Delusions of Love

Author: Orrymain
Category: Slash, Angst, Drama, H/C, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  NC-17 for attempted rape
Season:  7 - March 2004
Spoilers:  None
Size:  144kb
Written:  September 21-23,29, October 1,3-4,13-14, 2003  Revised: December 23-24,28, 2004, January 16,24, February 4-6, 2005
Summary:  A stalker taunts Daniel while Jack's jealousy of Paul Davis comes between the lovers.  Can Jack save Daniel?  Can Daniel save Jack?
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:
1) Hanky warning, so I've been told!
2) A part of the subject matter in the last section of this story is inspired by my absolute favorite all time piece of fan fiction called “Straws” by Celtic Angel.  It's a “gen” story and is simply AWESOME!  I can't say enough good things about it. “Straws” can be found at http://www.calliopeia.com/straws.html
3) 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.**
4) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
5) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fics, “For Better or Worse” and “Heart and Soul”
6) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Tina, Drdjlover, Mama Beast, Brynn, QuinGem, Linda, Claudia!

Delusions of Love
by Orrymain

“Danny, are you going to be done with that in time for the game?” Jack asked as he stood impatiently by the worktable in Daniel's office at the SGC.

Daniel sighed.  Jack had been gently trying to prod him along with his report for the last half hour.  The two were planning on attending the Colorado Avalanche game that night.  Game time was 7:30 p.m., and since they were playing the Vancouver Canucks, Jack didn't want to be late.  The Avalanche and Canucks were one and two in the standings for their division, so this would be an important match.

They had excellent seats for the game.  Though Jack didn't have season tickets this year, he and Daniel were both members of the Prime Seat Club which meant that when they were able to attend a game in person, they could purchase tickets from a regular season ticket holder who couldn't attend a particular game.

These tickets were the prime of the prime, rinkside, and Jack couldn't wait to see the action up close and in person.

“Jack, we have plenty of time.”

“No, we don't.  Come on, leave that for later.”

“I can't, Jack, and you are well aware of that.  Look, why don't you go, and I'll meet you there when I'm done.”

“In Denver?  Daniel, that's ridiculous.”

“Jack, I have to finish this.  SG-9 is in the middle of a difficult negotiation, and we have to make sure that the translations are accurate.  This society is very exact.  If I'm off by as little as an adverb, it could be disastrous.  I'll meet you there, I promise.  Go, have some fun.”

Jack shuffled around Daniel's office, his hands in his pockets.  Daniel watched, not quite understanding Jack's reluctance to go on ahead.  Jack was the hockey aficionado; Daniel always just went along for the ride, more or less.

“Jack, what's wrong?”

Jack kicked the hard floor.

“It's just ... not as much fun without you, and I know you, Daniel, you'll get all involved in that, and then something else will pop up demanding your attention, and the next thing I'll know, I'll be sitting alone the entire game.  You'll end up telling me that you're sorry that you couldn't make it.  I want you there, Danny.  I ... I miss you when you aren't.”

Daniel was glad Jack had locked the door and turned off the security cameras when he came in because he practically bounced off of his chair and into Jack's arms, planting a giant kiss on his spouse.

“I love you so much, Jack, and believe it or not, I really do want to go, even if it's just to keep you warm in that cold rink, but I have to finish this.  I promise, I'll be there by game time.”  Daniel kissed Jack again, nibbling for a moment on his lover's upper lip as his hands snaked under Jack's shirt to seek out the skin that gave him goose bumps from desire.  “I promise, Jack.”

~I can see I don't have a choice.~  “Okay.  I'll make sure they know you're coming so they don't try to resell the ticket.  Hurry, okay?”

Jack walked out slowly, hating this, and yet he really did want to be there early to enjoy the pre-game festivities.  He took a breath of acceptance, checked out of the SGC, and headed for the Pepsi Center facilities in Denver, leaving Daniel in his office to finish his work.

====

Daniel swore in one of the forty-plus languages he now spoke.  Jack was going to strangle him.  He had promised his Love he'd be on time for the beginning of the game, but here he stood, on the side of the highway, waiting for emergency service to bring him gasoline, of all things.

He dreaded telling Jack.  In his mind, he could hear Jack's yell, “Daniel, how many times have I told you to check the gas tank before you leave the SGC?”

~I know, Jack.  I'm sorry.  Gawd, you're going to kill me.~

It was 6:00 p.m.  Traffic from the Springs to Denver had been murder, especially since the archaeologist was in the middle of the busy commute.  Of course, that was because Daniel had left the SGC much later than he had hoped, and for exactly the reason Jack had predicted.  He had let Megan Williams talk him into assisting her on some research she needed before her mission tomorrow.  She had a party to go to tonight, and if Daniel hadn't helped her, she'd be late.  Right now, he was wishing that he wasn't such a soft touch and that he'd just let Megan be late.

~How can I tell Jack that I missed the game so Megan could go to a party?  I'm so dead.~

Daniel shook his head, and with his arms folded across his chest, he walked around his car.  Spying a can on the ground, he kicked it out of frustration.

~I should call Jack.~  Daniel took out his cell phone.  ~No, he'll just get angry, and that'll ruin the game for him.  I'll ... I'll get there.  Help will be here soon ... I hope.~

He desperately wanted to make it to the arena by game time.

~Where are they?  I need that gas!~  His frustration grew.  “He's going to kill me,” he yelled at the can.

“Who?  Is there someone dangerous on the loose around here?”

Daniel turned towards the voice that had startled him from the thoughts of his impending death at the hands of his spouse.  The stranger was standing in front of Daniel's car, but the headlights blurred his face.

As he looked around, Daniel could see that another car was now behind his.  He had paced about ten-feet in front of his silver automobile, and that's the space that currently separated him from the voice.

“No, I was just ... I mean, no, I was speaking figuratively.”

The stranger walked a step or two closer, and, aided by the headlights that shone on the archaeologist, Daniel's figure became clearer to him.

“Daniel?  Daniel Jackson?”

The man closed the distance, now standing just a few feet in front of Daniel.

Daniel looked at the six-foot, two-inch, brown-eyed man.  His hair was short, with a small wave at the top.  Daniel stared, trying to place the face.

“Now, really, Daniel, it hasn't been all that long.  Oxford, remember?”

~Please tell me I'm wrong.~  Internally, Daniel winced.  He could feel his muscles tighten.  “Paul?”

It was Paul Duncan.  As Daniel remembered it, Paul had been in a study group Daniel had briefly been a part of during his studies at Oxford.  At the time, Daniel had taken a few courses outside of his graduate degree program, one of which was in plant sciences.  The subject was a bit outside his normal frame of reference, so he had joined a study group, and that's how he had met Paul.

However, six weeks into the course, Daniel had dropped out of the study group since it interfered with some research one of the professors had asked him to assist with.  He hadn't seen Paul Duncan since then.

“Danny, it's great to see you again,” Paul said as he scooted towards Daniel and put his arms around him.

Daniel had flinched at the use of his nickname.  He had always discouraged people from using it, even in his younger years.  While a few others at the SGC had occasionally used it, most got the hint that it was something he only allowed Jack to do.

In fact, Daniel preferred Jack called him by the nickname now.  It was another symbol of their closeness and a reminder to Daniel that with Jack, he could be free.  Hearing the word come from a virtual stranger's mouth made the young man very uneasy.  He was even more skittish about the embrace that had been placed around him.  As quickly as he could, Daniel politely backed away.

“It's Daniel; I, uh, prefer Daniel.”

“Sure.  How have you been?”

“Um, fine.  I'm just ... I ran out of gas.”

“I was wondering -- didn't see any flat tires or the hood up.  I have a can of gas in my car.  Always carry a can for emergencies.”

“I'll pay you for it, of course.”

“Nah, forget about it, Danny.  What are friends for?  Where are you headed?”

Daniel cringed again.  For some reason, he just didn't feel comfortable around Paul.

“Daniel ... and Denver.  I'm ... meeting someone there.”

“Oh.  Girlfriend?” Paul asked as he filled Daniel's tank.

“No.  My ... just a friend.”

Daniel hated lying.  He hated having to hide.  There was a word to describe what Jack was to him and that was 'spouse', and Daniel wanted to scream it out loud, but instead, he had to hide behind the old best friend song.  At the same time, he wasn't sure he wanted to divulge any information to the man coming to his rescue.  The uneasiness Daniel was feeling inside was eerie and strange to him.

~I've already told him too much; don't say anything else.  Just ... get out of here.~

“I never thought I'd see you again.  We had quite a time at Oxford, didn't we?”

Daniel's mind was a blank.  The study group had been pretty boring, and he barely remembered participating in it, let alone anything fun about it.  He was surprised he'd even remembered Paul's name, and thus, simply smiled as Paul put the cap back on Daniel's gas tank.

Paul stood in place, looking at Daniel.  Something about the stare unnerved the linguist even more than before, so much so that he began to doubt his own instincts.

~Has to be my imagination.  I'm just worried about Jack being angry with me, that's all.~  “Um, thanks a lot.  I really have to go or I'll be late.”

“Going out to dinner?”

“No, hockey.”  ~Gawd, Jackson, shut up.  This is exactly why Jack is so freakin' protective.  You *do* talk too much!~

“Hockey?  Now there's something I never thought I'd see you at, Danny -- a hockey game!  I've heard it all now,” Paul laughed.

“I have to go.  Thanks again, Paul.  It was ... um, good ... to see you again.”

Daniel couldn't get inside his car fast enough; he was beginning to feel really creeped out by this man, though he couldn't put his finger on exactly why.

“Hey, wait,” Paul shouted as Daniel started his 1999 Shelby-American, which he referred to as his silver fox.

Duncan was too late.  Daniel zipped off, making good use of his sports car's capability to hit a high speed quickly.  Paul ran back to his old, beat up Buick and quickly merged back into traffic.

====

A few minutes later Daniel was still trying to shake that uneasy feeling. Then he remembered the emergency service.

~Gawd, where's my brain?~

He took out his cell phone and called them, letting them know that he no longer needed the gas.

~That was freaky, seeing Paul Duncan again.  I ... oh, stop it, Jackson. You need to get to the arena before Jack ... gawd, Jack's gonna kill me.~

Going unnoticed in the distance behind him, Paul Duncan's car was swerving in and out of traffic, desperately trying to catch up with Daniel's car.  He was anxious to find him; he had a message to deliver, and he was bound and determined to do it.

====

“Jack, I said I was sorry, and I was only twenty minutes late,” Daniel argued as they returned home late that night.

Daniel was just getting out of his car, and Jack had come around from his truck to continue 'round three' of the “But you promised” argument that had begun when Daniel had finally arrived at the arena as the game was in the first period.  It had continued as they got some snacks before the third period began, and then heated up again via their cell phones on the drive home.

“Daniel, what's that?”

Daniel looked and saw a paper embedded under his windshield wiper on the passenger side of the car.  Somehow, it had survived the entire trip back to the Springs without coming loose.

“I don't know,” Daniel said as he reached over, grabbed the note, and read it:

Danny,

Call me on my cell; it's not listed.  I want to see you again.

Paul

A phone number was written below Paul's name.

“Well?”

“It's nothing, Jack.  I just ran into an old acquaintance, and I guess he left me a note.”

“An old acquaintance of *yours*?  At a *hockey* game, Daniel?  HERE?”

Daniel shrugged as he folded the paper and put it in his pants' pocket.

“I guess he was going to the game, too.  Jack, it's nothing, really.  I'm tired.  Can we please not argue?  I'd like to go play with the girls for a while and then just go to bed.”  He sighed as he looked at Jack with begging eyes.  ~I know I should tell you about running into Paul Duncan, and about the creepy feeling I got, but I'm just too tired of arguing about the gas and the game.  I am not in the mood to deal with Mr. Jealousy tonight, either, and since you are already angry, it'll just make it worse.  I'll tell you later, just ... not tonight.~

As Jack's stared at his soulmate, his anger subsided.  Daniel really did look tired, and after all, he hadn't been all that late to the game.

“Sure, c'mon, Love,” Jack said softly, reaching out for Daniel's hand.  It was very late, and they were under darkened skies, so Jack took the risk of holding Daniel's hand in their front yard.  “Hey,” Jack said, pulling Daniel toward him.

He wanted to apologize for yelling at Daniel, so there in their driveway, between the truck and Daniel's sporty car, Jack kissed his heart, completely surprising him.

“Jack,” Daniel responded, a bit concerned about their location, though his arms immediately went around his soulmate's waist, his hands rubbing gently against Jack's lower back.

“I love you, Danny,” Jack said before kissing him again.

“Love you, too, and I'm not complaining, really I'm not, but the sooner we go spend some time with the girls, the sooner we get to bed.”

“Yeah, you need your beauty sleep,” Jack sadly acknowledged, hoping to spend time with Daniel and yet well aware of the time.

“I need you, Jack,” Daniel crooned into Jack's mouth before kissing him again.

Jack smiled.

~I need you to need me, Danny ... because ... I love you so blasted much.~

He led his lover to the front door.  Neither noticed the Buick with its headlights off that had stopped two houses down.

====

The next two days passed without incident.  SG-1 had a one-day recon to a planet called Livinia, and it had gone off without a hitch.

Life at the SGC was status quo.  Jack was doing paperwork and griping about it the entire time, and Daniel was focused on studying an artifact SG-11 had brought back with them during their last mission.

Today, however, Jack had developed one of Daniel's annoying headaches.  It was rare, so he went to the infirmary so that Janet could check him out.  He was glad when she hadn't found anything wrong, but, not feeling up to par, Jack decided he'd go home early.

“Danny,” Jack called out softly as he entered his spouse's office and closed the door, locking it.  “I'm gonna head home early.  Do you think you'll be late?”

Daniel hadn't looked up when his lover first entered the room.  He was used to Jack coming in and out of the office and had learned the fine art of something he called “IgnoRack” which was short for “Ignoring Jack.”

However, when Jack said he was leaving, Daniel's head shot up like a rocket, concern in his blue eyes.  Jack rarely left the SGC early, especially not without him.

Jack had stopped at the side of Daniel's worktable and leaned heavily on his forearms as he dropped his head down.  Daniel reached over and took Jack's hands in his, sensing something was off.

“What's wrong?”

“Nothing.  I just have a headache, and I'm tired of paperwork.”

“Jack?” Daniel said, a slight edge to his voice.

“I promise, Danny.  It's just a headache.  I'll relax for a while and get dinner started, assuming you think you'll actually get home before midnight.”

“Be home by six at the latest.”

Jack leaned over and kissed Daniel.  Both were grateful for the remote controls that operated the security cameras in their offices.  The remotes had been Sam's doing, and they were certainly making life a lot easier for them at the SGC.  Of course, if Hammond ever found out, he'd be mighty unhappy.  Sam had clearly asseverated her wishes, however, the remotes having been her very first Christmas gift to Jack and Daniel as a couple.

//Flashback//
“What is it, Carter?” Jack had asked when he opened the present the day before Christmas.

For some unknown reason, Sam had insisted that they open it in Daniel's office.

“Well, Sir,” Sam said hesitantly, but with a shy but proud expression on her face, “press the red button.”

Jack did as she requested, then shrugged and said, “So?”

Sam nodded towards the camera, and Jack saw it was off.  He pressed the button again, and it turned on.  Jack grinned, turning the camera off again.

“Carter, I love you.”

“JACK,” Daniel called out in a raised voice, a tinge of his own jealousy showing.

“Geez, Danny, you ... I ... Daniel.”  Daniel had given him a small pouty lip so Jack leaned over and kissed him so hard that the younger man blinked several times afterwards and had lost the ability to speak. ~Geez, I love doing that.~  Since the wedding, Jack had been less apprehensive about being intimate with his husband in front of his 2IC.  “Love it when I do that to you.”

Daniel just blinked some more while Sam laughed.  She still didn't understand her two friends, but she no longer cared whether she did or not.  They were happy, and that's all that mattered to her; and no matter what, they would always be a part of her family.  She loved both of them dearly.

