like water, lying

Cam's lost his team. It's okay, he'll get 'em back once General O'Neill goes back to Washington, but he hasn't seen Sam except in briefings and at lunch since Monday, Teal'c's been looming over O'Neill's shoulder like some kind of Jaffa shadow, and Jackson -- well, Cam has no idea what's going on there, but Jackson's spent the entire week flipping between insanely mellow and revved up to full speed, bouncing from one to the next every ten minutes. O'Neill's been polite enough to him, though. Invited him along for dinner, never deliberately made him feel like the understudy; Cam appreciates it. He'll return the courtesy by not flipping out because his team's gone back to flocking around Daddy.

Although, okay, let's not go there, because that brings all sorts of twisted thoughts and he doesn't need to be thinking them. Because he's almost positive, now that he knows what he's looking for, that Jackson and O'Neill are fucking. And Cam's okay with that, too. He knows he didn't have first claim on any of them, much less Jackson, and hey, there's still that little voice in the back of his head reminding him that O'Neill will go back to Washington, and Cam will stay here, and that's good enough.

So when Jackson catches him on his way to the Gateroom with a quick dig of fingers into his elbow and a muttered "my place, nine o'clock, eat first," Cam's a little shocked. He hadn't expected Jackson would want to waste a minute of O'Neill's visit, so he'd resigned himself to a night of takeout pizza in front of the Broncos game.

Maybe Jackson's had enough bonding. Maybe O'Neill really is better in small doses, the way he's heard. "You got it," he says, flashing a smile. The afternoon gets a little better after that.

He lets himself into Jackson's apartment precisely just as his watch ticks over to twenty-one hundred. He'd waited in the hallway for five minutes, just to make sure. There's a low, indistinct murmur coming around the corner from the living room; maybe Jackson's watching the game, too, although it's way more likely to be some documentary about something Cam's never heard of. Or maybe Jackson's got a porn flick running in the background; that's happened a few times, too. Cam toes off his shoes and kicks them under the hall table, hangs his jacket on the hook.

The brown paper bag is exactly where it always is on the table, sitting mute and innocuous, top folded over and waiting for him. Cam picks it up and takes it into the hall bathroom with him. Jackson hasn't lived here for long; the bathroom's large and comfortable enough, but it feels sterile, like nobody's bothered to make it into anything other than a waystation. Jackson saves his clutter for the rooms he spends his time in.

Cam learned how to be neat a long time ago, so he folds each article of clothing as he strips it off. Shirt first, his old Academy class tee, faded nearly threadbare by years of washing. Jeans next. Boxer-briefs. Socks. He stacks each piece neatly on the vanity, building himself a little tower of the outside world. Once he's naked, he breathes in, holds it. Lets it out slowly, like Jackson taught him, and meets his own eyes in the mirror until he thinks he's ready.

The tags are always the last thing to go. There's a nail sitting bare in the wall, like it's waiting for a picture frame. Cam runs his fingers over the bumps and valleys of his own name one last time before he hangs them up and turns his back; he doesn't need them here.

He enjoys this part more than he ever thought he would. The anticipation of trying to figure out what's going on inside Jackson's twisted head. The tug and hitch in the pit of his belly as he opens the bag: what tonight? Sometimes it's easy to tell, would be even without the books Jackson had him read. Sometimes he doesn't have a clue until he's right in the middle of it. He's starting to get a feel for it, though, and that feel tells him tonight's probably going to be loose and light, the kind of night that's more a reminder than anything else. It's okay. He likes those, too; he's been a flyboy longer than he can remember, but he's starting to figure out what being grounded in something can offer.

Nothing fancy in his gear tonight. Pair of drawstring pants on the top of the pile, thin loose cotton that'll pool around his legs, just short enough to show off the strip of braided leather around his right ankle. He sets those aside for last. They uncover a tangle of toys; he lifts them out one at a time. His favorite silver ring, cool and wide and heavy in his hand, makes him smile; he hasn't seen it for a few weeks. The lambskin cuffs, the ones that cup each wrist like a second skin, smooth as butter and tougher than nails. The lightest pair of clamps, the ones he can adjust the pressure on, set them as easy or nasty as he wants.

If Jackson had been intending to pick all Cam's favorites, he couldn't have done a better job. It makes Cam a little nervous. Usually there's at least something new, something to test Cam's limits, something to give a hint about what Jackson's got planned.

Cuffs first. They're a bitch to try to work one-handed, and he's learned the hard way that saving them for last will run the risk of kicking him out of the headspace with the frustration. He's figured out the trick by now: hold the wrist against his chest, get the strap settled loosely, then use his teeth to pull it tight. Once they're buckled, he flexes his hands, rotates his wrists, to make sure they're seated right. God, they're perfect even when they're not clipped together, soft and strong all at once, like a pair of gentle hands holding him down.

The cockring next, because he can already start to feel the little frissons of anticipation starting to take root in his dick and as soon as he's hard he won't be able to get it on right. The metal's cold against his skin, cold enough to make him shiver when he slides it over his balls. Feels good; Jackson keeps his place about five degrees too hot. Cam likes the weight of it, the way it rests loosely up against his body, not restricting, just holding. A secure, comforting presence. By the time he's done settling his dick through the ring, tugging and adjusting until it's comfortable to wear all night if he has to, he really is starting to fall into that place in his head.

His dick's pretty happy with the arrangement, too. He rubs his palm along the underside, once, twice. Later, he promises it, then brings his hand up to circle a nipple.

He likes to watch this part. There's something about the way his eyes go soft and distant that turns him on like nobody's business, and he doesn't know why, except he can almost imagine what he must look like to someone else. He watches as the man in the mirror bites at his lip, then lets his mouth fall open with a tiny hitch of breath as he pulls, pinches. The list of things he never knew he liked is getting longer and longer. The nipple clamps go on like a whisper, barest hint of pressure, and for a minute he's tempted to tighten them all the way up until they bite the way he likes them to. But he doesn't know how long they're going to be on, so he makes himself stop when they're just settled enough to be a reminder. He can't resist one tug on the chain, hard and long and slow, and watching his back arch and his body rise up to the balls of his feet, following the pull of it, makes him shudder.

