An Honor and a Privilege

Author: Orrymain
Author Email:  marciastudley1@comcast.net  (Feedback welcome)
Author Website:  http://orrymain.com
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  8 - August 6 - September 30, 2005
Spoilers:  It's Good to be King
Size:  46kb
Written:  March 23-27,29, April 4,6,30, May 29, 2005  Revised for consistency:  March 17-18, 2007
Summary:  Jack moves on, and Daniel gets a long overdue surprise!
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s), “New Rules” and “My General”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  QuinGem, Tamara, Claudia, Allexandrya, Linda!

An Honor and a Privilege
by Orrymain

Jack closed the report he'd been reading.  He stared at the SGC logo, then looked at the flags in his office.  Nervously, he tapped his pen on his desk for a few seconds before looking at his watch.  He got up and walked out of the office.

“Walter, what time is it?  I think my watch has stopped,” Jack stated as he approached the sergeant.

Davis answered wryly, “It's ten minutes later than the last time you asked, General.”

“Ten minutes?  That's all?”  Jack paused and then remarked, “Seems longer.”

“I'll let you know, Sir,” Davis responded.

Jack hadn't even asked the question, but SG-1 was overdue.  Whenever that happened, the base unofficially went on what was now called 'Grizzly Alert' because when SG-1 was overdue, Jack turned into a grizzly bear.

Returning to his desk, Jack's mind raced as he thought, ~This is wrong.  I hate this.  Who cares if Doctor Lee turns Level 23 into a peanut gallery?  Let him.  I should be out there with my team.  *My* team.~

“General, these are the latest re...por...”  Walter Davis stared at his boss and decided absence was the better part of valor for the moment.  “Never mind.”

Jack sighed and checked his watch one more time.

====

Daniel was trying to soothe the grizzly bear, explaining, “Jack, the radios didn't work there.  Sam thinks it was something in their protective shield.”

“We should have known that before you went through the Gate,” the general growled, still looking and sounding like a dangerous animal.

“I agree, but we didn't,” Daniel said flatly.  “The MALP transmitted just fine.  It's the frequency we use that's the problem.”

“I don't like it,” Jack mumbled, sitting down behind his desk.

SG-1 had returned safely, two hours later than scheduled.  They had been invited to a tribal ceremony which Daniel had informed Sam they needed to attend.  Had they left on schedule, they would have been looked upon as enemies and possibly hunted down by the locals.  Though Sam had tried to contact the SGC at various intervals in the hopes the SGC had engaged the Stargate, their radios didn't work on the planet except at very short range.

Jack was not pleased.  The SGC had opened the Gate and left it open twice, once for its entire capacity of thirty-eight minutes, but there had not been any transmissions from the flagship team.  It hadn't been until SG-1 returned that Sam had diagnosed the problem for sure.

“Jack, everything's fine.  Everyone is fine,” Daniel reassured his lover.

“I'm glad to hear it.”

~Gawd, what's wrong with you?~ Daniel wondered in frustration.  “I'll see you later; I need to do my report,” he explained.

Jack snorted, “Yeah, what would we do without reports?”  ~I know what I'd like to do with them!~

**I love you, Jack.**

The Air Force brigadier general looked up and smiled.  Those were the first words, spoken or unspoken, that had brightened his otherwise dismal day.

**I love you, too, Space Monkey.**

====

That night, Daniel walked into the study where his lover was supposed to be researching storage sheds, since they had been talking about getting a new one.  Instead, Jack was staring blankly at the screen.

~That'll help us choose ... not,~ Daniel chuckled silently.  He could tell Jack hadn't done any research because the computer screen was still on the welcome message.  Sighing lightly, he rubbed his lover's shoulders and bent over to kiss the top of Jack's head.  “What's wrong, Babe?”

Jack let out a long sigh before answering, “Danny, being a general has its perks.  Great parking space, the pay is wonderful, and I like the power, but I don't like the paperwork.  Dealing with paper clips, runaway experiments, and politicians isn't my idea of fun, either.  What's worse is that I don't get to go off-world as often as I had hoped.  I miss that.  Sure, I go sometimes, but it's not enough, especially since most of time it's some ridiculous meet and greet, diplomatic thing.  I want to ...

“Get shot at,” Daniel mused as lightheartedly as he could.

“I want to be out there,” Jack spoke, an airy quality to his voice as he thought about first recons and exploration.  ~How I miss that.~

“It was Maybourne,” the younger man surmised, referring the SG-1's recent mission to extract Harry Maybourne from the planet where the Tok'ra had dropped him off the last time he had been exiled.  In the process, some technology had been found that required the Ancient's gene which Jack possessed, so he had been asked to join the flagship team on the planet.  With the Goa'uld about to move in, things had gotten hairy.  “You were in your element again.”

“Danny, that was, it was, geez, it was fun!  I'm going on all these diplomatic gigs, but that was ...”

“Dangerous, exciting, and you got to play with your toys,” Daniel mused about Jack's P-90 and other weapons.

“It got my blood pumping,” Jack stated excitedly, then he sighed deeply.  “Watching you go through alone, without me, isn't easy, either, Danny.”

“Aren't you happy?” Daniel asked as his fingers continued to massage his lover's neck.

