Boundaries

Author: Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Mini-Angst, Humor, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  5 - May 12-13, 2002
Spoilers:  Scorched Earth, Red Sky, Beast of Burden, The Tomb
Size:  33kb, short story
Written:  March 23-24,27-28, April 3, 2004  Revised for consistency:  February 3, 2007  Revised for timeline:  March 25, May 1, 2008
Summary:  Jack and Daniel argue - is it real?
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s), “They Don't Understand,” “Detour,” “It Goes Both Ways,” and “Beach Blanket Blond”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Claudia, QuinGem, Kalimyre, Drdjlover, Lissa!

Boundaries
by Orrymain

Jack and Daniel walked swiftly down the corridors of the SGC, their focus solely on each other.  Both men had gone through the usual post-mission examination in the infirmary, showered and changed into their blue BDUs, and then attended the initial debriefing after the mission to P2X-338 had ended.  Now their workday was coming to a close, and they were about to begin their evening plans.  Jack's hands were out in front of him, making curt, sharp motions as he talked, while Daniel's hands were very animated as he spoke.

“Jack, you have to admit that on the surface, it looks bad,” the archaeologist stated.

“No, Daniel, I don't.  You were there.  You know what happened.”

“Yes, I do, but ...”

“There are no 'buts', Daniel,” Jack argued sternly.  **Except your butt, and I have to admit, I like it very much,** he communicated covertly.

**Thank you, Love,** Daniel replied.  Verbally, he responded with a frustrated edge to his voice.  “Jack ...” he began.

“Daniel, you're wrong,” Jack claimed, hiding the grimace he felt inside.  **Can't believe I said that.  You wrong?  Maybe once a year, my cute little Space Monkey.**

“You seem to think I'm wrong a lot nowadays,” Daniel replied sarcastically. **You give me too much credit, Jack, and cut it out with the Space Monkey stuff.**

**No, I don't.  You're amazing, and I can't.  You'll always be my Space Monkey, and you know it.**

**Jack, we're supposed to be fighting here.  I can't fight if you say this stuff ... especially the SM name.  Gawd, it reminds of our first night together.  I can't yell at you if I'm thinking about that.**

**Sorry,** Jack apologized.  **Angry -- think angry.**

The two passed several SGC personnel as they walked, but they were oblivious to most of them.  Approaching them near the elevator were male nurse Casey Hemmings and Airman Tracey O'Connor.

“They're at it again,” Casey said, a bit of disbelief in his voice.

“They sure do fight a lot,” Tracey commented.  “I'm amazed they're on the same team.”

“Don't let their fights fool you, Tracey.”

“I remember when they used to smile as they fought.  Casey, they used to be friends.  I don't think they are anymore.”

As they passed by the two bickering teammates, Casey looked back over his shoulder, hoping Tracey was wrong.  Then again, maybe he'd finally have a shot at Daniel.  As Tracey stopped to talk with another co-worker, Casey continued to watch the members of the flagship team walking down the hall.

At that moment, mid-argument, Jack felt Casey's gaze upon Daniel.  Jack turned and gave nurse the same look he'd given them the day they met.  That had been Casey's first day at the SGC.  Lou Ferretti had introduced Casey to Daniel, and Casey had definitely been interested, but before the male nurse could make a move on Daniel, the archaeologist had been intercepted by the colonel.  It was a move Casey had never forgotten -- smooth and effective, and Daniel had never even been aware of the slick run of interference.

Seeing that glare again now, Casey gulped, thinking, ~Okay, no chance.  Wonder why they're fighting?  Oh, well.~

Casey returned his attentions to Tracey and the other co-worker just as Jack and Daniel rounded the corner, their fighting on the upswing.

--

**Jack, I saw that.**

**He likes you,** Jack observed about Casey Hemmings.

**He's just a friend.**

**But he wants to be more.  I'll just go and ...** Jack began.

**Jack, the fight,** Daniel reminded, trying not to lose his focus on their current objective.  **Put Mr. Jealousy back in his jar, please.**

**Oh, yeah.  Sorry, Love.**  Regrouping, the older man continued with their game plan.  “Don't go there,” he responded angrily, walking into the elevator.  The door closed, and he found his eyes glancing up at the security camera as he pressed the button to the appropriate floor.  “The Russians don't belong at the SGC, and I don't want them here.”

