The Circle of Our Love

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, H/C of the mental kind, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  7 - September 23-27, 2003
Spoilers:  None
Size:  91kb
Written:  August 28-29, 2003  Revised: January 28, August 2,9,11, 2005, March 1, September 9, 2006, January 2, February 25-26, May 21-27, June 3, December 17, 2007
Summary:  Daniel has a very important question to ask his lover, but he wonders if he's pushing his luck in wanting it all.  How will Jack respond, and what will his answer be?
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) The dance club segment is inspired by Devra's “The Last Dance” previously referred to in my fic, “A Time for Us”
4) “The Circle of Our Love” is a song from the play “Saturday's Warrior,” lyrics and music by Doug Stewart and Lex de Azevedo.
5) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Linda, QuinGem, Claudia, Mair, Sara!

The Circle of Our Love
by Orrymain

====
--September 23, 2003
====

It was the first day of autumn, a time of change when warm colors began to grace the trees.  It signaled growth and maturity.  Lately, Daniel Jackson had been thinking about changes, wondering if he'd have the courage to instigate what could be the most important change in his life, ever.

Jack O'Neill, meanwhile, was trying to figure out why his lover had been so preoccupied.

“Sir, isn't Daniel coming in today?” Sam asked as she stood by Jack's table at the commissary holding her tray of food.

“No,” Jack answered, motioning for his second-in-command to sit down across from him.  “There's some seminar in Denver that he convinced Hammond would be vital to the survival of Earth if he could attend.”

“Vital?” Sam chuckled as she began to peel her banana.

“Banana?”

“Watching my figure,” Sam admitted, trying not to blush.

“Mmm,” Jack expressed and then shook off the strange answer.  “Anyway, Daniel is off with the rock people.”

“It's been a crazy year, hasn't it, Sir?”

“Carter, when isn't it crazy?” Jack asked snarkily.

“Good point,” Sam acknowledged.

Jack sighed, dropping his soup spoon down so that it made a clink as it hit the bowl.  It had been crazy, but something inside of him was saying that there was a tempest stirring.  He didn't know if it was good or bad, but there had been times in the last couple of weeks when Daniel had become overly quiet or distracted.  The curious colonel wanted to know why and if there was a reason for him to be concerned.

~Maybe I'll make it a point to find out why tonight.  If something's wrong, I want to nip it in the bud.~  He sighed, “Nip it.”

“Excuse me?” Sam asked just as she was about to take a bite of her banana, not sure what her CO meant by the comment.

“Barney Fife, Major,” Jack elaborated, but only slightly.

“Of course, Sir,” Sam replied.  ~Okay, it's going to be one of those days.  Maybe I can get lost in my lab.~

====

Late that afternoon, in a store in a Colorado Springs mall, Daniel stood transfixed, his eyes locked onto the fine, golden objects in front of him.  The gaping scientist was wearing a light blue silk shirt, navy blue pants, and a navy blue jacket, all designed to make his lover weak at the knees, since Jack had an obsession with the color blue, at least as far as Daniel was concerned.

Daniel was holding a bag that contained a fourteen-karat gold bracelet, already purchased, that was to be a gift for their good friend and teammate, Samantha Carter.  As usual, it was a last-minute shopping trip since the surprise party for the major was just two days away.

“Sir, is there something else?” the jewelry store clerk asked courteously.

Stunned, Daniel looked up.  He hadn't realized he was still staring at the gold jewelry.  His mind was off in an imaginary world of wishes and dreams.

Without warning, the archaeologist heard his voice say, “Yes, I'd like to see those, please,” as he pointed to the objects that had held him captive for the past ten minutes.

“Certainly,” the clerk responded with a joyful smile, knowing his commission on these pieces would be hefty.  “These are among our finest bands, simple, yet elegant.”

Daniel looked at the rack of gold wedding bands and picked up the one that had mesmerized him.  It was eighteen-karat gold, five-millimeters wide, and there was just something about it that fascinated him.  The young man couldn't take his eyes off of it.

Hesitantly, the archaeologist inquired, “Do you, uh, have a store in Denver?”

“Yes, we do.  Let me get the location for you,” the clerk answered, heading over towards the register at the other end of the store where he could find out the requested information.

“Thank you,” Daniel acknowledged as he reluctantly put the ring back down in its slot in the rack.  ~I might be out my of mind.  Might?  I *am* out of my mind, but I don't care.  They're perfect.  Gawd, I can't do this.  I want to though; I really want to.~  He sighed, ~I can go to Denver again tomorrow, while Jack's at the Alpha Site.  It's ... safer to buy this there, than here.  What am I thinking?  Okay, I can just turn around and ...~

Two minutes had passed and just as Daniel was about to call the man back and negate his request, the clerk returned with his business card, the address to the Denver store written on the back.

Handing the card to Daniel, the salesman informed, “It's on East First.  I've written the address and phone number on the back of my card, and also the reference information on the band you were looking at, Sir.”

Daniel smiled, put the card in his wallet, and said, “Thank you again.  Goodbye.” He left the mall and went home.  He tried thinking about the seminar he'd attended that morning and what had been discussed, but his focus just wasn't there.  Instead, he couldn't stop thinking about the gold band.  It was such a perfect circle, an unending circle, ~Just like Jack and me.  We *are* perfect together; we are.~


====

“Woof!”

Daniel smiled at the beautiful welcoming sound he heard.  Quickly, he tossed his car keys and the bag onto the entranceway table and headed for the patio door.

“Hey, Bijou, Katie!” Daniel greeted, opening the door and being promptly overrun by two very happy and beautiful beagles, licking him all over with several sloppy welcome home kisses.  “Get into any trouble today?”  More kisses were planted on his face.  “Yeah, like you'd tell me.”

“Woof! Woof!” came the response from both canines.

“I'm glad to see you, too.  Got Sam her present.  Hope she likes it,” Daniel opined as he stood up and retrieved the gift.

Taking the gift into the study, Daniel placed it on the desk in front of the computer and then, on a large post-it, wrote, “Jack, I thought Sam would like this.  What do you think?”

After attaching the post-it to the bag, the archaeologist went upstairs and changed into his navy blue sweats.  Sometimes, blue just seemed to be the best color to wear, even if Jack wasn't home.  The color itself now symbolized much of their relationship.

Daniel chuckled, remembering the last time his lover had talked about it, and that was just a week ago.

“Blue's your color, Danny.  It brings out your eyes, and you know how I get lost in your beautiful eyes,” the older man had said firmly.

Daniel hung the blue silk shirt he had been wearing back in the closet and marveled at all the blue outfits he now owned.

~It's a good thing I like blue, too, Jack, or you wouldn't get away with this blue fetish of yours.  That is, I don't think you would, anyway.~

Returning downstairs, Daniel called out, “Come on, Girls.  Let's go for a walk.”

Bijou and Katie came running excitedly from their beanbag.  Each sat patiently as Daniel attached the harnesses to their bodies, though their tails were wagging wildly with anticipation.

The three walked the neighborhood and stopped for a while at the local park.  The kids always loved to see the little beagles and would come over and play with them for a while.  After a half-hour, the kids had gone on their way, and Daniel was left alone with his thoughts, while Bijou and Katie relaxed on the park grass.

~Jack, I wish I knew how you felt about this.  I wish I knew how to ask.  Funny how hard this is.  Should it be hard?  I ... I want this.  I want you to want it, too.~

A bird flapping its wings noisily as it landed on a nearby tree distracted Daniel from his thoughts.  He looked up and watched it a few moments before returning to his inner considerations.

~I guess part of me is still afraid, even now.  Why?  Maybe because it's the final step.  We have a home.~  Daniel paused and looked at the two beagles that he and Jack loved so much.  Snickering, he added ~And we have a family.  We have each other, forever.  I know that.  Am I crazy to need this one more thing?  A lot of people say it's just a piece of paper.  For us, it's not even ... it may not even be ... oh, shut up, Jackson.~  Despite the harsh reprimand to himself, he couldn't stop his mind from thinking of his growing need.  He was afraid.  ~What if I ask and your eyes ...~

Daniel stood up quickly.  He had finally reached the point where he just couldn't think about this anymore.

“Girls, it's time to go home.”

====

~Best time of the day -- arriving home after a long, hard day at the office, ah, Mountain.~  His shift over at Cheyenne Mountain, Jack walked cheerfully into the house and was immediately trampled on by Bijou and Katie.  “Hey, there,” he said, kneeling down for his slew of 'hello' kisses and hugs.  “Where's Danny?”  He watched the two beagles run over to the patio.  Jack shook his head in amazement, thinking, ~You two are sharp!~

The colonel put his keys next to his lover's on the table and tossed his jacket onto the sofa.  He opened the door and looked around the backyard, expecting to see Daniel.

Not finding the younger man, Jack looked at Bijou questioningly and asked, “Well?”

“Woof!”

“Woof what?”

Bijou ran over to the ladder leading to the roof deck and sat down.

“Oh, pardon me, I misunderstood,” Jack chuckled, petting the oldest dog a couple of times before he climbed up to the small wooden platform.

Daniel was sitting in their usual spot against the house.  His legs were outstretched in front of him, and his arms were self-hugging.  Jack shook his head; he just didn't understand what was going on, but he was going to find out, and soon.

“Hey, Babe,” Jack called as he closed the gap, sliding down to sit next to his Heart, their thighs touching.

“Hey,” Daniel responded, leaning over for a kiss.

The touching of their lips was warm and sweet; loving and just on the edge of lust, in Jack's opinion.

~Nothing wrong here.~  Jack asked, “Girls have their evening walk yet?”

“Yeah, took them when I got home from shopping; went by the park.  They really like that, getting to play with the kids there.”

Jack nodded in acknowledgement, then queried, “What do you wanna do for dinner?”

“Doesn't matter; whatever you want,” Daniel responded casually.

“No, tonight we do what you want.”

“Hmmm ... pizza and beer,” the archaeologist said with a smile.

Jack smirked, “Okay, what have you done with my lover?  Pizza and beer?”  He let out a snort.  “No Chinese?  Not even wine?”

“Reverse Psychology 101,” Daniel laughed as he reached over and pulled Jack to him for more kisses.  This time, Daniel wrapped his arms around the older man and then moved so he was in front of him.  His arousal was growing with each kiss.  “Jack, what I want?”

“Anything, Love.”

With a low voice, Daniel supposed, “Then, I want you, for dinner, right now.”

Jack smiled as he asked seductively, “Can I have you for dessert?”