“Great gift, Carter.”

“Oh, and Sir, the black button mutes the sound if you ever just want to turn off the audio.”

“Sam, you could get in big trouble for this,” Daniel said, finally returning to coherence.

“No one will notice, Daniel.  Individual office tapes aren't reviewed unless there's a specific situation requiring it or a random spot check; and that's rarely needed.  Just think about those security tapes we've been looking for since before Christmas,” Sam stated confidently, reminding Daniel of tapes of Daniel's office that had been lost last year and had never been located.
//End of Flashback//

Back in the present, Jack remembered Sam again with silent thanks for the very handy device.

“Drive home safely, Love.”

“And no speeding for you!”

“Jack, I don't drive over the speed limit.”

“Of course, you don't.”  Jack chuckled at his lover's glare.  “I love you, Danny,” he said as he exited the office and headed to the locker room to change clothes before leaving for home.

====

Jack had slept for a couple of hours and felt better when he woke up, his headache finally gone.  He decided to do something useful and chose to do the laundry.  Gathering up the clothes in the hamper, he took them to the garage where the washer and dryer were.  He began to sort through them.  He chuckled at his actions.

~Geez, never used to do this before, Danny; just separated the whites from the colors, threw them in, and hit start.~

Now, though, since Daniel had nagged him so much about different fabrics needing to be washed in different temperatures, Jack also separated the cold wash items from the warm wash ones.

~It's a good thing I love you, Danny; never did this for Sara, that's for sure.~  He laughed.  ~Never did the laundry at all when I was married to Sara, not that I wouldn't have, it's just I wasn't around as much as I should have been.~  Jack paused, sighing from his thoughts.  ~I wasn't fair to her, but I tell ya, Danny, I can barely stand to be away from you for a day.  I've changed ... because of you.~

Before he completely turned to mush, Jack continued his task.  As he sorted, routinely checking for things that always got left in pockets by accident, he came across Daniel's black pants that he had worn to the hockey game earlier in the week.  Inside the pocket, he found the note that had been left on Daniel's car.

His heart stopped for a moment, and if Jack's eyes could have instantly turned from brown to green, they would have.  The name 'Paul' jumped out at him, immediately triggering Jack's long time jealousy of Major Paul Davis.  Davis and Daniel had become close friends after the original Replicator incident, the one during which Daniel was chiefly on the sidelines since he was recovering from appendicitis.  Jack hadn't been happy when, later that year, Daniel went to Russia with the major, either, even if Hammond had ordered it.

Still, Jack had gotten used to Paul Davis, and his jealousy had subsided years ago, or so he thought.

In the last few months, because of the covert threat against Jack, Paul Davis had been brought back into their lives.  Daniel had often talked with him on the phone as the Pentagon liaison attempted to help them discover the truth about who was after Jack.

Jack shook his head as he spoke aloud, “No, I trust Danny.  I'm being ridiculous.  This is ... nothing.”

After verbally reassuring himself, Jack continued sorting the laundry, but he put the folded note into his own pocket for the time being.

====

The next morning as they ate breakfast, Jack couldn't get the note out of his mind.  Though he knew he shouldn't, the urge to ask Daniel about it proved to be too great.

As casually as he could, Jack asked, “Danny, any word from Major Davis lately?”

“Paul?  No, not lately,” Daniel answered truthfully as he took another bite of the buttermilk waffles Jack had prepared for him.  “Did you want me to call him, Jack?”  He saw Jack abruptly shake his head and had a funny feeling flow through him.  “Are you okay?”

Daniel was concerned.  Jack had been quiet last night and most of the morning, too.  Now that he had mentioned Paul Davis, Daniel began to fret that Jack had received another message from whomever had been after him last year.

“Yeah, I'm fine, Danny.  I was just curious, that's all.”

~Not sure I buy that, Jack.~

Reluctantly, Daniel let the subject drop.

~You'd better be telling me the truth, Danny.~

Confused and battling his jealousy, Jack was glad Daniel didn't make an issue of the question.

Quietly, the lovers finished their breakfast.

====

Jack had been unexpectedly called to a high level meeting being held off-base.  The reason for the get-together had yet to be revealed, and Jack was mildly curious.  As the airman dropped him off at the hotel where the meeting was to take place, Jack received a shock:  he saw Paul Davis getting into a cab.  His heart pounded, and his blood pressured elevated dangerously.

~What are you doing here, Davis, and just exactly how long have you been here?~

He wanted to follow the major, but there was no way for him to get out of attending the meeting about to start.

As he walked into the designated suite, General Hammond greeted his 2IC.

“Jack, I ...”

Not allowing Hammond to say another word, and even without saying a proper return greeting, Jack asked sharply, “General, how long has Major Davis been in town?”

“Major Davis?  He's not here,” Hammond responded, looking around the room at the other occupants who were out of hearing range.

“I just saw him downstairs getting into a cab, General.”

Hammond drew a deep breath.  He nonchalantly steered Jack closer to the door, further away from the others.  Very quietly, but also in his command tone, he gave Jack his answer.

“A few days, Jack, but you are to forget you've seen him, and that's an order, Colonel.”

~He LIED to me.  Daniel lied!~

Jack was fuming inside.  Daniel had obviously seen Paul Davis, and Paul had left that note on Daniel's car.  He tried not to jump to conclusions, but Mr. Jealousy was threatening to emerge big time.

====

Daniel rubbed Katie's stomach.

“Something's going on with him, Katie.  I know it.  He's keeping inside; that's not good.”  He continued to pet the youngest beagle.  A few minutes later, he added, “He's mad at me, I think.”

Katie rolled over and licked Daniel's hand, causing him to smile.

“I think I've let sulk long enough.  Besides, I'm tired, and I want to go to bed.  You know something, Girl?”  Katie's ears rose slightly.  “Since we got married, we've never gone to bed angry with each other, and I don't want to start now.”  His decision made, Daniel told Katie, “Go lay down with Bij in the beanbag while I check on Jack.”

He vivaciously patted her ears and gave her a kiss on the nose and then watched as she did as he asked, scooting in next to Bijou.  Daniel took a deep breath, and then headed for the roof deck.

He wasn't surprised by what he saw or Jack's attitude.

“Okay, Jack, what's wrong?  You've been sulking up here all night.”

“I'm not sulking, Daniel.  I'm using my telescope.”

Daniel folded his arms, preparing for 'battle'.  When he had arrived home, Jack had been in a mood, a particularly foul mood.  He'd backed away from Daniel's kiss, had skipped dinner, and had spent four straight hours on the roof deck before Daniel had decided that enough was enough.

It was 10:30 p.m., and in addition to not going to bed angry since their marriage, the lovers hadn't pushed each other away, either; yet, Jack's actions felt to Daniel as if that was exactly what he was doing.  It was very disconcerting for the linguist.

~I don't even know what we're arguing about.  Arguing?  You won't even talk to me so we can argue.  You're avoiding me and pushing me away.  What's gotten into you, Jack?  You can keep denying it, but you can't hide it.  You're fuming inside, and I want to know why.~  Daniel refused to give any ground; he needed to know what was causing his husband's bad attitude.  “Jack, talk to me.”

“How's Major Davis, Daniel?”

Daniel stood wide-eyed, totally surprised by the question.

~What the heck does Paul have to do with anything?~  “Paul?”

“Yes, Daniel.  PAAAAAAAUL,” Jack snapped.

He stood up, the stool he'd been sitting on falling to its side from Jack's harsh movement.  Ignoring the stool, he put the lens on the telescope and then covered it.

“Jack, why are you upset with me?”

“The major is in town, Daniel.  Why didn't you tell me?”

“Paul's here?”

“Daniel, please.  Don't play innocent with me, not now.”

The argument was intensifying, but even more than the questions, what was hurting Daniel was the way his lover was saying his name.  Daniel cringed every time Jack used his formal name - Daniel - instead of the customary 'Danny' which had always made him feel so loved and free.

He wanted to ask Jack about the formality, but the argument wasn't making any sense, and it would have been too easy to get derailed.  Daniel was already too confused about whatever it was they were arguing about.

“Jack, what in Netu are you yelling about?”

“I told you, Daniel.  Major Davis, your PAAAAAUL is in town, and I'm well aware of it.”

~He's lost his mind, that's it.~  “Well, in the first place, he's not my PAAAAAAUL, and not even just Paul, Jack.  And in the second place, so what?  Why does it matter if he's here or not?”

Both men's voices had raised.  Daniel's arms were still folded, but Jack's flew out all around him as he raged on.

“What kind of idiot do you think I am, Daniel?”

“Jack, so help me ...”

“So help you what, Daniel?  Can't think what to say so you're going to threaten me now?  That's not a good sign for a genius linguist like yourself.  Come on, Daniel, I'm sure you can think of something.”

Daniel's arms moved to his side as he took on a more aggressive posture.

“I don't know what you're talking about.  You're not making any sense, Jack, and stop yelling at me.  I'm *not* some stranger you pulled off the street, so stop treating me like one!”

“Stranger?  Come to think of it, that may be exactly what you are.”

“Stop it, Jack.  Stop it *right now*, before you push us both over the edge.”

“Me?  I'm not the one lying here, Daniel.”

“I HAVEN'T LIED, AND STOP CALLING ME 'DANIEL',” the young man demanded as he turned and stormed his way down the ladder.

Daniel closed his eyes when he stepped onto the patio.  He shivered, not from the cold air, but from the distance between he and Jack.

~I don't understand; gawd, what's happening?  What have I missed?~

He sat down on the patio steps, wishing Jack were at his side, holding him.

Bijou and Katie, having seen Daniel climbing down the ladder, went through their dog door and hurried over to the archaeologist.

“Not now, Girls, okay?”

It broke his heart, but he felt like a massive weight had been put on his shoulders, and he couldn't even move his hands to pet the beloved beagles.  Sadly, he watched as the disappointed dogs turned and went to their doghouse.  Both lay down, staring at him with concern.

Daniel sat with his elbows on his thighs, his head in his hands.  He didn't understand Jack's anger, and now he was angry, too, and that frustrated him because it all seemed so dumb.

**Why are you doing this to us, Jack?  Why?**

The next thing he knew, Jack sat down next to him.  He didn't say anything for a minute, but finally he asked as calmly as he could, “Why didn't you tell me Major Davis was in town?”

“Because I didn't know, Jack.  I haven't talked to Paul in three weeks, and you know that because I always tell you when I do.”

Jack let out a gust of air he looked down, disappointed, confused, and still angry.

~Why are lying to me?  Are you cheating on me?  If you are, I'll kill him.~

“Jack, are you going to tell me why you keep insisting that I knew Paul was in town when I didn't?”

~Fine, I'll play.~  “The note, Daniel.”

“Note?”

“Oh, for crying out loud, Daniel, the blasted note that was on your car after the hockey game ... the note from Paul.  Remember now?”

Jack stood up and hurriedly went into the house, leaving Daniel stunned.  Suddenly, Daniel closed his eyes, remembering the note Paul Duncan had left.  He had no idea how Jack had come across it.

Jack turned the TV on ESPN, the volume blaring, and sat on the sofa. He put his legs atop the coffee table and leaned back comfortably into the cushions.  He was seething with anger, but he wanted to try to forget for a while.

Daniel walked to the console and turned it off, standing in front of it to block the remote signal he knew Jack would try to use.  He didn't want to fight, but he had to know what was going on.  Actually, he was tired, and just wanted to go to bed, make love, and sleep for about eighteen hours.  They'd continue the argument tomorrow, or never, if he had his way.

“Get out of the way, Daniel.”

Daniel smiled.

~No more, Jack.  I don't know what this is about, and I just don't care.  I want you, even though you're being an idiot.  No more war, Jack; let's ... play.~  “Anything you say, Colonel,” Daniel said as he walked straight to his lover, straddled Jack's legs, and sat on Jack's lap.

Without hesitation, Daniel leaned over and placed a kiss on Jack that left the silver-gray haired man trying to remember his name.

Daniel was hoping his irrational spouse was just having a bad day and that the dark cloud looming over him was just a passing mood.  When Jack got jealous, he became blinded to logic and rationality, and at the moment, Jack was definitely jealous, though Daniel knew he had no reason to be.

Not realizing the depth of Jack's current jealousy, Daniel figured they'd calmly talk it all out tomorrow.  Right now, he decided to focus on making love and getting some sleep.  He was sure Jack would see it his way.

“Don't, Danny,” Jack said weakly, wanting to retain his anger, but having a hard time with a lap full of archaeologist, his archaeologist whom he loved more than life, even when he was angrier than he'd ever been at said archaeologist.

“Much better.  Say it again.”

Jack was clueless about the name issue, not realizing what he had done, and quickly shook his head with question.

“Say my name; I mean, say my name the way only you say it, just you,” Daniel said, cupping Jack's face and kissing him again.

“Danny.”

It was spoken softly, with love and devotion, turning Daniel into melted butter.  Daniel smiled.  When Jack called him 'Danny', life was good in their universe, but all those 'Daniels' in a row had made him feel sick inside.

“I love you, Jack, and I don't really understand what this is about, or why you're angry, but I love you, and I haven't lied to you, Love.  I swear I haven't.”

“Danny,” Jack said, leaning in and pulling Daniel down to him, temporarily shoving Mr. Jealousy as deep down inside of him as was possible.

Wanting to believe Daniel's words, Jack couldn't think straight.  He desired Daniel desperately, and nothing else mattered at the moment.

Both were big men, and having Daniel on Jack's lap wasn't the easiest thing in the world.  In fact, Daniel didn't do it often, but when he did, Jack loved it.

“Let's go to bed, Jack.”

Without argument, Jack followed Daniel upstairs to their bedroom where they made love and fell asleep.

====

The next day, SG-1 was on downtime.

“Mmm,” Daniel sighed as he awoke atop his Jack pillow.  “Morning.”

“Morning.  Hungry?”

“Coffee.”

“I couldn't have guessed.  I'll get it started,” Jack said, scooting out from under his husband, slipping on his robe, and heading downstairs.

Daniel stretched as he stood up.  He glanced at the mirror, staring at himself.

~You should bring it up.  We need to clear the air, but ... he seems fine this morning, or is it just me hoping he seems fine?~

Daniel sighed and went into the bathroom to take a shower.

====

As the day passed, neither brought up the subject of their fight, or the reason for it.  At the moment, Jack was lounging, playing with the dogs while Daniel was running some errands.  Earlier in the morning, they had dropped Daniel's car off at a repair shop for routine maintenance, so Daniel was driving Jack's truck.

The first stop was to a neighborhood strip mall where Daniel spent about forty-five minutes picking out a new shirt and tie for Jack.  The shirt was a sultry brown silk and the silk tie was brown, matching the shirt perfectly.  Daniel had been in a hurry, as he often was, to get to Jack's skin during the foreplay of a recent lovemaking session and had torn the shirt that Jack was wearing.

Daniel used to worry about his penchant for destroying his lover's clothing, but now, he and Jack laughed whenever it happened.  Plus, it kept Jack's wardrobe fresh and new since Daniel would eventually buy something to replace the torn items.  It made for a nice surprise since Daniel used the opportunity to buy Jack different types of clothing, with varying colors and materials.

Back at the truck, Daniel unlocked the truck locker, put his purchases inside, and then locked it again.  As he went to the front, he stopped, frozen by the door.  Atop the truck hood were a dozen black roses.

Warily, he looked around, but saw nothing unusual.  He picked up the flowers and pulled out the card that was affixed to them:

Danny,

You haven't called.  I miss you.  Don't wait too long.  Call me soon!

Paul

The note sent a cold chill up Daniel's spine.  He again surveyed the parking lot, but saw no sign of Paul Duncan.