“We made promises, Jack, and we haven't followed through.”

“Fine.  We're Indian Givers,” Jack snapped.  “I'm sorry, Daniel, but my heart isn't bleeding for those people.  I trust them about as much as I trust a Goa'uld.”

“I understand that, but this is another time, Jack, and you need to move forward in your thinking,” the younger man opined.

Jack's feathers had been ruffled, just as the elevator doors opened.  He felt his blood pressure truly rise.  He exited the elevator with Daniel on his heels.

“Move forward?  If you'd seen the things I had, I doubt you'd be so quick to 'move forward' in your own thinking,” Jack argued.

“And that's precisely the kind of brain power that will keep us in our own version of the Dark Ages, Jack.”

**Nice line, Love,** Jack praised.  “Maybe I like the Dark Ages,” he said verbally, stopping his pace and turning to look at Daniel, who had to stop quickly or run into the older man.

Three Marines witnessed the exchange between Jack and Daniel in the hallways of Cheyenne Mountain.

The colonel continued forcefully, “Listen, Daniel, you want to go play with the Russians, then do it, but leave me out of it.”

As Jack turned and continued on his path, Daniel gave chase as he responded curtly, “Play?  Is that what you think I do, Jack?  Next time, Jack, you open the freakin' door!”

**Oh, play.  I want to play.  Let's go home and play,** Jack requested eagerly.

**Jack, we have a plan here.  Try to concentrate.**

**But I'd rather play with you,** Jack replied as his lust for his lover grew.  Still, they were in the middle of a performance, so he kept himself on an even keel as he made his oral response.  “I was ready to.  It took you, what?  Days ... *days*, Daniel, to get the blasted thing open.”

Daniel was fuming by the time they walked into the locker room.  Teal'c was there, as was Lou Ferretti and a group of Marines.

“And that's why you kept making fun of me, on the planet *and* in the briefing *in front of* the general?”

“I was *not* making fun of you.  I was pointing out the simple fact that the idiot Russians got the door open, but you couldn't,” Jack replied.

**Uh, Jack, Love.  I need to tell you something,** Daniel communicated.  ~Can't keep this from him.  He needs to know, and I want him to know.~

**What?**

**That ... I mean I know you tease a lot.  It's who you are, but, Jack, that did kind of irk me a little.  I mean, it wasn't just us, or Sam and Teal'c, but it was the general, and it was during an official briefing.  I'm sorry.  I guess I'm being over sensitive.**

Jack posed thoughtfully as he stared at his lover and realized how wrong he'd been.

**No, you're not.  Danny, I'm sorry.  Sometimes I forget where we are.  All I see is you, and you know how I am, but Daniel, no one can do what you do.**

**I don't know about that; I just want ... well, I guess the respect ...**

**I respect you, Angel, so I am sorry.  I'll try to catch myself next time.  I was just teasing, but you're right, it shouldn't have been during a briefing.**

The true seriousness of the matter handled, Daniel returned the game and spat, “I could open the door just fine, Colonel.  If you'd been a little patient.  This stuff doesn't come with remote controls, you know.”

“So you're admitting you couldn't do it as quickly as easily as the Russians?”

“No, Colonel, for all you know, they tried for months to get in the freakin' door.  Gawd, how'd you make it to the rank of colonel anyway?  Who'd you sleep with -- some general's daughter?”

**Wow, good one,** a very impressed Jack praised.

**Thank you ... for that, and for understanding about the comment.  I love you,** Daniel professed, wishing he could smile, but knowing he couldn't.

**Love you, too, Angel.**

Teal'c grew concerned.  He saw the murmuring Marines and gave them a death glare.  In less than two minutes, every Marine and airman present, including Ferretti, had exited, none saying a word to Jack and Daniel, who had continued their escalating exchange.

The Jaffa debated jumping into the fray.  His friends often bickered, but he didn't like it when their bickering became fighting, as this exchange had seemed to do.

“O'Neill, DanielJackson ...”

“WHAT?” both men yelled, their faces turned towards their friend with angry expressions.

**Uh-oh.  Yelling at a Jaffa is not the smartest thing to do, Jack,** Daniel opined, instantly regretting his response to the alien.

