Daniel Meets His Match

Author: Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Angst, Drama, H/C, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  NC-17
Season:  7 - February 17 - June 26, 2004
Spoilers:  None
Size:  234kb
Written:  October 3-5,20-27,30, November 22-23, 2003  Revised:  December 23-24, 2004, January 4,22,31, February 6-12, 2005  Revised for consistency:  March 5-6, 2007
Summary:  When caffeine mixes with an alien drug, turning the normally understanding Daniel into an overbearing boss, Jack performs an intervention.  In the process, Sam has to stand up to her friend, and Teal'c gets to show his soft side.
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 fics, “Odyssey of the Mind,” “Delusions of Love,” “Beagle Interlude,” “Turnabout Danny,” “Beagle Interlude, Too,” “New Rules,” “Time Out,” “Surprising Jack,” “Unspoken Fears,” “For Better or Worse,” “Heart and Soul,” “Katie and the Bandana,” and “Boys at Play”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Suzanna (and for the story idea), Drdjlover, Mama Beast, StarShadow, Brynn, QuinGem, Linda, Claudia!

Daniel Meets His Match
by Orrymain

Jack and Daniel had celebrated Valentine's Day in style, their own style, and had enjoyed Washington's Birthday Day off, but then it had been back to work at the SGC.  Since his recovery from his kidnapping in January, the demands on Daniel's time had been incredible, work having stacked up for the archaeologist.

It was Tuesday, February 17, and Daniel had worked late into the night on the first priority that had needed to be solved 'now'.

“Hmmm ... where?  Oh sh...”

Daniel opened his eyes, wondering where he was.  His eyes blinked as he attempted to focus on his surroundings, but at first, he only managed to squint.  His fingers flitted in the air, and finally his hands found some papers on the table.

The archaeologist realized his head was bowed, his body leaning over his desk at the SGC.  He felt something hard at the end of his nose and eventually realized they were his glasses, half on and half off his face.  He had fallen asleep working on a translation that Hammond wanted done by morning.  Jack, already dressed in his civvies, had come by his office at 6:15 p.m.

//Flashback//
“How's it coming, Daniel?”

“Slow. I'm stuck on the third section.  It's progressive, each symbol building on the other, so I can't skip over any of it.  I just can't figure it out.  I'm missing something.”

“You'll figure it out.  You always do!” Jack spoke with confidence and a sincere smile that earned him a loving glance from the younger man.

“Jack, go home and take care of the girls.  They'll be worried.”

Jack laughed a little; then he asked, “Danny, you don't think we take this 'our dogs are our children' thing a little too far, do you?”

“No.  Do you?”

“No.  How long before I should start worrying about you being late?”

“Tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.”

“Daniel!”

“Jack, the general wants this translation.  I'm stuck.  Gawd, I hate it when I don't have a clue.”

Jack walked behind Daniel, who was seated at his work table and put his arms around his spouse.

“Hey, you'll get to the bottom of this thing, but maybe you need a few minutes away.  Let's go to the commissary and get something to eat.”

“Jack, I don't ...”

“No arguments.  I'll feel better because I'll know you've actually eaten, then I'll get out of your hair, and go home and party with the girls.”

“And worry.”

“How'd you guess?”

“Because I know you,” Daniel sighed and then conceded, “Okay, but a quick bite, Jack, because I really do need to spend time on this.”
//End of Flashback//

Daniel had eaten a salad and a turkey sandwich, and downed a cup of coffee.  What he didn't realize at the time was that the SGC's food delivery truck had broken down, and the expected delivery of certain items, including coffee, wouldn't be until 10 a.m. the following morning.

At 7 p.m., Jack had signed out of the SGC, leaving Daniel to his translations. Both knew Daniel wouldn't be home until the wee hours of the morning, if at all.  Jack had made Daniel promise to call before he left the facility; otherwise, Jack would be assured his lover was still safely at the SGC, slaving away over his duties.

Daniel had worked meticulously on the scrolls, finally solving the third section.  After that, the fourth and fifth parts had been fairly simple, but the sixth section had been another stumbling block with several new characters introduced and new patterns of symbols appearing that seemed to totally contradict the prior portions.

It had been 11:20 p.m. when Daniel's personal coffee stash had expired.  He had been intending to go by Starbuck's and pick up a new supply, but he hadn't had time with SG-1's missions and trying to crack the mysteries of the scrolls.  Daniel had gone to the commissary and had been stunned and horrified when he had been told of the coffee shortage.

“There must be some somewhere,” the caffeine-deprived scientist had insisted to one of the commissary workers.

“Sorry, Doctor Jackson, but there was a problem with the delivery truck; won't be any until tomorrow morning.”

With no caffeine to keep the already tired linguist awake, Daniel had nodded off shortly after midnight, not awaking until 2:30 a.m.

Daniel panicked.  He was still tired and had to get the translation done.  He picked up the phone and started to call Jack to do a coffee run, but they lived forty minutes away, and he just couldn't bring himself to disturb Jack's sleep to ask him.  With a sigh, Daniel hung up the phone.

Daniel smiled briefly, though, in the knowledge that he was sure Jack would happily do it.  Jack would do anything for Daniel, and for a few minutes, Daniel got lost in the pleasure that circulated through his body as he dreamed about his lover.

====

Daniel cursed when he awoke again at 3:15 a.m.  He had to stay awake and finish deciphering the ancient writings.  He kicked himself again for not keeping his personal stash of coffee and junk food stocked.  Then, he remembered an earlier conversation he'd had with Sam.

SG-1's 2IC had been working on her own deadline a few days ago.  She had an extended downtime coming up, and from what Daniel could pick up, she had been planning on spending some time with her mystery boyfriend.

The boyfriend had apparently been away on business for a few weeks, and Sam had wanted to look her best, hoping to lose seven or eight pounds quickly.  She had taken Zantrex 3, raving about it to Daniel.

//Flashback//
“It's great, Daniel.  I'm losing the weight and have all this extra energy.”

“But it's still a drug, Sam.”

“Technically, but it worked.  I didn't think I'd get those test results done in time, but the pills helped me to stay awake.  It's no worse than taking a sleeping pill or one of Janet's happy juices.  It's mostly just caffeine, Daniel, and that's practically what you live on.”
//End of Flashback//

Daniel had laughed then, but now, he remembered Sam's last comment during their brief discussion.

“I'm going to keep them here,” the blonde had said, motioning towards a cabinet, “so if you ever want any, help yourself.”

Daniel sprinted to Sam's office and used his key card to enter.  He didn't want to deplete the supply so after skimming over the instructions, he poured a few into his hand and returned to his office.

The correct dosage for a significant energy boost was two pills, totaling three-hundred twenty milligrams, anytime.  Daniel knew his body was used to caffeine and, since he really needed energy, he decided to take three.

Shortly after consuming the caffeine pills, the linguist was able to breeze through the remainder of the night, practically buzzing in alertness.

====

By the time Jack walked into Daniel's office at 8:30 a.m., Daniel had finished translating the scrolls and had begun on the next big project.

“Danny,” Jack said, locking the door and turning off the security equipment. “How'd it go?”

“What?”

“The translations, and by the way,” Jack pulled Daniel up to him, “I missed you, and,” Jack kissed his lover passionately, “I especially missed kissing you first thing this morning.”

“Missed you, too.”

“I didn't think you even remembered you had a home.”

Daniel responded, “Jack, I did, too, but I didn't finish the translation until early this morning, and now I'm working on the device SG-4 found last week.”

“You need to sleep, Danny,” the older man replied protectively.

Shaking off the words, the younger man intoned, “No, I'm fine, wide awake actually.”

“Did you sleep at all last night?”

“Oh, yeah, wasted too much time sleeping,” Daniel answered energetically.

Daniel pulled away and returned to the alien object.  He seemed fine, so Jack didn't worry.  Aside from meetings, there was nothing major on the schedule for today, so once Daniel got through with Hammond, Jack figured he could take his lover home and pamper him for a while for a job well done.

“Okay.  I'll be back later,” Jack stated as he walked out.

====

After a blissful afternoon and evening off, during which Jack made good on his desire to pamper his life partner, Daniel finally went shopping for supplies for the office.  He wasn't due in until ten, and he wanted to make sure he restocked on the essentials.

The archaeologist picked up four different blends of Starbuck's Coffees -- his favorite, Arabian Mocha Java, as well as French Roast, Sumatra, and Breakfast Blend for those mornings when he didn't need quite as much 'push' from his addiction.

Then, Daniel selected a box of Twinkies, some Doritos, a can of peanut mix, and several other snack items.

As the shopper passed the pharmacy, he paused.  He searched the aisles and found the Zantrex 3, but he didn't take it.  They were basically diet pills, and that's not what he needed.  Nearby, however, he saw several boxes that proclaimed their contents to be “better than coffee.”

The pills seemed innocent enough, and Daniel only wanted them as a backup in case he ever ran out of coffee again.  Still, he hesitated, staring at the boxes for several minutes.  He hated drugs and had no desire to go through any kind of withdrawal again, but the use of the Zantrex 3 hadn't caused him any problems, and he was getting something even less powerful than those -- simple caffeine pills.

In the end, Daniel decided he was only getting them as a precautionary measure, one he'd only ever use in extreme circumstances.  He selected a box with the furthest expiration date he could find and added it to his cart.

After checking in at the SGC, Daniel restocked his junk food stash area in his office, sticking the caffeine pills in a drawer and promptly forgot about them.

====

The weeks that followed had been eventful, full of both tragedy and humor.  On the down side, Daniel had been stalked by a deranged former classmate from Oxford and then thought Jack had been cheating on him after witnessing Jack with another man at a bar.  Osiris had played havoc with his mind, and Sam had almost been killed by one of Anubis' Super Soldiers.

On the plus side, the couple had some wonderfully fun days with their beagles, Bijou and Katie, Sam had created special GPS tracking collars for the dogs, making Daniel feel more secure about the dog's welfare, and the couple had engaged in a marvelous food fight.  In addition, Sarah Gardner's Goa'uld had been successfully removed, and she was starting a new life back in Chicago, something Daniel was pleased about.

~One less thing to feel guilty about,~ Daniel sometimes sighed when he thought about Sarah's return to Earth.

On April 25, Jack had gone to the Alpha Site to conduct a multi-day training session. He still ached a little from a recent battle off-world, but otherwise was well.  Sam had left earlier in the day on a teaching assignment at the Academy, while Teal'c had gone through the Stargate to visit Rya'c on Chulak.

While the rest of SG-1 was occupied, Daniel planned to catch up on research  For the first time in a long while, he didn't have any pressing deadlines and could simply enjoy his archaeological and anthropological studies.  He wrapped himself up in a warm blanket of relics and artifacts.  For two full days, when he wasn't at home playing with their precious pups, he virtually played in his office -- cataloguing, researching, studying, investigating -- simply doing what, professionally, he loved the most.

His work had been a labor of love, but just as if he had been given deadlines, the scientist got very little sleep.  Daniel was in his element and on a natural high, so even though he was short on sleep, he wasn't really feeling the effects.  Plus, he'd been able to sneak in naps at unusual hours.

On the third day, Sam returned from the Academy and was all gung-ho about a new theory.  She immediately recruited Daniel to assist her, needing his ability to think outside the box, even though the subject of the experiments hadn't been his normal forte.

The science twins got lost in their testing frenzy.  They hadn't had much of a chance to do this kind of thing in the past year, so they relished the experience.  As was the norm for times like these, neither got a lot of sleep, too excited about the process of discovery.

Jack returned through the Stargate on the fourth day, surprised as he walked down the ramp not to see his lover there to greet him.  After all, they'd been apart for three nights.

~Three long, cold, lonesome nights,~ Jack thought as he handed over his weapon to the armory officer in the gate room.

====

It was 3 p.m. as Jack walked into his lover's office, finding it empty.  He checked with the gate and discovered Daniel was still on the base, so Jack decided to go by Sam's office.  Arriving there, he could hear Sam and Daniel chattering away like two birds chirping on a tree.  He understood very little of what they were saying as he stood at the doorway, just watching and listening.  Normally, he would have barged in and offered some kind of sarcastic or witty one liner, but there was something about his husband's voice and appearance that made him hesitate.

Daniel was wearing his blue BDUs.  He was talking very animatedly about something, his arms waving through the air and pointing at some doodads on a piece of paper.  He needed a shave, his hair was messy, and his eyes looked a little puffy in Jack's opinion; yet, Daniel was energized, his eyes shining, and his voice seemed electrified, almost exhilarated about the subject.  To Jack, Daniel was beautiful, even now as he looked tired and unkempt.

~I could listen to you forever, Danny, especially when you sound like that ... even if you're talking about rocks!~

Daniel was obviously having the time of his life.  Jack's only regret was a selfish one.  He had a hunch he hadn't been missed very much and that made him a little sad.  Even so, he'd rather play second fiddle to an artifact than to another person.

Jack continued to smile as he watched, his heart full of happiness for his lover.

~Geez, Danny, what you do to me, and you don't even know I'm here.~

Sam spoke, “No, Daniel, I don't think so.  Look, when we compare ...”

The major rose to get some other papers when she saw Jack leaning against doorframe, his arms folded, a sappy smile on his face.  She smiled, glancing at Daniel, was who still oblivious to Jack's presence, shuffling through a myriad of papers as he focused on the project at hand.

“Sam, this is the key, over here ... wherever they are,” Daniel theorized, still not concentrating on anything but the papers.

Jack nodded to his 2IC, who grinned, turned off the security camera, and quietly walked out, closing her office door behind her.  He locked the door and walked over behind his lover, who was seated on a cot near the wall.

“Sam, did you find ...” but Daniel's sentence was cut off when Jack sat down on the cot, wrapped his arms around his lover, and kissed his nape.

“Jack?”

“I certainly hope so,” the colonel sighed, relishing the feel of his spouse.

Daniel turned and twisted himself around to face his love, saying, “Jack?”

“Remember me, your husband?” the older man mused.

“Jack!”

“Danny, are you okay?”

“Gawd, Jack, I forgot.  You're home.  You're really home,” Daniel stated.

Jack chuckled, “Definitely yes, I am here.  Are you planning on staring at me like a guppy or ...”

“Or ... I want the 'or',” Daniel said, finally pouncing on an unresisting Jack.

The two kissed for several minutes, their hands roaming each other's bodies freely.  Daniel needed to feel skin, and he pulled out Jack's shirt, caressing Jack's lower back, occasionally pushing Jack to him as they shared their passion.

Jack's arms wrapped around Daniel's back for a while, but then went to Daniel's neck and face, tender touches accenting their kissing, the fingers of his right hand eventually crawling under Daniel's black tee, toying with the flesh of the young man's shoulder.

With contented sighs, the couple finally took a break, leaning their foreheads together as they so often did, both of their hands touching the face of the other, and then sliding down, their fingers entwining into a tender hold in front of their hearts.

“Jack, I forgot to meet you at the Stargate.  I lost track of time.  I'm sorry,” Daniel lamented just before devouring his love's mouth again.

“That's okay.  You look like you've been having fun.”

“I guess you could say that.”

Jack asked, “Any chance of taking you home?”

“Sam?”  Daniel looked around, realizing she was no longer in the room.  “Sam and I were ...”

Jack cut off his lover's words, saying simply, “I think she'd understand.”

“Home.”

Jack stood, pulled Daniel up, kissed him again, and said, “I missed you, Danny.”

“You had better.”

“You know, Love, as beautiful as you are, you look horrible.  Have you been home at all?”

“Of course, had to play with the girls.  I'd never ignore them.”

“I know.  Sleep?” Jack asked.  When Daniel evaded his eyes, he sighed, “That's what I thought.  C'mon, Rock Boy, home.”

As Jack reached for the doorknob, Daniel reached out and took his hand, turning him so he could look right into the chocolate brown eyes he loved so much.

“Jack, I’m sorry I wasn't there to meet you in the gate room.  I really missed you.  I … I let myself get lost in the discovery …”

Jack cut the rest of Daniel’s sentence off with a long, deep passionate kiss.

“Danny, we better get home; I have plans for us tonight, and they don't involve anything having to do with Cheyenne Mountain.”

Jack’s heart sang all the way home.  When Daniel had looked right into his eyes, he could see the younger man’s soul.  It was then that Jack knew he would never be second fiddle to an artifact.  He would always come first with Daniel, just as Daniel would always came first with him.

====

Back at home, Jack and Daniel ate supper, played with their girls, caught up with all the news, and made passionate love, not necessarily in that order.

“Best sex I've had in days,” Jack chuckled.

“It had better be the *only* sex you've had in days, Jack.”

“Let me think,” Jack teased.

“Jack!”

“Only you, Danny; only you forever,” Jack said as he leaned over for another kiss as the two laid on their bed in a post-coital bliss.

The lovers fell asleep, enjoying the fact that they had a late check-in tomorrow, none of SG-1 required to be there before 11 a.m., which is when Teal'c would be arriving back from Chulak.  In the afternoon, the team would be going on a standard recon mission in the afternoon.

The couple's plan to sleep in was negated, however, when they awoke to the sound of a ringing phone.

“No, don't answer it,” Daniel pleaded, knowing they didn't have a choice.

It was the general asking SG-1 to report in immediately.  As Jack hung up the phone, he also threw off the covers and pulled a reluctant and now very tired Daniel up into his arms.  Both were naked and had immediate thoughts of ignoring the SGC's needs for their own needs, as certain body parts seemed to be beckoning for attention, surprising both of them a little.

“Sorry, Love,” Jack said, slapping his spouse's butt cheeks into him for a quick jolt.  “Time to save the universe again.”

“Quickie,” Daniel moaned into Jack's mouth.

“The general is waiting.”

“Car won't start,” the younger man suggested.

“Dead battery,” Jack agreed.

“Have to ... jump ... start it.”

Jack grinned as he asked, “Shower quickie?  Kills two birds with one stone.”

“That's my colonel,” Daniel chuckled as the two tended to their various needs.

====

One hour later, Jack and Daniel pulled into the SGC parking lot.  They were still tired, but, more importantly, they were happy as clams.  They'd made excellent time in traversing the distance from their home to the Mountain, considering their quickie wasn't all that quick.  Jack had made up for their delayed departure with a bit of speed driving, and they'd gotten dressed in two minutes.

“Priorities, Love.”

“Definitely, Jack,” Daniel had laughed as the two had walked out of their front door, still buttoning their shirts.

====

Forty-two hours later, SG-1 returned from doing battle with Anubis, thwarting the System Lord's latest attempt to take over Earth.  Fortunately, no one had been injured, and their only regret was that Anubis had escaped capture.

SG-1 was given the rest of the day off, a whopping two hours early, but it was all Hammond could spare.  They had a big meeting planned for 9:30 a.m. the following morning that would include several Pentagon officials and members of the Air Force brass.  Senator Kinsey was flying in as well.  Though tomorrow was a Saturday, the meeting had been scheduled for today, but with SG-1 away, had been postponed to accommodate the team's absence.

Jack was thankful for the two hours as it was better than nothing.  Not only was he tired, but he was very worried about his life partner.  Daniel was functioning on sheer willpower.

“I want to sleep for a week,” Daniel had whispered, his body actually sliding over towards Jack as he was driving the truck on their way home.

Jack chuckled, leaning down at a stop light to kiss Daniel's head.

“How I love you, Danny, and that's why, even though I'm loving this moment,  I'm going to do this,” Jack said aloud, gently jarring his lover awake.

“Wha... where ... are we home?” Daniel asked as he looked around in confusion.

“Not yet.  Fasten your seatbelt, Danny.”

“Oh, thought I had.”

====

Ninety minutes later, the two were once again settling into their bed.  They had eaten a light dinner, Daniel eating only at Jack's insistence, and had played with their beagles for a while.  Now they were going to finally get back to sleep, or so they thought.  That thought vanished when the phone rang.

“No, Jack.  Don't, please don't,” Daniel begged in exasperation, putting a pillow over his face to hide.

Jack laughed, “Okay, I won't.”

Daniel pulled the pillow down to his chest and sighed as the phone continued to ring.

“Oh, you might as well. They'll just hunt us down,” Daniel expressed dejectedly, getting up and preparing to dress again.

Jack answered the phone, and a couple minutes later walked into the bathroom, where Daniel was washing his face, trying to wake up.  He stood to his lover's right as he reached out with his hand to brush up against the side of Daniel's head, lightly carding through his hair.

“Are we saving the planet again?”

“No, let's go back to bed,” Jack suggested as he took the hand towel Daniel had been using to dry his face, tossing it gently onto the basin.

“Who was on the phone?”

“Mrs. Valissi.”

Daniel blinked at Jack several times, his mind suddenly clearing.

“It's the thirtieth, isn't it?”  Daniel looked down and towards the shower, trying to recall something.  “We promised we'd go to dinner tonight, and that was weeks ago.”

“Evan and Robert are in town for a couple of days, but we can see them next time, Danny.”

“What did you tell her?” Daniel asked.

“That we'd been working overtime, and I apologized that we had forgotten.  I think she was a little disappointed; she mentioned that she made her special linguini with that homemade sauce that you love so much.”

“We have to go, Jack.  We can't disappoint her.”

Jack refuted, “Daniel, you need to rest.  It's been a crazy couple of weeks, and you're exhausted.  I know I am.  We'll make a date for another night.  Mrs. Valissi will understand.”

Daniel sighed, “We can't.  She hasn't got many friends nearby, and she's lonely.”

Jack pulled his husband to him, placing a tiny kiss on his right cheek as he held him.  His Love was so tired.  Jack just wanted to hold him and keep him safe.

~We can skip this one dinner,~ Jack decided.  “Her son is there.  She'll never miss us.”

Daniel nestled into Jack.  It would be so easy to go back to bed, to lay comfortably on his personal Jack pillow that was his, only his, and made him feel more loved and treasured than anything else in the universe, but he sighed and pulled back a little.  

~Can't let her down,~ Daniel determined.

The younger man raised his left hand and ran it across the material of Jack's red silk pajamas, the ones he'd given him for Valentine's Day one year.  Daniel loved how they looked on his soulmate, and he loved the feel against his own skin.  For a moment, he began to lose himself in the lure of the silk pj's and the skin they covered, but then he remembered how much they loved and respected Mrs. Valissi.

“She loves us, Jack.  Evan and Robert are only here a few times a year, and the rest of the time she's alone.”

“Except for us.”  Jack paused, looking at his spouse.  “You're right, as usual, but let's not stay too long.  You *are* exhausted, Danny.”

“I'll be fine.”

Jack chuckled slightly, “That's your motto, Babe.  You'd say you'd be fine if a semi-truck ran over you.”

Daniel smiled, requesting, “Just be my pillow if I fall asleep.”

“Always, Love.”

====

Dinner at Mrs. Valissi's wasn't short; instead, it turned out to be a long night.  Evan and Robert had insisted on going out for drinks, and when faced with three hopeful faces, Jack and Daniel felt compelled to go along and not disappoint their friends.  Mrs Valissi had been thrilled at the idea of 'her four boys' spending time together.  As a result, the couple had only gotten a few hours sleep.

Sitting in his office the next morning before the meeting began, Daniel found himself falling asleep on his desk.  He had already 'inhaled' two cups of coffee, and it just wasn't helping him stay awake.  As an airman beckoned him to the meeting, Daniel remembered the caffeine pills.  He opened his desk drawer, pulled out the box, and quickly downed three of the pills before sliding the box into his pocket and heading to the briefing room.

====

“Doctor Jackson,” the man stated brusquely.  “Doctor Jackson, might I get a word in here?” Senator Kinsey asked, his tone pointed and voice raised.

“Oh, sure, just stick it in anywhere, but might I recommend you stick it up your ...”

“Doctor Jackson,” General Hammond admonished sharply, concerned and surprised at his department head's attitude during the meeting.

Daniel had been very outspoken, sharp, and antagonistic.  His actions were animated as he challenged Kinsey and the others on almost everything they had said, rarely allowing them time to finish even one sentence.  He seemed to be operating on overdrive, talking loudly and beyond lecture mode.

Jack had watched and listened with concern as well.  He termed Daniel's comments as being snarky, but also beyond what was normal for his husband.  He had tried to nudge him under the table, but Daniel had totally ignored him.

