Note: This is actually a sequel to “And Always Find My Place”. Thank you to Ivorygates for once more making me think too hard with the edits on this and putting up with my run on sentences and tense changes from hell. All other mistakes are mine and all feedback is very appreciated as always. (I have no idea where I got the title for this and I’ve either gotten tired of seeing it or I just can’t stand it now but I haven’t a clue as to what to rename it.)
Spoilers: Mentions events in Ethon
Disclaimers: Sadly the characters belong to MGM and not me.
There’s rain starting to drip down toward the sill of the open window as I stare out of it. (More of a mist than actually rain, if I want to be picky.) I can almost hear the tick, tick, tick of the water landing on glass if I concentrate hard enough the sound is soft, barely distinguishable from the muted noise of cars in the distance. I’ve been watching out the window for a while now at the clouds swirling soothingly in and out of one another (not really sure how long). The news had predicted heavy thunderstorms rolling in from the north, dropping the temperature down to the forties despite it being just a week shy of the fourth of July. I’d say they’re pulling my leg — judging by the sweat rolling down my back — but from the way the clouds sit there, growing darker and more threatening, the predictions are going to fall a might short off of the mark: some places will see a dusting of snow. In July. It can boggle the mind if you aren’t used to visiting a cafeteria plan of climates any given day of the week.
From the sounds of it, or rather the lack of the sounds of kids playing outside on a Saturday, gives the day a more surreal feel and I’m edgy despite the need to sit back and wait.
Wait for what? The answer to that question hasn’t decided to reveal itself just yet.
Something catches my attention, out of the corner of the eye, and I see a hand waving.
“Doing that could get you hurt, you know,” Jackson states, giving me a semi-serious look as he leans back.
This time Jackson just rolls his eyes. “Zoning.”
For a moment I consider denying the accusation, but then I look over at Jackson’s alarm clock and check (double-checking) the time and shrug instead when he asks if there’s anything wrong.
“Just enjoying the peace and quiet is all.”
“Uh-huh. Look at your hand.” He pauses long enough for me to look down and notice the tremor where my hand rests on my thigh. “Tell me what’s wrong. I’ve seen you on edge before – but never like this. Please.”
Giving him my best reassuring smile, I answer truthfully. And it is telling the truth if a person can’t pinpoint the problem. “Really. There’s nothing wrong. I was just getting lost in the clouds.” Waving absently at the window, I stand and grab the empty glasses sitting on the little fold-up table between the bed and armchair (feeling I really need to be doing something) and go to refill them both with sweet tea. “You need anything else while up I’m up?” I ask him, attempting to change the subject even if I don’t really know what the hell the subject is supposed to be.
Jackson shakes his head. “No, I’m good for now.”
I fill up our glasses with tea with the last from the pitcher and set the now empty pitcher in the sink to be washed later. I can’t figure out why something so normal feels like it’s another layer onto the weird feeling building up inside me.
Coming back into the bedroom, I try to think about dinner; what’s in the kitchen, what’s easiest for Jackson to deal with on a dinner tray across his lap. I’ve been trying to use my imagination, scaling down the number of dishes in my regular menu — too elaborate for a twenty-five by twelve inch tabletop
“You still miss it badly, don’t you? Flying.” Jackson leans against the piled up pillows beside him. With most I would think — expect — there to be an ulterior motive behind the question. Not with Jackson, not really. Not with any of my team. But still — there are some things I’d rather not talk about.
I set the glasses down just a smidge too hard, and some of the tea sloshes out onto the table. I’m cussing under my breath before rushing into the kitchen and back with a towel. If the table stained momma would have my hide even if it’s just my head invoking her spirit. It looked like it could be one of gran’pa’s handmade heirlooms and knowing Jackson, it was probably older than that. “No – I mean yes, I miss flying. But, like I said there’s nothing wrong with me and nothing on my mind. I was just enjoying the day…that’s it.”
