Their relationship had rules. Sure, all relationships had rules but because of the situation, theirs had a few more. Way too goddamned many as far as Jack was concerned but since it was his court martial they were trying to prevent he wasn't able to complain quite as much as he would have liked. Or at all. At least not out loud.
One of the rules was "thou shalt not buy a gift that can not be opened in front of SG-3 or at least identified when publicly asked about it." This pretty much cancelled the order of kiwi flavoured lube.
The rule, of course, only referred to gifts given on public holidays such as Christmas and birthdays and, under certain circumstances, Valentine's Day. Odds were good Daniel would never live down the anonymous gift of a box of obscene chocolates - especially not after Janet began using three of them as visual aids for an impromptu lecture on the dangers of alien sex. The fact that they'd been made of good enough chocolate to melt at body temperature only added to the object lesson.
Private holidays, such as personal anniversaries of the first time they managed to actually admit that 'friendship' had become a bit of an understatement, were more expensive but a lot easier.
Jack had never had trouble coming up with presents for his lovers and less trouble coming up with presents for his friends. It was just having his best friend for a lover that complicated things.
And Daniel's birthday was only three days away.
Books were always good but finding books Daniel wanted that he didn't have was almost impossible. Last year, Jack had lucked out and found a rare book on Egyptian architecture that had been out of print for almost twenty years. He'd further lucked out by being able to do his best Stanley Kowalski impression and yell "Stela!" as Daniel buried himself in it - although the fact he could make the whole Tennessee Williams/Egyptian architecture connection was kind of freaky.
Carter and Janet always bought him clothes, readily admitting it was as much for their benefit as his. Teal'c - who was on the government payroll but had very little to spend his money on -- took the whole extended family out to dinner at the celebrant's restaurant of choice. It was a good idea and every year at this time Jack wished he'd thought of it first.
But he hadn't. This was why he now found himself wandering through the 'artistic' part of Colorado Springs, home to bookstores new and used, art supplies, small galleries, and a remarkable number of coffee shops. Unfortunately General Hammond had the coffee angle covered and had discouraged poaching in no uncertain terms. His exact words "Don't make me pull rank over this, Colonel. You wouldn't like Antarctica."
A Chinese chess set had brought Jack into The Asian Pacific Trading Company. The set, which had looked like a possibility from the street, was both cheap and garish up close and cheap and garish just didn't cut it for a man who dropped his loose change into a four thousand year old pickle dish. Some of the prints would have worked fine had there actually been any wall space in Daniel's loft that didn't have a book shelf attached to it. The tea sets and rice bowls were too... fey. The cotton dressing gowns didn't survive the SG-3 test.
And then, on the last shelf, he saw it. A happy cat, one of those ceramic kitties painted over with Chinese characters, paw in the air. As Jack remembered it, they were supposed to bring luck and, after the year they'd had, a little extra luck for any member of SG-1 wouldn't go amiss. Best of all, the raised foreleg was on a pivot and one nine volt battery would make the paw go up and down. Both cheap and garish but so wonderfully tacky it was perfect.
He grabbed a boxed kitty from under the saluting display and happily made his way to the cash desk. Yeah, $39.99 was maybe a little steep especially when the battery wasn't included but really, what price luck?
After a few moments of waiting for the girl opening a shipping carton behind the cash desk to notice him, he cleared his throat. She jumped, blushed, laid a pile of shiny black boxes on the glass counter top, realized that didn't leave room for his purchase, blushed some more, swept the stack of boxes out of the way, and knocked over a dish of pennies. Before she knelt to pick the pennies up, she set the boxes back where they'd been.
"What is all this?" he asked as the girl straightened.
She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and peered at the boxes as though she'd never seen them before. "Chinese calligraphy kits," she announced at last. One ebony fingernail tapped the clear section of a lid. "See there's the disc of black ink and the disc of red and the two ink dishes and three brushes and I'm pretty sure it comes with sheets of rice paper."
"Uh..." A quick consultation with the invoice. "Thirty-nine ninety-nine."