“As a clam, with you,” the older man answered without missing a beat and with a happy expression on his face.

“And at the Mountain?”

Jack's expression faded, and his answer came more slowly when he said, “Danny, I just don't know anymore.  It has its moments, but I miss being a part of my team.”

“So ... quit.”

Jack spun around in his chair, careful not to bump into Daniel, who had immediately taken a step back and put his hands in his pockets.

“Do you mean that?”

Daniel sighed, “I'd ... I'd rather we stay a while longer, but if you really feel this way, then ... Jack, I don't want you to be miserable.”

Jack took a deep breath as he studied his Love, then asked, “You'd really quit for me?”

Firmly, the archaeologist reminded, “Jack, I told you that the next time you really wanted out, we'd do it.  I'm going to keep that promise.”

~You would, too.  I see it in your eyes, but you're not ready, and I love you too much to put you in a position where you have to give it up.~  Jack made a little noise and shook his head.  “No, I'll stick it out.  It's not so bad.  Do you think you can talk to that idiot Lee, though, and have him get clearance before he sticks flypaper all around the exercise room?”

“What are you talking about?”

Jack elaborated, “Lee got some flypaper-type stuff that SG-13 brought back from PR2-990.  It's supposed to be super strong.”

“Oh, yes.  I read a preliminary report on that, but I haven't had time to look at it in detail,” Daniel responded as he thought back over the report.

“Lee wanted to see how strong it was.  Danny, we can't get it off the equipment.  Taylor is still in the infirmary with the Doc trying to figure out how to remove it from his hand without taking off the skin.”

“Ouch.”

“Ask him to tone it down, Danny.  He's worse than Harlan,” Jack opined.

Daniel chuckled, and then the lovers kissed.

====

Several weeks later, Jack and Daniel entertained a very special guest in their home:  General Hammond.

“It's darn exciting, Jack, and it's coming along nicely.  We've made great strides in protecting the planet.”

“That's good to know, Sir.  Would you like some more beans?” Jack inquired.

Hammond laughed, “Only you could follow up a discussion about home world security with beans.”

“Hot dogs?” Jack asked, even though the only hot dogs ready to eat were cold and in the refrigerator.

“Jack!” Daniel chastised, shaking his head.

The two had invited their friend over for a casual dinner.  As they dined, Daniel was facing the backyard with Jack on his left and Hammond on his right.  Jack had burned, or barbecued, depending upon one's definition, steaks.

As he chuckled, Hammond asked, “And how are things on the Mountain, Jack?  Walter tells me you haven't changed all that much.”

“I hope not.  You know, General, when you came back before that mission to the Pegasus Galaxy, I was really hoping you wanted more than the chair back.”

“I knew that,” Hammond admitted.  “You're doing a fabulous job, General,” he said, his tone and expression emphasizing his confidence in Jack O'Neill.

“Walter's grapevine?”

Hammond chuckled jovially and responded, “It pays to have contacts.”

Jack sighed and then took a sip of his beer before confessing, “The truth is, General, that I'm just not cut out for this gig.  It's nice, but I'm about to kill Doctor Lee.”

“He's a good man, Jack.”

“He's a walking disaster,” Jack insisted.

“You've never let him off the hook for Honduras,” Daniel stated quietly.

“He spilled, Danny, and he almost got you killed,” Jack accused.

“He's not used to that life, Jack,” the archaeologist rationalized.

“Daniel, he'd been off-world before.”

“Yes, but he'd never been captured and tortured.  Give him a break, Jack,” Daniel pleaded.

“Tell that to Taylor,” Jack responded sternly.

Daniel replied, “Janet said he'll be fine.”

“Grant Taylor?  What happened?” Hammond asked curiously.

Jack filled Hammond in on what had transpired, including the painful outcome.  They'd had to use a solvent to get the alien flypaper off his hand, but the skin had been burned, and a skin graft had been necessary.

“I'm sure Doctor Lee feels bad about it, Jack,” Daniel said, trying to defend his colleague.

Conversation switched to other topics for a while, including Jack and Daniel's recent trip to Disneyland, a place they went to for at least one weekend every year or two, if not more.  Hammond smiled as he listened to a couple of their adventures at the Magic Kingdom.

The three-star general was walking a fine line, being one of a few who knew the truth about Jack and Daniel.  Though Hammond hadn't been at their wedding, they had finally confided in him during a get-together at their home a few months later when they had friends over for a barbecue.  At that time, the couple had made the conscious decision not to hide their relationship within the confines of their home.  They'd hoped their friends would understand; fortunately, they all had.

Dinner finished, the three moved to the living room.  As almost always happened, Hammond ended up sitting in Jack's favorite chair.  Jack and Daniel sat on the sofa, though not closely together.  Jack held a beer in his hand, and Daniel was working his way through a bowl of snack mix.  Hammond also had a beer, currently sitting on a coaster on the table next to the chair.

“So you really like it, being the big cheese of Home World Security?” Jack asked.

“Of course, I do.”  There was some enthusiasm missing in Hammond's response.  Seeing Daniel's raised eyebrow, he began outlining the perks of his job.  “Of course, I enjoy it.  I get to do a lot of traveling, meet  a lot of people, and naturally, the chance to do something so important doesn't come along every day.”  He saw Jack's nod.  “And at the end of the day, Jack, you like being in charge of the SGC.”

