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Beyond the Gate - Part I - Need

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Beyond the Gate


Part I

Need

Wait, there's something that I wanna say
Something that we hid away
Something that I'd like to change

(Take That, 'Wait')

----

 

I


May 2014

It happened on the third bow.

Michael, his arm wrapped around Rick’s middle as they gave their farewell to the cheering audience, felt the older man freeze in mid-bow and utter a horrified, “Oh, crap,” before he started toppling over in slow motion.

Somehow Michael managed to keep a hold on him, straighten him up and shuffle him around. Amanda was right there, pulling Rick’s other arm around her neck. “I’ve got you, okay... easy...”

Rick bit his lip and nodded, struggling to keep himself upright between them.

“Ready?” Michael whispered into Rick’s ear.

“Just... move,” Rick groaned, but managed to plaster a grin on his face for the audience. Everyone thought this was hilarious.

“Ready,” Amanda confirmed on Rick’s other side – and they were walking.

“Slow down, dammit,” Rick hissed as they hurried off stage.

“Sorry, sorry,” Amanda whispered.

“We just thought it’s better to get you off stage before you fall flat on your face,” Michael joked.

Rick snarled, “Not funny.”

Michael knew Rick was in pain, but payback was a bitch and he was still a bit cranky about being blindsided back there.

'I'm hungry.'

Fuck you, Richard Dean Anderson. Making fun of each other was one thing. Even insulting each other was fine the way they did, because they were all comfortable enough with each other to do it. But that...

'I'm hungry.'

...had been against the rules, and Michael was so going to rip him a new one for that. Later. Some day.

'I'm hungry.'

Yeah, right.

“Michael,” Amanda warned just as he felt Rick struggle to keep his balance.

“Sorry,” he muttered.

They slowed down, still holding Rick upright, and slipped through an open double door.

“Do you need to sit down?” Michael, with Amanda's help, carefully maneuvered Rick towards one of the chairs in the backstage area. Cheers and applause still floated in from the main hall.

Some staff girl jumped out of their way, asking if they needed anything, but Rick just shook his head and Michael could see how tightly his jaw was set. Could see the droplets of sweat trickling down his temple.

“Let's get you over there,” he said, ignoring the flustered girl in the red FedCon t-shirt.

“Rick? Sitting down?” Amanda prompted.

“No! Just give me a minute here to... awww, god.“

“Let me put some pressure on it,” Amanda suggested when they stopped by the chairs. “Here?”

Michael couldn't see what she was doing, but he assumed she performed some magic with her hand on Rick's lower back. He had learned something about spontaneous release for back pain in those prenatal classes he and Lexa attended years ago. But if he remembered it right, for spontaneous release, Rick would have to curl up into a ball on the floor with someone finding a pressure point somewhere close to his spine... He doubted Rick was up for that right here in front of con people.

However, whatever Amanda was doing, apparently she was doing it right.

“Yeah, right there. Press harder. There, that's it,” Rick moaned. He was still heavily leaning on both of them.

“Okay, try now,” she said and he straightened up slowly, long fingers digging painfully into Michael's shoulder.

“Son of a...” Rick groaned, but at least he was standing on his own again.

Michael felt a slight tremor run through the man beside him and Rick's hand clutched once more at his shoulder before it relaxed.

“Thanks,” Rick huffed and let go of them. He took off his cap and wiped his face with it to mop up sweat. “Well, that was fun. Not.”

Michael winced on Rick's behalf as he and Amanda stepped aside when Paul came rushing towards them, carrying a towel and a bottle of water. Rick declined the water but grabbed the towel. He stuffed his cap into his pants' back pocket and rubbed the towel over his face and head, leaving his hair sticking out in damp tufts and spikes when he was done.

“Are you okay, Richard?” Paul asked, worry written all over his face. That man looked almost as tired as Rick. Michael had gotten a glimpse at Rick's schedule this morning and felt exhausted from just looking at it and Paul had probably spent all day shuffling Rick around and coordinating appointments.

Rick circled his neck, pressed both hands into his lower back and bounced carefully on the balls of his feet. “Yeah, I'm good, thanks.”

“Do you need your meds?” Paul hovered like a mother hen.

“I need a shower,” Rick muttered. “And sleep.” He grimaced. “Anything else I need to do today? Anywhere I need to be?”

“No. Well, they want you to sign a bunch of paintings, but you can do that tomorrow or Sunday,” Paul said.

Rick wrapped the towel around his neck. “Excellent.” He turned to Michael and Amanda, giving them a crooked grin. “Sorry, kids. Old man here. I better haul my ass to my room and crash.”

They had planned to have drinks after the panel to wind down and hang out. Not at the hotel bar of course. Too much traffic there. But the FedCon people had prepared a secluded quiet lounge for the 'top three actors' up on the 6th floor. Nice location with a fully stocked bar, cozy little couches and love seats to relax and have cocktails and beer. Or juice.

“That's okay,” Amanda said. “Get some rest. We'll see you tomorrow.”

“Yeah. And... get something to eat,” Michael added, tongue in cheek. He almost expected a reaction to that. A look, a smirk, a raised eyebrow. But Rick just gave them a parting little wave and trudged after Paul who was leading the way to the elevators.

Michael gazed at the door as it closed behind them, wondering what the hell...

“So?” Amanda nudged him. “You still up for those drinks?”

“Huh? Yeah, sure.”

She brushed back her auburn hair and smiled. “Great. I was afraid I'd have to empty that bar alone.”

“No-oh way. Come on.” He held out his arm and she took it with a flirty little smile.

“Thanks for the dance, by the way,” she said, laughing, as they took the same door Rick and Paul had just vanished through.

The corridor behind it was bleak and empty except for another staff member standing guard at another door labeled as 'Emergency Exit'. There were FedCon peeps at every door to make sure no straying fans found their way back here.

They were supposed to wait for Julie, their handler, to take them upstairs, but she was nowhere in sight and Michael was confident they'd find their way without being stalked by crazy fans. For the most part, fans were sensible, polite and respectful folks who came to these events to have fun, not to harass the actors. Of course there was the odd experience here and there and some people came across as a bit flaky, but overall Michael felt comfortable with fans.

And if they wanted to be on the safe side they could use the staff elevator.

“It was my pleasure. Just... 'Yesterday'? Honestly?” Michael rolled his eyes. Granted, the guy who had asked them to dance at the panel didn't have an awful singing voice, but his choice of song had just sucked.

“There's worse. It could have been 'Mandy'.” Amanda shuddered.

Michael gave her a little push and swirl and started, “Happy people pass my way... looking in their eyes, I see a memory... I never realized, how happy you made me... ohhh, Mandy, well, you came and you gave without taaaaking.”

She went with the motion, but smacked his arm and shook her head. “Oh, god, stop it, stop it! And I don't even want to know why you know the lyrics to THAT song!”

He pulled her against him and pecked her on the cheek. “Hi, Mandy.”

“Hi, Michael. Stop singing or I'll step on your toes,” she warned him cheerfully.

“Ow. And my mom loves that song.”

They giggled like teenagers. Michael felt a little light-headed and he could see that mirrored in the way Amanda bit her lip and how her eyes twinkled with mischief when she swiped her hotel key card through the slit by the elevator.

When a panel went well and the audience was great it was fun. Sometimes Michael came out of these things feeling the love and riding a bit high on that wave of admiration and... well... it was a huge ego boost. And the goofing around on stage was part work and part making the best of it and keeping it light and fun for himself, too.

Today the audience had been okay. There were always questions he could do without and some of the language issues had been a bit trying, but that wasn't a problem. They were used to that kind of thing and they all knew how to play the audience just right. What had really made that hour of being on stage worthwhile tonight was the great company of the two people he got to play with. They had never done a panel in this particular constellation and it had felt like a class reunion. There had been very little 'work' tonight and a lot of hilarity.

Even Rick's almost nose-dive during the final bows had been funny. Which was kind of mean, but there it was.

So, they were a little punch drunk. It would wear off in a bit.

They exited the lift and found their way to that private lounge. No sooner had they pulled two bottles of beer from the fridge at the bar did Michael's phone beep. He checked it and shrugged. Julie was looking for them. He texted her to let her know where they were and that he would go straight to bed after his beer. He was still a bit jet lagged and used that as an excuse. The truth was that he just wanted to be left alone for the rest of the evening. That done, he slipped his phone into his leather jacket.

Sitting next to him on the leather couch, Amanda was texting, too. “You know what I hate about cons?” she asked when she put her Blackberry on the small round table by her side.

“That there's always someone hovering over you, trying to protect you, moving you from here to there, telling you what to do and where to be?”

“Yeah.”

“Amen to that.”

They clinked their bottles and drank, not bothering with glasses. This stuff was great. He peered at the label. Warsteiner; baroque letters printed on gold. Yep, beer was definitely one of Germany’s nice treats.

“I mean, I'm used to that of course, but... oh, boy, sometimes...” She sighed and shook her head.

“Well, at least you've had some time for sightseeing. You've been here since... when?”

“Monday. I came over with Paul and Rick and we stayed in some small village... town. Rick has friends there. They are like... wow, rich, you know? I mean, like really rich. Lots of fancy cars and they live in a castle.”

“What kind of cars?” Michael asked, curious.

“Ferrari. We got to drive around, it was nice. Went to the river Rhine and saw a bit of... what was it...? Bonn and Duesseldorf. Germany has such beautiful historical buildings and old towns. It's like living history.”

“Hel-lo, Daniel,” Michael said dryly and she laughed.

“I had a great time.” She leaned back on the couch, kicked her shoes off and wriggled her toes. “Ahhh. That's better.”

“Yeah, see... I arrived Thursday afternoon. I’ve been stuck at the hotel most of the time. Hey, I got to see the airport this morning because there's a Starbucks over there. Go, me.”

“You should be happy you don't have Rick's schedule,” Amanda groused. “I don't think he has time to even leave the hotel for Starbucks.”

Michael kept his pout for another moment just to make her laugh again, then he sobered. “So, you spent some time with him. How is he? I mean, really? I know he had back issues in Calgary last year...“

She grimaced. “Rick? Oh, he's... I guess he's fine. Aside from, you know, the back, the knee, the shoulder and whatever other issues there are. He told me he's working on it. Whatever that means.”

“Chiropractor, PT, pain meds?”

“I guess. You know what he's like... it's all dandy and fun and no problem with him. I think he's coping. Back pain is just such a bitch to deal with.”

“I hope he didn't slip a disc or something when we did that bowing thing.”

Amanda winced. “Yeah. I was worried there for a moment. But I think he has all the good drugs with him to get through the weekend.”

Michael raised his bottle to hers. “YAY for happy pills.”

They sipped in companionable silence for a while, slowly coming down from the hilarity of that slightly chaotic panel. Michael longed for a cig, but stomped on it. The craving was getting less nagging, less brutal, as time passed. But it still reared its ugly head. During hard, long shooting days, after a relaxing cup of coffee or a glass of wine, after a good meal. After sex. Not always, but from time to time.

“Why are some people so insistent in their belief we had orgies on set?” Amanda's voice pulled him out of his musings on cigarettes. She sounded amused rather than annoyed. After all they were both old convention pros. Not much could surprise them anymore.

“Because it makes things more interesting. Because some people don't have a life... Yadda?”

“All the juicy, intimate details we don't share?” She winked at him and they chuckled like they actually had dirty little secrets.

Which they didn't.

Well, not beyond him seeing her in her bra and her seeing him shirtless, unshaven and with morning breath at 5:00 am in the make-up trailer after he’d spent the night drinking with Chris Judge. She knew about his wild partying back in the day, he knew about her naval piercing. She knew all about his short-lived affair with Vaitiare and the break up, he knew some about the heartache and grief for lost babies she and Alan had gone through until, finally, Olivia had been born.

People asked weird questions. About relationships between the characters, about Daniel's ascension and the ever famous question of “Anyway, that's the way I feel about it, what do you think?” from 'Window of Opportunities'. There were questions about Jack and Sam – lots of them according to Amanda. Questions about Jack and Daniel – not quite as many anymore, but it still happened. Michael liked to play that up. He and Rick both did, it was fun doing the 'we are so gaaay' thing. And then there were questions like today where a flustered fan had wanted to know...

I...I... just wanna know if something happened...?'

