shifted slightly towards Daniel's body and stroked his cock with fascination, tightening his grip and watching Daniel's face.
"Oooh yes. That's good, Jack. That's so good. Stroke it harder. Just like you would if you were jerking yourself off."
Jack squeezed and pulled, rubbing the end with his flexible thumb, occasionally stopping to explore Daniel's aching ball sac and stroking the perineum beneath it.
Daniel was becoming incoherent, and it was obvious that he was close to coming. Jack nuzzled his neck, licking some of the extra special spots on it and judging Daniel's responses while speeding up his strokes. Getting as close to Daniel's ear as he could, Jack whispered, "Come for me, Danny. Just for me. I want to see you shoot."
The knowledge that he'd already come so many times in his life only for Jack sent Daniel over the edge and he gasped out Jack's name, a stream of white come erupting out of the open slit at the end of his cock and arcing upwards to splash onto Daniel's chest. Volley after volley of pearlescent fluid boiled out of him as he panted the name repeatedly, covering Jack's hand with his semen. Jack leaned even further over and kissed him passionately, thrusting his tongue inside Daniel's mouth and Daniel grabbed the back of his head, unwilling to let him go. Finally, Jack pulled away from him and Daniel leaned back with his eyes closed, calming his breathing.
"Fuck! Oh fuck that was amazing! You're…" he chuckled. "You're so much better than the fantasy."
Jack smiled, "Thanks, kid. So are you."
Daniel looked down at himself, then over at Jack's erection.
"I'm sticky and you're still raring to go. Do you want me to do the same to you?"
Jack stroked himself lightly and shuddered. "It won't take long after that, but… yeah, I'd like that."
Daniel scooped up most of his come onto his fingers and licked it off, making Jack shudder again.
"God that's sexy. Do it again." Jack panted.
Tracing his fingers over his abdomen and chest, Daniel picked up all of his come and sucked it off them as if he were sucking a cock. Jack squirmed in his seat and moaned.
"Jesus Christ!" he grunted through gritted teeth. "Do it now, before I shoot all over the fucking place!"
Wrapping his own long fingers around Jack's throbbing dick, he began to squeeze and stroke. He carded the fingers of his other hand through the hair on Jack's chest, rubbing his thumb over one nipple and dipping his head to taste the other.
"Holy fuck! Ah goddamnit Danny… I'm…aaahh!"
Jack came hard, the first spurts hitting the side of Daniel's face and Daniel turned his head to see if he could catch some of the less powerful spurts with his tongue. The salty flavour of Jack exploded on his tongue and he shivered with another aftershock at the sheer erotic thrill of bringing the man he'd fantasised about all his adult life to a screaming orgasm. He stroked Jack tenderly through it, and then cleaned him up with his tongue, finishing the task with a small kiss and a lick of his lips, followed by a self-satisfied smile.
Jack lay back sated and happy. All of the tension built up over the previous couple of days had, temporarily at least, melted away at the hands of this young man; even the pain was gone. Jack opened his eyes and smiled at his slightly smug partner acknowledging that he was probably in deep emotional trouble already and not giving a good goddamn.
"Jesus, I'm hungry," Jack sighed happily. "I swear I can't remember the last time I came that hard. C'mere."
"Can't. Too tired," Daniel lied, smiling.
"Bullshit. Get over here before I have to roll over and getcha: and you know how pissed my physio would be if I did that."
Daniel chuckled and straddled him again. "Better?"
Jack grinned and mimicked Daniel's own reply from earlier. "Much." He leaned forward as Daniel leaned in to meet him and they kissed; softly and tenderly, all their fire now damped down to glowing embers.
"You're somethin' else, Danny. Thanks."
"Oh, y'know. Stuff." He stroked Daniel's face, seemingly fascinated by the roughness of his chin. "I never felt a five o'clock shadow on another guy's face before. How 'bout that?"
"And how does it feel?"
"Kinda weird, but... nice. I like it. At least, I like it on you."
Jack smiled. "Yeah, I'm okay. I was scared half to death, y'know," he admitted, quietly.
"Hey, I'm not that scary!" Daniel protested with a grin.
"You know what I mean, asshole," Jack grinned back with a swipe at the back of his head. "Thanks for... well, just thanks." He stroked Daniel's cheek with the back of his hand and kissed him again, their tongues gently exploring until Daniel broke away and nuzzled into his neck. After a few seconds, the loud rumbling of Jack's stomach shattered the tender moment. Daniel snorted and climbed off him.
"I wasn't kiddin'. Told you I was hungry!" Jack said by way of apology.
"Okay," Daniel clapped his hands together. "Here's where I hope that Jeff has a fully stocked larder, because I'm not going out without having a shower and I'm hungry too. I'll get something going..."
"Like me?" Jack asked hopefully.
"...on the stove and then we'll get cleaned up."
"I like the sounda that," Jack grinned. "Anyone ever tell you, you have a great body, Danny?"
"It's been mentioned, but tell me again," he grinned, although Jack couldn't see his face. Jack was enjoying the view of his bare ass as he crouched down in front of the cupboard, checking out the shelves, which meant Daniel couldn't see the lascivious look on Jack's face either. Jack could see the hair running into the crack of his ass and Daniel's ball sac hanging in between those beautiful round, smooth globes. He reluctantly dragged his eyes away from that compelling sight and up Daniel's spine, across his broad shoulders where muscles rippled beneath the skin as he moved.
"Beautiful," Jack breathed. Daniel liked the sound of that; there was desire in his voice, which held great promise. Daniel was looking forward to showing him how wonderful making love with another man could be.
"Pasta!" Daniel suddenly announced. "You eat pasta don't you?"
"Before every game, buddy."
"So, why don't we watch the highlights and have a big bowl of macaroni and cheese?"
"Sounds like a plan," Jack grimaced as he tried to move. "And I should take my pain meds. The effect of that 9.8 on the Richter scale orgasm is beginning to wear off."
Daniel winced in sympathy and quickly opened his bag to retrieve the Ultram, and the antiseptic wipes. He popped two tablets from the pack and gave them to Jack with a glass of water.
"Thanks," Jack grunted as the pain came back in full force. He threw back the pills and drank some water, frowning as he tried to swallow them down.
"Fuckin' hate takin' pills," he grumbled, putting down the glass and easing himself out of the couch.
"Er, Jack, d'you think you're up to taking a shower? We don't have a chair for you to sit on in there. I'll have to go back to the hospital and get one tomorrow if you need it."
"Y'know what? I don't think I am right now, I guess I'll have to stay dirty 'til then. Good thing you're not sharing my bed tonight," he smiled, getting his balance right on the crutches.
"I'm not?" Daniel asked, with both humour and disappointment vying for position in the tone of his voice.
"Well, I didn't... I mean... maybe not tonight, Danny. I need a little time to get my dozen or so brain cells around what's happening here, y'know?"
Daniel smiled, "Sure. Take whatever time you need, I've got a lot of patience."
"Thanks. Listen, I'll at least get myself into the bathroom and wash, could you get me a chair?"
"No problem, Jack. That's what I'm here for."
"Not all you're here for I hope. Come over here, because I sure as hell can't get over to you."
Daniel put down the chair and walked towards him, stopping just outside his 'zone' of personal space, unwilling to push the older man too quickly.
"Right over here and put your arms around me."
Daniel wound his long arms around O'Neill and snuggled in as Jack spoke.
"You listen to me, Daniel." Jack began quietly, nuzzling into him. "I've spent most of my life trying to tell myself that I didn't get turned on by guys as well as women. Even when I knew deep down it was a lie. Maybe the rumour mongers were right. Maybe I did have so many girlfriends in the past because I was looking for something from them that they could never give me. But I was a hockey player. How the hell could I be gay? Then you come along and everything I thought I knew about myself has been turned ass end up - literally."
Daniel chuckled softly into his neck.
"Yeah, I guess that was pretty funny," Jack smiled. "I want you. God help me, I want you. I want you enough to not only admit it to myself, but to actually do something about it for the first time since me and Ryan Magnusson jerked each other off in his Grandaddy's barn when I was sixteen. That's a helluva leap for a straight guy to make and you should take it as a big compliment. You're making me look at something I've been trying to hide from all my life. Gimme time. That's all I'm asking."
Daniel drew back and looked into his eyes. "Take all the time you need. Seriously. I can wait."
Jack smiled and kissed him. "You're a very special guy, Daniel. And now I gotta go get cleaned up."
"I have an idea. Why don't we shower together?"
"I don't know about that..." Jack began.
"No strings and no pressure. A shower is going to be way better than a wash; you'll feel nice and fresh. We'll make it quick so that you're not standing for too long and I'll be there to help. That's all. Just help. Okay? I'll go start the water."
"Sure," Jack smiled. It wasn't worth arguing with the kid, besides the thought of a shared shower had loomed large in his fantasies about the young man. It was a pity he couldn't take full advantage, but it was going to be good having Daniel's hands soaping all over his body and feeling the young man pressed up behind him. He shivered and his dick twitched, and he was powerless to control it. He couldn't even cover himself, since both hands were occupied with the crutches. He chuckled and thought 'the hell with it. He knows.' Besides, it was nice to know he could get it up again so soon.
During the last few months with Lori, his libido had gone through the floor. It wasn't for any particular reason - or person - that Jack could think of, he just began to look at her and really see her for what seemed was the first time. She was an overly made up gold digger who had gotten her claws into him for what she could get and if the rumours were to be believed, she'd been fucking the entire team behind his back. He'd almost been able to feel the cuckold's horns as he walked through the locker room sometimes and as a result his self-esteem and his sex drive had hit an all-time low. Maybe that was why he'd been vulnerable to Daniel's affection? He hadn't been treated as though someone cared about him in a very long time, and then there was Daniel. He cared. The kid didn't really know him, but he cared. Jack hoped that when Daniel got to know the real Jack O'Neill he wouldn't be disappointed and leave, because Jack wasn't sure he could handle that.
The intensity of his feelings scared him - both the sexual and the emotional. For the first time in his adult life, Jack was physically attracted to another man and didn't have to suppress it. He wanted to try everything: do everything. All the things he'd thought about, but never been able to do for fear of exposure, available to him in one delicious and naked package. So much was racing around in his head, Jack hardly knew where to begin to sort it all out. He was falling for the kid, but knew he shouldn't, he wanted to fuck him and be fucked by him, although he knew it would probably hurt like hell, he wanted to suck Daniel's dick and swallow his come and make him scream and... his dick was winking at him with its one good eye, and Daniel was smirking across the other side of the room.
"What are you lookin' at?" he asked with a grin.
Daniel began to walk slowly over from the bathroom, his dick thickening as he walked and by the time he reached Jack, it was fully erect. Jack's mouth dropped open in stunned surprise. It was the first time he'd ever seen a man's dick get hard before his very eyes.
"I'm looking at the most beautiful sight I could imagine. And believe me, I've tried to imagine this very thing many times."
"Yeah?" A flush of pride ran through Jack at the smouldering look Daniel was giving him. It was thrilling and frightening to be desired that much. "How's the reality?" he asked, hopefully.
Daniel continued walking towards him, slowly stroking his dick. "So, so much better than anything I could ever imagine."
"And what did you think about doing?"
Daniel laughed softly, "Oh God, Jack. What did I think about doing? Wait one second while I get you a chair, and I'll show you what I thought about." He walked into the dining area and brought Jack a chair, which was a good thing, because if it hadn't been for the crutches holding him up, Jack's legs would have failed him. He sat down carefully and Daniel moved in between his legs, gently easing his knees apart.
"You okay?" Daniel asked. "Tell me if this hurts."
Jack nodded dumbly as Daniel's very erect prick came so close to his face, he could almost reach out his tongue and lick it. The smell was intoxicating and Jack could actually feel his mouth water.
"God, Daniel," he whispered. "Tell me what you want. I know what I want, but I need to hear it from you."
Daniel bent down and kissed his neck. "I want you to taste me, Jack; as little or as much as you want. Have you ever sucked a cock before?" he asked, quietly, raising his head to look at his lover.
"Just do what comes naturally. Think about what gives you pleasure and do it to me. Making love with a guy isn't that difficult, it's a case of 'do as you would be done by', " Daniel crooned, running his fingers through Jack's shoulder length hair. "Lick it, suck it, fondle my balls like you did when you jerked me off. I really like it when a lover plays with my ass while they're sucking me, but you don't have to do that. I'll be lucky if I can last more than a minute as it is. You turn me on so much just by being here." Daniel leaned down and kissed his lips, then ran his tongue around the inner edge of Jack's mouth.
"And when I come, you don't have to take it. You can just pull away and let me come on you or on the floor, we can clean up later, or you can take it in your mouth and spit it out, or you can take it all down. Have you tasted come before?"
Jack nodded, excited but a little nervous. "Kinda. I've tasted a little after I've jerked off, just to see what it was like, but I've never taken a full load, even though I've wanted to suck somebody off a few times."
Daniel continued to stroke his hair soothingly. "And did you like the taste?"
"It... it takes a little getting used to, but yeah, it's okay. I guess it's different when it's someone else's."
Daniel smiled. "Not really, although wanting to do it can make a difference. Do you want to, Jack?"
"Fuck yes!" Jack growled and opened his mouth wide, engulfing Daniel as far as he could go but gagging a little in his enthusiasm.
Daniel pulled back a little. "Easy, babe, easy. Not so deep, just yet. Lick it a little first. Then let me guide you."
Shaking, Daniel held onto the base of his dick as Jack licked around the end, lapping up the pre-come like it was vintage champagne. Daniel moaned and wrapped the other hand around the back of Jack's head, drawing his mouth towards his leaking cock.
"Just... just take the head in... oh fuck! Christ, you're so damned hot... so hot... come on and suck me," he pleaded as Jack took the bulging head into his mouth and began to suck, moving his head up and down and licking around the frenum. His head dipped further as he got used to the feel of Daniel's dick in his mouth, and he grazed his teeth gently up the shaft, making Daniel gasp.
"Jeeeesus! Are you... sure you've never....ooooooh shit... sucked cock b.b.before? You're going to have to make your mind up real fast, Jack. Do you want to take it? Because I'm... GOD... I'm so fucking close..." he panted.
Jack responded by smiling around his mouthful and sliding down as far as he could, while stroking Daniel's balls and sucking hard on the head. Daniel cried out sharply, and his back arched as he came. He grabbed handfuls of Jack's hair as his cock pumped what felt like a gallon of come into Jack's mouth and throat.
Boneless and replete, Daniel sagged over Jack's shoulder, using the back of the chair as a support. When he'd recovered his senses, he knelt in front of Jack to return the favour, to find to his disappointment that Jack's dick had softened, although it was glistening.
"Jack?" Daniel asked, hoping that his hunch was correct.
"Look on the floor, kid. No hands," Jack grinned as it became obvious to Daniel that he'd come too. "Now we have to shower and wash the floor."
Daniel shook his head and laughed. "You are some piece of work, Jack O'Neill. And..." Daniel cradled his face and looked up into Jack's dark, dark eyes. He wanted to tell Jack he was falling -had fallen - in love, and could see Jack's anticipation of some kind of declaration; but he didn't dare. He held back, afraid of scaring the older man away. How can you fall in love with someone after such a short time? Feeling a little ridiculous he said, "And I really need a shower now."
Their shower was necessarily swift given Jack's limited standing time, and it was a source of disappointment to them both. However, Jack had made Daniel take a rain-check for a long, languorous shower when Jack was back in his house. Daniel had the feeling that the shower Jack was referring to was out of the ordinary, but Jack refused to give him details, telling him with a grin, "That'd spoil the surprise."
After Daniel had helped Jack put on his pyjamas and settled him back on the couch, he set to work making their macaroni and cheese. They watched the highlights of the game played in Minnesota, although Jack seemed a great deal less excited about it than Daniel would have expected. When Daniel asked him, Jack simply replied, "I'm not playin'," and the tone of his voice made Daniel reluctant to probe any further.
The Pens won. The Stanley Cup was theirs and since he had been part of the team, Jack would eventually be the proud owner of a Cup ring, but the result didn't thrill him as much as it should have, or would have. He'd been instrumental in their success and had the right to feel proud, but the only thing that Jack could think about was the fact that he'd never play again, and if he wasn't a hockey player, what was he? If he'd been given the luxury of coasting towards retirement, he would at least have had time to prepare; time to decide which way forward, but no player likes to think of the day when they finally have to hang up their skates.