“General,” the Air Force colonel interrupted, trying to rescue his lover from certain doom at the hands of an irate major general.  “I think what Daniel is trying to say is that we need to be cautious and not jump in, like we've done so often in the past, usually leading to situations where we end up saying Daniel was right, and we were wrong.”

The general decided to allow his 2IC the out and hoped that Daniel would take advantage of the reprieve.  He started to agree, but Daniel spoke up again.

“Jack, I can speak for myself.”

“Daniel ...”

“No ... Colonel.  If I needed you to be a spokesperson for me, I would have asked,” Daniel stated curtly.

“Daniel ...” Jack began.

Daniel spoke harshly, “I didn't ask you to jump in.  I can take care of myself, and I can certainly deal with idiots like Kinsey without your help.”

“Doctor Jackson, that will be quite enough,” Hammond said, standing up.

“Enough?  General, tell that to the dunderhead here,” Daniel said pointing to Kinsey.

Jack cringed and lowered his head, shaking it, totally confused about Daniel's behavior.

“Colonel O'Neill, get Doctor Jackson out of here, and get him under control, *now*!” the general barked.

“Yes, Sir,” Jack acknowledged as he rose, grabbing Daniel by the arm to lead him out of the conference room.

Daniel rebelled, arguing, “What is this?  The civilian doesn't know his place so he's removed?  Kinsey's an idiot, a well-known idiot.  His head's so far up his backside that he can't see the forest for the trees.  I'm tired of his condescending attitude.  He comes in here telling us how to do our job, when he hasn't got a clue what's going on out there.”

Jack was pulling hard on Daniel's arm, trying to get him out of the room before he caused any further damage.

“Don't you dare touch me,” Daniel shouted.  “I have something to say ...”

“No, you don't.  Let's go,” Jack spoke, forcibly dragging the archaeologist out of the room, as Kinsey sternly addressed Hammond, demanding that Daniel be reprimanded for the verbal assault on his character.

Not stopping until they reached his office, Jack practically pushed the younger man through the doorway, locking his door and turning off the security camera as was the norm anytime they were alone in his or Daniel's office.

“Daniel, what in Netu did you think you were doing in there?” Jack questioned sharply.

Daniel was staring at one of Jack's walls, and he didn't respond when Jack asked his question.

“Daniel, I'd like an answer sooner rather than later.”

“I'm sorry, I thought I wasn't allowed to speak,” Daniel snapped.

“Don't give me that crap,” Jack responded.  “You know very well you were out of line.”

“I was only saying what everyone else thinks.  It seems I have more guts than the rest of you.”

“Guts?  Daniel, that wasn't guts, that was stupidity.  Kinsey may be everything you said; scratch that, Kinsey *is* everything you said, but he's also a United States Senator, for crying out loud.”

“I couldn't care less who he is, Jack.  He's a pain in the butt, and you had no right dragging me out of the meeting,” Daniel argued.

“I'm your commanding officer, and your husband, Daniel, and that gives me every right to keep you from making a complete mikta out of yourself ... and you know that, too!”

Daniel turned in a huff, seemingly shutting himself off from his lover.  He began to self-hug and became silent.

Jack waited for a response, any response to what he had said, but nothing came. A minute later, he answered his ringing phone, quickly dealing with the intrusion, but never taking his eyes off Daniel, who was apparently memorizing the wall in great detail.

Minutes had passed, and Daniel hadn't stopped self-hugging as he continued to stare towards the wall, standing totally still.  Jack's concern about Daniel's silence grew.

Finally, Jack approached his lover, putting a hand on his shoulder, and said gently, “Danny?”

This time, Daniel turned, blinking a few times, and responded softly, “Jack?”  Startled, he turned around, taking in his surroundings.  His breathing hitched.  He didn't remember walking into Jack's office.  In fact, the last thing he remembered was calling Kinsey a name.  “Jack, I called Kinsey a dunderhead,” he said, his voice trembling slightly.

“I know.  Care to tell me why?  I mean, I know he's a dunderhead.  I couldn't agree with you more, but there's a time and a place.”

“Place,” Daniel croaked.  “Jack ... Jack ...”  he looked all around the office.  “How ... how did I get here?”

Jack saw a touch of fear and uncertainty in his spouse's eyes, so he pulled Daniel close, holding him as his own anxiety mounted.

“You don't remember?” Jack questioned.

Daniel shook his head, fear beginning to overtake him.

“Okay, well ...”  Jack filled him in on the end of the briefing.  “Now, I'm not sure if the Doc is in today or not, but we're going to get you checked out.  Warner should be here, if she's not. ”

Daniel nodded, but spoke, “I ... I don't remember it, Jack.  I mean, images, but I ... Jack ...”

“It'll be okay.  You're just tired, but we're going to the infirmary”  When Daniel started to object, Jack sternly refused to listen.  “No arguments, Daniel.”

====

Jack breathed a sigh of relief seeing Janet Fraiser in her office.  He had nothing against the other SGC doctors, but Janet was the best, and that's what he wanted for his husband -- the best.  She also had more knowledge of their unusual past.

Janet ran a full-scale examination on the archaeologist and then met with Jack and Daniel to review the results.

“He's fine, Colonel, aside from being exhausted and drinking too much coffee.  You really need to cut down, Daniel.”

“Doc, are you saying this attitude was the result of a caffeine high?” Jack questioned incredulously.

“That, and the usual fatigue.  Just try orange juice for a while, Daniel, okay?” Janet requested.

“But ... I don't remember going from the briefing room to Jack's office.”  Daniel clasped his hands in front of him, his head bowed as he sat on the infirmary table.  “I don't remember shouting at Jack in his office.  Gawd.”

Jack placed a hand of support on Daniel's back, rubbing gently.

Janet responded, “That's not that unusual, Daniel.  It's the fatigue part of the quotient.  I want you to go home.  SG-1 isn't due in until Monday, is that correct?” she asked, checking her duty roster.

“Yeah, that's right,” Jack responded.

“Okay, get some rest, and I'm going to insist you cut back on the coffee intake.  I mean it, Daniel.  Doctor's orders.”

Daniel nodded as Jack thanked Janet and followed his lover out.  Jack reported privately to Hammond, and then checked out of the SGC, taking his rebellious archaeologist home for the day.

====

At home, Jack pampered his lover with dinner in bed and made sure he did nothing but sleep.  The next morning, Jack arose, placing a tiny kiss on Daniel's forehead before getting up to take a shower and prepare breakfast.

When he returned to the bedroom forty minutes later, Daniel was just starting to stir, making tiny sounds, his hand reaching out for Jack, which made Jack smile, of course.

“Hey, Beautiful,” Jack said as he moved to the bed, sitting on the side.  “How do you feel?”

“Hmm ... tired and ... headache.”

“Normal or achy?”

“Normal.  Hey, where's my, um ...”  Daniel reached out to pull Jack in for a morning kiss.  “Morning, Jack.”

“Morning, Love.”  Jack wasn't concerned about Daniel's headache because a headache to Daniel was like shoelaces to shoes - normal and to be expected.  Thus, he continued on.  “I have a surprise.”

“Love your surprises.”

Jack raised Daniel's hand and kissed it, and, with a smile on his face, he moved to the chair where he had set the breakfast tray and picked it up, carrying it over to his husband.

“Jack, you're spoiling me.”

“It's my favorite thing to do.  Sausage, eggs, hot biscuit, and,” Jack coughed, “coffee.”

“Thank you, Babe,” Daniel spoke with a smile.

~Don't thank me yet.~  Jack got up casually, walking a few feet away.  He kept making sly glances towards Daniel.  ~Here it comes.~

“Ew!  Ugh!”  Daniel spit out the coffee.  “Gawd, what is this?”

Jack coughed, then answered, “Coffee.”

“Jack, I don't know what this is, but it is *not* coffee,” Daniel stated confidently.

“It is according to the label.”

“Jack!”

Jack explained, “Daniel, the Doc said you had to lay off the coffee, remember?”

“Decaf!  This is freakin' decaf!” Daniel exclaimed, tossing it onto the floor.

“Danny, it's all you're going to get.  Come on; it's not the end of the world.”  Jack picked up the coffee mug and replaced it on the tray.  He walked to the dresser, where he had placed a thermos of the decaf, picked it up, and refilled Daniel's cup.  “For me, Angel,” he requested, smiling pleadingly.

“The things I do for love,” Daniel sulked, a slight smile on his face.

Jack grinned and stole a kiss from his heart, though it wasn't really stealing; it never was with Jack and Daniel, both always more than willing to kiss and cuddle, even in the worst of times.

After cleaning up the coffee spill from Daniel's tossed mug, Jack sat down by his lover, their shoulders touching as always, and began to chitchat about little things, wanting to enjoy this chance to just relax and be together.

====

When he arrived at the SGC on Monday morning, Daniel stopped by the general's office and apologized, offering to send Kinsey a note of apology as well.  He admitted that he did believe Kinsey was a dunderhead, but added he shouldn't have said it, conceding that the remark had been out of line.

The general accepted the apology and reminded Daniel that his input was crucial to the operation of the Stargate.  He just needed to retain his diplomacy, even in the presence of dunderheads.

Daniel blamed his outburst on his fatigue and coffee intake, never making the connection to the caffeine pills he had taken before the meeting.

====

The next couple of days went by pleasantly.  Daniel surprised his lover with a birthday party, even though it wasn't really Jack's birthday, and the next day, they had spent some time talking about their future as parents.  Then Jack had left for Washington, D.C.  Things went a little downhill at that point.  The archaeologist began having nightmares, all because his world was too good, and he was afraid things would fall apart.

Though Jack had succeeded in getting Daniel to use decaf coffee those first three days, Daniel eventually returned to his usual caffeine fix of Starbuck's, Starbuck's, and, of course, Starbuck's.

“Would you prefer I drink whiskey, Jack?” Daniel had argued.

After Daniel's fears had gotten the better of him and showed symptoms of being on edge, Jack once again laid down the law, getting Janet to make it an order.

“Cut back, Daniel, or I'll ground you; you'll be on light duty, and that means no trips through the Stargate,” the diminutive doctor warned with steely eyes.

Daniel had no choice but to go along, grumbling every second of the way.

====

Daniel was on Day Six of his restriction and felt like he was going to explode.  He was working on some research for SG-9, but couldn't concentrate.

~This is ridiculous!~

Out of desperation, Daniel reached in the drawer, grabbing the box of caffeine pills and took four.  Minutes later, he had re-energized and was making great progress on his research.

~These pills are great  --  almost better than coffee.~

====

A few days later, Daniel was flying high.  He had caught up with his backlog of work and managed not to insult anyone, even though he did have one close call.

While monitoring the departure of SG-11 in the control room, he had become frustrated by the 'call' being given by Sergeant Davis.  It was always the same old thing.

~Oh, come on, Chevron Guy, can't you say something more original than 'Chevron Seven locked'?  We've been hearing that for years.  Be creative!~  Daniel had thought the words, but they were on the edge of his tongue, almost spoken aloud.  ~Close call, Jackson,~ he thought while fidgeting slightly.

Daniel was a little anxious.  Once SG-11 departed, his lover would be returning.  Jack had been off-world for nearly two days at the Alpha Site with new recruits, and he missed him terribly.  He had thrown himself into his backlog, working twenty of twenty-four hours, unbeknownst to the rest of the base.  The other four hours had been spent walking and playing with Bijou and Katie.

The hardworking scientist yawned and then startled as he made a crazy realization.

~I guess I forgot to sleep.~  Daniel shook it off, having plans for his lover's return and being tired and falling asleep as soon as they walked in the door wasn't part of the program.  ~Not tonight.  No way.  Not sleeping tonight.  Want you, Jack.  Gawd, I'm going to explode if you don't walk through that Gate soon. You're mine, and I'm going to remind why that's a good thing.  Mine, all mine.~

Prior to going to the control room, Daniel had been in his office.  He had opened the drawer of his desk and taken the last six of the caffeine pills.  He had made a note to go buy some more as soon as possible.  He didn't need coffee as long as he had the pills.

“Okay, okay, SG-11 is back.  Shut it down already,” Daniel said impatiently, unable to keep the thought to himself.

“Yes, Sir,” Davis said aloud, though in his mind he was wondering why Daniel was acting so strangely.

Finally, the event horizon disappeared, and Daniel began to pace the control room.

~Come on; come on.  What are you waiting for?~ Daniel thought anxiously.

Finally, the Gate began to turn, and Davis announced, “Incoming traveler.”

“Open the friggin' iris,” Daniel ordered.

“They haven't sent their IDC yet.”

~Technicality.~  Daniel stared at the equipment as if willing the code to appear.  As soon as it did, he harshly commanded, “NOW!”

“Yes, Sir,” Davis said aloud, again wondering what was going on with Daniel and his uncharacteristic behavior.

The archaeologist hurried to the gate room, his adrenaline at a dangerously high level.  He seemed unable to stand still.

When Jack walked through the Stargate, Daniel was leering at him, lust filling his eyes.  Jack could see it, and, for a minute, he was afraid that Daniel was about to throw 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' to the wind.

**Whoa, Danny.**

Somehow, Daniel maintained his composure, though Jack wasn't sure whether to be relieved or disappointed at that.

“Welcome back, Jack.  Everything go well?” Daniel asked, his voice a bit forced and strained.

“Thank you, Daniel; everything went just fine,” Jack acknowledged as the armory officer took his P-90 weapon from him.

“Alpha Site is still there?”

“Uh, yes, still there,” Jack answered, slightly amused at the question.

“Office.”

“What?” Jack asked.

“Mine.  Five minutes.  Don't be late,” Daniel stated in a low voice.

Jack gulped as he watched Daniel walk off.

====

Five minutes later, Jack walked into his husband's office and was soundly kissed for ten minutes.  Not one word was spoken, only moans and gasps for air.

“So, mission went well?” Daniel asked again.

Jack nodded again, then intoned, “Danny, I have to see Hammond.”

“Sure.”
 
Jack could feel the anxiety as they finished out their day, making small talk as Jack reported to Hammond and again as they drove home later.

===

When the lovers walked through their front door, the small talked disappeared, and everything changed.  There was nothing calm about what happened next.

“Home, sweet, hooo...mmmmmmmpf,” Jack tried to speak, but as soon as the door closed, Daniel pounced on his husband, forcing him up against the door, completely ravishing him, his lips glued to Jack's, his tongue reaching for Jack's tonsils.

“Dan...mmmmmmpf,” Jack attempted to say, but Daniel wasn't interested in talking.

“Want you -- *now*,” Daniel ordered, kicking off his shoes.

Jack's hands were around Daniel's waist, holding him lovingly.  Jack wanted to breathe, too, but Daniel wasn't giving him much of a chance, continuing to suck on Jack's lips, devouring his mouth, his hands pulling Jack's red shirt out from his pants with a single snap of his wrist.

“Whoa, Danny, let's go upst...mmmmmpf.”

Jack's words again being cut off by the kiss.  He tried to push Daniel away slightly, wanting to get his bearings for a minute.  He was all for sex.  He wanted Daniel as much as Daniel wanted him, but there was something he couldn't define that seemed amiss.

“Danny, let's go upstairs,” Jack said, relieved to finally get out a sentence, but Daniel ignored him, again pressing his lips to Jack's and then breaking away, only to pull Jack's tee off.

Jack didn't resist, but still tried to move their location, successfully steering his lover towards the living room, hoping to reach the stairs, but they only got a few feet into the room, stopping just beyond the entranceway.

Daniel was pawing Jack, desperate to get into his skin, wanting to taste him, to join their bodies together as quickly as possible.

“Danny,” Jack tried to say firmly to get his soulmate's attention.

“Don't you want me, Jack?” Daniel asked, not really waiting for the answer, which he already knew, continuing to try and possess the older man, now unsnapping and unzipping Jack's brown pants.

Jack decided to stop fighting something that he wanted too, even if it wasn't going down quite the way he wanted, and even though he was a bit concerned about how Daniel was behaving.

Daniel was his heart, and if he needed Jack in this way, now, then Jack would let him have whatever he needed, so Jack began to kiss his lover, fully engaged in the plan.

The passion was burning, almost scorching between them.  Daniel could often be aggressive, but this was more controlling, his need stronger than his want for Jack.

Jack slipped out of his shoes as they moved across the room taking off their clothes.  The two made it to the foot of the stairs where Daniel pushed Jack down, so that he was leaning against several of the bottom steps.

Daniel knelt on the floor, taking Jack's shaft into his mouth, sucking on it, and pressing against it with his tongue.  He nibbled on the tip of the hard length, causing Jack to cry out, and then Daniel moved the shaft in and out of his mouth, rapidly, his tongue flicking against it.  Daniel's actions were quick, a fast pace he set out of his own need.

Daniel wanted Jack to have his moment, and then he was going to take his.

Jack was moaning and becoming lost in the feel of being in Daniel's mouth.  As Daniel had done once, he began to buck into his Love's mouth.  It was an erotic twist he had enjoyed from the other side, and he thought Daniel would like it, too.  He was right.

Daniel repositioned himself slightly and put his hands beneath Jack's butt, pressing forcibly, urging Jack into him.

“Love you ... so ... friggin' ... much,” Jack panted out, his hands pressing against the steps of the stairs.

Jack's position was awkward, not at all comfortable as his back leaned against the edges of the steps.  He used his hands to occasionally push himself upwards, to relieve the strain against his body from the force of his lover against him, and the angle of his position on the stairs.

As Daniel licked Jack’s length from the base to the tip, Jack decided that the pleasure Daniel was giving him more than made up for the discomfort of the steps pressing into his back.

Daniel bit down teasingly for a moment and then sucked hard on his lover.  Jack bucked into his mouth one more time, and with a last long flick of the tongue, Jack came, Daniel swallowing the release.

“Geez, Danny,” Jack gasped, as Daniel moved up and kissed his lover, Jack tasting himself in Daniel's mouth.

Daniel wasn't taking a break.  His kisses were still long and hard, and demanding.  It was his turn now and he didn't want to wait long.

A few more kisses and Daniel was ready, saying, “Want you, Jack; need you so freakin' much.”

“I'm here, Danny.  I love you, and I'm all yours.”

Daniel didn't have the lube, but he couldn't wait.  Something inside him was driving him in a way he had never felt before.  He looked apologetically into Jack's understanding chocolate brown eyes, and then, the fire inside the younger man drove him to action.

The younger man entered Jack quickly.  The older man suppressed a cry, knowing Daniel needed this, even though he didn't really know why he felt so desperate.  Jack didn't have time to think about his lover's motives, however, as Daniel impaled himself deeply into Jack, his erection hammering against Jack's prostate.

Jack called out Daniel's name loudly, his fingers grasping the edge of the one of the steps.  The pain was intense, but Jack decided to let his lover do whatever he needed.

Daniel's thrusts were pounding, hard and fast, each contact inside Jack jolting the older man.  It went on and on, Daniel not tiring for longer than normal.

Sweat was rolling down Daniel's face, beads falling onto Jack's moist chest.  Jack was groaning from the impact of Daniel's erection inside him.  Daniel rammed himself inside Jack, each jarring impact making Jack shudder, often crying out his love's name.

Jack was feeling a combination of pain and pleasure.  Daniel's thrusting inside him was sending shivers through his body, like electricity flowing through his veins, and at the same time, the frantic hit after hit was taking a toll.

It had never been this intense, this totally consuming, and that said a lot considering their history of rough and tumble “mine, mine, mine” sex they had frequently.

“Gawd ... need ... I ... Jack ... can't stop ... have to ... need ... need ... you ... Love you ...” Daniel gasped though his voice was barely audible due to his erratic breathing.

Daniel was possessed.  He knew he should have reached climax minutes ago, but he had to have more, had to continue to be inside his Love, to beat against his partner's prostate until he dropped, and he hadn't gotten there yet.  He became lost in a surreal state.  He couldn't focus, couldn't see.  His body was on automatic, barraging Jack with his own length like an unending war.  He could hear the beat of the drums in his head, loud, clanging beats with each thrust, reverberating through him, driving him onward with great force.

“Dan...Danny,” Jack groaned, his body having reached the edge of endurance.

“Gawd ... I can't ... Jack ...” Daniel rasped, fear in his voice, the sound of the drums still driving him.  ~Slow; must slow,~ he desperately urged his mind, finally finding a balance, quieting the drums.

With a final deep and powerful lunge inside Jack, making direct, lingering contact with Jack's prostate, Daniel came, longer and more fully than ever before.

It was an orgasm Daniel had never come close to experiencing, and it drained him completely.  Still inside Jack, he collapsed, passing out on his spouse's wet torso.

Jack was breathing hard, his body going through the aftershock of the bombardment of Daniel's long assault in his body.  His arms wrapped around his lover protectively as he continued to quiver, swallowing hard as he fought to take a breath.

The older man kissed the top of Daniel's head, not yet worried.  It was rare that either of them passed out after making love, but it did occasionally happen during some of their most intense sessions, and this had been the most tumultuous union ever.

~What's going on, Angel?~

After another minute, Daniel woke, blinking a few times.  He felt the security of Jack's hands on his back and knew he was being securely held.  Warmth filled him from the love that hold symbolized.  He moved up and looked at Jack, who smiled at him.  Then, in a blinding flash, horror began to dawn in Daniel's eyes.

“Gawd, Jack.  What did I do?”

“Shh, Love.  I'm tired.  Relax for a few minutes, okay?”

It wasn't comfortable on the steps, but Jack wasn't sure he could move.  Daniel shifted slightly, surveying Jack's naked body, his eyes widening.

“Jack, you're bleeding.  Gawd, Jack.  I'm sorry.  I'm so sorry,” Daniel said, his voice shaking as he began to back away.

“Danny, come here,” Jack urged, bringing Daniel down to him again, never losing contact and holding him close.

Jack knew that now that his love was 'back' that he'd feel upset and guilty about what had happened.  They had never made love like this, and Daniel was such a sensitive soul that he'd feel regret about their sex on the stairs for a long time.  Jack wouldn't allow that.  They'd figure out the whys later, but right now, all Jack wanted to do was make sure Daniel knew he was loved, and that Jack would be okay.

“The bleeding will stop in a minute.  I love you, Danny.  Love you so much,” Jack spoke softly, in a calm and reassuring tone, placing kisses on his lover's head, as he rubbed his back.

“Jack, we need to take care of you.”

“We will, Love.  Let me hold you.  I need this, okay?”

Daniel did as Jack asked, but he worried even as he let his partner comfort him.

The soulmates stayed there for quite a while, until finally, Daniel insisted they go into the bedroom and apply some antiseptic cream to Jack.  The older man was the sorest he had ever felt.

The bleeding had stopped, something Daniel was happy about, but Daniel also felt awful, angry at himself, not understanding his ... ~attack; that's what it was~ ... on the love of his life.

Still, Jack refused to let him wallow in it.  He insisted Daniel stay close to him, using Jack as a pillow, as was customary for the younger man.

Jack closed his eyes and went to sleep, his last words of the night being, “Forever and always, Danny, I love you.”

Those were the tender words Jack had spoken to Daniel on their wedding day, as well as many other occasions throughout their life together.

Daniel was exhausted and wanted to sleep, but guilt was overtaking him.  He didn't understand it.  He didn't even know he could possess such stamina.

~I raped my husband,~ Daniel thought.

The anguished man couldn't sleep, and didn't for hours, only resting in Jack's tight embrace.  It was almost 5 a.m. before he finally succumbed to the sandman.

====

It was 4 a.m., two days later, when Jack woke up to an empty bed.  Daniel had been very quiet since their powerful session on the stairs, evading any discussion about it.  Jack had told him it was okay, that he had consented, and there was nothing to feel guilty about.  Still, Daniel struggled with his actions.

Jack had bled from a tear, and Daniel hated knowing he had inflicted that injury. Plus, the older man was still a little sore from the barrage to his insides.

Jack put on his robe and went looking for his spouse.  He saw the patio door was unlocked and that Bijou was sitting protectively at the ladder.  He smiled.

“Hey, Bij,” Jack called out softly as he slid open the door.

The mama beagle was very protective of Daniel right now.  She never relaxed when she could sense he wasn't well, mentally or physically.

Jack knelt down to pet the beautiful dog, kissing her nose.  He saw her worried expression.

“He'll be okay,” Jack quietly assured.