Almost done now. The brush of the cotton pants is slow torture against his dick. He knows better than to knot the strings by now -- the last time he had, Jackson had just snapped them, and he'd liked that pair of pants -- so he lets them dangle loose. It makes the pants tilt dangerously at his hips, ponder sliding free, but they're just snug enough to hold.

The collar is always the last thing Cam puts on.

It's made of the same leather as his anklet. He likes that. He can carry a part of this with him throughout the day, there for him to draw on if he needs it, but here's where he gets to have the whole deal. He always feels fucking stupid for a second when he lifts it to his lips before fitting it around his throat, especially since he's never been told to do it, but even though it makes him feel stupid, it also feels right. You treat some things with respect.

The drift of noise from the living room hasn't gone away, even though he knows Jackson heard him come in. Maybe all Jackson really wants to do tonight is watch TV and run his fingers over Cam's body. It wouldn't be the first time, and Cam likes that too, likes how after an hour or so of steady exploration he's so fucking sensitized he can practically read Jackson's fingerprints from his skin. He's learned how to walk wearing the clamps by now, that particular shuffle-glide necessary to keep them from swinging and pulling in the bad way. All the metal's starting to warm, taking on the heat of his skin, like he's been wearing it forever, like he's making it his own.

The kitchen lights are off, but there's enough light spilling in from the living room that he doesn't stub his toe. Jackson's sitting in the overstuffed chair, his back half to the door. All Cam can see is his profile and one hand, raised to make a point, beer bottle circling in midair. There's a throwrug down on the floor, which means Jackson wants him to kneel. Cam's just fucking fine with that; he can already anticipate feel the burn in his thighs, the itch in his feet, the struggle to keep his shoulders high and his spine straight and his head bowed down, waiting, waiting. God, he never knew. He could have been doing this years ago.

And then he freezes, in the doorway, because the TV isn't on and Jackson's not talking back to it.

There's someone else in the room.

Shit, shit, fucking shit, fucking brick to the head, like someone's dumped a bucket of ice right down his fucking pants, and Cam's always thought that saying about blood running cold was a cliché until right this fucking second. Because he's standing in Dr. Daniel Jackson's living room with leather around his neck and wrists, silver glistening against his chest, more obscene half-dressed than he would be fully fucking naked, and fucking General fucking O'Neill is sitting on Jackson's couch watching Cam's career go down in a flaming tailspin.

It takes a second for him to catch his breath, and hard on the heels of the initial panic comes the gut-punch realization that Jackson fucking set him up for this, and that hurts worse. He's half an inch away from turning around and getting the fuck out, rescuing what he can later, once he can breathe again, once he can think --

And then Jackson, without turning his head, without even fucking pausing for breath in the lecture he's delivering, reaches out one hand and extends it towards Cam. An order. An expectation.

Sweet puppies fucking.

O'Neill's in civvies, and there isn't a hint of the General in his slouch, in the heel propped up on the coffeetable and the lazy glide of his throat as he lifts the beer bottle, takes a swallow. He's listening to Jackson like he's heard this a thousand times before (which he probably has, Cam thinks, with the one part of his brain that isn't a gibbering, screaming wreck, because he can process just enough sound around the white-noise panic in his ears to recognize the rant on underfunding of cultural exploration, and O'Neill can probably recite that one in his sleep). Cam couldn't move if his life depended on it; his knees are shaking and all the arousal has turned to a cold sick rock in the base of his stomach.

"Daniel," O'Neill interrupts. Fond and tolerant. He doesn't take his eyes from Jackson's face.

Jackson huffs. The hand outstretched towards Cam describes an impatient circle, gestures down to the rug on the floor. Cam knows that gesture. It means "why are you making me waste my time?"

"Daniel," O'Neill says again, and it means something entirely different this time, and Cam has no fucking clue how to read it.

"Oh, for the love of -- Cameron, come here." Jackson finally turns his head. Cam's starting to think he might be able to get out of this without getting shot, so he's calming down enough to notice the way Jackson's eyes narrow in admiration. Jackson never uses Cam's first name except when they're like this. Never in front of strangers. It's familiar enough that Cam almost doesn't even notice how much like O'Neill Jackson sounded.

Jackson doesn't give him direct orders often. He's moving before his brain catches up with him. The chain swings against his chest as he lets himself down to his knees at Jackson's feet, and even though he's shaking like a good strong wind might blow him over, he realizes he's arranged himself the way he's supposed to. Knees apart. Back straight. Shoulders square.

"There," Jackson says, satisfied that the universe has settled itself in a way he deems fit. His hand descends, first to Cam's shoulder, then up to rest on the back of his neck. His thumb slips under the edge of Cam's collar, rubbing tiny circles. "Relax," he says, low enough to be for Cam's ears only. "You're doing fine."

O'Neill's watching him. Nothing overt, nothing showy, just a flick of eyes, from Jackson's hand on his neck down his chest, beyond, lingering at the way the pants stretch across Cam's crotch. Cam thinks he might be crazy, because he could swear he sees something almost like approval there. And then O'Neill lifts his eyes back up to Jackson and says, like it's any fucking conversation ever, "I told you, I've been trying to convince Hayes for weeks, but you spent so long trying to convince everyone that the boogeyman was coming that I guess you did your job a little too well."

And Jackson huffs again, and his hand slides up to rub against the hair at the base of Cam's skull, and the sheer familiarity of it all drags Cam back over the last bit of panic and drops him right back down into that spot inside his head where being touched like this can send him flying.

He closes his eyes. Easier if he can't see them looking at him, even if he can feel the weight of eyes sweeping over his chest, his shoulders, his thighs. If he just stays here inside his head where it's warm and safe and familiar. Listens to the sounds of voices rising, falling, the easy back-and-forth of retreading old familiar conversations for the thousandth time. He's never heard this much ease in Jackson's tone before, like there's a smile in his voice even if it's not on his face. O'Neill handles Jackson like a master, steers and directs, like he's coaxing water to flow uphill. The most amazing thing is the way Jackson doesn't even seem to notice.