Financially, he was very comfortable. He'd made sound investments and money would never be a problem - unless Lori decided to take him to the cleaners, and by the sound of it, that's exactly what she could do. Jack sighed. A couple of days ago, he was still a successful hockey player, with a very pleasant lifestyle despite the company. Now... now he was washed up. An ex-hockey player with a wife hell bent on destroying him and - for the first time in his life - a male lover. Was Daniel his lover? Jack still wasn't sure. He wanted it; he wanted Daniel in every way possible, but having a relationship with another man - at least one this intimate - was something he had no experience of and as such he was unable to read the signs. He watched the young man take the empty bowls into the kitchen area, a worried frown clouding Daniel's handsome face. Jack didn't like being the cause of it, but he truly didn't know where they would go from here.
A sudden wave of exhaustion, accompanied by the feeling of being lost came back to him and he yearned to go to sleep wrapped safely in the young man's arms, secure and needed. However, he knew that even despite the inconvenience of his injury, he wasn't quite ready to spend the night with Daniel yet. Jack hoped he understood. He raised his beer bottle in salute at the TV screen, which was filled with scenes of celebration as Mario Lemieux skated around the rink with the Stanley Cup raised aloft in his hands. Each block of the arena undulated in waves of black and gold as the fans saluted both the trophy and their team. An ugly ball of regret sat in the pit of Jack's stomach as he watched, pleased for the rest of his team, but angry and bitter that his only opportunity to be with a winning Stanley Cup team during their winning game had been wrenched away by one of his wife's many lovers. He felt betrayed and bereft and Daniel watched him from the kitchen, desperate to help him, and equally powerless.
Jack finished his beer and glanced over at Daniel, who seemed afraid to come near him. He smiled and beckoned Daniel over.
"You okay, Jack?"
Jack nodded and opened his legs as wide as he could to allow Daniel to kneel between them. Daniel put his arms around him and looked up. Jack stroked his hair and kissed him.
"I'm sorry, Danny. I don't mean to worry you, it's just I got kinda mixed feelings about all this y'know? I'm pleased for the boys and all, but dammit I should be there. I should have my hands on that trophy. I should be getting covered in champagne, not sitting here with a bum leg, an empty beer bottle and an empty future. And don't try to tell me that I've got plenty to look forward to, because I don't." Jack kissed him again, more deeply this time. "Except maybe for you, but I'm still not sure what the hell this is yet, so I can't put any faith in it, y'know?"
Daniel snuggled into his chest and sighed. "I can't pretend to understand what you're feeling. I'd be stupid if I even tried. I never got past Junior 'A' and even if I'd carried on playing I was never good enough for the NHL."
"There's no shame in it."
"I know. I'm happier doing what I'm doing, as much as I love the game. You ever been to Kelowna?"
"Nope. I've been to Vancouver a few times, and I've skied up at Whistler, but I've never been to the interior, never needed to."
"And that's the problem. The Okanagan is beautiful, don't get me wrong, but it was kind of a culture shock after New York and let's just say it doesn't have a large and thriving gay community," he smiled.
"Were you 'out' to the boys?"
Daniel snorted, "No way. It wasn't worth it. I was a long way from home and very much alone. I never went in for the same kind of entertainment the other guys did. It started becoming embarrassing to forever turn the girls down. You know what it's like."
"Oh yeah. Pussy du jour."
"I did go with a couple of them, as much to save the rumours as anything. They were too drunk to notice I couldn't get it up, and besides," he grinned up at Jack, "I have a very talented tongue."
Jack chuckled. "I'll just bet you have. And I insist you show me just how talented that tongue of yours really is, but not tonight. Now, I know my dick is getting hard again just thinking about it, and I know you can feel it and I'm hoping you're at least tempted to do something about it, but I should get some sleep. I'm not sleeping that well with this leg, and I'm not as young as I used to be."
"Aw c'mon Jack. Don't put yourself down."
"I'm not, Danny. I'm all washed up. My leg is fucked, my career is over, my marriage is over and the first person to make my dick hard in weeks is you; and you're a guy. I've had a helluva week so far."
Daniel cradled Jack's face in his hand and stroked his grizzled beard. "God, Jack. D'you want me to stay with you tonight? Or is it too soon?"
"A little too soon, buddy. I'm not saying I don't want to, so don't think I am, I'm just not ready to wake up with you, that's all. It's this 'time' thing again," he replied, smiling to reassure Daniel and leaning his face into Daniel's caresses, kissing the tips of his fingers.
Daniel quietly made up the sofa-bed while Jack went to the bathroom. He wanted to wake up with Jack, but didn't relish the thought of being kicked in the middle of the night by Jack's bad leg. That made Jack's reticence a little easier to swallow. Jack needing time to adjust was more problematic.
He couldn't imagine what Jack was going through, because he'd always been gay; there was never any conflict. It was hard to think back to his teenage years and how he'd felt then about being different. It was more the reaction of others toward him than any anguish about being homosexual that caused the problems. He'd always known he didn't like girls that way, he was never confused about it, but there was still a period of adjustment to go through he supposed. When all that was happening to Daniel, Jack was there - admittedly only in his fantasy life, but when you're 15 that's just about all you have. Daniel smiled. It was his turn to be there for Jack. Daniel had always had a vision and an impression in his mind of who Jack was; and now he had the opportunity to know the real Jack O'Neill. The prospect was actually terrifying.
What if the guy was a total jerk? Daniel had a gut feeling that he wasn't. He was somewhat moody, perhaps, but then considering what was going on in his life, anyone could be expected to feel a little fractious. It had been as he'd said, 'a helluva week'. All in all, Daniel had been impressed by what he'd seen of the real Jack and was looking forward with decreasing trepidation to knowing him much better.
The pillows, sheets and comforter had been laid out on the bed and Jack smiled as he limped back into the living room.
"Thanks Danny, you're taking really good care of me. I appreciate it, y'know."
"It's no problem. It's what..."
"You're here for. I know," Jack interrupted. "And you know... Gimme a minute here, let me get into bed."
Jack eased himself off the crutches as Daniel pulled the bedcovers back for him to get in. Jack sat down and slid his leg over and across the bed, then swivelled in and began to adjust the pillows behind him.
"Y'wanna come and lay down with me for a second?"
"Sure," Daniel smiled and lay beside him. He was dressed only in his shorts and as Jack was only wearing pyjama bottoms, he snuggled in close to Jack's hairy chest and sighed contentedly. "Is that okay?"
Jack kissed the top of his head and gave him a squeeze. "Perfect," he muttered. "Just because I'm not ready for an all-nighter doesn't mean I don't want to be close to you."
"I'm sorry Jack, I don't know how to read you yet. This is all kind of intense, you know?"
Jack chuckled. "Ya think?"
"I'm... impatient. We only just met, but it feels like I've known you for years."
"Kid, I don't even know me. My whole world just got turned upside down. Everything I was, everything I am, it's all gone. I have no idea why I feel like baring my soul to someone I only just met, but crazy as it may be, I trust you. There's something about you that makes me feel... safe. How weird is that?"
Daniel didn't know what to say. He kissed Jack's chest and snuggled in closer.
"D'you think you can put up with me?" Jack continued.
"'Til hell freezes over, probably."
Jack laughed, "You're crazier than I thought!"
"Maybe," Daniel smiled. "All I know, is that I've been drawn to you all my adult life. I fell in lust the first time I saw you and now I'm actually with you it's... It doesn't matter."
"What? Tell me."
"It feels a little weird. I have to take time to get to know you, but you have to get to know me too. Look at the facts. I'm just some guy who fancies the ass off you. I found a way to your hospital room, I spent some time with you, I'm here taking care of you, we've had sex, but we're strangers. Aren't we?"
"Yeah, I guess we are," Jack replied, taken aback. "What do you want from me, Daniel?"
Daniel looked into his face and smiled. "I don't want any more than you're willing to give me. I wasn't trying to scare you and I'm not some crazy stalker. I care a great deal about you, but I could understand if you were a little wary."
"But that's just it, I'm not. Should I be?"
Daniel stroked his chest hair and looked up at him. "No, Jack. I love you."
Daniel froze, his eyes widening in shock as he realised what he'd said. "Ah... just... just ignore that, would you? I..." he shot bolt upright and got off the bed, backing away towards the kitchen. "You, er, you want a drink? Or... anything? I... could make some coffee. No, no, you want to get some sleep, don't you? Okay, er, well, I'll just um... leave you alone and head off to bed and if, er.. if you..."
"Shut up and get back over here."
He did as he was told and sat down on the edge, deliberately staying away from Jack and feeling like the world's biggest idiot. Jack smiled and took his hand.
"Twitchy li'l bugger, aren't ya?"
Daniel's cheeks felt hot and he looked at the floor.
"Danny, c'mere. We're not kids, are we? This is moving a little fast for me, I can't deny it. Doesn't mean I'm not enjoying the ride. Shit, I wish this leg wasn't fucked up. I can't move, dammit!"
Daniel moved up the bed again, leaning on his elbow and looking Jack up and down. He liked the view and was feeling a little less foolish, now he knew Jack wasn't going to limp for cover, or throw him out. "It won't be too long. Only a few weeks."
"Yeah. And d'you know what I'm gonna do when this thing comes off?"
"I'm gonna fuck you so long, and so deep, and so hard you won't be able to walk for a week."
"Jesus," Daniel whispered. The way Jack said it made his cock instantly hard, tenting his shorts as Jack murmured his approval.
"You like that idea, do ya?"
"Is the Pope Catholic?"
Jack took a deep breath. "God, you turn me on. I've never fucked a guy before, but I've wanted to. There was this guy on the team a coupla years back. I hardly had anything to do with him because I was convinced he'd know. Every time I jerked off I thought about him, y'know? Fucking him, sucking his dick. I got so close to going out to a gay bar and just having somebody. Just having another guy and thinking about... Never had the guts, though. Always been afraid of being found out. It's good, isn't it? Being inside another guy's ass? Tell me it's good."
Daniel squirmed and squeezed his cock. "It's very good. You really haven't?"
Jack reached over and put his hand over Daniel's and sliding their hands up and over the cotton of Daniel's underwear. "Nope. Never."
"Wow," Daniel exclaimed, grinning. "This is going to be fun."
Jack let Daniel's hand go and stroked his chest, exploring the skin with the pads of his fingers. "You.. ah.. you wanna go for it now?" he asked, not sure whether he wanted Daniel to say 'yes' or 'no'.
Daniel shook his head. "Not without lube. I mean, I could, it's not like you'd be the first and Christ knows it's not like I don't want to, but.. I want it to be special."
"It would be."
Daniel smiled and kissed him softly. "I know, I'd just like to be a little better prepared, is all. I know something we could do though."
"And that is?"
"Can you move down the bed a little? So that there's some room behind your head."
Jack shuffled downwards a little awkwardly and Daniel removed the covers, then his shorts. Jack's cock was tenting his pants and Daniel grinned, pleased that he could turn Jack on so quickly. He carefully slipped the pyjamas off Jack's legs revealing Jack's beautiful body in all its glory. There were small scars all over his legs and torso, from hits taken and hits given. Daniel knew he was an outdoorsman and figured that some of these were probably a result of climbing a rock that decided to fight back, or falling off his mountain bike. He moved up Jack's body, kissing every blemish reverently, keeping his hands and mouth away from Jack's cock. It wasn't easy, but the way Jack was gripping the under-sheet, it was certainly worth the effort.
When he'd worked his way up to Jack's face, Jack grabbed him, pulling him on top and thrusting his tongue into Daniel's mouth. Daniel took his weight on his hands, either side of Jack's head and finally pulled away from him.
"Something nice and gentle. Although there's not very much I'd like to do but sit on that gorgeous cock of yours right now.."
"I think we should save that for when the fixator comes off. Just lie back and relax, and do what you feel, okay?"
"Hmm," Jack replied.
"You ever done a 69?"
"With a woman, sure!"
Daniel grinned and kissed him. "You're going to like this."
Daniel swung his leg over Jack's head and leaned down, licking the end of Jack's cock. Jack jerked his head upward, but didn't touch Daniel just yet. He was admiring the weird and wonderful view. Instead of a glistening pussy hovering above his mouth, inviting his tongue to taste it, Daniel's balls hung round and tight above Jack's forehead and his cock jutted out and down, following a straight line down Jack's nose to his chin.
"Wow," he murmured, then moaned as Daniel's hot mouth engulfed him. Jack fought the urge to close his eyes as Daniel worked, slowly sliding up and down the length of his dick, curling his tongue around it, then licking the head as if it were a snow-cone. Jack explored Daniel's groin with his long, slim fingers; stroking Daniel's balls and feeling the hard silky flesh of his cock. He pulled Daniel's dick towards his mouth and stuck out his tongue to taste him. Daniel moaned against Jack's groin and gently rocked his hips, and Daniel's length began to disappear down Jack's throat. Jack found it easier to take him in this time, and there was no urgency to it, just a sweet, slow burn.
After sucking for a minute or so, Jack pulled back his head and allowed Daniel's cock out of his mouth. He'd had plenty of fantasies about this in the past and decided it was time to act out what he'd only thought about. He laved Daniel's balls, making them shine wet with his saliva, he licked the salt in the creases of Daniel's legs and then encouraged the young man to edge forward an inch so that he could get to work on Daniel's perineum.
Jack's lover moaned and muttered, his concentration briefly broken while Jack licked and stroked the sensitive strip of skin. Jack was thoroughly enjoying himself, less concerned about what Daniel was doing to him, than concentrating on giving his lover pleasure. He'd watched gay porno movies where guys had licked each others asses, and had often thought about giving it a try. Now he had the opportunity, and Daniel's pink, puckered hole came closer and closer to his questing tongue. He wasn't sure whether to rim Daniel or not though, would he like it? Would it be a step too far, too soon? Jack decided to go for it and pulled Daniel's buttocks downwards and closer to his mouth.
Daniel stopped and took a breath, realising what he was about to do. "Jack, are you sure? You don't have to..."
"D'you like it?"
"So, be quiet and let me get at ya."
Daniel's head dropped and he relaxed his shoulders, moving forward slightly and trying to get his head around the fact that Jack O'Neill's tongue would shortly be licking his asshole. He smiled, a touch smugly, and then moaned softly as he felt Jack's warm breath ghost over the sensitive muscle. Jack smiled, fascinated by the way Daniel's asshole twitched at the stimulation. He lathered up a little spit and poked out his tongue, taking a long swipe. It tasted sharp, and tangy, but good and he grinned as Daniel hummed in pleasure against his hairy thigh.
Jack set about the task with enthusiasm and soon had Daniel squirming above him and groaning, urging him on. He grabbed Daniel's buttocks, kneading and stroking as he licked and sucked, the hole relaxing and opening up to him. He sucked his index finger, and then swirled it around Daniel's winking asshole before sliding it gently inside. He'd done it to himself a few times while jerking off and it had made him blow like Mount St. Helens, so he figured Daniel would probably like it too. Jack was right, judging from the way his ass was swaying around above him like a kite on a windy day. He turned his finger around, trying to find the spot inside.
Finding his own sweet spot had made Jack groan so loud one time, Lori had yelled through the bathroom door, asking him what all the noise was about. He'd fobbed her off by saying he'd banged his shin on the vanity unit, waited until he knew she'd gone, stuffed a towel into his mouth and found that spot again, rubbing it while jerking his dick until he'd howled through the material and spurted come so hard, it had hit the opposite side of the sink.
He twisted and turned the finger, still sliding it in and out until...
"HOLY shit! GOD that's it! Right fucking there!" Daniel cried.
... he hit the spot and grinned. He was so intent on making Daniel yell like that again, he could have hardly cared less what his own dick was feeling. Having this sexy young guy with his ass in Jack's face was turning him on more than he could ever remember. Shuffling downwards again, he tried to keep his finger rubbing that sweet spot while at the same time taking Daniel deep into his throat. He could tell that Daniel was close and beginning to lose control, but the young man was obviously trying to resist the urge to just pump his hips and let it all go.
Jack briefly slid Daniel's cock out of his mouth to speak.
"Fuck my throat, Danny. Just let it fly," he growled and dove back onto Daniel's cock again.
The young man moaned, and began to thrust in and out of Jack's mouth and throat. Jack had to consciously relax to avoid gagging again, but found the angle of their bodies made things much easier and he took Daniel's cock all the way down until his nose was pressed up against the underside of his lover's balls. Daniel was incoherent, mumbling and muttering until Jack heard a prolonged groan and felt Daniel's come sliding down his throat. As he swallowed, his throat contracted and relaxed around Daniel's cock and Jack suddenly realised exactly what he was feeling, since women had done it to him on numerous occasions. It was fun to feel it from the other side and the bitter taste of Daniel's semen wasn't quite so evident. Not that he minded, because it was Daniel, but right now at least, he wouldn't put 'come' on his list of favourite foods.