“Hmmm, I think that can be arranged.”

“You make a mean menu, Daniel,” the colonel chuckled.  A pre-meal love session was just fine in Jack's book, but he was still concerned about the weight that seemed to be preoccupying his soulmate's mind.  “I love you, Danny.  You know that, right?”

“Always and forever, Jack, just us, you and me, we, a couple, a pair, me and you, a twosome, a ...”

Chuckling, Jack stopped his lover's coupling comments with a sound kiss and then let passion overtake the conversation.

====

Later that night, after dinner and dessert, both the symbolic and actual food kind, Jack and Daniel were taking it easy around the house, each occupied with different endeavors.  Jack entered the study and found the bracelet Daniel had purchased for Sam, took a quick look at it, and wrote on the post-it, “Looks good to me.”

The colonel then returned a call to Jeff Cornell, Bijou and Katie's original owner, amusing his friend with tales of some of the beagles' latest antics.  Afterwards, he began to read an article in the current National Geographic, but stopped, not in the mood to finish it at the moment.

~I wonder what Danny's up to?~  Curious, and still trying to get to the bottom of what had been so distracting for the archaeologist lately, Jack put down his magazine and went in search of his soulmate.  ~There he is.~

Daniel was outside standing in his self-hug pose watching the dogs play, although it was pretty obvious that he was really just staring out into space.

~Dang it, Danny.  What's wrong, and why won't you tell me?~  Approaching the younger man, Jack reached out and put his arms around his lover.  He was surprised when Daniel jumped slightly.  “Sorry, Angel, I didn't mean to scare you.”

“It's okay,” Daniel replied, leaning into Jack.  He loved it when his soulmate held him like this.  ~Safe; always safe with Jack.~

“Danny, are you going to tell me why you've been so quiet lately, and, please don't tell me you're fine because I thought we were beyond that?”

“I love you, Jack, for always.”

Jack's hands snaked under Daniel's sweatshirt, rubbing and caressing his smooth abdomen, as he also kissed his nape.

“I know you do, and that's why this is so dang frustrating, because I know there's something,” Jack maintained.  “What I don't understand is why you aren't telling me.”

Daniel didn't say anything.  He couldn't lie to Jack, but he wasn't ready for the potential rejection either.  He still needed time to sort through his emotions, so he said nothing for a few moments.  Then he turned and kissed his silver-gray-haired fox.

“Let's go to bed, Jack.”

~Okay, Danny, another reprieve, but not much longer, Love.  The clock is ticking, so get over it, or tell me so we can deal with it together.  Whatever you decide, it's going to be soon,~ Jack determined inwardly as he and his partner headed for the joy of their bedroom.

====
--September 25, 2003
====

“Sir, just wanted you to know I finished the report on PR9-234 and sent you a copy in email,” Sam stated just after tapping on the doorframe.

As Sam moved to stand in front of her CO's desk, Jack sneered, “Carter, you aren't trying to make me believe that you came to my office at,” he looked at his watch, “Eighteen-hundred to tell me you sent me a report, a routine report, are you?”

The major looked away from the colonel, bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet a couple of times as she fidgeted.

“Carter?”

“Um, well, I guess ... not, Sir,” the blonde admitted a bit hesitantly.

Jack sighed, recognizing the signs: the tone of speech, the fidget, the not looking him in the eye.  His 2IC was about to butt into his personal life.  He got up, closed his office door, turned off the audio on the recording equipment, and went back to his seat.

“Okay, Carter, spit it out.”

“It's ... well, Sir, it's ...”

“Carter ... I'm sure it's Daniel.  He's the only reason you ever look and act like this in my presence.  So, out with it, Major.  What has he done, said, hasn't done, hasn't said, or ... whatever to get you in here like this tonight?” Jack quizzed.

In response to her commanding officer's sharp and accusing tone, Sam was silent.  This wasn't the way she wanted or expected this conversation to begin.

Jack leaned forward for a moment against the desk.  He sighed heavily, then leaned back once again in his chair.

“I'm sorry, Carter.  I promise you everything is fine with Daniel and me -- no fights, no disagreements.  Everything's perfect,” the colonel assured.

“Then why has he been so quiet the last few days?” Sam asked.  “He's not sick, is he?  Uh, that head injury last month ...”

“He's *fine*,” Jack answered.  He sighed, “I don't know why he's been quiet, and, yes, I've noticed, and, yes, I've asked.  He says it's nothing, that he's fine.”  He shook his head, knowing what he had just said meant the opposite of the word's true meaning,  “*Don't* start, Carter.  Something has been eating at him all month, but it's not us; that much I *do* know.  We're better than fine; we had a night last ...”  Hearing Sam cough nervously, he stopped his potentially incriminating comments and groused, “Dismissed.”

Jack didn't wait for her to say anything.  Knowing Daniel had left an hour earlier, he grabbed his coat, stormed out of his office, and signed out of the Mountain.

====

As he drove home, Jack pondered the unique situation.  He knew everything was fine in their relationship, and his lover was healthy.  Still, something was going on, and it was driving him insane not to be able to figure it out.  For the first time in a long time, Jack had no clue why Daniel would be acting the way he had been.

~I need to think this out.  You're fine, so you say, but you're *so* not fine, not emotionally, anyway.  Something's been festering inside you for weeks now.  How long?  Let me think.  Our anniversary in June was great.  We didn't like being apart, but I got home.  It was terrific.  Your eyes.  Let me remember your eyes.  Yes, Danny, you were happy.  It was good.~

Stopping at a stoplight, Jack let out an anxious puff of air as he searched his mind for an answer.  There just had to be something he was overlooking.  When the light changed, he continued forward.

~The house?  Maybe that was a wrong move.  Maybe you didn't want me to go that far?  Your eyes.  Let me remember.  No, Love, you were happy about that, too.  Your eyes were nothing but love and happiness that night.~

With a frustrated groan, Jack checked his rear view mirror and kept driving, reminding himself to focus on the road, at least a little more than the problem at hand.

~Okay, you love the girls.  Maybe it's that threat hanging over our heads.  I won't let anyone hurt you, Love.  Are you scared?  Is that it?~  Jack let out a snort.  “Right, Daniel scared of a mortal being.  I don't think so.”  ~No, that's not it.  For crying out loud, Danny, we're happy.  I know we are, so blast it, what's wrong?~

Jack pounded his hand on the steering wheel at a stoplight in frustration, thinking, ~Dang-it, Danny, everything is ... fine, better than fine, so what's wrong?~  His soul told him Daniel was happier than he'd ever been, but his heart said there was something more, something making his lover unhappy. ~We've been good, but there's something right there, right between those blue eyes of yours and that caring heart.  I just have to find it.~

====

Arriving home, Jack was prepared to launch right in and dig deep enough into the situation to figure out what was eating at Daniel; that is, until he found his youthful lover sound asleep, sprawled across their bed.  His pants were still on, but Daniel was gripping his blue shirt in his hand.  Jack chuckled, seeing his soulmate had one sock on and one off.

The older man gazed at his lover.  He figured if left alone, Daniel would probably be out for the count, considering the lack of sleep he'd had that month.  He could, of course, press the issue and have their discussion now, but he just didn't have the heart, especially since he knew they would have the opportunity to talk without interruption over the coming weekend.  Besides, Sam's surprise party was tonight, and Jack would have to wake his slumbering lover soon, anyway.

“Okay, Love, a reprieve, but this weekend, you're going to talk to me about why you've been so quiet!”

====
--September 26, 2003
====

“Well done, SG-1.  Take seventy-two hours, and we'll start again on Monday,” a pleased General George Hammond told his flagship team.

“What a happy thought, General,” Jack quipped.

“Dismissed, Colonel.”

Hammond and Teal'c exited the conference room quickly.

“Guys, thanks again for the bracelet.  I still can't believe Janet threw that party for me,” Sam spoke as she smiled in remembrance of the event, one Janet had organized to celebrate Sam finally finishing a paper she'd been trying to write for over a year and which was about to be published in a scientific journal .  “I'm going to break it in tonight.”

Sam's surprise party had gone off without a hitch, and everyone had had a good time.

“Carter, are you finally getting a life?” Jack inquired teasingly.

“Yes, Sir,” Sam responded with a bashful smile.

“Who's the lucky guy, Sam?”

Sam shook her hood and responded, “I'm keeping that one to myself for a while.  I don't want to jinx him.”

“Sam, there's no such thing as a jinx,” Daniel argued.

“Yeah, well, looking back on the last few years I'm not so sure about that, so I'm keeping this guy under wraps.”

Jack teased, “Now, Carter, that does sound intriguing.”

Sam blushed and said hurriedly, “Gotta go.  Thanks again.”

“You're welcome, Sam.”

“C'mon, Danny,” Jack interjected.  “Let's change and go home.”

This weekend, the couple had special plans.  Deciding that snuggling together was preferable to arguing, Jack reconsidered his earlier decision to pry into his lover's mind to find out what was making him a bit quiet.  Instead, he'd focus on their nation of two.  It was something he and Daniel had decided long ago, to try to remember their cup was always at least half full, never half empty.  He had to admit their domestic life was blissful at the moment, and he was especially excited because their plans for the night had come at Daniel's suggestion.

“We should go out, do something special.  It's ... been awhile since we went anywhere, Jack,” Daniel had pointed out.

Daniel was right.  Between his recovery from his off-world accident in August and not wanting to leave Bijou and Katie, Jack and Daniel had stuck pretty close to home, with very few nights out.

Tonight, though, they were going to Denver for dinner, and then they were spending the night at one of the better hotels in the area.

Jack stopped by the bank and withdrew plenty of cash, then went to the gas station to top off the tank in the truck, and finally dropped by the drug store to pick up some incidentals they might need.

~Don't want to run out of anything,~ the older man thought.

Meanwhile, Daniel had hurried home to take the dogs for a quick walk before getting ready to leave.  Then he made sure the feeder still had dog food in it.  It was going to be a pleasant night, and with the dogs' insulated dog house, the couple weren't worried about leaving the girls outside for one night.

~Well, at least not outwardly,~ Daniel thought.  “Girls, this is really important, or I ... well, I wouldn't leave you alone.  Gawd, I guess we're being overprotective.  Okay, I'm being overprotective, but ... it's important, and your house is all set.  I checked everything.  I even fluffed your beanbags.  Okay?”

Bijou and Katie looked at each other, then jumped onto Daniel, licking his face repetitively.

