The Art of Friendship

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Angst, Drama, H/C of the Mental Kind, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  NC-17
Season:  5 - July 27 - August 3, 2001
Spoilers:  Children of the Gods, Touchstone, Forever in a Day, Crossroads, Tangent, Exodus, Enemies, Threshold
Size:  86kb
Written:  May 10-12,18-23,30, June 1,21-23,26,30, July 5,9, 2005  Tweaked: November 12, 2005  Tweaked Again:  July 10-11, 2007  Tweaked for Consistency: June 15, 2017 Tweaked for error correction: August 7, 2017
Summary:  Cultures clash as Daniel struggles to maintain his friendship with Teal'c.
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, “The Truth Within” and “It's a Jaffa Revenge Thing”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Claudia, Allexandrya, QuinGem, Kat, Ali, Sue B., Linda!

The Art of Friendship
by Orrymain

Teal'c walked purposely down the SGC corridors and into Daniel's office.  The Jaffa was back to full duty, after successfully enduring the Rite of M'al Sharran in which he was able to overcome extreme brainwashing at the hands of the now dead again, Apophis.

The Jaffa stood with his arms clasped behind his back.  He waited for a moment to see if Daniel would acknowledge him, but the archaeologist was hunched over his desk, studying images of glyphs that were found on a temple.  He didn't recognize the writings and was working intently to try and identify some pattern to them.

“DanielJackson,” Teal'c said in his usual deep voice.

Daniel looked up and responded, “Oh, hey, Teal'c.”

“I wish to know if you would like to engage in another battle of wrestling Jell-O,” the Jaffa inquired seriously.

“Uh, that's Jell-O wrestling, Teal'c, and I think once was enough,” Daniel commented.

“O'Neill says there is another match this evening.”

“Then ... Jack can go,” Daniel replied, returning his focus to the unidentified glyphs.  ~That works; go with Jack.~

“O'Neill is otherwise engaged.  He suggested you accompany me,” Teal'c stated expectantly.

“He is?  He did?”  Daniel again looked up at the Jaffa.  ~Thanks, Jack.~  He faced his friend and explained, “Uh, Teal'c, I can't.  I need to get this translation worked out.”

“Perhaps another time,” Teal'c stated, regretting not being able to spend time with his Tau'ri friend, something he was eager to do with all three teammates after their traumatic last mission together.

“Yes, an...another time,” Daniel replied, his attention returning to the pictures and books on his desk.

Sensing the conversation was over, Teal'c raised his head for a moment as if contemplating saying something else, but then quietly turned and left.

After a minute had passed, Daniel, feeling guilty, stood up straight and stared at the door.

~I have to get this under control, but I'm just ... I ... oh, shut up, Jackson, and go back to work.~

====

“Danny?” Jack called out as he entered his lover's apartment.  Jack closed the door, locking the latch, and then began his search.  ~Must be in the bedroom.  Works for me!~

With a smile on his face, Jack walked into the bedroom and was surprised not to see Daniel there.

“Danny?”  Jack checked the bathroom and the tiny guest room, which was stuffed with boxes of artifacts and archaeology as well as anthropology journals.  ~Geez, he could be lost in here, and I might not ever find him.~  “*Daniel*!”

Jack finished his check of the apartment and then walked out onto the small balcony.  He looked down at the parked cars which included his lover's shiny two-door sports vehicle.

~Okay, Danny, where are you hiding?~

Hunched over as he leaned against the railing, his hands lightly gripped together, Jack watched the comings and goings of the buildings' occupants and other passersby.  After ten minutes or so, the object of Jack's affection came into view.

Jack smiled, and his entire body seemed to react to the familiar jogger in the black sweatsuit.

~Black?  Why aren't you wearing the blue ones?~

Setting aside his obsession for seeing his soulmate wearing the color blue, Jack enjoyed the sight.  Daniel wasn't the slender geek he'd been just a few years earlier.  He bulked up and had the muscles and broader build to prove it.

~My muscle man,~ Jack silently mused as he watched Daniel reach the middle of the parking lot.  He noticed when Daniel saw his truck, automatically looking up towards the apartment.  **Love you, Space Monkey.**

Daniel waved, but there was a hesitancy about it, and Jack didn't miss the fact that his lover was jogging a bit more slowly towards the door of the building.

~Not exactly rushing up here to see me, are you, Danny?~  Jack stood up straighter, his hands now holding onto the railing.  “Did I do anything wrong.  Did I?”

Jack went back inside and paced the length of the room as he waited.  Finally, he sat facing the door, using the arm of the sofa as a seat.

“Hi, Jack,” Daniel said casually as he entered his loft apartment.

“Hi, Jack?  That's it?”

~I don't want to fight.~  Daniel's eyes scanned the room, focusing on anything but his lover.  As he stood catching his breath, he said, “Uh, well, yeah.  I did just walk through the door.”

“With that kind of greeting, I might as well be Carter.”

“That might be interesting!”  Seeing Jack's look of consternation, Daniel smiled.  “Sorry.  I'm, uh, in a mood.  Give me a minute.”

“I'll give you a lifetime of minutes,” Jack spoke softly as Daniel headed for the hallway.

Daniel looked back and smiled again as he responded, “I only need a few.”

Jack nodded, then stood up, and began to pace the room again.  He felt like he'd missed something, and yet, he'd reviewed the last few days in his mind, and he couldn't think of anything he'd done that might account for Daniel's attitude.

~Hope I didn't forget an anniversary or something.  Crap, Sara could run me ragged with those.~

====

Daniel finally emerged from the bedroom, now dressed in khaki-colored pants and a tan V-neck shirt.

~Again, no blue.  What's he trying to do to me?~

“Sorry,” Daniel said apologetically.  “I took a quick shower.”

“I see that,” Jack acknowledged, motioning towards Daniel's still-wet hair.

Daniel leaned backed against the counter and folded his arms.

“So, uh, how was the, uh, meeting?” Daniel asked about the session of SGC team leaders which the archaeologist discovered late in the day was the reason Jack couldn't go Jell-O wrestling with Teal'c.

“How was the meeting?” Jack asked, surprised about the formality of the evening thus far.

“That's what I asked.”

~That's enough!~  Jack shook his head and walked over to Daniel.  “Daniel, I'm not Carter.  I'm your lover.  Why are you treating me like we just met?”

Daniel looked into the confused chocolate brown eyes of the man he loved and crumbled.

“I ... I ... gawd,” Daniel said, his chin falling as he moved away.  “I don't mean to, Jack.  It's not you, really it's not,” Daniel sighed as he turned and looked back at the older man.

“Okay, then can we start with a decent hello?”

Daniel smiled as he turned and approached Jack.

“Hello,” the younger man said, a cute grin on his face.

“Daniel!”  Jack chuckled lightly as the two leaned in for a kiss.  Slowly, Daniel's arms moved to engulf his lover.  His hands rubbed gently against Jack's back as Jack's tongue waltzed with his in a growing passion.  “Hello,” Jack said.  He watched as Daniel's smile began to fade.  “Okay, Danny, spill.”

“It's nothing.”

“Daniel!”

“Jack, leave it alone,” Daniel requested, moving away from the older man and walking to the balcony, though he didn't step out onto it.

“You're holding out on me,” Jack asserted, frustration edging into his tone.

“All I'm asking is for you to let me have a little privacy.”

“Privacy?” Jack asked, eyebrows raised.

“Okay, bad choice of words.”

Jack barked, “What the devil is going on?”

Ignoring his lover's tone, Daniel answered simply, “Nothing.  Hungry?”

“Don't change the subject,” Jack spat, his anger at Daniel's unknown secret rising with each ticking second that passed.

“I need to work this out, alone.”

“Fine.  Have a good evening,” Jack said insincerely as he turned and walked out of the apartment.

“Jack?”  Daniel took several quick steps towards his door and shouted, just as the door slammed, “*Jack, stop*!”  He stopped, shaking his head.  “Fine.  Go.” The unhappy man plopped down on his sofa and folded his arms.  He was angry, sad, and confused.  “Crap!” he exclaimed as he leaned his head back against the sofa cushion and stared at the ceiling.

====

~I've read more ridiculous theories ... like mine,~ Daniel thought as he closed the latest issue of his favorite archaeological publication.  ~Hope he has better luck getting people to listen, not that I believe any of it, of course. Still,~ Daniel snorted, ~you never know.~

Daniel stared at the clock:  2 a.m.  He knew he should sleep, but he was restless and afraid of the impending nightmares.

~Coffee.  That's what I need.~

A few minutes later, with his coffee in hand, Daniel settled onto the sofa in the living room.  He seldom did this, but on a whim, and trying to avoid thinking, he used the remote to turn on the television.

~Maybe there'll be a movie on; something that has nothing to do with Stargates or aliens.~

As the picture focused and the sound began, Daniel shook his head.

~No, I don't think now is the time to watch 'Independence Day'.~  He changed the channel and took another sip of his coffee.  ~No, I don't think so,~ he thought as he switched channels again, leaving a documentary on the making of 'The Wizard of Oz' behind.  With another channel selected, he settled back as the movie announcer made a big to-do out of the comedy about to air.  Daniel was ready for a comedy, until he heard the title -- “Revenge of the Nerds.”  ~Gawd!  Three strikes and I'm out.~

Unfortunately for the scientist, he really did need a distraction, something to take his mind off his troubles.

~One more try.  There has to be something that has nothing to do with aliens, Jack, or me; there just has to be.~  Daniel scanned several channels, stopping on a classic movie channel.  He saw the banner for the movie block -- “Black and Whites We'll Never Forget.”  ~It's the middle of the night; this one has to be safe.~  As he settled back, Daniel enjoyed his coffee; that is, until the movie began.  ~'Titanic': all about living and dying.  I'm sunk.~

Daniel finished his coffee as he watched the movie.  Eventually, he lie down on the sofa, pulling the sofa blanket over him.  Blinking several times as he fought off sleep, his mind began to wander; soon, he fell into a restless sleep mumbling, “Wicked witches on mother ships and nerds on sinking ships.  The strong defeat the weak, and so it goes.  Doesn't know what he almost cost me ... again.”