Eventually, Daniel slowed down and his dick began to wilt. Jack gently removed his finger and allowed Daniel to slip out of his mouth, with a small kiss to its circumcised tip.
Daniel immediately rolled off and lay on his back, panting, and then turned his head to plant a small kiss on Jack's relatively good knee.
"Jesus, Jack. You're a quick study," he gasped. "You're absolutely sure you're not bullshitting me about being a virgin?"
"Scouts Honour," he smiled.
Daniel snorted. "And you were never a Boy Scout either!"
Jack chuckled and kissed his leg.
"God, that was good," Daniel sighed and looked over at Jack's still semi-erect cock. "Hey, you've got some unfinished business there."
"It's all right, kid. It'll go down in a minute."
Daniel propped himself up and looked at Jack incredulously.
"Excuse me? You think I'm going to let that happen?"
"Well, I was hoping..." Jack began, then gasped as Daniel's mouth wrapped around him. He lay back, resting his head on his arms and watching as Daniel's tongue curled itself around his dick, then lapped at the head, then licked up and down from head to balls and back again. The kid was good; maybe the best he'd ever had. He moved his good leg so that Daniel could slide his hand between and underneath to fondle Jack's ass.
Now this was definitely a new sensation. He'd never had anyone else play with his asshole before. None of the women he'd ever slept with were quite that adventurous and had never been keen for him to play with theirs either. He figured it was a gal thing, but Daniel was stroking and probing for all he was worth, while at the same time trying to suck Jack's brains out through the end of his dick. Jack was beginning to worry that the young man might do just that. Bolts of pleasure ran constantly through his balls up to the head of his cock and back again, met by other bolts coming from his asshole through his perineum to his balls and exploding, starting a ball of fire in the small of his back which was spreading rapidly. He was thrilled to think that he might even have made Daniel feel the same.
Jack began to chant 'Danny' repeatedly, growing in volume until his hands clasped the back of Daniel's head and Daniel's finger grazed his prostate one last time and he came, moaning and thrashing around the bed as his semen flowed into Daniel's mouth and the young man drank down every drop.
Daniel cleaned up the last drops and kissed a trail up Jack's body, pausing to swirl his tongue around one of Jack's small tight nipples, which Daniel then nipped, making him jerk.
"Shit, Danny. That wasn't fair!"
"Who said anything about being fair? I can't remember saying I'd be fair," Daniel grinned, kissing him deeply.
Jack sighed happily and wrapped a long arm around his lover, drawing him closer.
"Jesus. All these first times in one go. 69 always was my favourite number. That was fantastic."
"And..." Jack began nervously," and as for that being in love stuff? I'm not quite there yet, but..." he pulled Daniel's chin up so that he could look at his face. "I don't think I'm far behind ya, kid."
Daniel put his hand out to touch Jack's cheek and pulled him down for another deep, soul touching kiss.
"Take your time. I told you, I can wait."
Daniel pulled the comforter over them both, intending to just bask in the afterglow for a while, but when he looked up at Jack, the older man was fast asleep and snoring quietly. He smiled and eased himself out of Jack's embrace. He didn't want to, but it was important that Jack trusted him and he'd said he wasn't ready to spend the night. It would have been so easy to just stay there with him and fall asleep, blaming it on the events of the previous day, and the intensity of the sex, but Daniel had integrity. He covered Jack up again and walked slowly upstairs to bed, happy, tired and sated.
Jeff Cohen was in the office early. His middle-aged secretary, Rose, was surprised to see him behind his desk with his jacket off and his shirtsleeves rolled up when she arrived.
"Oh my! Mr Cohen! Good morning. Have I missed something? You didn't want me in early did you?"
Jeff looked up and smiled. Young, big-titted brunettes were great for eye candy and fine for a little recreation, but when it came to work he needed someone whom he could trust to be discreet. He rose from his desk and walked over to the coffee machine for his second refill of the day. "Morning, Rose. No, it's just something I'm working on. I got an idea in the middle of the night and I wanted to get to it as soon as I could. You could do something for me though. Last year I hired that private detective guy, Gus... what was his name again?"
"Right, right. Hawkins. Shut the door a second, would you?"
Rose closed the door and turned to him, a worried expression on her face. "Is anything the matter?"
Jeff smiled. "No, no. Nothing's wrong, it's just that this is delicate and extremely confidential. Sit down a minute, would you?"
Rose sat down in the chair opposite him.
Do you know exactly why I hired him?" He sat back down at his desk and took a mouthful of coffee.
"Do you know Jack O'Neill?"
Rose smiled. "Of course! He plays for the Penguins. I've seen him here often; he's a very nice man. So polite and thoughtful."
"You're absolutely right, he is, but his wife is trying to blackmail him into giving her just about everything he has. I'm not about to let that happen."
"Oh my goodness! That's terrible! What has he done? Can she do that?"
Jeff sighed. "He hasn't done anything, but as it stands she probably can. However, I have a little ammunition that even Jack doesn't know about. I sent that guy Hawkins out last year to keep an eye on Mrs. O'Neill. I had a hunch she wasn't being totally honest with Jack or true to her marriage vows. I was right."
"So, what can you do?"
"I put the evidence of Mrs. O'Neill's extra-curricular activities in the company safe-deposit box at the bank. I have another copy in my safe at home. I was putting some insurance documents away last night and I found it. I'd forgotten it was even there. I'd like you to go down to the bank and get our copy, and put it here in the company safe, but before you do that, get me Gus Hawkins on the phone."
"Right away, sir."
"Thanks. And Rose?"
"What I've just told you can't leave this room, do you understand?"
"You can count on me, Mr Cohen," Rose replied and strode out of the office with a no-nonsense battleaxe expression on her face.
She closed the door quietly behind her and Jeff picked up the telephone to call Zack.
"Boy, is she gonna get it!"
Daniel woke early, which wasn't his usual habit. Jack was still softly snoring downstairs, so Daniel went about his business quietly. He showered, shaved and slipped on some shorts, then padded down the open staircase barefoot. He looked over at Jack and smiled, still unable to believe his luck. Was it luck? Or merely the seizing of an opportunity? He wasn't sure. A small voice in the back of his mind chided him for taking advantage of a man when he was down, but the other part argued that his motives had been good. What was the proverb? 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions'. He sighed then, pleased that Jack was still peacefully sleeping, and went into the kitchen area to start the coffee.
While he waited for the pot to brew, he walked over to the window and opened the blinds to take in the river view below as his mind percolated the night's events. He was still a little scared; scared that he had given up a perfectly good relationship - albeit a lop-sided one - for a fantasy. There had been so many years of yearning and wanting 'Jack O'Neill' he was afraid for them both that Jack wouldn't live up to the dream, and where would that leave him? Where would it leave Jack?
It appeared to him that Jack was even more afraid, and with good reason. He was a gay man, who had been trapped by the social mores of his job, living a lie for the last God knew how many years. Now, he was discovering what it was like to love another man physically. That side of things was going extremely well, so far, but could Jack 'love' him too? They were both on shaky ground as far as Daniel could see, but he was prepared to give Jack all the time he needed. Slowly, the dream would be replaced by a different and hopefully even more wonderful reality. He took off his glasses, wiping them on the leg of his shorts, and started back to the kitchen where the coffee pot had finished its cycle.
As he passed the sofa-bed he felt Jack's hand run up the back of his leg to slip under his shorts and fondle his ass cheek. He shivered and smiled, then looked down at Jack, who was also smiling with his eyes scrunched up against the bright sunlight filtering through the blind.
"Hey, how are you?"
"All the better for seeing you," Jack replied, stroking the hair on the back of Daniel's thigh some more.
"You'll be seeing part of me grow if you don't stop doing that," Daniel chuckled.
Jack laughed, "Well now, I don't think you'd hear me complain if it did. C'mere. It was a long night and I missed you."
Daniel slipped under the cover beside him and Jack nestled into his embrace as Daniel stroked his hair. Jack's beard tickled his chest and Daniel snorted.
"What?" Jack looked up, puzzled.
"That has got to go. I love the look, but the practicality is not so good."
Jack scratched his beard. "What? This? Does it tickle ya?" he grinned.
"Yeah. Mind you, before we get rid of it... There's something I've always wanted to try, but I've never been with a bearded guy before so I've never had the chance."
Daniel grimaced and shook his head. "Nah, not before breakfast." He pushed Jack's head back down onto his chest again and held him closer.
"Mmmm," Jack murmured.
"Is that okay?"
"Oh yah. More than okay. Y'know something? This is the first time I've been held by someone since... Never mind." He snuggled further into Daniel's arms and let the warmth of his skin seep through, hoping that Daniel could thaw out the place inside him that had grown so cold after years of marriage to a user.
Daniel didn't press him, he could tell that Jack just needed to be held and there would be plenty of time for talking. Jack still found it a little absurd that lying in a young guy's arms could feel so right, but for now he wasn't in the mood to question. In fact, going back to sleep seemed like a good idea. He hadn't felt so relaxed in so long he couldn't remember when. He kissed Daniel's chest and closed his eyes, lulled by the rhythm of Daniel's hand steadily and gently stroking his long hair. He was almost gone, when Daniel's gentle voice woke him again.
"The coffee's ready, babe."
"D'you want some?"
"Does that mean you'll have to move?"
Soft laughter rumbled through Daniel's chest, vibrating against Jack's ear.
"Unless I develop telekinesis in the next minute or so, yeah, I'm afraid it does."
Jack sighed heavily, his warm breath coating Daniel's skin with moisture, and rolled over to allow Daniel to get out of bed.
"You. Caffeine. Hmm, close call. What time is it?"
Daniel glanced at his watch before pouring them both a cup. "8:30."
"Okay. Caffeine's good. Smells great, what is it?"
Daniel grinned as he walked through with the steaming beverages. "I think you'd approve. It's Adirondack. I'm surprised Jeff has it. They only just opened up a few months ago in Minneapolis, I had no idea they did mail order."
Jack pushed himself up to a sitting position, grinning. "Well, I'll be damned! I'll make sure to go there next time I'm on my way to the cabin. I usually fly into Minneapolis/St Paul..." his eyes narrowed. "Hey, wait a minute there. How did you...?"
Daniel put down the mugs and shrugged. "I read."
Jack snorted softly. "You're somethin' else, Danny. I'm glad you're here."
"Because I know you have a cabin in northern Minnesota?" he chuckled.
"No, dumbass. You know what I'm sayin', don't make me say it. I'm still embarrassed by all this stuff, y'know?"
"Yeah, I know." Daniel took a long mouthful of coffee and closed his eyes. "Mmmmmm, oh yeah. That's the stuff. Ah God, just like what they sell in the coffee shop. Mm, mm, MM."
"And here's me thinking that it takes a blow job to get that sound outta ya."
"That's because this tastes as good as you do. Beautiful," Daniel grinned, his eyes lighting up.
"Put that down and kiss me," Jack demanded, placing his cup safely on the side table.
"Yes, sir!" Daniel duly placed his mug next to Jack's and straddled his hips. Jack's long arms went instinctively around him as Daniel cupped Jack's face in his hands and painfully slowly edged forward until his lips were just a fraction of an inch away from Jack's. Their eyes were locked, and Jack was fascinated by how wide Daniel's pupils were becoming.
Daniel ran his damp tongue over his lips, the edge of it wetting Jack's dry lips, and then he turned his head slightly to the side, making sure he covered the whole of Jack's mouth with his lips. Jack's lips parted and his tongue slipped inside Daniel's mouth, gently, tasting the bitter flavour of the coffee on both Daniel's tongue and his own. Their tongues swapped and changed, not battling for supremacy, merely dancing and teasing, their explorations tender and gentle. When Daniel finally broke away, Jack was almost panting.
"God... You know when I said you were something else? Well, just call me Master of the Understatement."
"Back atcha Jack," replied Daniel, breathing heavily. "I've never been kissed by anyone as good as you."
"Ah, get out!" Jack protested.
Daniel held his face again. "No bullshit. You're really something and I can hardly wait until that damned thing comes off."
The promise in his voice made Jack shiver and he was almost glad when Daniel moved to get his coffee cup and pass Jack's to him. Jack had the exhilarating but scary feeling that Daniel Jackson was going to take him to places he'd never dreamed existed.
"So," Daniel continued. "I'll get you some breakfast then I'll head off up to the hospital; see if we can't get you a chair for the shower. I think that'll be a better bet than trying to climb in and out of the bath, although we could try it if you want to?"
"Um... yeah, I'll try a bath. You can help me in and out, right?"
"Absolutely. You want to bathe before breakfast?"
Jack rolled a mouthful of coffee around and considered before swallowing and then answering with a smile.
"Er, actually I'd like you to suck me off and then come all over my face before breakfast."
Daniel almost choked, but eventually managed to reply, grinning. "Whatever you say, Skip."
Jeff frowned as he watched the videotape of Lori O'Neill exiting the Lakeview Scanticon Resort in Morgantown, draped around the massive frame of Stanley Pankowski. They were laughing and joking as they walked out to their respective cars, parked side by side in the hotel parking lot. Just before Lori got into her Porsche, she shared a searing kiss with the man and gave his balls a squeeze for good measure. Jeff shook his head in disgust, both cursing and blessing the zoom facility on Mr. Hawkins' video camera. Still, as revolting a sight as it was, it would provide some damning evidence to use against her; and there was more where that came from.
He had photographs, more videotape of Lori leaving and entering various luxury hotels in the Pittsburgh area with various different men. Some of them Jeff recognised as players on other NHL teams, others looked more like businessmen; probably involved in the running of the team. The personnel changed so rapidly, Jeff could hardly keep up with who was who on the board of the Penguins any more.
There was a soft knock on the door and Jeff quickly switched off the tape.
Rose poked her head around the door and smiled. "Mr. Cohen, Mr. Hawkins is here to see you."
"Ah thank you, Rose! Send him in."
Gus Hawkins limped into Jeff's office leaning heavily on a steel walking cane. His injured leg was a souvenir from his seventeen years on the Pittsburgh P.D. and a gift from an armed bank robber. Being shot had ended his career on the force, but he had received some disability compensation and a full pension.
His wife had left him years before, taking their two sons with her. Glenys had been unable to cope with the stress of being married to a cop and had moved back to New Jersey to be with her family. Gus didn't blame her; it was a helluva job and even worse for the families. They'd been to too many service funerals and enough had been enough.
Gus had coped reasonably well, a short lived stint with booze notwithstanding, until he'd been shot. After going stir crazy for six months, he'd finally decided to start his own detective agency. Although his clientele was relatively small, the business ticked over nicely, afforded him and his half dozen staff a decent living and gave him something to do with all the lonely hours.
He'd been pleased when Jeff Cohen had contacted him again. He'd assumed that another of Jeff's clients would need his services, which meant that he'd obviously been happy with the job he'd done last time. The whole infidelity thing was a little distasteful, but when all was said and done, one spouse was still committing a crime against another and he had the means to gather the evidence against them. There was no shame in it as far as he was concerned.
"C'mon in, Gus. Sit down and rest your leg. How is it?"
"Oh not too bad, up and down, y'know?"
Jeff nodded. "Listen, d'you remember that job you did for me last year?"
"Lori O'Neill? Oh yeah, I remember all right. I lost count of the different guys she had. What about it?"
"I want you to tail her again. She's still with that Pankowski character, I'm sure of it. Now she's threatening to sue Jack for divorce and take him for everything she can get her talons into."
"What?! That's ridiculous! Did you ever show her husband the evidence?"
Jeff sat down heavily in his leather chair and sighed. "No. And I wish I had. Did you see the game?"
"I sure did. Sonovabitch should be thrown out of the game altogether!"
"Well, my sources within the NHL Commissioner's office tell me that he probably will be." Jeff leaned forward and his voice dropped almost to a whisper. "That complicates matters. If he is banned for life, that means they'll try and get as much out of Jack as they can get. Pankowski's pension will be withdrawn; he'll lose his benefits. He'll be left with nothing but what he has in the bank, and his future won't look too rosy. I daresay Lori will keep him around until she tires of him, then she'll kick him out and move on to the next one."
Gus shook his head. "She's a nasty piecea work and no mistake. How is she trying to get Jack?"
"By saying he's gay," Jeff replied flatly.
"By saying he's... WHAT?"
"She's going to 'out' him to the press if he doesn't come up with the goods. It may be bullshit or it may not; either way she can give away enough for folks to say 'there's no smoke...' So, we have to get there first."
"What a bitch!" Hawkins spat. "I always figured she was just after his money. I've seen her kind before. Personally, I don't give a damn whether he is or he isn't. He was one of the best D's I've ever seen and the team'll be the poorer without him. Is he going to the celebration dinner down at the rink?"