With a final caress of her furry back, Jack climbed the ladder.

Daniel was seated against the wall, his legs raised to his chest.  His arms were on top of his kneecaps, his face buried in his hands as they rested atop his knees.

Jack sighed, his heart aching for whatever was going on with his love.  He approached and slid down the side of the house, sitting to his lover's left.  He put his hand on Daniel's nape, his fingers massaging gently, and then his fingers ran through the strands of hair that were at the base of Daniel's neck.

“I love you, Danny,” Jack spoke, his hand moving down to rub against Daniel's shoulder blades and upper back.

Daniel hadn't looked up, so with his left hand, Jack reached over to Daniel's face, and lifted it up, using his hand to turn Daniel to face him. Jack's thumb moved under his lover's chin to keep him from turning away.  Jack saw the tears streaming down his husband's face and he wanted to cry, too, seeing the outpour.

“Angel, everything's fine, better than fine even.”

Daniel shook his head, unable to speak.

Realizing this, Jack pulled the younger man to him, Daniel's head nuzzling into his shoulder, resting just under the older man's jaw.  Jack rubbed his arms and back, and whispered his vows of love and devotion over and over again until he felt his lover had fallen asleep.

Jack fought back a tear or two as he held his beloved and kissed the top of his soft shiny hair.  He was content to hold Daniel for however long was necessary for Daniel to heal from the demon that was threatening him, even if that meant holding his heart until the end of time.

~How do I get you through this?  It was my choice, Love.  We made love.  Okay, it wasn't what we normally do, but we love to experiment. We'll find a way through this, and through whatever else is causing you to be a little off kilter lately.  We're together, and that means we're unbeatable.~

====

An hour later, Daniel shifted, waking himself up.  Blinking a few times, he quickly remembered where he was and why.  Jack kissed his hair, and rubbed his back.

“I'm sorry, Jack.”

“Nothing to be sorry about,” Jack responded tenderly.

“I don't know what happened to me,” the younger man confided.

“You missed me.”

Daniel smiled as he sighed, “Missed you so much.  I thought I was going to die because I missed you.  I needed you; gawd.”

“I needed you, too.”

“Not like that, Jack.  What have I done to us?” Daniel asked, his vulnerability showing in every aspect of his demeanor and tone.

“We're doing great, Angel.  You want to tell me why this is eating away at you so much?”

“I just ... I don't understand, Jack.  It was like ... like it was someone else.  I couldn't stop.  It ... it drove me on and on ... and I couldn't stop.”

“It was pretty incredible,” Jack commented.

“How can you call what I did incredible?”  Daniel began to tremble, his anxiety growing as he spoke.  “Gawd, it wasn't any different than ... than what Hathor did.”

“Wrong.  There was a big, big difference.  I was a happy and willing participant; you were raped.”

“But ... I ... I feel like I raped you, Jack.”

“No, Angel, you didn't,” Jack refuted.

“No, Jack, I’m not an angel,” Daniel said, trying to pull out of Jack’s embrace.

Jack would have not of that, however, tightening his hold on his angst-ridden soulmate as he insisted, “You *are* my Angel.”  He shifted his body and began passionately kissing his husband to prove his point.  “You will always be My Angel.”

“I *hurt* you, and yet I love you so much.  How could I have done that ... love you, but hurt you?  I don't understand.”

“Danny, it's okay.  You missed me and were happy to see me; you got a little carried away, that's all.  Don't make it more than it was.”

The two sat quietly, Jack holding on possessively to his lover, refusing to let go.  He needed Daniel to know how much he loved and cherished him, and touch was one of the best ways of doing that.

“Jack, promise me something,” Daniel requested.

“What, Love?”

“Please don't let me do that again ... ever; not like that.  Promise me.”

“Danny, let it go.”

Daniel looked into Jack's eyes as he spoke regretfully, “But you know it was different, Jack.  You knew it when we did it.  Please, Jack, promise me.”

Jack smiled as he moved his right hand to caress Daniel's cheek, his gaze into Daniel's blue eyes holding steady.

“I promise, Love,” Jack agreed.  “If that's what you need from me now, then I promise you.”

“I mean it, Jack.  I don't want to hurt you like that again.  I can't.  I just can't.”

“Danny ...”  Jack had no more words, so he kissed his Heart, kissed him long and hard, full of love and passion.  “Daniel, listen to me.  You know I can take care of myself.  If I didn't want what happened on the stairs to happen, it wouldn't have.”

“But Jack, you don't understand.”

“Yes, I do.”  Jack pressed his lips against Daniel's again.  “You won't hurt me, Danny, and I keep my promises, so, don't worry, okay?”

“You love me, Jack?”

Jack smiled as he answered, “Forever and always, Angel.”

“Then keep your promise.  I ... Jack, I really need you to keep that promise, even if it means ... hurting me at the time.  Okay?”

Jack's voice disappeared for a moment, his “Okay, Love,” only a whisper as his hands clasped onto Daniel's.  After a minute, he regained the use of his vocal chords.  “You're my heart, Danny.  Let's go back to bed; it's cold out here.”

Daniel nodded, so they stood and headed for the ladder.

“Jack, don't forget your promise.  I'll ... let it go ... but you have to remember your promise.”

“I will, Angel.”

The couple climbed down from the roof deck, stopped and talked with the girls for a few minutes, and then went back to their bed, snuggling together for a few more hours before getting on with their life.

====

Daniel was full of love for his spouse, and he tried to focus on that while keeping his promise to let go of his unexpected homecoming response.  He also threw himself back into his work, wanting to stay focused, not wanting to give his brain even a second to think about what had happened.

When he was with his husband, Daniel was happy, lost in their nation of two and the promise of a wonderful future with children.  It was when he was at the SGC or alone that it was the toughest.

Jack and Janet had maintained their 'cut back on coffee' order, so Daniel had continued to take the caffeine pills.  He didn't see it as a lie.  After all, he wasn't drinking more than his allotted amount of coffee, and, therefore, he was following orders.  No one had ever ordered him not to eat or drink anything else that was caffeinated, nor had they mentioned anything about pills.

In his mind, Daniel was behaving perfectly normally.  Unfortunately, his mind wasn't its normal genius and rational self.  As time passed, the worst things became.

====

“No, no, no.  Don't you see?  You have to focus on the ends of the symbols ... here, where they curve.  That's the key, and I've told you that over and over again.  Do I have to do everything myself?”

“But, Doctor Jackson, they're so intricate.  I'm not used to these kinds of writings.  That little curve is barely distinguishable,” the civilian archaeologist explained.

Daniel was arguing with Megan Williams, currently assigned to SG-11.  He was frustrated with her lack of success in translating some tablets brought back by her team on a recent mission.

“You just have to pay attention.  I'll explain it to you again, but I expect you to focus this time.  Can you do that?” Daniel asked sharply.

Megan was taken aback by her supervisor's behavior.  She had never known Daniel to be so short-tempered before.  Lately, though, his attitude had shifted from caring and helpful to argumentative and demanding.  He seemed to have lost his capacity for understanding.

It had been going on for days, and she was concerned.  Unfortunately, Megan didn't know what to do, or if she should say anything to anyone.  She liked Daniel and didn't want to get him into trouble.  She had hoped it was just a bad day the first time he had begun barking out orders and closing his mind to his staff, but it had continued and showed no signs of abating.

“Yes, Doctor Jackson,” the woman said softly, as Daniel began to explain the details of the alien writing to her again.

====

“Danny, you ready to go?” Jack asked that evening, walking into his lover's office and closing the door.

It was 7 p.m., and both men had worked late.

“No, I can't,” Daniel sighed, a disgusted aura to his tone.  “Williams blew this translation again, so I have to redo it.”

“Williams?”

“Megan Williams,” Daniel sniped.  “Come on, Jack, you know her.”

Jack flinched.  Daniel rarely called anyone by their last names, except for morons like Kinsey.  Now that he thought it about, though, he had noticed his lover had been doing it a lot.  The younger man was also more on edge and more easily upset than normal.  Not really sure what to do, he fidgeted about the office for a few minutes.

“Jack, go home.  I'll try to get this done by nine.  If I can't, I'll call.  Okay?”

“Daniel, you need sleep, too.  Janet will flip if you start up on coffee again.”

“I've been doing what she asked, Jack, not more than four cups a day.  What more do you friggin' want from me?” Daniel asked, his aggravation evident.

“I want you to come home, get your rest, and let me love you,” Jack responded.

“I love you, too.”  Daniel looked up and smiled.  Then he walked over to his husband and kissed him.  “Nine o'clock, Jack.  Please.”

Jack was silly putty in Daniel's hands when those blue eyes looked at him like that, so he gave in, kissed his Heart again, and went home to their beagles.

Daniel worked a while longer, but started to nod off.  He reached into his drawer and pulled out the new box of caffeine pills he had purchased two days before.  He had already taken ten of the pills.  Now, he pulled out four more, swallowed them, and went back to work.

====

“Fisher, where's that report?” Daniel snapped impatiently the next day.

“I'm ... I'm not done yet, Sir.”

“Why not?”

Fisher gulped, then answered, “It's not due for another hour, Sir, and ...”

“Will you please stop calling me 'Sir'?  I know we're surrounded by GI Joe jarheads, but I am not part of the rank and file.  I've told you that many times.  Please remember that from now on, and make sure that report is on my desk in thirty minutes.”

“Bbbbut Si...Doctor Jackson, I need the full hour,” Fisher stated nervously.

“Thirty minutes, Fisher,” Daniel bellowed, exiting the lab where Bob Fisher was researching an ancient culture through various written records discovered on P28-9CR by SG-15.

“Megan, what's happened to him?” Fisher asked when Daniel was safely out of hearing range.

Megan sighed, “I don't know, Bob.  You need some help?”

“Yeah, a lot, but you have your own project to get done.”

“It's okay.  I have time.  Here, let me help you,” Megan said, getting up and walking over to where Fisher was working.

====

Megan sipped her coffee in the commissary slowly.  The last eleven work days had been long and hectic, all weary, difficult days of torture for the entire civilian staff serving in the Archaeology and Anthropology Department of the SGC, the department headed by Doctor Daniel Jackson.  Of course, they also delved in linguistics, history, and cultural affairs.  Actually, almost anything involved in the non-military aspects of Earth's contact with new planets was handled by Daniel's department in one facet or another.

Normally, Megan had to be ordered to take a break, but, lately, the brief respites had become her refuge from a hard-nosed, driven, overbearing boss.  She had a hard time accepting that this slave driver was the same warm, compassionate man she'd been working for during the past year.

“Yeah, right.  See you later, Captain.”

A voice grabbed Megan's attention.  She looked behind her and saw Major Samantha Carter sitting alone at a table, having apparently just finished a conversation with an Air Force captain that Megan didn't recognize.  Summoning her courage, Megan stood, taking her coffee with her and approached the major.

“Major Carter, I'm Megan Williams.  We've met and ...”

“Oh, yes, hello.  Daniel's raved about your work.  Maybe someday we'll get to work together,” Sam greeted politely.

“That would be nice, Major.  Um,” Megan said, glancing around, both out of nervousness and a desire to make sure her boss wasn't in the room.  “Major Carter, could I speak with you about ... about a personal matter ... well, not really personal, but it's ...”

“Sit down, Megan, and call me Sam,” the blonde invited, motioning at the seat opposite her.

“Thanks ... Sam.”

Sam could tell the civilian specialist was nervous and asked, “What's the problem, Megan?”

“It's ... Major, it's Doctor Jackson.  He's ... changed.  I don't want to get him in any trouble.  I adore him.  He's been wonderful, always so encouraging and understanding.  In the past, he's always gone out of his way to help the staff.  He never got upset with us, ever.”

“Daniel's a very kind man,” Sam acknowledged.

“Yes, he is, or was,” Megan spoke.

Sam's smile turned into a small frown as she listened.

Megan continued, “He's ... he yells a lot now.  He changes deadlines on a whim, and he barks out orders like they're going out of style.  He used to help us, but now, he barely acknowledges us, and heaven help us if we're late with something.  It's like he's Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, once kind and tolerant, and now, he just hates us, or at least, that's how he acts.”

Sam was uncomfortable.  She had actually witnessed two separate outbursts from Daniel directed at colleagues in the past week, but she had dismissed them, knowing there had to be a good reason.  The man she knew ran his department with great care and respect.

Daniel had talked highly of Megan Williams, and Sam had heard nothing but good things about her since she first joined the SGC.  She didn't sense any jealousy or deviousness in the woman who sat across from her now, which only added to Sam's concern about her friend's change of behavior.

Sam sighed, fidgeting with her coffee.

“I'm sorry, Major, and I don't mean to speak out of turn,” Megan spoke.  “I shouldn't dump on you like this, but I swear to you, I'm not trying to complain.  I'm ... concerned.  Doctor Jackson has never been like this.  He's changed, and I thought I should tell someone closer to him.  When I saw you just now, alone, I thought maybe you'd be the best one.  He's always spoken about you in the best terms, telling us to seek you out if we need help with things you might be better suited to answer.”

“I understand, Megan, and, remember, my name is Sam.  I'll check it out.  Daniel's had a tough year, and recently ... well, he's gone through a lot.  I'm sure it's just ... temporary.  Give him some time.”

“Thanks ... Sam.”

====

“Hey, Daniel.  How about a break?” Sam asked, entering Daniel's office later that day.

“I can't, Sam.  Too much to do,” Daniel responded, not even looking up from the artifact he was studying.

“Come on,” Sam urged.  “We haven't had a break together in weeks.”

“I know, but I need to get this done.  If I don't, then no one else will.”

In addition to the item he was holding, Daniel had four different books open on his desk, two artifacts sitting in front of him, a cup of coffee to his left, and some snack mix to his right.

“Daniel ...”

“Sam, I need to finish this, okay?  We'll do a break sometime when I actually have a staff who knows what they're doing.  Now, I need to get back to work,” Daniel said as he put the relic down and began scribbling furiously.

~Okay.~  Sam stood in shock.  Daniel's tone had been sharp and dismissive.  “Daniel, I'd really like to talk with you.”

“Is it about a mission?” Daniel asked, without looking up.

“No, not really.”

“Later, Sam,” the archaeologist said, essentially dismissing his teammate.

“Daniel ...”

“Sam, please,” Daniel said, looking up at her with impatient eyes.  “If you need your hand held, go see Jack.  He loves to play with things, but I have to work to do.”

Surprised at her friend's words and implications, but not knowing more to do at the moment, Sam turned and exited, thinking, ~Okay, Daniel, for now, but I won't let this go.  Your behavior just now only supports Megan's concerns, and mine.~

====

“Carter, there you are,” Jack called out, looking behind him into the hallway as he walked into his second-in-command's lab.

Looking up from her work area, Sam responded, “Yes, Sir.  Just working on the mineral results from P2R-99X.  Did you have a good holiday, Colonel?”

“Steaks on the barbecue,” Jack acknowledged about his and Daniel's Memorial Day celebration.  “And, no, I didn't burn them,” he added, seeing his second's downward sneer.  Clearing his throat, he moved on.  “Yeah, whatever.  Listen, Carter, I have one of those miserable stuffed shirt things to go to for a couple of days.  I need you to do me a favor while I'm gone.”

~Daniel.~  Not letting on, Sam asked, “What is it?”

Jack looked around again, then walked back to the door and shut it before answering, “Watch Daniel.”

~That's what I thought, but I'd better get the specifics.~  The major questioned, “Sir?”

“Carter, you're a smart woman.  Please don't tell me you haven't noticed that Daniel has ... changed lately.”

Nodding, Sam sat back on her stool and acknowledged, “Yes, I know.  I tried to talk to him before the holiday, but he literally dismissed me from his office.”

“Yeah, well, he's trying to do that with everyone.  He claims he just has a lot of work.  I really don't want to leave right now, but I don't know how to get out of it without alerting Hammond and Fraiser.”

“Colonel, maybe ...”

“Not yet, Carter.  Can I count on you?” Jack asked.  After Sam nodded, he handed her a paper with his travel information on it.  “Call me, if you need to.”

“Have a safe trip, Sir.”

====

Two days later, Sam had purposely worked late.  She'd had more conversations with Megan Williams, the last one just two hours ago, getting more details about Daniel's behavior, all of which made her even more concerned.

One incident was particularly upsetting.  It had happened just that morning, Daniel's frustration with the newest member of his department causing him to boil over in an uncharacteristic outburst.

Megan had explained, “Major, Doctor Jackson was so angry at Greta that he ripped up the report she had handed him and yelled in her face for her to 'grow up and get your act together, or you'll be gone by the end of the week'.  Can you imagine him ever behaving like that.  He walked out, cursing.  Poor Greta was in tears, and he didn't care.  Major, that's not the Doctor Jackson I know.”

~He's been a bit of stranger to me, too, lately.~  Sam was determined to talk with Daniel about his behavior, this latest situation fueling her concern.  If they let this continue much longer, well, she didn't know what would happen, but she knew it wouldn't be good.  She began to wonder if Daniel were physically ill.  ~Something has to explain this change in his attitude.~

Cautiously, Sam approached the archaeologist's office.  As she did, she saw Daniel taking some pills.  She froze in the doorway for a moment.

“Daniel, what were those?” the major asked as she entered the office.

“Nothing to worry about, Sam,” Daniel replied as he stood near his desk.

“Then ... what were they?” Sam asked again.

“Just caffeine pills.”  Seeing her discomfort, Daniel opened the drawer and threw the box to her.  “See ... just harmless caffeine.”

~Oh, gawd.  Is that's what's wrong?~ Sam asked herself.  “Daniel, how many of these have you been taking?”

“Sam, it's only caffeine, not a drug like that Zantrex stuff you were taking.”

Concerned, Sam walked to her friend's desk and said pointedly, “Daniel, I took a total of eight pills over four days, and that's all.  How many of these have you taken?  This box feels almost empty.”

“I don't know ... several,” Daniel responded nonchalantly.  “Actually, I need to get some more.  They're great, Sam.  You should try them.”

“Daniel,” Sam began more forcibly, holding up the box in her hand.  “How long have you been taking these?”

Daniel rolled his eyes, answering, “I don't know.  A few weeks ... a month ... I really don't know.”  He saw Sam's look of disbelief, an almost gaping stare at him.  “Sam, don't look at me like that.  They're over the counter, just like Zantrex, and it's only caffeine, like coffee.”

“And Janet ordered you to cut back on coffee,” the blonde reminded.

“And I have, only four cups a day, doctor's orders,” the archaeologist acknowledged.

“I'll bet she doesn't know about these.”

Suddenly, a chill hit the room.  Daniel's eyes seemed to harden.  He stood, approached Sam, and yanked the box from her hands, startling her.

With a look of intensity as he stared at her, Daniel said firmly, “And she won't know either ... right?”

Sam was bewildered at the change in Daniel's demeanor.  If she didn't know better, she might have thought Daniel was threatening her.

~No, he wouldn't do that.~  Then Sam remembered Shyla and the effects the sarcophagus had had on the scientist back then.  He'd acted much the same way, and Sam had actually been frightened.  She met Daniel's stare.  ~I'm an Air Force major; I can handle this.  Besides, I'm Daniel's friend, and sometimes being a friend means standing up.  He's not really threatening me; he's just ... being assertive.~  She flinched a bit, but then found her resolve.  “Daniel, does the colonel know about the pills?”

“I'm sorry?  What does this have to do with Jack?” Daniel answered angrily, then turned away as he put the pills in the drawer, slamming it shut.

“He doesn't know, does he?” Sam challenged.

“No, but I don't care!  I'm a grown man, Sam, not somebody's pet, and I'm sick and tired of being treated like the local village idiot.  I know this is especially hard for you, but try giving me some credit for being able to run my own life without having to be led by the hand all the time.”

“You know I don't think of you in that way.  You're one of the brightest people I've ever known,” Sam replied.

“Am I, Sam?  Then why is it you're treating me like a like a ten-year-old boy who doesn't know what he's doing?”

“I don't ... I mean ... I just care about you, Daniel, and I'm worried.”

“I don't see what the big deal is anyway; it's only caffeine,” Daniel argued.

Sam walked so that she was standing in front of her friend and spoke, “The big deal is that you're popping these pills like they're candy; but they're not, Daniel, and like anything else, if you abuse them, you're going to end up hurting yourself.  To be absolutely honest, I think you're way past that point now.  You should tell the colonel about the pills.  He's worried sick about you.  He can help you, Daniel.”

Daniel walked away from the blonde, going to the other side of the desk.  It put more distance between the two scientists, and that's exactly what he wanted.  His head was pounding, and Sam's lecture wasn't helping.  Somewhere deep inside, he knew Sam was right, but for reasons he didn't understand, that part of himself was being suppressed, and the more he thought about what was happening, the angrier he got.  He wanted her to go away.

“NO!” Daniel shouted, hoping to end the conversation with a single word.

“Tell him, Daniel.”

“It's my business, Sam.  He's not my keeper,” the man argued.

“No, he's your ...”  Sam paused, turning around and closing the door, something she realized she should have done when she had first entered the office.  “He's your husband, Daniel, and he deserves to know.  Besides, if it's only caffeine, and they aren't responsible for this ... change in you, then why not tell him?”

Sam had surprised herself, speaking of Jack O'Neill in those terms, but something inside of her was screaming that these pills were the culprit behind Daniel's personality change.

“I haven't changed,” Daniel claimed, denying the truth that was buried within him.

“Daniel, you're barely recognizable.  You have to get this under control. The colonel can help you; he always does.”

“It's my life, Sam, and my marriage.  He'll just worry, about nothing, just like you are.  I'm the same person I've always been.”

Shaking her head, Sam argued, “No, you're not.  Your staff is scared to death of you.  You yell at them, are disrespectful to them, and no matter what they do lately, it's never good enough.”

Daniel felt his blood pressure rising, as was his heartbeat.  He was about to explode, his anger at Sam mounting with each comment she made.  He wanted her to stay out of his personal life.  He didn't need her interference, nor did he want it.

“Stay out of it, Sam.  They're *my* staff.  And ... how do you know what they are thinking?”

“They're worried about you,” Sam answered quietly.

“Who's been talking to you?” Daniel asked with ire, walking swiftly into Sam's personal space, his darkened eyes glaring at her.  “Tell me, Sam.  I have a right to know who is talking about me behind my back.”

Sam was shaking inside.  She had never felt so intimated by Daniel, though his behavior during the aftermath from Shyla's planet had been close.  He had scared her then, and she had to admit that she was a bit afraid now.  This wasn't the man she knew and loved.  Something was very wrong, and it was her duty as a friend to keep on with the battle and to overcome her own fear and anxiety.

“Daniel, can't you see what you're doing?  This isn't normal.  It isn't you!”

“Isn't me?  I *am* me.  I'm not that wimp you and everyone thinks I am, and I'm tired of it!  *Isn't me?*  Because I'm standing up for myself, being assertive, and taking command of my department?  What, Sam?  I'm not allowed to run my department without mollycoddling the staff?  Well, it's about time they took notice of exactly who is in charge here, and if they have something to say, they can sure in Netu say it to me and not to someone trying to ride my shirttails.”

“Daniel, I never intended to do that, and you know it.  Take a step back for a minute, and listen to what you're saying.  You're a stranger, and it's exactly why your staff is concerned, and scared.”

Daniel replied sarcastically, “You have a helluva lot of nerve butting in like this, but then that's who you are:  Super Sam, the woman with a thousand talents, as long as it's tied to the military, hiding behind a P-90, or based on other people's work, like mine.  Well, Super Sam, you're in charge of Astrophysics, but Archaeology, Anthropology, Linguistics, and Ancient Cultures are mine, so *if* there's a problem, *I'll* be the one to choose how to handle it.  What do you know about it anyway?  BACK OFF!”

Sam flinched as Daniel yelled in her face, but she refused to lose ground.  His words had once again proven that he did have a problem.

“No, Daniel, I can't.  I happen to love you, and I'm not going to let you destroy yourself.  You've been different with all of us lately, not just your staff.  This ... person you've turned into is ... disturbing.  You're not yourself,” Sam stated.

“Disturbing?  *You're* the one who is disturbing, as in you're disturbing me.  Get out, Sam.”

“I can't do that, Daniel.”