Incoherently, the tired and frustrated man mumbled on, wetting his lips a couple of times in the process.

“Jack, love Jack.”

As his dream intensified, Daniel fidgeted with his blanket, pulling it up so that part of it acted like a pillow.  He wasn't sure where he was.  It was dark and cold, very cold.  Even though the room was warm, Daniel was shivering, the warmth of the blanket no match for the dream environment his mind had found itself in.

//Daniel's Dream//
Shivering and wondering why he was wearing pajamas, Daniel looked around. In the distance, he could see a sinking ship, and he could hear music playing.  Looking all around, he saw large chunks of ice floating in all directions.  Scattered in the water were people screaming and shouting, hoping to be rescued.  Close to him, but slightly out of reach, was an overturned lifeboat.  A man in a black suit stood balanced confidently on top of it, shouting directions.  The man looked familiar, but as he was facing the other way, Daniel couldn't identify him.

Part of Daniel was sure that the man's directions were wrong, and he was just about to move towards the man when one of the survivors, struggling for his life, caught his eye.  Daniel froze.  In the water, clinging to the end of the lifeboat, struggling to hold on to its brim, was Jack.

Panic-stricken, Daniel watched helplessly as his soulmate kept losing his grip, sliding into the water for brief periods and involuntarily drinking in water.  Instinctively Daniel tried to move towards his lover, only to find himself frozen in place.  No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't move forward.  Full of despair, Daniel watched the scene play out in front of him.

“There!” the man atop the lifeboat shouted.  “We must go there!”

The men clinging to the lifeboat tried to go in the direction the man shouted.

“Wait!” Jack shouted.  “I can't hold on.  Let me get on the lifeboat.  I can help.”

“Hang on, or you will be lost,” the man atop the lifeboat said.

“But you can save me, and then you can go over there,” Jack insisted as he involuntarily gulped down a mouthful of water from the rocky waves.

“I cannot pause.  I must go on,” the tall man insisted, not looking at Jack, but focusing on what was ahead.

“Why?” Jack asked as more water forced its way down his throat, causing him to gulp again.  “I can help you!”

“I must go on.”

“Just help me up,” Jack begged.

“We cannot stop,” the man insisted, still not looking at Jack.

“Tell me why!”

The man atop the lifeboat turned to face Jack, and for the first time, Daniel was able to see him clearly.  It was Teal'c.

~I don't understand.  Why is Teal'c doing this?~

Daniel watched as Teal'c cocked his head, raised his eyebrows, and said tauntingly, “It is a Jaffa revenge thing.”

Then, the Jaffa gently, but firmly pushed the survivors off the lifeboat so he could paddle it forward himself.

“No ... no, Teal'c.  Help him,” Daniel shouted, but his plea got lost in a non-existent breeze.
//End of Daniel's Dream//

“Help him, Teal'c ... No! ... Jack,” Daniel muttered as he tried to wake up, tossing and turning on the sofa.  “No!  Gawd, just help him up, and turn the freakin' lifeboat the right way up.”

After a few moments, Daniel seemed to relax a little, as if his dream had ended.  Still asleep, he turned so that his face was buried against the back of the sofa.  He huddled in close, seeking to protect himself from reliving the nightmare.  It seemed to work as, although his face was still buried in the sofa, the archaeologist smiled.

//Daniel's Dream//
Daniel wasn't sure why he'd been in those icy waters earlier, nor did he know why he was where he was now.

~I like this place better,~ the sleeping man thought.

The archaeologist was in a beautiful place.  Birds were chirping, the skies were blue, and there was a meadow filled with golden flowers.  He felt peaceful and calm.  A few feet away, he could see Jack and Teal'c skipping through the flowers.

~I didn't know Jack could skip; and Teal'c skipping is just ... disturbing somehow.~

Daniel tried to move forward and join them, but once again, he found himself frozen in place.  A feeling of dread washed over him.  Almost involuntarily, he looked up again at Jack and Teal'c.

“This is a great place,” Jack said.

“We must move forward,” Teal'c stated, as if giving an order.

“Yes, we must,” Jack agreed, although suddenly, he began to tire.  “Teal'c, wait.  Something is wrong.”

“I cannot wait.  We must more forward.”

“But I ...”  Jack fell down onto his knees.  The aroma was heavenly, but his eyes were closing.  “Wait.  The flowers -- they're ... Teal'c, come back!”

Daniel struggled against his invisible bonds, his eyes fixed on the two men in front of him.

“There is no time, O'Neill.”

“Teal'c, I order you to come back!” Jack said firmly.

“I cannot.  I must get to my destination,” the Jaffa said, ignoring his orders.

“*For crying out loud, why*?” Jack shouted, though his strength was diminishing.

Teal'c turned and smiled, saying, “It is a Jaffa revenge thing.”

Suddenly, Teal'c cackled.  His evil laugh grew in volume and strength until it was ringing in Daniel's ears.  Jack closed his eyes and stopped moving.

“*Noooooooooooooo*!” Daniel screamed in horror.
//End of Daniel's Dream//

Gasping for breath, Daniel awoke.  He looked all around, finally realizing he was in his apartment.  After a few seconds, he lowered himself so that he lay on his back.  He brought his right hand to his face, the back of his hand slowly rubbing the sweat from his brow.  Tears began to escape out of the corners of his eyes, and then, as if convulsing, sobs broke out.

“Jaaaaaack, no!”

Daniel turned in towards the back of the sofa and, holding the blanket to his face, cried like he hadn't cried in years.  His body ached, he cried so hard.

The despairing young man felt as though he was being fractured into a myriad of conflicting pieces.  He loved Jack, and he was afraid for him.  However, this time it wasn't the Goa'uld Daniel feared; it wasn't rogue government agents that had him on edge; it wasn't even any alien monster, real or fictional, that Daniel was concerned about.  Instead, his fear was of a friend, an ally, a confidante, a teammate.  Daniel was afraid of Teal'c.  It wasn't a fear for himself, but for his lover, that somehow, Teal'c would be responsible for Jack's death.  Daniel's fear was causing an emotional turmoil to go on inside him that was threatening to destroy him, and SG-1.

Despite his earlier dreams, Daniel longed for the sandman to rescue him, but as so often had been the case for the archaeologist, his longing was in vain.  There would be no more sleep tonight for the tortured man.

====

The next morning, Jack entered his lover's apartment, a box of donuts in one hand and a thermos of piping hot coffee in the other.

~Someday, he is finally going to listen to me and lock the dang door!~  Jack muttered as he kicked the door closed with his foot.  He put the food and drink on the counter and then started to head for the bedroom when he stopped suddenly.  “Danny?”

Daniel was sitting on the floor, his knees drawn up to his chest as he stared blankly into space.  He was leaning against the back of the sofa, which is why Jack hadn't seen him at first.

“Angel?”

Finally, Daniel blinked, then buried his head atop his knees.  Quickly, Jack moved to sit down next to the younger man.  He cursed his knees silently for momentarily jabbing him as he got into a position to comfort his soulmate.  Jack ran his hand through Daniel's hair for a moment, then slid it down to caress against Daniel's upper back.  A moment later, Jack pulled Daniel to him so that the younger man had his head on Jack's shoulder.

“I love you, Danny.”

“I love you, too, and we're fine.  It's not us, so I wish you'd stop worrying about that,” Daniel assured as he enjoyed the safe haven that being in his soulmate's care provided him.

“I'm sorry I left last night.  I was frustrated because you wouldn't tell me what's wrong.”

“It's nothing,” Daniel said, dismissing the unspoken problem with a simple wave of his hand against his lover's back.

“It's something; it's a very big something,” Jack insisted as he held his lover.

“No, it's not,” Daniel argued, moving out of Jack's hold and standing up.

Jack got up, too, following Daniel to the counter.  He watched as Daniel just stood there, fidgeting with the cover of the donut box.

“Did you choose the chocolate glaze ones or just the chocolate frosted cake?” Jack asked, peeking around to try and get a look inside the coveted box.

“Both,” the younger man teased.

Daniel smiled, though Jack couldn't see his expression.  He opened the box and took a tiny bite out one of the chocolate frosted cake donuts.  With a heavy sigh, he put it down.  He just wasn't hungry.

Jack put his hands on Daniel's upper arms and turned him around.

“Are you really going to stand here and lie to me that nothing is wrong?”

“I'm not lying!” Daniel maintained.

“Danny, your eyes are red.  You've been crying, and from the puffiness around them, I'd say a lot.”

Daniel's mouth opened, but at first, nothing came out.  Then, knowing he had to say something to his soulmate, he managed to ask, “Jack, do you really want to help?”

“Yes.”

“You can,” Daniel said strongly.

“Just tell me how,” Jack replied as his hands moved up to gently caress the top of Daniel's shoulders and his neck.  “I'll do anything to help.”

“Let me work this out alone.”

“Anything except that,” Jack responded, his hands dropping to his sides.

Daniel crossed his arms over his chest and walked over by his piano, staring down at the black and white keys.  He lowered one hand as if he was going to play a note or two, but then stopped.  He turned around, staring at Jack for a brief moment before averting his eyes to something safer, like the carpet.

“Danny, give me a hint,” Jack urged, his eyes begging his life partner to let him in and share whatever pain was causing the current turmoil inside the younger man.

Once again self-hugging, Daniel stood in place, saying nothing.

“You can't expect me to drop this when something is upsetting you so much.”

“It's not you,” the younger man assured the older.

“You keep saying that, but I'm having a hard time believing it.  You're the one who's always so big on not keeping secrets.”

Daniel's head jutted up to make him eyelevel with Jack.

“I thought you felt the same way.”