Jack sighed and clutched the boxed cat. It's always feast or famine with you, Danny-boy.
"Are you taking Dr. Jackson home, Colonel?"
Jack looked across the restaurant parking lot, looked his commanding officer right in the eye, and told the truth. "Yes, sir."
Hammond's eyes narrowed. "You all right to drive?"
"I told Daniel I'd be the designated driver back on base. It's why he didn't bring his car."
"Still, I'm driving almost right past Dr. Jackson's loft. I could..."
"I've got it, sir." The urge to add Knock it off, George! was intense. The moment they were both safely retired there was definitely going to be a discussion about how much mileage the general got out of what he wasn't supposed to know.
"If you're sure."
"Of what?" Daniel asked, having finally finished saying goodbye to the two majors, a highly excited sixteen year old, and a Jaffa with a shopping bag full of take-out Thai just in case he got peckish later.
"Of driving you home."
The son-of-a-bitch grinned. "Isn't the general driving almost past my loft?"
Jack dropped his voice below eavesdropping range. "Daniel, get in the damned truck." And raised it again. "Good night, General."
Hammond's grin nearly matched Daniel's. "Goodnight, Jack. Happy Birthday, Dr. Jackson. I'll see you both in forty-eight, enjoy your downtime."
Carter had laid two to one odds they wouldn't actually get their weekend off. Figuring he had a lucky ace in the hole no one knew about, Jack took the bet.
The drive to Jack's house - home for all Daniel kept his lease on the loft - was done in a companionable silence for the most part. A comment about the meal...
"They made it with lime juice?"
"You had three helpings, Jack. It's a little late to start whining that you don't like lime."
...an observation about a present...
"That shirt Sam bought me is going to cling."
...and a general declaration about the evening...
"I've never seen birthday candles in a sangkhaya fakthon before."
"Not since last year."
...got them into the driveway and parked. The silence as they walked to the house became more anticipatory than companionable. Jack unlocked the front door, paused, looked over at Daniel, and said, "You know, it's a nice night. Maybe we should sit out here for a while."
Although Daniel showed teeth, it wasn't exactly a smile. "Get in the damned house, Jack."
Jack was starting to give serious thought to having mattresses laid down in the front hall. When they hadn't been together for a few days they almost never got any further into the house. He stepped inside, heard Daniel close the door behind them, and turned to find a raised hand and a familiar determined expression.
"It's my birthday, we do this right."
"I don't remember ever getting it wrong."
As he started up the stairs - because there was no point in arguing with Daniel in this mood - Jack heard paper rustling behind him and spent a moment running through the list of presents in the bags. Nope, no bondage gear. Maybe he was going to model the slinky shirt? Jack picked up the pace. The shirt was the exact same shade of blue as Daniel's eyes although Jack had no intention of ever admitting that he'd noticed something so sappy.
Daniel caught up at the bedroom door and a warm hand pushed him toward the bed. "Strip."
"And what will you be doing while I..." Shirt half unbuttoned, Jack turned to find Daniel already barefoot and dragging his shirt off over his head. "Never mind."
When they were both naked, Daniel pointed toward the bed. "Lie down. On your back."
"Well, since it's your birthday." Jack was horizontal before the last syllable left his mouth. Which was when Daniel left the room. "Hey!" He rose up on his elbows. "There's still some of the mango flavoured stuff in the bedside table!"
"I'm not looking for lube, Jack." Daniel voice drifted in from the hall, closely followed by Daniel holding the glass from the bathroom. "I'm getting water."
He picked up the Chinese calligraphy kit. "This." Setting the black ink in its dish and the water on the bedside table, he took the medium size brush and straddled Jack's hips. "Back in the early 90's," he said in a conversational tone as he leaned forward and wet the brush, "a director named Peter Greenway made a movie called The Pillow Book." The wet tip of the brush traced a figure eight pattern over the ink. "In it a beautiful Japanese woman painted poetry over Ewan MacGregor's naked body."