Rick replied, “Affairs, is that what you're talking about?” Then that awkward pause where everyone waited for the big revelation... not really, because most people in that hall knew there was never going to be a revelation. And Rick said, “No, nobody, nobody....ahhh, c'mon on, people were married had boy- and girlfriends...”

Michael added quickly, “All right, let's put it this way... if we had, we sure wouldn't tell you anyway!”

Rick took a sip from his drink, swallowed, smirked and said, “I would!”

And Michael wrapped it up with, “It'll allll be in the book.”

...Everyone had laughed and cheered and then Rick had leaned into him and whispered off the mike, in a husky voice, the words rolling smoothly off his tongue, “I'm hungry.”

For a split second Michael had considered running with that and asking him – for everyone to hear – if he'd just said he was horny? But that was sketchy territory and he'd been too busy trying to digest it to really pull a stunt like that. So he'd kept his trap shut and waited for the next question to come.

And he'd kept mulling it over in his head through all the rest of that panel.

'I'm hungry.'

Seriously? After all this damn time?

Maybe it hadn't meant anything. It had just been a joke, nothing more. But it was different than all the other jokes they cracked about being gay or flirting on the show. Because...

“Hey, we could try to steal away and do a city tour or something tomorrow,” Amanda said thoughtfully, interrupting his thought process.

“I have autographs in the mornings and photo shoots at... some time,” he replied.

“Yeah, me too. I think our autographs are at the same time. I'd have to check when my photo shoots are. Oh, and I have a panel, but that's pretty late.”

“You have your own panel, Rick had one... I feel left out and unwanted,” he joked.

“Awww, poor man. Have another beer?”

“Nah. I'll get over it. Maybe.”

She snorted, but sobered quickly and said, “Why didn't they give you your own panel? After all you came all the way over here.”

“I signed up for this pretty late compared to most of the others because I didn't know if coming here would fit with my schedule so close to the end of the SH hiatus.” He shrugged. He had no problem with not having his own panel. His issues were more about the timing of it all because he'd have to leave for Toronto just a couple of days after getting home from here.

Sam's injury had put things into a different perspective, too. His boy was still in a lot of pain due to his broken arm. But when they'd discussed the possibility of canceling the con, Lexa had insisted he go.

“It'll be fun and take your mind of things. Besides, I'm home anyway and Sam is much better. We'll be fine.”

Well, Sam was better, but Michael felt the need to stay close to his family - for his own comfort as much as his son's. Sure, when your kid was on the hockey team you had to expect this to some degree. Injuries. Broken bones. Hockey was a contact sport and it happened. Didn't make it any easier to see your kid in so much pain and with that huge cast.

But he was here now and Lexa had been right. It was fun – despite not being able to see much of the city - even with the work they had to do and the tight schedules.

Amanda put her empty bottle down and collected her phone and shoes. “I better grab a bite to eat or this will go straight to my head. Want to wine and dine with me?”

“Nah. I'll finish this and call it a night.” He eyed his own bottle, which was still half full.

“Are you sure? There's a party downstairs...” she teased.

“Yeah. Clone warriors, Klingons and Goa'uld. Nope, thanks,” he snorted.

She slipped into her shoes and they hugged. She kissed his cheek and wished him a good night. “I'll see you tomorrow. Breakfast?”

“Sure. We have to plot more ways to get one over Rick.”

She grinned and swiped at his beanie hat. “It's so good to see the two of you again. Together. It's just nice being with you guys.”

“I know,” he said, meaning it.

He watched her leave and when the door had closed softly behind her he slouched back on the couch and took another slow swig of his beer.

'I'm hungry.'

He closed his eyes to ward off that particular line and the memories it pulled out of a corner of his mind like cobwebs wafting in a soft breeze.

What the hell had that been about?

And why was he obsessing over it anyway. Things had changed years ago. The show was long over, they had parted ways, he was a married man and he never played outside his own bedroom. It was okay to look and to take notice, even to flirt a little – but he kept his hands out of the cookie jars. So, obsessing was pointless.

It hadn't meant anything anyway. Just a little joke, a bit of 'remember we did that back then and no one knows but us'.

Well, almost no one knew but them. And it was better kept that way.

Michael picked up his phone and texted Lexa, asked how Sam was, what Mia was up to, told her he loved her and missed her.

It turned out she was online and replied right away. They went back and forth about daily stuff and the kids. She told him Sam had been cranky all morning, but she could hardly blame him. The arm was itching and the healing bones were hurting. Michael wished once more to be home. Lexa wrote they were going to order take-out for lunch and watch a movie. That should help to cheer all of them up.

Then she asked, 'How is Rick?'

'He's got back troubles. Almost fell on top of me at the end of the panel.'

'Aww, poor guy. But I bet you liked him topping :p'

'Very funny.'

'You guys having drinks or something?'

'Nah, he's gone to bed, he was in pain. Amanda just left, though.'

'Oh, hey, give her my love when you see her tomorrow. You worried ‘bout Rick?'

His fingers hovered over the touch-screen keyboard. Was he worried? Not really. Rick wasn't forty anymore and his body paid him back for all those years of pushing it to the max. Michael was pretty sure Rick knew how to deal with all that ailed him, it was probably just annoying. But...

'It's kind of hard seeing him like this. He used to be so fit. I think it's really bugging the crap out of him.'

'You think he's depressed or something?'

'Nah, not really. Well, maybe a little. But it's Rick... he bounces back. He was all hyper and upbeat during that panel. He loved it. At least that's the vibe I got.'

There was a pause in the conversation and he finished his beer while he waited for her to reply or say goodbye. She was probably dealing with the kids or had a phone call or something. When the reply came, he cursed under his breath. Was everyone giving weird signals today?

'What other 'vibes' did you get from him, hon?'

He put the beer down with a thud and typed, 'What?'

':) :) Come on, Shanks, I saw sparks flying high between the two of you at Comic Con all those years ago. And if I needed anymore proof, I got it when we had dinner in Calgary last year. :p'

He grabbed his phone and – screw the fortune it would cost him – dialed. She picked up after the second ring and chirped a cheerful, “Hi, Shanks,” at him.

“Sparks?” he blurted. And, “Proof?”

“More like a bonfire,” she replied dryly. “And, yes, proof that you still carry a torch for each other. You hardly noticed I was there that evening.”

“Yeah, right. So not true.”

“Look, I'm 'in the know' so there's no need to act here. Remember that awkward, rambling little speech you gave me all those years ago... and then we went ahead and married anyway?” She actually laughed, that playful little sound he loved so much, a mix of bubbly and yet, sexy.

He slapped a hand over his face and groaned. “That...”

“Yeah, that...”

“Aaawwwkward.“

“Awkward, but cute. And a huge leap of faith, which I admired back then, and still do.”

“Lex...”

“I know this is all water under the bridge and happened a long time ago.”

“A very long time ago,” he felt compelled to correct her.

“And I never had any reason to doubt that. Or you. But Comic Con... and especially Calgary, was some kind of eye opener for me regarding what it had been like. Had to be like. What it might have meant to you. Both. Of. You.”

“It's over and there are no regrets and no... Lexa, you're not worried, right? Because you have no reason to be.”

“Shanks, I'm not worried.” She paused and he could hear her taking a deep breath before she continued, “I'm actually telling you to go and make the best of it. Get this out of your system if you need to.” There was humor in her voice, but also a hint of something Michael could only tag as amazement – like she couldn't really believe she was telling him this.

It didn't come so totally out of the blue, though.

They had talked about this stuff on and off during their marriage – his big confession about swinging both ways and her acceptance of that. Sometimes, in the darkness of their bedroom, in the afterglow of love making, she asked him if just being with her was enough. If he craved being with a guy from time to time. Could a toy really give him what that other part in him needed?

His answer always was, “Yes, it's enough. Because I love you, because I am home now.” And she always said that if the need became too strong he should give in to it. As long as he kept it safe and clean and as long as he came home again. And as long as it didn't turn into a habit or an affair.

He never had. And he didn't intend to start doing it now. There were good ways of dealing with the occasional urge. Toys. The internet. Imagination. Good enough.

But...

'I'm hungry.'

Dammit.

“Why do you think I need to get something out of my system?”

“Unless you've been eating Astroglide in your cereal over the last year there's no doubt about why it seems to be almost empty on most occasions when we need it,” she deadpanned.

Oh. God. He rubbed a hand over his face. “I'm kinda lonely in Toronto,” he pointed out.

“I'm not judging here, Michael. I'm merely observing. And I observed that you've been playing with yourself a lot more than usual. And that Bob has featured a lot in our sex life lately.”

Michael wished he hadn't called. Actually, he wished he hadn't even texted her. “What's wrong with Bob? You like Bob – you introduced him to me,” he snapped, knowing he was being defensive and a jerk.

Lexa had the nerve to chuckle. “I like Bob just fine, honey. Again, I'm just observing.”

“Using the dildo and jacking off...” Oh, great word play here, Shanks, he thought bewildered, “has nothing to do with Richard. Nothing. Nada.”

“Maybe it doesn't have anything to do with Rick personally,” she replied thoughtfully, “but I'm sure it has everything to do with your suppressed need to be with a guy sometimes. And I'd rather it was someone you know and like than someone you will pick up at a bar one day because you can't hold it off any longer.”

“Lexa, I won't...”

“Just promise me you won't be reckless. That's my one hard and fast rule. You have condoms with you?”

“Yes... but...”

“Good. Use them.”

He opened his mouth, closed it again and shook his head. “That thing between me and him, it wasn't... it didn't mean anything,” he said after a moment. “It was just sex.”

“But if things had been different it could have been a lot more than sex.”

“Different how? Lexa, that guy shies away from any kind of commitment that doesn't involve his dogs or his kid – relationship wise. Even if I hadn't met you... there couldn't have been anything more. Not with him.”

“Well, that's good because otherwise I might never have gotten to know you so well,” she said softly.

“It was easy. No strings, no flowers. It was nice,” he said, deliberately keeping his voice light and even. He had to thank the academy for that. They had taught him some solid acting. “It ended in season four and we never looked back. I never looked back.”

That, at least was true. It had ended. And he had never regretted it because what he'd gotten in return was worth so much more than what he'd had with Rick.

“Michael... I love you. I'm the mother of your children and I know you inside out. What's next? You telling me you left the show because Daniel Jackson didn't get enough character development?”

“They didn't see his true value,” he defended his alter-ego. Then he sighed. “You know I left because it was getting strained between us. You know I left because I needed a break. And I made a clear choice between you and...”

“And being tempted by seeing him every day,” she said quietly.

“That's not true.” Except it was and they both knew it.

“Yadda yadda. Listen, I gotta go, Sam needs me.”

“What? Is he okay?”

“Michael...” There was a sigh. “He's fine. As fine as he can be under the circumstances, okay? He needs help in the bathroom. You know what it's like with just one hand... he says hi. They both do. They love you, daddy-oh. We love you.”

“I love you, too. Give them hugs.”

“Don't do anything I wouldn't do,” she quipped and then he was alone again, sitting in this lounge room with dimmed light and the bitter taste of beer in his mouth.

'I'm hungry.'

His answering line to that had always been, “Yeah, me too.”

Or, when he couldn’t make the time. “Nah, not really.”

Talking in codes.

Another one had been, “I need to talk to you about that script, Rick.”

And the reply had either been, “Sure, find me later.” Or... “Talk to Martin/Brad/Peter/whoever the director/writer in question was.”

Somehow, long after they had stopped doing it, long after Michael had been back on the show... at the start of season 9, that particular line about being hungry had made it into the script and Michael could never prove it, but he'd always had the suspicion Rick had something to do with that. It would just be his kind of a joke.

“I'm hungry.”

“Yeah... me, too.”

And Jack and Daniel had gone off to lunch. Or to have blowjobs in a storage room. Who knew? Talking in code was something Jack and Daniel had learned from Richard and Michael along the way. Richard and Michael had played the scene and once it was over Michael had rolled his eyes and gone, “Seriously?” and Rick had raised and waggled his eyebrows and asked, “What?” And that had been it.

Because they had both moved on by then.

A joke.

That's all it had been on stage, too.

Relieved with where his processing had taken him – to a rational, safe place - Michael stood and stretched. He was good. He'd go to his room, check his mail. Maybe the script for the first SH episode had arrived. He could read that and either whine or be in awe about the writing. He had experienced both over the last two seasons.