It wasn't a question, and Jack went along, saying, “Yeah.  Yeah.  Of course,” though the tone of his voice belied his words

“I do have to admit I miss the lazy days by the lake at my house.  I just don't get to do that very much,” Hammond lamented.

“I hate the diplomacy.  Let's face it.  I'm not exactly the best negotiator in the Air Force.”

“Best antagonist, though,” Daniel chuckled.

“I'm not ready to retire, but it sure would be nice to not have to be on the go so much.  Washington's a bit too straight-laced, even for this old goat,” Hammond stated and then took a drink.

“I don't want to retire yet, either, but I have to admit, Sir, it would be nice to get off-world again.  I miss getting shot at.”

“Jack!”

After taking a swig of his drink, Jack laughed, “Yeah, I miss that,” a smile on his face as he remembered past missions.

Silence filled the room until finally Daniel put down the bowl of snack mix.

“I realize this may be an obvious statement, and I know the military loves to keep things as complicated as they can, but, uh, General Hammond, why don't you come back?”

“And do what, Daniel?”

“Lead the SGC.”  Daniel saw Hammond's confused stare and explained his comment.  “Look, Jack isn't happy.  It's not a matter of his ability to run the SGC. He's darn good at what he does, but I've watched him slide further and further into ... acceptance.”  He looked at Jack.  “He's a man of action, not ... paper clips.”

Jack smiled at his husband, and then he looked at Hammond, his expression almost pleading as he confirmed, “Come on, General.  You know me and paperwork, not to mention me and scientists, present company excluded, of course, and me and diplomacy. I want to be part of SG-1 again, but I can't leave the SGC in the hands of some Bauer-like idiot.  I need you.  I need you to do what you do best so I can do what I do best.”

“Make me go bald?” Hammond joked.

Jack laughed and added “Why not?  I turned gray because of Daniel.”

“Jack!”

“No lie, Danny, and you know it!”

After the chuckling subsided, Hammond asked, “Are you sure?”

Hammond looked at the brigadier general who currently held the CO position of the SGC.  In his opinion, Jack had been long overdue for that promotion, and he didn't want his friend to step aside unless it was what Jack really wanted.

Jack's heart was beating a little faster.  He'd had no idea this was possible, that he could go back to doing what he really loved.  When he answered the question, his words were spoken with a steady and calm demeanor.

“Man to man, I'm very sure.  What about you?” Jack asked.

Hammond's smile built slowly, then he nodded and said, “I'll make the call.”  He stood, as did Jack and Daniel.  “Jack, one thing I'm not sure about ...”

“They can have the star, General.  I'm partial to my wings,” Jack said, sincerely not caring or not.  ~No more paperwork -- yes!~

“No!” Daniel stated, his tone harsh and definitive.  “Sir, no disrespect, but Jack earned that star, and he's been one freakin' good general.  They are not taking that away from him.”

“Danny, it's ...”

“Be quiet, Jack.”

Jack was astounded at how firm his lover sounded; Daniel didn't even like the military, but then he came to a realization.  It had nothing to do with the Air Force, but it had everything to do with pride, and Daniel was full of it -- for Jack.

Daniel looked at Hammond and spoke as firmly as Hammond had ever heard him speak when he said, “He keeps his rank; they are *not* taking that away from him.”

Hammond nodded, then responded calmly, “I don't think that'll be a problem, Son. There are plenty of generals on the front lines.”

“We'll leave you alone to make the call,” Jack suggested, starting to lead Daniel out of the room.

“Not necessary, Jack.  You two sit down.”

Hammond started to dial the number, but then Daniel called out, “Sir, wait.”

“Danny?” Jack asked, surprised his lover had delayed the call.

“We need to talk about one thing.”  Daniel saw two pairs of eyes staring at him, both clueless about his apparent concern.  “Sam.”

“Crap,” Jack expressed, realizing they'd forgotten to even consider the lieutenant colonel's situation.

“Jack!”

“No, I meant ... I understand, Danny.  She's in command of SG-1.”

“Jack, Daniel, I know Colonel Carter's a fine officer, and she's been a fine leader of the flagship team, but I don't think she'd argue about this.”

“She might not,” Daniel said, adding, “but I just think she's earned our respect, and we owe her a chance to ...”

Jack sighed, “I could command another team.”

“Leave Sam with SG-1 and Teal'c?” Daniel questioned, not liking the sound of that.  ~I guess if we have to, but ...~

Hammond interjected confidently, “Gentlemen, I don't really think this is going to be a problem, but if it is, we'll deal with it later.  Agreed?”

Seeing the nods of agreement, Hammond finally placed his call.

====

“Yes, Sir ... I think he'd be an excellent choice ... Of course; anything to help ... No, Sir, it's been a great opportunity ... We'll look forward to hearing from him ... Thank you, Mister President.”  Hammond disconnected the call and looked over at the anxious faces of Jack and Daniel.  “He understands, and he's agreed.”