Daniel suddenly felt himself tire.  It was as if something snapped.  His anger and rage began to dissipate and what he felt was weariness.  He wondered for a minute why he had been arguing so ferociously with someone he considered part of his family.  He wasn't even sure what he had said to her.  He took a breath as he walked towards one of the shelves and stared at some artifacts.

“I'm just tired, Sam.  I have a lot of responsibilities, things to do.  Caffeine is not exactly toxic,” the archaeologist sighed.

“Listen to me,” Sam said to Daniel's back as he reached in touching something that looked like a skeleton head.  “I think maybe it is toxic.  Maybe it's this batch, Daniel.  We can have it analyzed.  Maybe ... maybe that's why you've been different recently.”

“Recently?  See, it's not the pills.  It's just my schedule and the demands on my time.  It's not the pills.”

“Why are you so sure?”

Daniel turned and faced Sam as he blurted out, “Because it's not the first box.”

“Daniel!”

“Leave it alone, Sam.  Leave me alone; I have work to do,” Daniel said as he grabbed some papers to emphasize his statement.

“No.”  Sam stood up a little straighter, preparing herself for another onslaught.  “Daniel, either you tell the colonel, or I will.”

“SAM!”  Daniel's anger returned in a thundering flash.  He didn't want Jack to know.  It wasn't Jack's business.  The pills were nothing more than caffeine.  That's all, just caffeine, like coffee.  ~Why worry Jack about it?~

Sam repeated, “I mean it, Daniel.  You tell him when he gets back, or I will.”

“Okay, okay.  I'll ... tell him.  Geez, you act like it's heroin or something.”

“Give me the pills,” the major requested, extending her hand out.

“No,” Daniel replied like a defiant child.

Sam walked to the drawer, opened it, and took the box as Daniel watched, glaring at her.

“Give them back.  I need some more for later,” Daniel said excitedly.

“No, you don't.”

“Give them to me, Sam,” the archaeologist demanded, his voice edgy and low.

Sam held her ground, saying, “I'm going home now.  I suggest you do the same.”

“Give them to me,” Daniel repeated, only this time he lunged towards the blonde and battled her for the box.

Their hands poked and prodded each other's for several seconds until Daniel finally prevailed, pulling the box from Sam's hands.

“DANIEL!”

~Stupid, Jackson.~  Daniel stopped suddenly and smiled.  “I apologize, Sam.  It's okay. Take it.”  He handed her the box.  “You're ... right.  I'll ... tell Jack when he gets back.”  ~I'll just get some more.  How dumb can I be to argue over something I can easily replace?~

“I'm worried about you, Daniel.”

“I know that.  I'm sorry for overreacting.  It's like I said ... I'm just tired.”

~I'll buy that and that swamp in Florida.~  Sam nodded, not really convinced.  ~I can't do anymore tonight, but I'll be watching.~  “It's because I care, Daniel.”

“I know,” Daniel acknowledged, nodding.

“Goodnight.”

“Night, Sam.~

Sam hesitated a few moments before leaving the office.  She had done all she knew to do.  She contemplated calling her CO, but he'd be back soon enough.  She just needed to make sure Daniel didn't take any more of the pills before Jack's return.

====

Twenty minutes later, Daniel checked out of the SGC, returning an hour later with two new boxes of the caffeine pills, putting them in places other than his desk drawer.

~I'm the genius; she's the pretender.  Meddling in my department; she has no right.~

====

“Danny?”

Jack looked around the house for his spouse, but didn't see him anywhere.  He took his suitcase upstairs and unpacked, and then went outside to check on the girls.  Everything seemed calm.

Daniel's car was in the driveway, but since Bijou and Katie were acting normally, Jack wasn't worried.  He figured Daniel might be visiting a neighbor or out with someone.

Jack's trip had ended a day early, not having been scheduled to return home until late the next evening, so Daniel wasn't expecting him.

An hour later, Jack was watching a daily sports show on ESPN when his husband, wearing his navy sweats, finally ran through the house, literally.

“Surprise, I'm home,” Jack said as he stood up to say a proper hello to Daniel.

“Jack,” Daniel gasped, out of breath from his run.

“Hey ... slow down for a minute,” Jack urged, stopping Daniel from jogging in place, at least for a quick moment.

“Oh, sorry,” Daniel apologized, though he was still moving, as if he couldn't control his legs.

“Daniel, are you okay?”

“Sure, just need to stop ... slowly ... you know ... like aerobics ... slow down, cool down ... whatever they call it.  I've been running for a while.”

The sweat was dripping down Daniel's face, and, in fact, he was soaked, his sweats wet with perspiration.

“How long, Angel?”

“I don't know.  Since I got home.  Needed to exercise.  Been working too hard,” Daniel answered, still panting for breath and jogging in place again.

“Danny, that's enough!”  Jack took hold of his lover's forearms, trying to stop his movement.  “What time did you get home?”

“I don't know, Jack.  A while ago.”

“How long?  Guess.”

“Um ... five, maybe six.”

“Daniel, it's ten o'clock.  Are you telling me you've been running for over four hours?”

“I guess so.  When did you get home, Jack?”

“About an hour ago.  Miss me?” the older man questioned with an expectant grin.

“Always.  Glad you're home.”

Jack's internal 'Daniel alarm' was blaring.  Daniel wasn't focused.  He was responsive, but he was 'off'.

“I'm glad I'm home, too,” Jack said, leaning in for a kiss, but it turned out to be a quick one, Daniel fidgeting, unable to stand still.

“Missed you so much, Jack,” Daniel said, “but I need to play with the girls.  Haven't even said hello to them yet.”

Jack let Daniel go without a fight, even though he was concerned.  He watched Daniel play with Bijou and Katie for a full hour, running around the yard frequently.  Finally, Daniel seemed to slow down.  He walked to Jack, kissed him passionately, and announced he was going to bed.  Before Jack could say a word, Daniel ran up the stairs.

~That's not healthy.  Maybe he had a ... coffee relapse.~

The older man locked up the house and, five minutes later, walked into the master bedroom.  He was surprised to see that Daniel had collapsed onto the bed without changing his clothes and was sound asleep.

====

The next morning, Jack turned off the oven burner and was taking out two plates when he heard his stunned lover.

“Jack, you're home!”

“Yeah, that's true,” Jack said, turning and being totally surprised when Daniel leaped into his embrace, kissing him passionately.

“I missed you, Jack.  When did you get back?”

~He's playing with me; gotta love him!~  “Last night, you geek!”

“Last ...”

Jack saw a questioning look on Daniel's face, and spoke more seriously, “I got home last night, Danny.  Don't you remember?”

Daniel looked down, still in Jack's hold, as he replied, “Oh, yeah. I forgot.  I'm sorry, Jack.  I've just been so busy, and I needed to let off some steam.  I went for a run, and I guess that just made me more exhausted.  I'm so glad you're back now.  I love you.”

“Love you too, Angel, and breakfast is served,” Jack announced, following his words up with a short kiss.  He turned to dish out the omelet he had prepared for them, and while he did so, Daniel got out the orange juice and bypassed the coffee maker.  “No coffee?”

“Four cups, remember?  I have to stretch it out.”

Jack smiled, pleased Daniel had been so diligent about following Janet's orders.

“Rationing is good,” Jack agreed cheerfully as they sat down to enjoy their meal.

====

“It's so cold when you go to D.C.,” Daniel said as the lovers snuggled on the sofa.  They had finished their breakfast and now wanted nothing more than to feel each other's presence.  He held Jack's hand in his, his finger tracing the lines on Jack's palm.  “Long life,” he sighed contently, just as the tip of his finger reached Jack's wrist.  “It's like forever.”

“That's because we are forever,” Jack replied, flipping his hand over to take Daniel's in his.  He brought the hand to his mouth kissed the center of the palm, and then the ball of the hand, and then the wrist.  Daniel began to chuckle lightly, and a laughing or chuckling Daniel was always music to Jack's ears.  He kissed the middle of Daniel's arm, the  crevice of the elbow, and then the middle of the forearm.  Daniel's chuckle increased as Jack arched his eyebrows.  “You are mine, Morticia!”

“Morticia?” Daniel laughed.

“I must have you.  You drive me crazy when you look at me with those delicious blue eyes.”

Jack was mimicking an old TV show called 'The Addams Family' and began to ravish Daniel again, with kiss after kiss, going completely up and down his arm, from the tips of his fingers all the way to his shoulder until finally he swooped in for a tingly kiss on the lips.

“You're so ... romantic, Gomez,” Daniel teased before their tongues danced together in exploration of each other.

“Still cold?”

“No, warm, very warm.”

The lovers made out on the sofa for several more minutes before Bijou and Katie got their attention, wagging tails and begging eyes longing for some playtime.

====

An hour later, after the beagles had settled in for an early morning nap, Daniel stood up from the patio porch steps and announced, “Time to go, Jack.  I have work I have to do at the SGC.”

“Work?” the colonel questioned.

“You got home early, Babe.”

Jack sighed, but didn't fight it because it was true.  Instead of staying home, however, he decided to go to the Mountain with his husband.

====

“You don't understand, General.  We have to go to PR7-326 and investigate this phenomenon.  What we find might help ...”

“Doctor Jackson, we've gone over this four times this week.  I cannot authorize this mission,” Hammond maintained, frustration in his voice.

“But ...” Daniel interjected as he stood opposite the bald-headed man.

“Son, I know you think it's important, but we have too many other priorities right now.”

Daniel wasn't slowing down, his internal drive to get to PR7-326 on 'high', and he argued, “Sir, with all due respect, this is far more important than looking for some freakin' new weapon.”

“Son ...”

“I'm not your son,” Daniel yelled angrily, exiting the general's office in a huff.

~That's enough!~  Hammond went to his phone and dialed his 2IC.  “In my office, Colonel.  Now!” he commanded.

====

When Jack entered the major general's office a few minutes later, he knew he had been summoned to discuss his husband's recent attitude.  In fact, he had been expecting this little meeting even before his trip to Washington.  Daniel's outbursts couldn't ignore for much longer, no matter how fond Hammond was of the young man.

“General, is there a problem?” Jack asked innocently.

“Yes, I'm afraid there is.  Sit down, Jack.”  Hammond walked to his desk and sat down, and Jack took a seat in front of the desk, clasping his hands as he waited. “Jack, what's going on with Doctor Jackson?”

“Daniel, Sir?”

“I didn't just fall off the turnip truck, Colonel.  I've been hearing things for weeks now, and I just had a *discussion* with Doctor Jackson that convinced me I can't ignore this any longer.”

“But, General ...”

“Jack, if you can't find out what's wrong and fix it ... quickly ... I'm going to bring in Doctor Fraiser, and I suspect she'll be seeking out other help.  Something's not right here.  He's been rude, belligerent, condescending, and has his staff in an uproar.”  He leaned forward, speaking more quietly.  “Jack, I'm getting requests for transfers, something that has never happened before.”  He sat back in his chair again and spoke more sternly, “I'm sorry, but either you deal with whatever the problem is now, or I'll have to.  Understood?”

“Yes, Sir.”

====

“Daniel, it's not a complicated question.  Did you tell him?” Sam asked as the two scientists faced off in the archaeologist's office once again.

“He just got home, Sam.”

Sam sighed, “The colonel has been back for three days.”

“I just ... I haven't had a chance.  Give me a break,” Daniel argued, ignoring Sam by opening a book and pretending to read it.

Frustration but determined, Sam knew she had to stand up her friend and encouraged, “Tell him, Daniel.  Soon.”

Daniel slammed the book close and pounded it on the tabletop.

“I *will* tell him, but it'll be when I'm ready, not when you order me to.  He's my husband, not yours.  Or is that the problem?  Has the game become real for you, Sam?  Is that it ... that you're jealous?”

~Not that again,~ Sam stated, rolling her eyes over the long dead topic.  “Daniel, you know better than that.  All I've ever done is try to help you two, even when I didn't understand it.”

“Right, and you admitted you had a crush on him, Sam, but it's more, isn't it?” Daniel challenged.

Sam watched as Daniel seemed to transform from the calm rational person he normally was to some irrational, out of control being she didn't recognize at all.  She stood in silence as he continued his tirade.

“It's common knowledge ... everyone talks about it ... those ... feelings ... from the zatarc and the domed city ... and ... and ... those goo goo eyes you threw at him when he and Teal'c were trapped in space.  I saw you Sam.  I heard your voice.  It's not just me.  I hear it all the time.  You had a thing for him.  Ask anyone.  Are you angry that he married me and not you?”

Daniel stood straight and erect, totally in Sam's face, his voice forceful and intimidating as he accused, “You'd just love to see us fight over this, wouldn't you?  Well, don't bother making any plans for the future.  He's *mine*, Major, and he's gonna *stay* mine.”

~Hold your ground, Samantha.  This isn't Daniel.  It's not ... Daniel.~  Sam didn't flinch.  She stood rigidly until Daniel finally backed away.  Then, calmly and with a steady voice, she replied, “Tell him Daniel, or I will.”

Sam turned and exited, almost bumping into her CO as she did.

“Everything okay, Major?” Jack asked.

Jack saw a hesitation in her eyes, and then looking at his spouse, saw Daniel looking skittish.

“For the moment, Sir,” Sam answered, glancing back over at Daniel in warning.  “I mean it, Daniel,” she added as she left the room.

Jack closed the door, curious about the exchange, but he didn't have time to deal with whatever was going on between Daniel and Sam; he had to solve one problem at a time.

“Daniel, we need to talk.”

“Later, Jack.  Fisher messed up this report, and I need to redo it,” the archaeologist claimed.

“The report can wait a few minutes, but what I came in here for can't.”

“Jack, my work is just as important as yours,” Daniel argued.  “Right now, I have to concentrate on this.”

“No, you don't.  Daniel, what happened with the general?”

“Oh, is that all?  I was only trying to get him to reconsider the mission to PR7-326.  I don't understand why I can't get any of you to see the importance of going there.”

“Danny, talk to me.  Something's wrong, and it's been wrong for a while.”

The younger man shook his head in rapid, jerky motions, refuting, “No, Jack, everything's fine, but I really have to do this.”

Jack sighed.  He walked around the office for a minute, trying to find an answer amid the artifacts, but all he found were rocks.

“Daniel, we have to discuss this.  Hammond's on my case to ...”

“How many times do I have to tell you, Jack?” Daniel asked impatiently, not willing to even let Jack finish his comment.  “I'm not talking about anything until my work is done.”

~Stubborn.~  “Tonight, Daniel.”  ~No exceptions, or Hammond will have *my* skin, and besides, I'm worried about you.~

After Jack walked out, Daniel opened his desk drawer.  Moments later, he swallowed three more caffeine pills, making a total of seven for the day, and it was only 2:30 p.m.

====

At 5 p.m., Hammond got word that SG-6 was trapped off-world in some kind of explosion.  The details were sketchy, and it was possible the explosion was caused by a hostile enemy.  He sent SG-1 and SG-3 to investigate and bring back the team.

It had taken two days, but in the end, everyone had gotten out safely, and all were relieved that the near-tragedy had been determined an accident and wasn't an intentional attack.  The inhabitants of the planet had assisted fully in the rescue and were eager to become allies with the Tau'ri.

After the briefing, the individual members went to their offices to work on their reports.  It was 11 a.m. when Sam walked to Daniel's office to confer with him about their conversation with a few of the residents on the planet.

Seeing Daniel pull out a box of the pills, shaking out what she determined to be at least four or five of the pills and swallowing them, Sam sighed in defeat.  She had truly hoped to avoid doing this.

~Sorry, Daniel, but this can't continue.~

Undetected by the archaeologist, Sam turned and headed for her CO's office.

====

As soon as Jack saw the blonde's expression, he knew Daniel was the topic.  He motioned for her to close the door, and as she did so, he shut off the audio on the security camera.

“Spill it, Major.”

Sam relayed to Jack her conversations with Megan Williams and her own run ins with Daniel.  She left nothing out, needing her CO to understand the depth of the problem.

“He actually ... lunged at you?”

“Yes, Sir.  I was ... it reminded me of when he was addicted to the sarcophagus, the way he was in my office that time.  He ... it was ... disconcerting.”

“Carter ... Sam,” Jack spoke softly, facing down and tapping his pen on his desk. “Were you afraid of him?”

Sam sighed.  It was a difficult question to answer.  She loved Daniel deeply and her heart tugged at her, telling her that her friend could never hurt her, and yet, in the intensity of the moment, and remembering the darkness of his eyes, and the deepness of his voice, she had to admit the truth, whether she wanted to or not.

“For a moment ... actually, there were a couple of moments when I ...  Colonel, I wasn't sure what he was going to do.”

It was the closest Sam could come to saying out loud that she had been afraid.  Jack nodded, and Sam continued the sad tale, leading up to the event that had brought her to Jack's office.

“How many did he take?” Jack questioned.

“Several, Sir.”

“Carter, if they're only caffeine pills, what makes you think they're the problem?” the colonel asked.

“Because I don't want to think about the alternatives if they aren't the problem,” Sam answered truthfully.

“Thank you, Carter ... for your honesty.”

“I thought you had the right to know.  Sir ... Jack, I've never seen him like this, not ever.  It's worse than his sarc addition was.  He's ... he's out of control, and I'm ... I'm very worried.”

“Don't.  I'll take care of it.  I've ... let it go on too long, tried to give him space; maybe I just wanted to believe he could handle it on his own.”

“He'll fight you.”

“But he won't win, not this time.”

Sam nodded, adding, “If you need me for anything ...”

“I know, Carter.  We can always count on you.”

Sam wanted to smile, but her concern for Daniel was too consuming.  She simply acknowledged the comment and exited.

Jack picked up the phone and asked, “General, do you have a few minutes?  It's ... urgent.”

====

“Doc, what are you doing for lunch?” Jack asked solemnly.

“Actually, Colonel, I was planning on skipping lunch.  I have a full day.  You know, it's ... always something.”  Janet looked at the colonel and saw the silent plea in his eyes.  “What's wrong, Jack?”

“Lunch, Janet ... off base.  Please.”

“Alright.  Give me five minutes.”

Jack nodded, covering his mouth with his right hand for a moment and then closing it into a fist.

~This is the right thing.  I don't have a choice.~

====

“Teal'c, how's the Book of the Month?” Jack asked a few minutes later.

“Fascinating, O'Neill.  You should read it.”

“No, no; read it once, long time ago,” Jack said as he picked up a candle, one of many, in Teal'c's quarters.

“How may I be of assistance, O'Neill?”

Jack inhaled deeply as he put the candle back down and answered, “I need a favor, Teal'c, a big one, and you're going to want to ask questions, lots of them, and, unfortunately, I don't have the answers.  But it's important.”

“Is this about DanielJackson?”

“Yes.”

“He is unwell, is he not?”

“I'm not sure, and that's what I need to find out.  He's going to fight me on what I need to do.  I need your help.”

“Indeed,” the Jaffa acknowledged as he stood with his hands behind his back.

“It's not going to be pretty, but I can't do this without you.”

Teal'c nodded and listened to Jack's plan.

====

“Teal'c, let me go,” Daniel said, squirming as he tried to escape the Jaffa's firm grasp.

“I cannot do that, DanielJackson.”

“And why not?”

“Because you will run,” Teal'c answered simply.

“Sam, tell him to let me go,” Daniel begged as he tried to kick Teal'c's knees with his legs.

“I'm sorry, Daniel,” Sam responded, her eyes moistened and her voice cracked with emotion.

“Teal'c, why are you doing this?”

“Because I asked him to, Danny,” Jack answered as he entered Sam's living room.  He had been in another room, waiting for the right time to enter, and this was it.  ~I wish we didn't have to do this.~

The colonel's plan had gone off without a hitch.  Sam had lured Daniel to her home, saying she needed to talk about the pills.

“Last chance, Daniel,” Sam had threatened that afternoon.  “My house, tonight, at nine-thirty, or at ten o'clock, I'll be telling the colonel everything I know.”

It was a threat that Daniel had tried to resist at first, but seeing her eyes and the determination in them, he backed down.  He had arrived promptly.  Sam had let him inside, and, as soon as the door was shut, Teal'c walked out from his spot in the kitchen, taking a guard position on the front door.

“What's going on?” Daniel had asked.

“It's for your own good, Daniel,” Sam had responded.

“I'm leaving,” Daniel had said as he headed for the door.

Try as he might, though, he had been unable to get around the large Jaffa.  As Daniel had become more agitated and aggressive, Teal'c picked him up and walked him away from the door, forcibly holding him in place.  Teal'c was standing behind Daniel, his huge arms encircling the scientist to keep him from getting away.

Then, Jack had entered, and now he stood face to face with his soulmate.

“Jack ... Wha...what are you doing here?”

“I love you, Danny, and I'm doing what I have to.  I guess it's what they call an intervention.  We're going to the cabin for a while, just you and me.”

“I can't go right now, Jack.  There's too much to do, and my department is falling apart.”

“No, Daniel.  Actually, yes, it is, but not for the reason you think,” Jack stated, a sadness in his firm voice.

“I can't go Jack.  You don't understand.”  Daniel struggled to get out of Teal'c's hold, demanding, “LET ME GO!”

Jack shook his head.  This was probably the hardest thing he'd ever have to do, and to accomplish it, he had to call on his Special Ops persona to get him through it.

“You two ready?” Jack asked Sam and Teal'c.

“Ready, Sir.”

“I'm sorry, Danny.  I love you.”

Daniel's eyes widened as Jack nodded at Sam, who took out a syringe and approached the young man.  Teal'c's hold tightened as Daniel squirmed more.

“I'm so sorry, Daniel,” the major intoned as she injected her friend with a tranquilizer, one given to her earlier by Janet.

Within a few seconds, Daniel lost consciousness.  Jack's heart ached.  The last thing he had seen in his lover's eyes was a look of utter betrayal.

~I'm sorry, Danny.  I had to do it.~

====

Jack sat on the side of the full-size bed, watching his lover sleep and observing, ~You look so young and innocent.~  He ran his hand through Daniel's hair, then leaned over and placed a kiss on his forehead.  “Please don't hate me, Danny.  I'm doing what I've always done, protecting my family, even if it means protecting you from yourself.  I love you so friggin' much.”

The colonel went outside for a few minutes, taking a deep breath of the fresh air as he stared at the lake that was only a few yards away.  It was the tenth of June, and the weather wasn't quite seventy degrees.  There was a slight breeze, and the skies were overcast.

~Just how I feel, gloomy and covered by something I can't control.~

Jack loved the cabin.  It had always been a refuge, a safe haven that even Daniel had come to love.  Now, though, it had become a prison for his life partner, and that was tearing Jack apart.

“Sir, all done.”

Jack turned to face his 2IC, ~no, my friend,~ he thought silently.  He nodded.

“You had to do it, Sir.  He'll understand,” Sam comforted.

“Will he?” Jack asked, doubt in his voice.

“Yes, Sir, he will,” Sam asserted with confidence.

“O'Neill, should you not be with DanielJackson?” Teal'c inquired as he joined the two.

“Yes, I should.  I just needed some air for a minute,” Jack replied.  “He's still asleep.”  He  headed back for the cabin, but stopped and looked at his teammates.  “This won't be easy.  You know that?”

“It is necessary,” Teal'c stated matter-of-factly.

“Yes, it is.  Thank  you.  Are you sure you two will be all right out here?” the colonel questioned.

“MajorCarter and I have pitched a tent.  We shall be fine.”

“We've gone through lots worse on planets, Sir,” Sam reminded.

“Who's taking the first watch?”

“I am, O'Neill.”

Jack nodded again and walked back inside, going straight to the bedroom.  Daniel was moving a bit now, on the verge of waking up.  The older man walked over and sat down next to his Love, bracing himself for the first of the fall out from the day's events.

====

“Jack?” Daniel called out weakly, not really awake yet.

Jack put his left hand on Daniel's cheek, caressing it with his thumb, “I'm right here, Love.  I love you so much, Danny.”

Daniel blinked, waking up more fully, and asked, “Jack, where ...?”

“We're at the cabin.”

“Cabin?  Minnesota?”

“Yes.  We took a special charter flight here.  We have ... friends,” Jack explained, his mouth curved in a partial smile as he held Daniel's left hand.  “We'll be here a while.”

“How long?”