**He'll forgive us.  Just try and look duly chastised.**

**Remorseful look coming right up,** the younger man acknowledged, quickly changing his expression.

**I'd like to get something else up,** Jack retorted without altering his look.

**Jack, I'll blush, and then we'll really be in trouble,** Daniel warned.

**You're cute when you blush.**

**JACK!**

**Sorry.**

Undaunted, Teal'c fixed both men with a steely look and continued, “Perhaps you should consider your words more carefully.  O'Neill, is it not true that when you first heard the strange noise that might indicate danger, you called over your radio for DanielJackson first?”

“He's the most likely to get into trouble,” Jack answered.  “Of course, I checked on him first.”

“DanielJackson, is it also not true that when you opened the door to the ziggurat, that O'Neill complimented you.  He said, 'good job,' did he not?”

“He probably thought Sam had done it,” the archaeologist suggested, well aware that wasn't the case.

**Carter sure does come in handy for this stuff.**

“I do not approve of your tone with one another.  It is most disturbing.  I insist you go home and reconsider recent events.  I suggest O'Neill's pizza and several packs of beer.  It usually seems to be of assistance,” Teal'c stated, leaving the lovers alone without even giving them a second to respond.

Daniel rolled his eyes, walked to his locker, and changed into his street clothes.  Jack did the same.  Neither said a word until they walked out the door.  Members of SG-11 and SG-3, recently returned from a joint mission, were heading for the locker room.

**Here we go,** Daniel stated.

**Fire away,** Jack agreed.

With a bit of a scowl, the archaeologist stated sharply, “I want respect, Jack.  It's just like with Chaka.”

“You gave them weapons, Daniel.  We shouldn't have interfered.”

“Oh, come on.  Jack, who do you think you're talking to?  As you said, I was there, and I've been there on most of your missions over the past five years.  We've interfered plenty!”

“Sometimes we have to,” the older man argued.

“Exactly, and that's what happened when Chaka was kidnapped.  The Unas have a right to protect themselves and ...”

“We started a war,” Jack pointed out incredulously.

“No, we didn't,” Daniel refuted.  “We just gave them something to put them on equal ground.”

“Aren't you the peacemaker?  Since when do you go around supporting, no ... make that encouraging warfare?”

“I didn't encourage ...”

“*You gave them a blasted weapon!*” the colonel accused with cold eyes.  “What do you call that?”

**Following in my daddy's footsteps.  Note, I said that with a leer.  Oh, gawd.  What did I just say, er, think?**

**Gives a whole new meaning to ...** Jack smirked, surprised at his lover's silent phrasing.

**Jack ... stop right there and just continue on with the fight while I wash my brain out with soap.**

**Can I help?**

**NO!**

**Spoil sport,** Jack whined discouragingly.

The two men had once again entered the elevator.  They shared it with yet more SGC personnel, both civilian and military.

“I call it necessary, in this particular case.  I didn't start it, Jack.  They did.  It's not like on K'tau where you single-handedly decided to tear apart the planet's entire belief system.”

“Oh, give me a break, Daniel.  Those people thought Frey'r and the Asgard were gods.  That's not right, and you know it,” Jack insisted as he exited the elevator.

Daniel was once again on his lover's heels as they headed for the security gate, saying, “You didn't have a right to do what you did, Jack.”

“I was trying to save their miserable lives, even after they killed two of my men.”

Daniel sighed as the soulmates checked out.  They headed for the vehicles in the parking lot.  They saw others arriving and leaving at the same time.  Everyone nodded and exchanged acknowledgements with one another.

“Jack, we have to draw the line somewhere,” Daniel stated sternly.

**Hopscotch?**

**Gawd, you're back in elementary school again.**

“I draw the line at my men being blown to bits by an ungrateful idiot.  I tried it your way.  It didn't work,” Jack spoke with a raised voice.

“I am aware of that, and I wasn't arguing with you, so why, Jack?  Why destroy their belief system?” the archaeologist questioned.

“They thought Frey'r was a friggin' god, Daniel!  He's a nice enough guy, but he's no deity.”

**Don't tell Thor you are saying that about the Asgard, Jack.  I'm not sure he'll understand.**

**Yeah, the Asgard do get a bit power trippy sometimes.**

“Oh, for crying out loud,” Daniel expressed, disgusted as he channeled his lover.