They don't do this in front of other people. Not like this. Cam's never heard that kind of relaxed, loose love in every word before.

By the time they've moved on to gossip about people Cam doesn't know in Washington and doesn't care about at the SGC, he's resting his chin on Jackson's knee and Jackson's tracing what might be hieroglyphs across Cam's shoulders. Like any fucking night. Cam's muscles are twitching, tiny electric flutters in his stomach and his chest, and the shot of adrenaline that nearly stopped his heart has transformed into the sweet sharp tug of renewed arousal. It's almost like he's managed to separate himself into two people -- the one listening to the conversation, the one kneeling at Jackson's side to offer himself up as a plaything -- and he still doesn't know what the fuck is going on, but his body's telling him he doesn't mind being put on display as much as he thinks he does.

And then Jackson reaches down, right while he's in the middle of "--daughter, she got accepted at Berkeley and he called me up to see if I still knew anyone who might --" and pulls on the chain connecting his nipples. It hurts, it hurts so fucking beautifully, and Cam's up straight on his knees and whimpering before he can even register the flood of pain and pleasure as Jackson wraps his hand around the chain and keeps up that steady pressure.

"Cameron," Jackson's saying, when the rush has ebbed enough to let him think again, once it's settled straight down in his dick and his balls and his gut. "The General needs another beer."

Oh, God.

O'Neill doesn't look at him as he struggles to his feet. Which is good, because between the way everything below his ankles is asleep and the way he's still shaking, he's about as graceful as a tapdancing whale. He's so far gone it takes him a minute to remember where the refrigerator even fucking is, and when he takes out the bottle of beer, the chill of the glass feels so good that he presses it against his cheeks, the center of his chest, each of his nipples. The metal catches the cold, reflects it. He can still feel Jackson's hand on the nape of his neck, and he'd say he isn't even turned on except he is, in some indefinable way that's caught fire in his blood and keeps cycling through his veins with every heartbeat.

Out here, he can almost think. Away from Jackson's reality-distortion field where everything seems so natural and normal. He's playing the sex slave in front of a man who could shut his life down with no more than a lifted finger, and Jackson was the one who put him here. Which -- because Jackson's crazy, but he's never malicious -- means that Cam was right. Jackson and O'Neill are fucking, or were at some point. And this is -- an invitation to join them? A command performance? Is Jackson giving him to O'Neill for the night?

His dick seems to like that thought. It twitches again, and Cam can feel the weight of the cockring, heavy, comforting. Fuck. Back at the beginning, the second time they'd done this, Jackson had said you're going to just have to trust me. God help him, Cam does.

O'Neill takes the beer without even looking at him, and Cam wonders if he's just not that interesting or if O'Neill is trying to spare him some small bit of discomfort. He's about to make his way back to Jackson's side when Jackson catches his eye, gestures a subtle 'no'. Cam closes his eyes for a second longer than a blink, and when he opens them again, Jackson's still looking at him, his lips pursed, storm clouds rolling in. "That's because you're hopeless," he says to O'Neill, continuing whatever conversation Cam's lost track of, and there isn't a trace of annoyance in his voice.

Cam knows that tilt of head, though. It's the don't you even think of fucking this up for me. And fuck it all, because if he's here to be a present, he's got enough pride to make sure he's going to be a good one. O'Neill doesn't touch Cam as he sinks to his knees -- close enough to be within reach, far enough to leave a little buffer if he needs it, because Cam knows he isn't flying straight right now and there's no fucking way he's capable of making rational decisions. "Look who's talking," O'Neill says over Cam's head, not even looking down, and then, just as Cam's gearing up for a world-class freakout over what the fuck is going on here, O'Neill's hand spans the nape of his neck and squeezes.

Cam's heart slams up against the sides of his ribs and holds there. Dimly he can realize, through the hot red rush of fear and arousal, that Jackson's licking his lips. "I'm allowed to be hopeless," Jackson says, and oh, he has no right to make those words sound like that, so low and dark and dirty. "I'm just the civilian. You're the one who's all important now."

O'Neill chuckles. "And if I agree to that, you'll pitch the 'undervaluing my contributions, Jack' fit again."

Cam's never heard anyone talk to Jackson like that before, but Jackson's eating it up. He leans back in the chair, hooks one knee around the arm, which makes his hips jut out just like he's ordering Cam to suck him. Cam's mouth waters, and for a second, he can taste. O'Neill strokes his thumb over Cam's vertebrae, one at a time, up, down. There's nowhere near enough air in this room right now. "I don't think you undervalue me, Jack," Jackson says. "You know better than that by now."

God. Jackson's flirting.

"Yes," O'Neill says, mildly. His thumb glides back up over the back of Cam's neck, and Cam can feel his chin dropping, his head bowing, yes, please, I want -- O'Neill touches the collar, runs his fingers over its width the way he might play with a pen at a briefing. It tugs at Cam's throat as O'Neill shifts it, turns it, fiddles absentmindedly. "I stopped thinking you were hopeless a while ago. After I figured out that your hope looks like everyone else's insanity."

Cam can usually forget he's wearing the collar, nothing more than a faint memory of pressure, but O'Neill is driving him fucking nuts: hooking a finger underneath, tugging lightly, letting go and guiding it through a quarter-turn, starting all over again. The undercurrents in this conversation are enough to drown in and all Cam wants to do is put his hands on his thighs and spread his legs and breathe. He shifts his weight, has to, so turned on and so annoyed at the same time he has to give it some kind of outlet. O'Neill squeezes the back of his neck again, the way a momma cat picks up her kittens.

Jackson drops his head, looks up at O'Neill through lowered lashes. "I'm perfectly sane," he says. "I have a piece of paper saying so."

"Bought it off the internet, did you?" O'Neill asks. His fingers flutter around the side of Cam's neck, skin against skin this time. When Jackson touches him like this, it's intense, hyper-focused, like he's a precious artifact or a puzzle to be solved. O'Neill seems to barely realize he's there. He strokes the skin underneath Cam's ear, thumb tracing the hinge of Cam's jaw, then scratches lightly at the faint stubble starting to grow in around the edges. Cam can barely keep himself from moaning, but he knows he's not supposed to interrupt. "I told you those places were rip-off artists."