“As long as it takes,” Jack answered.

Frowning, Daniel asked, “For what?”

“For you to get well,” the older man said softly.

“I'm not sick, Jack.”

Jack leaned over and kissed his heart tenderly, Daniel's arms wrapping around his neck.

“I love you, Danny.”

“Why, Jack?  Why did you bring me here?” the confused scientist asked.

“Because of the pills.”

More harshly, Daniel asked, “She told you?”

“Yes.”

“She didn't have a right to tell you. It was my business,” Daniel spoke with indignation in his voice, his arms dropping from Jack's neck.

“Yes, she did.  What affects you affects me, too.  I'm your husband, and that makes it my business.”  Jack saw Daniel's rebellious look as he shook his head defiantly.  “She loves you, Danny.  Carter would do just about anything for you.”

“Don't you mean she'd do just about anything for you?  Be honest, Jack. Your history together is a bit cloudy.  Sam ... she's always had feelings for you.  The point is, are those feelings returned?”

“Stop it, Daniel. That's nonsense,” the colonel insisted.

“Is it?”

“Angel, I love you, only you.  Carter's a friend, to both of us, and you know that, too.  Gawd, Danny, she's so darn worried about you that I don't think she's slept in two days.”

“And how do you know that, Jack?”

With a wise smirk, Jack answered, “I'm not taking the bait, Danny.  No way.”  His hand caressed his lover's cheek and then he took Daniel's left hand and brought it to his mouth and kissed it.  He lowered their hands, but never let go.  He smiled, refusing to let his lover's irrational comments goad him into an argument.  “Carter is our friend.  She's been there for both of us, and, with luck, she'll always be there.  She's scared, and she's worried, and she has a right to be.  She did what a good friend does.  She looked out for you, and I know she hasn't slept because I have eyes.”

“I'll bet,” Daniel snapped.

Jack sighed, “Have you looked at her, Danny?  Her eyes are red, puffy, and she has wrinkles under them, and I'm her CO.  I happen to know she barely left the base in the last forty-eight hours, trying to keep busy, I imagine, just like you do when you're fighting a personal problem.  She cares about you, Love.”

“Are you going to comfort her, Jack?  Make her feel better, like you do me?”

“Told you, Love, not taking the bait.  I love you, and you know it.  You *know* it, Danny.  You feel it in your heart and soul.”

“I hate her,” Daniel said looking off to his right.

“You love her.”

Daniel shook his head as he insisted, “I want to go home.”

“No can do, Angel, not for a while.”

“I'm going home, Jack, whether you like it or not,” the younger man insisted.

“We have to work through this first.”

“No!  *You* work through it ... with Sam ... and Teal'c if you like.  I'm *telling* you that there's nothing wrong with me, but you won't listen ... *again*.  It's me versus them, and yet one more time, I'm the one that's wrong.  I'm always wrong, aren't I, Jack?  Well, I don't remember being asked if I wanted to come to this particular party, and so I'm leaving.  Is that *clear* enough for you, Jack?”

Daniel shot up out of the bed and ran to the front door of the cabin.  Jack sat dejectedly at the bed for a minute.  He was miserable, his heart heavy.  Daniel had gone back years, to Euronda, with his verbal attack.

~That was a mistake I'll regret to my dying day.  Weapons, crap.  How could I have told him to 'shut up'?  I love his voice, even when he's my biggest aggravation.  Danny, I'm sorry about that day.  I was wrong, and if I could go back in time and fix it, I would.~

Jack sat in silence.  He hated life at the moment.  The whole jealousy thing over Sam was ridiculous.  He did give a half of smile for a moment.  He had to admit that in their early years both he and Daniel had brief moments of jealousy over the beautiful and smart scientist.

~It's nice to know you can be jealous, too, not that you'd ever have anything to worry about.  You're the only one; the only one.~

Jack actually smiled as he recalled some of Daniel's jealous moments, though they were harder to find within their history than his own nasty bouts with the emotion.  In those earlier times, Jack had enjoyed seeing his lover with green eyes, but this episode was nowhere near 'fun'.

Back in the darkness of the current day, Jack stood and walked to the front of the cabin.  There, Teal'c had a stronghold over Daniel, who was tussling in a quest to flee.

“LET ME GO.  YOU CAN'T DO THIS!”

“I am sorry, DanielJackson.  It is for your own good.”

“Teal'c, take him inside.”

Jack and Sam exchanged a look.  She saw pain in her CO's eyes, and sorrow, too.

Back inside the cabin, Jack instructed, “You can let him go now, Teal'c.  Thank you.”

“You will remain here, DanielJackson,” the Jaffa ordered as he released his friend.

“You can't keep me here against my will,” Daniel stated, folding his arms protectively across his chest.

“I can indeed.  I am bigger than you are, DanielJackson.  You will not fight me and win.”

Teal'c nodded at Jack, an indication he would be nearby.  He walked outside, closing the door.  On the long, wooden patio, he would continue to stand guard in case Daniel tried to run again.

“You have no right.  You kidnapped me, Jack.  You ... you drugged me.  I want to leave here ... NOW!”

“No, Danny, I'm sorry.”

Daniel was breathing heavily.  He hadn't had one of the pills in hours, and it was beginning to show.

“I want to go home,” the younger man said, making a dash towards the door.

Jack ran towards him, catching him right at the door.  He turned his angry soulmate around, Daniel's fist slamming into the door as he did so.  Jack waited a moment, trying to keep the situation from becoming worse.

“No, Danny,” the older man spoke calmly, not wanting to be forced into losing his temper.

Daniel shouted, “YOU DRUGGED ME!  WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, THE GREAT COLONEL O'NEILL, USING HIS MILITARY MIGHT?  THIS ISN'T SOME FREAKIN' WAR ZONE, AND I'M NOT SOME PRISONER OF WAR.  YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO KEEP ME HERE LIKE THIS!”

“It was necessary, and I'm your husband.  I have every right to do whatever I have to in order to protect you,” Jack responded as calmly as he could.

“Protect me?  WHAT IN NETU ARE YOU PROTECTING ME FROM?” Daniel shouted in accusation.

“From yourself,” Jack said sorrowfully.

Daniel shoved Jack away from him and angrily stormed to the other side of the room, saying, “No ... you ... you can't.”

“Can't what, Danny?  Can't care for you?  Can't worry about you?  Sorry, but that's exactly what I'm doing.  Danny, remember our wedding day and the vows we took?  I meant every one of them, and I'll spend the rest of eternity in some fiery grave before I just sit back and watch you destroy yourself.  It's not going to happen, Daniel.”

Weary and confused, Daniel sank to the floor.  Jack ran to him, putting his arms around his lover.

“We're going to get through this, Danny.  It'll be okay.”

Daniel leaned into him, sobbing, “Let me go home.”

“You are home, Love; you're in my arms.”

“Ho...home ... you?” Daniel asked as he grabbed hold of Jack's arm, gripping it tightly, not in anger, but in fear.  He was scared and desperately needed Jack's strength.  “Always?”

“Forever and always, just like we said during our vows.  I love you, Angel,” Jack said, burying his neck against Daniel's shoulder as he supported the younger man with all the love and devotion he could.

“I'm sorry, Jack.”

“We're going to beat this.”

“Beat what?” Daniel asked, his eyes were lost.  He truly didn't understand.  ~What's happening?~

“Danny, do you trust me?”

“Yes,” Daniel answered, nodding.

“Then trust me that there's something very wrong, but that I'm fixing it, right here and right now,” Jack requested.

Daniel smiled, a peace temporarily coming over him as his husband took charge, protecting him with all his might.

====

After a while, Jack prepared dinner, a simple salad and some soup, which a much calmer Daniel surprisingly ate in its entirety.  Afterwards, they relaxed for a while, sitting quietly on the sofa.  Suddenly, though, Daniel became more and more jittery.  He paced the room, his eyes darting all over it, as if looking for a place to escape.

“Danny, come sit down,” Jack urged patiently.

“No, I need some coffee.”

“You can't have any; I'm sorry.”

Daniel stared at him, his breathing becoming more and more irregular, confusion stamped all over his face.  He loved Jack, except that at the moment, he hated him.

Jack stood and walked over to his spouse, embracing him, trying to calm the shaking younger man.

“Come sit with me, Love,” Jack spoke as soothingly as possible, leading Daniel to the sofa and holding him tight.  He positioned his husband so that he was leaning against him, Jack's arms wrapped around Daniel's waist.  They often sat like this, but Jack chose this particular position now because it allowed him to have a better grip on Daniel.  “Danny, talk to me.”

“Gawd, Jack, what did I do?” Daniel sniffed into Jack's shoulder, his nerves settling again for the moment.

“I love you, Danny.  Love you so much, so darn much, and this is just one of those Twilight Zone times we have to get through, and we will, because we're together, and you know what that means.”

Jack watched Daniel fidget a little in his caring hold.

“Not ... not sure now.”

“Yes, you are,” Jack asserted.  “You're strong, and we're even stronger when we fight together, so tell me, Love; tell me what we are when we're together.”

“Unbeatable,” Daniel whispered, trying to believe, even wanting to believe, and yet, doubting everything he knew and loved at the moment.

“Yeah, you and me, Angel,” Jack said, the side of his head gently rubbing against Daniel's soft hair for a few seconds.

They sat quietly for several minutes, Daniel finally placing his hands over Jack's, as the older man caressed his abdomen in short circling motions.

“Danny, I need you to tell me about the pills.  When did you first take them?”

“I was tired.  I don't know ... five, six weeks ago, maybe longer.  Sam was on that diet.  She showed me those Zantrex pills that worked so well for her - diet pills, but they gave her energy.  I didn't take any then, but later, I ran out of coffee when I was working late, and I remembered what she said about the pills and where she kept them, so I took some.  They worked like a charm.”

“Some charm,” Jack said sarcastically, immediately feeling Daniel tense in his hold.

Jack was concerned that Daniel wasn't sure how long he had been taking the pills.  His lover hated drugs of any kind.  He usually knew all the details of anything he took, even aspirin.  In addition, the time frame Daniel had mentioned didn't match what Sam had told Jack.

The older man feared the pills had somehow interfered with Daniel's sense of time and maybe his soulmate had become addicted long ago.  In fact, Jack began to wonder if the pills had been part of the nightmares Daniel had experienced last month and his occasional offbeat behavior during the last few months.

“I'm sorry, Angel.  Go on.”

“When I went grocery shopping, I decided to get some to keep at the office, for emergencies, but I didn't need diet pills, so I picked up caffeine pills.  Jack, they're only caffeine, like coffee.  I need some now, Jack,” Daniel stated, his voice panicky as he tried to bolt from Jack's hold.

“No,” Jack said rubbing his lover's abdomen.  “Okay, so how many boxes of these pills have you purchased?”

“Three, maybe four.  I don't know, Jack.”

“There was only one box in the cabinet in your office, Daniel.  How many boxes are in your office now?”

“Ooon... I ...”

Daniel realized that not only couldn't he answer the question accurately, but that he didn't want to.  His fidgeting mounting as he removed his hands from Jack's, nervously letting them go limp at his sides.

“Danny, we've never lied to each other.  Please don't start now,” the older man requested.

Daniel closed his eyes, his heart was pounding.  He had started to lie to his husband, which would have been a violation of their trust and belief in each other.  It was a betrayal, and as he thought about how he had almost gone against this cherished trust, he couldn't hold back the tears.

Jack kissed his lover's nape and squeezed him lovingly for a moment.

“How many boxes?”

~Think.  How many?  Okay, the first one is still there, and ... then last week.  Yes, that was it.  All this fuss for just ...~ “Two, one in the cabinet and one in my backpack.”

Daniel's mind didn't even comprehend the illogic of his thoughts.

Jack nodded and said, “Okay, we found the one in the cabinet.”

Daniel's voice raised as he angrily asked, “You went through my office?  How dare you go through my things!”

“Danny, if we had done that, I would have known about the pills in your pack, wouldn't I?  The box in the cabinet was easily visible. The door was ajar.  No one was searching anything.  Now, how many of the pills in your pack have you taken?”  Silence filled the room.  “How many, Daniel?”

“Two-thirds, I guess.”

~Wrong answer.~  Jack sighed, knowing that the box in the cabinet was half empty.  “What about the other two boxes?”

“Gone, all gone, but, it's only caffeine ... just ... just caffeine, Jack.”

“It's okay, Love.  Everything will be just fine,” Jack promised, soothing his lover.

====

“Gawd, help me,” Daniel pleaded.

“Danny, I'm here.  What's wrong?”

Daniel had been lying on the sofa later that night while Jack made some herbal tea.  Hearing his lover's cries, Jack hurried to the sofa.

“Hur...hurts ... thighs ... sto...stomach ... gawd.”

“Okay, hold on,” Jack said.

“Tight.  OWWWWW!” Daniel said, trying to sit up but then falling back down onto the cushions.

“Give me a minute.”

Jack ran to the bathroom and pulled out some rubbing alcohol.  He also grabbed two towels and ran them under hot water, soaking both.  Then he returned to Daniel who had tears rolling down his face from the pain of the muscle spasms he was experiencing.  Daniel was outright sobbing, his hands moving from tight grips on the cushion and his abdomen.  Jack could feel the muscles in Daniel's legs throbbing.

“Keep your legs straight, Danny, and sit up a little.”

To help his lover, Jack put some pillows behind his back, then he gently massaged Daniel's thighs before wrapping the hot towels around them, making sure the thumping thighs were covered.  Then he began to massage Daniel's abdomen slightly, looking for signs of progress.

Daniel's labored breathing slowly evened, his cries ceasing, but his eyes were still watery.

“How we doing?”

“Still ... le...lef thigh still sore; constricting a little.”

“Okay,” Jack acknowledged, removing the warm towel wrap and starting a more vigorous massage.  “Any better?”  He saw Daniel nod, so he continued his efforts.  “How's it now?”

Daniel nodded, relaxing back on the sofa.  Jack put aside the items he had used to help Daniel and moved to sit on the sofa, too.  He picked up Daniel's legs and placed them on his lap, gingerly continuing to massage until he noticed Daniel had fallen asleep.

====

Jack awoke to the sound of banging.  He glanced at the clock and saw it was 7:30 a.m.  It had been a long night.

Daniel had awoken only thirty minutes after having fallen asleep from the spasms, and with each minute, he became more antsy, his jittery nerves putting him on edge.  He had demanded coffee over and over and had twice tried to evade Teal'c's grasp at the front door of the cabin.

The muscle spasms returned once more, and, in addition, Daniel had a miserable headache that had lasted for hours.  It had been the wee hours of the morning before they actually went to bed and managed to get some sleep, short-lived as it was.

As it had turned out, Jack was only able to get Daniel to sleep for an hour or two at a time.  He had spent most of those hours awake, full of worry for Daniel.  Jack wasn't sure when he had finally fallen asleep, but he remembered seeing the shine of the rising sun earlier.

Jack got up and followed the banging sound, finding Daniel dressed only in his blue sweatpants, banging on the window in the living room that was on the 'lake side' of the cabin, near the tiny spare room that was mainly used for storage.

“Danny.”

“Why won't it open?  It's supposed to open,” Daniel spoke, not really to his lover but more to the window itself.

“Daniel, stop, please,” the older man pleaded.

Ignoring his lover's plea, the younger man kept up his attack on the window, trying desperately to get it to open.

Jack approached, intending to hold Daniel, but his lover pushed him away and ran to the front door, opening it and exiting straight into Teal'c's arms.

“Good morning, DanielJackson.”

“You can't do this.  Let me go.”

“Indeed I can, and I am,” the stubborn Jaffa intoned.

“Teal'c,” Jack spoke calmly.  “I need to talk to Carter for a minute.  Where is she?”

“I believe she is by the lake, twiddling her toes.”

“Twiddling?” Jack questioned.

Teal'c nodded.  Jack walked out on the wooden porch and went to its edge so he could look towards the dock.  Sure enough, he spotted the woman in question and headed to join her.

Sam had her feet dangling over the grassy edge into the coolness of the picturesque lake.  The legs to her slacks had been rolled up, and her shoes were on the grass to her left.  She was smiling slightly, kicking her feet in the water, watching the ripples.

Jack sat next to her, staring out at the water, but not saying anything at first.

“How's he doing?” Sam asked after a few seconds had passed.

“Bad, and getting worse.  There are more pills in his pack.  He says he's bought three or four of the boxes.  I'm betting it's double that.  He was foggy; I'm not sure he knows anymore,” Jack stated with regret.

“I'm sorry, Sir.  I shouldn't have told him about the Zantrex.”

“No, Car ... Sam.  It's not your fault.  You had a simple conversation.  There's no way you could have known Daniel would do what he's done.”

Jack paused, bowing his head for a minute.  Sam sat quietly, giving her friend time to say what he needed to.  They could hear Daniel screaming behind them.  He had fought his way outside, the Jaffa not wanting to hurt him and therefore not keeping as told of a hold on him as he might otherwise.

Sam turned and saw the archaeologist was in Teal'c's hold, only he had twisted himself, so that now his back was to the Jaffa's body.  He was kicking and thrashing, trying to get loose.  She felt her eyes moisten.  She swallowed hard, her heart wrenching from Daniel's pain and Jack's distress.

“Call the Doc, and have her check out the box in the pack and ... and ...”

“I understand, Sir,” Sam interjected, allowing Jack the escape of not actually asking her to have Daniel's office searched.  “This isn't going to be easy, is it?”

“Ya think?” Jack shook his head.  “Sorry.  It's just ... he's trying hard not to hate me, but I think he's losing the battle.”

“LET ME GO NOW, YOU ... YOU MURDERING ALIEN.  YOU DON'T HAVE A HEART.  YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN ALLOWED ON EARTH.  GAWD, I'LL ... YOU CAN'T HOLD ME LIKE THIS.  LET ... ME ... GO!”

Daniel's words had been shouted at the top of his lungs, and they had said very hurtful things, long thought buried.  Jack stood and ran over to him, trying to calm his soulmate.

“Danny.”

“He can't do this.  Tell him to let me go,” Daniel requested as he continued to struggle.

The younger man was kicking as hard as he could, anxiously trying to dislodge himself from the large Jaffa's hold.  His arms moved wildly, slamming down on Teal'c's hands.  He had become extremely violent.

“I do not wish to hurt you, DanielJackson,” Teal'c stated, regretfully tightening his hold on his friend.

Daniel continued to resist, fighting for his freedom, and accusing, “MURDERING JAFFA!  YOU KILLED HER, AND YOU ALMOST KILLED JACK.  WE SHOULD HAVE LET MAYBOURNE PUT YOU IN A TEST TUBE SOMEWHERE.  I HATE YOU!  GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF ME!”

Teal'c was undaunted, though his eyes registered Daniel's words.

“Daniel ... stop it now,” Jack commanded, with no success.

“No, I hate you!  You're just as bad as him; no, *worse*.  You say you love me, but you drugged me and forced me here.  How can you treat me like this if you love me?  You only want to hurt me, control me like everybody else tries to do.  You can't stand it when I make decisions on my own, can you, Jack?  Remember Euronda, Jack?  You have to be the alpha of the pack all the time ... *the leader*.  Just ... just stay away from me. Teal'c, let me gooooooo!”

“Danny, listen to yourself.  This isn't you.  We've resolved all of this years ago.  Stop, and listen to yourself ... please,” Jack begged.

“No, you're evil.  Stay away from me.  You only want to hurt me.  EVIL! YOU'RE EVIL.  STAY AWAY.  LET ME GOOOOOOO!”

Jack's heart broke, as his worst fear had been confirmed.  Whatever was happening to Daniel had caused him to revert back to the time a few months ago when he had been kidnapped, tortured, and brainwashed.  It had been difficult to get through that, but they had, and Jack resolved they'd get through this, too.

“Carter!”

Sam nodded, going into the tent and returning quickly.

“Daniel, please stop.  Don't make me do this again.”

“I want to leave.  I'm an adult, and you act as if I'm a child.  I'll never forgive you for this, Jack, not ever.  You're holding me against my will.  I hate you.  I HATE YOU!  YOU'RE EVIL!  YOU HAVE NO RIGHT!  I HATE ALL OF ... of ... of youuuuuuu.”

Daniel's word trailed off, the outraged archaeologist having never felt the injection Sam gave him.  He lost his focus and became confused, blinking several times.

“Jack, help me,” Daniel whispered as he succumbed to the tranquilizer.

Teal'c picked up his friend and carried him into the cabin bedroom, where he placed him gently on the bed.  He grabbed the comforter and pulled it up to the young man's chin, making sure it was snug.

Jack and Sam watched from the doorway.  None of the three spoke for several minutes, all standing protectively near their treasured friend and lover.

“He looks so peaceful now,” Sam finally observed, shaking all of them out of their quiet revelry.

“Teal'c,” Jack spoke, “you know he ...”

“DanielJackson is not himself, O'Neill.  He is ... feverish,” Teal'c stated, allowing Daniel a rationale for his words.

Jack nodded gratefully and instructed, “Carter, call Fraiser.  Tell her this alien drug thing is part of this, that he said that same mumbo jumbo about me being evil and trying to hurt him that he said the last time the drug affected him.”

“Janet will want a blood sample,” Sam pointed out.

Jack nodded his permission, so Sam went to her tent and pulled out the necessary equipment.  When she returned, she drew some blood, took Daniel's vitals, and made a few notes.

“Sir, would you like me to take this personally?  I can ... um, his office ... if you would like.”

“Thank you, Carter,” Jack confirmed.

“Or ... maybe I should stay?”

“No, I'd like you to be the one to ... search,” Jack said, then swallowed hard.

Jack didn't think Daniel had lied, but his soulmate had been so unsure, and they needed to know just how much he had taken.

“I'll be back as soon as I can.”  Sam started to leave, but stopped, feeling a need to try and reassure her CO.  “He'll get through this, Colonel.  He always does.”

Jack said nothing, worried that one day, Daniel might just lose that endless supply of good luck that managed to get him through crisis after crisis.

“I'll walk you out,” Jack said, joining Sam for the walk to her tent.  “Teal'c, stay with Daniel.”

The two teammates discussed Daniel's situation for a few minutes as the major packed a quick bag and made some plans.  Then, Jack watched her drive away.  He walked to the lake, staring out at the waters.  With his hands in his pants pockets, he prayed for strength and wisdom.

====

“He is resting comfortably, O'Neill.  He is very strong,” Teal'c said when Jack returned a few minutes later.

“Yeah, sorry about that.  I know he'll feel guilty about kicking you like that.”

Teal'c corrected, “That is not what I meant, O'Neill.”  As Jack turned to face him, he continued, “DanielJackson is strong in heart and character.  He will battle against his demon, and he will win, as always.  We shall help him.”

“Yeah,” Jack agreed, adding, “for as long as it takes.”

Teal'c walked outside, and Jack went to sit by Daniel, running his hand down Daniel's cheek.  Jack ached all over for the pain Daniel was in, but he took comfort that for the moment, Daniel was peaceful and calm.  He smiled, feeling joy from watching the rise and fall of his husband's chest.

“I love you so much, Danny.  We'll be okay.  I promise.”

====

Daniel awoke four hours later.  Jack was asleep on the chair, still fully dressed; even his shoes were still on.

Daniel sat up, watching the silver-gray haired man. He stared and stared, studying him carefully.  Still dressed only in his sweatpants, he quietly got out of bed, slid on his slippers, and went to the kitchen where he poured through the cabinets, looking for coffee or anything with caffeine.  He was frustrated to find nothing but health food, items low on sugar and carbohydrates.

The archaeologist became agitated, angry at his enforced captivity.  His blood pressure rose sharply, his breathing became rapid, thundering inside him.  He felt like he would explode at any moment, and he did, throwing anything and everything he could get a hold of against the walls, onto the floors, everywhere he could.

Jack awoke to the sound of glass breaking.  He got up and ran into the living area where he saw a jar had been broken, Daniel apparently having thrown it against a wall.

“DANIEL - STOP!” but the younger man continued his tirade, tossing things in a frenzy, not focusing on any of the objects.  “Danny, please,” Jack begged as he tried to get to his spouse, but Daniel evaded his grasp, running around the room.