As he fell backwards onto the carpet, the archaeologist laughed, “I guess this means you're okay with it.  Thanks!”

====

When Jack got home, Daniel was already done with his shower and was just buttoning up that same blue silk shirt Jack loved so much.

“Wow, hot, sexy, yummy,” Jack observed, his eyes feasting on Daniel's clothed body as he approached and snatched his lover into his arms.  “What you do to me, Danny,” he whispered just before tasting the mint toothpaste still lingering in his lover's mouth.

“Love you, Jack, love you so much, but that's all you're getting until later, so go get ready.”

“Y'know, it would have been more fun if you had waited for me.  We could have saved on the water supply; you know, help the environment,” Jack replied.

Daniel smirked as he pushed Jack away and towards the bathroom, saying, “Babe, if I had waited for you, we'd never get out of the bedroom.”

~Oh, yeah, this is going to be a fun night.  Wow, Danny, look at you, and you're mine.  I still can't believe it.  I love you.~

“Jack, stop ... whatever it is you are thinking and take a shower so we can go and ... do whatever it is ... you're thinking about.”

“You know me so well, Daniel.”

Watching his lover begin to disrobe and head for the shower, Daniel sighed, ~Do I?  Wouldn't I know for sure how you'd feel about this?  Gawd, Jack, right now I don't think I know you at all.  I'm ... wow, I'm scared.~  Turning around, he walked to the end of the bed and sat down.  He closed his eyes, thinking, ~Why is this so important to me?  It's ... just a ritual, a ... a silly, little ... ritual.~

====

The lovers' night in Denver had been perfect so far.  They were eating dinner at one of Jack's favorite steakhouses.  Thus far, the food was great, the conversation stimulating, and, most importantly, their eyes were glued to each other, as if they were the only two people in the world.

~That shirt fits Danny just right.  Geez, you're one sexy archaeologist, Danny,~ Jack opined.  Subtly, he leaned forward, reached deep under the table, and rubbed gently on his lover's inner thigh.  ~And I can't wait to get you out of that gorgeous shirt.~

~Wow, Jack.  I love how the brown hew of your shirt goes with your eyes.  You're so handsome.~  Daniel smiled, feeling the touch of his lover's hand against his body.  Covertly, he reached under the table and put his hand atop his lover's, rubbing it alluringly with his thumb.  ~Isn't it time to go back to the hotel?~  Seeing his Love's grin, he thought, ~Gawd, that smile.  You're so sexy with that smile and your silver hair.  I wish you didn't put yourself down so much.  Want you, Jack, in more ways than you know.~  “Jack ...”

“Danny ...”

Both men had spoken at the same time, causing both to laugh.  It was clear they were on the same page.

“Time to go,” the lovers said together, smiles plastered on their faces at their continued 'unison-speak'.

After Daniel paid the tab, the couple walked to the truck.  The younger man was deep in thought about something, but since he was gazing lovingly upon Jack as he pondered, Jack wasn't too worried.  In fact, he thought maybe it was just Daniel's lust, or rather, Daniel controlling his lust.  That was something that both men often had to deal with, their deep passion and desire for the other.  Sometimes, it just wasn't easy to keep under control in public, even though they knew they had to.

Seeing Daniel looking at him again, Jack asked, “What?”

“Nothing.  I just ... love you, that's all,” Daniel answered softly, his smile accentuating his dimples.

~I can deal with that.~  Jack reached out and took hold of Daniel's hand, caressing it lovingly.  As he smiled, his eyes twinkling with love, he replied, “The feeling is mutual, you know.”

“I'm counting on that,” Daniel responded.

Jack thought the statement was odd, but simply smiled and replied, “Forever and always, Love.”

====

As they drove the streets of Denver, Daniel realized Jack wasn't heading for the hotel.

“Jack, aren't we going back to the hotel?”

“Little detour, Love.”

“Oh,” Daniel expressed.  He was eager to get back.  He wanted to make love to his soulmate.  At the same time, he was nervous.  ~Maybe a little detour is good,~ he supposed.  ~I wonder where we're going.~

====

A few minutes later, the archaeologist smiled recognizing the small building they were headed forward.

After Jack pulled the truck into a parking space, he took his lover's hand, kissed it, and stated, “I want to dance with you again, Danny.”

Jack and Daniel had come to this place once before, when Daniel had desperately wanted to dance with Jack in public.  It was a private, discreet, out of the way spot for male couples.  Jack held his lover's hand as they walked in, leading him straight to the dance floor, where they danced, their bodies clinging together for over an hour.

“This feels good, Danny.  I like this, a lot.”

“Me, too, Jack.  Thank you for remembering ... again,” Daniel expressed lovingly.

Jack kissed Daniel, right there on the dance floor, surrounded by several other couples, leaving his lover totally stunned.  He hadn't expected that, and it tore into his heart, injecting more joy inside of him than Daniel could ever have dreamed.  It was so rare they could even touch in public, but a kiss, that was overwhelming for him.

“Time to go, Angel,” the older man said after they'd danced a few dances.

“Jack ...”

“We'll come back again,” Jack promised, smiling when he saw the smile and sparkle of Daniel's eyes at the statement.

“I'd like that,” Daniel responded.  “We, uh ... didn't buy anything.”

“I'll take care of that.”  The lovers walked up to the register, where Jack gave a large tip to the man running the register and stated, “Thanks for the use of the dance floor.”

“Come again,” the man invited, happy to have been given an amount equal to three drinks for both men.

Jack took Daniel's hand, smiled, and promised, “Oh, we will,” as they exited the building.

====

The hotel room was superb, decorated in shades of blue almost as if Jack had special ordered it.  No matter where Daniel stood, Jack reveled in those expressive eyes.  Of course, Daniel wasn't standing for very long once they walked in as Jack had him sprawled against the huge bed in no time flat at all.

The couple made love, tenderly at first and then with a hunger that said they could never get enough of each other.  Afterwards, they fell asleep in each other's arms, smiles on their faces.

====
--September 27, 2003
====

It was 3 a.m. when Jack awoke and immediately sensed that something was different.  He felt cold as his consciousness surfaced.

~Okay, what's wrong here?  Ah, yes.  Danny?~  Jack leaned upwards slightly, looking around the room and then in the direction of the bathroom.  The lights were off, and Daniel wasn't in either room.  ~Where'd you go, Love?  More importantly, why?~

Jack got up and put on his boxers and the burgundy velvet robe that Daniel loved so much.  He walked into the living room of their suite and saw his lover standing on the balcony, overlooking the Denver skyline.

It was a clear night, the temperature a cool but tolerable forty-five degrees.  Stars were twinkling and shining everywhere.  Jack could see the moonlight reflecting off his lover's shiny brown hair, and it made him shiver in arousal.

Daniel was wearing the blue velvet robe Jack had bought him for their first anniversary.

~I should get you a new one; nah, I love this one; it's so soft, and look how your broad shoulders fill the robe, and your sweet six.~  Jack didn't want to startle Daniel, so he walked softly.  Quietly, he called out, “Hey, Danny, I got cold,” and then wrapped his arms around the younger man's chest, encircling him completely, kissing his nape, and squeezing him tightly before lowering his arms to below Daniel's, his hands slipping inside his lover's closed robe.  “Love the feel of you, Danny.”

“I love you, Jack,” Daniel responded as he leaned into his soulmate.

“I love you, too, Angel,” Jack said.  He leaned his chin against Daniel's shoulder, enjoying the feeling of holding him, of knowing Daniel loved him, and that they were forever.  He also knew it was time to figure out what was wrong.  “Danny?”

“Jack, I ... bought us something.”

Daniel's anxiety was obvious.  He felt like a bundle of nerves, not quite tense, but nervous, even afraid.

~But of what?~ Jack wondered silently.  He smiled and replied, “Love presents.”

“I ... I hope so.  I mean ... it's, they're not ...”

“Danny, why are you so nervous?”

Daniel turned and looked into his lover's eyes.  He saw so many things in those brown eyes: love, acceptance, need, desire, concern.

“Kiss me, Jack.”

“I never disobey an order, Doctor Jackson,” Jack replied as he brushed his lips against Daniel's and then pushed his tongue inside Daniel's mouth, their tongues toying gently with each other's.

“Yeah, right, but we'll talk about that later,” Daniel replied, not wanting to be sidetracked from his main objective.  Instead, he practically lunged into Jack's skin, his arms going around Jack's neck, keeping him as close as he could possibly be.  “More.”

Jack cupped Daniel's butt and pulled his lover's body into him, sending a jolt of pleasure from the contact throughout both their bodies.

Daniel's tongue began to duel with Jack's as their passion grew and was on the threshold of carrying them back to their hotel bed.  He stopped suddenly and pulled back just a tad, his hands keeping his Love's chest from touching his.  He maneuvered his hand's inside of Jack's robe and caressed his partner's torso lovingly.

“Danny?”

“I want to show you ... show you what I bought ... for ... us.”

“Okay, Angel,” Jack agreed, wanting to make love with his soulmate, but also knowing they needed to get through this ~whatever we're going through.~

Daniel backed away, then scooted around Jack and into the bedroom.  He looked back once, for just a moment, his eyes blinking and quickly looking down.

~Must be some ... something to have you this out of kilter, Danny.  What on Earth is going on in that head of yours?~  Jack walked over and sat on the sofa, waiting for his life partner to return.  He had a feeling he was finally going to find out the cause of Daniel's distraction over the last few weeks.  ~Must really be something,~ he thought as he tapped his fingers on his thighs as he waited patiently.  ~Really something,~ he added as more time passed.

====

Five minutes later, Jack finally sensed the oncoming presence of his lover.

“Daniel?”  Jack looked behind him, seeing his lover emerge from the room, holding something rather small in his hands.  He couldn't tell what it was as Daniel's hands were covering the item, but he was definitely holding something.  ~Not looking at me?~ he observed in question as he gazed at the other man.  “Danny?”

Nervously, Daniel looked back for a moment at the bedroom, as if he was considering running back there and hiding, but then he took a deep breath, put whatever it was he was holding into his robe pocket, and went to the sofa, sinking down next to Jack.

Immediately, Jack put his arm around Daniel, pulling him in to a protective hold, and promised, “It's okay, Angel.  Whatever this is about, it's okay, because we're together.  We love each other, and that never ends.”

Daniel looked into Jack's eyes and spoke, “I'm sorry, Jack.  Maybe I'm making too much out of this, but I ... Jack, I want this.  I want this more than I've ever wanted anything ever ... except for your love, and I ... but ... I ...”