"I don't know."
"How's he doing?"
Jeff shrugged. "Not too bad, I think. He's staying at my place downtown until we can get Lori to drop all this and move out of the family home." He snorted. "Some family."
"So, if he agrees to all this, what would she cite in a divorce petition? Irreconcilable differences?"
"I suppose so. Quickie divorce in Reno or somewhere, leaving her with all the benefits and leaving Jack with nothing," Jeff sighed. "However, if we do our jobs right, it'll be Mrs. O'Neill leaving the relationship with nothing but the Yves St Laurent on her back."
Lori dived elegantly into the swimming pool, leaving barely a ripple. She did a couple of strokes under the water, before breaking the surface to breathe and smoothing back her hair. Stan lay on the lounger at the edge of the pool, sipping on a Budweiser and watching her swim gracefully up and down with a lascivious grin on his face.
"Shall I join you? We could maybe make a few waves?" he asked, leering shamelessly.
Lori smiled. "I don't think so. The last thing I want is for someone to catch us in the pool, honey. At least, not yet."
Stan lay down at the edge as she swam lazily over to him. Snaring the big lug had been almost too easy. It was ironic. It had been his lack of smarts which had made her think that he was the one to make her plan work; but at the same time, his lack of smarts and his carelessness in executing that perfect plan, meant that he was now looking at a lifetime ban. Lori was damned if she was going to replace one loser with another.
She'd wanted Jack injured enough so that he'd have to leave the NHL, but not crippled and not in the Stanley Cup. It was way too public. Stan had argued that he hadn't had a real chance before then, but Lori put it down to cowardice, or at least an unwillingness to go through with it. Who knew he'd end up having a conscience?
It had become obvious that Jack's career had been on the downturn anyway, so she thought it would be a fine idea to take advantage of the extra injury compensation, then split. The homosexual angle hadn't occurred to her at the beginning, but the longer she planned and looked back on their marriage, the more sense it made. He hadn't touched her since before the play-offs and before that their sex life had been mediocre at best, not to mention sporadic. She'd looked long and hard, but she'd never been able to find any gay porn either on his computer or in the home, which had been irritating. It would have made things nice and simple and she wouldn't have needed an accomplice. Still, the deed was done, and the stooge had been primed if Jack decided to fight, which Lori didn't think he would.
Every now and then she'd get a twinge of guilt at treating someone who was a decent man in this way; and then she remembered what her life had been like before Jack. Waiting tables in a small café near the arena, living in a roach-ridden apartment in a lousy part of town, nothing to look forward to but a fast fuck in a storeroom on a Saturday night somewhere in the rink with one player or another. She knew how people who'd known her a long time regarded her, but she didn't care. To sports fans all over the country she was somebody. She was an NHL wife. Living in Jack's house, swimming in Jack's pool, spending Jack's money, and that was the way it was going to stay. Except soon, she wouldn't have the added inconvenience of Jack.
She'd decided to wait a while before getting rid of Stanley. He'd be useful until things were settled and Jack had caved in, as Lori was certain he would. Besides, he gave good head and he was a better fuck than Jack had ever been. His cock was always up and eager, he was happy to play it any way she wanted as long as he was getting some, and he didn't want to talk all the damn time, like Jack did. It was so refreshing.
She kissed him quickly and splashed away, backstroking up the pool, making sure her firm breasts were shown to their best advantage and showing Stanley precisely how lucky he was.
Daniel drove Jack down to the hospital after lunch, and the receptionists gave Jack a warm welcome as he came through the doors. It had been all Daniel could do to make Jack leave him alone long enough for them both to get dressed. Their repertoire right now was limited, but every moment of intimacy and sexual pleasure seemed to hold a sense of wonder for Jack. He had an insatiable curiosity about what Daniel liked. Jack wanted to know everything. His first time and how it felt, the first man Daniel ever loved, what it was like to come out, where he liked to be touched, when he realised he was gay. It was exhausting and thrilling and flattering all at once. Daniel was guiltily pleased to have an hour's grace while Jack was having his physiotherapy. Jack had wanted him there too, but the PT had insisted they work alone.
Jack had tried to throw a half hearted hissy fit about it, but eventually he admitted defeat and gritted his teeth to face what he knew would be some painful exercises. He set to them with his eyes on the prize. The fixator off and Daniel: all of him. Daniel made a quick exit and headed off to the Rehabilitation Department to see if a chair could be organised. The bath had been a resounding success, in a way, but Daniel still felt that if there was going to be any significant cleansing done, Jack would have to do it alone; with Daniel waiting outside. He was sitting in the cafeteria, sipping a lukewarm but reasonable cup of coffee, when Jeff Cohen sat down opposite him at the table.
"Hey Daniel," he smiled.
"Jeff..." Daniel answered, puzzled. "What are you doing here? Jack is in Physical Therapy."
"I know. I figured you'd be around here somewhere and it's you I want to see."
"Me? What do you want with me?" Daniel was beginning to worry. He feared that Jeff would tell him to leave Jack alone; that his very presence was a threat to Jack's livelihood and reputation.
"Don't panic, kid. It's nothing bad. Look. Cards on the table. I don't especially want you to tell me, but I've come to my own conclusions that you guys are sharing more than a large pepperoni and a six pack, if you get my drift?"
"So, as weird as it is to me, if he's happy, I'm happy. You're a good kid, I know you'll treat him right and that's all I'm gonna say about it."
"Oookay...." Daniel answered, hesitantly.
"Now. What we need to do is work on getting that gold digging little bitch out of his life as quickly and painlessly as possible. I have a plan, but I need a little help from you."
Jack stood in front of the mirror, trying to balance and tie his bow tie, with little success. He hadn't considered sitting down to do it.
"Goddammit! Fuckin' thing! Whatever happened to the ones you just clip around your neck, huh?"
Daniel came to the rescue, taking the tie from him.
"C'mon, sit down. I'll do it. I was going to do it anyway. You have no patience, Jack."
Jack looked at Daniel's reflection in the mirror and smiled despite his irritation. The kid looked damned good in a tuxedo and he was doing a fine job of tying the creation of Beelzebub the rental company had sent. Jack had a couple of tuxes of his own, including a white one which he intended to show off to Daniel one day, but they were back at the house and inaccessible. The upside was that they were both wearing rentals. This way, Daniel didn't have to feel like the poor relation.
It had taken Jack a while to persuade his lover to come to the celebration dinner with him at all. Daniel hadn't felt that it was his place to accompany him. Not to mention Daniel's growing paranoia at them being seen together, which had become more intense in the week since his conversation with Jeff. If it were obvious to him that they were together, surely the rest of the team would notice? That couldn't be a good thing, at least not until Jeff had the rest of his plan in place. He had to ask himself if they'd come out even then.
This was, as far as Daniel could see, a temporary arrangement. Not just because Jack was recovering well and wouldn't need help for very much longer, but also because Daniel had school and a life back in L.A. He couldn't see them together past September and was regarding this as a summer vacation romance, or some kind of alternate reality bubble that couldn't last. At the end of it, if he'd helped Jack to come to terms with his sexuality, and perhaps taught him a little about loving another man, that was great, and God knew he was enjoying the journey, but as for them having a relationship of any length, the complications were too knotty for him to deal with.
Daniel finished tying Jack's tie and they looked at each other for a long moment in the mirror, Daniel's hands resting on his shoulders. Jack put his hand onto one of Daniel's and smiled.
Daniel smiled back at him. He hadn't ever seen many pictures of Jack smiling and he thought it was a shame. Jack had a wonderful smile, his brown eyes twinkled and every time Jack smiled at him, it seemed as if time stopped.
"Yeah. I'm still not sure this is a good idea, though," he replied.
"Come around here a second."
Daniel went in front of him and knelt between his legs.
Jack stroked his hair and bent down to kiss him.
"I can't think of anyone I'd rather take to this thing. This is the end of my career and I'm going out on a high. I want you to be there to share it with me."
He hesitated and kissed Daniel again, then held him close and whispered, "I need you to be there."
Daniel felt the connection between them more intensely in that moment than he had at any point so far. He nestled into the crook of Jack's neck and held him, both of them silently acknowledging the subtle shift in their relationship. Neither one needed to say the words.
After a minute or two, Jack pulled back and smiled. "So, we goin' then? I'm starved."
They didn't talk much during the drive down to the arena. Jack had found one of his Steve Earle tapes and they both spent the time singing along. Daniel couldn't help but smile when Jack started singing 'Baby, baby, baby oh baby, hoo baby, baby I love you too much...' especially when it was accompanied by a sexy grin. Jack couldn't sing to save his life, but right now Daniel couldn't have cared less. One particular verse struck a chord.
'I tell myself that this ain't no big thing
Then you give another little tug on that heartstring
You cut me darlin' and I'm still bleedin'
Just touch me baby that's all I'm needin'
You must think that I'm easy, dontcha?
But I got scars that I've never shown ya
Every inch of me burns for your touch
I think maybe I love you too much...'
Yep. That just about said it all as far as Daniel was concerned.
Jeff and Kim Cohen were waiting in the lobby of the arena when they arrived and greeted them both warmly. Kim threw her arms around Jack and hugged him tightly.
"Oh Jack! You poor thing! I was horrified when I heard about it. Is it still painful?"
"Hey Kim, it's doin' okay. I'll be fine. Don't you worry a bit."
She finally let him go and he introduced her to Daniel.
"This is Daniel Jackson, an old friend of mine from California. He's my..."
"Helper and general servant," Daniel interrupted. "He's driving me nuts, but you know what he's like."
Kim nodded and shook his hand. "I know he can be difficult sometimes, but he's one of Jeff's best clients and he's a lovely man. Aren't you, Jack?"
"If you say so, Kim," Jack smiled.
"Wonderful to meet you, Daniel. I have a cousin in New York who's a Daniel. He's a cantor in one of the big shuls. Can you sing?"
Jack snorted. "Not if his efforts on the way over here were anything to go by!"
"Gee, thanks Jack. You'd better watch out, or I'll hide your crutches," Daniel grinned.
Jack looked at the floor, chuckling.
"Jeffery, remind me to send some of my lokschen pudding over," she demanded. "They both look like they need a decent meal. Goodness Jack, you're nothing but a shadow! Better yet, why don't you both come over for dinner one night? You and Jeff arrange it between you, just give me a couple of days notice. You know how I like to entertain," she smiled.
"We'd be delighted," Jack smiled, remembering what a wonderful cook she was.
"Honey, we'd better go in," Jeff urged her and all four of them made their way to the function room.
It was bedecked in black and gold, and the world-famous Stanley Cup trophy stood tall and gleaming, dominating the long table that stretched across the opposite end of the room from the door. A huge buffet table went down one side. There were also a dozen or more round tables scattered around the rest of the room, each set with eight or ten chairs and place cards. Jack took a deep breath before entering.
He had never been comfortable with all the extras involved in being a hockey player, other than running hockey schools for under privileged youngsters in the area and helping the kids improve their skills. He was happy to help charities out with personal appearances too, but he still didn't enjoy being in the public eye. For him, it was all about the game and he sighed, realising with deep sadness that this really was it.
"You okay?" Daniel asked quietly.
Jack nodded. "Let's do it."
During the evening Jack had mingled, caught up with the rest of his team mates and received his Cup Winner's ring to thunderous applause. After the team captain had presented Jack with the ring, the team owner announced that Jack's shirt was being retired. It was an honour which wasn't given often and was a singular mark of respect, acknowledging Jack's contribution to the team. Jack gave a short speech of thanks, which also served as a goodbye. His speech was greeted by a standing ovation. Everyone in the room was on their feet and clapping. Many of them were crying, including Daniel, all of them recognising that it was the end of an era in Pittsburgh.
Daniel could see that Jack was near to tears too, and the look in his eyes almost begged Daniel to take him home as he worked his way through the congratulations, handshakes, hugs and backslapping, towards where Daniel sat at his table between Kim Cohen and Zack's wife Chaya. The two ladies had spent most of the evening flirting outrageously and harmlessly with Daniel. He'd listened attentively to them, making compliments where appropriate and commiserating or encouraging in all the right places. It looked as if they'd both succumbed to Daniel's charms too, and Jack was positively awestruck by the way he'd obviously handled them.
For the whole evening, Jack had been seated with the rest of the team on the top table and although he was with guys he'd played with for years, and as deep as the relationship between team-mates went, Jack had desperately missed being close to Daniel. He just wanted to get into the truck and have Daniel drive him back to the loft so that he could go to sleep in his lover's arms. Tonight would be the night if Daniel was willing. Jack wanted to wake up with him tomorrow morning.
He raised his head to look around the room and saw Lori in the doorway, trying to get into the function room with a furious look on her face. The security guard obviously either didn't know who she was, or had been instructed not to let her in, which enraged her even more. Finally, she was escorted away from the door and Jack breathed a sigh of relief. That was one confrontation he didn't need. He wondered if that had been Jeff's doing and silently thanked him for not allowing her to ruin his special night.
He slowly and painfully made his way back to Daniel's side and jerked his head towards the door.
"Well ladies," Daniel began, "you've been outstanding company. Thank you both so much for making me feel so welcome and at home. I really appreciate it," he smiled, kissing both of them on the cheek in turn.
"I'm sorry to drag him away so soon," Jack apologised. "My leg is really playing up and I need to get some rest. Jeff, Zack, could you guys organise a meeting sometime in the next few days? I want to discuss my options."
Both men nodded. "Sure Jack," Zack replied. "I'll get on it as soon as I get into the office tomorrow. It'll probably be Wednesday, if Jeff's schedule agrees with mine."
"Good. We got stuff to work out. 'Night all." Jack turned awkwardly on his crutches and almost fell. Daniel was out of his seat in a second, holding him steady.
Jack nodded and smiled through his obvious pain and they made as swift an exit as possible.
Lori was waiting by his truck in the underground parking garage.
"So," she spat. "This is the one, is it?"
Jack glared. "The one what?"
"The one you've been fucking, when you should have been fucking me!"
"Listen, you fucking whore. I'm going to say this once, so pay attention. I'll get you and that bastard out of my home, if it's the last thing I do. You're gonna get nothing out of me. Do you hear me? NOTHING! You reckon I'm a fag do ya? Well, as it happens, I don't know what it's like to fuck a guy, but I'd bet my last dime that it'd be a damned sight more fun than fucking you ever was!"
"You really are a sorry sonovabitch aren't you? I can destroy whatever future you have left in this game. Just. Like. That." She snapped her fingers.
"Try it, bitch. I'll see you in court! Now get outta my way. I wanna go home, maybe have a beer or five. Get this nasty taste outta my mouth."
Lori snorted as she moved aside to allow him to get into the truck. "So, next time don't swallow." She turned on her heel and walked away with her head held high.
Jack was beside himself with anger. All the way back to the loft, he sat with his head back against the headrest and his eyes closed. His fists were clenching and unclenching by his sides. Daniel let him be. The evening had been way too much for him in more ways than one.
"Put some music on, Danny. Don't care what. I need to get the sound of her fucking voice out of my head," Jack sighed.
Daniel picked up the first tape he could find and slipped it into the player. It was a compilation of The Pretenders' singles and Daniel smiled, as the random facility picked what he thought was a particularly appropriate track. Jack's face gradually relaxed from an angry grimace into a soft smile as he listened.
'Don't get me wrong
if I'm looking kind of dazzled
I see neon lights
whenever you walk by
Don't get me wrong
if you say 'Hello' and I take a ride
upon a sea where the mystic moon
is playing havoc with the tide
Don't get me wrong
Don't get me wrong
if I'm acting so distracted
I'm thinking about the fireworks
that go off when you smile
Don't get me wrong
if I split like light refracted
I'm only off to wander
across a moonlit mile
Once in a while
two people meet
seemingly for no reason
they just pass on the street
Suddenly thunder, showers everywhere
Who can explain the thunder and rain
but there's something in the air
Don't get me wrong
if I come and go like fashion
I might be great tomorrow
but hopeless yesterday
Don't get me wrong
if I fall in the 'mode of passion'
It might be unbelievable
but let's not say 'So long'
It might just be fantastic
Don't get me wrong'
By the end of the song he was chuckling. "Jesus Danny, you can pick 'em can't ya?"
"Not my fault, Jack. Blame your tape player," he smiled.
"We there yet?"
"God Jack, how old are you?"
"Old enough in Pennsylvania, kid. I just want to get back to the apartment and make love to you all night. Is that a problem?"
"Well then, step on it, Buster."
"Stepping as we speak," Daniel answered, while his stomach did its Olga Korbut impression.
The elevator doors opened and Daniel stepped out. Jack smiled, checking out his ass in his tight suit pants; his jacket was slung over his shoulder. Jack followed him out, growling softly.