“That's my line,” Jack whined, feeling like filing a lawsuit for copyright infringement.

**And I like it ... a lot!** Daniel responded.  “So sue me,” he encouraged coyly, proud of himself for stealing Jack's favorite line.  He had caught his lover totally unaware.  It gave him a feeling of excitement.  ~He's so cute when I get him with the unexpected.~

**Okay.  You're guilty as charged of phrase infringement.  I want all your clothes ... off ... now!**

**I give up.  You win.  Disrobing as soon as we get home.  I'm ready to pay my dues and serve my sentence,** the younger man agreed.

“If you had anything besides rocks that I wanted, Doctor Jackson, I might just do that!”  Silently, however, Jack smiled.  **Your 'rocks' will do just fine, Babe.**

“Sorry I don't have any tinker toys for you to steal,” Daniel replied.  **Although I have other things of interest that should hold your attention.**

**Holding is good.  Sucking is better.**

**Gawd, why do we start this stuff here?**

**Because we like to live dangerously,** Jack answered truthfully.  It may seem ridiculous, but there was a certain adrenalin rush achieved from the games they played and the chances they took at the SGC.  He glared at the younger man as he took his keys out of his pocket and replied, “I'm going home now, Daniel.”

The colonel glanced over at two Marines who were observing the “discussion” between he and his lover.

“More hockey reruns?  That's just like you, Jack, to love a sport that is nothing but an excuse for violence,” Daniel retorted.

“Okay, that's it.  You're out of my will.”

“Didn't know I was in it.”

“I was leaving you my National Geographics, the articles, anyway.”  Jack got into his truck and drove away.  **I'm taking the pictures with me to the grave.**

**Geez, Jack.**  Daniel took a breath and then got into his car, thinking, ~I'm glad that's over with.~

The archaeologist headed for his apartment.  Once there, he paid some bills, sorted through the pile of mail that had accumulated over the past several days, and ate a salad.  Then, he went to a lecture in Denver on new excavation techniques.

====

As he turned onto and then drove down the welcome and familiar street at 10:45 p.m., Daniel was tired.  It had been a long few months, not bad, but draining.  First, there were the events on K'tau, and the pros and cons of interfering in other civilizations.  It was still an emotionally hot topic and was often equated by Jack as being the same as 'Star Trek's' prime directive.

Then there was the period of readjustment for the lovers of being back on Earth after having been stranded off-world for over two months.  Their time on Xanadu, as they'd called the planet, had been wonderful.  Life had been very different for the couple there.

Then there was the incident with Chaka and other Unas being captured, tortured, and held as domestic slaves, followed by the Russian debate caused by the discoveries at the tomb on P2X-338, not to mention Frank Simmons' attempt to derail SG-1, something Daniel had taken care of himself, with a little help from an alien ally.  

There were more missions, more problems, and more political games, including Jack having been shot at one point.  As bad as they all were, that was the life Jack and Daniel lived every day.  It was their professional norm.

The game, however, was the worst part, far worse for the two men than any of their professional woes and hardships.  The game was the ongoing illusion of there being something inappropriate in the relationship between Jack and Sam.  It was strictly to help cover up the eternal love affair that was real between Jack and Daniel.  That was topped by the occasional threats Jack had covertly received from time to time.  As a result, the lovers often pretended to exaggerate their differences on purpose, to be distant and harsh with each other.  In Jack's view, it wasn't just to protect their relationship, but Daniel's life as well.

The subsequent, oftentimes staged arguments between the two strong-willed men had resulted in a Mountain full of gossip.

Daniel had heard the talk, comments like those exchanged between Casey and Tracey earlier.  People at the SGC wondered if the two men were friends anymore on any level.  Things had grown difficult with all the undercurrents and political games being played.  It made the true situations such as those with the people of K'tau that much more difficult to process.

The archaeologist unlocked the door to the peaceful home that he shared with his colonel and walked inside.  He got all of two steps into the entranceway before he was devoured by his lover.

“Geez, I thought you'd never get here,” Jack said before kissing Daniel again.

“Lecture ... ran ... late,” Daniel gasped between kisses.