~I should call Jack; gawd, I should have told him about this creep from the beginning.~  Still, it wasn't that simple.  Although Jack had his jealousy under control most of the time, Daniel wasn't sure if Jack could handle this and keep his cool, especially not after the fight they had had the night before about Paul Davis.  ~I've made the whole thing worse by not telling you about the first note.  It's my fault; it's always my fault.~

Daniel's guilt kicked into high gear, right along with worry about what Jack might do, and concern about the possibility of running into Paul Duncan, something Daniel did not want to happen.  He reached for the phone to call his husband, but only dialed one digit on his cell phone speed dial.
 
~Jackson, you think too much.  You can't keep running to Jack every time you have a problem.  You're a man; act like one.~

Unsure of exactly what to do, Daniel got in the truck, put the flowers in the front seat, and went about his business.

====

Two hours later, having finished his other errands that included a trip to the post office, getting a new battery for his watch, and doing some grocery shopping, Daniel returned home.

Before going inside the house, he took the flowers around the back and tossed them, along with the card, into the trash can.  He returned to the truck, brought the groceries into the house, and put them away.

Since he didn't see Jack, Daniel figured his lover was either taking a nap or was on the roof deck, so he went to the truck to get the shirt and tie.  He had planned to surprise his soulmate with them later that night and thus, wanted to bring them in the house and hide them.

He was shocked, however, to discover the lock had been broken, and the presents were gone.

~What the heck is going on?~

Daniel closed his eyes.  He had wanted the nightmare of Paul Duncan to disappear without bringing Jack into it, but now, he was running out of options, especially with Jack's truck being damaged.

~How am I going to explain this to you without you leaping to a thousand and one wrong conclusions?~

====

“Hey, why didn't you wake me when you got home?” Jack asked when he came downstairs and found Daniel sitting on the sofa in the living room a short while later.

“Jack, I love you,” Daniel said, staring ahead at nothing.

“I love you, too.”  He paused, but when his lover said nothing else, the older man became uneasy.  ~I don't want to argue with you, and if I say one more word, I will, because it's written all over you, Daniel.  You have a secret: Paul Davis.  You're feeling guilty; that's why you're sitting there, looking like a zombie.  Paul Davis: one of these days, I'm going to break his friggin' neck.~

Jack knew Daniel had lied to him, and he assumed Daniel's proclamation of love stemmed from guilt.  Jack felt like he'd been kicked in the stomach.

~I can see it -- you and ... the major.~  Jack couldn't get the image out of his head: a vivid, sordid picture of Daniel and Paul Davis having sex.  He was sure of it.  ~It's the only explanation for your behavior.~  The images froze in a morbid montage in Jack's mind.  He shook his head, desperately trying to remove the picture.  ~No!  Daniel wouldn't do that to me.  That creep Davis would, but not Daniel.  NO!~

Feeling sick to his stomach, as if about to vomit, Jack went upstairs to catch his breath and try and regain some calm.  He hadn't said a word to Daniel, but had simply fled the room.

Daniel barely registered Jack's exit, continuing to stare at nothing.

====

When Jack walked back downstairs twenty minutes later, Daniel was gone, and, checking the front yard, Jack saw his truck was gone, too.

He didn't want to think about where Daniel had gone, and even though logic dictated that Daniel wouldn't have left for good in Jack's truck, he still couldn't help fearing the worst.

~Were you saying 'good-bye' earlier when you said you loved me?~

Jack couldn't stand this feeling of helplessness and wanted to occupy his mind with something else, even if only for a few minutes.

He decided to do a bit house cleaning and started by emptying the kitchen trash.  He took the white plastic garbage bag outside and opened the big, black trash receptacle.  He was about to drop the bag into the can when his hand froze.

There, lying on top of the garbage, was a bouquet of black roses. His breath caught in his throat as he saw the card.  Slowly picking it up, he forced himself to read it.  He sank down to the ground, Bijou and Katie running to his side when he did so.

“Not now, Girls,” Jack said as he shooed them away.

The two beagles trotted off, settling by their doghouse, but they were concerned, worried frowns on their faces.  Both sensed things were not right in their happy home.
 
Jack was so caught up in his jealousy, that it never occurred to him to wonder why Daniel would dispose of incriminating evidence of an affair in their own garbage can.  The flowers were still fresh, but overtaken by the green-eyed monster, Jack's common sense had gone out the window.

In his mind, Daniel had lied and was having an affair with Major Paul Davis.  In his mind, Daniel was flaunting it, taunting Jack.  In his mind, Daniel's lovemaking last night had been a farewell.  It didn't have to make sense; jealousy rarely did.

====

Daniel pulled out his credit card to pay for the repair of truck locker.

He had been about to tell Jack what had happened, but by the time he came out of his self-imposed fog on the living room sofa, Jack had gone upstairs.  Daniel figured it had been a message, a sign of sorts, that he needed to take charge and handle things himself.  That's why he had left the house without saying anything.

With the lock paid for, Daniel climbed into the truck and decided to go for a drive afterwards.  He needed time to think, and a leisurely drive through some of the more scenic parts of Colorado Springs gave him time to do so.  It worked so well that he lost track of the time.

It was a little after 5 p.m. when he arrived back at the house.  He was angry at himself because he had completely forgotten about picking up his own car, so now they'd have to figure out a way to get it tomorrow during work hours.  Jack would be angry about that, too, and Daniel sighed, figuring the argument he was trying to avoid would happen anyway.

“Jack?” Daniel called out.  He heard nothing in response, and, not seeing his lover anywhere downstairs, he went upstairs to the master bedroom.  “No.”

Daniel stood frozen as he saw a note affixed to Jack's pillow.  For two minutes, he couldn't move.  He feared the worst as his beating heart thundered inside his chest.  Swallowing to bring himself back to life, he finally willed his legs to move.  Reaching the bed, he stared down at the piece of paper for another few minutes.  The dread within him was so huge that it was consuming every part of the archaeologist.  His palms began to sweat from the fear, but finally, he picked up the note and read it:

D.

The general called.  Some Pentagon mess.  Just what we don't need right now.  They're sending a car.  No contact number.  Sorry.  Hate that.  Hate not saying goodbye.  I do love you, D.

J.

Daniel felt a relief surge through him and released a breath he hadn't realized he was holding.  Though still confused about many things, he was grateful that at least their nation of two still existed.

~You didn't leave me.~  He sank down onto the bed, the note clenched between his fingers.  “Gawd, Jack, I thought ... don't leave me, Jack.  I love you so much.  I don't know what's happening with us lately, but we have to figure this out.~  He doubted Jack could hear him, but just in case, he spoke to his lover in their special communication.

**I love you, Jack.  I love you with all my heart.**

====

The next morning, Daniel went out to the truck and drove to the SGC.  At lunchtime, Sam drove him to the repair shop where he picked up his car.  She returned to the SGC, and Daniel drove his car home.  He had a few things he was going to do there before getting a cab back to the Mountain so that he could drive Jack's truck back home that night.

Daniel stepped up to the front porch and cringed.  There was a small box in the mailbox with his name on it.  He recognized the writing.

Daniel took the package into the house and opened it.

~Sick; he's sick~

A chill ran up his spine that caused him to physically shake in fear.  He closed his eyes in an attempt to calm himself.  He had to stay in control.

Quickly, he closed the box back up, walked to the fireplace, started a fire, and tossed the box and its contents in it.  He tried desperately to forget the words of the note:

Danny,

Why haven't you called me?  Don't you remember how good we were for each other?  I want to touch you.  Wear this, and call me ... soon.  

Paul

Daniel's breathing became rapid with alarm as he watched the blue G-string burning in the fireplace.  He didn't move until every cinder was nothing but ash, and he could be certain that there wasn't a trace of the item left.  He wondered how delusional Paul Duncan was if he thought they'd had a relationship in the past.

~We weren't good together; we weren't anything together.  Just leave me alone!~

====

Two and a half hours later, an airman picked Daniel up and drove him to Cheyenne Mountain.  Daniel had been a little surprised at himself for making the call to the SGC rather than simply catching a cab, but he knew Jack would have been angry if he hadn't.  That is, if Jack had known what was happening, if Jack had been here.

Daniel sighed as he signed back into the SGC.  He missed his soulmate.  He needed him, and at the same time, he didn't know how to explain what was happening.  How could he, when he wasn't sure himself?  Paul Duncan gave Daniel an awkward feeling -- ~the creeps~ and he wished he had never met the man in the first place.

====

Somewhere in the world, far away from Colorado Springs, Jack was following orders when he saw Major Paul Davis holding something in his hand.  Jack wasn't aware that Paul was part of this scenario he'd been ordered to proceed with.  He had only a few minutes before his orders would take him away from his current location, but he took full advantage of those minutes, following Paul Davis to a phone booth where Davis made a call.

~Okay, Davis, let's see what you're up to.~  The major was ... grinning.  ~Blushing?  Why?  Who are you talking to?~  The man was also still holding the item in his hand.  Jack covertly tried to go for a different angle.  As he got closer, Jack's jaw dropped as he realized Paul was holding a gold wedding band.  ~I *am* going to kill him.~

The only part of the conversation Jack heard was the last few lines Major Davis spoke.

“It's definitely been too long, but this makes up for it ... <pause> ...  Me, too ... <pause> ... I'm glad you decided now.  He'll understand ... <pause> ... Can't wait to see you again.  I'll be there in a couple of days; wish it could be sooner ... <pause> ... I love you, too.”

Jack's fist tightened.  He was again convinced Daniel was deceiving him.  Jack could feel his anger building, his chest was pounding.  He so often “bellowed” or teased about wanting to kill someone, but right now, if given the chance, he feared he might actually kill Paul Davis where he stood.

Jack's gut was a mess, his insides a twisted mass of anger and despair.  Daniel had changed his life.  He'd left genuine hatred behind years ago.  Daniel had been responsible for the change, had given Jack a reason to believe in people, to believe in Daniel.  Intellectually, Jack knew his jealousy was a problem.

He remembered when he had actually called in a favor and had the major transferred to Elmendorf for a while after the Replicator incident, though eventually, Daniel convinced him he didn't need to be jealous.

“But don't I?  You're lying to me, Danny,” Jack whispered, as his body ached from the phone conversation he had overheard.  ~Ring?  You're leaving me, aren't you, Danny?  That's the truth.~  Jack closed his eyes. He had to go.  Duty was beckoning.  “Duty?” Jack scoffed.

He didn't care about duty at the moment, but he did care about Daniel.  He needed Daniel.

Jack had to try and control this feeling.  No matter what Daniel might have done, Jack couldn't bear the thought of losing him.  He struggled in his mind, trying to balance his fury and rage with his unending love.  He knew he had to decide which was more important, killing Paul Davis, or showing Daniel just how much he loved, wanted, and needed him.  Daniel had forgiven so much, maybe now, Jack could forgive Daniel.

Jack cursed as he left the area to follow his orders.  He had to decide.  His life was at stake, the decision to live or die would have to be made soon.

====

That night, Daniel was asleep on the sofa, Katie on his abdomen, and Bijou standing watch at Daniel's feet.  Unless Jack was around, Bijou always watched Daniel closely, especially if he was asleep.  It was something she had started the first time he had been abducted from their home.

At 9 p.m., Bijou began to growl fiercely.  She nudged at Daniel's leg, her barks waking both Daniel and Katie.  After a few moments, Katie also began to snarl, and both dogs ran to the front door.

Daniel's pulse quickened.

“Bijou, Katie, come here.”  The two dogs returned to Daniel, Bijou still growling towards the door.  “Stay,” Daniel ordered as he cautiously headed for the door.

Jack and Daniel had a security system now, a very sophisticated one, and Daniel could see it was still operating.  He heard another growl and noticed Bijou had moved to his side.

“Bijou,” he whispered, but Bijou stood her ground.  “Don't you know how to take orders?” Daniel asked.

The mama beagle gave him a look that seemed to say, “Yes, about as well as you do.”

Daniel gave her a sideways glance and shook his head.  He slowly reached towards the doorknob, silently undoing the chain and dead-bolt locks.  He took a deep breath, and with a deep resolve, very quickly pulled open the door, causing Jack to go flying through the door, pushing against Daniel who fell back to the floor with Jack completely on top of him.

They both looked at each other, totally stunned.  Daniel had been scared to death, afraid to breathe.  The two men stared at each other, and suddenly both began to laugh hysterically, and once they did, both Bijou and Katie began to jump on them, garnishing the two with a rash of kisses.

“Geez, Danny, that was quite a welcome,” Jack said as he leaned down to kiss his lover.  Daniel's hands wrapped around Jack's neck, and he pulled Jack into him, kissing him again like there was no tomorrow. “Danny, are you are okay?”

Jack's jealousy and anger about Paul Davis had been shelved.  He had worked hard during his flight home to get his 'green eyes' to remember that Daniel was head over heels in love with him.  They had gotten married and gone on a glorious honeymoon.  There had to be a rational explanation for the note, flowers, and overheard conversation.

Jack had taken a deep breath by the time the airman had dropped him off at their home, Jack's 'green eyes' safely brown again.

Daniel could sense the difference in his husband.  There was warmth in his eyes again.  They were chocolate brown and shining, not cold steel. They spoke of love and unity.  Daniel's heart beat happily for the first time in quite a while.

“I am now,” he spoke softly.  “I missed you so much, Jack.”

“Missed you, too, Love.  I hated leaving the way I did.”

“Jack, I need to tell you something.”

“Now?  Maybe we should ...”

Jack was interrupted when Bijou began growling again, and this time, it was even more ferocious than before.  She ran out the front door, full speed ahead.

“JACK!  BIJ ... WE HAVE TO GET HER.”

Jack got up as quickly as he could.  He figured Bijou would be out on the grass and didn't quite understand Daniel's panic, but he also wasn't going to take any chances.  He'd heard the worried tone and knew that Daniel was dead serious with his concern.  Jack moved quickly; Daniel was right behind him.

“BIJOU!” Daniel hollered, anxiety welling up inside him as he called for the beagle.

Jack heard panic, and fear, in Daniel's voice.  He had definitely missed something, and he was going to find out what just as soon as Bijou was back in tow.

“Bij!” Jack called out.  “BIJOU!”

Hearing the commotion, little Katie ran out of the house after Jack and Daniel and now ran frantically in front of the two men.

“GAWD, JACK, KATIE!”

Jack had never heard Daniel so undone, and that made him feel unusually panicked.  They ran, following Katie's lead.  Five blocks later, they both stopped, breathing hard from their sprint.  Katie stood by Bijou who whimpered as she held up her left paw.

“Bijou,” Daniel said gently as he lifted up their baby.

Jack picked up Katie, calming her with soothing strokes.

“Is she all right, Danny?”

“I don't know,” Daniel responded tentatively.

“Danny, let's get back to the house and check her out.”

Daniel nodded and headed towards their house.  As they walked carefully with their children, thinking only of their beagles, Jack noticed Bijou suddenly grew restless and began to growl a little.  Daniel quieted her with a small, gentle voice.

Jack noticed the old dark Buick that had passed them, driving very slowly down the street.  He turned and looked at the car, but then the driver picked up speed and disappeared after making a left turn.  He couldn't make out a license plate, but Jack made a mental note about the car.  His focus, however, was now back on his family and making sure they were safe.

====

Back inside their house, Jack locked the doors as Daniel sat on the couch with the dogs.  Next, Jack went to a locked cabinet and opened it.  He did a check of the items he removed and walked quietly to Daniel.

“Danny, take this.”

Daniel's eyes widened with alarm.

“I'm going to check the house.  We left the door wide open.  Take it, Danny.”  Daniel carefully took the gun.  “Safety's on.  Be right back.”

Jack checked every inch of the house.  He thoroughly investigated the backyard, including the roof deck, and, remembering what had happened to Jeff Cornell, he even went inside the doghouse.  He again checked the outside of the house, and this is when he noticed a package sitting on the front porch.

“House is clear,” Jack said as he put the pistol he had armed himself with back in the cabinet.

He took the gun he had left with Daniel and put it down next to him on the small table that sat next to his armchair.  He smiled as he watched Daniel tending to the girls, still trying to reassure them.  Still, Jack's eyes were roaming the house and yard behind him.  He was on alert, thus the reason for the gun still being out.