Daniel turned towards the sound and his breath caught as he saw the look in Jack's eyes.
"Stay with me, tonight?" Jack asked.
Daniel kissed him deeply, and then headed off up the stairs, leaving Jack disappointed.
"Hey! Where y'goin'?"
"I just have to get a couple of things before we start. Nothing worse than getting into it and having to stop," he grinned.
Jack's jaw dropped open. There was only one thing he could need 'things' for and Jack's cock immediately became hard at the thought. He rested on one crutch and quickly adjusted himself, but not quickly enough for Daniel to miss it as he came bounding back down the stairs again with a filthy grin, a bottle of Astroglide and a handful of condoms.
"Still the Boy Scout, hmm?" Jack asked, his voice husky with excitement and anticipation.
"I already told you. I never was one, but when I was a kid, I really wanted to get fucked by the Scout Master," he murmured.
He moved closer to Jack and kissed him, sliding his hands behind Jack's waist to unfasten his cummerbund and letting it fall to the floor.
"He was tall and strong, like you. And he had a hairy chest, like you. I just wanted to run my fingers through it and rub my chin around it."
He licked around Jack's neck as his nimble fingers unsnapped the fasteners on his shirt, pulling it out of Jack's pants and open to reveal his hairy chest. Daniel moaned and traced downward to Jack's taut nipples, nipping and laving, giving each one equal attention as Jack rolled back his head and gasped.
"Danny... I have to sit down. God! I'm gonna fall if you keep that up," Jack sighed.
"I'll never let you fall, Jack. I'll always be there to catch you."
Their eyes met for a second and Jack brought up his hand to cradle Daniel's face.
"Promise?" he whispered.
"Promise. C'mon, let's get out of these monkey suits."
Daniel undressed him with great care and he lay down on the bed, fondling his cock and balls as he watched Daniel strip, taking his time and teasing. Jack was finally ready to spend a whole night with him and Daniel was intent on making it even more special than the previous couple of weeks had been. He had to make Jack feel wanted; to let him know that he needed him, even if Jack felt that no-one else did.
Seeing how hard Jack was for him made him more excited than he could ever remember and he didn't think he'd be able to wait until later to have Jack inside him. He slipped off his underwear to reveal his own erection, which flared away from his body, ruddy and eager. Jack murmured his approval as Daniel got into bed beside him and pulled the young man close for a deep kiss. Their tongues mashed together, swirling and tasting, dipping inside and pulling back. When they broke for air, Jack was panting.
"I want to be inside you."
"Patience, baby. Patience. You have to get me ready first... or do you want me to do it while you watch?"
"Jeez. I don't know. What do you want?"
Daniel grinned. "I want you to rub your beard over my asshole. That's what I was talking about the other day. There are so many nerve endings down there, I've always wondered what it would be like."
"Go for it," Jack smiled, eager for the opportunity to please him and wanting to indulge in his favourite new pastime: rimming Daniel.
Jack eased himself up on the pillows and Daniel straddled him so that his ass was in Jack's face. Jack pulled his buttocks apart so that he could look at Daniel's puckered, winking hole, then dived in between them, rubbing his beard around the hole and down Daniel's perineum to his balls.
The effect was immediate and Daniel groaned in delight, pushing back into Jack's face and rolling his hips. Jack held tight to him and kept him still, rubbing his face up, down and around, every now and then sticking out his tongue to lick Daniel's asshole. The young man moaned and writhed; shoving backward and urging Jack to tongue fuck him. Jack didn't need any encouragement and set to the task with the zeal of a new convert. He couldn't get enough of Daniel's body and eased his tongue deep inside, then withdrew to lick around the outside, then eased back in again, teasing the hole open, relaxing it, and feeling Daniel's whole body shudder with delight.
Daniel continued to voice his enjoyment until he was on the verge of coming. He grabbed the base of his cock tightly and told Jack to stop.
"I don't want to come yet. I want to come all over that gorgeous chest of yours with your cock inside me." He flipped open the bottle of lube and coated his fingers with it, then sat up and reached behind him. He turned his head towards Jack with a smile.
"Pay attention, babe. There's a test later."
Daniel slid his fingers around his slackening hole, easing one finger inside and slipping it in and out, then he added another, stretching gently. Jack's cock wasn't overly big, but he hadn't had penetrative sex for weeks now and although he was looking forward to the initial burn, he wanted to make it easy for them both.
Jack watched, fascinated as the hole opened up at his fingers' bidding, revelling in the moans of pleasure coming out of his lover's mouth. Finally, Daniel was ready and he turned to face him. He deftly unwrapped a condom and slid it onto Jack's cock, which he then positioned, rubbing the head around his asshole and licking his lips. Daniel's eyes were almost black and he could see the desire reflected in Jack as he slowly sank down onto his lover's dick.
Jack's mouth opened in surprise as he felt his cockhead breach Daniel's body, feeling the tightness and the heat inside him. He wanted to surge his hips forward and sink himself all the way in, but Daniel was controlling the action and he took it slowly, inch by sweet inch, rolling his hips and biting his lip as his lover filled him. He rolled back his head and closed his eyes, revelling in the sensation of being fucked by his fantasy after so many years of wanting him.
At last Jack was inside him fully and they both paused, stroking each other's chests tenderly.
"God, Daniel," Jack breathed. "I never..."
"Oh yeah," Daniel murmured. "If this feels half as good to you as it does to me, neither of us is going to last long."
He leaned forward and kissed Jack gently, and Jack held him as close as he could without slipping out of him. He was overwhelmed by sensation. This wasn't just fucking, this was making love and Jack had almost forgotten how vast the difference was. He wondered suddenly if he'd ever truly made love to anyone before this.
Daniel sat back and began to move slowly up and down, angling his body so that the head of Jack's cock slid over his prostate. Jack grunted when Daniel found the right angle and his ass spasmed around the hard cock inside him. Daniel picked up Jack's hand and poured a little lube on it, then brought it to his cock and wrapped Jack's long fingers around it.
"Stroke me, Jack. Please. Make me come. I can't take this much longer," Daniel begged.
Jack stroked him, rubbing his lubed hand over the head as Daniel continued to slide up and down, fucking himself and sliding his cock through Jack's hand, driving them both insane. Jack's other hand teased and pulled at Daniel's tight nipples, stroking his chest in between times. His hand worked Daniel's cock, stroking the way Jack had learned he liked it as Daniel became incoherent, fucking himself faster and harder as he raced towards orgasm.
"C'mon Danny," Jack urged. "Ah Gad! You feel so damned good. Come all over me babe, I love you so much." He carried on stroking and watching the young man's face, which was contorted in ecstasy. He was in another world: a world Jack had sent him to. A flush of pride ran through him that he could bring his lover so much pleasure and hoped he could hold on until Daniel came.
Daniel cried out Jack's name and a second later his come shot out of the end of his cock and landed on Jack's chest and neck. Jack groaned long and loud, and surged upwards into him as Daniel's ass throbbed around his cock, sending him over the edge.
Gradually, they both slowed down and Jack slipped his hand off the head of Daniel's soft cock, squeezing it. Daniel watched him lick the stray come off his fingers, smiling as he got his breath back. He eased himself gently off his lover's softening dick and lay beside him, dipping his fingers into the cream coating Jack's chest and sucking it down as Jack took the condom off and tied it in a knot.
Jack felt speechless, drained, sated and glorious. He couldn't remember ever coming so hard, or feeling so connected to another person. He didn't know how to describe it, or what to say that would be anywhere near adequate. Jack didn't cry often, and he already had once this evening, so when he felt the hot tears pricking at his eyes, he put it down to the release of pent up emotion. It had been one helluva night.
He could feel Daniel's tears gently rolling onto his shoulder, although there was no sound coming from the young man, other than a croaky whisper.
"Love you, Jack."
"Yeah," Jack managed to whisper back. "Me too."
They lay wrapped in each other's arms for a few moments, savouring the intimacy and trying not to fall asleep, and then Daniel silently got out of bed to find a washcloth and towel.
Jack could hear the sounds of him cleaning up in the bathroom and knew they'd both be more comfortable when they were clean, but still, he couldn't help feeling bereft without Daniel beside him. Looking back on his marriage he figured Lori had been quite some actress. She'd made all the right noises, but never, not once had Jack ever felt such a sense of completeness after sex. Most times, he'd got up after she'd fallen asleep and gone down to the basement to read for a while. He'd never wanted to go to sleep in her arms, or felt this glow before, that he was convinced must be radiating out of his pores.
Daniel padded back in and cleaned his chest tenderly, a small coy smile playing around his lips.
"What?" Jack asked him, smiling.
"Oh, I was just thinking. In all my fantasies, I never imagined you looking like this afterwards."
"I don't know. It's hard to describe."
Jack put his arms around Daniel and kissed him, then pulled him back into bed and into a close embrace.
"It's called 'happy'."
Jack slept more soundly than he had for weeks. When he awoke in the morning he was sore all over but as he looked at Daniel, who was still sleeping, he couldn't help a dumb grin spreading across his face. He couldn't understand why he'd been so reticent about spending the night with him, or why he'd waited so long to be with another man, but then he figured this was just right and the wait was more than worth it.
He eased himself out of bed and onto his crutches to go to the bathroom and found that it was becoming easier to bear weight on his leg now. The exercises the PT had given him were hard, but they were obviously doing the job. Jack could finally see the day when the fixator would come off and he could make love to Daniel the way he wanted to, with Daniel lying beneath him, face to face. He was looking forward to Daniel being inside him too. Jack knew that his lover would make his first time amazing. Daniel had been a revelation. He was a skilled lover with a great deal of imagination, especially given their current constrained circumstances, but there were so many other things that Jack wanted to try. None of which could be done with the fixator still on.
He tried not to think of the previous night as he made his way to relieve himself. Peeing on the ceiling wouldn't go down well with Jeff. This thing with Lori was going to be messy; and Jack didn't know how Jeff was planning to handle it. He knew that Jeff would do whatever was necessary to get Jack's home back and Lori out of his life, but he wasn't looking forward to the process. Maybe he should just 'come out' and the hell with all of them.
Daniel was murmuring Jack's name when he reached the bed and the young man turned over, exposing his chest above the comforter. He was still asleep, his face was relaxed, and a small smile played around his lips. Jack sat on the armchair beside him, just watching. Jack didn't know how long he'd been there, but finally Daniel opened his eyes.
"Dreamin' about me?" Jack smiled.
Daniel stretched lazily and smiled back at him. " Mmmm. Morning."
"How're you doing?"
"I'm good. Exhausted, and my butt's a little sore, but that's to be expected."
"Sorry," Jack said, feeling a little sheepish.
Daniel took his hand. "Hey, don't apologise! I was the one in control, remember? How was I to know you'd be able to get it up five times in one night?" he grinned. "It's my own fault, I just can't get enough of you."
Jack's face flushed red and he looked at the floor as Daniel chuckled and kissed his fingers.
"You're fantastic and I'm so not complaining."
"Well, as long as it was good for you, because I haven't had sex like that in my life before. Never. Swear to God." He put his hand over Daniel's and linked their fingers, and then kissed the palm of his hand, sighing happily. "It wasn't just the sex talkin' when I said I loved you, y'know. I really do."
"I know. Me too. Say, why don't we give the sap a rest for a minute and get some breakfast?"
Jack laughed. "That's a good idea. You got anything planned for today?" he asked as Daniel got out of bed and put on his shorts.
"Now, whatcha have to go and do that for?" Jack chided.
Jack stood up and walked over to him using only one crutch, then put his arm around Daniel, fondling his ass. "Cover this up. You know how much I love it."
"What? This?" Daniel chuckled and sashayed over to the kitchen.
"Bastard!" Jack mumbled with a grin on his face.
Jeff Cohen kissed his prayer book and prayer shawl, then put them back in his tallis bag and waved to Kim up in the balcony as the Saturday morning synagogue service ended. He made his way through to the back of the hall, where the congregants were mingling and getting cups of coffee. He headed straight to Michael Goldstein, editor of the local paper, and held out his hand.
"Gut shabbos, Moishe. How's it going?"
Michael shook his hand and shrugged. "Shabbos. Can't complain. You?"
The other man's eyes narrowed. "You're goin' frum on me, Yossel. That usually means you need a favour."
Jeff smiled. "Am I that obvious?"
"Well, when you do that, it's to remind me how we were at religion school together and that you still have markers to call in. What's the deal?" he smiled back.
"Not here. I'd get in trouble with the Rabbi for talking business on Shabbos, and then Kim would start and it's just not worth the aggravation. You know what a yenta she can be."
Michael nodded. He'd known Jeff and Kim since they were all children, and knew that Jeff's wife had a temper.
Jeff beckoned Zack over to where they were standing. "Ze'ev. C'mere for a second."
Zack picked up his coffee and cake, and then walked over to the two men who had retired to a quiet corner of the room.
"Jeff, Mike. Shabbos. What's up?"
Jeff looked around to see if they were being overheard and dropped his voice to almost a whisper.
"I need to see both of you. This afternoon if you can. I'm trying to get a plan in place to help Jack."
"Why so urgent?" Zack enquired.
"I'll tell you later. Kim is going to visit her mother this afternoon, so can you get to my place for around 2:30?"
"Fine with me," Michael replied. "Becky's teaching a women's class here, so she's coming back straight after lunch."
Zack nodded. "Chaya's coming back for that, too. This new Rebbetzin seems really hot on women's education."
Jeff shrugged. "That's what you get for bringing in a Lubavitch rabbi."
"Don't get me started," Zack warned.
"You are on the committee, Ze'ev," Mike pointed out.
"Well anyways, she's gettin' a little too enthusiastic about it for comfort, if y'ask me. Which, of course, nobody ever does," Zack grumbled. "She'll be using the mikveh and expecting me to wear capel and tzitzit next. Oy!"
The other men mumbled their agreement.
"Kim's already keeping the laws of family purity. Why the hell d'you think I hardly ever go home?" Jeff complained.
Zack laughed. "I could say, but the Rov is just over there and he'd probably have you ex-communicated! It must have cramped your style, Jeff, having Jack O'Neill and his buddy staying in your pied a terre."
Jeff rolled his eyes. "Don't ask. If I don't get some soon, I'll forget how to do it!"
Zack looked over at his wife, who was tapping her foot impatiently. "Oops, gotta go, guys. I'll see you later, yeah?"
"See you later." Jeff replied.
"I'd better head out, too. I'll see you at your place in an hour or so."
"That's great. Thanks, Moish."
A couple of hours later, all three men sat in Jeff's living room, sipping coffee, Zack and Mike wondering what the hell was going on.
"So, spill, for cryin' out loud. What's this big plan of yours?" Zack asked, finally.
Jeff sat down in his favourite chair and took a mouthful of coffee before beginning.
"Okay, just to fill you in a little, Mike. Lori O'Neill is after Jack's money: all of it. And the way she intends to make this happen is by calling Jack's sexuality into question."
Mike's jaw dropped open. "Get out!"
"Nobody'd ever buy that, Jeff. He was in everybody's panties when he first got here," Mike replied, still incredulous.
"Maybe, but I don't want anything to ruin whatever Jack has left in the game; whether that be coaching, commentating..."
Mike shook his head. "Jack's way too shy for that."
"Well, I dunno, endorsements, whatever. He's worked damned hard for his money and I intend to make sure he keeps it."
"So, what do you want me to do?"
"You're the editor of the paper, Mike. Nothing goes in there without your approval. Am I right?"
"So I want to spread a little rumour of my own," Jeff announced.
"Now wait a minute, Jeff," Mike began. "I can't be putting stuff in my paper that isn't true."
At this point, Zack and Jeff almost fell off their chairs laughing.
"What? What?" Mike protested, somewhat feebly.
Jeff clapped his arm on Mike's shoulder. "I'm sorry, Moish. It's just that... never mind. Anyhow, I'm not going to tell you anything that I can't back up with solid evidence. Is that good enough?"
"I guess. So, what's the gossip?"
"Just the whole story as I see it. Lori O'Neill hooked up with Pankowski and got to know him... in the Biblical sense, if you know what I mean?"
Mike rolled his eyes.
"And while I don't think it was Stanley's idea - he doesn't have enough brain cells to blow wax out of his ears if they turned into TNT - the fact is, that Lori persuaded him to deliberately injure Jack, thereby ending his career and collecting on the disability payment. Now, the way she intended to get the rest of his money and have Jack permanently out of the picture, was to put the word around that he's a fag, and that Stanley was only defending his macho honour after Jack made a pass at him in the showers or something."
"Are you serious?" Mike asked, still unable to believe what he was hearing.
