Category: Pre-Slash, Drama
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: 1 – February 16, 1997
Size: 83kb, ficlet
Written: October 24-28, 2020
Summary: Daniel takes in the uniqueness of Jack’s home and feels something special about it, perhaps making him comfortable enough to share a story from his past.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
Daniel raised his hands, putting one on each of his shoulders and rubbing to warm himself. There was a bit of breeze coming from the southeast of the Colorado Springs home where he was staying. The home belonged to the team leader of SG-1, Jack O’Neill. It was a small place Jack purchased after returning from Abydos the first time and learning that his wife, Sara, had left him. The location and style of the home gave Jack what he desired most: privacy.
As the afternoon was ebbing into evening, the wind speed increased just slightly, but the day was calm and free of any gusts. The temperature failed to reach the sixty degree mark and now was falling towards the high forties. Dressed in a plaid shirt and jeans, Daniel, who was more acclimated to hot climates such as those found in Egypt and on Abydos from which he returned only a few days ago after living there for approximately one earth year, felt the chill rip through him. Still, he couldn’t take his eyes off the home.
~It says country to me. Logs; wood; simplicity. I don’t really understand this, but I like this place. I like it a lot. I wonder why Jack bought it.~
Suddenly, Daniel was shot from his private thoughts by a shout. It came from the patio door, now open, where Jack was standing, one hand on the handle of the sliding glass door handle and the other raised slightly while holding a spatula. The Air Force colonel was wearing a gray pullover sweater with a tiny plane embossed over the left breast and old, faded jeans.
“Danny, how do you like your burgers?” was the query posed by Jack to his teammate and house guest.
“Daniel,” came the rote response from the archaeologist, who was barely cognizant of being pulled away from his thoughts when he made the correction. ~My name is Daniel. I wish he’d stop calling me that other name.~
“Whatever,” Jack responded. “How do you like your burgers?”
Since returning from Abydos on Tuesday, dinner for the two men varied. One night Jack made spaghetti with meatballs. On another, Daniel prepared a beef stew. Last night they had pizza, a large supreme with extra everything. Tonight would be burgers, if Jack could ever get an answer from the shaggy-haired scientist about his cooking preference.
“Uh, it … it doesn’t matter.”
“Daniel, it’s a simple question. Well done? Medium Well? Rare? Raw?” Jack snapped.
Daniel shifted slightly. His hands no longer attempted to warm his body. Instead, he now essentially held himself, as if comforting his soul from some hidden darkness or secret. He bowed his head, wishing he could hide.
“Cooked, bu...but …” Daniel, who was also a skilled linguist, stammered, sounding more like a two-year-old than a man of thirty-one with a bunch of initials after his name from years of collegiate study. “It doesn’t matter,” he eked out.
Letting out a giant breath of frustration, Jack closed the door and returned to the kitchen.
~How do you want your burgers cooked? Why is that a hard question? What the heck is going on with you, Daniel?~ Jack wondered as he placed the burgers in the frying pan. ~Shoulda’ grilled on the BBQ outside. It’s not that cold,~ he lamented since he preferred barbecuing over any other style of food preparation when it came to meat, especially burgers, hot dogs, and his favorite, steaks.
With the burgers sizzling in the pan on the stove, Daniel appeared and uttered a quiet yet sincere, “I’m sorry, Jack.”
“I don’t get it, Danny. What’s …”
Ignoring the interruption, Jack continued, “What’s so hard about saying how you like your burgers?”
There was a pause, a moment of reflection and decision. It wasn’t that bad of a story, and yet, it was part of an unpleasant past, one full of nightmares and being left to fend for himself. Daniel considered turning and leaving the question unanswered, but opted to go ahead with the truth. After all, it was only a burger issue.
“I, uh, I guess it goes back to my first year in college. I didn’t have a lot of money and some of the guys and I used to go to this … diner, I guess it was, but it was mostly a….a…”
“Something like that,” Daniel acknowledged. “The chef, well, cook, if you can call him that, wasn’t very friendly. He didn’t like us. We didn’t spend a lot of money because we didn’t have much. We’d share and I guess he figured we were costing him money or something. Anyway, one day he was taking our orders. Joe ordered a burger well done.”
“It was well done alright. It was beyond charred, Jack. It … it was flakes of something we couldn’t describe. Joe ate it like a plate of potato chips. There was no taste to it, no juiciness, and just this … hard crunch. He ate it. He was hungry.”
“So one bad experience. I don’t get it.”