He left the lounge, phone still in hand, and crossed the hallway to the elevator. He could hear the noise level bubbling up from downstairs. The Maritim had a huge atrium, topped by a glass roof, that served as the lobby. If he stepped out of the corridor and walked to the main elevators he could look all the way down from a balcony and probably see people coming and going to the party.

He chose not to do that. The thick carpet muted his steps and no one was out here to bug him as he waited for the smaller lift at the back of the corridor.

He touched the screen on his phone, checked for messages and found none. No missed calls either. His thumb brushed the icon for his contact list, pulling up a number he’d gotten last year in Calgary. A casual but enthusiastic promise to 'stay in touch'... they hadn't stayed in touch, of course, but at that moment when they had swapped numbers they really meant to be.

Oh, noo-huh-ooo. Don't go-o there, his subconscious voice – a voice that sounded suspiciously like Daniel – whispered at him. Don't even THINK of going there. You're going to make a fool of yourself. He's fast asleep and, anyway, you don't want this to mess with your head, right? Right.

But Rick was known for being insomniac...

Michael stepped into the lift and pressed level 7 where all their rooms were. Rick's was just across from his own. His forefinger brushed over the little icon next to Rick's number. His phone lit up and he almost dropped it. Crap. So sensitive, these damn touch screens.

He didn't hold his breath and he didn't start sweating. He just stood calmly in that too-brightly lit elevator, holding the phone to his ear. He counted the ring tone going out. The lift started moving upwards.

He's not answering. Good.

Level 7. Doors opened and he stepped out. Time to...

“What?”

“Hey, it's me.”

“I know. It says so on my phone; Shanks.” Rick sounded somewhere between annoyed and... amused.

“Did I wake you? I'm sorry, ah, if you want to go back to sleep, no problem...”

“Me and sleep ain’t best buddies, so... ”

“Good. Are you up for a snack? Dinner? Dessert?” He threw a quick look over his shoulder. The corridor was still empty. “You said you were hungry...”

“And you thought that was an invitation to...?” Rick drawled. He was either really having fun with this or he really didn't get it. Michael voted for the first option.

“We could talk about the Sunday panel, polish up your memory, make sure you at least remember being on set during the show.”

There was a long pause and Michael stopped walking and waited.

Finally, Rick released what sounded like a resigned sigh. “Where are you?”

Michael placed the palm of his hand against the cool, smooth surface of a door. Time to say he changed his mind and go to bed. Time to just turn around and walk away. No offense, no hurt feelings. Rick would understand and they'd never mention it again.

“Right outside your room.”

“It was a joke,” Rick said, guarded. “You know that, right?”

“Yeah, I know. You gonna let me stand here, making an idiot of myself or are you gonna let me in?”

He could literally feel the fight that was going on inside the man on the other side of this door. The pause grew longer and Michael was about to quit and call it a night, when the phone connection was cut off.

With a low snick the door opened.

Chapter Text

II

He slipped in and pushed it shut with his boot.

“You made sure no one...” Rick started and Michael cut him off with an impatient wave of his hand.

“I put a sign up at the front desk so everyone knows where to find us...” He rolled his eyes. “Relax. Everyone is at the party or having late dinner or whatever.” He peered into the room. It was semi dark except for two table lamps. The room was one class up from his own, probably a suite. From where he stood in a small entryway Michael could make out a knee-high glass table by one of the huge couches, a sideboard and a TV on the left wall. It was cool in here, almost cold. The a/c was probably set on 'freeze'.

And... “What's that smell?”

“Something Paul got for me. It's supposed to help with the pain on top of my usual drugs.”

“Smells like something you rub in when you have a chest cold.” Michael sniffed and wrinkled his nose at the strong scent of menthol, herbs and... was that cinnamon?

Rick shrugged. “Does nothing for my back, but I rubbed some into my knee and it feels nice. Cold first, then hot.”

“Yeah... listen, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to break your back there on stage,” Michael said.

“It was already broken before. Broken, battered and useless. Like most of my body is nowadays. Sooo...” Rick gestured at the door. “You coming here to have dessert is kind of a moot point.”

“And yet,” Michael prompted, “you let me in.”

“Yeah,” Rick sighed wearily. “What the hell was I thinking? That said, what the hell were you thinking, eh?”

“I guess I wasn't thinking much at all.” He stepped forward to walk into the room, but Rick kept blocking the way.

“Oh, but maybe you should.”

“Nope. Because if I do, I'll leave.”

“Which would be the mature choice of action.”

They gazed at each other in the crepuscular room. Rick was still wearing his LA Kings shirt, but his white pants were gone and he was only in his boxer briefs. There was a lot more to Rick now than there used to be thirteen or sixteen years ago. Michael knew this man's body to be lean and hard, only soft in certain places. What he sensed beneath the baggy shirt and those boxers might be totally different from what Rick used to feel like.

But as their eyes met he could see hunger in the brown ones. And longing. That was a familiar sight, something Michael had seen there many times before. However, tonight there was also a certain melancholy, a slight reluctance. That was as new as the bodily changes.

“Go to bed, Mikey,” Rick said, his voice barely above a whisper. “You've got three great kids and a beautiful wife. Believe me when I say you don't want to mess with that.”

“Lexa knows,” he answered, his voice too loud in the quiet room.

Rick's eyes widened. “She... knows? Define that... no, wait, don't. I'd rather not know... what exactly she... knows.”

“You only need to know that whatever we're going to do tonight... it's okay. I want this.” And while he hadn't been sure about whether he wanted it or not five minutes ago, he was now. He could feel how much he wanted this, could feel it in all the right places. “And if you want this, we can have it.”

“That simple, huh?”

“It used to be that simple.” He moved forward, right into Richard's personal space. Rick stepped aside, giving way for Michael to walk into the room and closer to the lamps, to the light.

Rick stayed in the shadows, watching him.

Michael shrugged out of his well-worn brown leather flight jacket and dropped it on the bulky armrest of the couch. “Nice room,” he offered as he bent down, his back to Rick, and opened the laces of his boots. “Bit chilly.”

“Yeah, I like chilly.” There was a quick intake of breath, or maybe it was just his imagination.

Michael straightened up slowly and toed off his shoes, then bent over again to remove his socks. He didn't hear Rick move, but as soon as he was upright again he felt a warm solid body press into him from behind. Hands came around his middle and settled on his belt buckle.

Rick's lips brushed his ear and his breath tickled Michael's neck. “I should kick you out. Right. Now.”

“That what you want? You remember how this goes. No hard feelings, no strings. If you want me out of here now, I'll just... leave.” Michael leaned back, allowing Rick to feel his full weight. Then, remembering the man's back issues, he adjusted his posture just enough to not cause any additional pain.

Rick buried his face into the hollow of Michael's neck, inhaling deeply. One of his large hands moved from the belt buckle and started palming Michael's package through the jeans. The friction of the rough fabric rubbing against him, even through his briefs, was unbelievable. And there were Rick's long fingers curling and massaging.

With the physical connection images rolled in on a tide of re-awakening. How he used to walk into Rick's trailer, or Rick into his, always in plain sight, making it look casual, not secretive. Their drapes had mostly been drawn anyway to keep some privacy, so no one ever wondered about that. Michael saw himself, a much younger version of himself, close the door behind him and as soon as the lock had clicked, Rick used to be all over him, around him, onto him.

In him.

Fingers, lips, teeth, hands, everything....

He remembered how, in those early days on the show, Rick would flash him a smile, a look, a glare... and he'd gone hard instantly. He'd been embarrassed and angry about it until he realized it was very mutual. And the first time they'd given in to it: that first time Rick had come over to Michael’s trailer sometime in early 1998 and said, “Let's get this out of our system, shall we?”... that first time had been like finding religion or dying and going to heaven.

Now, so many years later, Michael felt himself sucked back through time to that same place of burning like a paper torch under those hands. His cock was already filling, and fast.

“God, that's...” he choked out, overwhelmed by his own strong reaction to the fondling.

“Shhh.” Rick's teeth grazed his neck, then caught his earlobe and nibbled playfully.

“Hungry, huh?” Michael murmured.

Releasing his ear, Rick's mouth trailed down the side of his neck and dropped a kiss to the exposed skin above the collar of Michael's shirt. “I'm not in for a whole night of playtime. I'll get you off and you go to bed. That's my offer.”

Whoa...what? “What?!”

Michael's hand clamped over Rick's on his crotch and stilled the movements. He twisted out of the older man's embrace and turned to face him. “Actually, I came here to get you off. And not in a five-minutes-wham-bang session either.”

Rick took a step back and glared. “And what makes you think I need getting off this badly, huh?”

Michael shrugged and grabbed the hem of his shirt. Pulling it swiftly over his head and throwing it on top of his jacket, he replied, “Okay... bad choice of words. I want both of us to have a good time. There, how's that? Now, stop being a jerk and work with me.”

He could see the muscles in Richard's jaw twitch. Finally he rolled his eyes and gestured at Michael's head. “Hat.”

“What?”

“That hat. Take it off. Or do you intend to get naked and leave that thing on?”

“Kinky.”

“Yeah. Not really.”

Michael swiped off his beanie and scrubbed a hand through his hair. He liked how it had grown out during his hiatus. He loved getting a break from haircuts, daily shaving and make up when he wasn't filming. It was his well deserved break. All he had to do on hiatus was maintain his work out and watch his diet somewhat.

Rick sucked in his bottom lip and gnawed on it. Michael smiled as he felt Rick’s gaze so totally focused on him, taking him in, studying him. His hands reached to his belt, opened it quickly and started on the buttons of his jeans.

“Wait!” The urgency in Rick's voice made him pause.

“What?”

“This is... I haven't even had a shower yet. Why don't you get comfortable, mix yourself a drink or get a beer... minibar is full of all that. There are peanuts if you get the munchies...”

“Ooor, I could join you in that shower.”

“NO!” Rick blurted out, then closed his eyes briefly and rubbed a hand over his face. Shaking his head, he ground out, “This is a bad idea. I'll take a shower. And I want you gone.” He strode out without a backwards glance.

“O-kay, that happened. What the fuck?” But Michael was talking to an empty room. He stood in the middle of Rick's comfortable suite and considered his options.

He could feel insulted and rejected – get dressed and do as he was told; leave.

Him and Rick in the sack had never been about anything but the sex. They were friends, sure. They used to be friends with benefits. When they had met privately – for the benefits – they never discussed it, never waxed any emotional crap beyond admiring each other's assets. It had always been very physical, very carnal. It had either been fast, rough and explosive or slow, long, deep and burning.

But it had always been hot. And their 'hunger' for each other had been equal in strength and stamina. They used to be the perfect match, they had been each other's ultimate kick; their sessions had always felt like being high as a kite.

Never, not once, had Rick lured him in only to push him away the next minute. Never, not even when Michael had ended it... not even when they had been angry and hurt and said some pretty nasty things... had he felt stood up like this.

This was so totally contrary to the sparkage Michael had felt on stage – starting at the Opening Ceremony and getting more intense during tonight's panel. There hadn’t been much time to see Rick in between the Opening and their panel because he'd always been signing or posing for photos. But tonight – on that stage – they had shone together. All three of them, yes. But Michael had felt the pull, that particular energy he and Rick used to have on the show. And yes... Lexa was right. It had been just like that in Calgary.

And now... just now he had felt it heightening when Rick plastered himself against him.

Until... until it all had fallen flat.

Why?

“One way to figure it out.” Shaking himself out of his paralyzed state, Michael finished with the buttons and dropped his jeans and briefs by the armchair.

He grabbed his jacket and fumbled out his wallet where he kept the package of condoms. He always carried some with him because he'd been in charge of contraception in his marriage for the last three years. Lexa had made it a point that taking the pill meant taking hormones and that since they both contributed to making babies they should also share the responsibility of not making any more babies. So she had stopped taking hormones at one point and Michael had taken over the job of prevention.

Michael retrieved one sealed condom and swiftly followed the man known as RDA to the world into the shower.

The bathrooms in this place were pretty cool. Michael had taken a long leisurely bath the first night he'd arrived here, just drifting and relaxing in a huge tub full of bubbles. It had gotten the kinks out of his neck from sleeping in a twisted position on the long flight.