The two men groped their way into the living room, their hands freely exploring the other.  Daniel was lying supine on the sofa, with Jack atop him as they kissed and touched the other in the most intimate of ways.

“I hate this, Jack.”

Jack stopped the trail of kisses he had been planting at the side of Daniel's neck and looked at his lover in surprise.  Daniel couldn't possibly be serious.  Could he?

“Oh, not this,” Daniel said, realizing what his soulmate was thinking.  He smiled, kissing his lover again.  “I hate what we did today.”

~Whew!~  Jack let out a sigh of relief.  Daniel had scared him for a minute.  “I didn't like it, either, but we both know the NID, Kinsey, Simmons, and heaven knows who else is still watching us.  It'll keep us both safer.”

“But everyone thinks we hate each other.  Gawd, Jack, did you see the looks?”

Acknowledging the question with a nod, Jack expressed, “I wish I knew another way.  I'm open to suggestions, if you've thought of something that will keep you safe.”

“Us.”

Jack smiled.  He never worried about himself, only Daniel, and unfortunately, they both had made some bitter political enemies over the past two years.  He'd occasionally received private intel that indicated the two were still of concern to someone; he just didn't know who their nemesis was, for certain, except that the NID was still out there, or forms of the NID, and they didn't like the trouble the leader of SG-1 was causing them.  Not only that, but he knew if those adversaries found out about his romantic relationship that Daniel would become a pawn.  That truth frightened Jack more than anything else.

“Danny, it's better if they think we're at odds.  If they find out about us ... well, you know what it could mean, so unless you're ready for me to retire ...”

“No, but I still don't like it.  I don't like it at all,” Daniel admitted.  When Jack placed his head on his shoulder, Daniel rested his cheek atop his lover's silver-gray hair.  He wrapped Jack into his arms, stroking gently up and down as he held him.  “I love you, Jack, and it hurts to play this argument game.  I mean, it's bad enough when we argue for real.  We do that often enough without manufacturing it and magnifying it like we've been doing.”

“I know,” Jack sighed.  “I'm getting kind of tired of it myself.  Let's see how it goes for the next little while.  Maybe we can back off, make up for the masses soon.”

“Maybe.  I want you to be safe, and you're right.  It's not about us, Jack, about our future, but they might try and blackmail you or something.”

“That's a possibility.  Danny,” Jack began as he raised his head to look into his partner's eyes.  “You really did do good opening that door.  No one else could have figured out that pattern.”

“The Russians did.”

“They got lucky.”  Jack smiled.  “And you know that I did what I thought was right on K'tau.  I gave you a chance, but then I had to try.  They were going to die because of something we did.  That makes it my responsibility.  Tell me you understand that.”

“I do, although,” Daniel paused, not really sure whether to grimace or laugh.  “I still can't believe you told the Asgard that we saved their little gray butts, but you did listen, Love.  That's all I've ever asked of you ... that you listen.  You gave me a chance, and they chose not to believe me.”

“They didn't believe me, either, but at least we tried,” the older man interjected.

“At least we tried,” Daniel echoed.  “Jack, about Chaka ...”

“I know how hard that was for you, Angel.  I don't think there was a right or a wrong to that situation.”

“Like with the Enkarans.  It was almost a no-win situation from the beginning, but I had to try.”

“Yeah.  We got very lucky there.  We had you.”

Daniel smiled, replying, “So, you aren't really angry at me for that?”

“Of course not,” Jack assured.  “You did what you thought was right.  I respect that.”

~Good.~  Daniel smiled as Jack laid his head back down in its previous position.  “National Geographics?”

Jack chuckled, “It was all I could think of.  Great tinker toys line, by the way.”

“Thank you, Babe.  Oh, and I love your tinker toys.”

“How about we go play with our own toys?” Jack asked with a wink as he looked at the younger man.

“Now that's your best idea all night,” Daniel opined, after which the two stood up.  “Did you watch hockey?”

Jack mumbled in a dismissive tone, wishing his partner hadn't asked the question.

“Jack?”

“No, I watched ...” Jack coughed to cover up his answer.

“Jack,” Daniel said more definitively as they walked into the master bedroom.

“I missed you, so I watched some drabble on the Discovery Channel,” Jack confessed.

After he threw his arms around his lover's neck and kissed him, Daniel laughed, “I do love you.”