“Yes!” Jack exclaimed, raising both of his hands to head-level, clenching them into a fist, and yanking them downward in an excited fashion.

“What about Jack's rank?  I mean, uh, I heard you mention it,” Daniel stated, determined to make sure his husband remained a general.

As he walked back to his chair, Hammond answered, “He agrees.  Jack is still my second-in-command, and the President would like for you to continue to do some special projects for him.  Your rank is secure.”

“And the parking space?” the brigadier general inquired jovially.

“Jack!”

Jack shrugged, a smug smile on his face.  For the first time in a year, he felt a peace descend on him that he hadn't even realized had been gone.  The sun was shining in full force now.

“When's the transfer?” Jack asked anxiously.  “I can be out of the office in,” he paused to look at his watch, “one hour.”

Hammond let go of a hearty chuckle, his entire body moving with the release.  He, too, felt lighter and happier than he had in a while.  He loved his current assignment, but as he searched his soul, he realized just how much he missed his SGC family and being at his home by the lake.

“In a few weeks.  I need to wrap up some projects and meet with my replacement.  We want an easy transition.”  Hammond leaned forward.  “Last shot, General.  You sure you want to give up Walter?”

Jack laughed, “General Hammond, Sir, he's going to be a very happy master sergeant.”

Hammond smiled as he replied, “He's enjoyed working with you.”

“He has?”

“You've been a challenge, Jack.”

Daniel chuckled.  As he looked at his husband, he saw a shine in those chocolate brown eyes that he loved.  He knew this was the best thing for everyone.

~Besides, I miss you not being there to cover my six.  I may even ... trip over something on our first mission, just for old times' sake.~

====

Almost three weeks later, Jack was in Washington, D.C. to meet with General Hammond.  The transition was scheduled to take place in two days, and, since the lieutenant general wouldn't be able to get back to Colorado Springs until the day of the change, Jack had gone to the nation's capital to review the Mountain's current status and to provide more detail about recent events.

Daniel, meanwhile, had been told to keep things quiet.  In fact, the entire change of command was being done on the QT.  Other than Daniel, only Walter Davis at the Mountain knew about it.  If people wondered about the happy grins of all three men, they didn't mention it.

Jack also wanted this to be a surprise for his old teammates, Sam and Teal'c, and he knew the base would be delighted to see Hammond retake control.  He wanted their reactions to be genuine.  Keeping a secret at Cheyenne Mountain was rarely easy, but he was determined.

Dressed appropriately in his dress blues, Jack tapped on Hammond's office door, and, after hearing the 'Come in', walked cheerfully into the office.

“Good morning ... Sir.  Mister President,” Jack greeted, surprised to see the Commander in Chief present.  ~I guess that explains Stone Face by the door,~ he thought, referring to the man standing outside Hammond's D.C. office.

“Good to see you again, Jack,” the President said as he stood and extended his hand outward.

As the men shook hands, Jack responded, “You, too, Sir.  I guess that's why it's a little crowded in the hallway.”

“Can't escape the stone faces,” the President joked.

“Maybe we could send a couple to Mount Rushmore,” Jack retorted.  ~Stone faces?  I do like this President, even if he did start off a bit chilly.~

“I like your style, Jack.”

“And I like yours,” Jack reciprocated as the President gave him a smirky smile.  “Uh, I can come back.”

“Actually, Jack, I'm glad you're here.  You don't mind, George, if I take care of some business for a moment,” Hayes asked.

“No, Sir.  Go right ahead,” Hammond said.

After everyone sat back down, the President continued, “Jack, you remember that discussion we had when you were promoted to brigadier.”

Jack nodded, noting, “It's *very* important to me, Sir, that we follow through with that.”

“It's arranged,” Hayes spoke, a smile emerging on his face as he saw Jack's expression.

Jack stared at Hayes, afraid his ears hadn't heard correctly, and questioned, “How?”

With a sigh, Hayes elaborated, “I'm afraid it can't be made public; there would be too many questions, but it will be on the unofficial official record, and hopefully, someday, we can let the world in on it.”

Jack nodded, then said softly, “Thank you, Sir.”

“Jack, I wish we could do more.”

“I do, too, but this is a start.”

Hayes responded, “You'll be hearing from someone with more details in a few days.”

“I look forward to it,” Jack replied.

====

At long last, today was Friday, and it wasn't just any old Friday.  This was the Friday when Jack's love, his heart and soul, would finally get the recognition due him.  Daniel didn't have a clue, and that was just how it was going to remain, even if Jack had to recite the Gettysburg Address a million times in order to keep his unsuspecting lover out of his brain and catching on to his very special surprise.

Jack smiled as he covertly stared at his husband.  They were in their bedroom, dressing for work.

“No, not that one,” Jack said, taking the old plaid shirt Daniel had pulled out and hanging it back in the closet.  He searched through the various shirts until he found the one he wanted.  He handed it to Daniel and said, “This one.”

“Jack, we're only going to the Mountain,” Daniel responded as he took hold of the shirt, still on its hanger.

“Yeah, but this is my last day as the head honcho, and I want you to look spiffy.”

“Spiffy?”  Daniel's eyes grew wide.  “Jack, no one is going to be looking at me.”

“And wear your navy blue tie,” the older man instructed.