Rick's bathroom was even bigger than his own, a sparkling mix of white and black, chrome and glass. White towels were stacked by the double sink. A thick, fluffy gray bath mat in front of the tub prevented people from slipping and falling on their butts when coming out of the shower.

Michael scanned the contents on the shelf by the sink. Shaving cream, hand razor, toothpaste, cool gel – probably for the back pain – some hair product... Nope. Not good enough. But there... hand lotion. He picked it up, read the list of ingredients, opened it, sniffed and nodded. Not perfumed. Could work, depending on what they ended up doing.

The tub had a frosted glass shower screen and behind it, fogged by steam, Michael could make out Rick. Unheard in the rushing of water he pulled the folding screen open and climbed into the tub. Rick was standing at the other end with his back to him, scrubbing his hair with foamy hands.

Michael carefully placed the condom and the lotion on the tiled ledge that served as a board for shampoo and soap. He took a quick look at strong shoulders and a more solid, more meaty back than he remembered.

Rick, who used to be kind of angular was more filled out now, especially around the middle, but still Richard. And he still had the most gorgeous ass Michael knew. The faint, not too overbearing scent of something fresh and earthy, as if you were standing in a forest after the rain, was familiar.

Still the same shower gel, Rick? It made his dick stand at attention, as if it recognized the smell, too.

Water mixed with shampoo the color of milk ran along Rick's spine and pooled at the small of his back, then dripped down the curves and cleft of his butt.

Michael licked his lips and, ready to be either accepted or punched in the face, stepped forward. He closed his eyes briefly as he merged with the spray of warm water and slipped his arms around Rick, re-taking their earlier pose with switched positions.

Rick didn't tense, he didn't lash out and he didn't yell. He must have heard Michael slipping in after all. “You took the wrong door,” he said, loud enough to make himself heard over the rushing water.

“Yeah, clumsy me.” Michael started nipping at one shoulder while he let his hands roam over Rick's chest, down to his belly.

“What about 'I want you gone' didn't you get?” Rick tensed up when Michael explored those love handles that hadn't been there back then.

He trailed his fingers through wet chest hair that used to be light brown, but had turned gray a long time ago. “Relax. It's just me. And I'm happy to see you. As in, really happy.” He wriggled in closer and pressed his whole length against Rick to show him just how happy he was.

“You must've lost your glasses,” Rick snorted, but – ever so reluctantly – relaxed.

“Those glasses I used to wear... they were fake, remember?” Michael wiped water off Rick's abdomen as his palms traveled south. “Look, you're happy to see me, too.” He trailed a single finger along Rick's cock to the tip, and back again, keeping the touch feather light and teasing.

No matter what personal issues Rick had with Michael being here, his body was definitely going with the program. Nice.

“What do you want?” Michael murmured into Richard's ear, keeping up the stroking. He loved the way the other man’s penis seemed to swell a little more with each trail of his finger. Loved how his own cock was nestled snugly against the crack of Rick's butt.

“I want you to get the hell out of...”

“Nononono, that's SO not what you want.” He cupped Rick's balls gently. “Pretend it's your birthday. What do you want?”

“You being my special gift?”

“Yeah. Just for tonight. One time offer.”

“Lucky me.” Rick covered Michael's hand with his and pulled it away. He raised their joined hands to his lips and kissed the tip of Michael's index finger, then nibbled on it.

Michael lowered his head to Rick's nape and started licking drops of water off the skin. The fading aroma of that shower gel or shampoo exploded on his tongue.

Rick let go of his hand and turned around very slowly. They blinked at each other through the running water and simultaneously wiped away the wetness from each other's cheeks. Rick chuckled, got water into his mouth and spluttered. Michael reached upwards and adjusted the shower head to keep the spray away from their heads.

“Richard Dean Anderson, best known for his role as MacGyver, drowned in hotel shower,” Rick snorted, flipping water off his nose at Michael.

Michael whipped his soggy hair out of his face and laughed. “The world is shocked, the fans suspect murder. But the most important question is – why couldn't he save himself with a rubber band and a paper climmmmmpph...” The mouth-on-mouth attack that abruptly stopped him from ending the sentence was as swift and effective as Michael remembered it.

He eagerly gave access to Rick’s tongue. They clung to each other, gripping biceps and hips. Rick moved them to the left so that Michael's back was propped up against the wall.

Michael got hold of Rick's buttocks and, pulling them apart, ran a forefinger down the cleft. He put slight pressure on the anus, using the soapiness from leftover shampoo to his advantage. Rick bucked against him, moaning deep in his throat. Michael's breath hitched and he needed to come up for air, but Rick was still devouring his mouth. When he broke the kiss he pulled back just enough to catch Michael's lower lip with his teeth and bite.

Michael's finger gave an answering stab and slipped into Rick, who immediately clamped the tight ring of muscles around it while he jerked at Michael's lip, causing him to hiss in pain.

Rick released him and growled. “Action and reaction, Shanks.”

“You going to explain this to the audience on Sunday?” He licked his lip, but found no blood. Hopefully there would be no swelling either.

“Put ice on it? Tell them you ran into a door?” There was a distinct tremble in Rick's voice as Michael kept finger-fucking him, slowly penetrating just so, then pulling out, but not all the way, and slipping back in.

“Gotta be careful,” Michael said between more lip-locking.

“I know, sorry. Hard to think straight while having your finger up my a...ss,” Rick moaned. “'s been a while...”

“Mhhh... long while?”

“Long enough to let you talk me into doing stupid, reckless things.” Rick lapped water off the corner of Michael's mouth and they dove in for another kiss.

Michael had been with men before... before he'd sort of hooked up with Rick. He had always enjoyed the more fierce, less soft, way of kissing with guys and he had experienced some hot kissers in his younger years. Rick, however, had been something else. He still was. A master of the art. He could do things with his tongue that pushed all of Michael’s buttons and had him electrified from head to toe in no time.

Rick pulled back and as their eyes locked Michael drowned in deep pools of brown. He recognized those eyes – they were the eyes of the man who used to take him in every which way Michael ever wanted to be taken. Years melted away to this one moment in time. There was Rick's hand on the side of his face, wet and warm. Solid. A thumb brushed away more wayward water dripping out of his hair.

“Before I'm gonna collect my gift...” Rick smirked. “You don't have any knee issues, right?”

“Nope.” None that counted anyway. Not yet. Twinges here and there... but none that would keep him from doing exactly what he assumed he'd be asked to do next.

“You used to be great at giving head,” Rick murmured, voice deepening a notch.

“Well, I'm a bit out of practice with the man parts...” Michael teased, licking his lips in anticipation.

Up came the eyebrow. “But you're a smart guy and I'm good at niceing people into doing exactly what I want them to do. Your words this evening, remember? To a room packed with people. I hope no one's gonna google 'niceing' or we'll be in trouble.”

“Ahh, me and my big mouth, huh?”

“I have a thing for your mouth.”

Michael reached back, grappling for the condom on that ledge. When he got hold of it he swiftly ripped it open.

Rick squinted at him. “Always prepared?”

“Lexa's rule. And since I have no idea where you've stuck your dick over the last thirteen years or so...” He gave the body part in question an assessing look. Glistening with water, smooth and going slightly soft again. No signs of lesions, growths or discharge anywhere. It didn't have to mean a thing, but it was reassuring.

Rick sighed. “Yeah. Not much action lately. But, yeah... and likewise.”

“I'm married,” Michael muttered as he grabbed the hand lotion with his free hand. “We might need this.” He lowered himself to his knees in the spacious tub, dropping the tube by his side.

“Being married, meaning...? Seeing that you're here and... all.” Rick's hands settled on his shoulders to steady himself as he sat down on a built in wooden shower bench. He leaned back a bit, spread his legs wide and propped his feet against the sides of the tub at the bottom for extra support.

“One time thing,” Michael informed him. “Can you turn off the water?”

The faucet was easy to reach from where Rick was sitting and he turned it off. For a moment the silence in the bathroom was loud and echoing. Michael edged closer until he was kneeing between Rick's open legs. He peered upwards and was met by an unreadable expression on the older man's face.

You're not going to change your mind again, he thought grimly. Not now. Not now that we've come this far.

Rick smiled, then, and gave him a slight nod. “Go on.”

Michael gazed at the condom he was holding with two fingers. “I wonder if I remember how to do this... Where's that hand lotion...”

“What? Oh...” Rick's eyes widened.

Memory issues, huh? Right.

Grinning, Michael placed the condom carefully between his lips in front of his teeth, making sure the tip was pointing inwards. The taste wasn't all that great, but that was okay. With his hands free he picked up the lotion and opened it.

“Isn't that thing lubed already?” Rick asked, indicating the condom.

He shook his head.

“Oh?”

Rolling his eyes, Michael shrugged. Even if he didn't have his mouth full of latex he wasn't keen on elaborating on the reasons he and Lexa preferred non-lubricated condoms.

Rick reached down and removed the lotion from his grasp. “Leave some of the work to me, will ya? And,” with a nod at Michael's mouth, “is that flavored?”

He shook his head.

A memory surfaced about doing this, using flavored condoms and almost gagging from the taste which had turned out to be horrible versus the rather pleasant smell. Rick had laughed his ass off and kept mimicking Michael's look of utter disgust all through that day. It had made him furious when Rick continued doing it on set – and no one really 'got' the joke, but everyone laughed because Rick's goofy, facial expressions were always funny, Looking back now, it really had been funny, actually.

Rick squeezed a tiny bit of lotion onto his fingertips. Good choice. Take too much and the condom would slip off. Take none and pulling it over could be uncomfortable. Rick took himself in hand and started lubing up until his cock was fully erect again.

The sight spurred Michael into action. He clamped the tip of the condom between his tongue and the roof of his mouth to keep the air out of it.

“Don't choke,” Rick said and Michael promptly started chuckling and almost swallowed the condom.

He spat it out. “Fuck!”

“Fuck is good. I'd like that, later,” Rick agreed readily.

“Oh yeah? I've got news for you. If we screw up all my condoms because of you, there won't be any fucking. At all.” Michael fished around in the tub for the condom, found it and eyed it suspiciously. It didn't look damaged and he hadn't bitten on it. He considered just slapping it on Rick and going from there, but he used to be really neat at this and Rick used to really get off on it...

“Behave,” he warned.

Rick raised his hands. “Sorry.”

Michael re-positioned the condom in his mouth, took Rick's penis in one hand to hold it steady and used his lips to roll the rubber over the tip. Slowly, slowly, with gentle movements and the help of his tongue he covered Rick with the latex.

Somewhere above him he heard Rick almost purr with appreciation, a baritone of pleasure. Hands settled on Michael's shoulders, squeezing lightly. He released Rick's cock but only to take it in again. Latex with an underlying flavor of shower gel. But somehow it wasn't so bad. Maybe he had a weird taste...

“Oh. Go-od.” Rick groaned.

Michael swirled his tongue around the sensitive tip, then sucked the whole length in again, salivating the condom. He had one hand loosely fisted around Rick's shaft. His other hand reached between his own legs, starting a stroking rhythm to go with what his mouth was doing.

And, oh yeah, he was getting close already. But he could feel Rick being close, too. Could feel how hard and pulsing he was under the rubber. He imagined there to be pre-cum now and he tried to remember what it used to taste like... how he had licked it off, those first precious beads... rich and sweeter than the actual semen...

Rick's hand came to rest on Michael’s head, tousled his hair and then guided him to a different angle. Michael's tongue applied more pressure, let go, applied pressure...

Rick arched his back and there was a hiss that could have been pleasure... or pain. But when Michael pulled away and looked up, Rick shook his head and gently thrust his hips forward, nudging Michael's lips open. He complied all too willingly, kissing the tip before he engulfed him again.

“Michael... hum for me. C'mon, hum for me.... please...”

He pulled back once more and took a look at Rick's full length. Not huge, but not small either. Perfect size. But...

God, I don't know if I can do this anymore...

He let go of his own erection and blindly grabbed for the lotion. He needed some more lube than just his spit here, at least to get started...

“Michael...” Rick growled.

“I know, I know, humming.” It was strange how easily they slipped back into this game, using the same phrases, knowing what the other one wanted. “Gimme a moment here.”