“Me, too.”

The couple made love and fell asleep in each other's arms, happy at being together.

====

The next day, Jack and Daniel were storming down the corridors of the SGC.  Three SG teams, including SG-1, had been ambushed on PX2-001.  It was to have been a peaceful mission with a new ally known as the Jonites, recently befriended by the Tau'ri.

The ambush had caught the SG teams by total surprise, and the ensuing battle had been costly.  Jack was angry.  The inhabitants of the world had known the Goa'uld were nearby, but had said nothing, essentially letting the teams walk into the trap.  In some ways, the Jonites reminded Jack of the Tollan, only they were not nearly as advanced.

“Daniel, I don't want to hear it.”

“Jack, you never want to hear it, but you're going to,” the archaeologist insisted.

Sarcastically, Jack replied, “Spare me the bleeding heart.  They got what they had coming.”

“It wasn't their fault, Jack.  They were backed into a corner,” the younger man claimed.

“They could have told us, gotten a message to us somehow.”

“How?  Jack, the Goa'uld were everywhere.  What did you expect them to do?  They're a peaceful people, not Barbarian Huns,” Daniel reminded.

“Oh, please, Daniel,” Jack begged antagonistically.  “Peaceful doesn't mean they have to roll over and play dead.”

“Jack ...”

“No, Daniel ...” Jack's voice had risen.  He saw the looks coming from those in the corridor.  He quieted himself.  “Daniel, sometimes you have to fight for peace.  I'm not asking the Jonites to go to war, but all they had to do was tell me, or you, or Carter ... *someone*.  We lost three men out there today -- *three* -- because those peaceful people of yours were cowards.  I don't like cowards, Daniel.”

Jack shoved open the door to the locker room and began to change clothes.

“They aren't *my* people, Jack,” Daniel reminded gruffly.  “They're a very unique race that deserves a bit of leeway.  Maybe they were wrong, but they were afraid.  They've never faced a situation like this before.”

“Three men died, Daniel,” Jack reiterated tersely.

Daniel replied, “Yes, I know that, but does that justify us walking away from a world where hundreds of thousands might die if we don't help them?”

Refusing to answer, Jack stated, “I don't want to talk about this anymore.”

“Well, I do.”

“And I don't, so we're not going to continue this discussion.”

“You can't just stop a conversation, Jack,” the younger man argued vehemently.

“I can do anything I darn well please, and I choose to end this.”

Angrily, Daniel snapped, “Fine.  Close  your eyes.  Ignore the truth.  Go on, Jack.  Walk away, and watch those people die, all because *you* didn't want to talk about it anymore.”

“It's not my decision,” Jack responded.  “It's Hammond's.”

“And he listens to you, and you know it.  Don't play dumb with me, Colonel.”

“I'm not playing anything with you, Doctor Jackson,” Jack denied with a raised voice and then slammed the door of his locker shut, after which he walked out, heading for the exit.

--

Daniel followed three minutes later.  Unlike his lover, he hadn't been changing his clothes throughout their argument.  He wasn't sure Jack would be in the parking lot, waiting for him, but he was.

“I thought maybe you might have left,” Daniel stated quietly.

“You can be an aggravating pain, Daniel, but we did share a ride this morning,” Jack reminded.  “Get in.”

“How thoughtful of you,” Daniel snapped as he walked to the passenger side of the F-350 truck and got in.

“I don't like those people, Daniel.  I'm sorry if that doesn't meet with your approval.”

“You don't have to like them, but you don't have to sacrifice them, either,” the compassionate archaeologist put forth.

The couple's argument continued for the entire forty minute drive home to Jack's house.  They hadn't stopped for air once during the drive, their anger and frustration having risen dramatically during the trip home.  The sad thing was that neither had really been listening to the other.  Soon after their argument had begun, it had escalated to the point that they were essentially just yelling at each other, both taking out their frustrations on the one person they loved most in the universe.

====

In the driveway of the country-style home they shared, Jack locked the truck while Daniel continued his latest rebuttal.

“Jack, stop thinking with your P-90 and use your brain,” the archaeologist urged. “I know you can do it, because you've done it before.  We have to help.  We can't leave the Jonites to be slaughtered because of one bad experience.”