“I do; that's not what I meant.  Don't twist my words, Danny.”

“I don't have to; you do a great job of that yourself,” Daniel spoke harshly.

~Going the extra mile to pick a fight?  It is so *not* going to work, Danny.  I shouldn't have let it work last night, and I'm not about to make the same mistake again.~  Jack walked towards Daniel, stopping just outside his personal space.  “Look me in the eye, and tell me you weren't crying, and a lot, last night.”

Frustrated, Daniel tried to move past Jack, but the older man grabbed his arms and spun his lover around.

Maintaining his grip, Jack challenged, “You can't, can you?”

“I couldn't sleep, that's all.”

~Translation: nightmares.  Crap, I should have stayed with you.~  Feeling guilty, Jack loosened his hold, but didn't let go.  Looking into the eyes of his lover, he saw vulnerability, but he also saw determination.  Whatever was upsetting the archaeologist, Daniel wasn't ready to discuss it.  It was time to drop the subject, at least for the moment.  Jack smiled and lowered his hands, dropping them to his side.  “I love you, Danny.  Whatever this is, and whenever you're ready to talk, I'm here.”

“I know,” Daniel said, not denying something was wrong.

“Do you want me to go?” Jack asked.  ~Say 'no' because I'm not leaving.~

“No,” Daniel admitted with a smile.  ~I want you here; I just don't want to talk about this, that's all.~

“Good,” Jack answered, his eyes shining a little brighter.  He turned back towards the counter.  “Okay, let's eat some donuts.”  Jack opened the box, grabbed two donuts of different varieties, and turned around.  He waved them enticingly under Daniel's nose.  “So, which one do you want?”

Daniel's breathing hitched.  For a split second, he was going to say the chocolate frosted cake donut, but then other parts of Daniel's body took over.  His inner needs boiled over as his heart demanded that the fears dredged up by his nightmares be squelched by physical contact and replaced by an euphoric bliss, leaving no room for anything else in Daniel's mind.

Jack was stunned when Daniel literally shoved both donuts from his hands.

“I want the one in the middle,” Daniel said as he lunged forward, kissing the daylights out of Jack.  The kisses were audible, and the moans from each of them, deep and throaty.  “Want you -- now,” Daniel insisted, not getting any arguments from his lover.

“Love you, Danny,” Jack whispered in between kisses.

Their tongues touched as each explored the other once again and their hands began to search for the gaps in the other's clothing.

“Safe,” Daniel said all of a sudden.

“You're safe, Angel.  I'll always protect you,” Jack said, wondering if Daniel's nightmares had put the younger man in some kind of peril.

“Want ... you,” Daniel gasped again, backing away and pulling Jack with him.

Still kissing, their lips and touches never ceasing, they stumbled into the hallway, moving inch by inch towards the bedroom.  At the same time, they were pulling off clothing, their own and each other's.

“Sa...safe ... stay safe,” Daniel said again as he paused to gaze into Jack's eyes.

A second later, the two, now completely naked, were entangled in each other, moving frantically on their bed.  It wasn't a teasing battle for domination that they sometimes engaged in, but the simple need to touch and be touched as their sexual desires burned within their bodies.  Their arms and legs bent and joined with the other's as they rolled and changed positions.

Jack began to settle in, ready for more concrete foreplay.  He turned Daniel onto his back and leaned in for a long, wet kiss while his hand began to stroke Daniel's length.

“Safe,” Daniel sighed just as Jack placed a kiss on his pulse point.  The older man was surprised, though, when Daniel flipped them over, reversing their positions.  He muttered, “Safe,” again, confusing Jack a little.  “Must ... stay ... safe,” Daniel said just before laying down a trail of kisses that began just under Jack's chin, continuing down his chest, and ending with a sudden engulfing of Jack's firm erection.

Jack's hands pressed lightly into his soulmate's hair as he enjoyed the feel of Daniel's tongue on his length.  His breathing quickened as Daniel sucked on the length, flicking his tongue while his hands pressed and teased other sensitive areas.  Jack was quickly becoming lost in the sensations, Daniel's efforts taking him to the edge of release.  Then, Daniel slowed, his mouth closing gently at the tip of Jack's length.

Suddenly, Jack felt a finger inside him.  His head leaned back against his pillow in anticipation.  Jack was washed in pleasure as Daniel licked his length while his fingers prepped his lover for more intimacy.

Soon, Daniel moved, his erection entering Jack tenderly, then building to a raging passion.  They shifted and moved with the desires of their bodies, Daniel seeking to go as deep as he could, and Jack giving him full access.  Jack's hand stroked his own length as Daniel pounded away inside him.

Words of love, lust, passion, and need were groaned and grunted as their interlaced bodies worked as one, until finally, with a last lunge and thrust, Daniel came inside Jack as Jack, too, exploded with his own release.

Their convulsing bodies settled together, Daniel sinking down to rest upon Jack's sweat-soaked chest.  Both gasped for breath as their hands stroked each other in a reassuring motion of foreverness.

“Safe ... keep ... Jack, no ... keep you safe,” Daniel mumbled in his usual incoherent way.  “Heart ... beat ... stay.”

Jack blinked, his head looking down at the wet mop of hair that was resting against him.

~Keep me safe?~  Jack was confused.  ~What the heck was in those nightmares?~  “Danny?”

“Love you, Jack.  Love you so much.  Hold you.”

Daniel was still a little out of it, but as he spoke, his arms reached around Jack's back and held the older man securely.  Jack plopped his head back down onto the pillow while placing his arms around Daniel's back and caressing gently.

“I love you, too, Angel.  We'll both stay safe.”

“Safe,” Daniel sighed, succumbing to a long overdue sleep.

“We're safe, Danny,” Jack repeated, the aftermath of their lovemaking filling him with peace even as his mind struggled to solve the puzzle of the true meaning of his soulmate's words.

====

“Major Carter, if you'll get that report to me tomorrow morning, we'll meet at 1300 hours tomorrow and evaluate whether or not a mission to PXZ-419 is warranted,” General Hammond said as he sat at the head of the table in the briefing room.

“Doctor Jackson, have you had any luck with that device SG-7 brought back yesterday?” Hammond queried about an odd-looking, triangular-shaped device that was reminiscent of the page-turning devices they'd first found on Argos years earlier.

“No, Sir,” Daniel responded.  “Except that it isn't one of the page turners.  It does seem to have instructions, or some kind of labels, on it, but I haven't been able to decipher them or determine their function as yet.”

“I'd like you to make that a priority, at least until we decide if the mission tomorrow is a go,” Hammond ordered.

“Yes, Sir.”

“Thank you,” Hammond said, rising, exchanging quick glances with all of SG-1, and then turning to head for his office.

The four members of SG-1 rose.

“If you'll excuse me, I'm going to program the UAV to ...” Sam began, only to be quickly interrupted.

“Carter, just do it,” Jack smirked, hoping to stop a detailed explanation of something he didn't care to hear about.

“Yes, Sir.”

With a bashful smile, Sam glanced downward a moment and then left the room.

“DanielJackson, I wish to learn more about this Rocky Road Nightmare,” Teal'c stated.

Daniel blinked several times and looked at the Jaffa as if he had just spoken in the fictional Klingon, one of the few languages the linguist didn't know.

“What?” a confused Daniel asked.

“I have heard it mentioned on television.  I wish to know more about it.”

“Teal'c, rocky road is ice cream,” Daniel stated dryly.

Teal'c raised his eyebrows, then said, “People of the Tau'ri dress up in ice cream?”

“What?” Jack and Daniel asked at the same time.

“I have heard the Tau'ri dress in odd outfits and ...”

“You mean the 'Rocky Horror Picture Show',” Jack chuckled, interrupting his friend.

“That is what I said,” the tall, dark alien stated.

“Right,” Daniel said.

“You will teach me about this Rocky Road Nightmare?” Teal'c asked Daniel.

“Rocky Horror Picture Show,” both Jack and Daniel echoed in correction.

“Uh, actually, Teal'c, that is, uh, something Jack knows more about than me, and I need to work on that translation.”

Teal'c nodded and suggested, “Perhaps tomorrow ...”

“Um, no, this is going to take a while,” Daniel answered evasively.

“I'll teach ya, T,” Jack offered amicably.

Daniel gathered his notes and headed for the door.  Suddenly, his mind exploded with thoughts of Jack being in danger.

“Wait,” Daniel said forcefully.  “Teal'c, Janet has talked about that a lot.  Why don't you ask her?  I, uh, think she's attended several of the shows,” he revealed in the hopes of getting his lover away from Teal'c.

Jack was taken aback by his lover's comments and quickly jumped in, saying a little defensively, “Hey, I can teach him.”

“I need you, Jack,” Daniel said, speaking unusually softly considering that they were at the SGC in front of Teal'c.

“You do?”  Jack was stunned at the vulnerability in Daniel's tone.  ~Of course, you do, I hope, but why are you saying that here?~

“Uh, I mean, I think you can help me with the translation,” Daniel clarified.

“Me?” Jack asked quizzically, his right hand tapping once against his chest.

“O'Neill?” Teal'c asked within seconds of Jack's question.

“Yes, uh, I do.  Jack, meet me in my office in thirty minutes,” Daniel ordered.

Daniel didn't wait for a response.  He simply turned and walked out.

Jack shrugged and followed, saying, “Sorry, Big Guy.  Check with the Doc.”

Seconds later, Teal'c was left alone in the briefing room.

====

“I'm here,” Jack greeted his lover after walking into Daniel's office.  Jack extended his arms out to his sides and grinned.  “So, you need me!”

“Right,” Daniel replied sharply, acutely aware of where they were.

Jack nodded and immediately picked up a small circular object that had thin, sharp projectiles protruding from its sides.

“So, how can I help you, Doctor Jackson?”

“By not dropping that,” Daniel replied, nodding at the object Jack was playing with.

“This?” Jack asked, holding up the object.