“Okay,” he says slowly and sitting back. “I get it. Nothing wrong. Can you at least tell me if being here – you know, taking care of me — if it’s becoming an inconvenience to you, I’ll relieve your conscience and take…”
“Out of the question, Jackson. That busted up leg barely lets you get up off that bed with my help so I know there’s no way in hell you can care for yourself. Not for a few more weeks at least.” The way I’m sounding hits me, sounding too harsh even to my own ears, so I stop and check yourself. There’s no reason to take out my twitchiness on Jackson. The man was simply showing concern for a friend the same as me when I offered up my free time to help him while he was on the mend. “Can we just…forget this whole thing? I was taking advantage of the downtime is all and you are not an inconvenience, Jackson. You’re a friend and on my team and we take care of each other if the need arises,” I state calmly, firmly, only adding when Jackson is about to argue anyway, “end of story. Now — you need anything else while I’m up?”
“Sure. Sure, I’ll leave it alone, and yes, there is something you can get for me. Or rather do for me. It’s been a couple of days since…” he brushes a hand down his shirt and when I don’t get it on the first go, Jackson sighs. “Since I’ve had a bath. I’m starting to get a little ‘unpleasant’ for my tastes.” (Swear that man is downright exasperating at times.)
Busting out laughing, I can feel the weight in my mind vanish. “Sure. I’ll go get everything ready. Carolyn said that your leg should be set enough in another couple’a days to adventure into a regular bath.” I raise my voice to be heard easily as I go to the hallway closet and start piling towels into a basin, along with liquid body soap and shampoo in case Jackson wants his hair washed and was ready to try that little adventure again. Balancing the almost-full bowl of hot water in my lap and Jackson trying to balance on his elbows while on still a bit stoned on his pain meds (even though the dosage was low enough to that he could have walked the white line if he’d been capable of actually walking) had been asking for trouble and we’d both ended up with a ‘bath’ (the only consolation was that at least it hadn’t been cold water). It had taken almost a full day before the mattress had dried enough for him to lie on it comfortably.
I grab him a clean pair of shorts (specially cut sweat pants just for him) and pajama top from the dresser and throw them on the chair I’d been sitting in.
“A regular bath? Oh, now I really feel privileged. What I’d really like is a shower.” Jackson’s voice is distracted as he starts unbuttoning his shirt and pulling it off of his arms.
I don’t even bother to respond to that because I know too well that need to be free to move on your own and get out from sight of anyone wanting to help. A private shower is a sign of independence that you sort of take advantage of until you can’t just hop in anytime you feel like it.
It only takes a minute for me to arrange things so they’re in easy reach, I go fill up the tubs with hot water and give him some privacy after I tuck a couple of towels around him. I leave the rest so he can drape them over himself and ease out of his shorts. We’ve worked out a decent system over the past few weeks.
The water steams in the large bowl on table beside the bed while I dip the washcloth in once, twice, before wringing it out and giving it a little flip to spread it out against Jackson’s back. Running it up and down slowly, re-wetting the cloth every now and then to maintain its heat.
“Lean your head down,” I tell Jackson quietly, losing myself in the task; taking in every inch of exposed skin. Jackson does as he’s asked, his head falling forward. A soft sound of enjoyment escaping him as hot cloth rests against his neck, a small trickle escapes and runs down the side.
The bedroom window is still open and despite the sultry air in the apartment (Colorado sultry has nothing on the Carolinas set on slow melt, but it’s still sitting at almost uncomfortable), the breeze coming through the open window has a chill to it and I feel the subtle shiver that runs through Jackson. Man was not made for livin’ in the north, catching myself smiling at the observation I ask if my gracious host was comfortable.
“Yes, feels good as a matter of fact,” Jackson’s voice is a low rumble, his shoulders and neck more relaxed than when we began.
“Gotta tell ya, Jackson, I sure will be glad when I can dump your butt in the bathtub to soak a while.”
Jackson snorts. “You and me both, but there’s something to be said about having a faithful wash-boy. I think I’ll re-name you Pepe – or Raul.”
“That’s wash-man, thank you very much,” I respond and pop him on top of the head. “And I’m more of a Javier.