“What?” the archaeologist asked.

“No arguments, Love,” Jack stated, smiling.

“I know what's going on.”

~Whoa!~  For a moment, Jack's heart stopped.  Could Daniel have found out?  He remained cool as he faced his Love.  “And what's that?”

“You want a distraction for when the general says how wonderful you are,” the younger man smirked.

Grinning, Jack praised, “You're sharp as a razor, Danny, and I love you.”  He slapped his lover lightly on the butt and then walked out of the room, saying, “Hurry; we don't want to be late.”

====

Assembled in the gate room were as many of the on-duty SGC personnel as would fit.  It was crowded, with only three teams being off-world and scuttlebutt saying that 'something big' would be happening.  Everyone wanted to be there.

As he looked down from the control room inconspicuously, Jack reviewed the layout, paying particular attention to a certain archaeologist.

~Perfect posture, blue eyes shining, shiny, silky hair I love, smooth hands, awesome six: beautiful; he's simply beautiful, especially in that blue suit.~

“It's time, General,” Davis announced.

“Let's go,” Jack said, leading the way out of the control room.

As they stood along the edge of the ramp, Sam whispered to Daniel, “Do you have any idea why we were ordered to dress up?”

“None.”

“How about why we're on the ramp again?” the blonde queried.

Daniel cocked his head to his left slightly and said, “Maybe you're being promoted again.”

“Daniel!” Sam exclaimed, surprised at the idea, but smiling at the possibility.

As Jack entered, Davis called the personnel to attention.  They walked to the ramp, then up past the SG-1 team members, to the podium.

“General Jack O'Neill,” Davis announced simply.

~Gawd, he's sexy,~ Daniel thought as he saw Jack dressed in the blues that always drove him wild with desire.

His hands on the edges of the podium, Jack began, “As you know, I'm a man of few words, so I'm going to keep this short.  It's been my honor, and sometimes even my pleasure, to serve as the commander of the SGC.  I hope that during my tenure I did something to live up to my predecessor, but it's time to move on.”

~Move on?~  Sam was stunned.  She stared at Jack, then at Daniel, who was expressionless at the moment.  ~What's going on?~

“But don't worry,” Jack continued.  “I'm not going far.  In fact, the only place I'm going is back to my office, my old office.  I'm stepping down as commander of the SGC to resume command of SG-1.”

The personnel weren't sure how to react.  Was Jack being demoted?  Is this good news they should cheer, or should they avoid Jack for the next year until things settled down?

Jack smiled, seeing their uncertainty, and assured, “No, I'm not in trouble.  This is something I asked for, and now, I want you to meet my replacement.  I think you'll all be as thrilled as I am.”

The doors opened, and in walked Hammond.  After a moment of stunned silence, the room broke out in applause and cheers.

“Lieutenant General George Hammond,” Jack announced, joining the personnel in applauding.

Jack shook Hammond's hand, and, with both men smiling, Hammond looked out at those assembled, who were still applauding.  He put out his hands and motioned for them to stop.

“Thank you.  It's good to be back,” the happy lieutenant general spoke.  The personnel relaxed and went to an 'at-ease' stance.  “Jack and I wanted this to be a surprise, and from everyone's faces, I'd say we succeeded.  General O'Neill, and, yes, he is still a general, and one held in very high regard by the commander of this great nation, and by me, is ordered to resume command of SG-1 effective immediately.”

After Hammond made a few other remarks and seeing the arrival of two black-suited men, one of whom nodded at him, he smiled and stood up a little straighter.

“We have one more piece of business to conduct this afternoon.  It's one I take great pleasure in being a part of.  Attention!”  Hammond's focus was straight ahead.  “Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States of America.”

Normally, Hammond wouldn't have been the one to introduce the President in that way, but this was a special occasion.  The group was stunned to silence.  All of the military members stood up straight, eyes forward, while the non-military personnel stood quietly, exchanging looks of shock and surprise.

Megan Williams, who was standing in the first row, in Daniel's view, mouthed, “What's going on?”

Daniel shrugged and shook his head.

The President greeted SG-1, shaking their hands, and then walked to the podium where he and Hammond exchanged private words for a moment.  He nodded at Sergeant Davis, who was on the other side of the ramp, and then Hayes put his hands on the podium and looked out at the personnel.

“Surprise!”  The word was spoken so jovially and with such a look of mischief, that chuckles were heard from the audience.  “First things first -- relax.  This is a special occasion; let's not stand on ceremony; well, at least, not too much.”

Smiles broke out on several faces as the military personnel again went to a relaxed or 'at-ease' posture.

“I have a very pleasant, and long overdue, task to perform today.  This is unusual.  I wish we could be in Washington, surrounded by media, scholars, and congressmen; I wish we could issue a press release, and I wish that when visitors came to our nation's capitol and they looked to see the names of distinguished Americans, they could see this name.”

Daniel glanced at Jack, who had an odd, almost smug, expression on his face.  He had just licked his lips slightly as he listened to the President's comments.

**Jack, what's going on?**

There wasn't a response, except for something that sounded like whistling, and, if Daniel had heard correctly, the whistle was to the tune of the Air Force theme song.  He stared, wondering what was going on, and yet, was still totally clueless.