“Danny, Love, I love you.  What's got you so stirred up?” Jack questioned.  He paused, then noted, “You've been quiet lately.  Whatever this is, is the reason why, isn't it?”

Daniel nodded and let Jack hold him again.  They sat quietly for a few minutes, as Daniel summoned his courage.  Jack knew that's what he was doing, so he made sure every motion he made was one of reassurance and love.

~I'm not going anywhere, Danny.  I know you know that, but you're afraid of something.  You're afraid I'll react badly to whatever this is.  Aha, that's it!  You think I'll be upset at this ... whatever.  Aw, Danny, I love you, you geek.~

Jack kissed Daniel's hair and leaned his face against the top of his head, his hands rubbing and caressing as much of Daniel's arms and torso as they could reach.

“Jack, we're forever, you and I, like ... a circle that never ends because there are no endings for circles.”

“We never end, Danny, never.  You're right; we keep rolling along.  Our circle only gets stronger and stronger.  Just ask the kids.”

Both men laughed for a few seconds, and then Daniel asked, “Jack, do you ever wish?  I mean, Charlie ...”

“I want you, Daniel, first and foremost.  I'm not sure I could raise another child, anyway.”

“You love kids,” Daniel remarked.

“Sure, so do you, but loving them isn't the same as raising them.  There's a whole other set of love and commitment ... and pain ... that goes along when you're bringing up one of your own.  I'm not sure that I could do that again; I don't even know that I'd ever even want to try.”  Jack's heart suddenly froze for a moment.  ~Crap!  Danny, you want kids, and that means ...~  He sighed, ~Double crap.~  Taking a deep breath, he asked the question that he wasn't sure he wanted to know the answer to.  “Danny, do you want a child?”

“I want you, Jack,” the younger man answered, his voice firm and steady, and his answer immediate.

“You're allowed to want more than one thing, you know.”  The older man saw his lover fidget slightly, but he didn't seem tense.  ~No, this isn't about children, but why bring it up now?~

“I don't know if I do or not.  If it were possible, somehow, maybe someday, but not now.  We're just starting, Jack.  So many changes lately, good changes, but I don't think I'm ready for that, even if somehow we could ... do it.”

“Danny, if that time comes, you'll tell me, right?” Jack questioned.

“Yes.”

“Promise me, Danny.”

“I promise, but I'm not hiding anything, Jack.  I'm ... happy.  I'm so darn happy I scare myself most of the time.”

~Then why are we sitting here talking instead of ravishing each other?~ Jack wondered as quiet overtook the thoughtful lovers.

====

“The circle of our love begins with now and every promised dream,” Daniel spoke tenderly.

The softly spoken words shook Jack out of his thoughts.  He and Daniel had been snuggling on the sofa for almost fifteen minutes without saying a word.

Jack moved his head to the side as he pondered the words and then commented, “Profound.”

“It's a ... a song I heard once,” Daniel explained.  “Lately, I can't seem to stop thinking about it,” he added.

“I know how that is,” Jack responded, his arm around Daniel's shoulder and squeezing gently in support.  “Some songs are difficult to stop thinking about once you start.  They play over and over in your mind.  Kinda annoying even.”

“It's not the song, it's the meaning -- the circle, love, it's ... us, Jack.”

“You are my dream, Daniel.  I wished for you, remember,” Jack reminded unnecessarily.

“On a falling star.  How could I ever forget?” Daniel questioned in response, a loving smile on his face as he gazed into the brown eyes that always mesmerized him.

“I won't, not ever,” the older man promised as he placed another kiss on Daniel's soft hair.

“The song ends like this,” Daniel said, reciting the words for his soulmate:

The circle of our love extends
Beyond the reach of time
Beyond the span of days and years, it goes forever.
The circle of our love is found
In every warm and tender thing
That lips may breathe or hearts may beat, forever.

“It's a beautiful song, Danny,” Jack stated, the words circulating throughout him.

“Our love is like that, beyond time; forever,” Daniel opined from a place deep within his soul.

“And always, Love.  I told you, I'm never letting you go, not in this life, or in whatever it is that comes after.  You're mine, and you're right, that does extend beyond the reach of time.”

Daniel moved out of Jack's tight hold, so that they could look at each other more directly.  Jack sensed the reason behind the move, so he turned slightly.  Now, their bodies were completely facing each other, as they sat sideways against the length of the sofa.  The archaeologist moved his hands so that they were holding Jack's.  He stared at their joined hands, watching his fingers caress Jack's.

Jack watched Daniel, watching their hands.  He had no clue what was going on in his lover's mind, but he knew he was about to find out, and he knew it wasn't the 'whatever' Daniel was afraid of, but it was Jack's reaction to the 'whatever' that had him so skittish.

~Hit me with your best shot, Danny.  I'm not going anywhere, and I'll be snaked before I'd do anything to hurt you by reacting badly.  Come on, Danny.  Trust me.~

As if hearing Jack, Daniel looked up and gazed intently into Jack's eyes.  Again, he saw love, lust, desire, warmth, need, devotion, and he saw ~forever.~

Daniel smiled and took another deep breath, nervously saying, “I've never done this.  I don't know the rules.”

~Never done this?  Rules?  Geez, Danny, nothing we do is normal.  What the heck are you thinking?~

Daniel continued, “I love you, Jack.  I love us, our house, Bijou and Katie, and the poor nameless fish.  I love the nights we spend on the roof, the pizza and crappy beer.  I love how sometimes I have to nag to get you away from the telescope on the roof.  I love your beat up old gray sweats.

“I love how you ... mother hen me, even when I want to shoot you for treating me like a child.  I love how we bicker and banter, and know each other's thoughts without speaking them out loud.

“I love how you touch me, make love to me, how you let me touch and love you.  You never say no, Jack, never, not to anything.”

Daniel's eyes were misting over, but he couldn't stop now that he had started.  If he did, he feared he'd never get the nerve to do this again.  He closed his eyes for just a moment, then returned to gaze back into Jack's comforting embrace, not of his arms, but of his eyes.  Jack's eyes folded around Daniel's heart, welcoming him, encouraging him, and loving him.

“I know that we can't be ... public like we want, not yet, but I also know that time will come.  I realize, too, that I'm the reason for that, so, in a way, I guess this seems crazy; maybe even insane, but ...”  Daniel smiled, shaking his head as he spoke.  “Jack, I know it's important for us to keep working at the SGC, at least for a while, and as certain as I am of that, I am that I want this, too.”

“What is it you want, Angel?” Jack asked softly.

“You, all the way, every way, forever, like the circle, no endings, just going on and on beyond the reach of time, the Goa'uld, or anyone.  I want ... you and me, our nation of two.”

“You have me, Danny,” Jack promised softly.  Still, he realized there was more behind his lover's comments.  He wished he knew what it was so he could help the younger man, but he still didn't have a clue.  “Danny?”

After kissing his soulmate, Daniel continued, “Jack, you gave me a home and ... a family, even if it's ... not traditional, but I love it, and I'm ... happy.  For a long time, I never thought that was possible, but I love it all, the good and the bad.”

“Angel ...” Jack began, only to be silenced by a tender kiss.

“I love you, Jack O'Neill, and I want us to be that circle, together always.  Will you marry me?”

~What?~  Jack was stunned in the most positive way possible.  ~Heck, Danny, is this why you've been so ... Daniel!~

Jack pulled his hands out of Daniel's, cupped his lover's face, and kissed him as passionately as he could.

“Is that a ... a 'yes'?” Daniel asked timidly.

Jack smiled, his eyes misty now, too, and answered, “Yes, Danny, most definitely, yes.”  He leaned forward, pushing against Daniel until the younger man's back was against the sofa's seat cushions, Jack leaning against him.  His mouth was devouring Daniel's, and their hands were roaming over each other's bare skin, ignoring their robes.  “Geez, Danny, I love you so much.  Why would you be so nervous about asking me that?”

Daniel flinched, admitting, “I thought you might think it was silly.”

“Silly?  Danny, I've never, ever loved anyone the way I love you.  If this stupid 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' thing wasn't running the show, I'd have snapped you up, walked you down the aisle, and put a ring on your finger years ago.  I love you.”

“Rings?  Jack ...” Daniel pushed Jack upwards, so that he could get up.  “I ... almost forgot,” he said shyly once they were both back to a sitting position.  He reached into his robe and pulled out the box.  “This ... is what I bought.”

Knowing what it would be, Jack briefly caressed Daniel's cheek before reaching down and opening the box, as Daniel was motioning for him to do.

“Danny, they're perfect,” Jack observed after opening the box that contained both rings.  “Golden circles, never ending, just like us.”

“They're ... engraved,” the younger man informed his spouse-to-be.

Jack looked up into Daniel's shining, watery blue eyes, and then looked inside the rings.  Both were the same -- “Jack and Daniel, always and forever.”

“Always and forever,” Jack repeated.  “That's us, Angel -- always and forever.”

“Forever and always,” Daniel replied.

The lovers had often used those two phrases -- forever and always and always and forever -- to describe their nation of two.  It seemed the perfect expression now to be engraved on their golden circles that represented their personal forever.

Jack smiled what Daniel silently thought was the most beautiful smile in the world.

“They're perfect, Danny, just like you.”

“Just like you,” Daniel stated earnestly.

Daniel took one of the rings and placed it on Jack's finger, and then Jack did the same with the smaller ring sized to fit Daniel's slender finger.  Both men felt a tear escaping down their cheeks.  Smiling, they leaned in and shared a deep, yet tender kiss.

“Let's go back to bed, Danny.  I want to make love to you.”

====

Much later in the morning, the two men awoke, their bodies blanketing each other, legs and arms hooked and wrapped around the other.  Their hands were joined, just as they had been when they fell asleep.

“I love you,” Daniel said softly.

“Love you, too, Angel.”

The lovers snuggled a while longer and then showered together, making love in the watery downpour.  Once dressed, they ordered room service.

Jack and Daniel held hands as they ate, which made it a little difficult to cut the breakfast meats they had ordered.  Both laughed, but neither let go of the other's hand, preferring to deal with the difficulty of eating rather than relinquishing the comfort of their touch.

With only an hour left before they had to check out, Daniel stepped out onto the balcony, while Jack made a phone call that he said was, “just a piece of business I need to take care of.”

His call completed, Jack nestled up against Daniel and whispered, “Hello.”