He chuffs out a laugh. “Well, you do this very well. I take it you’ve had some practice before now…,” Jackson’s voice trails off as I stop moving my hand. “I don’t particularly feel like talking about my family right now, Jackson.”
He twists around to look at me. “You talk about them all of the time.”
“Not about that,” my words are clipped to let him know that the subject is closed. It shouldn’t bother me, but for some reason the timing of it really stinks and I just don’t want to think about it. Jackson takes things at face value, whole and unfettered by preconceptions. It’s one of the things that I’ve admired about him since getting this post. He’s honest, even when he’s wrong and won’t let a subject go. It’s going to be someone’s — not Jackson’s — downfall someday.
Jackson surprises me though and simply nods and turns back around. “Okay, but if ever feel the need to talk…”
“Yeah, I know. Just… not now.” I try to keep my voice even to let him I’m not actually angry with him. I rinse out the rag and reach for the larger basin of water next to it as I angle my body to lay it in my lap. “Lean back and we’re going to try and get that mop of yours washed.”
“It’s not a mop.” He leans back, neck against the hard plastic edge and my thigh, lowering his head into the basin.
“Hair needs trimmin’,” I tell him as I grab the floating cup and start trickling water over his hair while my fingers comb through it. I stare down at his face: eyes closed, relaxed, and while not the most comfortable he’s ever been (who could be getting their hair washed in a tub while your leg is enclosed in a couple pounds of plaster), his face is unlined, mouth slightly open…
I don’t — can’t — stop staring at his mouth for several seconds before I force myself to look away, feeling a flutter in my stomach as I do so.
Something clicks in my head, call it an epiphany or wishful thinking but I suddenly feel like I know what’s set my unease. Unable to resist – I lean down, not really kissing, but simply resting my lips against his forehead and wait.
Wait for Jackson’s reaction.
Wait to see if I have the nerve to continue with what I’ve just started; whether the outcome is for ill or fortune.
All I know at that moment is the chill of his skin warming under my hand as it drifts, grazing his chin, his neck. The smell of him mixed with the soft scent of soap freshly washed away. When I move, my attention drifts to his eyes looking up at me. I hold my breath, almost wishing that my heart would stop beating because the sound of it is deafening in my ears until I notice the softest crinkle at the corners of his eyes a split second before he smiles.
“I was wondering when…,” he says quietly, hand coming up — slowly as if not to frighten me — and leaves it to rest on top of mine.
“You…you knew?” I feel like I’m going to pass out.
Nodding, he gives my hand a squeeze. “It’s okay, you can breathe now.”
“I wasn’t… I mean I didn’t — hell I don’t know what I mean but…”
“You’ve been as skittish as a mastadge after a storm for the last several days. I was thinking of digging into my stash of chocolate bars to help calm you down since I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want me convincing Sam to come over here and spiking your drinks,” his tone is light, teasing, and not something I’ve seen too often coming from Jackson.
“How long have I had a bag full of candy bars here, how long I’ve noticed how twitchy you were or how long have I known you had feelings for me?
“Start with the candy and work your way to the end,” I answer as I grab one of the towels sitting beside me and put it around his shoulders when I notice water begin to start rolling down from his hairline.
“Oh let’s see. Since Vala discovered where I keep them in my office; about two days after you took over a corner of my bedroom and half of my living room And six months ago.” He pauses long enough to glance up at me. “Not long after we lost the Prometheus.”
I don’t think the memory of that entire fucked up mission is ever going to not hurt. Too many losses, Pendergast, the Prometheus and I’d – we had almost lost Jackson and Sam on top of everything else. None of us like to bring the subject up too often, if we can help it.
“Shoulda had a couple SFs stand guard over your office with orders to break her fingers if she touches your sweet unmentionables.” I add more water to his hair and reach for the shampoo, pouring a dab in my hand I start to work it through his hair and let Jackson’s final answer actually sink in.
Six months of keeping my feelings hidden (or so I thought) and being unsure of how he’d feel if even the notion of those feelings ever came out. Feelings that I’d been sure until a second before I started this that I wanted to deny even to myself in case they’d been misplaced. I hadn’t even wanted to think on them. I don’t want to let myself think on the idea that if Jackson noticed, did anyone else? Right now I just want to enjoy the fact that he knows and isn’t scrambling for the telephone on the nightstand in order to have my ass hung out to dry.