Jackson laughs, low and throaty. "Well, you know, nobody's called me crazy since you left. Did you ever stop to think it might be a personal bias?"

Cam's eyes are slitted shut, but he can still see the way Jackson's hand moves, sweeping over his upper thigh, tracing patterns against his chinos. It takes him a second to realize that Jackson's mirroring O'Neill's motion, consciously or unconsciously. God, it's like he can feel Jackson's hands on him too, like just watching Jackson touch himself is branding the motions against his skin.

O'Neill's fingers work down the side of Cam's neck, until the fingertips rest just below the collar, settling into the curve beneath his trachea. The weight of his palm cups Cam's neck, securely. "They just don't know you like I do, Daniel," he says.

Jackson lifts the half-finished bottle of beer he's still nursing, a concessionary salute. "No one does."

Shit, the way Jackson says it, it should be casual, and it's not. Not in the least. Cam realizes -- suddenly, sharply -- that he's just been given a secret, that this is what Jackson brought him here to see, this connection, this communion. What he doesn't know is why. He doesn't think Jackson's cruel enough to be doing it to rub his nose in something he'll never have, but he isn't positive. He's got no fucking clue how the man's mind works.

And then he stops being able to think about it, because O'Neill is drawing the length of his fingers up Cam's windpipe, one long slow line, tipping Cam's chin back inch by inch until the back of his head is resting against O'Neill's knee. He can feel the pull of the muscles in his throat, the pressure of the collar keeping him from being able to swallow. It's bad, because his mouth is watering and his breathing's rough, and it only gets worse when O'Neill starts working his way back down the column of Cam's throat, almost firmly enough to hurt.

He could kill me right now without even moving, Cam realizes. O'Neill doesn't show it, does his best not to show it, but there's no denying the grace and strength in those hands against his skin. He's stretched out, vulnerable, the most uncomfortable he's ever been, the most turned on he's ever been, and all O'Neill does is toy with the ring at the front of his collar and say, "There is that."

Cam can feel the heat coming from O'Neill's skin. Or maybe it's his own body heat, caught by the soft denim and reflected back at him, but there's no denying O'Neill's turned on. It's not in his voice, not in his touch, but Cam can feel O'Neill's awareness of his own arousal. Gets the sense that O'Neill's enjoying it, the lazy anticipation of someone who's secure in his place and his position and knows that no matter what, he's got his hooks firmly set and can afford to be generous. Maybe that's why Jackson's doing this. Maybe O'Neill's been doing for Jackson what Jackson's doing to Cam, and this is Jackson's equivalent of a kindergartener bringing home a drawing for Daddy to hang on the fridge.

Except Jackson's as new to this as Cam is. He knows that. No matter how good Jackson is at getting into Cam's head, Jackson's not doing it because he enjoys it, merely considers it vaguely necessary to give Cam what he thinks Cam needs. Cam's known that since the start.

"Cameron." Jackson's voice is dark and round, coming from far too close. It takes Cam a second to remember Jackson means him. He opens his eyes -- when had they closed? -- to find Jackson looking down at him, eyes two blue smudges in a sea of expressionless face.

He can't move. O'Neill's fingertips are pressing up against his Adam's apple, holding him still with the barest flick of pressure. Jackson's lips curve, ever-so-faintly, and he brushes his thumb along the curve of Cam's lips, then lets his fingers slide over his jaw, down his throat, until they just graze O'Neill's and fall away.

"Go get the lube, please," Jackson says. O'Neill lifts his hand, and Cam whimpers, because all of a sudden nobody's touching him, and it feels like he's been cut loose to fly free. Jackson seems to sense it, because he rests the tips of his fingers against Cam's lips again, soft reassurance, and Cam swallows hard and struggles to his feet. O'Neill bats lightly at the chain of the clamps. It slams through Cam's body like a bullet through flesh, and he nearly sinks back to his knees.

"Jack," Jackson says, amused, chiding. Cam squeezes one of his wrists with the other one of his hands to have something to anchor him; the cuffs suddenly aren't tight enough. Jackson's given him an order. He's just glad the bedroom isn't far.

If Jackson has O'Neill fuck him, he might never be able to face the man again, but oh, he wants. He doesn't even like getting fucked, but his dick has other ideas.

He expects them to be touching when he gets back, to have taken the opportunity presented by his being out of the room to make some promise or gesture or response without being observed, but even though it takes him what feels like forever to stumble his way back into the living room, they're in the exact same positions they were when he left, having conversations with their eyes. Jackson turns as he hears Cam coming. "Come here," he says, reaching out, and Cam only hesitates for a second before he does.

Jackson takes the bottle of lube from his hand and hands it to O'Neill. Cam's breath hitches, but all O'Neill does is flip the cap up, down, up again, turning it over in his hands. He looks up at Jackson, words Cam can't read flicking over his face at light-speed. Cam stands there for a second, wondering what he's supposed to do, wondering how O'Neill wants him, if O'Neill wants him. Then Jackson's hands are on his shoulders, turning Cam around to face him, and Cam's mouth is dry and his hands are shaking.

And all Jackson does is let Cam go and let his hands fall, spreading out his arms, and Cam knows that cue. Undress me.

Oh. Oh God, if Jackson has Cam fuck him while O'Neill watches, assesses --

Cam's fingers fumble at the hem of Jackson's sweater. Jackson waits, patiently, dipping his head and pulling his arms out of the sleeves as Cam pulls it up, the way they've done a hundred times before. Waits as Cam sinks back to his knees, unpicking each button in turn and sliding Jackson's pants down until he can step out of them. Jackson's commando underneath the chinos and Cam's mouth aches at the sight of that beautiful cock springing loose. Fuck the audience, fuck the situation; Cam presses his lips against Jackson's cock, tongues him to full erection, breathes against Jackson's head.