Not thinking clearly, or even at all, Daniel grabbed the lamp and threw it at the door, the base of the lamp breaking.  Not missing a beat, he took a paperweight that was in the shape of an airplane and tossed it towards the window he had tried to get open earlier.  The window shattered from the impact.  As if possessed, he knocked all the contents of the side table to the floor with one swift swiping of his hand.

Jack finally leaped into Daniel's personal space and took hold of him, but Daniel jabbed him with his elbow, knocking Jack back towards the wall.  Daniel was possessed, adrenaline fueling his strength and deranged behavior.

“Evil; you're evil,” the not-well man yelled just as Teal'c opened the door, daring him to try and pass.

In a rational moment, the archaeologist never would have tried, but Daniel was not rational, not even close.  As the sweat ran from his brow, he pushed into Teal'c, who didn't even budge an inch.

“You will stop, DanielJackson, before I am forced to make you stop.”

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” was the long, drawn-out shout, as Daniel collapsed, the strain of his outburst causing him to succumb to unconsciousness.

This sudden slip into unconsciousness had happened before when Daniel had gone through withdrawal from the alien drug that so negatively influenced the young man's mind.

Teal'c caught his friend before he hit the floor and immediately carried Daniel to the bed.  Removing the slippers, he tucked him in.  He went to the doorway where Jack stood, despondent.

“Learn that from watching Oprah?” Jack asked, surprised for some reason that Teal'c would actually tuck Daniel into bed.

“Is that not the correct procedure before going to bed?”

Jack let out a heavy sigh and nodded as he answered, “Yes.  Sometimes ... sometimes, Teal'c, he looks like a little boy.”

Teal'c looked at Daniel, asleep on the bed, and commented, “DanielJackson lost his childhood, did he not?”

“I guess you could say that.”

“Then is it not appropriate for his family now to let the child out, whenever the need is there?”

Jack smiled as he glanced at Teal'c, agreeing, “Yes, sometimes, he just needs to be ...”

Jack thought better of his words.  Daniel would never forgive him if he heard what he'd been about to say.

“Taken care of?” Teal'c said for his CO.  When Jack said nothing, the Jaffa spoke, “We are his family, and we are taking care of him.”  He looked at Daniel and intoned firmly, “He will survive, O'Neill, as will you.”

“I hope so, Teal'c.”

“You must believe this with your entire being, O'Neill.”

~I want to,~ Jack thought.

Teal'c continued, “DanielJackson relies on you to be strong.  If you do not believe in yourself and in him, then he will not either.  You must know that you will both survive.”

“Learn that on Oprah?” Jack asked, cracking a small smile.  “You're right, T.  Thank you.”  He turned around and began picking up the pieces of the disaster that was the cabin.  “The window, Teal'c,” he said, his voice cracked from despair.  “You need to fix that before he wakes up.”

“O'Neill ...”

“I'm all right.  Please, just fix the window while you have a chance.”

Teal'c nodded and left the cabin to get the necessary supplies.  He also retrieved the airplane paperweight that Daniel had thrown through the window.

Jack picked up one of the items Daniel had thrown against the wall, the item having broken into several pieces.  It was a snow globe they had purchased in Australia, on their honeymoon, of two beagles playing in the snow near a snowman.  They hadn't been able to resist it and had brought it to the cabin to keep on display.

“Oh, Danny,” Jack whispered as he held the broken pieces in his hand.  “I love you.”

====

The next time Daniel awoke, he was firmly in Jack's embrace.  He tried to move, but Jack wouldn't let him go.

“It's okay, Danny.  Everything's going to be okay,” Jack said, placing a kiss on his soulmate's hair.

“I want to go home.  I want to be able to drink some friggin' coffee, if I choose to.  You can't keep treating me like a prisoner,” Daniel maintained.

“I'm your husband, Danny, and I love you, and that gives me a whole bunch of rights.”

“You don't love me.  You're using me; want to hurt me.”

“Why, Love?  Why would I do that?  Come on, Danny, think.  You can do it,” Jack encouraged.

“NO!”  Daniel bolted from Jack's embrace and ran to the small cabin living room. He stopping suddenly at the sight of the near-barren room, the sight of which jarred him back to reality.  “Jack, where'd everything go?”

The older man stood behind Daniel, putting his arms around him, speaking very softly, “It's okay, Danny.  We just moved things for a while.”

Daniel took in the room and the kitchen.  There was nothing out, not a single item.  There was only the furniture.

“What happened?”

“We'll talk about it later.”  Jack felt Daniel begin to tremble and also realized that his body temperature was rising sharply.  “Danny?”

Daniel sank down to the floor, Jack hunching over, holding Daniel from under his arms and thus, preventing Daniel from a hard landing on the floor.

“Oh, crap!  TEAL'C ... TEAL'C GET IN HERE!”  When Teal'c ran in, he instructed, “Help me.  His temperature just shot up.  This happened before because of this hellish drug.  We need to get him into the tub and cool him down.”

The two men carried Daniel into the bathroom.  Jack removed Daniel's clothes as Teal'c ran the lukewarm water.  Jack gently lowered Daniel into the tub, his concern mounting as he felt the tremendous heat emanating from his lover's body.

“Teal'c, in the cabinet, there should be some alcohol.  Get it and a cloth or sponge ... or something.”

For many long minutes, Jack rubbed his spouse with the alcohol as Teal'c kept the water temperature steady.  Finally, Jack breathed a sigh of relief as he felt Daniel's temperature drop.

“Come on, Danny.  Wake up, Love.”

Daniel didn't rouse, but his temperature continued to drop.

“Teal'c, could you get some dry clothes from the bedroom?”  The Jaffa nodded and started to walk out.  “Ah, no, wait.  Stay with him.”

For a number of reasons, including that Jack could find the clothes quicker than Teal'c, Jack hurried to the bedroom.  He pulled out a pair of red sweatpants, a blue tee shirt, and underwear, and then hurried back.  After drying Daniel off, he dressed his lover, and then Jack and Teal'c took Daniel back to the bedroom, placing him under the covers.

Jack sat at the end of the bed, hunched over, his head in his hands.

~Don't leave me, Angel.~

====

“Sir, Janet suggested you give Daniel this,” Sam said as soon as she walked into the cabin door late that night.

It had been thirty-nine hours since she had left.  She and Janet had worked non-stop to try and come up with something to help Daniel through his withdrawal, a withdrawal that promised not to follow any of the normal rules.

“What is it?”

“It ... doesn't have a name, Colonel.  Janet isn't absolutely sure it will work, but she's been running tests all along, since she got the first samples.  She thinks maybe she's figured out a way to fight the alien stimulants.”

“How?”

“Well, it's ... quite technical, Sir.  What we know is that the drug heightens whatever emotions Daniel experiences, and, somehow, it acts almost like a retrovirus, going back in time to when he was tortured and brainwashed.  Janet thinks the stimulant that heightens the emotions might actually be a virus, and when it gets triggered, it causes the behavior that we've witnessed.”

“Carter, I don't get all this stuff.  Stimulants, viruses -- what about the caffeine?”

“It's a stimulant.  Look, normally Daniel drinks coffee, much more than he should.  Still, it's never been enough to jar his system, but the caffeine pills were concentrated doses of the substance, and he took a lot of them, Colonel.  I found two more boxes of the pills in his office, both almost empty.”

Sam took a breath as she continued to explain as best she could.

“Sir, on average, if someone as addicted to coffee as Daniel is, drank, say nine or ten cups a day, which is a lot, but even at that level that's about six-hundred fifty milligrams of caffeine a day, maybe a little more.  It's the extreme.

“Most people probably drink only three or four cups, less than three-hundred fifty milligrams a day.  Now, one caffeine pill is equal to about two-hundred milligrams, and the instructions say to only take one every four hours.  It would be the equivalent to two cups of coffee in that time period.

“Daniel was taking at least three of these pills at one time.  The time I saw him, I'd guess at least four, and maybe five, and I'd bet he was taking them throughout the day.  The amount of stimulant he was sending through his body was way over the limit; way more than even Daniel could get from just drinking coffee.

“Janet thinks the stimulant triggered the virus, and the virus is what heightens his emotions and brings back the recall of the brainwashing.

“You see, Sir, even just a few cups of coffee can cause dramatic changes in our bodies; um, our metabolism increases, body temperatures rise, breathing becomes rapid, more frequent urination, and our blood pressure can increase to dangerous rates.”

“Daniel drinks the stuff like it's going out of style,” Jack commented.

“Right, and the effects of that can range from insomnia to anxiety, or depression, and even ulcers.  Janet said it also causes an irregular heartbeat sometimes.  Then there's the shakes, irritability, dizziness, and, of course, the headaches that we know he gets a lot.  It's all from the caffeine in the coffee, Colonel.  It's a dangerous stimulant that we take for granted.”

“And this ...” Jack paused, waving his hand the item Sam held in her hands, “... whatever it is Janet concocted, does what?”

“Well, it's complicated, but according to Janet, it's a combination of some of the chemicals they use for medication given to manic depressives and also some variation of the elements found in Daniel's blood sample that I took back.”

“So it's what ... an antibiotic?”

“Something like that.  Sir, it only takes fifteen minutes for caffeine to start affecting our systems, but it takes six hours before our bodies can eliminate just half of that intake.  Janet says this,” Sam held up the vial in her hand, “will speed that up, and maybe help Daniel get through the withdrawal.”

“A drug for a drug,” Jack sighed.

“Yes, Sir, but this one will control Daniel's nervous system more, relax it, help him stay calm ... at least that's what Janet says, or hopes.”

“Did she test this on anything?”

Cautiously, the major replied, “She did her best, Sir.”

Jack nodded, thanked his 2IC for her efforts, and went into the bedroom.  He sat down on the bed and ran his hand through Daniel's hair.  He leaned over and kissed him on the forehead, then sat there in silence for over an hour.

====

Daniel's temperature was back to normal.  He had moved a little, but not much. Jack held his lover's hand and kissed his ring finger.  He moved to Daniel's trousers and took out his wallet, removing the small velvet cloth that held his wedding ring.

Jack returned to Daniel's side, slipped the ring on his husband's finger, and softly affirmed, “Forever and always, Danny, I love you, love you so friggin' much.”

The discontent man couldn't seem to stop saying how much he loved Daniel.  He knew he sounded silly, saying it so often, even when his life partner couldn't hear him, but Daniel was his heart and soul, and somehow, sometimes, repeating his vows of love and devotion was all Jack knew to say, and it was all that gave him any comfort.

Jack's finger traced the ring as he held Daniel's hand.  Again, he leaned over to kiss his lover, this time brushing against his succulent lips.

“What you do to me, Danny.”

====

Shortly after midnight, Jack released Daniel's hand, stood, and went into the cabin living room, where Sam was seated on the sofa, reviewing Janet's instructions and some research material the SGC's doctor had sent with her.

“Choiceless,” Jack said dryly, his face expressionless.  “Okay, Carter.  Give him the drug.”

====

Throughout the night, Daniel tossed and turned.  His temperature had once again elevated to one-hundred one degrees, but by morning was back down to normal again.

Jack again sat by his side, holding his hand, and when Daniel finally opened his eyes at 8:15 a.m., the first thing he saw was his Silver Fox, smiling down at him.

“Jack?”

“Hey, how do you feel?” Jack asked, putting his free hand on top of Daniel's, which was still in his other hand.

“What happened?”

“Well, I guess you OD'd on caffeine, Love.  Too much of a good thing, yadda, yadda,” Jack answered quietly, now moving his hand to caress Daniel's face.

“Jack?”

“I love you, Danny,” Jack croaked, his voice disappearing, a tear dropping down his face.

Daniel raised his hand to dry the tear and spoke, “Gawd, Jack, what did I do?”

Daniel sat up and leaned into his spouse, whose arms wrapped around him, pulling him snug to him.

“Love you, Angel.”

Jack was empty of words, except for those of his love.  He nestled his head into Daniel's shoulder and held on for dear life.  They stayed like that for a half-hour, just holding each other.

“I'm sorry, Jack.  I remember now what I said, but I ... I didn't mean it, not any of it.  You're my life.  I love you.”

“I know, Danny.  Hey, how about a shower, and then we'll get something to eat and tackle the day, an hour at a time, okay?”

Daniel nodded and let Jack help him up.

====

After the lovers showered together, each put on their gray sweats.

“Jack, you don't have your ring on, but ... mine ... is on.”

Jack walked up to his spouse, kissed him, and responded, “I wanted you to wear it, to know how much you mean to me, and that I need you, Danny.”

Jack reached into his wallet and took out his ring.

Daniel placed it on his husband's finger and repeated their words of love, and then they kissed again before walking out into the living room.  He Daniel looked around at the near-empty cabin.

“What did I do, Jack?  Oh, gawd, I ... broke everything, didn't I?” the younger man recalled anxiously.

“Not everything, Love, but you did manage to do your share.  We needed to redecorate anyway.”

Jack pulled out the waffle mix.  Daniel loved waffles, and right now, Jack intended to spoil him as much as possible.  While his lover was calm and lucid at the moment, he wasn't fooling himself that they were out of the woods yet.

Daniel quietly walked around the cabin, his slender fingers tracing the fireplace mantle, the side table, and anything that once held some cabin treasure.  As he looked at the coffee table, tears started to flow.

“Where is it, Jack?” Daniel asked weakly.

“Danny ...”

“Where?  I want to see it.  Where is it?”

Jack went to the bedroom closet and pulled out a bag, carrying it to the younger man.  As a tear rolled down his cheek, Daniel took the bag and it's jingling contents and sat sideways on the couch.  Jack scooted behind him, pressing a gentle kiss on his shoulder, one arm around his waist protectively.

Daniel emptied the contents onto the sofa, his hand shaking as he traced the broken figures of the two beagles.  He picked up the largest piece, the beagle's head and half the body, and caressed it.

“How could I do this?  I loved it so much.  J'ck, the girls ...”

Daniel's tears erupted as Jack tightened his grip.

“The girls are fine, Danny.  They're at home, playing with Cassie.  They're happy and healthy, and they're waiting for us.”

Daniel leaned back into Jack, not even trying to stop the waterworks falling from his eyes.  He turned and cried into Jack's neck, letting out all the sadness and torment of the last few weeks.

Jack held him, repeated his love, and kissed his temple.  It was all he could do for now.  He struggled to hold back his own tears, but he needed to be strong for Daniel, so he held on, to his resolve, and to his Heart.

====

The next day had been calm.  Jack, Sam, and Teal'c all felt encouraged, especially when Daniel had recalled so much of his outburst, apologizing to Teal'c for his trip back through time and the hurtful words he had spoken.

Daniel had also complained of a terrible headache, and he was extremely jittery, but other than that, he was relatively peaceful.  There had been no outbursts, no demands, and no 'escape attempts'.

When the night came, and Daniel had eaten his meal without complaining and even joined in conversation, though short-lived, they thought they had made it over the hump.

They were wrong, however, as later in the evening, Daniel made his move.  He had learned years ago how to disentangle himself from Jack quietly.  Jack may be Special Ops, and admittedly it had taken some practice, but over the years, Daniel had learned to move himself in such a way as to not wake up his Love.

The scientist watched the clock, waiting for the time to pass.  He knew SG-1's routine, their habits.  The foursome had dinner late, about 7:30 p.m.  They had all sat around the cabin until 9 p.m. when Sam excused herself to get some sleep, which told the young man what he needed to know -- that Teal'c was taking the first watch.

With just the two of them guarding, their shifts would be longer, dividing the night.  Daniel figured the change of watch would be between 1 and 1:30 a.m.  At 12:45, he successfully maneuvered himself out of Jack's grasp.

Daniel didn't have to dress since he was wearing sweats, except for putting on socks and shoes.  His mind was so clouded he didn't even grab his glasses from their place on the nightstand.  He went to Jack's pants and pulled out his wallet. He grabbed some cash and Jack's VISA credit card and started to put the wallet back, but then he saw the velvet pouch.  He stopped and looked over at his husband, seeing the gold band on his finger.  Suddenly, he felt anxious and conflicted.

For a moment, the young man considered putting everything back and returning to their bed, but then the shakes began, and his mind began to flash to the torture, the words of evil thundering through him.

Daniel dropped the wallet to the floor and walked to the living room, opening the drawer in the side table and pulling out a flashlight.  Then, he tiptoed to the front door and listened.  He could hear Teal'c walking on the porch.  He waited, knowing it wouldn't be long.  Finally, he heard the Jaffa move away.

As silently as he could, Daniel pulled open the door.  He saw a lantern shining in the tent where Sam and Teal'c were living.  When Teal'c entered the tent a few moments later, Daniel slipped through the door, closed it, and went around the side of the house and into the woods.

Two minutes later, Sam emerged from the tent and took her spot in front of the cabin, none the wiser that the man she was guarding had successfully made his escape.

====

At 3 a.m., Jack shifted position and began to pull the covers up.  His subconscious registered 'cold'.  His eyes opened quickly, as his left hand reached out for his absent partner.

“Oh crap,” the colonel spoke irritably as he got out of bed.  “Daniel?” he called out, immediately checking the bathroom and then going to the living room. “CARTER!  TEAL'C!” he shouted, racing back to the bedroom where he saw the wallet on the cold floor.  ~Daniel, so help me.~

Jack swore as he picked the wallet up.  A moment later, he tossed it onto to dresser.  He quickly put on his jeans and a flannel shirt over his white tee-shirt that he had worn to bed.

“Sir, what's wrong?” Sam asked as she entered the bedroom, just after Jack had dressed.  Then she noticed the missing linguist.  “Daniel?  Where's Daniel, Sir?”

“Good question, Carter.  WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?” Jack shouted accusingly.

“Out front, Colonel, on the porch.  He couldn't have gotten out that way.”

“O'Neill.”  Teal'c entered the cabin.  “What is wrong?”

“Daniel's ... oh for ... he escaped.  Crap.  I didn't think he would, especially not now, but that's what he's gone and done, in the middle of the friggin' night.  What were you doing, Carter, dreaming about your boyfriend?”

“No, Sir, I was awake.  He couldn't have gotten by me,” Sam maintained.

“Nor me, O'Neill.”

“Right, so he, what, got one of those going through the wall things from the Tollan?  YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE GUARDING HIM, CARTER!” Jack yelled angrily.

“He seemed fine, Sir.  You ...”

Sam's eyes moistened with fear and concern for her friend as she wondered how Daniel could have gotten by her, and where he might be now.

“SEEMED IS THE KEY.  We came here to help him, and you had a simple job to do.”

“I'm sorry, Colonel, but there's no way ... there's ... he couldn't have.”

“CARTER, I DON'T WANT EXCUSES.  I WANT MY ... I WANT DANIEL!”  Jack had lost it.  The stress of worrying about Daniel had taken its toll.  He needed an outlet, and right now, his 2IC was the closest 'punching bag' available.  “ALL YOU HAD TO DO WAS WATCH ... FOR A FEW HOURS.  IS THAT HOW YOU STAND WATCH ON OUR MISSIONS ... MAJOR?”

The veins in Jack's neck were bulging from anger and frustration.

“O'Neill, it is not MajorCarter's fault that DanielJackson has gotten away.”

Teal'c understood why Jack was angry, and that he was using Sam as a release, but he wouldn't allow it to go on much longer.

“And how do you know this?” Jack questioned sharply.

“MajorCarter is my friend, as she is yours, O'Neill.”

The Jaffa had a warning in his tone and a look of 'back off' in his eyes. Jack recognized it.  Teal'c didn't use it often, but it was there now.  Jack paced for a few moments, then picked up one of the few things not hidden away after Daniel's tantrum, a framed photo of Jack and Daniel from their wedding.

Not looking at the photo, or thinking about what it was, Jack threw it against the wall, the glass shattering to the floor, the frame cracking.  He walked to the bed and sat, hunched over, his head buried in his hands.  He knew they should be looking for Daniel, but he was at the end of his rope.  This year had been tough enough as it was, and, now, Daniel drugged out on caffeine of all things was just too much.

Of course, it wasn't really the caffeine, and that's what scared Jack most of all.  The alien drug that had been given to his lover when he had been tortured continued to cause problems in their lives.  It was powerful and potent, and Janet knew little about it, but apparently, the extra caffeine intake did something to make the alien drug affect Daniel more than ever before.  Jack was scared, and he wasn't used to being scared.

Sam, having seen what Jack tossed, walked over to the frame and carefully picked it up.  She went to the bed and sat down next to her CO.  She said nothing, just sat quietly, staring at the picture of Jack and Daniel.  Teal'c moved to the foot of the bed, and stood totally still, also listening to the silence that permeated the room.

A few minutes later, Jack glanced over to see what his 2IC was holding and saw it was the wedding photo.  He closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them, and stared at the photo.

“I remember this moment, Sir.  It was that part of the ceremony when Lisa had asked you and Daniel to speak with your hearts, through your eyes.  There's so much love there, in your eyes, and Daniel's.  We were all crying, all feeling the love that the two of you share.  I don't know how Cassie managed to get this picture.  She's your biggest fan, you know.”

Jack nodded in both remembrance of the moment and agreement about Cassie, who had supported Jack's and Daniel's relationship from the beginning, the teenager full of enthusiasm and encouragement for the relationship.

“Love like this, Sir, the message being delivered here, in this moment, it doesn't go away.  It doesn't disappear.”

Jack reached for the photo and held it in front of him.  The glass was all gone, and the photo was slightly bent because of the frame being cracked.  He adjusted the frame, a temporary measure to protect the color photograph, and then he sighed.  Slowly, the fingers of Jack's right hand traced Daniel's face.

“We'll find him, Colonel, but even if we don't, he'll come back ... on his own, because he loves you.  You are his life.  If you doubt that, look in his eyes, his face, his hands, holding yours.  He'll be back.”

Jack did his best to contain his emotions, trying to cover up a sniffle with a cough as he stood and put the eight-by-ten inch color photograph back in its place on the dresser.  He took a deep breath and turned back to Sam.  Then something else caught his eye: Daniel's glasses.  He moved to the nightstand and picked them up.

“He forgot his glasses,” Jack sighed.

Sam and Teal'c looked at each other, both worried about both of their teammates.

Jack took a breath and placed the glasses in his pocket.  Then he buttoned up his shirt.

“Carter, I ...”

“I know, Sir.  We should ...”

“No, Carter.  I have to say it, and you have to let me.  Daniel ... he would want it, expect it.  He's, um, always trying to get me not to bellow so much, to, ah, think first and yell later.  Obviously, I haven't learned very well, but he keeps trying.  “Gawd, he has this faith in me: this incredible, unending well of faith.  He thinks I'm worth something, but, ah.”  Jack turned his head, desperately trying not to lose control.  “The thing is, I'm not worth a rat's behind without him.  I have to say this, for him, Carter, because it's the right thing to do.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“I was out of line, Sam.  I'm angry at myself, because he ... I didn't feel him leave.  I let down my guard.  I thought we were over the worst.  I held him, but he slipped away.  I should have felt him move.  Regardless, I had no right to yell at you like that.  You, and Teal'c, you've both been there for us.  I was way out of line.  I was more than that.  I was wrong, and I am sorry.”

Sam stood, nervous, not used to being apologized to quite so emotionally by her CO.

“Apology accepted, Sir.  We really should start looking for him now,” Sam urged, wanting them to move on from this moment.

“He could be anywhere,” Jack noted softly.  “We don't even know when he left, or how.”

“O'Neill, I believe it was when MajorCarter and I changed shifts.  I went inside.  Samantha,” Teal'c turned to her, “you had difficulty with your attire.  I had to assist, delaying your watch.  DanielJackson must have left at that time.”

“Trouble with your attire, Carter?” Jack tried to tease, also desperate  to return to some sense of normalcy.

“Yes, Sir,” Sam blushed, choosing not to elaborate.

“Okay, so that was when exactly?”

“It was 0130, and it is now 0315,” Sam said as she checked her watch.

“Okay.”  Jack let out a big breath.  “Let's go looking.  It's a big woods; he could have gone in any direction.”

“Logic would say he would have gone behind the cabin.  If he wanted to try and ensure that he was not seen, he would have gone around the back.”

Jack nodded, and the three got their gear together and prepared to go in search of Jack's heart.

====

“Footprints lead this way, Sir,” Sam pointed out.  After determining which way Daniel had gone, the trio trailed their comrade, but it was dark, and, once in the woods, there were no footprints to follow.  “Sir, maybe we should split up.”