“First, we need a bit of history to put this in context.  As World War II was coming to an end, President Harry Truman wanted to honor those who aided American interests overseas.  As with most things, how something began isn't how it ended up.  In 1963, one of my favorite Americans, a man whose journey on this Earth was far from complete when he left, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy gave new life to this honor.  He gave it a name that stands tall, that represents courage, truth, and freedom.”

Hayes glanced at Daniel, who simply stared back.  The archaeologist wondered what was being given away and to whom.

~I'll bet Teal'c is getting an award.  He's earned it.  He left his home and his family to help us.  He gave up everything.  Yeah, way to go, Jack, but you could have told me.~

President Hayes continued, “President Kennedy broadened the meaning of the honor to stand for 'especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interest of the United States, world peace or cultural or other significant public or private endeavors'.”  He smiled.  “I am, of course, talking about the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”

The room buzzed, and Megan smiled -- brightly.  She stood, watching Daniel.

~Holy cow, Daniel.  You don't know, do you?  Oh, wow!~

Hayes continued, “Each year,  we present this award to persons fulfilling this very precious and priceless criteria, and, Ladies and Gentlemen, I've been stingy, and I plan to *continue* to be stingy.  Unlike some of my predecessors, I do not believe we should be handing out this award right and left.  I have a great respect and admiration for this medal and what it represents, and I refuse to debase it.”

Hayes looked down, but not at notes.  He didn't need any.  He just wanted to give the personnel a chance to let his words seep in.  He wasn't anxious to rush this moment.

“Executive Order 11085, dated February 22, 1963: this is the reason I'm here today.  Over four-hundred medals have been awarded to men and women of varying backgrounds and distinctions; one more will be added to that list today. There is a man among us without whom none of us would be in this room.”

Daniel's breathing began to hitch slightly.  He was a modest man, but deep inside, he knew the truth.

The President spoke, “I was told that he walked into this Mountain, and in two minutes, solved a puzzle that fellow scientists hadn't been able to solve in two years.”

~Oh, gawd,~ Daniel thought, his eyes widening.

Sam's face was suddenly huge with a smile that threatened to tear off her skin; at least, that's how it felt.  She was military, but suddenly, she realized a tear had escaped from her eye.

“With his help, dedication, and devotion to this program, the SGC has grown to what it is today.  He's an archaeologist ...”

~Oh, gawd.~

“... and anthropologist ...”

Daniel warned himself, ~Don't pass out.  Oh, gawd.~

“And a linguist.  More than that, I'm told he's a diplomat, an ace negotiator, and one heck of a pain in the neck,” Hayes teased.

Chuckles were heard, and Daniel blinked.

“Actually, Sir,” Jack said, interrupting, “It's a pain in the mikta!”

The room broke out in laughter, and Sergeant Davis leaned over to translate for the President who also laughed.

“Gawd,” Daniel said quietly but disgustedly.  ~You are so dead, Jack.~

“This man has saved the lives of his teammates, citizens of other worlds, and sometimes, even the enemy.  I've been told he has a good heart, a caring heart, and even more than that, a heart that is sometimes too good for his own good. He's sacrificed himself, more than once, ready and willing to give his life for those working with him, and those on Earth who have never, and may never, hear his name.”

~That's my Danny,~ Jack thought with pride.  ~Heart of gold, and it's *all* mine.~

Hayes looked very serious as he continued, “And, unfortunately, no one may ever know his name, except for those of us privileged to have met him, and those of you, privileged to work with him.  This highest recognition must stay in this room.  I hope that one day, we can make it public, that the world will know that landing spaceships on Egyptian pyramids was not fantasy, but a reality, that the cross-pollination of cultures wasn't a fairytale, but one done with frequency, due to our enemy.  In the last year, when his name was first brought up by the leader of his team ...”

Daniel looked at Jack, trying so hard not to lose his composure.  He could feel his pulse racing, and now, he saw Jack swallowing hard, refusing to look at him.  Daniel knew why.  Now he understood the whistling, but he had to say it.

**I love you, Jack.**  He saw the momentary smile, but then the game face returned.  Daniel licked his lips as he continued to listen.  ~I don't believe this is happening.~

“Before we continue, General O'Neill has a few words he'd like to say,” Hayes stated, backing away slightly.

Daniel took a deep breath.  He knew how hard this was going to be for Jack.  Actually, focusing on Jack was helping his own breathing.  He really didn't want to think about what was happening.  Besides, he knew it was a dream.  It had to be!

“While I'm a man of few words, Doctor Jackson is a man of millions, and I think we've heard them all -- twice.”  More laughter and a scowl from his lover was Jack's response.  He gulped, then continued, “The thing is, Daniel's always right, most always anyway.  There are few people in this world that I respect, very few.”  He paused, bowing his head for a brief moment.  “There are even less that I admire.  Daniel Jackson is one of those people.  He has a strength that goes beyond what most of us would say was endurable.  He's a survivor, and he's a fighter.  He's also my friend, my best friend, and I'm proud to speak those words.  And, uh, I'm proud of him, of what he's accomplished against incredible odds.  I owe, we *all* owe, him a great deal.”  He looked over at his soulmate.  “Daniel, every day is an honor and a privilege; every day!”