Jackson sighs, soft and sweet, and brings his hand up to cup the back of Cam's skull. Cam nuzzles his way down the underside of Jackson's length, lingering at the spot just above the foreskin, the one that always makes Jackson want to hold his head and fuck his mouth. Jackson's other hand comes up, rests against Cam's cheek, and then he's drawing back: slowly, gently, but unmistakable.

The noise Cam hears is a tight whine, coming from the back of his own throat. "Shh," Jackson says, looking down at him, still smiling that Mona Lisa smile, and rubs his fingertips along Cam's parted lips. "It's all right. Trust me."

Jackson looks up, a cue, a command, and there are hands on his wrists, pulling his arms back, thumbing the catch on the cuffs and linking them together, and he didn't even sense O'Neill behind him. God, he's ready to come in his fucking pants, and all it would take would be one fucking touch. O'Neill is stepping around him and spreading a hand out on Jackson's chest, leaning in to claim his lips, slow and gentle.

Jackson's never kissed him. Cam's never wanted him to.

Cam's shoulders are burning already, and he realizes it's because he's straining against the cuffs, rocking back and forth on his knees, making the chain swing against his chest and the fabric of the pants rasp against his dick. O'Neill breaks off the kiss and pulls his t-shirt over his head, tosses it aside without looking to see where it'll land; the man's a roadmap of scars. Jackson murmurs something soft, indistinct. The words don't make it to Cam's ears, but O'Neill nods and sits back down on the couch behind Cam. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see the way O'Neill's knees are spread, splayed, waiting.

Jackson crouches in front of Cam, gloriously unselfconscious in his nudity, and cups the curve of the chain in one hand, lifting it, letting it pool. The sudden break in weight makes the clamps burn even more, like he hadn't realized how beautifully they hurt until the pressure let up a bit. "Cameron," Jackson says, three syllables falling neatly from his lips, and for the first time Cam thinks there might be just as much meaning when Jackson says his name as when he says O'Neill's. He just doesn't know how to read it yet.

"Shh," Jackson repeats, and drops the chain. Cam jerks up on his knees, trying to follow the touch, trying to reach for more, and Jackson reaches down and squeezes his dick through his pants. Cam nearly bites through his lip trying to keep from shouting. "I want you to watch. Just watch. Can you do that for me?"

Right now Cam could do anything Jackson asked. He breathes out, breathes in, trying to suck in enough air to think, and somewhere in the middle of all of it he finds the control enough to nod.

Jackson smiles his sunrise smile, the one that's sweet and a little bit shy. "I'll explain later if I have to," he says, and then there are hands on his shoulders, gently turning Cam around, until he's facing the couch and O'Neill's eyes are hot on his skin.

There's a breath of air behind him, and Jackson's fingers brush the nape of his neck, lightly reassuring. O'Neill keeps his eyes on Cam as Jackson takes the two steps necessary to close the distance between them. Cam shifts his weight. Jackson plants one knee on the couch, right in between O'Neill's, and leans his weight on his hands to either side of O'Neill's head.

"Playing with fire, Daniel," O'Neill says. There's a rasp to his voice, like rough old gravel.

"Hand me the matches," Jackson says, and straddles O'Neill's thighs to kiss him again.

Cam's got a perfect three-quarter view. It's like having his own live porn show as Jackson nips at O'Neill's lower lip, as O'Neill digs his palm into Jackson's thigh, hip, ass. Cam knows what Jackson's like when he gets like this, a vortex of heat and demand, but O'Neill doesn't cave to it the way Cam always does. Jackson brings his hands down to run them over O'Neill's shoulders, his chest, scratching fingernails over O'Neill's nipples -- Cam's ache in sympathy, and he rocks his hips again. O'Neill hisses and smacks Jackson on the ass. The sound of it rings out clear and loud; it wasn't a love-tap.

"Behave," O'Neill says. The dark promise in his voice makes Cam shudder, and he can see Jackson shivering too. He rocks his hips against O'Neill's, dragging his cock against the denim, taunting, teasing. O'Neill cups Jackson's ass in both hands and rises to meet each thrust, lazily, as though he's content to let Jackson work himself into a frenzy without any assistance.

"I want to make you come while I'm fucking you tonight," O'Neill says. Jackson hums softly, like he's considering, and O'Neill amends, "I'm going to make you come while I'm fucking you tonight."

Jackson laughs, bright and clear. He lets his head fall back, exposing his throat, daring O'Neill to try to claim it. "You can try."

Jackson gets off on getting fucked, but he doesn't get off on being fucked. Cam had asked him why, once. He hadn't gotten an answer.

O'Neill thumbs the curve between Jackson's hip and groin, then slides his hand between their bodies. Cam can't see what he's doing, shadowed by Jackson's thigh. If it had been him, he would have had his hand on Jackson's cock five minutes ago, but when Jackson slides back on O'Neill's thighs, Cam can see that O'Neill is leisurely unbuttoning his jeans like he's got all the time in the world.

"Mmm," Jackson says, and rubs his palm over O'Neill's cock. O'Neill catches his wrist with the other hand, holds it distant, and keeps going down: two buttons, three, flick of the thumb, and oh, of course the man wears button-fly jeans, the man was made to wear button-fly jeans. Cam wishes he could get his teeth and his tongue on that last button, work it through the hole, mouth against the denim and heat and damp, but all Jackson does is reach over with his free hand and pop the last one loose.

"You're going to have to get off me for me to get these off," O'Neill says.

Jackson chuckles. "I like it any time you and getting off are in the same sentence." He rolls sideways off O'Neill's lap, arranging himself on his back, one heel up on the back of the couch and the other sliding to the floor.

It puts him close to Cam, so close. If Cam weren't cuffed, he'd be able to touch, and God, his fingers ache from the wanting.

O'Neill doesn't move for a minute, studying the picture Jackson makes, spread out and on offer. Then he slides one hand under the waistband of his briefs. Jackson hums again and moves his heel from the back of the couch to O'Neill's shoulder. It's like they've forgotten Cam's here, like they've built themselves a bubble where they're the only people who exist, and Cam's chest is tight in a way that has nothing to do with how turned on his body is.