“Slaughtered?  Let them defend themselves, Daniel.  What they allowed to happen to our people was friggin' murder.”

Daniel unlocked the door and walked in as he accused, “You're exaggerating.  It wasn't ...” He paused and turned around, suddenly aware that his Love hadn't followed him inside.  Instead, the older man had sat down on the front step.  ~Strange.~  He walked to the open door and asked, “Jack, are you coming in?”

“Are you going to keep arguing?” Jack answered without answering.

“Are you going to keep being stubborn?”

“Then, no, Daniel, I'm not going inside,” the colonel stated, looking out towards the street.

Daniel stood silent for a moment, and then, slowly, he walked forward and asked, “Why?”

With a discontented sigh, Jack pointed out, “This one is real.”

“One?” the younger man repeated.  ~I think I'm confused, not, uh, for the first time, either.~

“Argument,” Jack clarified.  “We made an agreement, remember?”

“Oh,” Daniel replied as he let out a small smile and sat next to Jack on the top step of the front porch.

“Danny, we promised.  We set boundaries, and one of those was our home.  I know sometimes we forget that, but we can't afford to do that right now.  The SGC stays at the SGC.  This argument was, is, real.  I won't let us bring our differences at work into our house,” Jack maintained.

Daniel sat quietly for a moment and then spoke softly, “You're right.  Jack, will you promise me to just think about what I've said?  I'm not asking you to change your mind, to alter your opinion, or to do anything except ...”

“Listen,” Jack completed the request for his lover.

“Yes,” Daniel confirmed.  “Mull it over for a while and convince the general not to make a final decision for a few days.  Jack, losing people on your team hurts you, way down deep inside, and your team is the entire SGC.  I know you're hurting, but I'm just asking you to make sure that whatever your ultimate decision is that you make sure it's ... it's what you really want, and not one based on anger or grief.  Will you promise me that?”

Jack considered Daniel's words and then nodded, saying, “Yes, and will you promise me to try and look at this from my side, too?  Like you, I don't want you to change your opinions or perceptions, but you trust everyone, Danny.  Sometimes, that trust isn't a good thing.  Can you promise me to review the events objectively, to try and see what I'm saying, too, before you go over my head and argue with Hammond about it?  Will you promise me to do that over the next few days?”

Daniel nodded, agreeing, “I promise, Jack.”  He stood up and walked to the doorway.  “Come inside.”

As soon as Jack did as requested, Daniel ravished his lover.  They never even made it to the sofa, falling to the floor half way between the entranceway and the stairs.

As they settled in each other's arms, Jack kissed the top of Daniel's silky brown hair and apologized, “I love you, Angel.  I'm sorry I yelled earlier.”

“I'm sorry, too, and I love you so much, Jack, especially for taking care of us, reminding me of our promise.”

“We have to remember, Danny.  We're still playing too many games for the benefit of the NID or whoever.  It's too easy to let the game become the reality.  More than ever, we have to be sure that we don't bring the work into our personal time.  We don't have the luxury for that right now.”

Daniel scooted up and kissed his lover, then stated, “You are so *not* the dumb Colonel, Love.  Gawd, I love you.”

The lovers kissed some more and then went about their plans for the evening.

====

For dinner, Jack ordered Chinese and surprised his soulmate with a chocolate cake he had baked while Daniel took a shower and then wrote for a while in his journal.

Afterwards, the couple went up to the roof deck.  Though it had been partly cloudy earlier, the sky was clear now, and the stars were shining brightly in the sky.  Daniel was seated on the deck in front of Jack, leaning back against the man's left shoulder.  This was one of their favorite positions in the world.

As Jack snaked his hands under Daniel's white T-shirt and caressed lightly, he declared, “This is what is real, Angel.  You and me and the stars.  It's the most real thing in the universe.  Someday soon, we'll be able to stop pretending at the Mountain.”  After a moment, he sighed, “Someday soon.”

“I hope so, but even if we have to keep up the pretense, it'll be okay, because you're right, Babe,” Daniel agreed.  “This is the most important thing.  As long as we have this, we have everything.”

“I love you, Danny.”

“I love you, too.”

As the stars twinkled in the sky, Jack and Daniel loved their way into a new day, knowing their place in the universe was secure.  It was, after all, the most real thing in existence.

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