“And I wouldn't jab your finger on it to see how sharp it is, or ...”

“*Ouch*!”

“I told you,” Daniel claimed, though without much sympathy in his tone.

“You told me not to,” Jack argued, “which is the same as telling me to.”

“Only if you're a child,” Daniel refuted.

“I resemble that remark,” Jack joked.

“Yes, sometimes,” Daniel agreed, looking down at a book and then searching through it, looking for a specific passage.

“Daniel, why am I here?”  Jack waited for a response, but it didn't come.  Instead, Daniel continued to search through the book until he found what he was looking for.  Jack watched as his lover jotted down some notes, but it seemed as if Daniel barely knew Jack was there.  “Daniel?”  Jack coughed and said sternly, “Daniel!”

“What?”

“Why am I here?” Jack asked, his body arching forward just slightly as he asked.

“That's a deep question, Jack,” Daniel responded.  “If you like, I can recommend some reading.  There have been hundreds of philosophical debates on ...”

“*Daniel*!”  Jack saw Daniel's breathing hitch for a moment.  “Danny, what's going on?”

“Nothing.  I have work to do,” the archaeologist responded quietly.

“So do I,” Jack replied angrily as he turned and began to walk out.

Daniel called out, “Jack, wait.  I ...”

“What, Daniel?” a frustrated Jack asked angrily.

“Nothing.”

Jack nodded, and Daniel returned to his research.  When Jack got to the office door, he stopped and looked back.

“Danny, are you all right?”  Jack sighed as Daniel smiled unconvincingly and nodded.  “Okay, how about lunch in forty minutes?”

“Okay.”

**I love you, Danny.**

**I love you, too, so much, Jack.**

Daniel's eyes softened tremendously, and Jack was eager to embrace his lover, but at the same time, he was worried they wouldn't be able to finish what they began, so he simply smiled in return and walked out.

====

Over the next forty-eight hours, Jack realized something was definitely wrong.  His soulmate was acting strangely whenever Teal'c was around, and for some reason, Daniel didn't seem to want Jack to be alone with the Jaffa.  Daniel continued to evade Jack's questions about the situation, but at the same time, he was working extra hard to make sure Jack knew that their relationship was as strong as ever.

~So, if it's not us, what is it?~  Jack stared blankly at his half-written report about the team's visit to PXZ-419.  Hammond was on his case about it all day, but Jack couldn't stop thinking about Daniel long enough to write more than a few lines at a time.  ~Teal'c must figure into this somehow.  Danny's never acted like this towards him except when ...~

Jack reviewed their original meeting with Teal'c who had been the First Prime to Apophis, the greatest of the Goa'uld System Lords.  All things considered, Daniel was accepting of Teal'c from the beginning.  He'd had a brief moment of uncertainty, not wanting Teal'c to be a member of SG-1, but whatever doubts and issues Daniel had, they quickly disappeared.  The two were now close friends.  Not even Sha're's death, which had come from a blast of Teal'c's staff weapon, interfered with the bond between Daniel and Teal'c.

~So why are you avoiding Teal'c all of a sudden, Danny, and why don't you want me to spend time with him, either?~

====

Jack parked his truck and stared up several floors of Daniel's apartment building.  Sure enough, his youthful lover was standing there, looking out at nothing.  His self-hug was evident, even from as far away as Jack was at the moment.  In fact, Daniel was so lost in his void of darkness that he didn't even sense Jack's arrival, something that was unusual.  When standing on the tiny balcony outside his apartment, Daniel always knew when Jack had arrived.

~Okay, Angel, I've done the patient thing.  Now we're doing this my way.~

It was a quarter moon, and the night was hazy, very few stars twinkling in the early morning hours.

Jack and Daniel had finished out their workday at the SGC, and once again, Jack had witnessed a scene where Teal'c had requested Daniel's assistance with something, but the archaeologist had essentially rejected the Jaffa.  Not only that, but after a very quiet and subdued dinner at a local Indian-cuisine restaurant, Daniel had excused himself, claiming he had work to do.

~Sulking.  You wanted to sulk without being interrogated,~ Jack thought as he pushed the elevator button for the eighth floor.  ~Time's up, Dannyboy.~

Jack had allowed Daniel his space until tossing and turning for hours in his empty bed had become intolerable.

~Grrrrr, where's my blanket?~ Jack thought just before tossing off the polyester blanket that gave him none of the warmth he was used to receiving from his Daniel-blanket.  It was 1 a.m., and he'd just given up the battle.  In no time flat, he dressed in his faded blue jeans and gray tee-shirt, slipped on his brown leather jacket, and headed for his lover's apartment.  ~I want my blanket.~

====

At twenty-six minutes past the hour, Jack used his key to unlock Daniel's door.  Mumbling silently at Daniel's failure to latch the door as well as locking it, Jack removed his jacket, throwing it onto the sofa.  He made his way to the balcony and quietly slipped his arms around Daniel's waist.  He kissed the side of his lover's neck and heard the sigh.

“Tell me you knew I was here,” Jack requested, disturbed at how easy it had been to enter the apartment and embrace his soulmate without apparent detection.

“I knew.  I saw you drive up, but I ... I just ... I didn't ...”

“What?  You thought I'd leave?” Jack asked, a bit surprised at the revelation.

Daniel let out a tiny snort as his hands latched onto Jack's which were gently caressing his abdomen.

“No, I knew you wouldn't leave.”

“You didn't want me to leave,” Jack stated in revelation.

“I ... I ...”

“I missed you, Angel.  I was cold,” Jack tenderly admitted.

Daniel leaned back into his soulmate.  He turned his head to look at Jack.

“I don't want you to be cold.”

“Don't worry.  Right now, I'm warm,” Jack said with a smile as he took in the wonderful scent of the man he loved more than life.

“Just warm?”

Jack grinned as he responded, “Getting hotter by the second.”

“Make love to me, Jack.”

“Well, as long as you know that afterwards, you *are* going to talk to me.”

“Not if I fry your brains,” Daniel countered, mischief in his voice and lust in his eyes.

“Is that a promise?”

Daniel grinned, and Jack was eager to find out what his lover had in mind.  Two minutes later, they were deep into the throes of passion on Daniel's bed.

====

Jack yawned and then stretched as he sat.

“Late night, Sir?” Sam asked, entering the briefing room.

“No.”  Sam looked at him doubtfully.  “Late morning, Carter.”

Right on cue, Daniel walked in, yawning.  He sat down next to Jack and immediately put his head down on the table.

“Late ... morning, Daniel?” Sam asked, smiling.

Daniel looked up, blinking several times.  He glanced at Jack who refused to look at him.

“Uh ...”

“Good morning,” General Hammond said, interrupting the slow conversation among SG-1.  “Where is ...”

“I apologize for my tardiness, GeneralHammond,” Teal'c said, bowing his head upon entering the room and taking his seat.

“That's quite all right, Teal'c.  Major Carter, what can you tell us about PC2-175?”

The briefing continued for thirty-five minutes, after which all of SG-1 became involved in individual activities.

====

“Daniel, I could use your help trying to decipher this readout,” Sam requested as she entered the archaeologist's office shortly after lunch.

“Is that the MALP survey from 252?” Daniel inquired, looking at the readout.

“Yeah,” Sam affirmed, pushing the papers in front of Daniel and leaning over atop the worktable slightly.  “I can't figure out what this is?”

Daniel studied the readings and reviewed some images.

“What's this?” Daniel asked, pointing to a small panel that was on a stone slab near the Stargate.

“I don't know.  Some type of greeting maybe?” Sam wondered.

“It could be.  This almost looks Goa'uld.  I'd, uh, show this to Teal'c,” the linguist suggested.

“Wish I could, but he and the colonel are ...”

“Jack?”  Daniel sat up straight.  “Teal'c is with Jack?” he queried with alarm.

“Um, yeah,” a very confused Sam responded.  “They're testing out some ...”

“Where?  I mean, where are they?” Daniel urgently inquired.

“Headed towards Peterson I think.”

“Excuse me,” Daniel said hurriedly as he stood and exited his office, leaving a baffled and surprised major in his wake.

~Wonder what that's about?~

====

**Jack?**  There was no answer as Daniel hurried down the hall and into the elevator.  He really wasn't even sure where he was going.  ~Jack's office: I'll start there.~

“Doctor Jackson, I'm glad I ran into you,” General Hammond said as the elevator doors opened.

“Sir, have you seen Jack?”

“Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c are on their way to Peterson to evaluate ...”

“Uh, do you know when they'll be back?” Daniel interrupted, his body filling with panic.

“Is something wrong, Son?”

“N...no, of course not.  I, uh, just needed to talk with Jack about ... about ... something.”

“Unless it's urgent, I wouldn't count on seeing Colonel O'Neill until tomorrow.  Now, I'd like to speak with you about ...”

Daniel's mind processed Hammond's words, but his heart was with Jack.  He felt divided, one half of him discussing the issue at hand with the leader of the SGC, the other half racing to Peterson, willing Jack to be safe.  He was beginning to feel like he was going crazy, his rational half at odds with his heart.

“I need to get out of here,” Daniel spoke absently.

“Doctor Jackson?” Hammond asked, both surprised and worried by the archaeologist's distracted manner.

“I'm ... sorry, General.  I'm, uh, not feeling very well.”

“Go home, Son.  We can finish this discussion tomorrow.”

Daniel nodded in gratitude, saying a very quiet, “Thank you.”

====

With his arms folded tightly across his chest, Daniel paced the width of Jack's living room repeatedly.  When the archaeologist left the SGC, he had gone home, home to Jack's house.  According to Jack, it was Daniel's house, too, and the younger man did live there, but still, he kept up barriers, especially right now when he consumed with worry and not thinking clearly.

“Come on, Jack.”