Daniel chuckled, but then grew serious, expressing, “Jack, when I asked you to marry me, I meant it.  I mean, you know ... the ... whole thing.”

“I'm game,” Jack responded.  “Say the word, and I'm retired.  No looking back.  You know how I feel about that.”

“No, not yet, Jack.  We can't.  It wouldn't be right.”

“So, we wait ... again,” Jack sighed regretfully.

“No.”  Daniel turned and put his arms around Jack, rubbing his fingers against his neck.  Looking deep into his lover's eyes, he explained, “We can go to Canada, Jack.  I know it's risky, but I've researched it.  We can have a ceremony there.  It ... it won't be ... legal ... anywhere except there and a couple of other places, but it's ... Jack, it's a start.”

Smiling, Jack wondered, “We're not Canadians, though.  Are you sure that's okay?”

“Jack!”

“Sorry,” the older man chuckled.  “You did your homework.”

“Every last detail.”  Daniel sighed.  He wasn't sure about this next part, either, but he was over the worst, so he leaped forward with his words.  “Maybe we can have Sam come with us, be a witness.  I know, Jack, military and yadda, yadda, but she'd be hurt if we didn't ask her.  We have to ask her, Jack.  I mean ... if you ... if you don't want to, I mean ...”

Jack ended Daniel's doubts with another five minutes of focused kissing and fondling.

“Okay, we ask Sam,” Daniel spoke, his voice light with joy.

“Danny, the rings ...” the silver-haired man began.

“I know.  We can't wear them in the Springs,” Daniel sighed deeply.

“Angel,” Jack said softly.  His lover's sigh had been a sad, disparaging sound that broke Jack's heart.  ~I wish you'd let me retire and concentrate on making you happy.  Screw the Lost City.  Let me love you, Danny, just you.  It's what I want.~  He pulled Daniel into a tight embrace.  ~Someday, the only sounds coming out of you are going to be happy sighs, satiated moans, and lots and lots of laughter.  Someday soon, Love.~

“I love you, Jack,” Daniel said, loving the sound of the words.

“I love you, too,” Jack said.  Then he kissed Daniel's cheek as he pulled back slightly.  “Okay, Canada it is, full service event, whatever that is.  I hope you know, because I haven't a clue.”

“Geez, Jack, you're the one who had the wedding.  I just ...”

“Yeah, I know, she was a gift.”

“Well, we had a wedding, but it was ... after and pretty much just a big, big ... big party.”

Jack laughed, “Danny, were there any parties on Abydos that weren't 'big, big, big'?”

Daniel grinned and answered, “Not many.”

Still chuckling, Jack declared, “Well, this time, Doctor Jackson, we do it right, so that it's everything we both want it to be, because this is it.  Our circle is going to be fused forever with our I dos.”

“I like the sound of that.”

After another kiss, Jack asked, “You really were afraid I'd say 'no' or wouldn't want to marry you?”

Daniel shrugged, answering, “It's not like we aren't happy without it, and I didn't even know I wanted it, until our anniversary.  When we joked about it, being engaged, something ... Jack, something inside of me just ... clicked.  It was like something was missing.  This feels right, like it's the last link, the final step.”

“It is.  Angel, I feel the same way.  When do you want to do this?”

“Soon, if you do?” Daniel replied.

“Can't be soon enough, but I mean it.  Let's do it right.  Let's think about our options, find out what people like us do, and make it special, and then we'll do it.  Okay?”

Daniel smiled a bright smile that lit up Jack's soul.

~Love it when you smile like that!~ Jack rubbed his hands together in anticipation of their future, and, more immediately, returning to their home.  “Hey, clock's ticking.  We need to check out.”

“I miss the girls,” Daniel admitted.

“It's only been one night, Daniel,” Jack stated as the two began to gather their bags.

“Like you haven't missed them,” the younger man challenged.

“No comment,” Jack said with a huge grin as the two men headed for the door.

“Jack, I guess we should ...” Daniel began, looking down at their hands.

“No, not yet.  We can wear them home,” Jack stated, earning him a bright smile from his soon-to-be husband.  ~Geez, Danny, let me retire so I can keep that smile on your face.  You just don't know what making you happy does for me.~

====

The ride back to Colorado Springs was anything but quiet, in total contrast of what the trip to Denver had been.  The newly engaged couple talked over ideas about what their ceremony might be like, the types of vows or words they might want spoken, and who among their small circle of friends that knew the truth it would be reasonably safe to invite.

Daniel had done a lot of surfing on the internet and had a lot of things he wanted to show and discuss with Jack, everything from who they might get to officiate to whether or not they should have a party afterwards.

As Jack pulled in their driveway, they were chatting about food, prompting him to say, “And now I am hungry.  Let's order a pizza.”

“That's My Jack, romantic to the end.”

“You haven't seen romantic yet, Daniel; just wait until the wedding night,” Jack responded.  He saw the rosiness of Daniel's cheeks as he blushed.  ~Geez, Danny, we've been making love for years and you still get embarrassed.~

Jack took Daniel's hand and walked his spouse-to-be towards the front door.

Daniel automatically looked around the neighborhood to see if anyone was outside or watching.  This was the second time Jack had openly held his hand in the front yard of their home.  He liked it, but it wasn't safe.

Once inside, Jack ordered the pizza, while Daniel let Bijou and Katie into the house.  After warm and happy beagle greetings, he settled on the sofa, while the girls began playing with a couple of their toys in their beanbag that was near the fireplace.  Unable to stop himself from doing so, he held up his hand and stared at the ring on his finger.

~It feels so good against my skin.  I don't want to take it off.~  Daniel sighed, ~I'm sorry, Jack.  I know you want to retire, but I can't.  The Lost City is too important.  It wouldn't be right to leave yet.~

Hating having to do so, Daniel reluctantly started to take off his ring.

“FREEZE!” Jack shouted.

Jack's yell startled Daniel so much that he jumped as he stuttered, “Wha...what?”

More softly, but still commandingly, Jack ordered, “Don't you dare take that off, not yet.”

“Jack ...”

“Hey, you're the one who proposed.  I worked hard for this -- five *long* years of being taken for granted, ignored, and playing second fiddle to rocks, so now Daniel Jackson, you don't just get to eat your colonel and take the ring off.”

Daniel burst out laughing as Jack pounced on him, kissing him.

Jack crooned, “Hmmm, I love kissing you.  Actually, I love everything about you.”

“Love you, too ... Colonel,” Daniel replied, a big smile on his face.

Jack laughed and then took Daniel's ring hand in his.  He traced the ring with his fingers, and then kissed it, before turning Daniel's hand so he could kiss his palm, too.

“Reality will be back soon enough, Danny.  Let's keep them on for a little while longer,” Jack requested.

“Okay, Jack.”

“So, I suppose you'd object if I did a change of marital status with the Air Force?” the colonel teased.

“Jack.”

“No announcement in the newspaper either, eh?”

“Jack.”

“How about a teeny engagement party with Carter, Janet, and Cassie?” Jack asked a bit more seriously than his prior two questions.

“What?” Daniel asked, sensing there was some truth to what his lover had just asked.

“Any objections?”

“Jack, we've never ... I mean, except for Sam, and even with Sam, I mean ... she's almost found us, but never ... Jack!”

“Any objections?” the older man asked again, his thumb running along his soulmate's chin.

Daniel blinked and with a loving smile answered softly, “No, no objections.”

“Good.  Sam's bringing the pizza,” Jack informed, then leaned forward to steal a kiss.

“Wha...what?” Daniel asked, liking the kiss but stunned from the announcement.

“If you don't want to, Danny, we'll take the rings off now, and it'll just be another pizza party, but I'd like to get the show on the road.  I love you, and I'm proud of you.  I want them to know it, that I'm yours, and you're mine, starting now,” Jack declared strongly.

“We don't even know for sure if Cassie knows,” Daniel commented as he ran his hand along his Love's neck.

“She does,” Jack revealed.  “Cass asked Carter about us once.  Carter covered for us, but I'm sure she's figured it out.”

“Even if she does, Janet might not want us to talk to Cassie about our relationship,” Daniel suggested, his hand now playing slightly with Jack's collar.

“Okay, we'll ask her first, but Cassie isn't a little girl anymore, Danny, and I think the fact that she asked Carter says something, don't you?” Jack questioned as he continued to caress his lover's face.

Cocking his head slightly, the younger man responded, “I guess so.”

“Daniel, it's your call.  Look, if it's too fast, that's okay.  We have all the time in the world, so if you'd prefer to wait, we'll wait.”  Jack smiled, explaining, “I guess I'm just a little excited, jazzed.”

“Jazzed?” the younger man chuckled.

“It's not every day a dream comes true, and you are my dream ... <kiss> ... my life ... <kiss> ... my soul ... <kiss> ... my heart ... <kiss> ... my beautiful falling star ... <kiss> ... hmm, my precious everything ... <kiss> ... Danny.”

The couple's kisses were igniting their internal fires, but just then they heard the clap of the knocker at the front door.  Jack sneered at the interruption, his face expressing his annoyance.

“Sam?” Daniel guessed.

“Who else has this kind of timing, Daniel?” Jack groaned as he got off his lover and pulled him up.

“Jack, when *did* you call her?”

Smiling, Jack admitted, “In Denver.”

“Okay, so, uh, who did you call when we got home?”

“Carter, to make sure they were on their way,” Jack answered smugly.

“Gawd, you're incorrigible,” Daniel sighed as he sat up straighter, gently pushing Jack away.

“So, what do you want to do?” Jack asked as he stood and straightened his clothing.

“Are you sure, Jack?” the younger man questioned, knowing there was no turning back once they went 'public'; that is, as public as public could be for two men working for the military and hiding in plain sight.

Without hesitation, Jack assured, “Never more sure of anything, Daniel.”

His eyes shining with happiness, Daniel replied, “I love you, Jack.  Let's ... share our news.”

Jack grinned, his handsome features expanding, causing his lover to almost collapse from the charm and sexiness before him.

~Wow, don't do that now, Jack.  Sam's at the door, but I can't think when you look at me like that.  I wish I could keep that grin there, forever.  I want you, Jack.  Screw the pizza.  I want you.  Dang her timing,~ Daniel thought, standing and making sure he was presentable while Jack headed for the door.

“Come on in, Carter,” Jack invited, sounding like the bluebird of happiness, the big grin still on his face as he held the door open.

“Um, thank you, Sir.  Janet and Cassie should be here in a few minutes.  Hey, Daniel.”