Because it's beautiful the way O'Neill strips himself naked, fits his body over Jackson's, mouths at Jackson's shoulder and neck and nips at his jaw. It's beautiful the way Jackson spreads his legs, tucks his heels in the crook of O'Neill's knees, lets his hands roam over O'Neill's back and shoulders. It's beautiful the way O'Neill reaches between them, palms Jackson's cock and strokes, slowly, until Jackson's head is tossed back and his breathing's rough, until O'Neill's hand drops lower and Jackson's shoulders rise off the couch on a choked syllable of need.

They aren't performing. This is how they always are. Cam knows it.

"Beautiful," O'Neill says against Jackson's skin, rough and untamed. Cam can see Jackson's face, see the distant look he always carries when he's getting fucked; at least that much is the same. The rest of it, though: he doesn't know this man, this glorious creature who moans a few syllables in a language Cam doesn't know as O'Neill slides home lovingly, skin against skin. The purity of it makes Cam's chest burn. He never would have seen it if he hadn't been kneeling here. Jackson never would have shown him.

And then, as O'Neill begins to move, long slow strokes, and Jackson turns his head and looks at Cam, looks at him, Cam's heart stops, because he realizes that Jackson is showing him.

It's a gift. A fucked-up, twisted gift, and it takes Cam a second until he can process the entirety of what it entails, but Jackson's showing him, trusting him enough to let him in, the way he never quite has before. It's Jackson's way of talking about things he doesn't want to put into words. O'Neill is mouthing at Jackson's shoulder, and Jackson lifts his hand, runs his fingers over Cam's lips again, the way he always does, and his eyes are glazed and oh-so-far away. Cam's breath catches in his throat. Suddenly he's a part of this again, and then -- no, he realizes. He's been a part of this from the first time Jackson touched him. He just gets it now.

He lets his lips part and flicks his tongue against Jackson's fingers, trying to let Jackson know. Jackson sighs another foreign phrase; the syllables are slurred and foggy. O'Neill's watching Jackson's face, studying it like he'll be tested on it later. As Cam watches -- beautiful, beautiful -- O'Neill catches some signal only he knows how to read and rises up on his knees without missing a beat, fitting his hands under Jackson's thighs and diving deeper, harder.

The noise Jackson makes isn't language at all. Cam takes Jackson's fingers deeper, flattening his tongue, and Jackson is moaning, soft tiny breaths, as O'Neill curls his fingers around Jackson's cock.

The touch makes Jackson freeze, body going rigid, his eyes locked vacantly halfway across the room.

Cam would have stopped, would have dragged Jackson back to make sure he was okay, but O'Neill knows better. He manhandles Jackson's legs so the heels hook against his shoulders, bending Jackson in half, and Jackson's fingers are crooked against Cam's tongue and quivering. O'Neill breathes out sharply, like he's been punched in the gut, and rubs Jackson's cock, tight and rough, in the same rhythm he's using to fuck him senseless. Cam's muscles are screaming in sympathy. He doesn't think he's even seen Jackson draw breath.

"Let it go, Daniel," O'Neill says. Orders. And Jackson does, on a single rising keen.

God, the control there, because O'Neill freezes the minute he can feel Jackson's muscles rippling and his body trying to fold in on itself. Cam's eyes are watering; his jaw aches where Jackson is practically driving his fingers into Cam's mouth. "Aiwa," Jackson moans, up the scale, and as Cam watches, he drops his head back against the cushions and explodes in O'Neill's hands.

O'Neill stays buried deep, motionless, while Jackson draws a breath. Another. The minute spirals out into two, three, and Cam imagines he can see O'Neill's thighs trembling. When Jackson finally licks his lips, swallows, O'Neill's hips twitch, once. Jackson brings his eyes to focus on O'Neill's face and nods.

O'Neill drops his forehead to rest against Jackson's knee. Jackson drops the other leg, braces it against the edge of the couch, and rises to meet each stroke, his eyes intent on O'Neill's face. His fingers slip free from Cam's mouth, but it's okay, because it's O'Neill's turn. Jackson pushes up, rough and insistent, and when his other hand drops to the crown of O'Neill's head and runs fingers through his hair, O'Neill bites down hard on Jackson's thigh and comes without a sound.

Cam remembers he has a body when he shifts, just a little, and the pants move enough to drag the wet patch over the tip of his aching dick.

He might have made a sound. Might not have, but Jackson turns his head anyway. "Come here," Jackson says, voice rough and scratchy, and slides his hand over Cam's shoulder. Cam rises to his knees again -- oh, God, the clamps, the clamps, he's not going to be able to wear a shirt for days without feeling this -- and presents his back, obediently. Jackson fumbles at the latch of the handcuffs, letting Cam's wrists fall apart.

The blood rushing back into Cam's shoulders when he lets them relax nearly makes him weep. O'Neill says something indistinct against Jackson's inner thigh, kisses a soothing pattern over the teethmarks there. Jackson shifts his weight a little, making himself more comfortable, and O'Neill drapes himself over Jackson's chest without even sliding free. The room smells like sex, like sweat and come. O'Neill tucks his chin on Jackson's shoulder and claims Cam's eyes for the first time in what feels like hours.

I get it, Cam tries to say with his look, because he finally does. Gets how far Jackson goes. Gets why Jackson doesn't want to come from being fucked, because it's too much. Gets how much O'Neill must love him, to follow after and drag him back by the heel. Gets why Jackson's willing to pour so much time and effort into kicking Cam out of his own head, into giving Cam what he didn't even know he needed. Need calls to need, even when it's not the same kind. And now he knows what Jackson gets from him: repaying a debt. Paying it forward.

O'Neill doesn't say anything, doesn't even nod, but those dark eyes studying his face soften a little, and Cam thinks he might have been heard.

"Mmm," Jackson hums. He curls his right arm around O'Neill and trails his free hand down Cam's arm. All the little light hairs rise to greet his passage. "Cameron."