“Daniel, there was a package on the porch.  It has your name on it.”

Daniel looked over at the package, recognized the writing, and said coldly, “Throw it away, Jack.”

“Don't you think we should open it?”  Daniel shook his head.  ~Why not?~  “I think we should.  Is that okay?”

Daniel nodded, saying, “I don't care what you do with it.”

“How's Bij?” Jack asked as he examined the package.

“I think she just stepped on a twig or something when she was running.  She's okay,” Daniel answered, holding the precious dog to his face.  “Oh, Bij,” he said softly, overwhelmed with love and concern for the oldest of the two dogs.

Jack knew Daniel wasn't going to be able to keep the tears back.  He forgot about the package and moved over to the couch, picking up Katie so she could sit on his lap as Daniel held Bijou.

Jack leaned into Daniel and kissed his cheek, and then put his arm around him, holding him as closely as he could.

“They're okay, Love, and so are you; that's all that matters.”

“I need to tell you something, Jack,” Daniel sniffled out in the softest voice Jack had ever heard.

“It can wait, Angel.  I love you.  C'mere, Danny.”

Jack wasn't ready to have Daniel tell him about his affair with Paul Davis.  It was too soon.  He needed more time to prove to Daniel that their love was forever, that it was unconditional, that they'd survive, better and stronger than before.  He had to show Daniel that Paul Davis could never love Daniel the way Jack loved him, so completely, so much so that he would die if he lost him.

Jack shifted slightly and made it so that Daniel's head nestled into his shoulder.  His arms surrounding his spouse, Jack kissed the top of Daniel's hair.

“I love you, Danny.  Love you so much.”  ~I'm not going to lose you.  I won't.~

“Jack, I think she's okay, but ...”

“I'm on it, Love.  Be right back,” Jack said, reluctantly getting up to make a phone call.

====

“Thanks, Pam for coming by so late.  We just panicked.”

“Not a bad thing, Colonel, but the limp is temporary.  I think Doctor Jackson was right.  She probably stepped on something.  Have a good night, what's left of it anyway.”

“Make sure you double the bill, Pam.”

The veterinarian laughed as she retorted, “Don't you mean triple it, Colonel?”

“With a fee like that, we need to be on a first name basis.  Call me Jack,” he said as he groaned and waved good-bye, hearing her chuckle as she got into her car.

Jack waited a minute, closing the door after the thirty-something blonde drove away in her Toyota.

“Jack, I want them to stay in the house tonight,” Daniel said as he watched the two dogs on the back lawn.

Katie was playing with a toy while Bijou was limping around, deciding where to relieve herself at the moment.

Jack put his arms around Daniel's waist.  They sat quietly for a couple of minutes.

“Danny, I think we ...”

“Maybe we should open the package now,” Daniel said, sensing Jack's thoughts.  “Bijou, Katie, in the house,” Daniel commanded.

Jack knew Daniel would be watching their girls closely for the next few days at the very least.  Truth be told, so would he.

====

Back in the house, Jack locked the back door.  He also put the second pistol back in the gun cabinet.

“You open it, Jack.”

Daniel stood, staring at the fireplace while Jack opened the box and examined the gift.  He was seated in his leather armchair.

“Danny, I don't know what this is.  It's some ... artifact,” Jack said, shrugging as he looked inside the box.

Daniel turned and walked over to the item.  Shaking his head as he stared at it, he began to breathe hard.

“Danny?”

Jack sensed his husband's alarm.  He saw Daniel's eyes widen and the surprised look on his face.

“Is there a card?”

Jack found the card and extended his hand out so Daniel could take it, but the younger man shook his head and motioned for Jack to read it.

Danny,

You still haven't called.  I've been waiting.  I need you.  Thought you might like this.  It's a symbol of my life.  Don't you remember how good we were, Danny?  I don't understand why you haven't called.  Don't you remember the last time we saw each other and how good it was?  Call me, Danny.  I'm getting impatient.

Paul

Disregarding the irrationality and illogical scenario, Jack's jealousy got the best of him again.

“Paul Davis?  I'll kill him,” Jack said, angrily standing and walking a few steps towards his husband.  “I knew it; I knew it all the time.  I tried to convince myself that I was wrong; tried to tell myself that I was being paranoid, that maybe you were the victim in all of this.  Crap, you friggin' lied to me, Daniel, and now I know what he was talking about for sure.  How long?”

Daniel was wondering what had happened to the man he loved, the one who had so tenderly held him only minutes before, sharing his worry about their beagles, and had spent the last couple of hours reassuring him how much he loved him.

Jack was just warming up.  He wanted answers, and he wanted them now.

“Helluva way to say the honeymoon's over, isn't it?  Come on, Daniel.  Don't stand there like a fish.  At least have the guts to tell me what I already know.  Tell me ... NOW, BLAST IT!”

Daniel closed his eyes.  He couldn't deal with Jack's anger at the moment.  He was as close to falling apart as he had ever been.  If he lashed back at Jack now, when Jack was so full of rage, they might never find their way back, so the younger man chose to ignore Jack's anger, for the moment.  Calling upon all his restraint, Daniel spoke calmly.

“Not Paul Davis, Paul Duncan.  I was in a study group he was in back at Oxford.  Gawd, Jack, I was only in that group for a few weeks.  I had forgotten why I quit.  He kept following me.  He was like ... obsessed.  The other night, going to the hockey game, I saw him.”

“At the game?”  ~Crap, O'Neill.  You've overreacted ... again.~

“It sounds so juvenile, but he gives me the creeps, Jack.”

Daniel was visibly shaking, and Jack wasted no time walking over and embracing him.  Daniel's words, tone, and trembling body had once again quelled Jack's jealousy.  Instead, Jack was silently berating himself for losing his focus, for letting jealousy interfere in his life.

“I ran out of gas, just like I told you,” Daniel explained.  “I was waiting for the road service, and then he was just there.  He put gas in the car.  Gawd, Jack, he must have followed me to the game and stuck the note on the car ... and ... and I don't know.  Jack, he must have followed us home.”

“Danny, there's more, isn't there?”  Daniel nodded against Jack's shoulder, and suddenly pieces started to fit together.  “Danny, what happened yesterday?”

“He must have followed me.  I went to the mall, and when I came out, there were ... flowers, a dozen black roses and a card.  I threw them away; and today ... when I came home at lunch, there was a smaller package.”

Jack felt Daniel tense, his trembling increased.

“I'm here, Love.  Whatever this idiot thinks he's doing, we'll get him to stop.  What was in the package?”  Daniel hesitated.  “Danny?”

“G-string.  Gawd, Jack, it was this ... little blue G-string and some note about wanting to ... touch me.”

Jack was back to wanting to murder Paul, only now, his attention was with the 'right' Paul.  The man would pay for hurting Daniel and their precious pups.

“Danny.  I'm so sorry I was jealous.  I'm so stupid sometimes.  Crap, you've been going through this alone.  Why didn't you tell me?”

“At first, I thought he'd just go away.  I didn't want to think about him, Jack.  In college, he was ... overtly attentive.  I'd wiped it out of my mind.”

“Did he hurt you?”

Daniel shook his head as he replied, “No, I ... left the study group.  He kept calling me.  He ... he ...”

“You don't have to talk about it now if you don't want to, Love.”

“He didn't do anything.  He didn't have the chance, but he wanted to, Jack.  He found me in the library one night, late, but someone walked in, and I left while they were talking to him.  Then, he just disappeared. I never saw him again until that night on the highway.”

Jack gave his quivering lover time to calm himself.

“Is that what you were going to tell me earlier?”

“Yes, and yesterday, but you went back upstairs, but then, I figured out what to do. I just didn't want you to get involved if you didn't have to.”

“Danny, we have things to talk about later, when this nightmare is over, but right now, two big things.  First, I hope you know that I love you, and that I know how crappy I've been treating you, and I'm sorry, which doesn't mean much, but I hope it's a start.

“And second, we are so going to have it out about that last comment of yours.  We don't hold back stuff like that from each other, ever.  I know.  You don't have to say it.  I bellow and threaten a lot ... and I will protect my family, which you know, and that's part of the problem.  You want to protect me from doing something rash, but don't you see, Love, hiding the truth only makes things worse?

“Our strength is our togetherness.  We're unbeatable together, remember?  Geez, Danny, I've been imagining all sorts of things; things I hate myself for even thinking about.  You should have told me.”

Daniel knew Jack was right, but he was an adult.  Jack was always fixing things; he wanted to fix this himself, and keep Jack safe at the same time.

“I thought I could handle it, that he'd get the message and leave us alone.  I love you, Jack, and you're right; I should have told you.  I guess I wasn't thinking straight.  I'm so sorry.”

Daniel hadn't said he forgave Jack for being the royal jerk he had been, but Jack also knew that Daniel would, eventually.  After a moment, Jack asked as he motioned to the strange artifact.

“Danny, what is this thing?”

“It's an artifact.  Jack ...”  Daniel pulled back and looked his spouse directly in the eye.  “That ... artifact ... was stolen two years ago from an exhibit in Philadelphia.  How could he get this?  How do we give it back without drawing attention to ourselves and how we acquired it?”

Daniel was distraught, so Jack pulled him back into his embrace and whispered, “I'll take care of it.  Everything's gonna be okay, Danny.  I promise.  It's time to let me take over.  Can you do that?”

Daniel nodded and buried his head in Jack's shoulder.  He was so tired; he just wanted the nightmare to go away.

~Fix it, Jack.~

====

The next three days were pretty normal with no sign of Paul Duncan.  The dogs had been kept in the house, even when Jack and Daniel had been away from home.  It was either that, or not go out at all.  Daniel had been too worried about the girls to take chances, and while Jack gave off that air of 'anything to make Daniel happy', he was equally concerned and more than willing to let the dogs stay in anytime they were gone.

On the fourth day, Jack and Daniel spent a quiet evening in front of the fire.  Daniel had been rather quiet.  Even though Paul Duncan hadn't reared his ugly head, Daniel felt like he was being watched, and it made him very uneasy.

“Soon, Love, we're going to get away for the weekend, maybe go to the cabin, or I know a little place a couple of hours from here.  And before you say anything, we can take the girls with us.”

Daniel relaxed, unaware he had tensed at the thought of leaving the dogs behind.

“I'd like that.”

====

SG-1 was seated in the conference room when General Hammond entered, Major Paul Davis behind him.  Jack immediately bristled at the entrance, but managed to hold back the desire to strangle him.  Even though he knew the source of their current trouble was Paul Duncan and not Paul Davis, Jack's Mr. Jealousy was oversensitive where the major was concerned.  He was certain that given the chance, Paul Davis would pounce on Daniel.

“Major Davis will be joining us for a few days as we proceed with this mission.”

Jack didn't hear much more of what the general said.  He was too busy watching the major watching Daniel.  Jack's mind rewound to the conversation he had overheard.  He glanced at Daniel who was focused on Hammond, but when Jack looked at Paul Davis, the major was again looking at Jack's spouse.

“What's so fascinating, Major?” Jack blurted out in command tone.

“Colonel O'Neill,” the general barked.

Jack had interrupted the general mid-sentence.  Daniel was staring at Jack, as were Sam and Teal'c.  Major Davis was looking at the general.

“Colonel, would you care to explain why you interrupted me?”

“No, Sir.  I apologize, General.  Just wondering what the major finds so fascinating over here.”

Jack was glaring at Major Davis, and that fact didn't get by the general.

“Colonel, my office, now.”  Jack rose and followed Hammond into his office like the naughty schoolboy being called to the Principal's Office. “Alright, Jack, what was that about?”

“Nothing, Sir.”

“Jack, I'm ordering you to answer my question.”

Jack drew a deep breath.  He knew Hammond wouldn't back down, so either he was going to, or end his career on the spot.

“Sir, with all due respect, if I did that, I would have to ... retire.”

Hammond slammed some papers down onto his desk.

“Jack, what you do in your private life is your own business, but as long as you are my second-in-command and the leader of an SG team, you will act appropriately, and that means keeping your ... problems ... to yourself while on duty.  Is that clear, Colonel?”

“Yes, Sir.”

====

After the rather tense briefing finally concluded, Daniel went to Jack's office and locked the door.  He used the remote Sam had given them to turn off the security equipment.

“Jack, what was that about?”

“What was what about?” Jack responded harshly.

“Jack ...”

“What do you want me to say?”

“The truth?  Is that so hard?”

“YES, WHEN YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IT IS!”

Jack was shouting, his blood boiling over in jealousy.  He thought he had it under control, but he was wrong.  Daniel hadn't done anything during the briefing; it was Paul Davis who had been focused on Daniel, not the other way around.  Yet, Jack's jealousy made him doubt everything that he normally knew and trusted.

“You don't know what, Jack?”

“You're the genius, Daniel.  Do you really need me to spell it out?”

“Yes, Jack, I do.  You tell me what truth has you so upset.”

“Truth?  You want it, Dannyboy, you can have it *and* your Paul Davis. I know what's going on.”

“Paul?”

Daniel was bewildered by Jack's resumed obsession with Paul Davis, especially since they had discussed the real problem, and Daniel had told Jack about Paul Duncan.  Jack had even told him about finding the note while doing the laundry.  In fact, the older man had apologized and said repeatedly that he was sorry.  Nothing made sense to Daniel.

“Yes, Daniel, Paul!  You don't have to cover up any more with some ridiculous story.  You want to make me look like an idiot?  Well, good, you did.  I fell for it, all of it.”

~Fell for it?~  Daniel was frozen, in limbo between wanting to cry and wanting to kill Jack.  He was hurt, and he was furious that his lover would think he'd make up such a story about Paul Duncan.  “You fool.  You great big, ignorant fool.  I told you the truth.  Why would I lie, Jack?  How could you even think it?”

Daniel's last sentence had been spoken quietly, almost in a whisper, his hurt so great within him.

“I heard him, Daniel.  I heard him talking to you on the phone, and I saw him holding the wedding band, and we know how much you love those.”

“I have no idea what you're talking about.”

“Stop it, Daniel.  Stop the lies.  He couldn't take his eyes off of you in that room.  He stared at you from the moment he walked in the room.”

“No, he didn't.”

“Yes, he did.”

“So what?  What if he did?  I wasn't looking at him.  He's a friend, Jack, but I'm not in love with him.”

“So it's what ... just sex?  Great, that makes me feel better.”

~Sex?  He thinks I've actually had sex with Paul?~  “Jack, you're out of control, and you owe Paul ... Paul Davis, an apology, and you'd better get your act together, or ... or ...”

“... or what?  What are you going to do that you haven't already done?”

“You really think I made that up about Paul Duncan, don't you?”

“I know what I heard, Daniel.”

“Well, I don't, because it wasn't me you heard.  How could you think that, Jack?  How?”

“It doesn't matter anymore.”

“You are so full of it.  Tell me what it is that you think I've done.”

“No.”

“Why not, Colonel?  Can't take the truth, the truth being that you've just turned yourself into a circus clown?  The truth that you've just made a joke out of what was the most beautiful thing in our ... my life?  Shove your denial, Jack.  You can't handle the truth, and you are so wrong, because you don't have a clue what the truth is.”

Daniel's furor was at its peak, his face red from all the emotions of the prior week.  Jack was equally angered.  His blood pressure was dangerously high, the vessels in his neck bulging as he shouted.

“Mister Moral Right talking to me about truth?  Great, just great.”

“You still haven't told me this truth of yours, Jack, though I can guess, but I want to hear you say it.  C'mon, Jack.  Say it.  Speak your fabled truth, if you have the guts to.”

“Forget it,” Jack said heading for the door, but Daniel flung out his arm and grabbed hold of the fleeing colonel, and in reflex, Jack turned and punched him, sending Daniel flying backwards across the room.  

Daniel crashed into the wall, smashing a shelf, the items on it falling to the ground.  Slowly, Daniel slid down the wall.

“Danny,” Jack gasped and cried at the same time, running to his fallen spouse.  