The archaeologist sat down on the sofa for all of twenty seconds before standing back up and resuming his pacing.  Welling up inside him was a mountain full of fear, and Daniel knew it was an irrational emotion; yet, he couldn't contain it.  He felt as if his body was building up with some internal pressure that would cause him to explode into millions of tiny particles at any moment.

“I need to get a handle on this,” Daniel told himself in a cracked voice.  ~Okay, be calm.  Just ... just sit down and re...relax.~

Daniel returned to the sofa and sat down.  He closed his eyes as he continued his quest to quell the nervousness within him, but the pounding of the thunderous fear was too strong, and in mere seconds, a bolt of unseen energy shot him up off the couch and into an even more frantic pacing of the living room.

Eventually, as darkness overtook Colorado Springs, Daniel found himself sitting Indian-style, his arms folded tightly across his chest, in the middle of the backyard.  Gently, he rocked himself back and forth, searching for comfort that didn't want to come.

The young man's eyes were closed, and he was talking to himself, although none of the words were audible.  In fact, they were spoken in Arabic, a language almost more natural to Daniel than English.  As the minutes passed, Daniel went deeper into his self-comforting state.

====

Exhausted, Jack walked in the front door at roughly 10:15 p.m.  The business at Peterson was interesting but tiring, and he was happy to be home, especially since Daniel's car was in the large driveway.

“Danny?”  The house was completely dark, and Jack assumed his lover must have gone to bed early; that is, until he reached the kitchen counter and just happened to glance through the patio door.  He blinked, his eyes trying to focus on the image of a man sitting in the dark abyss of the night.  **Danny?**

Jack hurried outside, concerned since Daniel hadn't looked up or responded to their non-verbal communication.

“Daniel!” Jack exclaimed as he knelt down on one knee.  Using his right hand, he tilted Daniel's chin up so he could look into his lover's eyes.  ~Cold.  How long has he been out here?  *Why* is he out here?~  He spoke gently at first, but when his lover didn't respond, he spoke more forcefully.  “Danny, answer me.  Danny ... Daniel!”

Finally, Daniel blinked and his lips stopped their soundless motion.

“Jack?”

“Hey, what's wrong, Angel?” Jack practically whispered from concern.

“Are you really here?” Daniel asked softly.

“Yeah.  Daniel, come on.  We're going inside.”

Jack started to stand, but his lover reached up, grabbing his arms, and pulled Jack back down.

~Ouch,~ Jack silently reacted to his knees unexpectedly hitting the ground. “Okay, you want to stay out here in the cold for a while?”

“I want you to be safe,” Daniel answered, his eyes searching Jack's for a comprehension that just wasn't there.

“I am safe,” Jack promised.

“Not always,” Daniel responded, his hands gripping Jack's upper arms tightly.

~What's going on?~  Jack's hand rubbed gently against his lover's chest.  “Danny, *please* tell me what's been bothering you so much lately.”

“I'm angry, Jack.  I'm so angry,” Daniel admitted, though oddly enough, his voice was small and free from harshness.

“At me?”

“No,” the younger man refuted, still in his small voice and shaking his head.  “I'm angry at me because my mind understands.  Everything rational and intellectual inside of me tells me I'm wrong, even my heart, Jack.  Even it says I know better, but I don't.  I hate myself for having these thoughts, but they won't go away.”

“Angel,” Jack whispered, “Help me to understand.”

Daniel blinked and slowly slid his hands down Jack's arms.  Taking a breath, he told Jack what he wanted.

“I want Teal'c off the team.  I don't want you to go on missions with him anymore.  He's a friend, but it's a friendship that's had this overwhelming cost, Jack, and I can't take another loss because of him.  I want him off the team,” Daniel repeated.

Calmly, the archaeologist stood and walked into the house, leaving a stunned Jack behind.  Jack twisted his head around to watch as Daniel entered the living room.  Standing, the confused colonel put his hands on his hips and shook his head.

“Okay, that is so out of the Twilight Zone.”  Quickly, Jack turned and ran into the house.  He went upstairs and found Daniel sitting at the edge of the bed, self-hugging.  “Danny, why?”

Daniel sighed.  He had tried so hard to fight these feelings that were now consuming him, but he couldn't.

“I don't want him on the team anymore.  You told me once that all I had to do was say the word, and you'd put Teal'c on another team.  Okay, well, I'm saying the word.”

Jack shook his head and raised his right hand to run through his currently spiked silver-gray hair.  He walked over to the nightstand that was on his side of the bed and looked down.

“Daniel, that conversation was five years ago.  You're going to have to give me something here.”

“What I want doesn't matter?” Daniel asked in a voice that reminded Jack of the lost puppy archaeologist he'd found, alone and abandoned in the hallways of the SGC, years earlier.

“What you want means everything, but I can't just waltz into the SGC tomorrow and reassign Teal'c.  Hammond won't allow it.”

“General Hammond will do whatever you ask, Jack.”

“Don't I wish,” Jack chuckled, though not in an amused tone.  He could see that Daniel remained unmoved.  “Daniel, I can't do it, not without a good reason.”

“Then I'm leaving, Jack.”

Jack was completely taken aback.  In fact, he felt like he'd just been kicked in the gut.  He moved to Daniel who was still on the bed and knelt down.

“Danny, we're forever,” Jack insisted.

“Not if Teal'c stays on SG-1. I'm sorry, Jack.  I know it's irrational, but I can't handle it.  I've tried.  I've tried so hard, but ...”

Daniel's words trailed off as tears made their way down his chilled cheeks.  Jack reached up to dry them.  Gently, he moved onto the bed and brought Daniel to settle into his arms.

“Tell me why,” Jack calmly repeated.

“Five years ago, it ... it was slavery and a choice tha...that took one, but saved several others.  Two years ago, it was to save me.  Last month, it ... it was some ridiculous Jaffa revenge thing.  It's too much, Jack; it's just too much,” Daniel spoke, his words slightly muffled as he buried his head against Jack's shoulder.

“Danny, you're the one who keeps reminding me that Teal'c is from another culture.  You're a cultural expert, for crying out loud.  You know better than anyone that Teal'c can't change something that is a basic part of his nature.”

Daniel pushed himself out of Jack's embrace and stood, turning to face his lover from a few feet away.

“*So what am i supposed to do, Jack, just, just let him ... let him lead you to your death be...because it's in his blood*?”

“Daniel,” Jack said, standing up.  He reached out to take hold of Daniel, but the younger man shook his head and backed all the way to the doorway of the master bedroom.  After sighing loudly, Jack continued, “Teal'c did what he thought was right. He ...”

“*Don't defend him to me, Jack*,” Daniel shouted, waving his hands wildly in front of him.  “*He* ...” He tried to calm himself, taking a breath and closing his eyes for a moment.  “All he had to do was bring you back first.  He didn't do that, Jack.  He sat there in that ... that glider and, knowing it could cost you your life, he went after Tanith.  He knew there were risks, and he wasn't doing it to save the Jaffa, to safeguard Chulak, or to defend this ... this crazy planet.  He did it for purely selfish reasons with complete disregard for your life.  You almost died, Jack!”

“I know that, but I didn't.”

“And what about next time?” Daniel challenged.

Jack raised his hands and shrugged, finally asking, “What do you want from me, Danny?”

“I told you.  I've tried for weeks to get over this.  Jack, why do you think I couldn't go first when we were trying to get Teal'c back with the Rite of M'al Sharran?  Gawd, you tease me enough about never shutting up, and yet, we sat there, and I couldn't say anything.  I wanted to help him, but all I could think about was you, down on that desert planet, hurt.  *He* did that, Jack, not some Goa'uld, not a Replicator, not some alien defending his homeland or attacking Earth, but Teal'c, *our* friend, our *teammate* -- Teal'c did that, and for what, Jack?  Why?” Daniel asked, tears falling freely down his reddened cheeks, now warmed by his anger and hurt.  “Because it's a Jaffa revenge thing.  I won't lose you because of a ritual or some quest for revenge.”

“He won't do it again,” Jack tried to argue.

“*You don't know that*!” Daniel yelled, backing up two more steps so that he was in the hallway.

~You're not running.  Don't you dare run!~  Jack took three steps forward, relieved Daniel didn't back up more.  “Danny ...”

“Tanith is still alive.  We could run into him anywhere.  Teal'c took Sha're; he killed her.  I understand.  I do.  I forgave him for that, but, Jack, I cannot, and I will not, forgive him for killing you for *nothing*!”

“Danny ...” Jack began, reaching out with his right hand, but when he did, Daniel turned and ran down the stairs.  Jack followed, running as fast as he could.  “*Blast it, Daniel, get back here!  You are *not* running away from me*!”  The older man hurried out to the driveway.  “*Dannnielll*!” Jack shouted as he hit the side of his truck hard, setting off the alarm.  “Dang it, Daniel,” he cursed, hunching over and placing his hands over his knees.

When he wanted to be, Daniel was a fast runner, and tonight, he wanted to be.  Still, Jack wasn't going to let his lover go that easily.  Reaching into his jacket packet, Jack grabbed his keys.  Turning off the alarm, he quickly stepped into his Ford truck and took off in pursuit of his frustrated soulmate.

====

Jack's quest was in vain.  He drove around for hours, going back and forth between Daniel's apartment, the SGC, and his house.  He went to their favorite places, and finally, he drove into Denver to check out a few of their hideaways there, but wherever he went, Jack was disappointed.  Calls to Daniel's phone at the apartment and his cell phone went unanswered.  It was clear to Jack that Daniel wanted some serious alone time.  It didn't stop the older man from worrying though.

As the sun began to rise, Jack finally gave up and returned to his home.  He took a shower, changed into fresh clothes, and headed for the Mountain, stopping to get a thermos full of coffee.

Arriving at the SGC, Jack quickly learned Daniel had phoned in, taking a week of emergency leave.

~Daniel, so help me when I find you I'm gonna ... kiss you senseless,~ Jack sighed as he moved forward with his day's duties.

Not long thereafter, Teal'c entered Jack's office, something that was a bit of a rarity.