“Hi, Sam.  Glad you could make it,” Daniel said, keeping his ring hand behind his back at the moment.

“Yeah, well, it ...” Sam began, glancing at her commanding officer slightly.

“Jack!” Daniel admonished, realizing his lover had made the visit an order and not a request.

“Sorry, Daniel, I had to apply a little pressure.  Carter here had a hot date with a naquadah reactor,” the colonel quipped.

“Sorry, Sam.  Here let me take that,” Daniel stated.  He started to reach out with his left hand to take the large pizza, but remembered the ring and quickly changed his body position so that Sam wouldn't see his hand.  ~Not yet.~

“Carter, remember when you said Cassie asked you about Daniel and I?” Jack asked, deciding to get right to the point.

“Jack, you could let her sit down first,” Daniel interjected as he carried the pizza to the counter.

“Sorry,” Jack replied.  “Have a seat, Carter, and Carter, remember when ...”

Daniel shook his head in slight annoyance as he set the pizza on the counter and began to get some plates and napkins.

“Yes, Sir, I do,” Sam acknowledged.

“Good choice of words, Carter.  I like those words,” Jack responded cryptically.

As Sam looked confused, Daniel instructed, “Jack, behave.”

“Yes, Dear.”

“*Jack!*”

Jack laughed loudly, and Sam looked even more confused by her two teammates.

“Sam, would you like some coffee, or a soft drink, or ...”

“7-up?” the blonde responded in question.

“Sure,” Daniel acknowledged, walking to the refrigerator to get the beverages.  “Jack?”

“Coke!” the older man called out.

“Is something going on, Sir?” Sam asked, curious about the strange comments she'd heard in the two minutes she'd been at the home.

“Carter, cut the Sir.  Jack, remember, just Jack.”

“Yes, Sir, I mean Jack, Sir, Jack.”

From the kitchen, Daniel laughed, “You two are ridiculous.  We've worked together for seven years, and neither one of you can use the other’s first name.” Soda cans in hand, he entered the living room and continued, “How we ever pulled off that deception for the NID and Kinsey, I'll never know.  Geez.”

Jack and Sam both laughed as Daniel placed the cans on the coffee table.

“He's right, Sir.  I'm amazed anyone ever bought it,” Sam opined.

“You say 'Sir', Carter, even when you don't,” Jack observed.

“Yes, Sir, Jack, I know,” the blonde concurred.  “Okay, so I take it, I'm not here just for pizza?”

“Do you want to start or ...” Daniel asked, motioning towards the pizza.

“Let's wait for Janet and Cassie,” Sam suggested as she opened her Seven-Up.

Nodding, Daniel sat down and inquired, “Sam, does Cassie know about us, I mean, Jack and I?  Do you really think she knows?”

Sam stared at her two friends, thinking the question a bit peculiar.  Still, maybe the teenager had seen or overheard something, and that's why her friends were concerned.

“Yes, Daniel, I think so.  I tried to distract her, but she's smart, and I don't think you've fooled her at all with the Daniel's dogs needing a backyard bit, either.”  Sam smiled, then looked behind her.  “Then there's the fish.”

“Gawd,” Daniel expressed.

“They're hard to miss, and she knows they're yours, Daniel,” Sam informed.

“Okay,” Jack acknowledged, taking a drink of his Coke.  “Carter, Fraiser knows, or we assume she knows.  She's never said anything, so I take it that she's okay with it, Daniel and me, but how do you think she'd feel if Cass knew?”

“Frankly, Sir, I think they've discussed it, but I didn't ask, and Janet didn't tell ... Sir.”

The clang of the knocker against the front door interrupted the conversation.

“I'll let them in, Jack,” Daniel offered, getting up and going to the door, where he greeted Janet and Cassandra, careful to keep his left hand in his pocket.

====

A few minutes later, after some innocent chitchat, Jack nudged Janet on the arm and asked, “Doc, could I speak with you for a moment?”

“Sure, Colonel,” the feisty redhead agreed.

“Daniel, keep the ladies company.  We'll be right back,” Jack stated.

“Sure.”  Daniel smiled nervously and watched as Jack led Janet to the study for a private conversation.  “So,” he said with a small cracked voice, still looking towards the hall that led to the study.  ~I need a drink,~ he thought, wishing he had something stronger, but then taking a few sips from his Pepsi.

“Geez,” Cassandra giggled knowingly, drawing the archaeologist's attention.  Still giggling, she guessed, “You're coming out, aren't you, Uncle Daniel?”

“Wha...what?” a completely shocked Daniel responded, spitting out his drink.

Sam and Cassandra both laughed, watching as Daniel grabbed a napkin to dry his shirt.

The teenager chuckled, “I don't know why you guys make such a big deal out of it.”

“Cassandra, we discussed this,” Sam interjected on Daniel's behalf, though she was inwardly amused by what she was seeing.

“I know, Sam, but it's obvious to anyone with a brain.  Mom's fine with it.  We talked about it ages ago.”

Having placed his soda can on the coffee table, Daniel sank back into his chair and muttered, “ages ago,” not realizing he had said it out loud.

“Oh, get real, Uncle Daniel,” Cassandra chastised.  “You and Uncle Jack had the hots for each other from the day you rescued me.  It was written all over you, *both* of you.”

“Cass, no, I mean, we didn't, not for ... oh, forget it,” Daniel tried to explain, but was too flustered to even complete one coherent sentence.

Sam and Cassandra both laughed.  Daniel looked so perplexed as he sat, fidgeting in the chair.

Pushing back the strands of her long, red hair, the teenager asked, “What's the big deal, anyway?  Do you have any idea what some of my friends do?  You wouldn't believe it, but don't tell Mom, she'd freak.  It's not my thing, but, hey, whatever floats their boat.  So, are you and Uncle Jack finally gonna kiss and tell?”

“Cassandra!” Sam chastised.

Sam's tone turned maternal.  She wasn't Cassandra's mother, but she easily could have been, and the teenager had been raised to think of Sam as a sort of surrogate mother.

“Sorry, Sam, but I don't see anything wrong with it.  Dominic and I kiss all the time, so why shouldn't Uncle Daniel and Uncle Jack?”

“Cassandra!” Sam exclaimed in exasperation, as Daniel remained stunned into silence.  “Cassie, if you and your mom have talked about this, then you know why we don't talk about it.”

“Yes, I know, but it's still dumb.  Besides, we're not at the SGC; we're at Uncle Daniel's house.  Why should they have to pretend in front of us?  Do you mind if they hold hands and kiss and stuff?”

“Uncle Daniel's house,” Daniel mumbled in an indistinguishable whisper as he frowned slightly.  “Everyone's supposed to think ... gawd.”

Sam wasn't sure how to respond to Cassandra and stammered, “I ... I ... well ... Daniel, say something.”

Sam was totally confused, unsure exactly why Jack and Daniel had invited them to the house in the first place, and, honestly, she wasn't sure how she felt about them.  They'd rarely, if ever, done anything 'couple-ish' in front of her, even though she'd known about them for years.

Clearly, the pair had something to say, but Cassandra's crusader ramblings had her off balance.  She looked at Daniel, her blue eyes pleading with his blue eyes, but he just smiled shyly and looked at the floor.

Daniel was totally off balance and was glad he was sitting down.  He wasn't expecting Cassandra to be so open with her feelings, though she'd been raised to speak her mind.  Her 'kiss and tell' approach had his head spinning, and he couldn't help but notice that she had stated matter-of-factly that this was his house, not just Jack's.  Daniel wasn't sure what to do or say, so he continued to say nothing.

“Can I have a piece of pizza?” the young redhead asked politely.

“Sure, take it all,” Daniel answered with a shake of his head, pleased his voice still worked.

“I don't think so,” Jack barked as he and Janet reappeared.  “I'm starved.  I want some of that, too.”

“I only wanted a piece, Uncle Jack, not the whole thing.”

“Danny, you okay?” Jack inquired, seeing his lover looking a bit pale.

“Peachy,” Daniel answered with a slight smile.  Then, looking straight at Jack, he asked a long question with one word, “Janet?”

Jack was surprised Daniel had asked openly about the result of the conversation, but responded, “She's fine with it.”

Daniel looked at Janet, who smiled, and then repeated, “Peachy.”

Jack looked at Sam, who seemed flushed, and then at Cassandra, who was happily eating pizza as if nothing abnormal was happening, and then back at his lover.

“Danny, you sure you're okay?”

Daniel looked at Cassandra for a moment.  She smiled at him with the encouragement and innocence of youth.  He stood up slowly, glanced at Sam and Janet, and then walked right up into Jack's personal space, putting his arms around Jack's neck, and kissed him, long, hard and passionately.  Jack's arms automatically slid around Daniel's waist, pulling him in closer, returning every ounce of passion Daniel was giving to him.

“Alright!  Way to go, Uncles!” Cassandra exclaimed excitedly.

“Cassandra Fraiser!” Janet called out.

“What, Mom?”

Janet shook her head just as Daniel and Jack finally stopped their long kiss.

“I'm fine now, Jack.  Cassie thinks we should kiss and tell, and not worry about it,” Daniel revealed.

Jack had forgotten anyone else was in the room.  That kiss had been one of Danny's Dynamos, ones that normally sent Jack to his knees and doing other things.  Right now, he could do nothing but stare at his lover with desire, and confusion.

“So, Daniel, Sir, are you ... coming out?” Sam asked cautiously.

“I hate that term,” Daniel remarked.  “It sounds like we've been hiding or something.”

Jack, Sam, Janet, and Cassie all stared at the archaeologist.

“All I'm saying is that we're not ... hiding, like that ... in a ... a closet.  Who thought of that anyway?  I mean, it's ... it's ... gawd,” Daniel expressed, seeing the looks on everyone's faces and then sighing deeply.

“Actually, Uncle Daniel, it's sort of a play on words,” Cassandra volunteered, garnering surprised looks from the others.  “A girl can't know these things?” she chuckled.  “It's a dig on the debutantes and those big 'coming out' parties of theirs.”  Seeing more surprised expressions and even an open mouth or two, she explained, “You know, I had a lot of learning to do about life on Earth when I ... moved here from ... Toronto.”  She giggled, then said, “I've done a lot of reading.”

Jack shook off his lover's comments and Cassandra's contribution and answered, “No, Carter, we aren't ... coming out.  Danny thinks we should wait, keep fighting the snakes and all that, and I promised him we would, for a while longer, *just* a while longer, a *short* while ... not much ...”