He squirted a small dollop of lotion into his palm and quickly coated the condom with a thin layer. Bracing himself for an unpleasant taste, he took a swipe with his tongue... and was surprised at how neutral it was. No different than some regular lube he'd tasted before.

Taking a deep breath he swallowed a couple of times and then took Rick deep deep deep into his mouth, inch by inch, with short breaks in between. He adjusted his tongue and breathed deeply through his nose as Rick's cock slid deeper inside.

“Oh, yeah... take it all in, baby... all... the... way... down,” Rick spurred him on.

He pulled his tongue back into his mouth, taking Rick further with it. As he reached the point of gagging he paused again – and started humming to get rid of the gag reflex.

“Yesss... humming... love it,” Rick whispered, his voice hoarse and thick.

He'd never done this with anyone else after Rick and for a moment he panicked, convinced that he couldn't take him. But maybe deep-throating was a bit like riding a bike... he pulled back a little, swallowed, paced his breath and dove in again... humming.... enjoying the vibration that sound generated on Rick's cock.

He felt Rick's body tremble, but he didn't move and Michael had a firm hold on one of Rick's thighs and his dick to keep him as still as possible. They had done this countless times before... and they knew how to work together... even after all these years.

As soon as Michael was in that place where Rick's cock filling him stopped feeling invasive, he started working his throat muscles in swallowing motions and Rick tensed up with the need to move and the effort to keep still and let Michael navigate. Michael increased his own movements and, holy fuck, he'd forgotten what a rush to the head this was...

His own dick stood rigid and aching with the need of release, but he was too busy playing with Rick to take care of it. Just a little more... Just a moment longer...

“Mmmichael... I'm gonna... gonna... ohmy...” Rick warned and Michael hung on for dear life as he felt Rick tremble and shudder. There was no semen hitting his throat, but he could feel Rick's orgasm coming in waves. He tried to keep him down there, mouth and throat working, but then Rick let out a long guttural whimper and his hips thrust forward; one careless jerk in the heat of the action... Michael, one hand firmly around the base of Rick's cock, was able to ride it out, but he felt his focus slip and he slowly pulled back, careful not to hurt himself or start gagging after all.

His hand, however, picked up where his mouth had stopped and he expertly kept Rick going until he let out a woosh of air and sagged back against the tiled wall, eyes closed, chest heaving with the adrenalin and endorphins that had just been pumped through his body.

Even in the rather unyielding bathroom lights Rick looked kind of young. And very much at peace.

“You just killed me,” he murmured.

“And you've gone to heaven, I hope,” Michael rasped out, suppressing a cough. His throat felt a bit sore, but also way too empty all of a sudden.

“Hell, yeah.”

Michael sat back on his heels and gently removed the condom from Rick's shrinking cock. With a pang of regret he tied the opening into a knot and carefully placed it on the ledge. There had been times when he'd swallowed every drop of what Rick poured down his throat. Licked him clean, too. And Rick had happily done the same to him. Not being able to taste, to swallow... it was like getting only half the dessert.

He suppressed a low groan as he got to his feet. His cock, red and leaking at the tip, jutted out. On slightly wobbly legs he tried to prop himself against the wall to jerk himself off, when Rick cracked his eyes open and asked, voice still a bit slurred, “What d'ya think yer doin'?”

“Ahhh... taking care of something very urgent.”

Rick didn’t look like he’d be moving anytime soon and Michael really needed to get off. Like, right now. Not in five minutes or however long it would take Rick to recover enough to blow him... or...

Rick raised a hand, long fingers motioning him over. “C'mere.”

“Whatever you wanna do, do it... quick,” Michael panted. He was beyond the point of holding it. He was going to explode...

He stepped forward into the space of Rick's still open legs. Rick's penis lay spent and snug in a nest of damp, dark hair while Michael's pulsed and throbbed in sync with his hammering heartbeat.

“Richard Dean A... dammit...”

“I need to look at you. Please... just give me that moment.”

“What? You like seeing me suffer?”

“Shhh.”

“I haven't killed you yet, but I will...” Michael ground out.

“Okay,” Rick said softly as he reached out and wrapped the fingers of his right hand around Michael's hard-on. “It's okay... oh, god, look at you, just... let it go. Come for me, Michael, come all over me... shower me in it. Now.“

He'd been ready to burst, there was no doubt about it. But the aching tenderness in Rick's voice pushed him right over the edge and it cost him all his willpower not to buckle in the knees as he aimed and...

“Oh, g...g...”

...lasted two, three, strokes before he spurted long ribbons of semen, splattering Rick's chest and abdomen and the shower bench. And all the while Rick was holding him in place with his deep, warm gaze and the expression of utter fulfillment on his face.

Michael's legs gave in. He staggered forward and even in his dazed state of mind he realized he'd crash onto Rick, probably hurting them both or really breaking his back or...

Large, strong hands grabbed his upper arms to steady him and he was slowly lowered back to his knees and pulled forward until he found himself cradled against cooling, damp skin that smelled of shower gel and sex. Michael's arms came to rest on the bench to either side of Rick and his face was lathered in his own semen as he rested his cheek against Rick's belly.

Catching his breath.

Rick's hands stroked his back and played with his hair.

Niceing him.

They didn't talk, but eventually Michael raised his head and then stood, holding out his hands. Rick took them and, with a soft groan that had probably little to do with pleasure and more with being stiff and achy, came to his feet.

Michael cleared his throat. “Shower?”

“Quick one, then bed.” Rick turned the water back on, took the shower gel and squeezed some into both their palms. They lathered up and rinsed without any fuss. Michael longed for a warm bed and something to wash down the taste of rubber and lotion. He took a mouthful of water and spit before he held his face into the warm spray and scrubbed his come off it.

Once they were finished he pushed open the screen and they climbed out, grabbed some towels and dried off. Michael was done pretty soon and watched Rick, thinking again how the man had changed and yet... he hadn't. He wasn't lean and hard-bodied anymore, but there was not much flabbiness either. He was just... more. Older, but not very saggy. Michael knew that cliché saying about someone aging like a good wine. That was kind of apt. Rick was...

...throwing his towel at him, hitting him square in the face.

“Stop it!”

“Whoa! What the hell?!” Michael pulled the white fluffy thing off his eyes.

“Nothing to look at here,” Rick grumbled and padded past him, into the other room.

“Nothing to look at?” Michael echoed and let the towel drop.

He was hit by the clue bus.

Chapter Text

III

The bedroom was opposite the bathroom, across the living area, and when Michael entered he found Rick standing by the king size bed, drinking water from a glass. On the nightstand he could make out two small med bottles. One was opened and Michael assumed Rick had just swallowed a dose of whatever was in there.

“Hey,” he offered casually.

Rick eyed him wearily and raised his glass in a toast. “Happy pills.”

“Anything good? Wanna share?”

“Something so I won't get a stroke from all the excitement,” Rick said, then pointed at the other bottle. “That's muscle relaxant. Cool stuff. Took it after the back-cracking on stage, works like a charm. And this, if you must know,” he picked up a box Michael hadn't noticed before; a flat, long rectangle pill dispenser. One of those things with small compartments for every day of the week, “is my array of vitamins, pain killers and other colorful treats to sweeten my days.”

“Thank you for the enlightenment. When you're done with the self pity could we stop killing the mood and go back to what we were doing before?” It had come out harsher than he'd intended it to be, but if Rick had another change of heart Michael wouldn't go down without a fight. He wasn't ready to leave just yet.

“Just trying to tell you I'm what feels like a hundred years older than I used to be and, in case you haven't noticed, my performance level has dropped a bit.”

“Nothing wrong with your performance in that shower,” Michael countered.

“Yeah, with you doing all the work. I'm afraid I'm done for tonight.” Rick threw the pill box back on the nightstand and put down his glass.

“So, are you being a dick because you're 64 and don’t feel dashingly handsome anymore or are you just cranky because I sucked you dry and you couldn't shove me against the wall and fuck me right away? You might not have noticed, but I'm older, too, and I'm up for a break between dishes.”

Rick snorted.

“And by the way – you've always been full of scars and your elbows used to be pointy. Your ass was kind of boney and your nose is still too long. Oh, and your balls were just as hairy back then as they are now. I still wanted you. And, obviously, I still want you today, so get over yourself.”

Michael crossed his arms over his chest, expecting to be on the receiving end of Rick's temper now – it wouldn't be the first time. He hadn't lied when he'd said, on stage, that one of the things he and Daniel had in common was that they could never keep their mouths shut and sometimes liked to pick a fight and get themselves into trouble.

Which was okay. He could take on Rick, always had. Which was probably one of the reasons they had been so good together on screen. And – he'd suspected that for years – one of the reasons they had ended up in bed over and over again. They equaled each other in stubbornness and they had butted heads more than once over the years. But they also respected each other and valued the other one's input and opinion. And yelling at each other had just been as much foreplay as goofing around and being giddy.

Was this part of the whole Jack/Daniel dynamic fans found so attractive in the characters, he wondered. And was their way of acting, of playing those parts; how they had pushed each other into doing all that ad-libbing and playing with the words, the looks... had that been their own UST blending into the characters? Had it shown that clearly to some people – and what exactly did that say about them as actors?

He blinked, realizing his thoughts had drifted away from the here and now. He also realized Rick was neither barking nor biting.

Rick was looking at him with a weary smile. “I sure wish I could figure out why you came tonight.”

“Because giving head to you turns me on?”

“Came here, as in walking into my room, blindsiding me with the most stunning blow job I had in, oh, so many years?” Rick rolled his eyes.

“Because you said you were hungry?”

“Which was a joke. You didn't seriously expect anything coherent coming out of my mouth during that stage thing?”

“Careful what you wish for even when you're joking.” Michael eyed the bed. It looked comfortable; fluffy big pillows and cozy blankets in brown and sandy colors. The bedside lamps emitted a warm, golden light. Enough to see properly, but not as bright and glaring as in the bathroom. Rick bent over, pressed a sensor on the nightstand and the light was dimmed into a soft glow.

“I really don't mind looking at you, you know?” Michael said quietly. “If that's what's really bugging you.”

Rick pulled the covers away, revealing white bed sheets. “Don't tell me it wouldn't bug you if you were in my shoes.”

Michael opened his mouth to say it wouldn't, but found that he’d be lying. Because it would. Whether it'd be true or not, it would bother him to be twenty years older than his lover if he thought it showed. He tried picturing himself twenty years in the future. He couldn't imagine having a problem with Lexa, because she was aging with him. But if he had a guy in his bed – or a girl – who was so much younger, then... yes. He didn't consider himself shallow, but here it was.

In their line of work everything they did, everything they presented, was measured by, and often reduced to, appearance. Michael was fighting the battle of staying on the ball on a daily basis. The work-outs, the carefully measured diet – more or less consistent depending on whether he was on a job or not. And Michael wasn't even a perfectionist in those things. Lexa and his personal trainer made sure he kept himself in shape.

But yeah... he would frown over pictures of himself where he looked 'fat' or blotchy. It came with the knowledge he had to be presentable for the media and being conscious about being 'in' the media. Right now he was under contract and didn't have to look for work, so he allowed himself some slack during his hiatus. But as an actor he needed to take care of himself and he'd be lying if he said he didn’t give a damn about his looks.

“It would,” he admitted lightly, “But I know you'd set me straight about it if things were the other way around.”

“Is that what you're doing?” Rick arched his eyebrow.

“Well, I can't change how you feel about yourself. But I can assure you that my feelings for you...”

“Your... feelings?” The eyebrow climbed even higher.

Michael raised a finger. “Attraction. My attraction to you is...” He couldn't help it, he had to laugh at the smug grin blossoming on Rick's face. “Idiot. What I'm trying to say is that me coming all over you in that shower should speak for itself. And that's all the ego boosting you will get unless you stop being a prick and invite me into that bed. Freezing my balls off here.”

Michael used to think that Rick, who had made enough money so he didn't have to worry about paying his bills and wasn't dependent on a regular job anymore, was above that kind of bad press where they joked about his age and weight. He knew Rick as a guy who was comfortable in his own skin, someone who was totally relaxed about his body and his appearance. He'd known the man was poking fun at himself about his bodily 'flaws', but he hadn't expected Rick to be this conscious about it.