“I’m not done yet.”
“Forgive me. Then what?”
“Perry ordered the burger he and Rob were going to share medium well. It was, on the top half.”
“And the bottom?”
“Yuck,” Jack remarked.
“Raymond was afraid to order a burger, so he just ordered fries.”
“What about you?”
“I said I wanted mine cooked, but not charred.”
“What did you get?”
“A burger, cooked, but not charred,” Daniel answered with a tiny up-curve of his mouth. “I wouldn’t call it juicy or all that good, but at least it was cooked without that burnt taste.” He sighed as he confessed, “After that, the guys teased me a lot about it. It got to be … unpleasant. They’d ordered like I did, but their hamburgers were still not cooked properly. I stopped going there.”
“Where’d you go?”
“The store,” Daniel answered. “Bread, peanut butter, and jelly were cheaper so I, uh, saved a bit more money. It worked.”
~I’m not sure about that,~ the brown-haired man thought. He’d think about it later. Right now, he had something more important to settle. “Daniel,” he began as he flipped the meat in the pan. “How do you like your burgers?”
With a bigger smile, the scientist answered, “Medium well; no red, but juicy and not overcooked.”
“Thank you,” Jack acknowledged as his attention returned fully to the meal he was preparing.
As he carried the dishes to the sink and began to wash them, Daniel stated, “Those were good burgers, Jack. Thank you.”
The colonel nodded and let out a momentary grin. He made sure his friend had a juicy, fully cooked burger with no red and that wasn’t charred. He couldn’t believe Daniel had gone through such nightmares over hamburgers. It was so distant from anything Jack knew personally.
With their kitchen duties complete, Jack asked a question that had been on his mind even longer than the burger issue.
“Daniel, why were outside staring at the house?”
“Well, I, uh … I like it. It’s … intriguing.”
“Different,” Jack confirmed.
“Unique,” Daniel offered with a tiny smile. Elaborating, he talked about the wooden log look of the small place and how it reminded him of the country. “I never thought about having a small place like this, with a, well, a country feel to it, but there’s something about it, Jack, that seems … well, it seems … it …”
“Feels like home.”
“Yes,” Daniel agreed. “But it’s more than that. You walk up surrounded by flowers and step up into the entranceway, but then you step down to the living room with this awesome fireplace.” He glanced towards the living room to get a glimpse of the fireplace. “It’s nice and big.”
“And warm,” Jack interjected. “You’d like that since you love the hot weather.”
As Daniel headed into the living room, the colonel lagged behind and retrieved a couple of brews.
Daniel smiled and happily took possession of the can of beer. He wasn’t really a fan of beer, but he already knew Jack loved it. He made the decision to not make a big deal of preferring other beverages. He opened the can and took a swig before taking a seat on the sofa. Jack was already seated in a comfortable chair located near the patio door.
“Your yard: wow, it’s big, too.”
“Yeah,” Jack snickered. “You could get lost out there if you’re not careful,” he teased.
“But no fencing.”
“No dog; no need.”
The dog comment caught Daniel off guard, but he let the remark go in favor of continuing the discussion about the home.
“Your second story is only over part of the house. I’ve seen a lot of tri-stories and regular two-story homes, but this is probably the smallest upstairs I’ve seen. Jack, you don’t even have a separate bath.”
Grinning, Jack said, “I like it that way. No one wants to invade my space, so …”
“… they leave?”
With amusement, the colonel gave a nod, drank another swig of his beer, and noted, “They may get in the door, but they sure don’t stay long.” More dryly he noted, “If my wife were here, the whole upstairs with be the bathroom.”
“I doubt that,” Daniel opined. “From what you’ve told me, she doesn’t sound like she’d be that way.”
“Nah, she wouldn’t. She’s not. I was just being sarcastic. That’s one of my flaws.”
“I’m guessing it’s more like … protection.”
Jack looked over Daniel and wondered how he’d picked up on reality and even how he was right about Sara.
~I’ve hardly talked about her. Geez, I don’t talk about her to anyone, but the last few days, I hear myself bringing her up to Daniel. Why is that?~
“I don’t know, Jack,” Daniel continued, opting to let the more invasive part of their discussion go. After all, he had a sense that his friend could easily turn the tables on him and Daniel had already had enough of that for one day with the burger revelation. “The architecture is unique. Someone must have built this to their specifications. I don’t see a realtor or home development company creating this style.”