The image of his lover sailing across the floor at his hand had sobered Jack back to reality.  He had been the fool that Daniel had just accused him of being.  How could he ever repair their marriage?  How could Daniel forgive him for this?  Even Jack knew he had crossed the line.

“Gawd, Danny, I'm so sorry.”

Daniel had been knocked unconscious for a second, and Jack     started to get up to call Janet.  Before he could dial the extension, however, Daniel had come to, reached out with his hand, and stopped him.

“Leave her out of this.”

Daniel's eyes were cold and his voice low.  He staggered upwards, refusing Jack's quest to help him.

“Danny.”

“Leave me alone, Jack.  Just ... leave me alone.”

“I can't, Danny.  I love you, and I'm sorry.”

“Sometimes, Jack, sorry doesn't cut it.”

Daniel gingerly headed towards the door, but Jack darted in front of him, taking hold of his unresisting lover.  Jack didn't know what else to do.  If Daniel walked out the door, Jack feared he would lose him forever, and if that happened, Jack would lose his life.  In desperation, he did the one thing he could think of that might work.  He pulled Daniel into an embrace.

Daniel hadn't backed away, but he wasn't holding Jack, either.  It was like he was numb, just standing in place.

“Let me go.”

“Never.  Told you, Danny, never letting you go.  Can't let you go; I can't.”

Jack held on for dear life and issued a silent prayer to the heavens that Daniel find that unending well of forgiveness that he seemed to have inside of him.

~Help me.  I messed up.  Please.  He's always so forgiving.  Let him forgive me just one more time.  Geez, please.~  “I need you, Danny.  I'm so sorry.  I just got so ... I couldn't see.”

“I didn't lie to you, Jack; I've never lied to you.”

Jack closed his eyes.  Daniel had no emotion in his voice.  The colonel was losing his linguist.  Jack was losing his Danny.  Jack's heart shattered as he held his lover.  He wouldn't let go.  He couldn't.  He knew if he did, it was over.

“I know, Danny.  I get so jealous sometimes.  Major Davis had a ring, and he was talking to someone on the phone, and it just fit together.  And that Duncan character ... he ... hasn't done anything since ... since you told me, and I let my imagination do me in.  I'm so sorry, Danny.”

Daniel laughed, but it was a chilling, eerie release.

“So, you'd rather Paul Duncan do something else so you can, what ... be convinced?  What I said meant nothing?”

“No, Danny.  Gawd, I'm so sorry.  I was wrong.  I was jealous; jealous out of my mind.  I don't know why you love me.  You deserve so much more than I can give you, but you're my heart.  Danny, please forgive me.  Danny ...”

Then, Jack did something he rarely, if ever, did at the SGC, at least not unless Daniel's life was at risk, but he felt his life slipping away; nothing else mattered if Daniel didn't forgive him anyway.  

Holding his heart as close to him as he could, but still getting no response, Jack felt he had lost everything, and all because he had been exactly what Daniel had said he was ... a fool.

Jack broke down and cried, an audible sob pressing into Daniel's ear.  Daniel had seen Jack cry a lot over the years, at home.  He cried over a lot of things that affected their lives.  He didn't like doing it, but with Daniel, he was free to, and sometimes, he just had to release his fears or regrets or sorrows.

They weren't at home now, though, and seeing his lover falling apart, Daniel began to feel again.  It was as if with each tear Jack shed onto his shoulder, another happy memory snapped back into place.

Daniel felt his arms go around Jack, and hold on, and then he rubbed gentle soothing circles on his lover's back and pulled him closer.  As he gave in to his emotion, Daniel cried into Jack's shoulder.  They'd almost lost each other, and that realization hit Daniel in the face, just as sudden and hard as Jack's fist had done a few minutes earlier.

The two sank to the floor, never letting go of each other.

“I love you, Danny.  Please forgive me,” Jack pleaded as they hit the cold floor.

Daniel let out another sob before his response.

“I love you, too, Jack.  That won't ever change, but ... don't ... don't ever do this again.  I ... I can't do this one more time ... can't ... not again.”

“Forgive me, Danny.  Love you, forever, always.  Hey, do you remember what Lisa said at our wedding?”

Lisa was the Marriage Commissioner who had performed Jack and Daniel's wedding last November.  The poignant event had left the couple, and their friends and family in attendance, in tears.  Lisa herself had said some wonderfully insightful words that the newlyweds had sworn never to forget.  Jack now realized, though, that he had temporarily forgotten.

“I guess I ... I forgot.  I forgot to remember what we said, what we promised.  Danny,” Jack sniffled into Daniel's shoulder.

Jack's words were from his heart; the words spoke from his soul, and Daniel heard.  In the moments that followed, Daniel found that well that Jack had prayed was there.  He remembered every word spoken during their celebration ceremony.

In his mind, he replayed Lisa's words about life being a swinging pendulum, with ups and downs.  Daniel closed his eyes picturing Jack's gaze when Lisa had asked them to speak of their love and devotion through their eyes to each other.

~We all make mistakes, and I do love him so much.  He's just protective, and ... gawd, he loves me.~  “I forgive you, Jack.”

Jack cried more than he had before, and they sat there, on the cold floor of Jack's office, for the next hour, just holding each other.  Jack's phone had rung, but he ignored it.  When someone came to the door, Jack yelled, “Go away!”

In fact, even though the door was locked, the lovers had scooted up against the door, leaning against it and into each other.

“Well, this has been an interesting morning,” Jack sniffled out finally.

“I know what you mean,” Daniel said as he searched for tissues in his pockets for the two of them.

“What a pair.”

“All your fault.”

“Yes, it is,” Jack said honestly and sincerely.  “All mine; you can make me pay for the rest of our lives.”

“And I will, too.”

“I'll ... be your slave.  You can order me around.  I don't care, just as long as we're together.”

“Always.”

“Forever, Danny.  Crap, I'm such an idiot.”

“But I love you anyway.”

“Thank heaven for that.”

“Jack, I'm serious.  Please don't do this again.  I just can't, and I ... I won't go through this again.  You've got to get Mr. Jealousy under control.  I love you, only you, and I ... I need you to know that so much that you don't risk ... I ...”

“Shhh,” Jack said as he kissed the top of Daniel's head.  

He felt like a first-class fool.  He had worked years to make Daniel happy, to give him a home, and the freedom to be himself, and what did Jack do, but toss it out the window in the space of an hour.  He would make this up to his Love.  He didn't know how, but a new resolve was building in him, and he knew he was going to have to get over his jealousy of Paul Davis, for his sake, and, more importantly, for Daniel's.

“I'm a fool, Daniel.  I only want for you to be happy, and look at me, I'm the one making you unhappy.”

Daniel pulled away slightly to look at Jack, shaking his head as he did.

“No, Jack.  You've made me so happy.  What doesn't make me happy is when you doubt me or my love for you.  I want you to stop that.  You know better, Jack.  I know you do.  Look at me, Jack.  Hear me.  Please, hear me.”

Tears in their eyes, the lovers leaned their foreheads together.  It was a position that meant unity and oneness for them, and right now, that's what they needed: to make sure each knew that, without a doubt, they were one, a nation of two.  Jack began to nod, and they pulled apart, gazing into each other's eyes.

“I do know, Angel; I know,” Jack spoke, full of regret, but also full of joy of Daniel's love.

“No more?”

“I can't promise to be perfect, but I'm going to keep Mr. Jealousy in check if it kills me.”

“Jack.”

“I know.  *I* know.”  ~I won't be the cause of your unhappiness ever again.  Mr. Jealousy is toast.~

The lovers smiled at each other, and then Jack reached out with his right hand to touch the spot on Daniel's cheek where he had hit him.  It was already bruising.

“Danny, does it hurt?”

“You can make it go away, Jack.”

“Here?”

Daniel smiled.  It was crazy, and wicked, and they were out of their minds.  It was also the perfect thing to get them back on track.  They needed to remind themselves that their hearts and souls were one.  They needed to feel that grounding of their bodies, and how they fused into one being.  They also needed to take the chance, a rebellious declaration that Jack and Daniel are forever and more important than the Air Force or its regulations.

Jack kissed Daniel's bruise.

“Better?”

“A little.”

Jack placed a series of short, sweet kisses all over Daniel's cheek as he lowered him so that he was supine on the floor.  It was cold and hard, but the floor wasn't the only hard object in the room.

“I love you, Danny.”

“Love you, Jack, love you so much.”

====

“Colonel O'Neill, are you in there?”

General Hammond pounded on the door.  He had been trying to call his 2IC for two hours, but had only been able to reach the colonel's voice mail.  Every time he had sent Sergeant Siler or some other personnel to check on Jack, they had come back reporting that the colonel's door was locked and that he had ordered them to, “Go the <expletive> away until further notice.”

“Colonel O'Neill, open this door NOW.”  The door opened, and General Hammond walked in, slamming the door behind him.  “All right, Colonel, just what the blazes is going on?”

Jack snapped to attention as he answered, “It's ... it was a ... personal matter, Sir.”

The general looked over his disheveled 2IC.  His shirt was only partially buttoned, and his hair was visibly a mess.  He glanced across the room and noticed the head of his Archaeology Department was equally unkempt, his arms self-hugging in desperation.  He couldn't recall ever seeing Daniel looking so mussed.  He tried to ignore the fact that Daniel's shirt was hanging out unevenly, and his glasses looked like they were about to fall off.

The general cleared his throat.

“Colonel, can I assume that the ... problem ... with Major Davis has been resolved?”

Daniel adjusted his glasses, then looked to the floor and then the walls, anywhere to avoid looking at Hammond.

“Uh, yes, Sir, completely, Sir; without a doubt.  No question about it ... Sir.”

The general nodded.

“Doctor Jackson?”

“Sir?”

“Major Davis is not a problem?”

“He never was, General,” Daniel said truthfully as he stared at Jack.

“... And Colonel O'Neill?”

“Excuse me?” Daniel asked.

“Is your ... problem with the colonel resolved?”

Daniel smiled.  In fact, he practically radiated joy.

“Oh, yes, definitely.  Everything's ... fine ... perfect ... I mean ... yes, Sir.”

“Does that hurt, Son?”

The general pointed to the bruise, prompting Daniel to raise his arm to rub it gently.

“Not any more, General,” Daniel answered in a light and airy tone, trying unsuccessfully to hide a grin as he recalled how Jack had made it all better.

When the general turned back to face Jack, he saw his 2IC grinning like the Cheshire Cat.  Hammond shook his head.  He so could not think about this.

“Colonel O'Neill, Doctor Jackson, I hereby order you both to ... go home.  Get the heck out of my facility until 0900 tomorrow.  Is that clear?”

Jack's grin increased.  The general glanced towards Daniel and saw that he, too, had an equally huge smile on his face.  The general figured that when the two men arrived home, they would be giving the Spice Channel a run for its money.

“I want both of you off the base immediately ... Oh, but uh, comb your hair, Jack, and button your shirt ... and please tell me, you ...”

“Yes, Sir, anytime Daniel comes ...er, walks into my office ... uh, yes, Sir, it's off.”

General Hammond walked out, wondering if maybe he should simply remove the security cameras completely from Jack's and Daniel's offices.

====

Two more days passed as Jack and Daniel returned to a normal life.  Jack was spoiling Daniel rotten and planned to keep it up for a very long time.  He was extremely grateful that he had fallen in love with a saint with such a big and forgiving heart.  He was a lucky man, and he knew it.

Daniel's frustration was that Jack still didn't seem to realize that he felt exactly the same way about him.

~Someday, Jack, I'm going to convince you that you *are* my life, and that my love for you will never end.  Someday ... just wait and see.~

On the third day after their big fight, Paul Duncan struck again when a package was delivered to Cheyenne Mountain for Daniel.  It was a very small package and was brought in with the rest of Daniel's mail for the day.

Daniel opened it and froze.  It was a gold band, engraved with the words, “Two Hearts Beating As One, Paul and Danny”.

Daniel dropped the ring and backed away, as if the ring were poison.

~I can't believe he followed me to the Mountain.  Why can't he leave me alone?~

He stood there, motionless, for several minutes before walking back to his desk to read the note:

Where are you, Danny?  I'm dreaming of you in me, and me in you.  I know you like it that way.  Are you wearing the G-string?  I can see you in it, filling it out.  I'm going to take it off you soon, and then we'll never be apart.

Call me.

I'm waiting, but I can't wait much longer, Danny.  I'm getting off right now, thinking about you.  Just putting your pretty face in my mind makes me hard.  Danny, soon, very soon.

Call me!

Here's my number.  I know it's engraved on your heart, but sometimes accidents happen.  Maybe that Neanderthal you room with stole my note, and you lost the phone number.  Here it is again, Danny.  No one -- NO ONE  can keep us apart.

Call me, and we'll explode with each other.

Hurry!

Daniel was shaking as he dropped the note, walking backward until he hit one of the shelves.  He stood there, self-hugging, his mind blank as he tuned out the world.

====

Fifteen minutes later, Sam walked in to ask Daniel a question about their current mission.

“Daniel, do you think ...”  Sam stopped her question quickly.  She hadn't seen Daniel look so devoid of life since Hathor, and she immediately rushed over to her dear friend.  “Daniel, what's wrong?  Daniel?”

The young man blinked a few times and shook his head, trying to regain control of himself.  He hadn't moved at all since backing into the shelves.  Finally registering Sam's presence, he took a deep breath and swallowed hard.

“Sam?”

“Daniel, what's going on?”

“Sorry, just thinking, that's all.”

“Tell me what's wrong.  Daniel?” the Air Force major asked skeptically.

“Sam, I'm ... I'm fine, really.  You know how I get, thinking about ... artifacts and stuff.”

“Are you sure?”

Daniel faked a smile and nodded.  Still, Sam wasn't convinced.  She debated pushing the issue, but Daniel wasn't letting her.

“Sam, I have to finish this ...  report.  Can we talk about ... whatever later?”

“Sure, Daniel.  I'll talk to you later.”

Daniel nodded and continued his vigil for a couple more minutes to try and give Sam time to get back to her office.

~I can't let you keep doing this.  Jack, he ... I have to end this ... now!~

His decision made, Daniel walked to the desk, picked up the ring and the note, and left the SGC.  He drove home quickly, exceeding the speed limit most of the way.  When he arrived at the country-style house, he let Bijou and Katie out.  Daniel made sure their dog feeder was full and that they had water.  He played with them for quite a while, and then he let them back into the house.

He walked upstairs, wrote a note, and left it on the bed, just as Jack had left the note for Daniel the previous week.

Then, with a farewell kiss to the beagles, Daniel left the house, determined to bring an end to their nightmare.

====

“Job well done, Colonel,” General Hammond said as they stood at the end of a long meeting with SG team leaders.

“Thank you, Sir.  You know me, I aim to please.”

The general coughed in his response, earning a gentle glare and then a shrug from his 2IC.

“See you tomorrow, Jack.”

“Yes, Sir.  Have fun with Tessa's sleep over.”

The general laughed at the idea of his granddaughter's slumber party that was happening that night at his house being fun.  It would be an experience, a total of fifteen girls attending.

~It's not a sleep over, it's a sorority.~

“Sir,” Sam anxiously approached Jack in one of the SGC hallways.

“Still here, Carter?”

“Sir, is Daniel okay?”

“Carter, I've been in a meeting for three hours.  Daniel is supposed to be in his office looking at rocks.  Please don't tell me he's not.”

“He left, Sir.”

“WHAT?”  Several nearby Marines snapped their heads to look at Jack, who quickly grabbed his 2IC's elbow and pulled her into the closest unoccupied room he could find.  “Carter, don't waste time.  Report.  Now.”

“Sir, about two hours ago I went to Daniel's office to ask him a question about ...  a question.  He was just standing there, like a zombie.  It ... Colonel, it reminded me of Hathor, like he had zoned out, except after a couple of minutes, he sort of snapped out of it, said he was fine, and that he had work to do.  To be honest, I felt he was a little ... off, so I decided to check up on him, and that's when I found out he had left.  Sir, he left just a few minutes after I saw him.”