“Jack, they get the point,” Daniel interrupted.

Cassandra laughed, causing Jack to inquire, “What's so funny, Cass?”

“You two.  I can't believe there's anyone out there who knows you and listens to you who doesn't know you're in love.  It's so obvious to anyone with a brain.”

Jack and Daniel looked at each other and shrugged, and then both sat down next to each other on the sofa while motioning to their guests to sit down as well.

Cassandra sat down on one of the dining room chairs that sat in the kitchen nook after pulling it out into the living room.  Janet sat down in Jack's armchair, and Sam took a seat on the sofa, on the other side of Daniel.  Soon, Katie jumped up next to the blonde, resting against her leg, while Bijou was content to stretch out on the floor, in front of the coffee table.

Jack took Daniel's hand and raised it towards their guests, asking, “So, everyone okay with this?”

“Yes, Sir,” Sam answered.

“No problem, Colonel,” Janet said with a smile.

“Honestly!” Cassandra protested, still playing the outspoken youth dismayed at the lack of acceptance in a supposedly advanced society.

“Okay, well, Daniel and I do have a little announcement, and, Cass, we're sharing it with the three of you, and, believe me, we agree with you, but ...”

“I know, I'm not a kid.  Don't ask, don't tell, yadda, yadda,” Cassandra sighed.

After everyone laughed, Jack continued, “Anyway, Daniel and I have decided ... well, actually, he asked, and I said 'yes', so ...”

Cassandra gasped, her smile off the excited scale as she exclaimed, “Holy Matrimony!  That's great!  Can I be the wedding planner, just like JLo?” the teen asked enthusiastically.

“Cassandra!” Janet and Sam both said at the same time.

“Now you understand what you left me with earlier,” Daniel teased as he looked at his lover.

Sam saw the smiles on her CO's and close friend's faces, and she noticed the shine in their eyes as well.

“Holy Hannah, she's right.  You're ... getting married?” Sam surmised.

“As I said, Carter, Daniel asked, and I said 'yes', so yes, we are.”

“Oh, Daniel, I'm so happy for you,” Sam responded, throwing her arms around the young man.

As Daniel returned the embrace, Jack released his hand.  Janet stood up and walked towards them, and then one by one, all of them embraced and hugged the smithereens out of each other.  It was a true moment of joy for all present.

“Hey, cool, you have rings!” Cassandra observed.

“Wow!” Sam exclaimed.

“We ... we won't be wearing them out, but we ...” Daniel began, then bowed his head a little as he looked at his ring.

Cassandra could see the sadness closing in on him.

Apparently, Jack noticed as well as he put his arm around Daniel's waist and spoke, “It's not safe to wear them here in the Springs, even at home.  We never know who might come by, so it's too much of a risk, but I wanted us to keep wearing them tonight, while we told you about our plans.”

“That's very romantic of you, Sir,” Sam replied with a bit of a coy expression.

“Come on, let's eat the pizza.  We'll warm it up and then we can talk some more about what we have in mind.  Come on, Danny,” Jack said as he nudged his soulmate while pointing everyone towards the kitchen and food.

“Woof!” Bijou called out, prompting Jack to open the patio door to let the two beagles outside.

“This is so exciting!” the teenager laughed as the group continued on towards the eating area.  “It's about time, too!  There's so much to do.  We ...”

**She's a cheerleader, Danny,** Jack said via the lovers' special non-verbal communication.

**A cheerleader for us, Jack.  She's so excited,** Daniel responded.

**It's nice to see.**

Daniel glanced at his Heart and responded, **You weren't positive they would, were you?**

**I was hoping, but assumptions ...**

**... are dangerous,** both men communicated at the same time.

As the bubbly teenager continued to rant about the upcoming nuptials, Jack joked, **Maybe we should buy her some pom poms.**

====

For the next hour, the friends laughed and ate.  Once Janet had finally managed to rein in her daughter's out-of-control enthusiasm, they didn't talk much about the wedding, but instead chatted about other things like Cassandra's boyfriend, her grades in school, Janet's new red convertible, and Sam's mystery boyfriend whom she still wasn't telling much about.

Since it was a nice evening outside, once they had finished dinner, they agreed to sit outside for awhile.  As they headed out onto the patio, Daniel stayed indoors to put their cups and plates into the dishwasher.  As he finished, he turned and was startled slightly to see Cassandra standing there.

“Sorry, Uncle Daniel, but I wanted to say I'm sorry.”

“For what?”

Cassandra took Daniel's hand, touched his ring, and explained, “I know I sound like some typical Earth teenager, but I really think it's sad that you and Uncle Jack have to pretend so much, and I'm sorry I made you think about the sad part earlier.  Sometimes I don't know when to shut up, and this is probably another one of those times.”

“It's okay, Cassie.  Jack and I ...” Daniel paused.  He rarely talked about his relationship with Jack to anyone.  ~Some linguist.~

Cassandra smiled, an expression full of love, understanding, and encouragement, and said, “You love him.  What's wrong with that?”

It was Daniel's turn to smile as he replied, “Nothing, Cassie, and ... I do ... love him.”

Cassandra flung her arms around Daniel's neck, saying, “And I love you, Uncle Daniel, and I'm really happy for you and Uncle Jack.”

“Thanks,” Daniel spoke gratefully.  “We'd better get out there before they send a rescue team after us.”

====

Two hours later, after tossing Bijou's ball for her to chase after, Jack finally steered the conversation back to the reason for the pizza party.

“What we're thinking about doing, and nothing is finalized yet, but we're thinking Canada, and we'd like all of you to be part of it, if you want to.  It would take a lot of planning, some covert handling, and, of course, we can't talk about it publicly.  We'll understand if any of you don't want to participate, but we wanted you all to know that we ...”

Jack stopped.  This was the part he wasn't good at.  Words and feelings were Daniel's department.

Right on cue, Daniel reached out, took Jack's hand, and didn't miss a beat as he picked up exactly where Jack had left off, saying, “... love you and hope you'll want to share this special time with us.  It would mean a lot to both Jack and I if you'd think about coming and being a part of our ... wedding.”

“Daniel, undomesticated equines couldn't keep me away,” Sam cried, her words echoing a long time SG-1 joke, as she tried to mask her tears of joy.

“Me, too.  I'll be there with bells on,” the teenager promised.

Jack and Daniel smiled at Cassandra's enthusiasm, but looked to Janet.

“Can't disappoint a teenager who makes straight A's in school.  We'll be there,” the doctor promised.  “You just tell us how you want us to do it.”

“It doesn't have to be that complicated.  Janet, Cassandra, and I go away all the time on trips, as do you two.  We just need a downtime for all of us,” Sam stated.

“We're still working out the details, Sam,” Daniel pointed out, smiling.  “This ... all just happened this weekend, but we want to do it soon.”

“Daniel, Sir, what about Teal'c and General Hammond?” Sam questioned.

“I don't know, Sam,” Daniel quickly responded.

Jack let out a big breath and sat forward, clasping his hands in front of him for a moment.  As Daniel watched, he stood up and walked a few feet away, and then took his right hand and brought it up to rub his fingers through his hair briefly as he pondered the real question Sam was asking.

Finally, Jack stated, “Look, we don't even know for sure that Teal'c knows.  I think he does after that curse thing.”

Daniel cringed and requested, “Please don't remind me about that, Jack.”

“Oh, I remember you talking about that.  I would have loved to have seen that Boonie Bear you mentioned, Sir,” Sam teased, releasing a giggle or two in the process.

“Jack!”

Jack only laughed harder and revealed, “That can be arranged, Carter.”

“*Jack!*” Daniel exclaimed fervently.  “You are not going to show that ... bear to Sam.”

Excited, Sam interjected, “Holy moly, you still have it?  Oh, I have to see it!”

“Sam.”

“Ah, come on Danny, it's cute.  The glasses, the hat, the little vest ...” the older man began, a big smile on his face.

“Jack, you are *not* going to show it to Sam,” Daniel insisted.  “No way.”

“Don't worry, Carter,” Jack spoke as he winked.

Seeing the wink, Daniel walked right up into Jack's personal space so that they were eyeball to eyeball and warned, “Jack, so help me, you show Sam that ... thing ... and I'll ... I'll ... and you'll be sleeping on the sofa *alone*, *totally* alone, for a month.  Do you understand me?”

Jack put his arms around Daniel, laughing as he did, pulling Daniel in tight against him, and said with great conviction and strength, “You'd never last, Danny, maybe one night; nope, not even that, an hour ... maybe.”

With that, Jack kissed Daniel, ravishing his lips and mouth, his hands caressing Daniel's back as Daniel responded, gently rubbing Jack's back as the kiss progressed.

The sparks from the heat generated by the two lovers were flying everywhere, causing Sam and Janet to both turn red with embarrassed smiles.  Neither woman was sure where to look.  They felt they should look anywhere other than at Jack and Daniel, and yet neither could resist watching their two friends as they expressed their love physically in front of them for the first time.

Cassandra giggled with delight, “This is so cool.”

Jack and Daniel broke their kiss at the sound of Cassandra's laugh, and both were red from embarrassment.  Daniel looked at the three females briefly and then leaned his head forward onto Jack's shoulder.  There was nowhere to run, so why fight it.

The older man chuckled, knowing Daniel felt totally taken aback by their action in front of their friends.  He kissed him on his temple and rubbed his back as a reassurance they'd get through this.  He moved his arm to Daniel's waist and turned him to face their guests, so that they were standing side by side.

Daniel apologized, “I'm sorry, Guys, I guess we ... got carried away.  We really shouldn't ...”

“Don't you dare!” Cassandra spoke almost with anger, as everyone looked at her. “I mean it.  I know you all think I'm still a child, and I can't speak for Mom and Sam, but so help me, Uncle Daniel, and you, too, Uncle Jack, if you ever apologize to me for loving each other and being happy, I'll ... never speak to you again.  And ... well, if you ever even act like you're acting in front of me, I'll ...”

Cassandra was frustrated and slightly angry.  She could see just how much her two adopted uncles cared for each other, and it made her sick that they had to hide it.  Knowing she needed to lighten up, though, she decided to end her tirade on a light-hearted vein.

“... or I'll hold my breath until I turn blue.”  The teenager burst out with a smile, that relaxed the small tension that had built up in the air.  ~They're just so cute.~

Jack walked to the girl, hugged her, and expressed, “Thanks Cass.  Always knew you were a smart egg.”