“Teal'c!” Jack exclaimed, sitting back in his chair.  ~Wish I had a chair like Hammond's; now that's a chair!~

“O'Neill, I wish to know the condition of DanielJackson.”

“Excuse me?” Jack asked, his eyes widening slightly.

“For some time now, he has been distant.  I am afraid that I have done something to offend him.”

Jack sighed, but lightly enough that Teal'c didn't notice.  He leaned forward, biting slightly on his lip and resting his arms on the edge of the desk.

“Teal'c, Daniel has some stuff on his mind.  He'll be okay.”

“Perhaps if I asked him to kelno'reem with me, it would assist him in eliminating this *stuff* from his mind.”

~I wish,~ Jack thought as he smiled and nodded.  Like Teal'c, he wished he knew what was bothering Daniel so much.  ~Sorry, Love.  I don't believe this is just about Teal'c's need for revenge.~  Unlike Teal'c, Jack knew it would take much more than a meditative state to get through it.  “Or maybe we could watch an episode of 'The Simpson's',” Jack teased.  Standing, Jack moved to Teal'c and patted him on the forearm.  “Daniel will be okay.  How about a workout in the gym?”

“Do you not mean that you will workout, and I will stand?” the Jaffa asked, raising his right eyebrow just a bit.

“Yeah, well, let's go,” Jack said, leading Teal'c to the recreation room for a boxing round or two.

====

Daniel could have been anywhere.  For all Jack knew, his lover could have gone back to Egypt.  Still, Jack's soul told him that his soulmate wasn't really running from him, but from himself.  There was a torment inside the archaeologist that was ripping him apart as he fought between friendship and the survival of his significant other.

~No, you haven't gone far,~ Jack speculated that night as he sat on the roof deck.  Then he smiled as he realized where Daniel must have gone.  ~I'm losing my touch; should of thought of this hours ago.~  Praying he was right, that Daniel simply wanted some peace that a city full of people couldn't provide, Jack headed for the Colorado cabin that he rented year-round.  ~I really should buy that place; we sure use it enough,~ he thought as he drove the lonely highway that led to the secluded cabin by the lake.

====

A few hours later, Jack turned off the lights to the truck.  He was smiling for he had just parked next to Daniel's sporty Shelby-American sports car.

~I knew it, Angel.~

Jack closed the door and triggered the vehicle alarm.  He only got two steps when the cabin door opened.

Daniel walked to the edge of the outer doorframe.  He was wearing old, tattered blue jeans, a white tee shirt, and a brown and tan plaid shirt that was unbuttoned.  He blinked several times and then smiled.

“What took you so long?”

Jack beamed at the question as he walked to his lover and took him into his arms.

“Traffic,” Jack teased.  Then he whispered, “Are you okay?”

“Hold me,” was Daniel's answer.

Jack immediately took Daniel into his arms and squeezed him tightly.  In Daniel-speak, 'hold me' meant the archaeologist was anything but okay.  Even if the phrase Daniel had used hadn't told Jack what he needed to know, the tiny tremors exuding from the young man's body would.

“Let's go inside, Danny.”

The lovers locked up the cabin, and Daniel led them to the fireplace.  He had a fire going, and near the fireplace, he had placed a tray with two thermoses, one full of coffee and the other of hot chocolate.  There were crackers and chips, too, to snack on.

“Looks like you were expecting me,” Jack said as he and Daniel continued to hold hands.

“I was.  Jack, I was telling the truth.  I wasn't running from you; I was running from myself, but I didn't get any further than the freeway.  I didn't know where to go, so I came here.  The funny thing is that as soon as I drove up, I knew you'd find me here.  I ... I stayed, Jack, knowing you'd come.”

“You're learning, Danny,” Jack said, reaching up to caress his lover's cheek.

“Jack, this isn't about us; it's me.  I'm being torn apart in some ... some crazy internal battle about Teal'c, but I'm losing.”

Jack moved so that he and Daniel were facing each other.  He sighed and nodded as he told his lover, “Well, then we have to figure out a way for you to win.”

“How?  I understand the rational points.  I ...”

“Danny,” Jack interrupted.  “I don't care what you understand, you have to feel it, and that's the problem, you're not.  You're letting your heart think with your brain, and your brain with your heart.  You're just mixed up.”

“Jack, that is the most insane comment I've ever heard, but, gawd, I think it's accurate.  Hold me.”

Two 'hold me' requests within five minutes told Jack the talking would have to wait.  Daniel needed reassurance, not about their nation of two, but that they'd find a solution and another happy ending.

They kissed and nestled together by the fire.  Jack held his soulmate close, never letting him go, and for the rest of the night, they let the love of their hearts rule the conversation of their bodies.

====

After breakfast the following morning, and the obligatory phone call to the SGC, which, surprise of surprises, General Hammond was expecting, the lovers took the rowboat out onto the lake.  Daniel leaned back into his lover. The rowboat was small, but the lovers had learned how to fit in almost anything, anywhere, even though both were at least six-feet tall.

“The sunlight is dancing in your hair,” Jack crooned as he kissed the hair in question.

“You're a romantic sap, O'Neill,” Daniel said, loving the words.

Jack's hands snaked under Daniel's blue shirt and began to caress the smooth skin he loved so much.

“Only with you, Angel.”

“Jack, I understand the cultural differences, except I'm not sure that's what this is.  I mean, there are, uh, a lot of people who feed off of anger and the Biblical belief of an eye for an eye.  Chulakians believe that way.  Remember when Teal'c confronted Maybourne at Area 51?”

Jack couldn't help but chuckle as he mimicked the Jaffa's words to a clearly intimidated Harry Maybourne -- “In my culture, I would be well within my rights to dismember you.”

“He would have been.  That's Chulakian justice -- an eye for an eye,” Daniel said matter-of-factly.  “When we, uh, the Tok'ra, asked Teal'c to not let on that they knew Tanith was evil, Teal'c went against his culture.  He loved Shan'auc and had made a commitment to her.  That commitment was as legal, or maybe I should say, uh, binding, as, well, marriage on Earth.  Her murder gave him the right to get justice any way he wanted.  There would have been no repercussions for him on Chulak.”

Jack listened to Daniel's comments, knowing his lover was right.

“It's a good thing Teal'c used restraint.  I'd hate to think of Harry as finger food,” Jack quipped.

“Gawd, Jack, that was bad.”

“You're right.  I'm sorry.  I do understand what you're saying about cultures being different.  What's the point?  I mean, we know this already, don't we?” Jack asked.

“Yes and no.  Yes, I know it, but it's not helping,” Daniel sighed.

“Soooo, what else can you tell me about cultural differences that won't help,” Jack dared to tease.

“You're impossible, Jack.”

“You need to talk, Danny, and I'm here to listen; so ... talk!” Jack lightly commanded.

Daniel considered arguing, but at that moment, Jack's fingers lightly pressed into his abdomen, and the touch got his mind wandering to other, more intimate touches.  He moved his hands to rest atop Jack's, resulting in his shirt being raised up a bit.

“Culture isn't something easily changed, if it even can be.  An entire society would have to transform itself for that to happen.  Everything we do and say, the patterns we set, our traditions and customs, the values we live by, our history and folklore, how we think and how we communicate it -- all of that is our culture.  It's learned and transmitted from generation to generation, and veering from it is separating from the culture's heritage.  Asking Teal'c not to go after Tanith is like asking us to ... to ... well, to let murderers walk the street without fear of ever going to jail.  He can't change.”

“Danny, he knew we'd live,” Jack contended, looking at the comment as being more hopeful than technically accurate.

“Jaffa arrogance?” Daniel questioned doubtfully.

Jack sighed, “He was doing what he thought he had to do.”

“I'm not arguing that.  What I'm saying is that Teal'c put his need for revenge ahead of your safety.  Jack, he didn't follow orders, did he?”

“What?”

“Are you going to sit here and tell me you didn't tell Teal'c to head back to the ship?”

“No, I ... Danny, I never actually *ordered* ...”  Jack let out a sigh, feeling the intensity of his lover's challenging stare.  He looked away and ran his hand through his hair, then looked back and said, “The truth is that he basically ignored me,” he admitted.

“Exactly.  In that moment, you were expendable.  Killing Tanith was more important to Teal'c than keeping you alive.”

“I can take care of myself, you know.  I'm sure that's what Teal'c was thinking,” Jack asserted.  ~I hope.~

“That's not the point,” Daniel responded a bit tersely.

“Then tell me what is,” Jack requested.

“He wasn't giving you the option, Jack.  He acted like a Japanese kamikaze pilot, willing to end his own life to get justice, and he was willing to make you pay that price, too.”

Jack cocked his head to the right a little.  He really didn't know how to combat Daniel's words, because Daniel was right.  He reflected back on the moments in question.

SG-1 and Jacob had been on a mission that began with helping to relocate the Tok'ra to a more permanent base that was “off the Goa'uld map,” according to Jacob.  To help with that endeavor, the Tok'ra were borrowing the mother ship that SG-1 had recently secured from the System Lord Cronus which would carry the Tok'ra and their Stargate to the new location.

However, when it was learned that Apophis and his fleet were en route, Sam came up with a plan to blow up Vorash's sun.  The resulting explosion would wipe out everything in the barren solar system, including Apophis' fleet.  It had been an opportunity that not even Jack could pass up.

As so often happened, things had taken a turn for the worse when an attacking Goa'uld al'kesh threatened to destroy SG-1's vessel.  Fortunately, during the battle, the al'kesh had taken a hard hit that hindered their progress, but, unfortunately, it also damaged SG-1's vessel.  Main power had been offline, the hyperdrive was down, and weapons were inoperable.  To further complicate matters, Sam and Jacob had already set in motion the plan to blow up the sun.  Their only course of action to save themselves had been to use the death glider to finish off the al'kesh.  With Teal'c in the pilot seat, Jack and the Jaffa moved to try and finish off the attacking Goa'uld vessel.