Jack didn't say a word, but he darted out of the room and ran all the way to the elevator that took him to Level 18, and then he ran straight to Daniel's office.  He looked for anything that was out of place.

Sam ran in a few moments later and watched her CO scanning the office.

“Carter, did you notice anything, anything at all that was out of place?  A package, a letter, anything?”

“There was something on his desk, but I didn't get a good look at it.  I was worried about Daniel.”

“Thank you, Carter.  Have a good night,” Jack said as he walked out of Daniel's office.

“But ...”

“Carter, this has nothing to do with Rittenhouse and that mess.  I have to go.”

Not wanting to even take a few minutes to change, Jack quickly yanked off his SG-1 insignia patches and sped to his house.

~Hang on, Danny, I'm coming.  Don't you dare do anything stupid.~

Jack made the forty-minute drive in just over twenty-five minutes.

====

Everything at the house seemed okay.  Jack briefly acknowledged the dogs and then looked around the house, finally finding Daniel's note on the bed.  It read:

J.

I know you'll be angry, and I'm sorry, but I have to do this.  I want our lives back.  Please don't worry.  You've taught me well!  Take care of the girls, okay?  Please.  

I love you, always and forever.  Never forget that ... the circle of our love ... and just in case, I've never been happier in my life than I have been with you, and I have no regrets, none.

D.

Jack's blood was boiling that Daniel had gone off on his own.  While the sentiment in the note touched his heart, it was something he didn't have time for at the moment.  His breathing was hard, and his eyes were growing expressionless.  Jack, the lover and the spouse, was going to personally strangle his lover when he got him home, but first, Colonel O'Neill, the Special Ops leader, was going to find him and bring him home.

Jack went downstairs, and like Daniel, he took the dogs out so that they could tend to their business.  He saw the feeder had been refilled so he knew Daniel had taken care of them too before he had left.  Jack spent a few minutes with Bijou and Katie.  Daniel would want that, and this he would give, but that was it.

With the girls safely back in the house, Jack opened the locked gun cabinet, taking out his gun and a dagger.  He placed them strategically on his body.

He gave a final glance to the girls.  

“We'll both be home soon,” Jack said with the last smile he would allow until Daniel was back in his arms, safe and sound.

Jack left the house, leaving Bijou and Katie, lying side by side, in the entranceway of their home.  With furrowed brows and worried frowns, they wouldn't rest until Jack and Daniel returned.

====

Now seated in his truck, but still in the driveway of his home, Jack called his 2IC on her cell.

“Hello.”

“Carter, I need your help.”

“Boonie Bear?”

“Who else?  Carter, Boonie's car has a GPS tracking system on it.  I need you to tap into in, and tell me where he is.”

“Sir?  You realize that's ...”

“Carter, would you like to see Boonie alive again?”

The question froze Sam in her spot.

“I'll have the information in five minutes, Sir.  I need the ID information on the car.”

“Thank you, Carter.”

====

Meanwhile, Daniel pulled up to a simple-looking cabin and parked his car.

Two hours earlier, he had called Paul Duncan, arranging to meet him at a cabin the man had rented.  The stalker had been eager, practically salivating over the phone.  Daniel had tried to quash his nausea.

Daniel had wanted to protect Jack.  He had known that if Jack saw the ring and the words written in it, that there would be no way of stopping his husband from going after the madman.  Jack would kill Paul Duncan.  Daniel had known that as well as he knew his own name.

So, to protect his spouse from committing murder, Daniel had decided to take matters into his own hands.

Knowing he had no other options, Daniel got out of his car and headed for the door.

====

Sam successfully tracked Daniel's car to a remote area about two hours outside of Colorado Springs.  She had wanted to provide backup, but not sure what he would find, Jack told her to get a hold of Lou Ferretti or Jeff Cornell, and to wait at a location he specified, which was about ten minutes from the GPS signal.  They were to be ready to move, but were not to approach unless they hadn't heard from Jack by midnight.

Jack regretted that Teal'c had gone off-world to visit Rya'c for the day.  He knew the Jaffa would make mince meat out of Paul Duncan, if given the chance, ~though I have to admit, Big Guy, that by the time I'm through with that maniac, there won't be much left of him for you to handle anyway.~

This was a private matter, and Jack intended to handle it as such, personally drawing the last breath out of Paul Duncan if Daniel even had a single hair out of place.  Jack's heart pounded louder than it ever had before, and he was sure his blood pressure was at an all-time high as he drove.

No matter what, once he got Daniel home, he was going to have it out with him for doing something so idiotic.

~We should have talked about this mess in more detail.  Crap, it's my fault.  I should have known this lunatic wouldn't stop, and I should have made sure Danny was safe.~

The couple had avoided fully discussing the Paul Duncan situation.  They'd wanted to get the nightmare behind them, but as concerned as Jack was, he was also angry -- at himself for not being more vigilant and at Daniel for taking matters into his own hands.

~Who are you kidding, O'Neill?  Yourself, that's who, and you aren't doing a very good job of it.~

Jack mumbled to himself as he drove.  The truth was that Jack also knew his anger would dissolve as soon as he held Daniel in his arms again.  Where Daniel was concerned, the hard-as-nails colonel turned to mush.

~Yep, I’m a big marshmallow, but only for you, Danny~  His anger flared again at the potential of losing Daniel.  “I HATE ANYONE NAMED PAUL,” Jack shouted to the road in front of him in total frustration.

====

Daniel hadn't been able to get Paul Duncan to see reason.  He had talked himself blue in the face trying to get him to understand that there had never been anything between them, and never would be.  The man had invaded Daniel's personal space several times, making Daniel extremely uncomfortable.

To add to Daniel's nervousness, Duncan was wearing the silk shirt and tie Daniel had bought for Jack, the items Duncan had stolen when he had broken into the truck locker.  It was eerie, and Daniel wished he could wipe the last couple of weeks totally out of existence.

“Danny, you know we are meant to be.  It was destiny that brought us together again.  I knew it; I felt it when I saw you at that mall a few weeks ago.  I heard that Neanderthal call you 'Danny'.  I heard him say how beautiful you look in blue.  That's why I sent you the blue G-string.  I've been following you ever since, waiting … waiting for the right time for us to be together again.  When you ran out of gas, I knew that the Fates were giving us our chance to finally be together.  You and me, Danny.”

“You're sick, and don't call me 'Danny'.  My name is Daniel, or can't you remember that?”

“You've learned attitude, and that turns me on big time.”

Paul practically groaned as he stood up and walked towards Daniel.  He reached out and touched Daniel's face, but Daniel backed up, out of the man's reach.

“I told you, *no*.  You have to stop this.  I don't ... love you.  I don't even like you.  You're sick, and you need help.

“You can help me, Danny,” Duncan said lustfully, his eyes darkened from desire.

“Leave ... me alone.”

“You don't really want that, do you, Danny?”

“Pay attention.  My name is Daniel, and I don't really care what you do as long as you leave me and my family alone.”

“Your family, *Danny*,” the man said, emphasizing the use of the nickname.  “You mean that Air Force dude?  He's no good.  He just broke you in.  I knew you wanted me back at Oxford.  I saw it.  I felt it.  I knew you couldn't be straight.”

“No, Paul.  I never even knew I ... I mean, I didn't ... No, you're wrong.”

“But I'm not.”

Duncan tried to kiss Daniel, but Daniel ducked and pushed him away.

“Stay away from me,” Daniel pleaded, adding a bit more distance between him and the aggressor.

“No, I think not.”  His irrationality becoming more evident, the stalker moved quickly into Daniel's personal space and brandished his knife in front of the archaeologist.  “You belong to me, Danny.  I'm going to make you feel so good, so warm inside.  Are you wearing the G-string I gave you?”

Duncan's hand moved towards Daniel's groin, but Daniel tried to angle his body away from the madman.  “Stay away from me,” he repeated.

“Never!” Paul Duncan said as he lunged towards Daniel.

Daniel resisted, and a fight ensued.  The archaeologist tried to use all the skills Jack had taught him, but Paul Duncan was very strong, and he was crazy; strength and craziness were often a lethal combination.

The struggle continued until the man placed the knife at Daniel's throat, stilling Daniel's movements.

“You're such a fighter, Danny.  I like that.  Nothing gets me more excited.  This is going to be a night to remember.”

The madman forced Daniel into the tiny cabin bedroom where he tied Daniel's hands behind his back.  When the man turned to get something, Daniel tried to run, but Duncan tackled him to the floor.

“Ah, yes, that's how to do it.  Make me want it even more.  Can't wait any longer.  Waited for you for so long.”

Duncan again leaned over to kiss Daniel, but the young man kept turning his face to try and avoid the connection.

“No more waiting, Danny.  You're mine now.”

====

The time was 9:45 p.m. when Jack turned off the ignition to the truck, having parked about a quarter mile from the GPS signal.  It was a densely wooded area.  Jack double-checked his equipment and went in search of his husband.

He found Daniel's car, locked, alarm system on, and nothing out of place.  It was in front of a small log house.

Jack moved quietly to the cabin to survey the situation, kneeling by a side window.  As he looked in, he heard voices, but they weren't coming from the main room.  He went to the back of the cabin, looking in through the rear window.

His heart pounded, his blood raged with anger, and his pulse raced from what he saw.  The image prompted Jack the man and Jack the Special Ops officer to both disappear.  In their place was the Black Ops specialist, and it was he who saw Daniel lying supine on the wood floor, his hands tied behind his back, a line of blood running down the side of his mouth from his struggle with the madman.  Sitting on top of Daniel was a man Jack assumed was Paul Duncan.

To Duncan's right, was a long, very shiny dagger.  Jack could just barely make out their words.

“This is going to be good, Danny.  You're so pretty.  You cut your hair, though.  You shouldn't have done that, but you're still pretty.  We're going to get down and dirty, Danny ... now.”

“No, leave me alone!”

Daniel tried to kick the man off of him, but his legs were pressed down, and the only part of him that he could move were his hips.

“Yes, that's the idea.  That old Air Force boy must have taught you well. It's time for the master, Danny.  We're going to be so good together.”

Duncan unsnapped Daniel's pants as he leaned forward and kissed Daniel's neck.  Daniel tried again to push him away.

“I love it.  Yes, oh, yes, keep fighting me,” Duncan gasped, getting an unnatural 'high' from Daniel's struggle.

In a flash, the man unzipped Daniel's pants.  He started to lean over, intending to pull out and swallow Daniel's shaft.

The sound of a creaking floorboard interrupted Duncan's plans, and like a whip, the man grabbed his knife, did a one-eighty, and flung the weapon through the air.  Jack zagged just in time, the knife narrowly missing his flesh, but carrying the material of his black shirt with it as it plunged into the edge of the doorway.  Essentially, Jack had just been affixed to the wall, the sharp blade stabbing his shirt into the wood.

“JACK!” Daniel cried out.

Duncan got up and charged forward, but Jack tore the material just in time to duck out of the way.  He rolled over onto the floor and fired his gun, relieved when his adversary fell to the ground.  Carefully, Jack approached and tapped on the man's shoulder.  There was no response.

“Jack,” Daniel called out.

Convinced Duncan was out for the count, Jack quickly moved to Daniel's side, kneeling down on one knee.

“Danny, so help me when we get home, you are going to get the lecture of your life for at least a week.”

“Promise?” Daniel asked vulnerably as he also blinked.

Jack had resurfaced, and he placed his left hand on Daniel's cheek.  Daniel leaned into it and moaned in relief and comfort in response to the touch.

“I promise.”  Daniel turned, giving Jack access to his hands so he could untie them, and as he did so, Jack tucked his pistol into his pants.  “Did he hurt you, Danny?”

Unfortunately, Daniel didn't have time for a response.  Jack had barely begun to untie his lover when he was suddenly hit from behind.  Paul Duncan had just thrust a lamp against the back of the Air Force colonel's head, forcing Jack to tumble onto the floor.  Duncan pulled the cord of the lamp around Jack's neck, trying to choke him.

“JACK!” Daniel cried out again in frustration, helplessness, and, truth to be told, mostly in fear.

He looked for something to help and saw Duncan's knife nearby.  The archaeologist stood up and moved quietly to the wall where the blade was impacted into the wall  He couldn't afford to be detected and knew he needed to remain calm to complete his task.

Jack's hands automatically reached up to his throat.  He desperately tried to get his fingers between the cord and his neck.  Duncan was grimacing from his attempt to tighten the cord, and Jack grunted from his efforts to prevent himself from being choked to death.

After several seconds, Jack managed to yank the cord from his throat, and began to wrestle with Duncan in a fistfight, each punching and grabbing each other's appendages to try and down their opponent.  As they fought, the intensity of the struggle caused Jack's pistol to fall unnoticed to the floor.  It slid a few feet, and then, in the course of the fight, Jack's foot had kicked the object, pushing it even further away until it was partially under the bed.

Having the advantage as he straddled Jack, Duncan slammed Jack's head to the cabin floor a few times.  Jack's moans indicated the impact of his head to the wood floor had been hard, but somehow he held on, not passing out.  The back of his head, however, was bleeding freely from the gash created when the lamp had been slammed into him.

“Give ... it up,” Duncan urged.

“Not ... on ... your life,” Jack gasped.

Calling upon his deepest resources, Jack followed up his words with a solid right hook that surprised his attacker.

Duncan fell off of him, and Jack stood up, his right hand rubbing his neck from where the cord had been earlier.  Weakened, however, he hunched over, trying to regain his breath and get control of the situation.

“Don't ... count on it, you ... pretender.  Danny is ... MINE!” Duncan proclaimed, using his legs to connect with Jack's bad knees, kicking them with his feet.

His knees being his worst weakness, Jack screamed out in pain and collapsed to the cold floor, temporarily losing consciousness.  Duncan quickly went to the dresser, opened the top drawer, and pulled out his thirty-eight special.  Breathing erratically, he held the gun to the Air Force colonel's head.

“This is ... so over,” he threatened.

He began to pull back on the trigger when Daniel called his name.  The linguist was afraid that if he tried to fight Duncan, the shot would release, so he tried the only thing he could think of.  Speaking as alluringly as he could, knowing Jack's life was on the line, Daniel teased the deranged man.

“Paul, I'm ready.  I need you now.  Hurry, Paul.  Do me, now.”

“What?”

Duncan saw Daniel standing, his hands still behind his back.  Daniel wet his lips and flung his hips outward slightly in invitation.  Everything was riding on Duncan believing Daniel wanted to have sex with him.

“I'm ready.  Need you.  Gawd, I'm so hard.  This is what I wanted.  Hurry, Paul.  Come ... hurry!”

It had made him ill in side, but Daniel had poured all of his sexual energy into his words, and it worked.  Paul Duncan turned around, the gun now relaxed at his side, away from Jack.  He approached Daniel, a sickening smile on his face, and his eyes dark from lust.

“Glad you see it my way,” he panted, out of breath from the fight.

As he closed in, Daniel's right hand flew from behind his back, impelling the dagger into the madman's chest.

In a reflex move, Daniel glanced back at the empty wall where the knife had been.  He had managed to cut his ropes with the blade and then removed it from the wall to use in protecting his lover.

The injured man looked at Daniel with eyes of disbelief.  He shook his head, wondering how the sexy scientist had fooled him.  They belonged together.  Didn't Daniel know that?

“You lied?  Danny, we're destined to be together.  Our hearts beat as one.  How could you ... betray ... us?”

Duncan fell down, causing his grip on the gun to loosen.  The weapon dropped to the floor.  Daniel started to dart around him, but Duncan surprised him when he reached out with his arms and grabbed the archaeologist.  The young man fell to the hard floor with a thud.  He groaned from the impact, not yet understanding the impact's effect on his body, or even realizing he had hit his head.

Duncan was bleeding profusely from his abdomen, but he still had the strength to drag Daniel towards him.