“Good idea,” Jack agreed.  He smiled at his 2IC, a smile that said much more than gratitude for a good thought, but again, that she was there, and almost like Daniel, that she seemed to embrace and understand her CO, even when he was at his worst.  ~Stay focused, O'Neill.~

Teal'c went to the north, towards the highway, while Sam headed further into the woods.

Jack, meanwhile, backtracked a bit, heading towards the lake.  SG-1's CO was glad they had thought to bring with them some extra gear from the SGC.  He smiled that it hadn't been difficult to do since the general had given him carte blanche to do whatever was necessary to help Daniel.  Thus, all three searching members had their radios, enabling them to keep in touch easily and frequently.

====

As daylight broke, there had been no visible sign of Daniel, and Jack's heart was full of doubt and pain.  Frustrated, he stopped for a moment to regroup.

He looked up towards the sky, or ~Is it Heaven?~ Jack wondered silently, as a tear escaped from his eye.  ~Where have you gone, Danny?  Why?  I need you, Angel.  Where are you?~

Jack continued to follow the lake, checking for signs that Daniel may have gone towards the water.  Sam and Teal'c had reported in, neither having spotted any signs of the missing archaeologist.

It was now almost 6 a.m.  Though the sun had fully risen, Jack's soul was dark from despair as it cried out for Daniel.

“I need you, Danny.  Please answer me.  Where are you, Love?”

“Jack?”

“Whoa!”  The silver-gray haired man's head snapped up from the ground he had been staring at.  “DANIEL?” he yelled, his body turning as he scanned the terrain until he saw him, standing on some rocks that stretched out slightly from the levee near the end of the lake.

Jack's heart began to pound, his pulse racing, and he quickly instructed, “Danny, get down from there.”

Jack's lover was standing at the edge of the rocks that stood only ten feet or so from the water that flowed below.  Where Daniel stood, the water in the lake ebbed and was dangerously shallow; and there were even more rocks below the ones Daniel stood on.  Jack feared for his husband.

“Jack ... go away, Jack,” Daniel requested.

“I can't do that.  I love you, Danny.  I can't live without you.”

“Yes, you can.  You're better off without me.”

“Daniel, that's ridiculous,” the older man refuted.

“No, Jack.  Tor...torture ... the drug: it'll never go away.  I can't do that to you!”

“You're wrong, Danny.  The Doc is working on it;  It *will* go away; you just have to let us help you,” Jack spoke calmly, determined not to let this get out of control.  He continued to walk slowly towards the younger man, who stood self-hugging on the ledge.  “Danny, listen to me, Angel.  I can't live without you, and I won't.”

“No, Jack.”  Daniel frantically shook his head.  “You...you...you'll be fine.  You can ... find someone ... some ... someone else, someone who won't stab you and ... and ... and rape you and ... run away ... and have to go through ... withdrawal because ... because of coffee, harmless ... harmless ... it was just caffeine.  Gawd, Jack.  Let me go.  Please let me go.  I can't, Jack ... no more ... how ... how many times, Jack ... how long before it's over?”

It took all of Jack's strength not to buckle, to remain strong as he reached the bottom of the rocks where Daniel stood.

“Angel, I don't want anyone else.  You're it for me, just you; and ... Danny, listen to me, because this is very important.  If you leave me, I will follow you wherever you go.  Remember, Love?  We decided that a long, long time ago.  Remember?”

“Hathor,” Daniel said weakly.

“Yeah, turned her into an icicle,” Jack reminded without a shred of remorse.

“Frozen.”

“Solid.  Danny, I know it's hard.  I know this drug keeps interfering in our lives, but it'll never win, because as long as we have each other, as long as we keep on living, it can't win.  It only wins if we give up.”

“But it never ends; it never goes away.”

Shaking his head, Jack insisted, “It *will*, Danny.  I *promise* you, it will.”

“You can't promise that, Jack.”

“Yes, I can.  Okay, so I'm not Fraiser.  I don't know medicine, or alien mumbo jumbo, but I know you, Danny.  You're a fighter, a scrapper like the Doc says, and  you never, ever give up.  I know with all my heart and soul, Daniel, that you won't leave me, or our girls.”

“The girls.”

“Bijou and Katie: our girls.  Gawd, they love you so much.  What would Bij think, Danny, if I came home without you?  But see, I wouldn't because I'm going wherever you go; right here, right now.  No turning back.  They'll be alone, Danny.  They won't understand.”

“Not fair, Jack.”

“Life isn't fair,” Jack immediately quipped in reply.  He wasn't going to lose this battle, even if it meant playing the dog chip.  “This stupid drug isn't fair.  What's been happening with that deranged lunatic who stalked you and the lunatics after me -- none of that is fair, but it's life, Danny, and we have to go forward, together.  We'll beat it.  We always do.”

Jack could see the tears on Daniel's face and hear his sniffles, and he saw the acquiescence in Daniel's stance as he relaxed slightly from the fight.  Daniel would be safe now that he understood how important he was to Jack.

~Sorry, Love.  I know bringing the girls into this was dirty pool, but if that keeps you alive, then that's okay.  Bij and Katie need you, just like I do.  Crazy or not, they're our children; crap, it is crazy, but screw the world if they don't understand.  Come on, Danny.  We're almost there now.~

Jack slowly climbed up the rock, believing that with images of Bijou and Katie running through his mind, Daniel would now be safe.

“Jack, no,” Daniel pleaded without much resonance in his tone.

“Not letting you go, Danny, not ever.  One heart, one soul, remember?”

Daniel nodded, having lost the fight.  Still, he was scared about his future and being a burden on Jack.  He feared the alien drug that seemed destined to ruin his life would make him hurt Jack again, or the girls.

~But Jack promised.  He never breaks a promise, not if it's in his control.  Jack ... Jack promised.  It will be okay.  He'll ... he'll fix it; he always fixes things, but ... sometimes, sometimes it's not fixable; sometimes, it's just not possible.~

Daniel's mind flashed to his beautiful Sha're.  Jack had promised to find her and bring her back.  It never happened, but it wasn't Jack's fault.  Jack had tried.  Daniel knew that, believing deep in his soul that Jack would have done anything to bring her back, if he could have.

In his mind, Daniel feared Jack's promise about the drug would be like the promise about his wife, good intentions ending in tragedy.  What if Daniel physically harmed Jack, even worse than he had before, or what if he hurt their girls, or ...

“Jack, our children.  What if we have children, and ... no, Jack, I can't do this.  It's too hard.  I'd die if I hurt them, or you ... or ... or the girls.  No, Jack, go away!” Daniel shouted, seeing Jack two-thirds of the way up the rock and still climbing.

“Not *if* we have kids, Danny, *when* we have kids.  Fraiser will have licked it by then.  You know Little Napoleon, she won't give up, and neither will I.”

Jack was almost to the top.

“I love you, Jack.  I didn't mean to run.  I didn't know what I was doing.  I just wanted out, to be free.  The voice ... the poker ... I could hear him, feel it cutting into my back.  Jack ...”

Daniel was losing control, the memories of his torture seeming all-to-real to him.  The voices thundered in his head, and he could swear the sharp poker was prickling against his skin.

At the top of the rocks, Jack was about to stand and walk to Daniel.

“Gawd, Jack, I've made a mistake.  I'm so sorry,” Daniel said, his emotions totally taking over.

The archaeologist turned around, wanting to look away from his husband, but as he turned, he stepped on a small pile of pebbles and stones, which caused him to slip.

“DANIEL!” Jack yelled as he watched the love of his life fall into the lake below.

Jack hurried down the ridge of rocks and dirt that he had just climbed, taking a moment to click on his radio, telling Sam and Teal'c his location.  As he reached the bottom, he saw Daniel floating unconscious in the water.  Jack's chest was rising and falling rapidly.  He didn't know if Daniel had hit the rocks, or just the water, but he was face down.

The colonel kicked off his shoes, tossed the radio to ground, and dove into the water, swimming as fast as he could to his lover, grateful this was only a lake and not a streaming river that would carry Daniel out to sea.

“Danny,” Jack breathed as he reached his partner, grabbing a hold and getting his head out of the water.

“Breathe, Danny.  Please breathe,” Jack begged, adding prayers in his heart for his lover's well being as he tugged him to shore.

Once on land again, Jack checked for vitals.  His husband wasn't breathing. Jack shoved back his panic and began CPR, clearing the airway after tilting Daniel's head, and giving him a couple of breaths.  He checked for circulation and determining there was none, he pressed against Daniel's sternum once, twice, three times, and on, until he had done fifteen compressions.

Jack breathed twice into Daniel's mouth, and then went back to the compressions, the heels of his hands pushing in once, twice, thrice and again up to fifteen times.  Again, he breathed twice into Daniel's mouth, and then went back to the chest compressions.

“Come on, Angel.  I need you.  Danny ... hear me, Love.  If you die, I die.  Please, Danny.  You don't want our girls to be alone, do you?  I love you, Danny.  Gawd, I love you so friggin' much.”

After another round of compressions, Jack again breathed into Daniel's mouth, and this time, Daniel coughed, water escaping from his mouth.

“Danny,” Jack said, thankful to see movement and life from his soulmate.

“J'ck?”

“I'm here, Love.  You're going to be all right, Danny.  Do you hear me, Angel?  I promise,” Jack said firmly, his hand folding through Daniel's hair.

Daniel swallowed hard, keeping his eyes on Jack.  Jack checked his lover's pulse and looked for signs of injury, then smiled brightly at his angel, finding nothing, not even a scratch.  Daniel had fallen in, the impact on the water knocking him out and causing the near drowning.

Jack stroked his lover's cheek, and when Daniel weakly called his name again, a plea in the voice and eyes, Jack pulled his heart up and held him in his arms, gently rocking to soothe him.

“I love you.  Love you.  Geez, I love you,” Jack repeated over and over, holding on as tight as he could.  He'd been so terrified that his reason for being, his Daniel, was going to die, for real, again.  “Love you so much.”

“Sir, what's your status?” Sam asked over the radio.

Jack reached over for the radio, never letting go of Daniel, and clicked on the radio, responding, “He's fine, Carter.  He's just fine.”  He paused, then asked, “What's your position?”  After she answered, Jack informed, “That's about an hour away.”

“What are your orders, Sir?” Sam asked.
“Danny, you want to start back, or wait for Sam and Teal'c?” Jack questioned.

“I want ... I ...”

“Tell me, Angel.”

“I want you to hold me,” Daniel answered honestly.

Jack kissed his forehead and clicked the radio once more, saying, “We'll be waiting, Carter.  Are you with Teal'c?”

“I am with MajorCarter, O'Neill.”

“Teal'c, go back to the cabin as quick as you can, and get us some clothes.  Danny and I are a little wet.  We'll meet you on the way back, once Carter reaches our current position.”

“As you wish.”

“Carter, we're almost at the end of the lake, by the levee where the lake turns.  You'll see the rocks that hang over it.  We're there, sunbathing.”

“Uh, yes, Sir.”

“O'Neill out.”

====

Daniel's hand went to caress Jack's neck, then it slipped down to the man's chest.  Daniel blinked and moved his head as he realized what he was feeling.  Witnessing the motion, Jack smiled.  He kissed Daniel on the forehead, then took the glasses from his shirt pocket.

“You forgot these.”

Jack gently slid the glasses onto Daniel's face, making sure the rims hooked comfortably over the soft earlobes of his lover.

The linguist smiled as the somewhat fuzzy world came into focus again and remarked, “Much better.”

“Oh, I don't know.  I probably look better blurry,” Jack teased.

“No, you look perfect just like this,” Daniel said, his hand moving gently along Jack's face, tracing every crevice and line.  “I like having you in focus because I love every part of you.”

“Angel,” Jack said just before kissing his husband.

Daniel was content to let Jack hold him for the next forty-five minutes.  He was quiet, focusing on Jack's strong hold and soothing voice.  Ten minutes after the radio communication, Daniel had made a request.

“Jack, talk about the girls and the house ... and us ... tell me how's it going to be when you retire.  Tell me, Jack.”

From that moment, Jack recounted tale after tale of their adventures with Bijou and Katie, talking about their peculiarities, such as Katie's love for sleeping on Jack's stomach and Bijou's protectiveness.  He rambled on about the toys in Katie's play yard and the digs they had gone on as a family, finding bones, Frisbees, and other canine toys buried there.

The older man reminded Daniel of the time not too long ago when Katie ran off with Daniel's favorite bandana and buried it in the play yard and the time when Bijou stared Jack down over the last few bites of steak.  Bijou had won, Jack unable to deny her in the end.

Jack talked joyfully about their future, when they would adopt at least two human kids, and maybe even four, to go along with their beloved canines and fish.  They were planning on extending the house, adding a room or loft for the kids.  They wouldn't move.  They loved their country-style home.  It was the first real home Daniel had ever had, and he didn't want to leave it, not ever.

Jack rambled on about life after the Stargate, though they hadn't really made plans.  Daniel might teach or lecture, or go on occasional digs.  He had no clue what he'd do, except love his family.

“We really should start thinking about that, Love, what we want to do after I retire,” Jack suggested after almost thirty minutes of doing as Daniel had requested.

“Be my eyes, Jack,” Daniel responded softly.

“You really mean that?”

Daniel nodded, hesitantly saying at the same time, “If ... if you want to.”

“Ah, Danny, I want to.  I know no one will believe that, but I want to.  I can't imagine anything more exciting than being your  slave with all those rocks,” Jack stated.

“Artifacts, Jack.”

“My mistake,” the older man conceded, placing another kiss on Daniel's hair.

Earlier in the year, Daniel had been a victim of a stalker.  In the ensuing battle for survival, the young man had hit his head, resulting in a concussion and temporary blindness.  It was then that Jack had reassured Daniel that he, Jack, would be Daniel's eyes if necessary, describing things and assisting Daniel in his research and understanding of rare and unique finds, be it from Earth or other worlds.

“Danny, I mean it.  I'd love to help you.”

“Can we take the kids on digs?” Daniel queried, wanting their family to be together as much as possible.

Jack nodded, answering, “Sure, why not.”

“Even the girls?”

“We'd have to check on those shot things and incubation periods.  Every country is different so it would depend on where we go, but most of the time we could.”

“Jack, I want the children to have a home at our house in Colorado Springs.  I mean ... I loved ... I mean ...”

“I know.  Home will be home.  Hmm ... maybe digs only in the summer?  Or special occasions.  You're the dig expert.  Can we schedule it around the children?” Jack questioned.

“Yes.”

“Okay, then no problem,” Jack said in an uplifting tone.  The older man continued to soothe his lover, who began to shiver a bit.  “We need to warm you up some more.”

“Just don't let go,” Daniel said softly.

In response, Jack held him even closer.  He rubbed his hands against Daniel's arms and back more vigorously to try and keep him as warm as possible until dry clothes arrived.

====

“Sir?” Sam's voice echoed over the radio.

“Carter, where are you?” Jack asked.

Sam responded, “Um, well, about two minutes out, Colonel.”

“Then why the check in?”

“Well, um, I just thought ... maybe ...” Sam began.

Daniel chuckled, “She thought we might be ... doing something, Jack.”

“We are doing something.”  Jack leaned in and kissed Daniel soundly.  “Love you so friggin' much, always.  Don't you dare forget that, Love -- never forget.”

“I won't.  Love you, too, Jack,” Daniel said, leaning back into Jack's shoulder.

“Don't worry, Carter.  We're dressed,” the colonel assured.

“Yes, Sir.  Thank you, Sir.”

====

Two minutes later, Sam joined her friends, having made the hour trek in forty-five minutes.

“You made good time, Carter.  You're fifteen minutes early,” Jack noted.

“I was worried about Daniel, Sir.  Daniel, are you okay?”

“I guess so.  I'm sorry, Sam,” Daniel answered.

“Just as long as you're okay,” the blonde said, smiling confidently at her friend.

“Come on, Danny, back to the cabin,” Jack said as he stood up, his knees aching.

As they started back, Jack's arm around Daniel's waist, Daniel whispered, “Thank you, Jack, for reminding me of what I'd be losing.”

Jack couldn't speak.  He just smiled, kissed his soulmate's temple, and squeezed Daniel to him for a moment and they walked on.

====

When the team got back to the cabin, Jack and Daniel cuddled on their bed.  Both men were emotionally and physically tired from their early morning 'hike' and swim, and soon they were both asleep, with Jack being Daniel's pillow and Daniel being Jack's blanket.

Shortly after noon, Jack awoke to answer the call of nature.  On his way back to bed, he noticed the glass from the broken frame on the floor.

~Geez, we're lucky we didn't step on this when we got back.~

Jack went to the kitchen, got the broom and dustpan, and then returned to the bedroom.  As quietly as he could, he began cleaning up the glass.

Daniel shifted, his shoulders flinching.  He rolled over on the bed, his mind slowly registering that he was alone.  His eyes were still closed, but he detected a slight noise, a gentle swooshing noise and small clinks and clangs.  His eyelids fluttered open, and instinctively, Daniel reached over to the nightstand and put on his glasses.

~Maybe it's a good thing I forget these when I left last night.  With my luck lately, when I fell into the lake, I would have lost them.~  Daniel paused, his mind still waking.  ~Forgot?  Geez, what was I thinking?  Answer:  Jackson, you weren't thinking, or maybe it was just that stupid drug that was thinking.  Gawd, I'm tired.  Where's Jack?~

Suddenly, Daniel's mind returned to the noises from another part of the room.  He looked over, finally seeing his husband, sweeping pieces of glass into the safety of the dustpan.

“Did I wake you?” Jack asked.

“No.”

Jack smiled, saying, “I'll be done in a minute.”

“Okay.”

Daniel glanced around the room and noticed that their wedding picture was broken.  He sat up, his body hunched forward, and watched Jack finish cleaning up the broken glass and then leave the room to return the cleaning tools to the kitchen.

When Jack returned to the bedroom, Daniel was sitting up against the headboard, holding their wedding picture in his hands.  Jack got back into bed.

“I love you,” Daniel said, never taking his eyes off the picture.

“I love you, too, Angel.”  Jack glanced at the wedding picture, knowing he needed to tell his husband what had happened.  “Danny, when I woke up and you were gone, I was so mad at myself for not feeling you leave that I lost control.  I yelled at Carter, a lot.”  Seeing the look on Daniel's face, he quickly added, “I already apologized to her.”

“You did?”

“Yeah, she was a punching bag.  She didn't deserve anything I was throwing her way.  I had to apologize.  Anyway, after yelling at her, I was even madder at myself, so I grabbed the closest thing and threw it, without even paying attention to what it was.”

“So that's what happened,” Daniel said softly, staring again at the photo.

“I'm sorry; I should have noticed; I was just upset,” Jack explained, his eyes moist with unshed tears.

Daniel placed the picture on the nightstand and wrapped his arms around Jack, saying, “Jack, it's okay.  The frame can be replaced.”  As he talked, Daniel made soothing circles on his lover's back.  “Don't be mad at yourself for not waking up when I left; I've had years of practice getting out of your embrace to answer the call of nature.”

Both men chuckled, and then they kissed, grateful that they were still together, safe and sound.  They scooted down under the covers and fell back to sleep for a few hours, in the reverse of their normal position.  Daniel was now Jack's pillow, and Jack was Daniel's blanket.

====

“Hey, what would you like to do tonight?  Chess or gin or ...”

Daniel smiled, putting his arms around Jack's neck.  He ran his fingers down underneath the collar of Jack's shirt, then he kissed him.

“Can we just ... snuggle?”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” Jack agreed.

“In front of the fire?” Daniel asked hopefully.

“A fire?  This time of year?” Jack asked.  “It's June,” he chuckled.

“I can still feel that cold lake water,” Daniel explained.

“It might be fun at that,” Jack agreed, kissing Daniel quickly and then going outside to gather some wood for their springtime fire.

Inside, Daniel waited, rubbing his upper arms.  He was cold, but he knew that soon, he'd be warm.

~You'll make me warm.  Gawd, I'm so lucky to have you,~ Daniel thought as he waited.

====

“It's like I can't think, Jack.  My brain processes information, but I can't act rationally.  Everything gets foggy, and I make bad choices.”

The lovers were snuggling together in front of their unseasonal fire, talking about what had happened in the last twenty-four hours.

“Everything seemed fine,” Daniel continued.  “I mean, I don't really remember destroying everything, but then it was like ... like the skies opened up, and the clouds rolled away.  We were all here, talking, eating dinner.  We went to bed and ... I don't know, the ... the clouds came back.  You were holding me, but ... my mind wasn't here.  It was planning how to ... to ...”

“Escape?” Jack asked candidly.

“I've ... I mean it feels ...”

“Danny, I know we're forcing this, but tell me the truth.  Right now, you know this is for your own good, right?” Jack questioned.

“This second?  Yes.  I did during dinner last night, too, but ... later, I felt like I was in prison.  I wanted out, and then when you found me, my mind was going so fast.  I couldn't even process my thoughts.  The world was a blur, and I ... I was afraid of hurting you.”

“Where are the clouds now?” Jack asked gently.

“Gone, but they might come back, Jack?”

“If they do, we'll just blow them away,” the older man assured.

“You make it sound so easy.”

“It's not easy, Danny, but soon, very soon, this is just going to be a bad, bad dream.”

Daniel nodded, hoping Jack was right.

====

Two more days passed.  Sam had talked to Janet when they had returned to the cabin, and she had suggested they up the dosage on the medication.  The change was dramatic.

While Daniel still had headaches and intermittent bouts of the shakes, he hadn't reverted back to the brainwashing, and he had remained calm, almost too calm for Jack's liking.

“How is DanielJackson?” Teal'c asked at the end of the second day since Daniel's 'escape'.

Jack had gone outside to get some air after finishing off a chapter in an old Zane Grey novel he had been reading.

“He seems fine,” Jack answered.

Teal'c raised an eyebrow and asked, “But you do not believe he is so?”

“I don't know, Teal'c.  I'm gonna call the Doc.  Danny's reading a book, some boring rock book.  Why don't you go talk to him for a bit while I make my call?”

Teal'c nodded and headed inside the cabin.

Seeing his second sitting by her tent, Jack walked over and asked, “Carter, do you have your cell?”

“Here you go, Sir.  Did something happen?”

“No,” Jack said a bit cautiously.

“Isn't that a good thing?” Sam asked.

“You'd think so, wouldn't you?”  Jack responded.  Wanting to stretch his legs, he walked back towards the dock after dialing the number he desired.  After some preliminary discussion, he got to the point of his call.  “Doc, that stuff you gave him.  Carter says you use it on manic depressives.”

“Not the exact substance, Colonel, but one of the drugs is used primarily to treat those kind of cases, yes.”

“What kind exactly?  I mean, Doc, he's quiet and ... calm, balanced ... but it's almost to an extreme.  No highs or lows ... just ... status quo.”

“Colonel, can you ask Sam to take another blood sample, and get it to me stat?  We should have done this right away, but it's possible that to counter the stimulant, the drug has suppressed the emotions altogether.”

His conversation completed, Jack asked Sam to draw more blood and returned to Colorado Springs.

====

The next morning, Daniel stared at the plain decor of the cabin.

“Hey, Beautiful,” Jack called out, seeing his husband when he walked out of the bathroom.

“Jack, can you put the things back?  It's ... so empty in here.  I ... I understand why you took them out, but ... please.”

Jack pondered the request.  His soulmate hadn't asked for coffee or tried to leave, and he had been content to be in Jack's loving arms.

“I think that's a good idea,” Jack agreed, earning him a smile from his lover.  It was actually the biggest smile Jack had seen on Daniel in a while.  “Want to help?”

“Yes,” Daniel answered as he walked to his Love to share a quick kiss first.

====

With the cabin once again showing signs of life, Daniel breathed a little easier, except he knew where all the holes were, the gaps where things he had destroyed belonged.

“I really did a lot of damage, didn't I?” Daniel asked so quietly that Jack had to strain to hear him.

“You work out now; it's all that muscle tone,” Jack teased.

Daniel didn't laugh, though; instead, he walked over to the broken pieces of the snow globe and played with them, often trying to piece them back together unsuccessfully.

“Are you sure they're okay, Jack?”