"I heard it from the horse's mouth. Or at least, I heard some of it from there. The rest I just put two and two together. It ain't brain surgery."
"Can't imagine why Jack would make a pass at a guy that ugly anyhow," Zack commented.
"Skeletons in your closet, Zachariah?" Jeff grinned.
"No! Jeez, I just meant... ah, forget it."
"So, I go back to my original question. What do you want me to do?" Mike asked again.
"Get ready to print what I've just told you. In the sports section, maybe, or in the entertainment section. That's where the gossip usually is. Don't send it to press, just hold onto it until I let you know. Frill it out however you think best. You're the writer around here."
"What about me? Where do I fit in?" Zack asked.
"Technique assessor? Check if Jack and his buddy are doin' it right?" Jeff teased.
"Suck my dick," Zack shot back, then grimaced at what he'd just said, as Jeff and Mike began to chuckle.
"Are you sure there aren't any skeletons in there?" Mike asked.
"Don't you start. All I can do is what I've already been doing; salting Jack's money away in offshore accounts and companies, none of which Lori has any control over. I can't do anything about the personal accounts; Jack will have to change those, but I've done just about as much as I can."
"Fair enough, buddy."
"Okay, I'll do it, but tell me. Is he?"
"Mike, I have no idea. He hasn't told me he's jumped buses, so I'm assuming he's straight. Like the rest of us... although I ain't too sure about you now, Zack," Jeff laughed.
"Yeah, yeah, very funny. Okay, if you're through, I gotta get back before the light of my life gets home. I'll speak to you on Monday. If you need me, I'll be in the office."
"Sure. No problem, Zack. I just wanted to make sure you were up to speed."
"Okay, thanks buddy. Have a good weekend."
Zack closed the screen door behind him and walked back out to his car.
So, Jack could well be gay, or bisexual. The implications permeated through Zack's mind as he drove. The way Jeff said it was ambiguous. Jack hadn't told him; maybe the young guy had. What was his name? Daniel. Yeah, that was it. Cute kid. No-one could blame him. Great body, cute smile and he obviously had the hots for Jack in the worst way.
Zack sighed. He'd played the part of a straight man for a very long time now, and he couldn't honestly see how else he could live his life. He'd had a couple of male lovers during the Sixties in college, but as soon as he'd received his degree, the pressure was on. Get a good job, be a good Jewish boy, take a wife, have a family. He knew it would have broken his parents' hearts if they'd known; and now there was no escape. Or maybe there was. If a previously straight acting guy of almost forty could do a one-eighty and fall in love with another man, maybe it was time he took a good long look at his own choices. If Jack really was gay, then Zack hoped Daniel could make him happy.
One thing was for sure. Lori wouldn't get a penny as long as he was in charge of Jack's money.
Monday morning, Mike drafted the 'rumour' and saved it in a password protected file on his laptop. It wasn't worth the risk of anyone coming into his office and seeing it, if Jeff didn't have to use it after all.
Jeff and Rose collated the evidence against Lori, and put it in a file, in date order, so that when Lori and Stan came down to the office, they wouldn't have to stretch their brains too far. Jeff had already called Gus to congratulate him on a job well done, and offered a steak dinner as a bonus for all the staff who had worked on the case. It never hurt business to spread a little nice warm fuzzy around. Gus's clients would need legal representation and although sports management was a part of Jeff's work, he was first and foremost an attorney.
Along with the photographs, audio tapes from the wire tap Jeff had had installed in Jack's house phone and video evidence, there were hotel bills, credit card statements and a copy of the draft article Mike had prepared. If that didn't scare her, nothing would.
The next stage was to get the Wicked Witch of the West and her friend Godzilla down to Jeff's offices in town and away from the house. Jeff grinned wickedly and picked up the phone.
"Lori? It's Jeff Cohen. Well, yeah. Actually, Jack is ready to deal. If you and Mr. Pankowski would like to come down to my office, we can agree and sign the paperwork. No, no I'm sorry, it has to be done down here. The papers need to be notarised and witnessed and it's all a little complicated. I promise we won't keep you any longer than is necessary. Yes. That's right. Tell you what, to save you even bringing the car, I'll send a limo for you both, how would that be? Yes, I heard about the argument at the rink. Most unfortunate. Yes, Jack is in a much more conciliatory mood now. Oh, I have no idea if he is or not. As far as I know, they're merely friends. Well, I guess you'd have to ask Jack. I'll send the limo for you in about an hour. Would that be acceptable? Fine. I'll look forward to seeing you both then."
He put down the phone and rubbed his hands together, allowing himself a small chuckle before picking up the phone again to call Daniel.
The telephone ringing drowned out the sound of Jack crying out as he came hard down Daniel's throat. Daniel made sure Jack was finished, swallowed quickly and wiped his mouth, then picked up the receiver, figuring that it would be a couple of minutes before Jack's brain had unscrambled itself.
"Hello? Oh hi, Jeff. No, I'm sorry I was just um... in the middle of something. What can I do for you? Do you want to speak to Jack? Because he's um... sleeping... right now and he... OH okay. Sure. I'll drop him off. No problem. See you later."
"Hnng?" Jack enquired.
"It was Jeff. He wants you to go down to the office in about an hour; go over some stuff. I said I'd drop you off, and then I'll head down to the gym. I haven't had a decent workout for a while."
"Yeah, you go ahead. I'll jump in the shower when you're done. I'll get your clothes ready."
Jack gradually pulled himself together, as languid as he felt, and limped off to the shower room as Daniel grinned secretively. It was a shame he wasn't actually going to be there when the showdown came, but the fact that he knew what was happening and he had a part in it, made him feel a glow of pride. By the end of the day, Jack would be home.
It hadn't been that difficult to persuade any of the interested parties to meet down at Jeff's office, although them meeting in the waiting room was a mini-drama Jeff would have liked to avoid. He could hear raised voices in the lobby and quickly walked out of his office to escort them all in.
"Please. Could we at least keep it down? My staff are trying to work here. Come into my office and we can sort all this out. Shall we?"
Daniel looked at his watch as he stood waiting for the locksmith to arrive. He had a copy of the order in his pocket, instructing the locksmith to change every outside lock, including the keypad and remote code on the automatic gates, and deposit the new keys with Daniel. He'd packed up all of their stuff and it was safely in the trunk of Jack's truck, parked outside the house on the street. He looked up the drive and smiled. The Lexus had been taken away, as had the Porsche, the only car left on the driveway was Pankowski's Corvette, which would be towed away and parked up on the street the moment the truck arrived. Daniel had Jack's gate remote and looked at it, still unable to believe that Lori had been arrogant enough not to have the locks changed.
Jeff's office was a sea of open mouths as he carefully went through the evidence against Lori and Pankowski. Jack couldn't believe his ears either, although there was no emotional distress; just a growing sense of glee that his wife hadn't succeeded. She was clever and devious, right enough, but she hadn't locked horns with a determined lawyer before.
"So, in conclusion, I'd say that your best bet; both of you, would be to get out of Pittsburgh as quickly and quietly as possible before I have all this sent to the national papers too. I think once people found out what you two have been up to, you, Mrs. O'Neill, would have difficulty getting a job in a rink bar, and you, Mr. Pankowski, would be lucky if they let you drive the Zamboni for a Pee-wee game. " Jeff declared. "And if the Commissioner's report comes out as I expect it to, you won't even be able to do that. And that's without the legal case for conspiracy to commit assault that I could almost certainly build... if I was forced into that position."
Lori and Stan were speechless, and Jack was chuckling as quietly as he could, his body rocking in the chair. Lori rose and stormed out of Jeff's office with Pankowski in tow, whining, "Lori, what are we gonna do?"
"Shut up! I'm going home to think," she spat.
"Ah. One tiny problem, there. The locks on the gates and the outer doors have been changed, or at least they will have been by the time you get there, and the burglar alarm has been given a new code, so don't think about breaking in. Oh, and your cars are gone. They've been taken back to the dealers, apart from yours, Mr. Pankowski. That'll be on the street," Jeff smiled.
"But... you can't do that! That's my CAR!" Lori yelled.
"I think you'll find that on all of the vehicle registration documents, the legal owner is Mr. J. O'Neill. He was allowing you to drive them out of the kindness of his heart. Given the current circumstances, I think we can safely say that kindness is no longer present."
Jack couldn't help but laugh out loud.
"You fucking BASTARD!" Lori screamed, her face bright red with rage. "I'll get you for this. I'll STILL get you!"
"And this..." Jeff handed a piece of paper to Lori, "...is an injunction banning you both from coming within five hundred yards of the O'Neill residence and within five hundred yards of Mr. O'Neill, beginning today in... about five minutes," Jeff continued, deadpan. "I'll be drawing up the divorce papers later this afternoon."
" You've been pretty quiet, Jack. What do you have to say about all this?" Pankowski asked quietly, crestfallen.
"I say, 'Woohoo! Go Jeff!'" Jack shouted.
"Look, I'm... I'm sorry about your leg, man." Pankowski began.
Jack stood up and stared Pankowski straight in the eye, grinning.
"Save it. Don't use up your pity on me, Stan. You've got no job and the biggest leech in the cosmos. Good luck to ya, guy. I'm goin' home!"
"Hot damn, Jeff. That was amazing!" Jack exclaimed as they walked out to Jeff's car. I could kiss ya..." he hesitated. "But I won't. Obviously."
Jeff chuckled. "It's okay, Jack. I know."
Jeff turned and smiled at him as the clang of the penny dropping rang in both their ears.
Jack's cheeks reddened slightly as he realised the implication. Even though Jeff knowing he was gay didn't bother him in the slightest, he was embarrassed by the fact that he hadn't told Jeff first.
"OH. You... ah... you know, know. So, did Daniel tell you?"
Jeff shook his head. "Nah. I worked it out on my own and he confirmed it by not saying anything. The kid worships you, Jack. He's in love and he'd go through fire, ice and storm to protect you. If you don't know that already, here, buy a clue."
Jack laughed, relieved that Jeff was okay about it. "He makes me happy, Jeff. Don't know what else to tell you. I never felt so cared about before. He loves me just for me, not because I'm some big shot hockey player with plenty of cash."
"Listen bubbeleh, I've known you a while now and I never suspected you were... y'know, that way. You kept it hidden well enough. There aren't any surprises lurking around that I should know about are there? No ex-boyfriends, cruising, anything? I'm sorry to ask, but I really need to know so I can prepare. Lori is pissed and 'hell hath no fury' and all that."
Jack shook his head. "Nope. Not one. Don't wanna give you too much information, but I was with a guy for a few months back when I was in my teens. That was the last time 'til Daniel. I've wanted to, but I never had the cojones to go through with it."
Jeff pulled his Mercedes out into the traffic and replied, "That's a good thing; because if there was anything out there, you can be sure she'd find it. As for now, keep a low profile, brother. Don't go attending any Gay Pride parades or flyin' a rainbow flag outside the house. Don't forget you're still in a business that takes a dim view of it."
Jack snorted. "Yeah, and what a fuckin' crock that is! I've met a few guys I could guarantee you were gay, but not one of us ever had the nerve to show it. How fuckin' sad is that? It doesn't make us any different out there."
"That's true, but that's the world we live in. We have to deal. I'm not saying break up with the kid, just be discreet, that's all. I don't suppose there'll be any rumours flying around the place just because he's staying with you. It's... it's not a permanent arrangement, is it?"
Jack looked out of the car window and contemplated that thorny little question in silence. He knew that Daniel was due to go back to LA for the new academic year in September, but he didn't want to think that far ahead. So much had happened in the past few weeks his head was still spinning. He'd lost a career and gained a bum leg, lost a wife and gained a lover, not to mention a new understanding of himself. He'd fallen hard for Daniel, and although he was 98% sure he'd fallen for the man, he couldn't help but wonder if part of Daniel's appeal was the way Daniel loved him: and Daniel truly did love him. Jack knew that much and was grateful for it. How long Daniel would be able to love him was another question. Dammit, he wanted to be able to say 'yes', but... "I don't know." He continued staring out of the window, stroking his beard absently, until they pulled up outside the wrought iron gates of his luxury home. Jeff stepped out of the car and called the house using the intercom system on the gatepost. Daniel buzzed them in and the big gates swung open to allow Jeff's Merc up the driveway.
Daniel opened the door and stood on the front step, smiling broadly. Jack's stomach did a flip when he saw Daniel there. He looked accusingly at Jeff, who began to chuckle. Jeff stopped the car and threw up his hands.
"You devious bastard!" Jack grinned.
"So sue me! I needed someone to be taking care of business here while I was taking care of business downtown! I figured if there was one person you'd trust to be here, it'd be Daniel," Jeff winked.
Jack shook his head and laughed as Daniel opened the car door for him and helped him out. He leaned on one crutch, took a good look over his house, and then beamed when he heard Oscar barking.
"Hey Big Guy!" Jack yelled happily.
The big dog ran hell-for-leather around the house from the backyard and leapt at Jack, putting his paws on Jack's chest and licking him for all he was worth.
Daniel stood behind Jack, holding him steady against Oscar's weight and took the opportunity to hold him tight and whisper in his ear.
"I told you I'd never let you fall. Welcome home, babe."
Jack was choked and speechless with joy at being back home again. Oscar was there, Daniel was there; Jack couldn't have been happier.
Jeff stayed for a cup of coffee, and then told them he'd better get back to the office to draw up the divorce papers, as he'd explained earlier.
"You don't have any children, so there won't be any custody battles, there's only Oz and I don't think he'll be going anywhere," he smiled, looking over at where Jack sat on a kitchen chair with Oscar's head in his lap.
"Nuh uh. No way," Jack declared, scratching Oscar behind the ears and receiving an adoring lick for his trouble.
"As far as I can see there isn't much community property to share, but if I give her a reasonable pay-off, you might be lucky and never see her again. I'll make a suggestion when I've had time to think about it and get back to you. In the meantime, enjoy being home, Jack."
"I will, Jeff. Thanks for everything, brother." He shook Jeff's hand and then pulled him down for a hug.
"Ah, get out. It's what you pay me for! And you," he looked at Daniel, who was sitting and looking at Jack with a loving smile. "You take care of him."
"Will do, Jeff. I'll see you out."
"Sure. Bye Jack."
"See ya later, bud," Jack replied, while scratching Oscar behind the ear.
Daniel walked Jeff out to the main door and as he reached it, he turned and looked earnestly at Daniel.
"Look, kid. It's obvious that you're good for him. God knows, he needs someone who cares about him right now and I guess you know he loves you, but if you break his heart you'll have me to reckon with. You got that?"
"Heard and understood, Jeff. I love him," Daniel shrugged, as if those three words were all the explanation he could possibly give.
When Daniel returned to the kitchen, Jack had gone. He walked around the house calling for him, and after getting no answer, he went outside to the yard. Jack was lying on a lounger by the side of the pool, with Oscar lying happily beside him, panting gently from the heat.
"You okay? You want anything?" Daniel asked.
"Beer would be good."
Daniel went back into the house and got them two beers from the fridge, then walked back out to the poolside and lay on the lounger next to Jack's, offering him one of the bottles.
"Thanks, babe. Slainte." Jack and Daniel clinked bottles and took long draughts from them, sighing as the cool beverage cleaned the dust from both their throats.
"Jesus Danny, there was a little while back there when I didn't think I'd ever be able to come home," Jack sighed, still not quite believing he was back and she was gone.
Daniel smiled, resisting the desire to hold him, figuring he'd have plenty of time to reassure Jack that he really was home when they were in his bed later on. He'd taken the liberty of changing the sheets. Daniel couldn't bear the thought of sleeping on the same linen as the man who had ended Jack's career, and didn't think Jack would want to either.
"Back for good, Jack. Jeff scares me, to be honest. I'm glad I'm on the right side of him. He cares a lot about you. More people care than you think."
Jack snorted, softly. "Yeah. I guess you're right. I couldn't have done this without you, though."
Daniel smiled. "You're not going to go sappy on me again, are you?" he teased.
"Nah. Not this time, but I'm abdicating responsibility for any declarations of love that may come out later on tonight... when I'm inside you again."
Daniel groaned. "Jeez, Jack. Make it hard for a guy why don't you?"
"Seriously," Jack said, as they both looked into the shimmering blue of the pool, at the dolphin tile design on the bottom, which seemed to undulate with the rhythm of the water. He sighed and then continued.
"I never knew sex could be like that. I know it's a cliché, but most clichés have a ring of truth about 'em. I guess I'd never made love with anyone before: I guess I'd never been in love before. All the years I was with Lori... God, what a waste."
"Did you ever love her, d'you think?" Daniel asked, knowing he was treading on sensitive territory, but needing to ask the question just the same.