But when you used to be MacGyver, MacGadget, the mullet-man, and then the leader of SG-1, a gun wielding hero type... your aging process was discussed in the media and you were always compared to being MacGyver or Jack O'Neill. If, for some reason, you couldn't appear to be 30 or 40 or even 50 anymore... they'd tear you apart and gleefully rub your nose in it.

“Nicely put.” Rick said with a smirk and gestured at the bed. “Sorry for the chilliness. My meds are messing with my body. It thinks I'm a woman in menopause, getting hot flashes.”

“Keep me warm,” Michael suggested and, with a content little, “Ahhh, yesss,” he slipped under the silky duvet, covering himself just to his hips. He leaned back in the thick pillows and stretched leisurely. “Niiice.”

Rick picked up the water bottle. “You need a drink? Sore throat?”

“Big cock, taste of latex and hand lotion, so, yes.” Michael caught the bottle that was tossed at him, opened it and took a long swig.

“I've got lube,” Rick informed him with a shrug. “But you snuck up on me and all that.”

“You've got... like, real lube with you?” He put the bottle on the floor by the bed.

“I'm old and I only get to play with myself these days, but I like to be prepared when the need occurs.” Rick walked to a built-in closet with polished dark-wooden doors. He opened one of them, rummaged around in there for a moment and returned with a small gray necessaire bag.

“Pjur Eros Bodyglide,” Rick announced cheerfully, pulling a black bottle from the bag. “That's the real deal. At least for my petty needs.”

He placed the bottle on the nightstand and finally got into bed, stretching out beside Michael on his side, facing him.

Michael moved his left leg over and started rubbing Rick's calf with his foot. “What exactly are your petty needs? Have they changed? Do tell. Did you bring any toys?”

“Sure. All the rubber Thors and dildos and cock rings... imagine that...” Rick drew an invisible line in the air with his finger. “Airport security discovers sex toys in MacGyver's suitcase.”

“Jack O'Neil brings in the big guns,” Michael added.

“At least as O'Neill I wouldn't be asked if I built them myself,” Rick snorted.

Michael cracked up. “Duct tape dildos?”

Rick started stroking Michael's bare chest and gently flicked at his nipples. “Creativity knows no bounds.”

“Mhhh. I like creative. Be creative with me.”

Rick propped himself up on one elbow. His clever fingers kept alternately tweaking and rubbing Michael's nipples, turning them into hard, red nubs. Michael felt his cock twitch and spread his legs invitingly.

Smiling, Rick pulled the duvet off Michael. “Look at you, Michael Shanks, you're all grown up.”

Michael flexed his biceps. “Yep. Allll the way. Am a big boy now.”

Rick shook his head. “You’ve never been a boy to me... but now you're... sculpted and molded into this...”

“Keep talking,” Michael said. “I worked hard for this body. Left a trail of sweat, blood and tears.”

“Hmmhmm... wish you'd say you did it all for me.”

“Okay. I did it all just for you, Richard,” Michael complied, giving his voice a longing, soft touch.

“Now, if you'd bat your lashes like you used to do when you were wearing those glasses...”

“Don't push it, Anderson.”

Rick licked his lips and his hand brushed down the line from Michael's navel to his crotch, rubbed through the dark patches of pubic hair and gave his penis a gentle squeeze before he started cupping Michael's balls, rolling them in his palm, massaging both testicles.

Michael turned his head and parted his lips. Rick made his move and captured Michael's mouth. The kiss was dry and smooth until their tongues found each other and it turned moist and hot.

“What can I do for you, Michael?” Rick whispered into his mouth.

“Keep doing.... what.... you're doin'... yeah, there... there...”

Rick ran the tip of his finger from his balls over his perineum. “Wish I could rim you,” he murmured between more kisses, “Loved eating you. Remember how my tongue up your ass made you squeal? Oh, god, it was epic.”

“Nnnng... dirty old man,” Michael breathed and moved his hips to meet Rick's finger which was teasingly circling his entrance. He wanted more of that finger, wanted it inside him. God, he wanted two or three of those long long digits. “Put 'em into me,” he ordered. “Want to ride your fingers. Stop dickin' around...”

“Who's dirty now? Patience...”

“If you call me grasshopper, I'm gonna cut off your b...b...” Two fingers applied delicious pressure just outside his entrance, not penetrating, just stretching the skin around it. Then the hand was gone and Michael gasped with frustration.

“Lube,” Rick reminded him. But instead of just lubing up and returning to his task, he suddenly got out of bed and left the room, throwing a, “Wait a minute, I'll be right back,” over his shoulder.

Michael heard him move across the room, muttering something under his breath about needing towels. Then there was only silence for several long moments.

“If you take much longer I'm gonna start without you,” Michael hollered, making sure Rick knew he was pouting hugely.

“Aht! Keep your greedy hands off yourself!” Rick shouted back, making Michael laugh.

A moment later Rick was back and knelt on the bed between Michael’s feet, towels in hand.

“Well, it’s about time. Was getting bored here,” Michael said with a scowl.

“Had to clip my fingernails. Don't want to damage your best asset. Lose the attitude and work with me. Move up the bed a bit, put another pillow behind your head.”

“You haven't lost one bit of your dazzling charm, Richard,” Michael grumbled, but crawled backwards until his head and neck were propped against the headboard, supported by two of the thick pillows. He had a straight view all the way down his body and to Rick's cock resting in its bed of pubic hair. It was soft and relaxed, but still a delicious sight.

“Nice,” Rick drawled and patted Michael's left hip.”Up.”

“Up, as in..? And how far up exactly?”

“Do you want us to get somewhere or just keep bickering?” Rick gave his hip a prompting push and Michael finally raised his butt to have the rolled up towel shoved underneath. Another towel was spread out on the sheets to protect them from any kind of messiness.

“I've been trying to get somewhere for a while now, but you're still prepping and setting things up. Let me know when you got me where you want me and we can actually start,” he bitched, loving the way Rick's eyes sparkled with excitement even as they narrowed dangerously.

Michael flapped his legs even wider, giving his lover a grand view. “I'm allll ready here. But it's just words and no game with you.”

“God, you're such a slut,” Rick chuckled and squeezed his buttock. “All ready for me, eh? You'll be even more ready soon. You'll beg me to let you come and I'm only gonna use my fingers.”

“Yadda?” He stared at the ceiling, rolling his eyes. Then the actual words sunk in and he snapped, “What do you mean, fingers? The hell you will. You can start with fingers, but I expect you to do me properly.”

Rick raised his hand and wriggled his fingers.

“Forget it. I won't play along with just fingers. No way. You better get a condom while you're at it. They are in my wallet on the table in the other room.”

“I'm all set,” Rick informed him and left the bed again.

“You better.”

Rick grabbed a leftover pillow and the bottle of lube and threw both items on the bed somewhere by Michael's hip. He lay down, stretching out on his side again but with his head pointing downwards and his feet coming to rest somewhere by Michael's shoulder. The bed dipped and bounced a couple of times while Rick kept adjusting his position. He took hold of Michael's right ankle and, lifting the foot, moved the leg over his head and put it down behind his shoulder. Then he wrestled and pummeled his pillow for a moment.

Michael could see Rick's messed up gray hair and the side of his face between his open legs, but not his hands.

“Are you okay down there?” he asked after another moment of restless movement and muttering coming from down there.

“Yep. Have the perfect view now,” came the satisfied answer. “You comfy?”

“I get any more comfy and I'll be fast asleep,” Michael replied. “What the heck are you doing down theee... he-hey...” Something warm and slippery was gently rubbed into the sensitive skin around his anus and over his perineum. His balls were once again treated to a leisurely massage, leaving Michael tingling all over.

“You were saying?”

“That all you've got?” he asked, trying – and almost managing – to keep his voice level and on the verge of bored.

Rick's fingers squeezed once, not hard enough to inflict real pain, but firm enough to have Michael gasp.

“Imagine I'm using my mouth,” Rick's voice floated up to him, hoarse and dark, “Sucking your balls right in, one by one, licking them like lollipops...”

“Imagination's vivid,” Michael murmured, giving up on playing bored. He gave a little thrust with his hips to push into Rick's fingers, which were moist, slick and busy.

Michael had fantasized about Rick's hands even before he had actually really felt them on his body for the first time. Those crooked thumbs, the long, slender fingers and large palms. Rick's hands were warm, heavy and, yet, agile. And very skilled. Well, they had to be, right? After all these were MacGyver's hands...

Michael quivered under the sensual treatment and then there was pressure at his hole again, two fingers stretching it in agonizing slow motion.

“Ain't it great I have two hands?” Rick murmured.

“In there,” Michael growled, impatience getting the better of him. “Get them in there.”

“That what you want, Michael?”

“I want... thumb... gimme thumb,” Michael ground out and was rewarded with that particular digit being added into the game, stroking up and down his inner buttock and then dipping in just barely... only to be removed again.

“Like this?” Another teasing approach, then two fingers were back to stretching his entrance and even though he knew he wasn't, yet, Michael felt wide open and exposed. The thumb returned, pressuring, massaging, sinking in, pulling out...

“Rick,” he groaned. “That's not even... remotely... funny.”

“Nooo, not funny at all, but from where I am... it's incredibly hot,” Rick sighed and there was a gust of breath against Michael's hole that caused him to grab the bedsheets and pull and jerk his hips.

“HOLY FUCK, RICK!”

A filthy chuckle was the only answer and then he did it again. Blowing on Michael's rosebud, making it pucker with the sudden coolness.

Finally, finally, a lubed up finger entered him with agonizing slow movements up to the first knuckle and, oh god, his balls were still gently fondled, too. It was that kind of over-stimulation Rick was so excellent at and Michael could already feel his body build up for orgasm when a second finger was added inside and, once it had penetrated him, Rick twisted them and began moving them gently together.

Michael held his breath, tightened his sphincter muscle around those fingers filling him... then relaxed and felt them slip in further... He was used to the dildo and his own fingers quite well, but the mere thought of Rick having two fingers up his butt was driving him crazy with want. It had been so long... so damn long...

Michael licked his dry lips. Every fiber of his body ached for those fingers...

“Yeah... that's it... nice and open for me. You feel that? That's me inside you... finding...” Rick carefully changed the angle again – and found the happy bud, “thisss... oh, yeah.”

Michael's body arched off the bed and he grabbed for his dick while he clamped down on Rick's fingers.

“Hands. Off,” Rick ordered sharply.

“You can't be seri... oh-ohhh.” He fisted the bed sheets instead, not believing he was really playing along with this game after all these years, but doing it anyway.

He felt his toes curl when Rick found his prostate again.

Rick's fingers moved inside him with small jerks and strokes. Michael brimmed with the need to thrust.

“Ride 'em, babe,” Rick crooned and Michael ground down on them. Rick countered every hit, meeting the little nub inside him.

They were fucking perfection.

How was it possible, that after all these years, after not having done this for so long.... how could they still be this...

Rick's hand that had played with his balls, wrapped around his straining dick and settled into a matching rhythm with his moving fingers... and any coherent thinking on Michael's part just stopped.

“Gonna make you co-oh-me,” Rick sing-songed.

“No... n-n-ooo.” He twisted his neck to get a better look at what was happening. “Rick! Rick, tell me you have a damn condom there and can get your dick in...”

“Sorry, no can do.”

“What?! Are you nutsss... ”

The thumb and forefinger of Rick's hand around Michael's cock formed a ring and started pumping up and down the shaft. Each time he got back to the top Rick tightened that 'ring' and made Michael squeeze his way in as he slid back down to the bottom.

At the same time he hit home again with the fingers up Michael’s tight channel.

Michael did the only thing he was capable off at this point – he howled and bucked and came like a fire truck, cursing and yelling Rick's name at the top of his lungs as he did. It was stars-behind-the-eyes time and he rocketed away into his very own nexus....

There was a nice buzz in his head as he came down from it. His limbs were too heavy to move. He'd just lie here and let the a/c blow cool air over his body to dry off the sweat.

Something warm and wet touched his skin. A towel or a washcloth Michael assumed, too lazy to open his eyes and check. Being cleaned felt good and soothing. He kept his eyes closed and allowed himself to drift some more in his afterglow while Rick took care of it all.