“You don’t have to worry – I won’t tell anyone,” Jackson says, his eyes now shut tight to keep any shampoo from getting into them.
I stop, for just a moment, relieved. “‘Preciate it.”
We continue on in silence as I finish washing his hair, proud of the fact that I don’t get the entire bed soaked in the process of rinsing out the soap and wrap the towel from Jackson’s shoulders around his head. He props himself up on his elbows as I scoot off the bed and dump the water out in the bathtub. When I come back into the room, Jackson is still sitting in the same position, the towel has come unwrapped and lying on top of head like it’s a head full of light blue flowing hair and I snort out a laugh before going over to the chair and grabbing his clothes.
Helping to finish drying off and pull on the old pair of shorts over the bulky cast, I ask Jackson what he’d like for dinner or if there was anything else he needed. Nervous chatter really and not something I’ve done around him since my first couple months on the team.
“If you keep constantly trying to feed me I won’t be able to get into my uniform when I go back to duty,” Jackson comments and looks to the empty side of the bed after he’s sitting up comfortably. He wants to talk. So do I — only I don’t know how to start this particular conversation since I’d never thought I’d ever have it in this or any lifetime.
Kneeling on the bed, I move to sit beside him with my back against the headboard. Staring at the far wall, I need a moment to try and stop the feeling as if I’m going to be sick (haven’t been this nervous since my freshman year in college). “Guess I’ll just have to help you work it off then.”
He laughs, and it’s an honest laugh. And it relieves a bit of the tightness that I’m wearing like a shroud. It’s the first time I think I’ve ever heard it before. “Don’t get cheeky.”
Tapping my hands against my legs is not the best way to show him that I’m not nervous about being beside him at the moment so I stop and say, “I should get those towels in the laundry before they sour and I need to feed your fish. I forgot to earlier today.”
“Um, Mitchell… You do realize they’re not real fish, right?”
He almost believes me when I look at him in shock.
Lightly punch-brushing his knuckles against my thigh, Jackson say softly, “Come closer.”
Inching closer to Jackson, my shoulder brushes against his; flash of heat, different from the summer afternoon air. I’m not actually sure how to start the ball rolling and I’m kind of wishing I hadn’t thought of it like that.
“You haven’t been – aren’t – obvious. I just want to reassure you if you’re worried,” Jackson says as he lays his hand on my forearm for a moment before taking it away.
“The thought did occur to me.”
“The thought that says ‘shoot-run-hide’?”
“That would be the one.”
“I’m quite familiar with it.”
“So how did you…”
“Know that you wanted me for more than my keen intellect?”
I nod and resist smacking him for that one. Now who’s being cheeky?
“Gaydar?” he shrugs, “While you don’t come across as a closet Frankenfurter and wipe that shocked look off your face, I’ve been dragged to more than one showing of Rocky Horror. Usually by well-intentioned roommates that wanted to ‘help me loosen up’.”
The idea cracks me up and suddenly the image of Jackson in a little satin gold shorts playing Rocky pops into my head. A flick to my ear brings my attention back to the here and now.
“I never participated and I would not be caught dead in that outfit. Oh, don’t look surprised,” he tells me, giving me a look that gives me a barely restrained shiver. “The look on your face was a neon sign telling me exactly what you were thinking.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Jackson.”
“Besides, Teal’c would look much better in those little shorts. Doesn’t clash with this tattoo.”
It’s a good damn thing I wasn’t drinking anything at that moment.
“My point is that you have presented yourself as nothing more than the Upstanding Straight Air Force Lieutenant Colonel that they want you to be.”
“Maybe I want to be that too…”
“No. Sorta hit me out of the blue if you must know.”
“But – So you…”
“…took a leap of faith,” I finish for him, understanding it as the truth even as I say the words.