Jack slowly backed away.  One more word, and he'd be retiring, especially since he knew that his husband understood that those words had a double meaning, ones that went way beyond being co-workers at the SGC.

**I love you, Jack.**

**I love you, Danny.**

President Hayes returned to the podium and addressed the SGC personnel, saying, “In a few weeks, I'll be publicly honoring six other Americans with this award.  Today, however, it is my honor, and my privilege, to present the Presidential Medal of Freedom, *with* distinction, to Doctor Daniel Jackson.”

~I am proud to be his friend.~  Thunderous applause broke out as Teal'c nudged his friend to move forward. Daniel looked at the Jaffa, who bowed his head, and said, “Indeed, it is about time.”

“Daniel,” Sam said, breaking protocol for a quick hug.

Daniel only glanced at Jack; to do more would have risked their future on Cheyenne Mountain.  He stopped, though, to shake General Hammond's hand and then stood at the podium, facing President Hayes.

Hayes took the medal and placed it over Daniel's head.  Daniel looked down at the medal as it hung around his neck.  He was dizzy from emotion.

The medal was in the form of a golden star with white enamel and a red enamel Pentagon behind it.  Taken from the United States' Coat of Arms, the center piece contained thirteen stars on a blue background with a golden ring.  Golden eagles with their wings spread stood between the arms of the star. The medal itself was attached to a blue ribbon with white edge stripes.  On the ribbon, to signify that the honor was 'with distinction' was a long silver American eagle with its wings spread.

“Congratulations, Doctor Jackson,” Hayes said, shaking hands with Daniel again.

“Thank you, Sir,” Daniel spoke softly, his voice barely audible.

Hayes pointed to the podium, extending his hand.  Daniel turned and looked into the faces of the people he worked with, some of them going back to the beginning of the program.  He was overcome with emotion.

**You can do it, Danny.  This is your moment.  You take it.**

Daniel looked at Jack and smiled.  He wondered how his husband knew that he was about to mumble a quick thank you and run, but now he couldn't.  Gathering strength from his Silver Fox, Daniel again faced the SGC personnel.

“I, uh, I ...”  A loud whistle drew Daniel's attention.  He laughed as he saw the smiling face of Lou Ferretti.  “Ferretti,” he chuckled.  “It's been a long time,” he said softly.  “I don't know what to say, but, uh, thank you.  I never imagined.”  He stopped and shook his head.  “When Catherine Langford recruited me to come and work on the Stargate, I was broke.  I'd lost everything, including my reputation. I was probably a little arrogant, too.”

“You were brilliant,” a familiar voice rang out.

Daniel looked around with urgency, finally finding the white-haired woman he knew was responsible for it.

“Catherine,” Daniel said, his eyes bright, yet moist as he spotted Catherine and her husband, Ernest Littlefield, in the crowd.  He smiled, then nodded, getting encouragement from her silent strength.  “But, uh, it's true.  I, uh, sort of walked in and figured out the translation, and then I lied.”

“Yeah, right,” Lou shouted out.

“I did.  Remember, I said I knew how to get us back, but I didn't.  I mean, I hoped I could find what I needed, and I got lucky, but ... well, I guess it doesn't matter now.  It, uh, took me a long time to realize that ... that, uh, all of you were ...”

“Daniel.”

It was a soft word: his name.  The archaeologist looked over at Sam.  She was unabashedly crying, a very unmilitary thing to do, but that was because this wasn't a military moment.

“For a long time, I didn't have a home.  I felt out of place, and I, gawd, I wanted to make a difference.  It, uh, took me until, well, just a couple of years ago that I knew I was home, that I did make a difference here.  I can't believe this,” Daniel said, taking a deep breath and looking down at the medal he was fidgeting with.

“You are an honorable man, DanielJackson.  This honor should have happened long ago, should it not?” Teal'c questioned.

“You're right, Teal'c,” General Hammond jumped in.

“Thank you, Sir, and you, too, Teal'c.”

“It's the truth, Doctor Jackson,” Megan called out.

The humble award recipient smiled at her and intoned, “Working with people like Megan and everyone in the department has been incredible.  I've learned so much from them, and, okay, I guess maybe I've learned something from the military, too.”

“Like how to duck,” Jack teased.

“Yeah,” Daniel agreed lightheartedly, looking off to the side.  “You're great, and, uh, this is for all of you.  Thank you so much.”  He turned to President Hayes and echoed his words, “Thank you so much.”

“My pleasure, Doctor Jackson.  I just wish it could be public,” Hayes stated.

“No, this, uh ... this is ... it's enough.  It means a lot.  Thank you.”

Moments later, the official ceremony ended.  Photos were taken, and Daniel was handed the official certificate and letter that accompanied the award.  He had it further explained to him that the honor was listed as classified, but was on the books.

During the reception that followed, Daniel received hugs and good wishes from everyone, and he especially enjoyed spending some time with Catherine and Ernest who had flown in just for the event.  The couple would be the only non-SGC personnel to be told of Daniel's honor.  No one left the reception early, everyone eager to share in the archaeologist's excitement.