He could still feel a faint echo of Rick's fingers inside him – a lingering sensation - but it wasn't as fulfilling as having the real thing. Which reminded him that he needed to gather his strength because he intended to harm a certain someone severely. Just as soon as he'd recovered enough to...

The rolled up towel was pulled out from under him and he heard Rick leave the room.

Michael was cold all of a sudden, but still caught in post coital exhaustion too much to search for the blankets.

This was wrong.

They should be lying in this bed, both coming down from orgasm. They should clean up the mess together, later. Rick liked to snuggle after sex and Michael remembered how they used to burrow into each other's warmth and enjoy the closeness. He remembered Rick holding him as he'd smoked his aftermath cig. Rick had often complained and muttered about how smoking in bed was neither safe nor sexy, but never outright told him to stop. Sometimes, very rarely, Rick would take a pull. He'd stopped smoking sometime during his MacGyver days, or after, Michael wasn't sure when, but occasionally he'd take Michael's cig and pull. Michael remembered one rainy, dull afternoon when they'd been in his trailer in bed...

Their clothes were scattered everywhere across the room, their limbs tangled in their blanket and the sheets had partly come off the bed in all the excitement and the rush to get naked and on the mattress. Time was limited, their lunch break only lasted an hour and a half.

Michael was on his back, using Rick as a cushion, head propped against Rick's shoulder and Rick's arms were wrapped around him. He was smoking and thinking of nothing in particular when Rick took the cigarette from him, stuck it in his mouth and inhaled deeply, then stubbed it out in the ashtray on the cluttered bedside table.

Hey, I wasn't done smoking that,” Michael muttered and turned his head to look at where his cigarette had gone.

Rick dove in a for a kiss and as soon as Michael opened his mouth, Rick blew the smoke down his throat, making him cough and gag.

You asshole!” Michael scrambled out of the arms trying to keep him in place. He grabbed the nearest pillow to club a howling Rick over the head with it.

Laughing, they wrestled with the pillow until it tore apart with a nasty ripping sound. Feathers, or whatever white and fluffy filling was in there, swirled all around them.

Snow!” Rick cheered. “You stole the touchstone again?”

That wasn't me... and how am I going to explain this to the cleaning staff?!” Michael groaned as they watched white thingies softly floating to the ground, settling on their clothes, the chairs, the couch, the table...

Say you practiced punch moves on the pillow,” Rick suggested, dodging a well aimed punch move to his upper arm. “HEY! No bruises, no marks, remember?” He grabbed the second pillow and slammed it into Michael's face. “Eat that, Shanks!”

Michael threw the pillow back at Rick, missed and hit the nightstand. The stuff piled on top of it - a full ashtray, one package of condoms, lubricant, Kleenex, an empty Cheerio bag and a pair of Daniel's glasses, crashed to the ground, rendering both men silent for a moment.

Rick looked down his nose at the mess. “Oops.”

I hate you,” Michael moaned, staring open mouthed at the chaos they had created in just under an hour. Well, part of it anyway.

Me? What did I do?” Rick replied, laughing and apparently not in the least bothered by either the mess or Michael hating him. “Got any more Cheerios?” He fished for the empty bag, shook it and tossed it back on the ground.

Sorry,” Michael said, “you got your protein shake. Don't be greedy.”

Sucked it all up, too. Best lunch ever,” Rick agreed, licking his lips. “I still have the munchies, though.”

Michael checked his watch. “We have another twenty to tidy up here, get clean and dressed and be back on set. There are Hershey bars somewhere on a shelf.”

Your eating habits worry me, Michael.”

Says the man who only had coffee and a bit of spunk all day.”

Mmmm, but it was good. And I won't get fat that way.” Rick stretched, climbed out of bed and padded across the room, expertly dodging all the crap on the floor like boots and BDU pants and t-shirts. Michael watched him for a moment, admiring the tight back muscles and the perfectly molded ass. Rick wasn't a six-pack guy, but he was in great shape and he knew it.

Right now he rummaged around on the shelf, whining about the lack of Hersheys.

Michael sighed once more, rolled out of the nest of blankets and sheets and went to the bathroom. “I shower, you tidy up. At least try to... put the condoms and the lube away. Everything else...” He looked around the room, sighed again and shrugged. “They'll think I went mad in here.”

It's just a torn pillow,” Rick said. “And some ash. And, oy, Cheerio crumbs. You taking those towels home with you for laundry?”

Yeah. My trailer, my laundry turn.” They always took care of any sex related mess. It was part of the deal; leave no evidence behind.

Right. Got a bag somewhere?”

In the closet, plastic bags.” Michael took one last look at his trailer, groaned and slammed the bathroom door behind him.

He showered and brushed his teeth. When he emerged back into the room, squeaky clean, Rick had made the bed, put the condoms and lube away, collected all their clothes and stacked them on two chairs. The towels were gone, too. Daniel's glasses sat neatly folded on top of his BDU jacket.

Rick was just sweeping together the contents of the ashtray and the pillow's innards.

Ten minutes,” he greeted Michael and passed the broom on to him. “You left enough hot water?”

Yeah, sure.”

While Rick showered, Michael finished the sweep, dumped everything in the trash and got dressed.

They were efficient as clockwork. Rick, being in the industry since the seventies, hadn't exactly written the ground rules of their fuck-buddy relationship in stone, but he had taken Michael under his wing, taught him the do's and don'ts and all the ways of 'hiding in plain sight'. Michael, being a quick study, had taken to it all like a duck to water. They were a good team and all the little not-quite lies, the code-talking and the casual set up meetings were part of a clever game, adding more spice to the meal.

Rick came out of the shower, his hair spiked and still damp. Michael helped him put on the dog tags, dropping a kiss to Rick's nape as he did so. It was against the rules. But he liked it when Rick went a little...

Shanks...”

I know, I know... Temptations.” He did it again, grazing skin with his teeth just so.

Rick stepped away and slipped into his t-shirt, then his white boxer briefs. “No...”

No visible marks, yes, I know, sorry.” He wasn't. But he had agreed to that rule, knowing damn well it was important, so he probably deserved a bit of dressing down.

You keep doing that and you won't see me for a while,” Rick warned.

Like you can stay away,” Michael snarked.

Rick donned his pants and worked on the buttons, the jerky movements of his fingers showing his irritation. “Neither of us needs any trouble. You know the drill.”

Michael slapped the stupid boonie on his head. He preferred the bandana, but sometimes they still made him wear the dorky hat. “It was one kiss and a nibble, Anderson.”

They weren't supposed to start up again once they got ready to go out. Returning to the set with a boner was never a good idea. Michael knew that. He didn't need to be outed at this point of his career.

Officially he was still with Vaitiare. Reality was that this particular relationship had been doomed from the start, his private life had turned into a mess and he was going to be the father of a child who's mother had long lost interest in him and vice versa. So, nope, he didn't need bad press or even gossip right now.

Rick had made it very clear from the start that he was in it for the sex and not the drama. And he was 'in a relationship'. Michael was sure that relationship was as real as a soap opera on TV, but the press was eating up the story about the bachelor, the ladies' man, who had finally grown up and found love. Richard Dean Anderson had no interest in letting the world know he was an equal opportunity lover.

Michael wasn't sure what kind of deal Rick had with Apryl – who was just as pregnant as Vaitiare. Neither Apryl nor Vaitiare featured highly in their conversations and Rick kept his private life private even on set. All Michael knew was that Apryl hated Canada because of the rain and in general. So she was in LA, nest building, while Rick worked in Vancouver and jetted home whenever the schedule allowed him to get away.

Rick was embracing the idea of becoming a dad wholeheartedly. Sure, he'd admitted he was scared of the whole responsibility thing, too, but he'd also said he was ready. Michael didn't know if he was ready under these circumstances. He'd always imagined he'd have his first child with the woman he intended to spend the rest of his life with. He'd wanted to have a family, a real one. Now all he could do for his baby was to be there as much as possible and try to still be the dad it deserved.

Michael got the impression Rick was pretty happy with his life at this point, having everything he wanted. A house, a baby on the way... and a lover to feed his 'other needs'. And apparently he saw no contradiction in having the best of both worlds.

Whatever Rick and Apryl had agreed on, however their relationship actually worked – Michael didn't know and didn't want to know. He knew just one thing for sure; if he ever met that special someone he would do it all the way. And there'd be no more straying and no more casual sex. Not even 'friends with benefits' sex.

However, in his current state he had no problem with being Rick's lover. They both took advantage of their mutual attraction, using it to get their rocks off. They fitted each other's needs perfectly.

And he wanted to keep it that way. Simple and fun – without any complications due to people knowing and pointing fingers or making them 'gay' in the media. It would play havoc with so many aspects of his life – including Vaitiare not granting him the shared custody for their kid. They had managed to reach a level of maybe-friendship and agreed on raising their daughter together as much as possible and he had no intention of giving Vaitiare any reason to deny him his right to be a father.

So the rules made sense.

Yet, sometimes he couldn't resist pushing the boundaries a bit.

Rick sighed and shook his head. “You know me, I'm all for playing things up and fooling around. But you need to know the time and place. Or one of these days you gonna burn your wings, buddy.”

Quit the lecture. I know what I'm doing.” Michael grinned. “If one harmless peck'n'nibble gets you that excited again after what we just did, you must really like me a lot.”

Maybe I'm just a horny bastard,” Rick replied dryly.

Maybe you're smitten with me.” He liked playing the game, he couldn't help it. Rick played along so well.

Rick slapped the Casio G Shock he wore as Jack O'Neill on his wrist. “You're right. I like you a lot. And I don't want us to stop doing this. So, be careful.”

Apparently it was game-over for today.

You know I wouldn't do anything to get us in trouble,” Michael said, sobering quickly.

Rick's glare lingered, then faded into a weary look. “I know. I'm just saying. And while we're at it... you been out drinking with Chris again. Can't have you coming on set every morning looking like Daniel just died... again.”

Now, that immediately raised Michael's hackles. “Hey! Speaking of crossing boundaries? Unless you have any professional reasons to nag... if you think I'm not doing my job...”

Whoa! I never said that. You're doing an excellent...”

... you got any complaints from anyone? If you did, I'm willing to listen. Otherwise, my drinking habits are entirely my concern and none of your business. So, stop with the patronizing stuff or you won't see me for a while,” Michael returned sharply.

He grabbed Rick's ball cap and slapped it onto his lover's head, then adjusted it until it fit.

Rick picked up the glasses, unfolded them and placed them on Michael's nose. Then he reached out and straightened the lapel of his BDU jacket. “Just… Keep it down a bit, okay? You need sleep every once in a while.”

You ever tell Chris that?” Michael slapped Rick's hands away and pulled the glasses off again. Jan would want to redo his makeup anyway.

Hate to break it to ya, but Chris rarely looks hungover,” Rick said with a shrug.

Fuck you.” Michael shouldered him out of the way. “Don't forget to close the door behind you. And I won't be available for the rest of the week.”

Gotcha,” Rick replied lightly and Michael left, fuming.

He walked to the make-up trailer in the pouring rain, which meant he not only had to have his makeup redone but also needed to put on dry fatigues. When he entered, he was grateful to see that someone had already left fresh BDUs at their make-up booths so he didn't have to run to the wardrobe trailer on top of it all.

Jan was busy touching up Amanda and they all exchanged a bit of ranting over the weather. Michael had just re-dressed and sat down in the chair at his makeup table when Rick barged in, all smiles and a, “Hello, Campers, ain't the weather lovely?” on his lips. He was carrying two large foam mugs and a bag was wedged under his left arm.

Mister Positive has entered the building,” Amanda grumbled.

Someone has to be. Besides, the rain just stopped and the sun's peeking out. Coffee?” He placed one of the mugs in front of Amanda, who immediately perked up and gave him a big smile.

Thanks.”

Rick parked his butt on Michael's table, shoving hair spray bottles and make-up tubes aside, and held out the other coffee to him. “Latte, two sugars, two shots espresso.” Then he threw the bag into his lap. “Muffin, blueberry. Heard you missed lunch.”

Michael took the mug, sniffed and sipped. “Yeah. Had to be on the phone with Vaitiare. Thanks.”

Unseen by Amanda and Jan who were still busy in the next booth, Rick made puppy dog eyes, batted his lashes and mouthed the words, 'I'm sorry'

Michael shook his head. 'No, you're not.'