~What does it take to kill this guy?  Gawd, leave us alone.~

Daniel struggled to move as he pondered the unfolding nightmare.  He felt dizzy.  His head hurt, and he only now realized that he had hit his head against the wood floor.  Things were beginning to blur, and he was having to work hard to focus his eyes.

Duncan turned the dazed man over, determined to rape Daniel.  He started to pull down Daniel's pants that he had already unzipped earlier, but as his hands tugged on the pants, Jack pounced on the psychopath.  Jack's knees were very weak, but having come to, and seeing Daniel in jeopardy, he somehow willed them to move.

Another struggle commenced.  Duncan's blood was all over Jack as they rolled along the floor, Jack occasionally grunting from the impact of his knees to the hard surface.  Sensing his enemy's weakness, Duncan drove Jack's legs into the floor, and then crawled to reclaim his gun that lay a few feet away.

Daniel was scrambling to get up, and he was working even harder on focusing.  His glasses had cracked, but were miraculously still on his face, and yet, the images he saw swayed.  He staggered towards the bed, all the while battling to retain control of his vision and dexterity.

Having retrieved his gun, Duncan again held the deadly metal to Jack's head as he angrily said, “Nice try, but you lose.  This is OVER!”

A loud shot rang out.  Duncan's eyes seemed to hold themselves open, and then he slumped to the ground, his forehead hitting the floor with a thud, his body crumpling to its right.

“Danny?” Jack called out with a weakened voice.  He saw Daniel collapse, falling to his knees, lifting his free hand to his head as he did so.  Jack slid along the floor, calling out to his heart.  “Danny?”

Daniel looked up when he heard Jack.  He crawled towards his lover's voice until they met a few feet away, which turned out to be right next to Paul Duncan's body.

“Jack?”

Jack couldn't see any flesh wounds on his spouse, but Daniel was definitely having some kind of problem.

“Jack?”

“Right here, Love.”

Daniel's right hand reached out tentatively, and Jack's entire being became numb at the realization that Daniel couldn't see him.

At the moment of the mortal gunfire, Daniel's world had gone completely dark.  He'd prayed for strength, that he would hit his target. Though blurred, failure to take the chance would assuredly have meant Jack's death.  It was a life or death gamble that the archaeologist had to take.

He'd been successful, but as the bullet flew through the air, Daniel's vision had also flown from him completely.

“Danny, I'm here.”  Jack couldn't feel his own pain anymore.  He scooted over a bit more and brought Daniel to lean against him.  He rocked him gently in his arms.  “Everything is going to be just fine, Danny.  We'll be home soon.”

“Jack, I ... Jack.”  

Daniel couldn't breathe.

Jack's left hand touched his spouse's face.

“Danny, listen to me.  Listen to my voice.  Everything is going to be a-okay.  It's just temporary.”  

“I love you, Jack.”

“I love you, Angel.”

“Jack,” Daniel said weakly, his hands trying desperately to roam his lover's body, checking for injuries. “... hurt?  Are you?”

“I'm fine, Love.”  Daniel shook his head; he knew better than that.  Jack smiled weakly.  “I'll be fine, just like you will be.”

“Tell me.  Don't lie to me.”

Jack was amazed.  Daniel was blind, had almost been raped, and no doubt had his own aches and pains, but all the younger man could think about was Jack and making sure he was okay.

~My Danny; you're so incredible.~

Jack swallowed hard.

“Jack?”

“That lunatic did a number on my knees.  They feel like a truck has landed on them; and I don't think that lamp did me any good, but hey, I'm still breathing.  Danny, we're alive, and we're together, and that makes us ... tell me, Love.”

“Unbeatable.”  Jack brushed Daniel's lips lightly.  “Jack, is he dead?  I mean, are you sure?”

“Oh, yeah, dead as a doornail,” Jack said as he looked at the residue of Paul Duncan's body.

Daniel's shot had taken out the back of Paul's skull.  In a way, Jack was relieved Daniel couldn't see the carnage, especially the bits of blood and brain splattered all over the area.  The nightmares would never end.

“What are we going to do, Jack?”

“What we always do, Love: survive, and live our lives.”

“He's dead, Jack.  I killed him.”

“You saved my life, and yours.”

**Love you, Jack.**

Daniel rested his throbbing head against Jack.  He didn't want to think anymore.  Without saying it, Daniel had just relinquished all control to the man he loved.  He didn't care what anyone thought or said.  He knew it was what Jack wanted, and right now, he was too tired not to want it either, so as his head rested on Jack's shoulder, content to let Jack take care of him, for a while, anyway.

Jack managed to reach into his pocket for his cell and dialed Sam.  Hearing the click, he didn't even wait for her to say “Hello.”

“Carter, move out, now.”

“Yes, Sir.  What's the situation?”

“One very dead madman, one tired and battered colonel thinking that as of now retirement may not be an option but a necessity, and one precious Boonie Bear who doesn't need his glasses at the moment.”

Jack hung up, moisture filling his eyes.  He took a moment to zip up Daniel's pants, but that was about it.  Daniel needed to be held more than he needed to be 'presentable' to whomever arrived at the cabin, so Jack held him closely.

“I was scared he'd kill you, Jack.”

“I know, Boonie Bear.”

“Jack?”

“What?”

“When we recover ...”

“I like the sound of that, recovering I mean,” Jack interrupted.

“... well, when we do, I'm going to make you pay for calling me Boonie Bear.”

In spite of the attempt of normality, Daniel's hand was clinched to Jack's bloodied tee, right over his heart.  Jack moved his left hand to take Daniel's, but Daniel wouldn't let go of the shirt.  It was like he was holding on to it for dear life.

“Danny, let me take your hand.  C'mon, Love, I'll make it all better.  I promise.”

Jack had no idea how he was going to keep that promise, but he'd move heaven and its counterpart to make that happen, especially when Daniel once again showed his endless sea of faith in Jack, releasing his grip and moving his hand to rest in Jack's.

====

“Jack, Doc, where are you?”

“Ferretti, we're in here,” Jack yelled as their friends arrived.

“Sir?” Sam said as she entered.

“What did you do, Carter, bring the entire SGC?” Jack asked when Jeff also entered, although Jack knew Sam had really only done as he requested; he was just letting off steam.

“Just ... covering your six, Sir ... and Daniel's.”

It was then that Sam noticed how Jack was holding Daniel, who hadn't even looked up at her.  She exchanged a glance with her CO and didn't like what she saw in his eyes, and that reminded her of what he had said ... that Boonie Bear wasn't in need of his glasses.

Sam knelt down in front of Daniel and calmly asked, “Daniel, are you okay?”

“Hi, Sam,” Daniel responded, never facing her.

Kneeling just to the right of Sam, Ferretti looked over the dead man.

“This guy is definitely dead, Jack.  Looks like he ...”  Jack reached over and grabbed Ferretti's arm.  He shook his head with his eyes darting a warning as he did so.  Jack's old friend nodded in understanding as he looked at Daniel.  “Okay, Jack, what do you want us to do?”

“Make it go away.  I don't care what you have to do; what ... favors we have to pull in; I want it to go away.  Contact Carlton; tell him what I just said.  He'll handle it, but do it now.  We've been here too long already.”

“I'll make the call.”  Ferretti started to stand, but stopped himself to add a final comment.  “Hey, Doc, this is routine stuff here.  You hang in there.  We'll have you back home with your girls in no time.”

Daniel smiled and whispered a soft, “Thanks, Lou.”

“Carter, I don't have her number, but I need you to call Doctor Sylvia Preston.  She's a personal friend, and she knows Daniel.  She lives in Manitou Springs.  Tell her ... I need a favor.  Give her our medical situation, and tell her we need privacy: no hospitals; no reports.  She'll understand.  Now, Carter.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“And me, Jack?”

“Get us out of here, Jeff.  I ... my knees are a little shot, so, you hold me up, and I'll take care of Danny.”

“Jack, maybe we should do it a different way, carry you out.”

“No can do.  Danny and I are walking out of here together.  Just help me up.  Danny, let's go home.”

It took a while.  Jack was in agony as he gingerly walked out the cabin, braced between Jeff and Daniel.  They went at a snail's pace.  Daniel couldn't see, but Jack had his arm around Daniel's waist, bracing him up.

“Together, Danny.”

“Unbeatable,” Daniel whispered, as he tried desperately not to trip over his own feet.

Jeff got them into Ferretti's van that they had used to drive to the area. Jack stretched out in the back, his head on Daniel's lap.  Daniel's hands were softly caressing his lover's face and neck, but he was facing straight ahead, still unable to see anything.

Jack needed more contact.

“Danny, hold my hand ... please.”

Daniel automatically slid his right hand down searching for Jack's hand. Jack took hold, and brought it to his mouth, kissing the palm.

“Sir, Doctor Preston said she will meet us at the house, but she thinks that,” she paused, looking at Daniel for a moment, “she may need to do testing she can't do at your house.”

“No problem, Carter.  One step at a time.”

“Jack, Carlton is sending a team.  Should be here within an hour.”

Jack breathed easier hearing those words.  He was determined to make this entire situation disappear completely from existence.  He didn't want Daniel dealing with the aftermath.  He wanted the SGC and especially that Quack MacKenzie kept out of the picture, and that meant not relying on Janet either.

“Okay, Lou, Carter, sweep the place yourselves.  Make sure there is nothing of Daniel's in there, or mine.  Did you see my truck?”

“Yes, Sir.  We noticed it on the way in.”

“Daniel's car and my truck: we need them home ASAP: no sign, no tracks.”

“Jack, Carlton's team will take care of all that.”

“I know, but the less they see, the less they know.”  He paused.  “Jeff, get us out of here.  Danny, I need your keys.”  Daniel didn't move. “Danny?”

Jack tugged on his lover's hand.

“Okay,” the younger man finally responded.

Daniel reached in his pocket and pulled out his keys.  Sam leaned in and that's when she noticed how unkempt Daniel was, seeing his unsnapped pants, and for the first time, she understood why Jack wanted them to stay and sweep the place before Carlton's team arrived.

Jack saw Sam's eyes taking in Daniel's look for the first time.  His eyes talked.  She smiled softly and then nodded reassuringly to her CO just before closing van's back doors.  She and Lou began their task as Jeff drove the couple home.

====

“Jack, we need to take X-rays of your knees.”

“I figured as much, but they seem to be better, Syl.”

“It's always possible you got lucky, and it's just a sprain, but with the history you've told me about, I don't think we can afford to take chances.”

“Syl, this is ... it's a special situation.  We can't afford ... records.  I promise you it's nothing ... it's just a nasty, unpleasant situation.”

Sylvia studied Jack for a moment.  He was seated on the sofa, his legs stretched out over the coffee table which they had moved in closer to the furniture in order for Jack to be more comfortable.  She knew what Jack was asking, and she also knew he wouldn't be asking if he felt he had another choice.

She pondered her options as she glanced at Daniel, reflecting on her first meeting with the young man.  It was another occasion when Jack hadn't wanted the Air Force in on whatever had happened.  She had realized on that day that the younger man had changed Jack's life for the better.

Since that meeting, she'd chatted with Jack's ex-wife Sara often, and had noticed when Sara mentioned bumping into Jack and his “best friend” Daniel one day.  Sara had been radiantly talking about her husband and her pregnancy, and when she mentioned Jack and Daniel, she had a beautiful smile on her face that spoke of peace and contentment.

Sylvia suspected Sara knew about Jack and Daniel, but of course, she couldn't ask or even tell Sara that she had met Daniel herself.

Sylvia had examined Jack and found nothing too severe.  Originally, she had been concerned about the injury to the back of his head, but examining it, she breathed a sigh of relief.  He would be easily treatable with just a few stitches, though she still wanted X-rays.  He had some cuts, and he had begun to bruise from the fight, but he was otherwise fine, except for his knees.

The attractive doctor noticed Jack had a very tight hold on his lover.  Daniel hadn't said anything to her since his greeting when she first arrived.  She saw the bruises on him and suspected he had been through the wringer based on what Sam had told her.

Sylvia's decision was made.

~Sometimes rules are meant to be broken.  He's such a nice young man to have been hurt like this.~  She moved over to the sofa and sat on the other side of Daniel, and when she spoke, her tone was very soft and gentle.  “Daniel, I need to examine you.  Can you look at me, please.”

“I can't see you.”

“Face me, Daniel, and I need you to unbutton your shirt.”

Daniel did as she requested, and Sylvia proceeded to do the best exam she could in the environment she was in.

“Okay, thank you.”

Sylvia exchanged a knowing glance with Jack as she made some notes.

“What's the verdict, Syl?”

“Again, Jack, we need X-rays to make sure, but it looks like Daniel has a concussion, and that's probably what's causing the blindness.”

“It's temporary, right?” Jack said as Daniel leaned back into him.

“Possibly.”  She saw his impatience.  “Jack, you're asking me for absolutes, and I can't do that.” Jack stared at her some more.  It was that intimidating 'colonel' glare he specialized in.  “Okay, Jack.  I need to make a phone call, and don't bother to say it.  If you want my help, I have to make the call.

Jack nodded his consent, and the doctor placed her call, arranging with a colleague who ran a small private clinic to bring Jack and Daniel there for X-rays and a few other tests.

“Trust me, Jack.  He's very discreet.  We need to go now.”

====

Jack lay wide-awake in bed.  It was ten a.m. the following morning.  Sylvia had given him an injection of something to help his knees, and he was pleased it did seem to be helping.  The X-rays were kind to Jack, revealing no breaks or fractures, and his cuts and bruises would mend quickly.  Even the gash on the back of his head turned out to be superficial.  Sylvia had cleaned and bandaged it, and she said that the stitches would be barely noticeable.

Daniel had been relatively lucky, too, having his own set of cuts and bruises, but he definitely had a concussion, and when they went to bed at four a.m., he was still blind.  Sylvia had told Jack that Daniel's sight should return within the next twenty-four to thirty-six hours at the latest.  If it didn't, they'd need to do more testing for further injury and, if that were the case, it could potentially mean permanent damage had been done.

Bijou and Katie were at the foot of the bed.  Jack had noticed that while Katie slept from the moment they pulled up the covers, Bijou had only slept on and off.  She'd sleep a bit, then wake up and look at Daniel, as if to make sure he was still there.  Jack would smile at her, whisper that it was okay, and tell her that she could go to sleep.  She would, only to awaken again the following hour.

Jack hadn't slept at all.  He was full of too many emotions.  Lying there with Daniel in his arms, he felt sadness for what Daniel had gone through, anger at Daniel for going off on his own, regret and anger at himself for being jealous, happiness that they had both lived and come out of the nightmare almost unscathed, fear about what might happen if Daniel's blindness wasn't temporary, pride that Daniel had handled himself so well, joy that they both had some pretty good friends who would risk their lives and careers for them, and mostly, delight at the mound of love he had for the man he held in his arms.

~You are my heart, my soul, and my life, Danny.  It's that simple.~

“Jack?”

“Hey, Beautiful.”

“Are you mad at me, Jack?”

Jack kissed the top of Daniel's hair, and sighed.

“Angrier than you can imagine.”

“I thought so.  We're going to have a big fight, aren't we?”

“Oh yeah, big, big, big fight.”

“I love you, Jack.”

“I love you, too, Angel.”

Jack smiled.  He wasn't going to yell at Daniel; lecture maybe, but fight?  No way.  He just wanted to hold his lover in his arms and never let go.

====

“You know, I could do this by myself, Jack,” Daniel said as Jack fastened the final button on Daniel's green shirt.

“I know,” Jack replied, bringing his left hand up to caress Daniel's left cheek.  “Humor me for a while, okay?”

Jack leaned forward and kissed Daniel who brought his arms up around his lover, his hands caressing Jack's back.

“I wish I could see your face, Jack,” Daniel said, having moved his hands to caress Jack's face.

“You will.  Syl said a day, thirty-six hours tops.  Let's get something to eat.”

Jack took Daniel's right hand to lead him downstairs when he stopped without warning, Daniel bumping into him.

“Jaaaack, warn a person.”