Jack shrugged. "I thought I did. I didn't marry her just for a cover." He sighed. "We met at a Booster Club dinner. I'd only just been signed and it was my first meet 'n' greet with the fans. I hate, loathe and despise these things, you know how I am."
"She just kinda latched onto me and believe it or not, she was kind and funny. She made me feel like I could do it, y'know? She's bright too, we got to talking and then we went back to my place afterwards, and five years later here I am. I sometimes think that if I hadn't been so goddamned shy, I never would have gotten involved with her."
"I remember how uncomfortable you were with groups of people from when you were with the Rangers in New York. We met, you know."
Jack took off his shades and looked at him, stunned. "Get out! When? Where?"
Daniel chuckled softly, embarrassed at having to tell the story to the other main character in it.
"I was in High School in New York and every now and then we'd get a little ice time up at Madison Square Gardens. Afterwards some of us would stay and watch you guys practice. You were exactly where we all wanted to be; you were NHL. The best. I used to watch you. Every move, every drill. I was completely mesmerised."
"And of course it gave me a great opportunity to do a little lusting," Daniel grinned.
Jack laughed, still shocked at Daniel's confession. "Damn! If I'd known then, what I know now..."
"You probably would have run a mile," Daniel smiled kindly. "Even if I had been old enough. If you'd been ready for a relationship before now, you would've had one, Jack. If you'd had any idea how I felt about you then, it would have scared you half to death. Especially if you'd felt anything for me." He took a long drink from his bottle before continuing. The feelings he'd had for Jack at the time were so raw and powerful they'd scared him. He couldn't imagine what they might have done to Jack.
"It was sweet, actually. We stayed until the end of the practice on a couple of nights and everyone was teasing the shit out of me about going to speak to you. All of my buddies on the team knew that you were my hero."
Jack chuckled and shook his head in wonder. "Oh man!"
"And most of them knew you were my jackoff fantasy too... no pun intended."
Jack laughed out loud.
"So, of course when you did your usual thing and waited to be last off the ice, they pushed me forward to ask for your autograph."
"And didja get one?"
Daniel laughed. "Yeah, I did. Don't put yourself down, Jack. I never once heard of you refusing anybody, as shy as everyone knew you were."
Jack sighed. "You know, I tried, I really did. It was just the whole 'adulation' thing made me feel... weird. I was out there doing a job I loved: something I was good at for once in my sorry life, and I knew damned well how lucky I was to be doing it. I mean, every fucking kid in Canada wants to be a pro hockey player and half the guys in the northern states of the U.S. too. I just couldn't understand why folks got so excited about me, y'know?"
"There's no point whatsoever in asking me. I was probably your biggest fan!"
Jack took another drink from his bottle and grinned.
"You signed my stick," Daniel continued. "I used to spend ages just running my fingers over the signature. I had a poster of you over my bed, for Chrisssakes!"
"Way," Daniel answered, quietly.
Daniel's face flushed at both the memory and the fact that he was actually here, with Jack, telling him about it; but he figured it was time.
"When I was growing up, almost from the time I realised my dick was for something else as well as peeing out of, I knew I didn't like girls. When I was in eleventh grade, all I wanted was you."
Jack smiled, teasingly. "What about the Scout Master?"
"Only as an alternate," Daniel grinned. "You were the one I fantasised about."
"S'at so?" Jack asked, the volume and tone of his voice dropping.
"Yeah," Daniel breathed.
"You feel like sharing? I mean, since I was the one in the fantasy, it only seems right for me to know what I was doing... or what you were doing to me," he murmured.
Daniel chuckled in his embarrassment. His dick twitched as he thought about it, even though he was still reticent to admit the full extent of his lust.
"You really wanna know?"
Jack was massaging his dick inside his shorts by this time and the look in his eyes was positively feral.
"Oh yeah. I wanna know now. You can't tease me like that and not follow through, Danny."
"Why not? It's warm, it's private and this place is fucking mine. I can do what I want here, and if I want to fuck you 'til you beg for mercy, that's just what I'm gonna do."
Daniel swallowed and shifted as his dick caught the full force of Jack's voice at its sexiest and most seductive. Not that Jack had to make much of an effort where he was concerned. Daniel was the push-over to end all push-overs and intended to make the most of their time together; such as it was.
"Didn't I just say that?" Jack smiled. "You have to pay attention. Get your beautiful ass over here where I can touch you up and then tell me every, single, filthy detail of every, single, disgusting and perverted fantasy you ever had about me. I need to know so's I can take you through all of 'em when my leg's better."
"Holy shit," Daniel murmured, practically coming in his shorts at the very thought of his lover fulfilling fantasies he'd had since he'd discovered how much pleasure his dick and thinking about Jack could give him.
"You better believe it, Daniel," Jack growled.
Daniel stood, slowly, looking over the rim of his glasses at Jack, whose skin was beginning to glisten with sweat. "I'd lay on my bed at night, looking up at the picture of you on the ceiling. My parents and my brother were all in bed too, and I waited until I thought they were fast asleep..." he moved over to Jack and straddled him, running his hands over Jack's chest and through the hair which was beginning to shine with moisture.
Jack felt a lump in his throat as he listened, speechless.
"I'd push down the comforter so I had plenty of room to fondle my dick. It was always hard by the time I could touch it, just from looking at you, thinking about what you'd look like naked and how big and hard your dick might be. I wanted you to come to my room and take me in your arms. I wanted you to touch me and kiss me..." he bent forward to take Jack's mouth in a sweet kiss, then licked the edge of Jack's ear as he continued, whispering.
"I'd put my finger in my ass and slide it in and out while I stroked myself, imagining it was your cock fucking me. One of my favourites was where you'd been the guest at one of our High School games. Everyone else is out in the school hall getting food, and I'm still in the showers. I know you're out there and I can't help but get hard."
He leaned back again and rolled his hips over Jack's erection. "I soap up my hand and start stroking myself as I hear you walk into the shower. I can't see, but I know it's you..." He opened up his shorts to expose the hard, shiny head of his cock and hissed as he gently rubbed the drop of pre-come around the slit with the pad of his finger. Jack was biting his lip and trying not to thrust upwards for fear of coming on the spot and he really wanted to see this through to its conclusion.
"I can hear you shucking your clothes and I'm trying to stop myself from coming with the anticipation of what you might do to me. You come into the shower stall and put your arms around me. My breath catches and I bite my lip as you bite into my neck, and then lick the sore spot, drinking the water that's cascading over us both as you run your hands up and down my body. Then..."
"Jesus fucking Christ..." Jack grunted, on the very edge and hanging onto the proverbial daisy stalk.
"Then you part my ass cheeks and start fingering my asshole. It feels so good I never want it to end, then, just when I'm almost coming, you thrust your dick inside me all the way to your balls. I don't know how or when, but you've lubed your cock and it slides in smoothly. You wait for me to get used to having your big dick in there, holding me close, stroking my chest and whispering in my ear. You tell me you know it hurts, but that I should relax and soon it'll start to feel great. I feel like I'm being split in two, and it hurts like hell, but I don't care. You're inside me and I'm yours. You've picked my cherry in the school locker room and I love it and you so much I can hardly stand it. You fuck me slow and deep and tell me how good it feels. You murmur how beautiful I am as your strokes lengthen and deepen and you begin to lose it. You stroke my cock and kiss my neck and shoulders, and just as you pinch my nipple with your free hand, I come. I've never shot so much or so far before, and you're talking me through it, holding me tight..."
Daniel's eyes glazed over as he remembered fantasy Jack crooning in his ear, 'That's it baby, yeah, give it up for me, yeah, so beautiful, so good...'
His breath hitched and his dick throbbed painfully. He rubbed his balls to relieve the pressure but didn't dare touch his cock for fear of coming as he continued to the end.
"You've fucked and stroked me with such tenderness it's all I can do to not cry. I've never felt so alive and wanted. I'm sixteen and it's my first time and you've made it so much better than I could ever have dreamed. You hold my hips tight and fuck me hard and fast. One last deep thrust and you bury your face in my neck, crying out as I feel warm jets surging up inside my body. My ass muscles are still twitching gently around your cock while you come and I help it along by clenching harder; I want to make this really good for you, too. I've never felt anything like it and as your dick goes soft and you finally pull away from me, panting, you kiss me once, tell me I was fantastic and disappear. That's when I'd come all over myself, alone in my bed and crying into my pillow."
Jack shoved upward once with his hips, and groaned out Daniel's name. His eyes were closed and his mouth was slack, and Daniel could feel the warm wetness of Jack's orgasm spreading through the material of his shorts. He rolled his hips again, stroking Jack's covered cock through the last waves. At the same time, he rubbed the head of his own cock, barely touching, and then spilled his come all over his and Jack's shorts, moaning his lover's name softly.
He flopped down into Jack's embrace, shaking with emotion. Jack held him firmly, kissing his neck.
"I'm here, Danny. I'm really here and I love you so much," he whispered. "When I can, I promise you I'll do it. I'll come to you in the shower and I'm gonna fuck you so right. I'm gonna show you how I feel, so you can believe it. You are beautiful and it really is fantastic when I'm inside you, and the first thing I want when this goddamned spawn of Hell comes off, is you inside me. I need to feel that you own me. Do you understand? I'm yours, baby. I am so completely fucking yours... oh God..."
Daniel nestled into Jack's embrace and wept as Jack held him so tight he could barely breathe.
Jack meant every word and was near to tears himself. It was amazing to imagine that he could have such a profound effect on someone at such a young age. He was humbled and astounded. Up to now, Jack had thought that Daniel had the upper hand in their relationship. He was the one with the experience after all, but now Jack began to wonder. Maybe this wasn't as one sided as he'd thought. Daniel had been the first one to mention the 'l' word, but Jack hadn't been far behind and his body thrummed with powerful emotions, all of them new, exciting and terrifying.
However, they had been through so much together in such a short time, even though he was sure they both meant it when they said they loved each other, he couldn't help but wonder if the intensity of it all was clouding their judgement. He held Daniel until the sobbing subsided, distracted by Oscar's wet, rough tongue licking the skin on his good leg. He smiled, suddenly amused by the fact that he'd never had sex with an audience before. He was also beginning to register the cold stickiness in his shorts and the evidence of Daniel's orgasm, which was sticking their bellies together. Part of Jack was urging him towards the shower, most of him wanted to stay here with Daniel in his arms until they started playing hockey in hell. He figured it was time to shake Daniel back to the world and he kissed him, then whispered, "Let's go get cleaned up, sweetheart."
Daniel tossed and turned, unable to sleep and equally amazed that Jack was able to. Jack's obsession with being fucked by him had begun to make Daniel feel very uncomfortable. He felt the responsibility weighing heavily on him and had to ask himself if it was really supposed to feel this way.
He had been gently preparing Jack all week as well as he could with the cage still on Jack's leg, using his tongue and his fingers to relax Jack's anal muscles and get them accustomed to being stretched. Jack had been a more than willing student, practising his breathing, learning how not to tense when his anus was penetrated. Daniel had slipped into town and bought a dildo, which Jack had taken to with enthusiasm, and Daniel was sure there would be no problems when it came to the main event.
He rolled over and sighed. It wasn't a contest. Having his cock inside Jack wasn't the be all and end all of what they had and Daniel wondered if he'd be able to live up to the hype.
Daniel's first time had been sweet and tender, and Daniel wanted very much to make Jack's first time just as good. Mike had been a skilful lover and had prepared him slowly and carefully so that when the moment of penetration had finally arrived, he'd been relaxed and calm and the pain had been minimal, over in a second and replaced with deep, overwhelming joy. The whole thing had been a truly magical experience and had made him feel connected to Mike on a much more intense level.
He yawned and got out of bed, wandering into the bathroom for a glass of water.
He saw Jack's face in the mirror behind him and started as Jack put his arms around him.
"Hey," Jack said softly. "It's two in the morning. You all right?"
Daniel smiled and stroked Jack's arm.
"I'm good," he replied.
"Bullshit," Jack said, kindly. "I know you well enough by now to know when you're lying to me." He gently turned Daniel within his embrace and traced a fingertip along his bottom lip. "Don't," he whispered. "Tell me."
Daniel shrugged. "I worry."
"About you, about tomorrow, about... I'm just... I'm feeling the pressure. I worry," he shrugged again, smiling with a touch of embarrassment.
Jack chuckled. "I'm the one who's getting that big dick of yours up my ass and you're the one who's feeling the pressure. That's a good one."
"Well, when you put it that way..."
Jack kissed him and took a deep breath.
"I know you don't want to hurt me, babe, but I'm a grown-up, although I don't act like one sometimes. I know it'll probably hurt the first few times and I'm ready for it. And I guess you're thinking that this is the last big step for me as far as being gay is concerned and in a way you're right. I've never been fucked before, but I think you're missing the point.
"It's not that I'm gonna have a man inside me for the first time, it's that I'm gonna have you inside me. That's what's getting me so fired up about it all. I don't care whether you hit my hot spot on the first thrust in. I don't care if I come gangbusters or not. I just want you. I want you to feel the way I feel when I'm inside you and I've obviously not said it enough times, but I love you, Daniel. I've never been in love with another guy before and I'm not even sure if I've been in love before, period. If it's going to cause you a sleepless night, we maybe should call it off."
Daniel looked into his eyes and could see how serious he was. It was something that meant a great deal to Jack, but he wouldn't push and as long as he'd waited, he was happy to wait even longer if it made Daniel feel better. Daniel smiled and shook his head.
"You're unbelievable, O'Neill."
"In a good way?" Jack grinned.
"Yes, in a good way. Back to bed."
"Not without you."
Daniel nodded, whispered "Sap," and took his hand. They got into bed and Daniel snuggled up close to him, wrapping his leg possessively around Jack's thigh and resting his hand on Jack's chest as he put his arm around Daniel's shoulders and pulled him in tight.
"Love you, Jack."
Jack kissed the top of his head and murmured into his hair, "I'm not sayin' it again tonight. I'll wear it out."
Daniel huffed a chuckle against Jack's chest and closed his eyes.
Daniel waited patiently outside the treatment room where Jack's doctor was removing the steel cage his leg had been trapped in for six weeks. The x-ray showed that the bones had knitted together as they'd hoped and Jack's physio had been pleased with his progress despite the frequent verbal abuse. Daniel had helped by making sure that Jack had done his homework in between each session with Mike and after Jack's last one, Mike had thanked him for his support, telling Daniel that Jack's progress had been so swift as a direct result of his diligence and his encouragement.
After about twenty minutes, a broadly smiling Jack emerged from the room without the fixator. A small look passed between them, followed by a secret smile, and then Daniel hugged him.
"Nice job, buddy."
"Yeah, you just wait 'til I get you home," Jack whispered.
Doctor Reynolds was smiling too, completely oblivious to Jack and Daniel's private communication.
"Just shows what you can do when you do as you're told, Jack," he said. "Of all the injuries I've treated you for, I reckon this one has healed the best. You never took a blind bit of notice of what I told you before. See? I do know what I'm talking about."
Jack grinned. "Yeah, yeah, check's in the mail as usual."
Doctor Reynolds laughed. "Yeah, that's the only reason I do this job, right? For the fat fee? Now listen, keep those pin sites clean until they heal completely and don't go doing anything dumb, like skateboarding or mountain climbing; at least not for another three weeks. You can drive, and you can walk on it, but if you start to get tired or the leg starts aching, use both crutches and rest it for a while. Don't overdo it. Hear?"
"Got it. Thanks for everything, Charlie."
"Don't mention it, just keep on doing what you know you should and you'll be back on skates for next season. You won't be able to play, unfortunately, but at least you'll be able to get back on the ice again."
"I'll make sure he does, don't worry. I'll still be around until September, so I can keep an eye on him for a little while longer," Daniel interjected.
A knot suddenly clenched in Jack's stomach. This was the first time Daniel had actually mentioned going back to school. However, it was an unspoken issue that continuously hung over their heads like the sword of Damocles, and one which Jack knew they would have to talk about at some point, just not right now; whenever 'right now' happened to be. His concentration wavered for a second and he almost lost his balance, but Daniel was there by his side to make sure he wouldn't fall, just as he'd said he would be. He'd never let Jack fall. He'd promised hadn't he?
Jack was quiet on the journey back to the house and Daniel glanced at him every so often, wondering if it was due to Jack feeling apprehensive about their impending lovemaking. Perhaps this time it would be Jack suggesting they wait, just when Daniel had formulated a game plan in his mind and was confident that he could make love to Jack with little or no discomfort. He had fully intended to blow Jack's mind and show him just how good it could feel and now Jack was backing out on him. More than once during the short trip, Daniel wanted to ask him how he felt, to reassure him that nothing would happen if he didn't want it one hundred percent, to let him know that he understood if Jack wanted to leave it until another time with no harm, no foul; but he didn't. He continued to drive in silence until he pulled the truck up to Jack's front door.