“A cracked one at that, Uncle Jack,” the teen said as they separated.

Daniel walked over and hugged the young girl, too, saying, “Thank you, Cassie.  Your support means so much to us, and we know you're not a child anymore.”

Janet had tears in her eyes as she watched the tender scene with her daughter unfolding.

“You okay, Doc?” Jack asked, seeing the emotion in the petite redhead.

Nodding, the physician answered, “What's a mom to do?  I'm so proud of you, Cassandra.”

More hugs and a few tears later, everyone sat down again, and Jack got back to their original conversation.

“So, about Teal'c, we don't know if he knows or not.  Getting him into Canada covertly could be difficult, even if he does know.  I'm not sure we should risk it, as much as I wish we could.  What do you think, Danny?”

“He's going to feel bad if we don't at least ask, Jack.  He's family, too.”

Jack nodded, but warned, “You need to think about the consequences if we all go off at the same time, and if something happens crossing the border.  We can't hide his appearance.  If we get caught, Danny, show's over.  You're right.  The big guy is family, but can we afford to take the risk?”

“Couldn't the government ... smuggle him in or something?” Cassandra wondered.

“Sweetie, what would we say to get the government to do that?” Janet questioned with a smile.

“The colonel's right,” Sam opined.  “It's definitely risky.”

Sadly, Daniel sighed, “We'll have to make it up to him later, somehow.”  He bowed his head, staring at the floor.  ~But I wish we didn't have to make it up to him.  I wish ... never mind.~

Jack went to his lover and kneeled down in front of him, placing his hand on Daniel's cheek, stroking the smooth skin with his thumb, and said, “When I retire, Love, we'll have a big wedding and invite the whole world, okay?  We'll make it up to Teal'c.  I promise.”

Daniel nodded and smiled, while the women blushed.

“Um, Jack ...”  Daniel nodded towards their blushing guests.  “They aren't used to us.”

“Right.”  Jack stood up and started to apologize, but caught a glare from Cassandra that stopped him.  Altering his apology, he stated, “You might as well all know that Danny and I can be pretty sappy when we aren't pretending.”

“We can see that, Colonel.  It's fine,” Janet responded.

“Just how long have you known about us, Doc?” Jack questioned.

Janet smiled and answered, “Since you told me a few hours ago.”  With a smirk, she added, “'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', remember, Colonel?  I never did either.  It was the safest thing for all of us.”  Seeing her daughter's curious look, she reminded, “Cass, I am a major, you know.”

“Oh, yeah, you have to protect your career, too.  Stupid, just stupid,” the redheaded teen sighed in disgust.

Returning to his seat on a patio chair, Jack continued, “As for General Hammond, Danny thinks he knows, and he might.  He's close to retirement himself and, if we clue him in, he's risking a nice pension.  I'm not sure we have the right to put him in that position.”

“Don't you think he might like the option, Sir?” Sam asked.

“Probably,” Jack conceded.  “But I don't want him to feel like he has to.  We're all close, closer than we're supposed to be.  Carter, I think if we told him, asked him to come, he would, but I'm not sure Danny and I could live with the result if Hammond gets hurt because we couldn't wait a little longer.”

“Jack's right, Sam.  I ... I really wish the general could come, and Teal'c, but we can't.  Like Jack said, we'll,” Daniel turned to face Jack and shined a beautiful smile in his lover's direction, “have a second ceremony later, for everyone.”

Sam couldn't resist a smile, watching her friends who seemed so happy together, and gushed, almost involuntarily, “I'm so excited for you both.”

Standing, Janet interjected, “Colonel, Daniel, thank you for including us, but it's late, and I actually have to work tomorrow, so, we should be going.”

Sam added, “And I left ... I mean, I should be going, too, Sir, Daniel, if it's okay ... Sir.”

Jack shook his head, pointing out, “You should have told me you actually had a date, Carter.”

“Well, it's not ... never mind, Sir,” Sam said, leaning over to pet Bijou and Katie one last time before leaving, an action Janet and Cassandra repeated a moment later.

“Of course, Carter.”  Jack and Daniel walked their guests to the door, and, just before opening it, Jack turned and looked at Sam, Janet, and Cassandra.  He smiled.  “Thank you, all of you.  This means a lot.”

Jack's voice was low, serious, and there was a gentleness and appreciation in his tone that didn't escape the listening guests.

Janet and Cassandra hugged Jack, saying their good-byes.

Sam smiled at Daniel and then enveloped him with a giant bear hug, whispering, “He really is a teddy bear with you, isn't he?”

Daniel whispered back, “A complete marshmallow, through and through.”

Sam held her hug as she asked, “And you really do love him, Daniel?”

“With all my heart, Sam.”

Sam released her dear friend, a tear in her eye.  She noticed Jack was staring at her, and Janet and Cassandra were already out on the porch.

“Sorry, Sir.”

“It's okay, Carter.  I love him, too,” Jack responded, knowing that Sam was being protective of the archaeologist, even after all this time.  ~Two points,~ he jested silently.

Sam blushed and scurried out the door as fast as she could.

“Goodnight,” everyone called out in unison, all laughing as a result.

Jack and Daniel watched the ladies enter their cars, making sure they drove off in safety before closing the door.

“Bed?” Jack asked.

Daniel nodded.  Both men were anxious to pick up where they left off when Sam had arrived with the pizza earlier.

As Jack started to lock up the house for the night, Daniel noticed Bijou and Katie sitting at the patio door, tails wagging, big smiles on their loving faces.

“Jack, I'm letting the girls in.  They look like they want to stay inside tonight.”

“Sure, the more the merrier,” Jack groaned.  ~So much for picking up where we left off.~

“Jack!”

Jack laughed, “Danny, you know we agreed the first day.  No sex in front of the children, and when you let them in, you know where they are going to end up --- in bed, with us.”

Daniel stood at the door, looking down at their beloved beagles.  He seemed lost as to what to do.

The older man walked up behind him, scooping him into his arms, staring down at the hopeful faces of Bijou and Katie.

“Let them in, Danny.  We have forever, and the girls, they're part of our circle of love.”

With a bright smile, the younger man asked, “You sure, Jack?  I mean, we sure were ... revved up there earlier, and I know we ... were ... well, planning ...”

“I love you, Danny.  Let the kids in, and we'll go to bed.  I could live in total bliss just holding you.”

“Me, too.  I love you, Jack, love you so much.”

Daniel let the dogs in and locked the patio door.  As the lovers began to head for the stairs, the beagles ran up ahead of them.  Just as Jack and Daniel reached the entrance to their bedroom, they both laughed.

Bijou and Katie were both on the bed, wagging their tails, looking at them with expressions that seemed to say, “What took you so long?”

The lovers shared a kiss and then began to undress.

“Pajamas tonight,” Daniel said.

Jack grunted, but was determined not to make the evening a total loss, so instructed, “Wear the pharaoh ones.”

Daniel shook his head in wonderment, saying, “You have a thing about me and those pharaohs.”

“I have a thing about you, period,” Jack smirked.

Buttoning the top of his pajamas as he approached their bed, Jack stared at Bijou and Katie.

“Enjoy it while it lasts, Ladies.  He's mine, and there will be sex here tomorrow, and that means the two of you will be on guard duty in the backyard. Understood?”

“Woof,” Bijou and Katie said in unison, as Daniel laughed.

Jack pulled the comforter and sheets down and climbed into bed, making Bijou and Katie scramble to avoid being squished.

“Jack!”

“They moved, Danny.  Now c'mere, Snuggle Bunny, I want to snuggle.”

Daniel rolled his eyes as he took his spot on the bed and replied, “I think you're the real snuggle bunny, Jack.”

Jack and Daniel lay on their sides, facing each other, their heads sharing a pillow for the moment.  Their hands found each other's and joined together, and their eyes locked into the other's.

“Beyond the reach of time, Danny.”

“Forever, Jack.”

As their arms wrapped around each other, the couple kissed, reconfirming their commitment and union.

“Hey, Danny?”

“Hmmm,” Daniel barely acknowledged as he settled onto his Jack pillow after Jack rolled onto his back.

“You gonna wear a white dress?” the older man asked before letting out a chuckle.

“JACK!”

Daniel swatted his lover on the arm as both began a new round of laughter and a short wrestling match that lasted a couple of minutes.

With Daniel leaning over Jack slightly, looking into his eyes, Jack said softly, “I love you, Angel, and I can't wait to marry you.  Thank you for asking me.”

Daniel smiled, kissed his lover, then spoke, “I love you, too, Jack, forever,” as he settled his head onto Jack's shoulder, just as Jack's arms encircled him.

Bijou and Katie spread out lengthwise next to Jack, prompting him to think, ~I feel like a sandwich between you and the children.  You know something, Daniel? I know what I said earlier, but if there was a miracle out there where we could have kids, I'd do it in a heartbeat, as long you wanted it, too.

~You'd make such a great father, Danny, and the only thing that I regret about us is that you'll never have that chance to be a dad, because I'm selfish, Daniel, and I am never letting you go, never.  Selfish O'Neill, that's me.  But you would be great, Danny, and I wish you could know what that's like, and I wish we could share it together.

~I love you so much, Danny.  The circle of our love: I like that.  I like that a lot.  How did that go? The circle of our love is found in every warm and tender thing that lips may breathe or hearts may beat forever.  That's you, Angel, warm and tender, and that's how you make me feel.  Love you so friggin' much, Daniel.~

“J'ck?” a mumbled voice called out.

“Yes, Love?”

“Shaddup.  You're ... thinking, and it's keeping me 'wake.”

“Sorry,” Jack laughed.  He and Daniel were so connected.  ~Geez, I love you, Danny.  I wish I could tell you.  What you ...~

“*Jack!*” Daniel said more aggressively.

“Sorry, Love.  I love you.”

“Love you, too.  Now go 'sleep,” the younger man ordered.

“Yes, Dear.”

“Get you for that 'morrow, J'ck,” Daniel threatened amid a yawn.

“You'd better.  Night, Angel,” Jack said softly.

“Night ... Darling,” the younger man chuckled.

Jack groaned and finally closed his eyes, totally happy holding a sleepy Daniel in his arms.

**Love you, Danny.**

**Love you, Jack.  Now go to sleep.**

**I'm not tired.**

**Jack!**

**You're so demanding now that we're officially engaged.**

**Jack, if you don't stop, I'm going to take the girls and go sleep in the spare room.**

“Night, Love.”

“Night, Jack.”
~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
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