Another unreadable novel in that word. Cam tears his eyes away from O'Neill's and meets Jackson's. Jackson surveys him for a minute before apparently deciding everything's okay after all. His thumb and forefinger circle Cam's wrist, briefly, before transfering to Cam's stomach.

Cam can feel his skin leaping under Jackson's hand. Jackson's face is serious, sober; he holds Cam's eyes with nothing more than the force of his look as he hooks his fingertips into the waistband of Cam's pants and pulls.

Cam rises on his knees, instinctively, automatically. He's been coming to heel at Jackson's touch for a while. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see O'Neill making himself comfortable, arranging himself over Jackson's body, and God, knowing that O'Neill's still inside of him is the hottest fucking thing Cam's ever thought of.

When Jackson's fingers slide under Cam's pants to close around his cock, he knows he isn't going to last long. Jackson's spent hours learning how to touch him, learning what he likes, and employs it ruthlessly when he wants Cam to come. And right now, he wants Cam to come. He's a little clumsy left-handed, but clumsy doesn't mean uncontrolled, and the way he rubs his palm over the head of Cam's cock, circles the shaft and hits the exact right short sharp stroke, makes Cam drop his head and hold his breath.

It's perfect, it's better than perfect, hot and tight and ragged, and Cam's biting his lip and rocking into it, leading with his hips, back arched, more please more. He can feel Jackson watching him even though his eyes are closed, because the weight of Jackson's eyes is like a fucking stone on his chest at the best of times, and yes, this is a gift, he can't understand why he ever thought it was anything but. Jackson's touching him, stroking him, pushing him, daring him to give in, give up to it, let it take him, and Cam can feel every fucking inch of his skin leaning in like he's an ivy and Jackson's the sun. He's whimpering, moaning; he can hear it, all the breathless aching need in his voice that he's been biting back all night.

And then O'Neill reaches across Jackson's chest and tangles his fingers in the chain of the nipple clamps. Jackson twists his wrist, just right, yes, and his chest is burning, his throat is tight, skin prickling, so far beyond pain that it comes around the other side, slams into the base of his spine like a bludgeon and pitches him over the edge. Dimly, he can feel O'Neill tug one last time, then flick open the screws, and Cam's digging his fingers into his thighs and screaming against the pressure of it, and the quick hot rush of returning bloodflow keeps him coming until he can't remember what it was like to not be letting go.

When he can think again, he's slumped down, still on his knees, with his face pressed against the side of the couch, against Jackson's side, O'Neill's hip. O'Neill's hand is brushing through the hair just above his ear, and Jackson's easing him free of the cockring with the lightest of practiced touches. His throat hurts and his pants are cold and sticky against his skin and he can't feel his toes. He's never felt more cherished in his life.

O'Neill rubs his thumb over one of Cam's eyebrows. Cam opens his eyes, even though it's as much of an effort as running a marathon with a full pack would be. O'Neill's eyes are closed, but Jackson's are open, watching Cam breathe, and Cam's heart sings at the small, faint smile Jackson wears for him. He can see, before he lets his eyes drift shut again, that O'Neill and Jackson's other hands are tangled together.

It's all too much. He tries to hold on, but Jackson's warm and O'Neill is soothing and Cam's been wrung out, drained, emptied of everything but this imprint of pleasure. O'Neill says something to Jackson, in the quiet rumble of a man half-asleep, but Cam's already stretched himself out on the floor and wrapped himself up in the memory of what he's been given, and his breathing is slipping over the edge to sleep before Jackson replies.


Cam's always woken up quickly, from dreaming to functioning in between one heartbeat and the next. It takes him a minute when he opens his eyes to recognize that he's staring at the underside of Jackson's couch. There's a pillow under his cheek and a blanket tangled over his legs, and someone's freed his wrists from the cuffs.

It's quiet, but it's usually quiet when he wakes up on Saturday morning; Jackson sleeps in religiously. Cam's gotten used to puttering around the place for a few hours, amusing himself by reading a book or watching TV or trying to figure out if there are any three ingredients in the kitchen that can be combined without poisoning them both. He stretches, loose and slow, taking inventory. His nipples ache and his cock's a little chafed, but it's nothing more than a pleasant reminder. He isn't even too stiff from sleeping on the floor. The way the blanket scrubs against his thighs makes him realize that he's naked. Someone must have gotten him out of the pants after he passed out last night.

He sits up, stretches. There are a pair of neatly-folded sweats on the coffeetable, waiting for him. That's new. Well, this is all new, really. Jackson's great at making sure he's okay afterwards, but the guy forgets the little details like blanket and clothing; it just doesn't occur to him. Cam scratches at his pubes. Whoever cleaned him up last night -- okay, no, face it head-on. O'Neill missed a spot with the washcloth or whatever, and it itches. He'll need a shower.

Cam doesn't recognize the sweatpants, but hey, they're soft and they look comfortable, so he pulls them on and heads to start the coffee. The coffee machine is set to start brewing at what Jackson calls the semi-civilized hour of oh-nine-hundred and Cam always beats it awake.

He stops in the doorway to the kitchen, though, because he should have realized O'Neill wakes with the sunrise too. O'Neill's clad in just a pair of boxers and his dogtags, standing in front of the stove, with a spatula in one hand and a bowl of what looks like pancake batter in the other. He doesn't bother to look up; Cam gets the impression O'Neill knew the minute he woke up.

"Morning," O'Neill says. "Pancakes?"

Cam's been in weirder situations in his life, but none of those were on Earth. "Uh," he says, and then winces when he hears himself. "Sure."

O'Neill waves the spatula over in the vague direction of the counter. "Coffee's up," he says. "Grab me a refill. Black, two sugars."

Cam collects O'Neill's mug, takes down one for himself. O'Neill accepts his mug back with nothing but a distracted nod. Cam's feeling awkward, but not hopelessly so, and it's not like any of the past twelve hours have given him any real cause to think he's in trouble -- at least, not past the initial panic -- so he ventures, "I'm surprised you managed to find anything to eat in here."

O'Neill grimaces. "I know better by now. Bring groceries with me." He looks up then, and Cam's startled to realize they're sharing a look of equal understanding and exasperation, like for a second they're bonding over how hopeless Jackson is at taking care of just about anything that isn't at least a thousand years old.