Rick cocked his head and gave him a crestfallen look, pouty lips and all.

Michael rolled his eyes and made a 'Maybe' gesture with his hand. He couldn't keep the grin off his face, though. Rick looking like a five year old trying to get back into Santa's good book always made him laugh.

He unwrapped the muffin and took a bite.

Apparently that was all the absolution Rick needed. He stood, clapped his shoulder and said, “Enjoy your coffee, kids. I'll see you in five.”

Wait! Your make-up!” Jan hollered after him, but it was too late.

...Michael blinked and rubbed a hand over his face when the weight of a warm body spooning up to him woke him from his doze. He'd done a bit of time traveling here and almost drifted off to sleep. Back in the here and now of 2014 he lazily mused on how young he'd been. So full of energy. Kind of a hothead, too. At the beginning of everything, reaching for a sky full of stars.

He'd had always sense enough to never 'burn his wings' but he'd gotten close once or twice. Too much booze, too much partying, questionable career choices based on personal feelings... everyone had a right to make their own mistakes. You just had to know how to cover your own six and get back on track in time – and to value the things that really mattered. He had learned that from the best.

Rick plastered himself against Michael's back and wrapped one arm around him. “You're cold.”

“Mmmmm, you're supposed to warm me,” Michael slurred, relaxing into the scent and the familiar snugness that were Rick’s hugs.

A leg was hooked over Michael's and the arm tightened around him. Rick was always warm, always radiating heat. Even back then he had never seemed to be cold. Michael remembered Rick running around in just his t-shirt when everyone else had bundled up against early morning chilliness or gusty winds on outdoor locations.

“You shouldn't have come,” Rick whispered. Michael could feel soft lips moving against his neck.

“You invited me in,” he murmured. He didn't want to have this conversation – again. He was too relaxed and too tired to start an argument.

“I was soooo over you,” Rick said on a sigh. “No idea what I was thinking daring you to make a move. Was sure you wouldn't bite.” Light kisses were dropped to his shoulder and neck, Rick's nose nuzzled his hair and a hand settled on his abdomen, rubbing and caressing in lazy circles. “I'm sorry.”

“For?”

“For being selfish. Because I'm glad you're here.”

Michael shook his head. There wasn't anything to be sorry for. “Me too.”

After a stretch of silence Rick asked, “You going to sleep?”

“Maybe for a while.” Sleep was already pulling at the corners of his mind and his body fit so perfectly into the mold of Rick's warm chest, belly and groin.

Like it belongs there, Michael thought drowsily and then pushed the thought away with some effort. He belonged to Lexa, no one else. And yet... He was used to being the one holding Lexa because – even fit and always in peak form - she was small and delicate due to her Filipino heritage. Oh, Lexa was a tough woman in every sense of the way, but he couldn't deny the fact that he enjoyed being held by someone who equaled him in size and physical strength. It was nice for a change.

You shouldn't start comparing Lexa to Rick. They were so totally unrelated to each other. Lexa was his home, his love, his life. Rick was... well, Rick was Rick. A whole different animal.

Rick was right. He shouldn't have taken the bait. He should have gone and jerked off in the solitary of his own bed. Only Lexa had nailed it when she assumed he'd been playing more often with himself and Bob these days. Since Calgary to be specific. And he remembered clearly now that he'd had a more intense relationship with that dildo for a while after Comic Con in 2008 as well. It had mellowed down again back then. But it hadn't gone away after Calgary.

The need.

Giving in to this meant he got the real thing for one night and would be able to feed off the refreshed memories of what it was like to be with Rick for a very long time to come. He could go home and keep the need at bay again. Because he’d had this. Not all the way, but close... And he'd be good with it.

Lexa must have known that. She was a damn smart woman. And as Michael drifted off to sleep, tucked away in the cocoon of Rick's arms, he thought he'd never been more sure about his love for her and the strength of their relationship.

Chapter Text

IV

He woke in a moment of disorientation and the urgent need to pee. He rolled on his back and rubbed sleep from his eyes. When he realized where he was, he also noticed the lack of Richard in the bed. But the empty space beside him was still warm.

Michael yawned and crawled out from under the cozy duvet. He was hit by the chilliness immediately and groaned, wondering how Rick's kid dealt with having to live in an icebox. California was hot most of the year. Rick's air conditioning was probably put to 40 degrees or something all the damn time.

He was focused on relieving himself quickly and didn't notice a new day was dawning until he returned from the bathroom. Rick stood at the large floor-to-ceiling window in the living room, holding a cup of coffee as he watched the sunrise over the distant skyline of the city.

Michael noticed it was considerably warmer in here than the bedroom.

Rick raised his cup in a silent greeting and Michael's ears picked up the splutter and rattle of a coffee maker. He let his eyes stray across the room and spotted it on the desk. White china, a can of cream and small bags of sugar sat on a small tray beside it. He sauntered over and filled one of the cups, added cream and sugar and stirred with one of the silver spoons.

Carefully blowing over the hot beverage, Michael returned to stand beside Rick. Two naked men gazing out a hotel window in companionable silence.

No awkwardness.

Michael took a sip and felt his mouth twitch into a smile.

He saw Rick raise his left eyebrow in the reflection on the glass. “What?”

“Nothing. Just... there are a couple of thousand people in this hotel. How many of them do you think would give their soul to know you and I spent the night together?”

“Like that guy who asked about affairs last night?” Rick snorted.

“We should thank him. If his question actually pushed you into action,” Michael mused.

Rick didn't reply and so they finished their coffee while the sun crept a little higher into the sky. Finally Michael couldn't draw this out any longer. He placed his cup on the coffee table by the couch and stretched. “I'll grab a shower before I leave.”

“Been thinking about calling you since Calgary,” Rick said out of the blue, eyes still fixed on the skyline.

“You... you were?”

“Yeah. Listen...” Rick turned to face him, a lopsided grin on his face. “I know I kind of cheated last night and didn't give you what you really wanted.”

“That's okay. I had fun,” Michael said lightly. And he had. Even now he felt the arousal slowly returning just thinking back to last night. Except he had wanted to go the whole nine yards. For the first time in years he'd had the opportunity to get laid with a guy and it hadn't happened the way he'd been imagining it since he'd entered this room last night. Sure, he loved Rick's fingers, had savored every moment of feeling them inside him. Hell, Rick's hands were a wealth of creativity and bliss. Yet...

Rick put his cup down on the wide, bulky armrest of the leather couch and was suddenly right there in Michael's personal space, hands tenderly framing his head, thumbs tracing his eyebrows and the outlines of his face. “Let me make it up to you.”

“Tonight?” Michael blurted out, unable to focus on anything but those bottomless brown eyes right in front of him.

“Yeah.” One thumb brushed over his mouth, lingering on Michael's bottom lip for a moment.

“If we’re doing this... we only have this one night left,” Michael replied.

“I know. And there's something else.”

Rick pressed warm, dry lips to his and Michael let out a content sigh. “Mhh?”

“Do you trust me?” Rick pulled back and their eyes met.

“Sure.”

“I haven't been with anyone in years. And I've seen enough doctors and done enough testing for all kinds of crap over the last ten years to tell you, with a clear conscience, there's nothing to worry about.”

“I promised Lexa to keep it safe and clean,” he said quietly.

“I am as safe and clean as it can get.”

“Rick...”

“Michael.”

“Rick.”

“Michael?”

“R...” He stepped away, rolling his eyes. “I can't believe we're doing this.”

Richard gave him a crooked grin. “Old habits and all those clichés...”

“At least we still remember our real names,” Michael muttered, pulling a face.

“Yeah... Look, I'm sorry. Just forget it. Condoms it is,” Rick steered the conversation back on topic.

Michael nodded, but his mouth had other ideas. “You'd be taking the same risk. I could have cheated on my wife for all you know.”

“You could be lying to me right now when you're saying she knows we're doing... what we're doing,” Rick agreed.

“I could be.”

“But you're not. I've met her and I saw you together. You'd never do anything to hurt her,” Rick said softly. “Besides, she's a real gem. You'd be a fool to cheat on her.”

“Says the guy who told me she was nothing but a cover up and I'm a fool for hiding behind a woman.” It was out before Michael could stop himself. Years ago when those words had been slapped into his face he had lost his cool and almost punched Rick's lights out. After all this time and because they had mended the fences long ago, the issue didn't raise his temper any longer and he hadn't intended for to rear its ugly head again.

However, he wasn't going to say 'sorry' either.

Rick winced visibly. “Ouch.”

“I never got your point seeing that you did exactly that back then. You and Apryl were never going for happily ever after. It was all fake,” Michael said, driven by either curiosity or insanity – he wasn't sure.

“I’m not discussing that. And it didn’t work out as you know,” Rick countered, a sudden sharp edge to his voice.

“Doesn't mean you had any right needling me about my wife.”

“Oh, come on, she wasn't even your wife back then,” Rick spat. “You were just dating.”

“And you were doing what? Protecting me? Or were you just pissed because I was actually able to make my relationship work?” Again, the words were out before he could swallow them. He had the strange feeling of standing next to himself, watching a train wreck.

“Oh, yeah?! Wasn't me who left the show because of,” Rick made air quotations, “'artistically disagreements with some of the writers'. You made your relationship work back then because you cut your ties and ran.”

What? Michael felt his jaw drop and quickly closed his mouth, only to erupt two seconds later. “It WAS one of the reasons why I left. But I never told YOU I was only leaving because of fucking artistic disagreements. Besides, you said it was for the best!”

“Well, it was!”

“Good! Stop being a dick!”

Rick threw up his hands. “Fine!”

“Fine!” Michael threw up his own hands. “Are you done?!”

“What? Where's the damn problem anyway!”

Michael blinked. “I... I don't know!” There was no point. They had made peace with all of this a long time ago.

Or so he’d thought.

They glared at one another, two naked men in a hotel room, and if that wasn't bad enough, the adrenaline rush of their argument had gone straight to Michael's dick. He dropped his gaze to Rick's and couldn't help but smirk.

Irritated, Rick barked, “What!”

“You're still happy to see me.”

“Yelling at you gets me hard, you know that,” Rick growled. “And as far as I know that's pretty mutual.”

“Boundaries,” Michael said thoughtfully.

“What?”

“Most of our arguments, our issues, used to be about boundaries. We made them up, we broke them, we yelled at each other...”

“...we had sex,” Rick finished the thought. “That's a pattern if there ever was one.”

Michael nodded. “Yeah. Of course we had a lot of sex when we weren't fighting, sooo...”

“Mutual attraction.”

“Simple and fun?”

“Not all the time, but... the overall tone...” Rick closed in again, reaching down, and Michael felt his breath hitch as he was taken in hand and fondled.

“You're changing the subject... whatever that was...”

“Go with the flow? As you just pointed out we only have one night left,” Rick whispered.

Quickly Michael's fingers found Rick's straining erection and they settled into a leisurely but steady rhythm, their joined speeding breaths the only sound in the room, their moving hands on each other the only thing that mattered.

“Tonight... what do you want?” Rick moaned finally, staggering slightly in his knees.

“I want you to... fuck me,” Michael panted, trying to sound like he wasn't overly excited. “At least once. Your... back a...and knees up for that?”

“I can be h...ere 'round 20:00 without raising any suspicion. I'll text you if...”

“...there's a change of plan.”

“Ye...ah...”

Michael gasped. “Shower.”

“Oh, yeah, c'mon.”

They tried not to let go, but it was nearly impossible to lead each other by their cocks so they finally just hurried into the bathroom and finished what they had started and then spent some quality time soaping each other up and getting clean.

Michael Shanks left Richard Dean Anderson's room at 6:30 on Saturday morning.

At 7:30 he walked into the hotel's restaurant and found Rick, Amanda and Paul chatting over breakfast. He kissed Amanda on the cheek, clapped shoulders with Paul and asked Rick if he'd slept well.

“You do know I'm insomniac, right?” Rick asked with a smirk.

“But you look well rested,” Paul observed.

“Yeah, well, I might have slept an hour here and there.”

Michael rolled his eyes. “Insomniac my ass. I bet you slept like a baby and just can't remember.” Then he went to get scrambled eggs and toast.

“Get me some of that oatmeal while you're at it,” Rick called after him. “I'm kinda starved.”

 

TBC with "Window of Opportunity"