“Very good,” Jack congratulated. “I don’t know much of the history, but it was built to specs by a couple who were downsizing. Besides that, all I know is that they enjoyed their sunset years before they died.” He paused and then noted, “I was told they died here just an hour apart of natural causes and they had smiles on their faces.”
“Do you believe that?”
“Daniel, all I feel in this house is happiness. You’re darn tootin’ I believe it. Why not? It sounds good.”
“But you don’t really know for sure?”
Snickering, Jack responded, “Nope. The only fact I know is that they built the home for their retirement. The rest?”
Daniel nodded at the shrug he witnessed by the colonel. Jack was a good storyteller and the archaeologist knew he was going to have to be careful when listening to Jack’s tales. The truth could always be buried beneath Jack’s words or hidden behind his chocolate brown eyes. It would take a little time to decipher the total reality of Jack O’Neill.
“I thought I might get a dog. Maybe one like Max?”
~Dog? Oh, no fencing. Dog?~ Daniel blinked and inquired, “Max?”
“The bionic dog.”
“The … bionic … dog,” the linguist repeated with uncertainty. “What’s a bionic dog?”
“The TV Show,” Jack responded strongly. “C’mon, Daniel, The Bionic Woman and The Six-Million Dollar Man? The last season they brought in a dog, a German shepherd.”
“Uh, well, I, uh …”
“They were hit shows in the seventies.”
“Oh, well, I was in Egypt with my parents. We didn’t have TV,” Daniel explained, looking away and hoping the other man didn’t start questioning him about his mother and father.
“You missed out,” Jack claimed. “Anyway, this dog was great. I mean he should have won an Emmy. He could out-act the actors.”
“The first dog anyway.”
After the introduction episode, they used another dog. I don’t know why, but they did.”
“How do you know?”
“They weren’t actors like the first dog. Trust me, Daniel, they changed dogs. Geez, I would have loved to have met that dog.” Jack drank some more beer as he pondered the canine switch he was certain happened as well as the possibility of getting a dog for company one of these days. Then he glanced around his home and returned to the original topic. “Yep. I love this place,” he declared. “It’s an architectural intrigue: just how I like it.”
“Me, too,” Daniel agreed. “What made you use a whole room for plants?” he asked in reference to a small room located to the right of the entranceway upon entering the home.
Jack laughed lightly as he admitted, “I didn’t have anything else to put in there. One of the neighbors brought me a plant when I moved in. It was a big one, not a little table guy. It caught on. I never asked anyone to bring me anything. I didn’t even want the company, but I’d help a lady with her garden hose or heavy trash, and if they didn’t bring me food, they brought me plants.”
“Oh,” Daniel responded, amused by the situation and Jack’s uncomfortable reaction to it.
“They’re nice people,” the colonel conceded. He confided, “I haven’t really been in a place where I wanted a lot of interaction.”
“I can understand that.”
There were seconds of silence that turned into minutes as the men sat back and simply relaxed. Oddly, it wasn’t awkward, something that surprised both of them inwardly. They were calm and as at peace as they could be considering their histories.
Glancing at his watch, Jack realized the lateness of the hour and reminded, “Hey, we have a mission tomorrow.”
“Do you know where we’re going?”
“That’s to be determined in the morning. I’m still duking it out with Hammond.”
“Yep, but it’ll be okay,” Jack put forth. He noticed Daniel bow his head and then suddenly gulp down a good portion of his beer. “Easy there, Danny.”
“Daniel,” the linguist replied so automatically that his last sip of beer almost escaped from his mouth.
“We’ll find her. That’s a promise,” Jack stated about the Abydonian woman named Sha’re who was Daniel’s wife and was now held captive by the Goa’uld.
Jack and Daniel finished their beers, had one more to silence their inner thoughts and demons of the past, and then sauntered upstairs. Jack, of course, was in the master bedroom while Daniel was in the smaller guestroom.
Both stood outside the doors to their bedrooms, their bodies facing the doors.
In time, the evening wouldn’t end quite this way, but the future at this point was just that, a time far away that would seem like an entirely other reality when the two men reached it. For now, Jack and Daniel were getting to know each other and, oddly to each of them, opening up about events in their lives that they wouldn’t tell another soul. Somehow, though, they were sharing, almost in spite of themselves. Neither regretted it and both were fascinated by the openness. Still, it was just the tip of the iceberg.
For Jack and Daniel, life in Colorado Springs was warm with a budding friendship. It wouldn’t be an easy journey, but it promised to be one that both would be eternally grateful for.
~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
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