The medal recipient waffled back and forth between joyous smiles and near-tears, fighting hard not to give in to those tears, twice losing the battle during conversations with Catherine and Sam.

Jack watched from the sidelines.  He would not allow anything to interfere with Daniel's moment, not even himself.

“Sir, this is quite a day,” Sam remarked as she stood next to her commanding officer.

“Tears, Carter?  I saw tears,” Jack observed.

“Yes, Sir, you did.”

Jack smiled and gave Sam a hug, thankful for her friendship and support.

“Carter, about SG-1 ...”

Sam smiled and said, “It's been an honor to lead the team, but, General, you've always been the real leader.”

“I've talked with Hammond.  If you want to lead another team, it's yours.  Just name the number,” Jack stated encouragingly.  ~Say 'no', though.  I want my team together.~

“Thank you, Sir, that means a great deal that you'd give me that option, but SG-1 is ... it's like home.  Do you know what I mean?”

“Completely,” Jack said, smiling.  ~I knew you'd say 'no'.~

“I look forward to our fir...next mission.”

“You're a peach, Carter,” Jack quipped with a smile.

Sam chuckled and went over to talk with General Hammond, leaving Jack once again grateful for her good friendship.

“Well, Jack, we got it done,” a voice said, stirring Jack from his thoughts of SG-1 and its once-again 2IC.

“Thank you, Sir,” Jack said, shaking hands with the President one last time on this day.

Hayes chuckled, “You've been a pain in the ... mikta, Jack, but I have a feeling I haven't heard the last of you.”

Jack gave the man an evil grin as he said, “Of course not, Sir.  I'm still here.”

Hayes nodded and left.  Eventually, the reception came to an end.  As the crowd thinned, Daniel walked to his husband.  They stood, staring at each other.

“I can't believe you did this,” the younger man finally spoke emotionally.

Quietly, Jack responded, “Danny, I didn't do a thing.  You did, beginning with opening the Gate, and *not* ending with destroying the Replicators.  *You* did this.  All I did was make sure President Hayes had the file.”

“Jack ...”

**Home,** Jack suggested.

**Home,** Daniel happily agreed.

====

The ride home had been fairly quiet, filled with nothing more than occasional innocent chit chat about the reception.  Jack had told Daniel about his conversation with Sam, which was welcome news to both of them.  The quiet and calm of the forty-minute drive ended, however, the moment they walked into the entranceway of their home.  In a lightening fast move, Daniel placed a kiss on Jack that made his toes tingle.

“Danny ...”

“Jack, not one word, not one.”

Daniel reeled in his lover.  Their foreplay had begun, and the burner fired.  Soon, they were in their bed, tangled together in an energetic weaving of their love.  It was long and full of not just passion, but glee and excitement.

====

The next morning, Jack awoke with a smile on his face and an archaeologist on his chest.  It was the perfect way to start a day.

“Hey, Beautiful.”

“J'ck?  Mmm ... Jack.”

Jack ran his hands through Daniel's hair, enjoying the sensation and touch.  Then he felt Daniel's lips on his chest.

“I love you, Angel.”

Slowly, Daniel's head rose up and asked, “Jack, was it a dream?”

“Take a look,” Jack answered, nodding over at the nightstand where, standing proudly in its case, was Daniel's medal.

“Real.  It was real,” Daniel spoke, his voice light and airy in awe.  He leaned over his husband and picked up the medal.  For a moment, he just stared at it.  Then he sat up, leaning against the headboard of their king-size bed.  ~It was real.~

Jack did the same, kissing Daniel's shoulder as he nuzzled in close.

“Did you see their faces, Jack?”

“The personnel?” the older man questioned.  After Daniel nodded, he answered, “I looked at their faces.”

“And?” Daniel prodded.

Smiling, Jack responded, “I think it's the first time I didn't see any doubt.  I mean, I saw ...”

“Respect?” the archaeologist asked.

Jack saw Daniel's somewhat surprised look and stated, “I know it hasn't been easy, Love.  I'm not saying every member of every team is on board, but that's society.  Nothing is ever one-hundred percent, but in that room, those people who were there, they know you, and like you or not, they respect what you've done.”

Daniel's right hand traced the medal, his finger outlining the star, and admitted, “It means so much.”

“Danny, do you understand that the world owes you, that you've touched people's lives, and they don't even know it?”

“I've made a difference, a big difference,” Daniel said, though it was a bit tentative.

“Yes, you have.  Now say it with a little more conviction,” the general ordered.

Daniel smiled and said, “I've made a big difference, and so have you.  I'm nothing without you, Jack.”

Jack took the medal and carefully placed it on the nightstand.  Then he kissed Daniel's belly button, eliciting laughter from his lover.  The two slithered down under the covers.

“Doctor Jackson?”

“Yes, General O'Neill?”

“It's going to be my honor and privilege to kiss you senseless,” Jack mused with seductive sincerity.

“Just, uh, kiss?”  Daniel's eyes grew wide and his head shot back as he received the answer he wanted.  “Gawd, Jack!”

Daniel had gotten his medal, a sign of the respect that he still desired; and Jack got his prize:  a happy, euphoric, and blissful archaeologist.  What more could a brigadier general ever want?

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
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