Just as the death glider approached, though, the al'kesh fled the area, apparently heading for Vorash.  Without consultation and ignoring his commanding officer's comments and concerns, Teal'c followed the ship, convinced it was going to pick up Tanith, the Goa'uld who had killed his beloved Shan'auc.  Tanith had escaped from the Tok'ra not long before, and Teal'c's main focus was killing the Goa'uld.  The death glider had crashed on Vorash shortly thereafter, damaging both its propulsion and communication systems beyond repair.

Jack and Teal'c had made their way to the rings transporter, but before they could get to safety, they were ambushed.  Jack managed to take cover and fend off their attackers, but Teal'c was wounded and ringed up to the Goa'uld mother ship.

Fortunately, Sam and Jacob had managed to repair much of the damage on their ship.  Soon thereafter, they had been able to reestablish communication with Jack and transport him back up to the ship via the rings.  Luckily, Jack's only injury was a cut along his left eye.

“I'm right, Jack, and you know it.  That's why you haven't said anything in the last five minutes,” Daniel charged, startling Jack out of his silent recall.  The younger man twisted out of Jack's hold, feeling more agitated than before.  As the rowboat rocked slightly, Daniel twisted around, his knees on the boat's bottom, and his hands gripping its sides.  “You knew it then.  That's why you didn't want to talk about it on the ship,” the archaeologist challenged, thinking back on their brief conversation aboard the vessel not long after Jack's rescue.

//Flashback//
On the pel'tac (bridge) of their ship, Daniel sat on the steps that led down from the command chair while Jack was lying down behind him in front of the chair.  He had his left foot resting on the middle step, close to where Daniel sat.  The older man was exhausted and worn out from all that had happened up until then, and he was carrying a burden that Daniel felt was unjust.

“I don't suppose you wanna talk about what happened on Vorash,” the archaeologist asked as he fidgeted with the boonie that he held in his hands.

“Not really,” Jack answered flatly, his hands on top of his head as he stared up at the ceiling.

“Didn't think so,” Daniel quickly responded, dropping his head down in both relief that his lover was safe and frustration that Jack was blaming himself for something that wasn't his fault.

Suddenly, Jack explained, “We were ambushed at the rings.  Teal'c took one in the back.  I shoulda seen it comin'.”

Quickly, Daniel responded, “Well, I thought the key to a good ambush was to make sure that you *don't* see it comin'.”  He paused briefly, taking a quick glance back at his hurting soulmate.  ~Come on, Jack.  This was not your fault.~  “My point is that I'm ... I'm sure that you did your best.”

“Apparently, it wasn't good enough,” Jack said, unable to free himself from his guilt.

~Crap, Teal'c.  This is your fault.  Relax, Jackson.  He had his reasons.~  Daniel sat quietly for a minute before refuting Jack's statement.  “Jack, you didn't create the situation.”

“I'm the leader of the team, Daniel, and I'm responsible for everyone on it.”  Jack scooted up, clearly not wanting to discuss it anymore.  “Here, let's play,” he said, taking a position at the side of the steps.

“You're out of your mind,” Daniel replied, watching as Jack reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out a small ball.  ~Only My Jack would think to bring a ball on a mission into space.~

Still, the archaeologist moved to the other side of the step, and the lovers played for points while they waited for Sam and Jacob to work their magic at making further repairs to the ship.

~Okay, Babe, we'll play now, but when we get home, we are going to talk about this,~ Daniel thought as his finger tapped the ball into Jack's 'finger target'.
//End of Flashback//

“I did talk about it,” Jack spoke strongly.

“No, Jack.  All you did was express a moment's guilt, and then you wanted to play with that ... that ball.”

“Daniel, Teal'c is our friend.  What he did, he did because ...”

“Because it's his heritage and his culture, I know that, for crying out loud!” Daniel shouted.

“Danny ...”

“No, Jack.  Remember what you told me Teal'c said?”  Noticing his lover's blank stare, Daniel continued, his anger spilling out in rapid speech.  “You said that before the ambush at the rings, that you had said something about how long it would be before the sun would blow up.  You knew you didn't have a lot of time.”  He let out a snort and continued, “And what was Teal'c's response?  Was it regret that the Jaffa were still fighting for their freedom?  Was it not being able to say goodbye to his son?  Was it sadness that he was about to take his so-called brother-in-arms to his death because of his need for revenge?  Gawd, was it any of those?  *No!  No*!  You told me what he said, Jack.  All he cared about, knowing death was imminent, was that Tanith would not have time to escape, that Tanith would be destroyed and burned to nothingness along with the two of you.  *That's* what Teal'c cared about.”

“Daniel, step back and ...” Jack began, though he didn't get far when Daniel's anger flared even more, the veins in his neck showing as he screamed his wrath.

“*You could have freakin' died, and he didn't care.  He didn't think about me, I mean you ... gawd*!”

“Danny, be care...” Jack tried to warn his lover.

Jack's sentence, however, met a watery end.  In his agitated state, Daniel rocked the boat, literally.  He banged against the sides of the boat as he tried to stand, and just that quickly, the small rowboat overturned.

~Geez!~  The older man gulped for air when he surfaced.  Seeing his lover staring at him, Jack said, “If you wanted to go for a swim, Daniel, all you had to do was say so.”

In a moment of anger, Daniel created a giant splash of water that engulfed his lover.  The next thing Jack saw was Daniel swimming for shore.

Jack hurriedly swam after the upset younger man.

~Dang geeks.~  Jack did the breast stroke as fast as he could.  ~Dang young geeks~  He saw Daniel reach the shore.  ~Dang young geeks with healthy knees,~ he moaned as he finally pulled himself out of the water.

Finding speed he didn't know he had, Jack leaped into a flying tackle, just grabbing a hold of Daniel's jeans a few feet from where their vehicles were parked.

“*Let go of me*!” Daniel yelled as he struggled.  The two wrestled for several seconds until finally, Daniel was on his back with Jack atop him.  Daniel's arms were flailing about in his quest to knock his lover away, but Jack was determined.  “*Get off me*!”

“No,” Jack responded simply, grunting as he put more effort into stopping Daniel from hitting him.  “The truth, Danny.  You're mad at Teal'c because he endangered my life.  I get that.  But do you get the other truth?”

“You're not a freakin' psychiatrist.  Get ... off ... of me!”

“You said it yourself, Danny, out there on the boat.  Teal'c didn't care what he was doing to *you*.”

Daniel shook his head, fighting off an angry tear that threatened to fall.

“Angel, he doesn't know about us.  He thinks I'm alone in the world.  We're brothers.  That's what he called us when we were stuck out there in space last year -- brothers, warriors, and essentially, alone.  He doesn't know, Danny, that you and I are part of each other.  He doesn't know.”

Daniel's body relaxed, and now the tears came as he gasped, “I need you.”

“I'm here, Angel.  I'm right here,” Jack promised, his voice cracking.  He leaned down, his lips meeting Daniel's.  It was tentative at first, and then Daniel's arms wrapped around Jack, his hands pressing the older man to him.  “I love you,” Jack gasped right before the two made love, right there beside their cars at their getaway cabin.

====

The lovers were inside where they sipped some St. Julien's wine that Jack always kept at the cabin (it was Daniel's favorite, after all) and snacked on some crackers; and then they made love again in their bedroom.

As the afternoon began to ebb, Daniel nestled his head against Jack's shoulder.  They were cuddling now, still naked, enjoying small touches, frequent kisses, sweet terms of endearment, and the caressing of each other.

“Jack, I didn't know why I was mad.”

“I know,” Jack responded softly.

Daniel took a deep breath as he explained, “I've been blaming Teal'c for putting your life in jeopardy when what I'm really mad about is that he doesn't know about us.”

“We could tell him,” Jack offered as his left hand gently carded through Daniel's dark hair.

“It wouldn't be right, Jack.  Teal'c lives by the meaning of honor; we'd be asking him to lie, and I couldn't do that.”

“The Jaffa don't live by 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', Danny.”

“No, they don't,” Daniel agreed as he moved his head upwards and kissed his lover on the jaw line.  “But he'd have to cover for us with General Hammond and anyone else who ... gawd, with the entire military.  It's bad enough that Sam has done all she has.”

“Yeah,” Jack agreed with a sigh.

“Teal'c is different.  His values and the rules he lives by are different because he was born in a different place.  It may be a Jaffa revenge thing, and I may not like it, but what he did, the choice he made to go after Tanith, was his to make.”  Daniel's left hand swirled a few strands of Jack's chest hair as he talked.  “He thinks you'd leave no one behind, but he's wrong, Jack.  Gawd, please don't let him do that again.”

“I'll try not to, Danny,” Jack promised, moving over to shift their positions slightly.

As Jack gazed down on him, Daniel reached up and ran his hands through the silver-gray hair he loved.

“You're so sexy, Jack.  I know it was insane, but the last couple of weeks, anytime I thought you were with Teal'c, I almost exploded inside.”  Daniel's fingers pressed against Jack's head and then his neck, each finger lovingly kneading a miniature massage into his lover's skin as he talked.  “I was so afraid I'd lose you, and that would kill me.  You know that, right?”

“Yeah,” Jack said, leaning down for an all-too-brief kiss, but the kiss led to another, until finally, the lovers joined their bodies together in a dynamic harmony yet one more time.  “Love you so much, Angel,” Jack whispered.

“I love you, too, and I need you to stay alive, Jack.  Stay ... alive,” Daniel uttered just before giving in to the union of their hearts, expressed by the hardened dance of their two bodies.

====

The lovers had slept for a short time and were once again engaged in the quiet reflection of the last month.

“Angel, are you sure you're okay now?”

“No.  Jack,” Daniel sighed.  “It's a lot of things, I think.  I mean, the main thing is that I was just scared of losing you, and then I'm ... gawd, I guess I'm still angry that we have to hide so much, even though I know that's all we can do right now, but ...”