Sitting behind Jackson, I hold on as he leans back slightly, head tilting onto my shoulder and I brush his hair back with a wet hand. I only have to dip my chin a little bit before my lips are caressing the side of his neck, nuzzling and laying whisper-soft kisses along the warmth of his skin.
The quiet of the gray skies outside my window had crept inside some time ago it seems and had lain in wait until the right moment, blanketing us. Cocooning and protecting us from the world, from our obligations to anyone but ourselves. It felt good and right and filled a place marked inevitable. My earlier fear is still sitting here with us, but it’s voice is far more quiet and I can feel its strength falling apart with each second I spend touching Jackson, making every inch of his body mine even as he’s doing the same to me given the awkwardness of our positions. That’s not to say that I’m not fucking terrified – there’s a new level and dimension of the future that is laid wide open to explore – but being terrified has never stopped me before.
There’s no rush in our exploration and it’s ironic that I can quietly thank my training and life in the SGC for giving me a sharper attention to the little, albeit important, details as I trace an old scar along his rib leftover from the planet of badly dressed drug dealers.
Jackson hitches his breath just a little and I ask, whispering against his ear, “That tickle?”
He turns his head slightly, leveling it enough that our lips meet and he kisses me. It’s short and sweet and I don’t want him to ever fucking stop. “I’m not ticklish,” he answers.
“Good t’know.” My hand runs from Jackson’s hip, across his stomach, fingers opening and closing slowly in time with my breathing. Savoring.
Jackson opens the drawer to the nightstand and reaches inside and brings out a small plastic bottle. Flipping open the cap, he says, “Hold out your hand,”
I do as he says and raise my hand, palm up; as he squirts out a dab of lotion. Setting it to the side, he takes my hand and guides it down to rest on the erection that had more than caught my attention long before this moment. I know that he’s felt mine nestled against the crack of his ass for the last half-hour.
Curling his hand over mine, he moves our hands up and down, the motion slow and measured at first running from base to tip. A moan rumbles in Jackson’s chest and I hold onto him, keep him from shifting his bad leg too much, by reaching with my other hand and brace him by taking hold of his thigh. “Careful,” I warn, trying to keep him in the here and now.
He simply nods, relaxing his body and I can see him lick his lips. I do the same, wishing that I could have another taste of them but compromise by nuzzling the side of his neck until I can kiss the hollow where it meets the shoulder.
There’s something to be said for taking one’s time.
We rock gently, forwards and back and I can see his face relaxed, lost in the feel of my hand on his cock. Up and down, from tip to base. Slow and steady as we continue to rock against my dick rests hard, between the cheeks of Jackson’s ass. The friction and heat are enough to scatter my thoughts and I lose a bit of myself with him.
He wraps an arm around my thigh, pushing back against me when my hand slides down further and cups his balls and squeezing enough to elicit a groan.
His grip tightens around my hand as we round the top once more and I pause to run my thumb over the slit, callous raking gently along the edge. I kiss the exposed skin behind his ear, tongue lapping the sweat beginning to bead along the hairline. I feel positively drunk and I want more when he digs his fingers into my leg muscle and shivers.
My nail digs in just a little rougher before I – we – move once more, our pace quickening. He shifts, grinding his ass into me and it’s all that I can do to maintain any measure of control, but it’s taken out of my hands (so to speak) when Jackson holds his breath, back bowing as his head jerks back onto my shoulder when he comes. I bite my lip, the sounds Jackson make minute cuts through my restraint. I hold onto him tighter, arm nestled back across his stomach until he’s ready to move.
I enjoy the feel of his body against me; I can feel his heart beating in his chest. Or is it mine? I can’t tell as I just let the moment fold over me. We don’t, can’t, get many moments like this in life so we take advantage of them when they come and savor them. It gives us something to reach for, grounding us for what we’re fighting for day in and day out.
Cleaning the two of us, really just Jackson, doesn’t take long since everything is still setting beside the bed. He lies back against me again, not talking, and it’s then that I notice that the silence and heaviness of the day has been replaced by the heavier sound of rain beating lightly against the window pane. Storm’s here. I should get up and close the window before the water can ruin the sill but I simply watch as the drops gather together and grow, forming something larger.