"Obi Wan Kenobi's naked body?"
The first touch of the ink was unexpectedly cool. "You've seen Obi Wan's light saber?"
Daniel grinned as he painted a line of hieroglyphs down Jack's chest, moving the brush carefully through the hair. "Nicole Kidman was right. He has an enormous talent."
As Daniel reloaded the brush, Jack lifted himself carefully back onto his elbows. The skin under the drying ink itched a little, the surface pulling in a way that made him very aware of being naked. "What does it say?"
"Property of Dr. Daniel Jackson."
"I always put my name in my books." As Jack began to lie down again, Daniel stopped him. "You're okay like this if you want to watch."
He did. Not the writing so much but Daniel doing the writing. The three vertical lines between his eyes as he concentrated, the slight flush on his cheeks - probably from a little too much wine at dinner - the smile as he stroked the pattern onto Jack's skin. Curving a hand lightly around the back of Daniel's neck, Jack couldn't decide if the touch of the brush was erotic on it's own of if it was erotic because it was Daniel doing the brushing and bottom line, he didn't much care. By the time Daniel finished the second, much longer piece, he was erect and pressing against Daniel's ass.
"So." He hoped he sounded further from the edge than he felt. "What's this say?"
"It's part of a poem from the Middle Kingdom. It says 'I will go to my brother and I will kiss him in front of his companions, I will not care what people think.'"
"Shhhh." He wet the brush again and scooted back, sliding down the length of Jack's cock and letting it spring out in front of him. "The poem continues..." This time, he recited as he painted. "It is prompt to steal away, my heart, when I think of the love I bear for you. It no longer lets me walk like everyone else..."
"Still talking about the heart there?"
"In a literary sense." He had to rise up on his hands and knees now to reach the ink. Jack thought about suggesting they move it and then decided he'd rather just enjoy the view. The tip of Daniel's cock dragged lightly against his stomach, drawing a glistening line between the patterns. Jack couldn't prevent a shudder. "Hold still."
"Yes, you are." Either the ink had warmed or Jack was just too heated now to notice any temperature but his own. "I encountered my brother at the entry to the pool, his foot resting in the water." The hieroglyphs started down one thigh. "His skin was rippling along his body as he stretched." Another reach for the ink then the second thigh. "His stature outshining his broad shoulders."
"Shhhh." The tip of his tongue came out and he stared down at Jack's cock with something that could have been artistic fervor and something that could have been a lot scarier. He reloaded the brush and bent to work.
"Jesus!" The light touch was torture. "What are you... are you writing?"
Okay. That was weird enough to distract from the feeling of the ink tracing over sensitive skin. "What?"
"An elderly nurse gives a male patient a sponge bath, comes out and tells her younger colleague that he has the word Swan tattooed on his prick. Intrigued, the younger nurse gives him his next sponge bath then comes out and says, it's not Swan, it's Saskatchewan." He looked up and smiled; the full out, no holds bared smile that only Jack ever got to see. "So I'm writing Saskatchewan."
"You're one sick, over-educated puppy. You know that right?"
"Oh yeah, I know."
"I love you."
He saw Daniel's throat move as he swallowed and after a long moment, he said very softly, "Yeah. I know that too."
"Anything you don't know?"
The younger man frowned and glanced down at Jack's cock. "Apparently, I don't know how to spell Saskatchewan."
Laughter wasn't only the best medicine, it turned out to be pretty damned good foreplay too. By the time they finished laughing, spelling mistakes were irrelevant because the ink had ended up all over Daniel's tongue. And later they found out it didn't taste that bad combined with mango lube and later than that, rather a lot of Middle Kingdom poetry ended up transferred to the sheets.
Much later still, Jack rolled out from under a sleeping Daniel and staggered to the bathroom pausing as he passed to high five the happy cat on the corner of his dresser.. Tomorrow he'd dig up a nine volt battery, tonight he'd just pat himself on the back - right under the scrawled 'Fuck me, it's my birthday!' -- for having actually managed to buy Daniel the perfect gift.
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