“Sha're,” Jack spoke quietly.

“I have forgiven him,” Daniel spoke quietly.

“It's like Charlie, isn't it?”  Jack felt the slight nod against his chest.  He took a breath and then took an even deeper breath as his hands warmed Daniel's bare back.  “Sometimes it's easier to forgive than to forget.  You've never yelled at Teal'c, have you, Danny?  I'm guessing you never even told him that you were angry, on any level.”

“Not ever,” Daniel admitted.  “I realize choosing Sha're was something Teal'c did to protect the other female prisoners.  He was First Prime, and he knew what Apophis and Amaunet liked.  Sha're ... she fit the bill.  If he hadn't taken her, many others would have died.”

“He had no choice,” Jack put forth lightly, adding, “and when he killed her, he was saving you; you know that.”

“I wasn't strong enough to fight her, Jack,” Daniel recalled, swallowing hard as he spoke.  “I ... she was so beautiful, and I loved her, and I wanted her to have a life to live.  I knew it couldn't be with me, but she was so young, and she had fought so hard.  If I had acted quicker, maybe I ... ma...”

“Danny, stop.  There is no way you could have killed Amaunet when it meant killing Sha're.”

“You could have,” Daniel surprised his lover by saying.

Jack's heart stopped because he knew his lover was right.  If Daniel's life was on the line, Jack would kill anyone that was in his path.

“I'm sorry,” Daniel continued.  “My point is that when she held that ribbon device up, I had a split second when I could have saved myself, but I didn't. I had to forgive Teal'c, Jack, because the truth was I took the easy way out.  I didn't shoot, but I ... gawd, I knew he would.  I knew that ...”

Daniel's words had become so soft as a hidden truth emerged, and the quieter his words, the tighter Jack's arms enveloped the younger man.

“It's okay, Danny.”

“No, it's not, not unless I face the truth.  Jack, I knew someone would follow me.  Maybe it would be close.  Maybe I'd die following Sha're into the tent, but I was willing to do whatever I had to if I could save her, and I knew if I couldn't, someone behind me would ...”

“Save you,” Jack said, completing Daniel's sentence.

“I passed the buck, Jack.  I have no right blaming Teal'c for doing something I should have done.”

“Sha're was your wife, Daniel; no one expected you to kill her.”

Daniel's fingers toyed with Jack's damp and sweat-soaked chest hairs, and then he looked up into Jack's eyes.

“I guess it's just been building up inside of me, anger and regret, guilt even. I'm not really sure I'm ready to let it go yet.”

“Angel, there's no clock ticking away here.  Now that you've faced those feelings, deal with them,” the older man advised lovingly.

Daniel had a closed smile on his face and let out a tiny chuckle.

“Deal with them,” Daniel echoed.  He settled back on Jack's chest and said, “Good advice, Colonel.”

“It happens, Love,” Jack said with a smile.  After a minute, the older man added, “All I'm saying is give yourself time to get over it.”

“Teal'c has saved our lives more times than I can count.  He's our ... he's my friend, and that's a choice that I make,” Daniel informed his lover, himself, and the universe, all at one time.

“Danny, maybe you should tell him.”

“Maybe,” Daniel said, letting quiet overtake him as his Jack pillow radiated love while giving the younger man the safe harbor he so desperately needed in his life.

“Teal'c knows something's been off.  He thinks if you do that kelto-stuff, you'll be okay.”

Daniel chuckled and corrected, “Kelno'reem, Jack.”

“Whatever,” Jack teased.

“Maybe, uh, that's not such a bad idea,” Daniel conceded, letting the idea seep into his consciousness.

“Danny ...”

“Yeah, me, too,” Daniel laughed as he got up, both men needing to take care of calls of nature.

The lovers were on the road back to their normalcy, and it felt good.

====

“Hammond will be happy to see you in the morning,” Jack said late that night as they walked back into the country-style home the two men shared.

“I don't know; he might just like it if I stayed away.  He wasn't real happy when I told him I needed time off.”  The younger man's head was down as he walked into the living room, his insecurity shining through.  “He could probably find someone better to run ...”

“Daniel,” Jack interrupted, a harsh quality in his tone, “that's crap, and you know it.  Hammond was really worried about you.”

“How do you know?”

Jack smiled as he answered, “Because when I called in, after he gave me heck about not coming in, he told me to make sure I found out what was wrong and fix it.  He told me there were a lot of rocks that needed classifying and languages that needed translating, and only you could do it.”

Daniel chuckled as he crossed his arms, saying, “Jack, he didn't say that.”

Jack closed the gap between the two and put his hands on Daniel's cheeks, cupping the stubbly face.

“Close,” Jack chuckled.  “He told me to take care of you.  He always says that, Danny.  Somehow, when things go wrong, he knows I won't let you ...”

“Run,” Daniel interjected.

Jack shrugged his agreement, but added, “That wouldn't be Hammond's word, but he knows I'll find you, and more importantly, he knows I'll bring you back.”

“Like tonight,” Daniel said quietly.

“No.”

“No?” Daniel asked, his eyes full of surprise.

“In the morning,” Jack clarified just before kissing his lover.  As the two headed upstairs, the colonel asked, “Are you going to be okay with Teal'c?”

“Yes,” Daniel sighed.  “We can't change people.  Teal'c is who he is, and no one can, or should, change that.”

“That's very profound, Doctor Jackson,” Jack noted, half teasingly, as they reached the top of the stairs.

“No, it's just human nature, or rather, Jaffa nature,” Daniel vocalized casually. “Just do me a favor, Jack, and try to stay out of his way when he goes on one of those revenge things.”

“I'll do my best,” Jack assured as the lovers began to undress.  A minute later, Jack looked up.  He was still undressing, and Daniel was just staring at him.  “What?”

“Just admiring the view; it's my favorite view in the entire universe,” Daniel spoke in a voice full of loving emotion.

Jack smiled, amazed that the younger man was his.  It was something he thanked the heavens for each and every day.

====

“You'll depart at 0930 hours.  Colonel, SG-3 will accompany you,” Hammond advised.  “Dismissed,” the general added as he stood up.  “Uh,” the major general turned around.  “And, Doctor Jackson, it's good to have you back.”

“Thank you, Sir,” Daniel responded shyly, running his right hand along the top of the folder he was holding.

Hammond nodded and exited the briefing room.

“I want to double-check the figures before we leave.  If you'll excuse me,” Sam said, smiling at Daniel and then walking out of the room.

Teal'c got up and headed for the door.

“Oh, Teal'c,” Daniel called out, walking extra fast to cross the expanse of the briefing room to talk to his friend.  “Uh, listen, I've ... caught up with, uh, all that ... work I've been doing.  I was wondering if you wanted to catch a movie or something with me.”

Teal'c nodded, responding with, “DanielJackson, DoctorFraiser was not able to answer my questions about the Rocky Mountain Ice Cream.”

“Teal'c, it's Rocky Road ice cream, but I think you mean the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Actually, that's not really something I'm, uh, acquainted with, but ...”  Daniel paused.  He glanced over at Jack, and slowly, a smile emerged.  “But Jack's an expert.”

“That I am, Dannyboy,” Jack confirmed as he joined the conversation, a big smile on his face.  “Tell ya what, Big Guy,” the colonel began as he put one arm around Teal'c's shoulders and the other around Daniel's, steering them out of the briefing room.  “Tonight, when we get back from this mission, the three of us will go to the theater and take on Rocky and his friends.  Teal'c, you haven't lived until ...”

The three teammates ... the three friends ... the two warriors ... the two soulmates ... Jack, Daniel, and Teal'c headed down the corridor, preparing for Teal'c's Rocky Horror indoctrination.

Teal'c was pleased he would finally get to experience this strange Earth phenomenon.  He felt certain Jack would make sure the event was 'out of this world', and he was confident Daniel would keep them from spending time in the 'Tau'ri slammer'.  More than that, he was pleased that his friend, DanielJackson, seemed to be his friend again.  He hoped Daniel would meditate with him later to heal whatever rift occurred between them.

Jack was happy that the team wouldn't be divided.  If push had come to shove, he would have been forced to request a reassignment for Teal'c to another team.  Teal'c was his spiritual brother and a friend, but Daniel was Jack's lover and soulmate, and Daniel would always come first.  More than that, though, Jack loved the twinkle currently on the younger man's face.  It was free of guilt, anger, hurt, and fear.

As for Daniel, he was glad that he was at peace again.  His irrational fears almost cost him the only family he'd known since the death of his parents -- SG-1.  Teal'c was trusted and loyal, but for a moment, because of a cultural difference combined with his own anger at having to hide in plain sight and his resurfacing guilt about Sha're's death, Daniel almost shoved his friend aside.  Now, though, the team, his family, was strong once again.

“Teal'c, later, I'd like to talk to you about something,” Daniel said amid the joviality.

“As you wish, DanielJackson.”

“It's just ... I need to apologize a...about something.”

~I am glad; perhaps he will tell me what has been wrong.~  Teal'c cocked his head at his friend and bowed slightly, closing his eyes as he did so.  Then, looking straight ahead, he said, “I, too, wish to apologize.”

“For what?” Daniel asked, stunned.

Somberly, the Jaffa answered, “For whatever I have done that has upset you.”

“It's my fault, but we're, uh ... well ...”

“We're good to go, aren't we, Big Guy?” Jack asked, slapping Teal'c on the back and wearing a huge grin.

“Indeed, O'Neill.”

“We'll talk, Teal'c,” Daniel repeated, this time with a grin on his face.  He added, “And, uh, maybe we can get Jack to go Jell-O wrestling again.”

Jack's eyes widened in surprise at Daniel's suggestion.  He stared at his soulmate who just kept smiling as he shrugged.

The world was right once again, even if a tad quirky, for the SGC, for SG-1, and for Jack and Daniel in their unique nation of two.

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

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