Jack knew Daniel was thinking about Bijou and Katie and answered, “I talked to Cassie yesterday.  They're super.”

“You sure?” Daniel questioned uncertainly.

“Yes, Danny, I'm sure.”

====

“Hey, Daniel, how ya doing?” Sam asked, smiling as she hugged her friend.

“I'm okay, Sam.  Sam ... I'm ... sorry.”

“Don't worry about it.  It wasn't your fault,” Sam responded, soothing her friend's fears.

“Yes, it was.  I took the pills.  I should have known better,” Daniel stated, taking full responsibility for his actions.

“It was the drugs, Daniel,” Jack chimed in.  “Those blasted alien drugs: they impaired your thinking; not your fault, Love.”

Daniel didn't fight back; he only shrugged.

“What did Janet say?” Jack asked, though his eyes were following his lover as he walked the living room in circles.

Sam had a question in her eyes, which Jack quickly dismissed.

“It's okay, Carter.  We aren't going to hide Daniel's treatment from him.”

Daniel looked up and gazed into Jack's eyes, a very tiny smile barely visible on Daniel's face.

With a nod, Sam answered, “She wants to keep working on it.  She recommends you continue with the drug as it is until she can find out more.  Janet is afraid of what might happen if Daniel goes through another withdrawal, although she also says that sooner or later, he'll need to be taken off this medication as well.”

“Jack?” Daniel shook his head, pleading, “Let's get it over with.  Please, Jack, I ... I don't want to stay like this.”

Jack nodded in both understanding and agreement, and walked to Daniel, holding him securely in his arms.  Even though Janet had suggested they continue to use the drug, Jack and Daniel would do what they so often did -- they would survive the withdrawal their way.  There would be no more injections.  Whatever happened, they'd deal with the worst scenario if they had to and then move on.

Jack silently prayed that Janet could work her magic soon, discovering a permanent cure for the alien drug, without Daniel needing one drug to counteract another.

====

A couple hours later, the four teammates were all in the kitchen eating lunch.  Sam excused herself and went out to the tent, returning a couple minutes later.

“Carter, are we playing hide and seek?” Jack asked, noticing that she was hiding something behind her back.

“Sir ... Jack, I brought this back with me.  I hope that you and Daniel like it,” she said, handing Jack the bag that she was hiding behind her.

Daniel watched with curiosity as Jack opened the bag.  He pulled out a beautiful wooden frame with pyramids carved in it.  Both Jack and Daniel stared in amazement at the frame.

Jack nodded, holding the picture frame.  He wet his lips as a reflex reaction to try and keep his emotions guarded, but he could only succeed so much.  Still holding the gift, he got up and gave his 2IC a hug, as did Daniel.

“It's beautiful, Car…Sam, but you didn't have to do this.  I'm the one that broke the frame.”

“I wanted to,” Sam replied simply.

“I've never seen anything like it before, Sam.  Where did you find it?” Daniel asked, taking the frame from Jack and studying it like it was a precious artifact.

“I had it made special.  A friend of mine in Denver that makes frames, and after what happened the other day, I gave her a call and asked her if she could do something in a hurry.  I picked it up just an hour before my flight today,” Sam explained, a little embarrassed by the attention her two friends were giving her over a simple gift.

Jack and Daniel looked at each other and both smiled.  Seconds later, they simultaneously said, “Thank you.”

“O'Neill, the frame is still empty,” Teal'c pointed out.

“Yeah, I'll get ...”

Jack stopped, seeing the Jaffa holding out the wedding photo.  He had slipped out of the room while the others were talking about the unique frame.

“Thanks, T.”

Jack removed the picture from the broken frame and handed it to Daniel, who put it in the new frame.

“It looks great; matches our wedding outfits.  It was a beautiful day,” Daniel said, lost in the memory of their wedding.

Jack put his arm around Daniel's shoulder and placed a kiss on his temple.  He leaned his head against his lover, but he looked at Sam.

“Thank you,” the colonel mouthed again.

Sam nodded, feeling even more embarrassed because she could see the thankfulness in Jack's eyes.  It warmed her and was a reminder of how little it took to express caring and friendship.

The lovers put the photograph back in its place in the bedroom and returned to the kitchen to finish their lunch with two very special friends.

====

Over the next forty-eight hours, the drug Janet had given Daniel wore off.  He became more hyper and more agitated, but he remained lucid and focused.  He hadn't wanted to look at the broken snow globe any longer, so Jack had thrown it away.

Several days since Daniel had been off Janet's 'antidote' as Jack called it. He wasn't exactly happy, but that would come in time.  He had engaged in conversations with Jack, Sam, and Teal'c, helped Jack clean, prattled on with Sam about some research before she made another trip to confer with Janet at the SGC, and worked out with Teal'c, and had even gone fishing with Jack, teasing his love about never catching a fish.

“Jack, have you ever fished in a lake that actually had fish?” Daniel teased.

“Hey, there's fish here,” Jack claimed.

With a chuckle, Daniel stated, “You'd never know it from your fishing rod, and all that bait you have there.”

“Smart aleck.”

“Actor!”

“Actor?” Jack had repeated.  “What does that mean?”

“It means you're only pretending to catch a fish.  I'm not sure you'd know how.”

“Someday, Doctor Jackson-O'Neill, I'm going to make you eat those words,” the older man threatened lightheartedly.

“I'd rather eat a fish, but then you'd have to catch one.”

The lovers laughed, making both of them feel good.

All in all, Jack thought, the last few days had been pretty normal.  Still, he wanted to wait just a little longer, until Sam returned with the latest information from Janet, before he breathed a real sigh of relief.  They didn't trust couriers so Sam was going back and forth, allowing her to see first hand what Janet was trying to do.

At the end of this night, Daniel had a craving for his favorite beverage.

“Jack, do I ever get to have coffee again?” Daniel asked with begging eyes, but not those of desperation and withdrawal, but instead, it was that puppy dog look that was so endearing to Jack.

“Maybe tomorrow, Danny,” Jack said with a smile.  “It's late, Love. Let's go to bed.”

As they walked into the bedroom, Daniel stopped and kissed Jack passionately.

“I want you, Jack,” and not one to deny his love, Jack turned himself over to his lover, full of love and trust.

Daniel hadn't taken the lead since the night he had lost control.  He had been afraid it might happen again, so he'd made sure it was Jack inside him, but tonight, he needed to be in control again, and he wondered if Jack would trust him.

Jack did, totally, as Daniel called all the shots.  He steered them towards the bed, as they kissed gently.  Their eyes were focused on each other completely, speaking words they didn't have the vocabulary to say verbally.

Everything happened slowly, tenderly, more so than ever, except for maybe their very first night together when they were still learning how to love each other.

Daniel unbuttoned Jack's red and black plaid shirt, taking one button at a time, kissing Jack on the lips as he undid the final button, his tongue waltzing with Jack's.  With the shirt undone, Daniel ran his hands slowly up Jack's chest, his fingers gently pressing against the skin.

As his hands reached the neck, they branched out towards Jack's strong shoulders, the shoulders that kept Daniel safe, the ones Daniel had so often cried into, and sought comfort from.  Daniel's eyes focused on those shoulders as he pushed the shirt off, his hands helping the long-sleeved material fall from Jack's arms.

Jack's hands were at Daniel's waist.  He wanted to undress his lover, but he decided to wait, to let his husband be as much in command as he could.  Jack sensed this was important, though they hadn't spoken of it since the night on the rooftop.  Jack was trusting Daniel, and Daniel was finally trusting Jack to keep his promise.

Daniel laid a path of kisses from the edge of Jack's right shoulder, under his neck, to the edge of the left.  He looked in Jack's eyes and smiled, kissing him again, their lips barely brushing at first, and then pressing together harder again, their tongues reconnecting in their dance.

“I love you, Jack,” Daniel said softly, as his hands caressed the shoulders that meant so much to the younger man.

Daniel's hands slid slowly down Jack's chest to his waist, and unsnapped Jack's denim jeans.  Slowly, he unzipped the jeans, his hands brushing against Jack's length.  His body pressed against his lover's, his hands moving to Jack's lower back, caressing and massaging as they engaged in the growing passion of their love.  Their kisses were demanding more and more from each other, Daniel moaning from the sensations he felt from the kiss, and Jack's roaming hands on his back.

After a couple of minutes, Daniel moved his hands under Jack's jeans and boxers.  Letting out another soft moan as their latest kiss ended, Daniel placed another kiss right under Jack's chin, and then every inch or so as he moved his body downwards, pushing Jack's clothing towards the floor as he moved.

Daniel ceased for one moment in his movement to cup Jack's buttocks in his hands, rubbing up and down, forcing Jack into him for a moment, and then he continued his efforts.

He gave teasing licks to Jack's erection as he maneuvered the jeans and underwear down.  He untied Jack's Nikes and one foot at a time, Jack stepped out of the shoes, Daniel pulling off his white socks with the other clothing.

Daniel's hands slid up the inside of Jack's legs and thighs, massaging as they moved.  Still kneeling, Daniel ran his tongue along Jack's length seductively, flicking and lightly jabbing it intermittently, causing Jack to let out his own moans of pleasure.

The young man stood, and turned Jack so that his back was to the bed, and then he carefully pushed him onto it.  The comforter had already been turned down earlier in the day, so Jack scooted a little to gain a secure position, his head finding the pillows.

Daniel slowly removed his own clothes in a quiet, more calm striptease than he had done when he had lost his Stock Market bet to Jack last December, but piece by piece, he let Jack gaze upon him with lust and need as he flauntingly took off each item of clothing, tossing them with a flare to the floor or a nearby chair.

Then, Daniel got on the bed, his legs straddling his husband.  As their erections rubbed against each other, the two kissed for a long while.  Daniel's hands caressed Jack's face, neck, shoulders, and chest, as Jack's hands made loving strokes along Daniel's lower back and buttocks, pushing him against him.

They reached a moment when they paused after a long, lingering kiss, their lips full and moist from their touches and nibbles, when they again talked through their eyes.  It was the moment that spoke of Jack and Daniel being forever, no matter what.  Jack smiled, his hands again pushing against Daniel's rear, a message of faith, of love, of trust.

Jack's left hand then reached up and under Daniel's pillow where the lube was.  He held it out for Daniel to take.  It was only a brief hesitation, a sliver of a doubt, but then Daniel heard, “Forever and Always, Danny, I love you.”

Those were the words spoken on their wedding day, their mantra of their union, and it was all Daniel needed to get past that brief hitch.

Daniel took the lube and put some on his fingers, applying plenty.  He knew he was overdoing it, but he needed the extra reassurance.  He looked at Jack, afraid his lover would be sarcastic or would tease him, but all he saw was want, respect, and again, trust.  That Irish smile was giving Daniel everything he needed.

With great care, Daniel eased his fingers inside Jack, first one, then two, and finally three.  He teased slightly, making gentle contact with his husband's prostate, making short twisting movements until finally he entered Jack very slowly with his erection.  He settled for several seconds, giving Jack plenty of time to adjust to his size, to his presence, and then, again very slowly, he began to move, making short, gentle thrusts, in and out.

“Love you so much, Jack,” Daniel whispered, increasing the pace only slightly.

“Gawd, Daniel ... need you ... I love you, Angel.  Feels so good.  Love you.”

Jack was moaning some, his hands on Daniel's lower back, urging him on with gentle pushing motions.

“It's okay, Love ... yes, Danny ... good ... there, yes ... love you,” Jack encouraged, knowing Daniel needed this at first as he regained his confidence.

Daniel's hands rested on Jack's shoulders as he pushed himself into his lover, moving more and more forcibly.  For a second, the thought occurred to him that he was pinning Jack down.  He began to panic, but Jack sensed it.

His hands reached up to cup Daniel's face, and pulled him in for a deep kiss.

“It's okay, Angel,” Jack spoke looking directly into Daniel's eyes, his hands moving down again and to his lover's sides, helping with the forward motions Daniel was making.

Daniel's pace increased.  His hands moved naturally to the sheets on the bed as Jack bucked into Daniel now, wanting and needing more.

“Jack ... love you,” Daniel panted, as his breathing became labored from his actions.

The younger man's movements inside Jack were strong and fast, but it wasn't the frenzied contact they sometimes had, nor the hammering and pounding that frequently sent them to another existence,  Instead, it was a steady feel of a watery slide, in and out, deeper and deeper, like falling into a well.  They drifted as their bodies merged together, their minds losing coherency.

Jack's left hand began to work on himself, stroking and pumping his erection in time with Daniel's tender thrusts inside him.  They moved in harmony, the fusing of their bodies a perfect song.  He had arched up giving Daniel as much access to him as possible, and their hips rocked together in a perfect duet.

“Mine ... Jack ... mine,” Daniel gasped as he neared the eclipse.

“Yours, Danny,” Jack confirmed, pleasurable jolts electrifying his sweating body.

With beads of his own sweat falling onto his lover, Daniel let out several grunts, the last thrusts being more powerful.

“Jack ... gawd ... love ... you.”

And then, Daniel impaled himself against Jack's prostate one final time, and came just as Jack stroked himself one last time and came in his hand.

Daniel fell to Jack's chest, totally content.  He felt Jack's warm hands against his back.

Jack kissed his lover's wet hair.  He felt so warm and good inside.  This had been perfect.

“Don't move, Danny.  Stay, Love,” Jack managed to say, as he held his love to him.

Daniel could say only, “Love you so much, Jack, so freakin' much.”

A minute later, Jack placed another kiss on Daniel's head.  Daniel looked up and brushed his lips against Jack's, and then moved off his lover, and into his customary position.

Daniel hooked one leg in between Jack's, his left hand moved to Jack's chest, playing with the gray hairs he found so incredibly sexy, and he laid his head against Jack's always strong left shoulder.  He loved this position.  It was his comfort zone, his place of peace.

Jack was Daniel's pillow, and Daniel was Jack's blanket.  This was one of the few times they hadn't spoken much after their lovemaking, but the reality was they were talking, but not with words.  Instead, their hearts and souls were quietly relaying their emotions, their desires and complete joy.

Finally, Daniel spoke softly, “Thank you, Jack.”

“Huh?  For what?”

“Loving me.”

“Ah, Angel, I've told you before, loving you is the easiest thing in the world.  You're the best part of me.  I'll never let you go, Danny, not ever.”

Their lovemaking had been tender and gentle, a lingering fusion between them.  It was a sharing of their souls with their bodies.  It was everything the romp on the staircase weeks ago hadn't been.

The two fell asleep, holding each other possessively, each smiling from their post-coital bliss.

====

Early the next morning, the lovers were snuggling in their bed.  They had yet to get up, wanting to enjoy the feel of each other now that peace had once again been restored to their lives.  Lying in their favorite position, their hands caressed the other, and tender kisses were frequent.

Daniel had loved their union from the night before.  It was everything making love was supposed to be.  Then he remembered the nightmare, their sex on the stairs.  It had been way too aggressive; it had felt like ... like rape, even if Jack had agreed.  Guilt consumed Daniel.

“Hey, what's going on?” Jack asked, sensing his lover's change in moods.

“Jack, I know what we agreed, but ... I still ... I feel bad about ...”

“Danny, you know that the alien drug and that so-called energy booster were responsible for your behavior during the last several weeks.”

“Are you ... sure?”

“Daniel, what we did last night, that's us, loving each other with our hearts and souls.  It wasn't really you that last time.  We both know that.  This is us, the reality.  Besides, it ... had its moments,” Jack said, kissing the top of Daniel's head and gently slapping his rear end in encouragement.

Daniel smiled slightly, kissed Jack's chest, and said, “You'd say that no matter what.”

“Wouldn't you?” Jack asked.

~Technicality.~  Daniel looked into Jack's eyes and knew his husband was right. He nodded, saying a soft, “Yes, but I took the pills.”

“But the pills alone wouldn't have done all it did without the alien drug kicking in.  It was the combination of the two, and you have no control over that alien crap.”

“I guess you're right.”

“I know I'm right.”

“I just ...”

“Feel guilty, but we agreed, remember?”

“I know.”

“Danny, we're here, and we're in love.  We're also human, and sometimes, we make mistakes.  In the end, we move forward, together, and that's the most important thing.”

“I love you, Jack.”

“I love you, Angel,” Jack replied, gazing into his Love's eyes.  “Oh, and Angel, it really did have its moments.”

Daniel smiled, the nightmare finally behind them.  The soulmates kissed tenderly, grateful for the power of their love.

====

“Welcome back, Carter.  How goes things at Space Camp?”

“Very funny, Sir,” Sam responded dryly.

“Yeah, I thought so.  What's the latest from Fraiser?” Jack asked.

“Looking good,” Sam replied.  “How is he?”

“Beautiful, Carter, absolutely beautiful.”  Jack smiled, nodding out towards the lake where Daniel was lying on the grass, wearing only his blue swim trunks that Jack had given him for his birthday the year before.  ~He's gorgeous in blue, or any color, but geez, what he does to me when he wears blue, or green, or ... stop it, O'Neill, you've got company.~

Though thunderstorms were popping up in various parts of Minnesota, the area by the lake was amazingly still clear.  The June sunshine danced against Daniel's silky hair and soft skin.  It was a pleasant seventy-four degrees, summer just a day away.

“He looks peaceful,” Sam observed.

“I think he is finally ... except ...” Jack looked expectantly at his 2IC.

Sam smiled as she said, “Right behind me, Sir.”

Right on cue, Teal'c approached carrying the special packages.

Jack broke out in a huge grin as he took hold of the precious cargo.  He knelt to the ground, opening the dog carriers and petting their beloved beagles.

“Welcome to the cabin.  Look, there's Danny!” Jack exclaimed as he nodded toward the water.

Like a rocket being fired, Bijou and Katie ran woofing and wagging their tails to the lake, jumping on the unsuspecting Daniel, placing kiss after kiss on him.

“What?  Bij?  Katie?  Girls?  JACK ... the girls!  Hey, there ... love you, love you both so much,” Daniel laughed as he began to romp with the two beagles on the grass.  “Jack, look!  Aren't they beautiful?”

“Yeah ... beautiful,” the older man squeaked, his voice lost in the wonder of his lover, doing his best to suppress a choking sniffle.

“Thank you, Ca...Sam,” Jack said softly.

“My pleasure ... Jack.”

====

The next few days at the cabin had been a near paradise.  Sam and Teal'c had returned to the SGC, leaving the Jackson-O'Neills alone.  Jack and Daniel had healed again, their love stronger than ever, their devotion unquestionable.

Bijou and Katie had taken to the cabin as if it were home, sleeping on Jack's and Daniel's abdomens or resting by the fireplace.  They'd gone swimming, when supervised, and for lots of walks in the woods the cabin sat in.

Daniel was back on coffee, Janet having retracted her caffeine ban.  She determined Daniel's problems had begun with the Zantrex and the first dose of caffeine pills and how they interacted with the alien drug.  Daniel's coffee intake hadn't been the issue, but she did make Daniel promise not to exceed his normal six or seven cups a day.

Life had become good again, and now the lovers were back home and had a few days off before having to return to active duty at Cheyenne Mountain.  He wanted the time to readjust to normalcy before dealing with the challenges of the SGC.

Their second day back in the Springs was also their anniversary.  They'd slept in made love, ate breakfast, made love, gone for a walk with the beagles, made love, eaten lunch, and made out on the sofa before Daniel asked if his husband would mind if he attended to some business.  He'd wait another day, if Jack had objections, but he really wanted to attend to a few things.

~My Danny,~ Jack had thought after hearing the request.  He has so much compassion.  He'll rest better if he can get rid of some of that guilt he's still carrying around.~  “Go ahead, Love.”

“It ... might take awhile,” Daniel had admitted.

“Then it takes awhile,” Jack had responded with understanding, giving his husband a kiss.

Thus, with Jack's blessings, Daniel had spent the afternoon making phone calls to several members of his staff, making apologies and assuring his staff that things would be back on track when he returned to work.  He also sent Megan flowers, thanking her for caring enough to talk to Sam, something he knew took some courage.

Daniel had also talked privately with both Sam and Teal'c, his guilt from his hurtful words and accusations towards them weighing heavily on his mind.  Of course, he had phoned General Hammond, as well.

Everyone had been very understanding, especially Megan, had audibly beamed over the phone during their chat, if that were possible, hearing the calm, gentle voice of her boss return.  She had been thrilled with the flowers that she had received only minutes before the archaeologist's phone call and had been relieved to know Daniel had understood her rationale in talking to the major.

Now, Jack and Daniel were in the backyard, relaxing with their beagles.  A knock at the door interrupted their early evening playtime with the two dogs.

“I'll get it, Angel,” Jack said, getting up and walking into the house.

Daniel kept focused on the girls, laughing frequently.  It was a few minutes later when Jack returned to the backyard.

“Danny,” Jack called out, his voice squelching a little which made Daniel frown.  “It's okay.  Come here.  There's, um, something you need to see.”

“Be back, Girls,” Daniel said as he scooted away from the canines and walked up to Jack.

“I love you, Danny,” Jack whispered, putting his arm around his spouse and walking him into the house.

“Teal'c!  Hey, what are you doing here?  I mean ... Hi!”

“It is good to see you well again, DanielJackson.”

“Thanks to you, and Sam ... and Jack.”  Daniel beamed at his husband, his eyes sparkling with love and gratitude that no matter what hardship they went through, Jack had never, and would never, abandon the younger man.  He couldn't help himself, though, when he looked at the Jaffa again.  He had to apologize, one more time.  “But, uh, I ... Teal'c, I'm sorry.  I know I gave you a hard time, kicking you and ... well, I'm sorry.”

Teal'c bowed his head in yet another acceptance of Daniel's apology.

“Danny, Teal'c brought us a ... gift,” Jack said, motioning toward the box on the coffee table.

“It is not perfect, DanielJackson, but I did my best.”

Daniel had no clue what it could be.  He opened the box and pulled out the object.  It was the snow globe Daniel had broken.

“I had assistance in acquiring some of the parts, including a new globe, but I used glue and was able to make it good as new ... almost.”

Daniel was unable to speak, his hands caressing the globe as if it were a beloved artifact, his eyes observing every detail.  Teal'c had done an incredible job.  The large dog had been broken in two.  He had been able to put those two pieces back together.  The smaller dog was beyond repair, but he had found a similar one in a store that looked even more like Katie than the original had.

The snowman had been fixable, so using a new globe and some new background pieces, and, of course, some new snow, the Jaffa had managed to present his friends with a snow globe that was stunningly close to the original item.

“Thank you.  Thank you so much,” Daniel whispered, unable to suppress the tears.

Teal'c nodded towards Jack, who smiled, unable to speak himself, but he mouthed a “Thank you” as he swallowed hard.

“It was my pleasure, DanielJackson.  Goodnight.”

“You don't have to go,” Jack stated, but Teal'c looked at Daniel, and smiled at Jack.

“I believe it would be best if I left you with DanielJackson unattended, O'Neill.  It is my honor to call myself your friend.”

“No, Teal'c,” Daniel corrected, turning to look at Teal'c.  “The honor is ours.”

Teal'c bowed his head and left the couple alone.

“It's perfect, Jack,” the younger man observed about the snow globe.

Jack returned to his spot by his Love, and they sat together watching the snow globe on the coffee table, a reminder of their honeymoon and their life with the girls.

“We're so lucky, Jack, to have such good friends.”

“That we are, Angel, that we are,” Jack agreed, then kissed Daniel's temple and leaned his head against his spouse's.  “Happy anniversary.”

Daniel smiled contentedly and replied, “Happy anniversary.”

A couple minutes later, the lovers let the girls inside and smiled as the beagles quickly settled down together on their beanbag.

Though not celebrating their sixth anniversary as a couple as they normally would, the lovers were happy this year to just stay home and enjoy their family.

Daniel’s birthday was just around the corner, though, and Jack was already thinking of ways to surprise his husband on that special day.

It had been a very long year, full of difficult moments and hard times, but it had also been full of joy and happiness, treasured and cherished times that Jack and Daniel would look back on fondly as they passed through time together.

As they relaxed on the sofa, Jack and Daniel knew that they wouldn't move for a long time, content to snuggle as they remembered that even with the bad times, their cup was never less than half full, and, right now, they both felt like their cup was running over with love.

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