Jack walked somewhat awkwardly through the house and into the kitchen where Oscar greeted him enthusiastically. Jack smiled and fussed him. He couldn't remember from where or from whom the quote had come, but it was still one of his favourites.
'Dogs are my favourite people.'
'You always know where you are with a dog,' he thought. 'A dog loves unconditionally and completely. A dog would forgive you anything. A dog is always there for you and doesn't care if you don't shave for three days or scratch your balls and fart while watching TV.'
To be fair, Daniel didn't really mind any of those things either; in fact he did them too, but it was the 'always there' part that Jack was wondering about. He had to broach the subject even though he didn't want to hear what he was sure Daniel would tell him.
Daniel's voice was full of concern. Jack couldn't help but smile at the irony. Daniel was obviously thinking that at the final hurdle Jack was going to reject him, when the truth of it was that the rejection was going to be the other way around. Jack sighed heavily and turned to face him.
"We need to talk."
Daniel sat down on one of the kitchen chairs and clasped his hands between his knees.
"You're going, aren't you?" Jack asked, keeping his voice as level as his pounding heart allowed.
Daniel was taken aback. It was as much a statement as a question and certainly not what he'd expected. "Not 'til September and even then I don't have to."
"Yeah, y'do," Jack sighed. "I know how much you love anthropology and how much you're enjoying Berkeley. You have one more year for your degree and then onto your Master's and maybe even a Ph.D. You'd be an idiot to give it up," he said quietly, ending the sentence with a silent and pitiful 'especially for an old fool like me.'
"Y'know what?" he continued, "I think I'm gonna go out for a bit. Doc said I could drive.
"We should talk about this."
Jack smiled and shook his head. "Not right now, babe. I think I need to be by myself for a while."
He took the truck and just drove around aimlessly, turning everything repeatedly in his mind. He wasn't a normal straight guy any more, he was a fruit. He wasn't married any more, he was free and single, sort of. He wasn't a hockey player any more he was a... retired. Washed up. Alone. Or he soon would be. Daniel had been there when he'd reached rock bottom. He'd stayed through all the therapy and the pain, the restless nights, the bad tempers, and just when Jack was really on the road to recovery, the first man he'd ever loved was going back to sunny California. Probably for good.
Jack knew he was wallowing in self-pity, but he figured he'd earned it after the emotional roller-coaster of the last few weeks. He stopped the truck and looked up, chuckling softly to himself as he realised he was in the parking lot of the ice rink. He gingerly got out of the truck and limped carefully into the foyer. The lady on reception greeted him warmly and he waved back, giving her a broad smile.
He wandered into the seating area and sat down, watching a class of kids going through their drills on the ice. He breathed in deeply, the cold, damp air filling his lungs and giving him comfort. He'd spent so long in places just like this, it felt more like home than anywhere else; from his beginnings on the frozen ponds of Minnesota to putting on an NHL shirt for the first time, to the last game he'd played. He could remember almost every minute and hockey had always defined who he was. Now he didn't have that, Jack felt like a piece of driftwood being buffeted about on the ocean.
He became aware of a presence beside him and looked around. He smiled as the long arm of his assistant coach, Cory Wallace, slid around his shoulders.
"So, Paddy. How's it goin', eh?"
Cory had been all over the NHL both as a player and a coach, but he still had his harsh Ontario accent. That had never changed in all the years they'd known each other.
"Hey Wally. Can't complain," Jack smiled.
"Never stopped ya, before."
"Not gonna stop me now, either."
Cory sighed. "Helluva thing, Jack."
"What're you going to do?"
Jack shrugged. "Beats me, man. I feel like somebody tugged the rug out from under my feet. If I can't play, then who the fuck am I?"
"Can you remember when I finally retired?"
"Never likely to forget it. I know how long it took you and Sylvia to make the decision."
"But it was the right one. My Doc told me that if I'd played another season and had one more bad hit, that woulda been it. Wheelchair. Sometimes, y'just gotta let it go, eh? Find another path. Change comes to us all."
Jack laughed. "Yeah, I know, but does it have to come all at once?"
Cory looked puzzled. "I don't follow."
"Oh... I get it. Y'talkin' about that young guy you were with at the dinner?"
"What makes you say that?"
Cory laughed softly. "It was freakin' obvious, Paddy."
"You want to clarify?" Jack's heart began to beat a little faster as he mentally speculated that they'd been found out.
"How long have I known you?"
"Jesus, so long I can't remember."
"And how well do I know you?"
"You're one of my best friends."
"So, don't insult my intelligence, Jack. You're in love. I was wondering how long it would take for you to find the right guy."
"What?! What are you talking about?"
"Christ on a crutch, do I have to spell it out? I knew you were gay. I've known for years. I wasn't sure if you'd ever... y'know... done anything about it, but I knew."
"Why didn't you say anything before?"
Cory shrugged. "Because it doesn't matter. I hated the fact that you married that bitch, and I could see her for the trailer trash she really is, but I figured you knew what you were doing and there was a reason behind it. So, what happened? He dump you already?"
Jack laughed out loud. "What makes you so fucking smart?"
"It comes naturally. Now c'mon. Spill. Or do I have to get you drunk?"
"If I wasn't on these damned pills you might. Aw crap. You're right. I am in love and so's he, damn him. Trouble is, he's a student in California and he's going back to school come September and... Christ Cory, I don't know how I'm gonna do this without him. I never felt like this about anybody before. I feel like I've wasted my whole life, never knowing what it was like being with another guy, even though I've wanted to. You okay with this? I mean, we've... shared showers, we've shared hotel rooms. Didn't you once feel uncomfortable?"
"Never. Christ, Jack, give yourself some credit. You would never have come on to me, even if I wasn't a butt ugly bastard."
"We were two guys who played hockey. We got out there and did our jobs, you've been there for me whenever the chips have been down and your friendship means a helluva lot. I don't care if you sleep with girls, guys or kangaroos. You're my buddy. End of story."
Jack looked at his feet as a tear prickled at the corner of his eye.
"Don't mention it. Really. Don't. Anywhere. I'll deny everything."
Jack laughed out loud again, quelling the urge to bear hug his friend.
"So, tell Aunty Cory. What can we do to get this guy to stay?"
"I don't want him to."
"Jesus Paddy, make up your mind, eh? Do you want him or not?"
"Oh yeah. I want him all right, but he needs to go back to school and finish his degree. Besides, he loves anthropology. It would be wrong of me to stop him."
"And I'm back to my original question. 'What are you gonna do?'"
"I haven't the faintest fuckin' idea."
Daniel checked his watch. It was just after midnight. Jack had been away for hours and Daniel was beginning to worry about him. Maybe he couldn't control the truck after all and had met with some kind of accident? He threw his and Jack's uneaten dinners into the waste disposal and leaned on the counter as the machine whirred and churned the food.
Oscar began to bark excitedly and Daniel went to the lounge window to see what he was fussing about just in time for the headlights of the truck to shine into his eyes as it pulled up outside the house. He blinked, shielding his eyes from the bright light, and exhaled as if he'd been holding his breath for the last God knew how long.
He tried to calm himself, swallowing down the urge to yell and scream about how worried he'd been, how Jack should have called, that he was about to call every hospital in Pennsylvania to find out where he was. The quickest way to scare his lover off was to make him feel cornered and crowded. He'd learned that much if nothing else. There was a good explanation for this, Daniel knew, and if Jack wanted to, he'd tell him.
He quickly sat down in an armchair and flicked on the TV. Daniel had no idea what channel it was on, but it must have been one of the classic movie channels because he suddenly found himself intently watching Patrick Swayze gazing into the eyes of Jennifer Grey to the tune of 'Hungry Eyes'. He heard Oscar's claws scratching on the wooden floor as he and Jack made their way to the dimly lit room.
Jack snorted. "You really are gay, aren'tcha? Dirty Dancing?"
Daniel turned around and grinned. "Don't knock it, babe. Patrick Swayze has the moves. Not to mention the thighs, the ass, the pecs, the..."
"Okay, okay. I get the message. Got any popcorn?"
"Nope. Didn't even realise this was on. I was pacing a hole in the floor worrying myself stupid about you," Daniel continued, still watching.
"Shit. I'm sorry. I shoulda called."
"Yeah, you should. Coffee?"
He followed Daniel into the kitchen and took the mug of coffee Daniel offered him from the half full pot.
"I met up with Wally at the rink. We went for a few beers... well, he had a few beers and I took him home. I really didn't mean to stay out this late."
Daniel sipped his coffee and smiled. "It's okay, Jack. I'm not your wife, you don't have to explain yourself to me. I was just a little worried, that was all."
Jack put down his coffee and slipped his arms around Daniel's waist. "No, you're certainly not my wife. She was a low-down, cheating, gold-digging piece of trailer trash, and you're not. Besides, she had tits."
Daniel grinned. "You mean you'd like me better with tits?" He looked down at his chest. " I could always have pectoral implants if they're not big enough for you."
Jack leaned forward and bit Daniel's nipple through his tee-shirt, making him gasp.
"Oh, no. Don't you dare change a thing," Jack growled. "You're perfect just as you are."
"And you think flattery is going to get you off the hook?" Daniel breathed as Jack continued worrying his nipples through the thin cotton.
"Not on its own, no," Jack replied between nips and licks. "But I figure a little demonstration of my devotion wouldn't hurt too," he continued, as he massaged Daniel's hardening cock through his shorts.
"Ah, no, no, not hurting. Not hurting at all, in fact, was I mad at you for something? I'm sure I was... ooooooh, no, no, thinking about it, I don't believe I was."
Jack chuckled and brought his head back up to look into Daniel's eyes.
"God, you turn me on. You know that?"
"Not yet it's not. C'mon. Let's take this somewhere where I don't feel the urge to get on my knees. I don't think I could manage that yet."
They walked hand in hand to the bedroom and undressed in silence, then got into bed, rolling towards each other so that they were face to face.
"I really am sorry, Daniel."
Daniel kissed him. "I told you, it's okay. You don't have to explain it."
"But I want to. Turns out Wally knew about me all along. Sonovabitch realised I was gay even before I did, at least way before I accepted it. He saw us together at the dinner and knew I was in love with you."
"Wow. I thought we were being so discreet!"
"We were, it's just that Wally and me... we go back a long way. We played together in Junior 'A' and we kind of followed each other around the NHL. He retired because of his back and the GM offered him a job as assistant coach. He's been here ever since."
"So... how is he? I mean about..."
"He's fine. I think he's glad I finally bought a clue," Jack smiled. "We talked for hours. It was great to really talk to someone about all this stuff. I know I've been able to talk to you, and you've been amazing. I don't think I could have gotten through the last few weeks without you, what with the injury and Lori and Pankowski, the scum sucking sonovabitch. Y'know, I feel sorry for the guy and after talking it through with Wally, I think I got the better part of the deal, despite it ending my playing career. I was coming to the end anyways. This season or next, it would have been over. There's no room for also-rans in the NHL. Too much money involved."
"Sounds like you worked through a lot of stuff. I'm glad for you, babe. You feeling any better about me going back to school? I was thinking I could maybe see what the programme at Penn State is like, maybe I could transfer and..."
"Ssshh. You don't have to do that. Berkeley is the best. You're happy there. I don't want to see you throw away something like that because of me."
"I wouldn't be throwing it away. You know how I feel about you."
"Yeah, and you know I feel the same, but right now... right now it's a dream come true. It's kind of like a fantasy, not real life. For you, real life is school and you have to go back to it. I'm okay, I swear."
Daniel almost believed him and felt relieved but apprehensive at the same time. He was torn in a thousand different directions and although Jack said he'd be fine, a ghost of doubt floated through Daniel's mind that he might not be.
Jack sensed his discomfort and confusion and held him close, kissing his shoulders and neck, willing him to relax and just abandon himself to the here and now. He wanted his young lover to forget about tomorrow, or September, or however long down the line.
Slowly, Daniel's tight muscles relaxed and Jack felt his lover's cock re-awaken and nudge against his own erection. It felt so good being able to touch completely without the cage getting between them. Jack slipped his leg between Daniel's and held him closer than he'd ever been able to before. The warmth of Daniel's skin seeped into his own all the way from where his lips continued to taste his lover's body to their feet, which were entwined.
Gently, they rocked together, fingers stroking soft, warm skin, rubbing their cocks against each other and revelling in the total body contact as they kissed.
Jack leaned in to whisper in Daniel's ear. "I want you."
Daniel looked into his eyes and kissed him deeply. "You sure?"
Jack nodded. "I gotta feel you in me. I've waited long enough."
"Okay. Turn over."
"Can't we do it face to face?"
Daniel smiled. "Next time, baby. I don't want to hurt you. You're leg isn't up to it yet and I want you to relax."
"Okay, you're the boss."
"No," Daniel corrected him. "I'm the 'top'. You have to get your terminology right if we're going to do this."
Jack laughed and rolled over. "Guess that makes me the 'bottom' then, huh?"
Daniel's breath sucked in at the sight of Jack's ass presented to him so wantonly. "Oh yeah, definitely..." he growled as he bent to spread Jack's cheeks apart and dived between them, breathing in deeply as his tongue lapped. Jack's musky smell made his cock twitch and the urge to slide his cock inside was almost overwhelming, but it was important for Jack to relax even more than he already was. His anus was pulsing and twitching as Daniel rimmed him, opening up faster than he'd expected as Jack groaned and writhed, thrusting his ass up and into Daniel's face.
Daniel tongue fucked him into virtual incoherence, until Jack begged him to get the fuck on with it already. Daniel picked up the lube from beside Jack's head and coated his fingers, then his cock, with the slippery fluid. He stroked Jack's ass again, sliding his fingertips up and down from Jack's balls to the small of his back, occasionally slipping his forefinger and middle finger inside. Jack sighed and pushed back again, drawing Daniel's fingers further in, urging him deeper.
"You ready?" Daniel whispered, laying on top of him with his legs either side of Jack's.
Jack nodded and pulled the pillow away so that he could lie flat on the sheet beneath.
Daniel slid his cock back and forth between Jack's buttocks, gently easing the head against the puckered ring, pushing slowly and gently. Jack's frustration made him thrust back at every pass, but Daniel held himself steady, knowing that Jack's eagerness was born out of not knowing how full he was going to feel.
He leaned up, positioning the head of his cock and eased himself in, encouraging Jack to bear down and breathe. They both sighed as the head popped inside, and Daniel paused, watching the beads of sweat appear on Jack's back.
Jack grunted in the affirmative and Daniel slid in another couple of inches. Sweat began to coat his own body with the effort of holding back, but to take it too fast too soon would not only hurt like the mother, but could damage the sensitive tissue inside. He leaned down, his whole body covering Jack's, and rocked his hips gently at the same time Jack rocked his hips back. Eventually, he was completely inside and he rested his head on Jack's shoulder, panting.
"Jesus, Daniel..." Jack gasped, as the realisation hit. Daniel was inside him all the way. He'd never expected the intensity of feeling, having another man in him; having Daniel in him. He wondered how women could put out so easily if this was anything like straight sex. Maybe it was only this way with someone you were in love with. At any rate, Jack felt more alive, more complete than he could ever remember feeling in his life. Ridiculous endearments raced through his mind, but never quite reached his lips, and as Daniel began to move, shallowly and slowly at first, but becoming deeper and faster, Jack really did question whether he could live without him.
As Daniel's cock stroked his prostate, he cried out, gripping the sheet with both hands and pushing back desperately against Daniel's thrusts. Daniel reached out and linked his fingers with Jack's, murmuring how good it was, and how much he loved him. His thrusts became faster and faster, pushing inside Jack so deeply it almost felt as if the head of his cock was pushing against the base of Jack's throat.
Jack suddenly felt his balls tighten and his cock pulse as a blinding orgasm hit without warning, racing through him like a jet of flame. His asshole clutched and grasped around Daniel's cock, and Daniel thrust hard into him, crying out his name and spilling his come deep inside.
Their entwined bodies jerked for another minute or so in the aftermath of their orgasms until finally, Daniel lay on him, panting. He gently withdrew and rolled away, immediately throwing his leg possessively over Jack's hip as Jack rolled towards him.
Neither of them could find the words, since the spoken language seemed somehow inadequate, so they kissed, curling their tongues around each other, each trying to convey the enormity of what had just happened.
Daniel drew the sheet up over them both, and sticky and sated, they drifted gently into sleep.
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