It passes, though, and Cam's left staring awkwardly down at his hands wrapped around his mug while O'Neill flips over the pancakes in the skillet. He waits an extra second in case his brain presents him with anything to say, then gives up and goes over to sit down at the table.

"How hungry are you?" O'Neill asks, a minute later.

"Uh." Cam polls his stomach. It informs him that he's still a little more nervous about this whole thing than he thought he was. "I could eat," he allows.

O'Neill nods and drops three pancakes on a plate, brings them over to set in front of Cam. "Thanks," Cam says, automatically.

"Welcome." O'Neill nudges over the syrup. "Let me know if you want more."

The pancakes are pretty good. Not as good as his grandma used to make, but Cam still thinks the secret ingredient in those was a shot of brandy, so these will do. The silence stretches out again, just missing 'comfortable' by a few inches. Cam sets his mug down with a sharp 'click' when all the things he's not saying get to be a little too heavy. "Look, I just wanted to let you know, sir --"

O'Neill holds up a hand, makes a little "aaht" noise to stop Cam from going any further. "Off duty. Jack."

Okay, yeah, after what happened last night, Cam can see where 'sir' might have a wrong connotation in the light of morning. He starts over again. "I just wanted to let you know -- I don't want to fuck anything up here. You say the word, I'm gone." It's not quite how he wanted to say it, but it'll do.

O'Neill raises an eyebrow. "I know. If I didn't think that, you wouldn't be on the team."

It breaks something in Cam's brain to hear O'Neill say it plain like that. He thinks he might be spluttering a little; at least, that's the only explanation he can think of for why O'Neill sighs and leans one hip against the counter. "Mitchell. You're a smart guy. You've obviously figured out by now that we all blew the frat regs from here to hell and gone years ago. Do you think I'd put you in a position to fuck with any of my team if I didn't think you couldn't handle it?"

My team, Cam thinks, a quick hard rush, and O'Neill seems to see it, because his lips quirk and he tries to hide the almost-smile. But yeah, okay, even if Cam's giving the orders, they're always going to be O'Neill's. "I," Cam says, and then stops. Fuck it. Honesty's gotten him this far. "I have absolutely no idea what to say to that."

O'Neill drops the second batch of pancakes on a plate and brings them over to the table. He takes the seat across from Cam, reaches over and steals the syrup without asking. "Don't need to say anything. Just make sure you really know what you've gotten yourself into. I'll trust you to know when you get in over your head."

It takes Cam a second to realize what O'Neill said, but once he does, he puts his fork down and just breathes in for a minute. O'Neill doesn't trust people just like that. Ever. Especially not with something so precious to him as Jackson obviously is; that much, Cam knows without being told. Which means that Cam's passed a test without even knowing it, without any kind of sign or fanfare.

Another realization, hard on the heels of the last: he passed that test a long time ago. Before Jackson even ordered him over last night. Before Jackson first let Cam touch him. Maybe before Jackson had even met him. Jesus, nobody had fucking told him, and how fucking crazy does O'Neill have to be to be sizing up potential recruits based on whether or not he's willing to allow them to sleep with the rest of the team? Isn't that what the frat regs are fucking for?

O'Neill's watching him, and Cam wonders what's showing on his face. "Because you're going to get in over your head," O'Neill continues, fiddling with his fork, setting it down and picking it up again. "Daniel sees things at a ninety-degree angle from the rest of the world. You'll keep running head-first into it until you learn to stop throwing yourself at the wall. But he's not as okay as he thinks he is, and he's never telling the whole truth, and you have to keep that in mind."

Cam rubs a hand over his face. Never, in his entire life, did he imagine sitting at a kitchen table with a guy's lover and getting instructions on the care and feeding of, etc. And O'Neill doesn't seem to be enjoying the conversation any more than Cam is. "Why are you telling me this?"

O'Neill sighs. He looks up, over Cam's shoulder, and for a second Cam wonders if Jackson's awake, but no, O'Neill's just thinking. "Because Daniel doesn't belong to anyone but Daniel. And he needs more than he'll ever admit, and he's capable of dragging you in with him, and you can't let him do that. Or else it will fuck with the job, and if that happens, I will come back out here and fix it."

Fuck, Cam never really understood "it's not a threat, it's a promise" before, because every time he's heard it, it's been overblown posturing. This is the polar opposite of posturing. O'Neill looks tired, like he's telling Cam it'd be a pain in the ass to have to drop everything and come out here and fucking kill him or something, like he's trying to politely enlist Cam's help in making sure it doesn't go down that way. Cam thinks, not for the first time: you people are insane.

We people. We people are insane.

O'Neill puts his fork down with a click, pushes the plate away. "End of lecture," he says, and stands. "You done with that?"

It takes Cam a second to realize what O'Neill's talking about, but as soon as he does, he shakes himself a little and pushes his plate across the table. "Yeah," he says.

O'Neill nods and stacks the plates together in one hand. He turns, takes a step towards the sink, and then stops. Turns back. With his free hand, he cups Cam's chin, tilting it up to look at him, and Cam blinks, because he wasn't expecting that at all.

With absolute grave sincerity, O'Neill says, "Take care of him for me."

Cam's eyes sting at the generosity in that one sentence. "I will," he says. It's a promise. An oath.

O'Neill nods, and Cam can read enough to know that O'Neill believes him. O'Neill bends, brushes his lips over Cam's. Soft and quick, a benediction. It isn't sexy at all, and yet Cam can feel his toes curling against the tile floor.

The plates clink together as O'Neill puts them in the sink, comes back to sit back down. "You should get a shower," he says. "Daniel just woke up, and he'll use all the hot water if he gets to it first."

"Right," Cam says. He pushes his chair back from the table, feeling the scrape and shift of it vibrating through his calves. O'Neill watches him stretch, watches him pad across the room and into the hallway: sitting at the table, mug of coffee cradled in his hands, patiently waiting for Jackson to stumble into the kitchen and smile.

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