“I'm sorry, but I forgot something very important.  Don't move.”

Jack walked over to where Daniel's clothes were from the previous night and pulled out his wallet.  He returned to Daniel, standing in front of him.

“Jack?”

“Just a second.”

Daniel felt Jack lift his left hand and slide on his gold wedding band as he softly spoke their words of commitment to him.

“Forever and always, Daniel, I love you.”

Jack still held Daniel's hand in his as he brushed against Daniel's soft lips tenderly.

Daniel blinked, a question in his unseeing eyes that made Jack kiss him again before Jack removed his wallet from his brown pants.  He took out his ring and gently placed it in Daniel's hand.  The younger man was nervous, afraid of dropping it.  He could feel the circular object, but was anxious it would slip from his grasp as he fumbled for Jack's hand. Still, Daniel put all his efforts into it, and slipped the ring on, much more smoothly than he had during their wedding, in fact.

“Forever and always, Jack.  I love you so much.”

Jack cupped Daniel's face with his hands and kissed him soundly, a bundle of emotions floating through him, passing all of them on to his spouse, and then they stood, foreheads touching, as Jack rubbed Daniel's long arms.  Then he lowered his hands to Daniel's waist.  They didn't say anything for a couple of minutes, but rather, just stood there, sharing unspoken words, filling each other with love.

Finally, Jack took a deep breath and kissed Daniel's forehead.

“Food, Doctor Jackson-O'Neill.”

“You're always so romantic, Jack.”

Still, Daniel felt warm inside at Jack's use of their married name.  One day, after Jack retired, they had agreed that they would legally change their names so that both they both had the same last name, Jackson-O'Neill, and then their adopted children would share the hyphenated name.

~Gawd, I can't wait for that day.~

====

Downstairs, Jack made sure Daniel was seated safely at the dining room table.  Bijou and Katie were again at Daniel's feet, refusing to leave him out of their protective zone for long.

Jack was pleased Daniel didn't seem to be overly distraught with the 'doom' factor of their situation, but at the same time, it concerned him that Daniel hadn't voiced his usual, “Are you sure we should” line about wearing their rings at home in the Springs.

The failure to utter that phrase indicated more strongly than anything else just how vulnerable Daniel's emotional state was.

Jack prepared Daniel's favorite breakfast, waffles, of which Daniel actually ate every bite, pleasing Jack.  Afterwards, they cuddled on the sofa.

“Jack, what happens if ... if ... I mean, worst case?”

“I retire, and you do your thing on a consultant basis for whomever you want.”

“I can't ... do my thing ... if I can't see.”

“You can see, Danny.”

“Jack, I can't.”

Jack rearranged them a bit so that Daniel was leaning his back against Jack, with both of the older man's arms around his spouse.  He held each of Daniel's hands in his.  He raised them up for a moment, chest high in front of his love.

“See these?”

“Jack.”

“With your heart, Angel.  Your hands: you know what they look like.  Your beautiful soft hands and slender fingers ...” Jack spoke softly his fingers tracing Daniel's, “... you see so much with your hands.  You can touch and feel and see some things with these, and that mind of yours will help you see what your eyes won't.”

“You don't understand, Jack.  I need ... I couldn't.  There's so much of archaeology and anthropology that involves sight.  I'd miss too much, Jack.”

“Then I'll be your eyes, My Love,” Jack said feeling a genuine joy from the thought of being a part of whatever Daniel did.

“You?”

“Yes,” Jack said as he placed a kiss on Daniel's temple, still holding and caressing his hands.

“You'd be bored, Jack.”

“Never.”

“But ...”

“Stay here.  Be right back.”

Jack hurried upstairs as quickly as his injured knees would allow and randomly picked up an object from Daniel's den that he knew nothing about.  Daniel had recently added to the items so Jack was easily able to find something to use.  He carefully took the chosen item downstairs and again took his same spot by Daniel.

“Let's give it a shot.”

“What?”

His hands again around Daniel's waist, Jack held the object in his right hand and brought Daniel's hands to rest upon it, too.

“Okay, this rock ...”

“Artifact,” Daniel smiled causing a warmth of normality to flow through Jack.

“Okay, the artifact is about four inches tall with a circumference of ... three and a half inches.  It's smooth all over, except ... here,” Jack said as he moved Daniel's hand to the top of the item.  “There's an indentation right here, approximately one-eighth of an inch deep.  It actually reminds me of a Christmas ornament.  It's royal blue, with gold markings all around it.  The markings must be symbols.”

Jack moved Daniel's finger over the markings and continued his description.

“The markings are raised slightly on the top row, but the second row seems to be ... smooth, as if engraved.  Now, the top row you could feel yourself; visualize their shapes in your mind.  Bottom row, you see through my eyes.”

Jack proceeded to describe every shape and character that appeared on the object.  He then carefully reviewed the artifact to make sure he hadn't missed anything.

“Danny, I think this is a Christmas ornament.  There's a little hook here, right on top, like it's ready to be hung on a tree.”  Jack chuckled as did his lover.  “So, how'd I do?”

“Pretty good, actually.”

“Yeah?  Not just saying that to make me feel better?”

Daniel shook his head.

“I brought this home last week to look at when I had more time.  It's an ornamental piece from PCX-248, but low priority.  I thought I'd look at it when I had a chance, but I hadn't found the time to yet.  I think it's just what you said, Jack.  The writings talk about peace and a renewal of life.  It says, 'In remembrance of our past, we strive for peaceful existence and new life'.  So, it is kind of a Christmas tree ornament.”

“See, we make a good team.”

~We do.  I wish we could do this, but I know you.  You hate this stuff.~ “You'd get bored.”

“No,” Jack refuted calmly.  “No, Danny, I wouldn't, and we just proved we could do it, didn't we?  And I'd only get better at it.  You could teach me.”  ~Give me a try, Love.  I *want* to do this.~

“Worst case ... wouldn't be so bad, I guess.”  Daniel smiled.  ~I'd love it so much.~

Jack squeezed his lover tightly for a moment and kissed his nape.  He took the object and leaned over, placing it on the coffee table.

“But that's just worst case.  By this time tomorrow, you can see it yourself.”

“Half full.”

“Huh?”

“Our cup is always half full, never half empty.”

“That's right, Love.  We have each other, and together, we can do anything.”

“Jack, if I don't get my sight back, are we still going to have that ... big, big, big fight?”

“Oh yeah.  You are soooooo in for a lecture, Doctor Jackson-O'Neill, 'big' time.  I am going to read you the riot act, so be forewarned, it's coming.”

“Good.”

“You want to fight?” Jack chuckled in surprise.

Daniel shook his head as he turned to nestle his head into Jack's shoulder, bringing his left hand up around Jack's neck.

“No, I just don't want you to treat me differently.  Promise you won't, Jack.”

“I promise,” Jack tried to say truthfully, his heart split on that issue, and unable to lie to Daniel, he added, “I promise I'll try not to.  We'll work through it.”

====

The day passed slowly.  Sam, Lou, and Jeff dropped by in the afternoon to check on the couple and to assure Jack that everything had been handled.  Carlton's men had done a superb job.  There was no trace of Jack and Daniel ever having been to the cabin.

In fact, there no longer was a cabin, nor was there a body.  Paul Duncan had no family and no friends.  Since Oxford, he had drifted, working a variety of jobs, with a history of mental instability, which was no surprise to Jack.

//Flashback//
“The man was crazy,” Jack said to their group of friends during their afternoon visit.

“He was a diagnosed schizophrenic, in and out of mental institutions since the year he was expelled from Oxford.”

“He was expelled?” Daniel asked.

“Tossed out on his bum, Doc,” Lou answered.

Sam looked at Daniel.  In fact, she reached over and touched his hand in empathy as she explained, “He ... attacked someone, Daniel.”

“Oh,” he said softly.

“He certainly was well dressed, considering that cabin and everything else we know about him now.  That shirt and tie he was wearing was very expensive.  I know because I just bought one for ...”

Sam smiled, stopping herself before continuing.  She was not going to cave in and tell them anything about her boyfriend.  She had seen their looks, but held her ground.

“You're no fun, Carter,” Jack teased.

“I bought them,” Daniel said softly.

“What, Danny?”

“The shirt and tie.  Remember, Jack, I told you the locker on the truck had been broken?”

“No, Danny, you didn't tell me that.”

“I'm sorry, Jack.  I guess I forgot with everything else.  That's ... where I went that day when you had to leave, to have the locker fixed.  I had bought the shirt and tie for you because ... well, you know ... and I put them in the locker, and I guess he took them.”

Daniel leaned his head against Jack.  He hadn't been able to see his friends, and right then, that was a good thing.  He didn't care if they saw him clinging to Jack because that was all he wanted to do at the moment.
//End of Flashback//

The artifact that Paul Duncan had left on the front porch for Daniel was given to Carlton to return with no trail leading back to Colorado Springs.  They had no clue how the madman had come upon it.  They only wanted to make sure it was safely returned without being traced to them in any way.

The black roses had been disposed of in last week's trash, and that left only the gold band Duncan had mailed to Daniel at the SGC.

“Easy solution here, Jack.  We'll melt 'er down,” Lou had offered, and Jack nodded in agreement.

During the day, Daniel had played with the dogs quite a bit from his perch on the patio steps.  He would throw their toys with Jack giving him distance reviews, helping him to adjust his tosses to land in the desired spots.

Jack had smiled.  He and Daniel really did make an incredible team, and if their worst case scenario happened, they'd find a way to work together to allow Daniel to continue in the profession he loved.

They had an uneventful dinner and snuggled together again on the sofa, listening to opera, and then they went to bed.

As Daniel lay peacefully on his Jack pillow, he asked, “Jack, how are your knees?”

“They're fine.  That injection helped a lot.  I got lucky.”

“I don't want to go to sleep yet.”

“Not tired?”

“No, I mean, yes, but not that tired.  Didn't really do anything today but sit around and feel my muscles ache.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean.  Something you want to do?”  Jack felt Daniel's nod against his chest.  “Just tell me, Love.”

Daniel raised his head and stared at where he knew Jack's face was.  He raised his left hand to feel Jack's face, his nose scrunching as he tried to picture his spouse.

“I want you to make love to me.”

Daniel smiled when his hands could feel the smile on Jack's face, the puffing of the cheeks, the curve of the mouth.

“I think that could be arranged.”

“Not arranged, Jack, done ... now.”

“Oh, demanding again.”

“Very.”

The two made love gently and tenderly, nothing overly grand, but they grounded themselves to each other and reaffirmed that no matter what happened, they'd be okay in their nation of two.

====

The next morning, Jack awoke first, at 7 a.m.  He got up and let the dogs out for a while.  Opting to let his husband sleep, Jack downed a bowl of Froot Loops.

~Almost as good as sex.~  He munched away on his favorite cereal. ~Almost,~ he smiled.

He checked in with General Hammond, letting him know a personal matter had come up, and he'd contact him later that night with more information.

At 10:30 a.m., Jack went upstairs to check on his spouse and smiled as he saw him sitting up against the headboard.

“Hey there.  I thought you'd never wake up,” Jack spoke lightly as he sat on the edge of the bed and leaned in to kiss his lover.  “I love you, Danny.”

“I love you, too, Jack,” Daniel said, smiling.

Jack couldn't help himself.  He kissed Daniel again.

“You're so beautiful.”

“I was sort of ... thinking that myself ... just now,” Daniel replied.

“Oh, bit of an ego there, eh, Love?  May have to change my tactics.  Listen, I thought maybe we'd go downstairs and take the girls for a walk.  What do you think?”

“Actually, I thought maybe we'd have that big, big, big fight now, and get it over with.”

“Nah, we'll save that until ... well, for later.”

“You mean for when I get my sight back?”

Jack didn't look at Daniel, but he nodded.

Daniel laughed joyfully.

“Jack, if I can't see, how am I supposed to know if you nod your head? ... and for the record, I wasn't saying I was beautiful.  I was saying that I think you're beautiful and sexy, and I love your silver-gray hair.  I love it so much, Jack, especially when you wear your gray sweatshirt.  They go together so well.”

Jack's eyes opened wide.  He was wearing his gray sweatshirt.

“Danny?”  Jack's chocolate brown eyes gazed into Daniel's cerulean blue eyes, and then grew misty as he saw those eyes looking, focusing on him, full of sparkle and life.  “Danny ... I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Daniel said as he was engulfed by his lover.

They romped on their bed for a few minutes as Daniel catalogued his spouse's bruises and marks from what had happened.  He even made Jack pull down his pants so he could see his knees.  They reveled in their joy for a good half hour.

“Jack,” Daniel said softly as he gazed down in his soulmate's eyes, his left hand caressing Jack's face.  “I love your eyes.  They're so rich, like chocolate.”

“Angel ...”

“I want to see everything,” Daniel requested and then leaned down for a kiss that sparked a passionate round of lovemaking in which the younger man never took his eyes off his lover's “sinfully sweet, sexy body.”

“Sinfully sweet?” Jack questioned.

“And I'm such a sinner, Jack.  I need to indulge in you until I can't move.”

“All yours, Danny.”

====

“Okay, Danny, about going after that madman ...” Jack began as they relaxed in their bed.

“Jack, you loved the sixties, right?”

“The sixties?  Sure, great time.”

“I think ... we should live by the motto of the sixties.”

“What motto is that?”

“Make love, not war.”

Jack's right hand fingered through Daniel's hair and then caressed his cheek as Jack looked into his eyes.  Daniel's skin was so soft and smooth.  He loved him so much, and he truly had never seen anything so beautiful as his love.

“Danny, just tell me one thing.  Why did you go alone like that?”

“What would you have done, Jack, if you had seen the note and the ring he sent me?”

“I would have killed him,” Jack answered in all seriousness.

“Then you already know why I had to do what I did.  Jack, you never have gotten it, no matter how many times I've tried to explain, but I'll tell you again.  I ... Jack, it's okay that you try to protect me.  I don't ... mind as much as I ... complain about it.  It feels ... nice ... to be loved so much; but, Love, it works both ways.  I will always fight for you, and protect you, every bit as much as you try to protect me.  I knew you'd kill him.  I knew it in my soul, and I couldn't let you ... not that way.”

“I would have ripped him to shreds, Danny, which is ... probably what happened to him anyway.”

“Yes, but ... this way, we didn't have a choice.  It's not like ... like ...”

“... like I murdered him in cold blood?  No one hurts you, Danny.”

“Don't you see?  I know that.  I didn't have a choice.”

“Gawd, Danny,” Jack sighed as he brought Daniel down to rest on him.

“I guess you didn't have much of a choice at that, did you?”

“No, I didn't, and ... I knew Sam would tell you about when she came to my office.  Some things ... are very predicable.”

“What made you think Carter would fink you out?”

“Come on, Jack.  You've got them trained, Sam and Teal'c.  You'd give them absolute misery if they didn't tell you if they ever saw me ... off, like I was that day with Sam.  She knows that.  She doesn't want you mad at her.”

“Danny, did it ever occur to you that Sam and Teal'c love you, and they come to me because they know that most of the time I can fix it, whatever it is, that has you upset?  In fact, most of the time whatever it is turns out to be my own dang fault.  They love you, and they come to me because they love you, not because of my threats.”

“Threats?”

Jack sighed, “I don't threaten them, Daniel.  That was just ... an expression.”

“No, you just threaten guys like Rappaport.”

Jack chuckled, “Oh yeah, big time, and don't ask me to stop, because I won't.”

“I know.  I gave up on that a long time ago.”

“Hey, war's over, let's make love.”

“Wasn't much of a war, Jack.”

Jack held his spouse close.

“How about we consider it even?  My war for your war.”

“But ... I don't have a war.”

“Well, you deserve one.  I was a Grade-A jerk most of the time.  I thought ... Danny, I'm sorry.  I let that green-eyed monster loose again and I almost lost you, and crap, Danny, I hurt you.”  He sighed in amazement.  “But you, with your beautiful soul, you forgave me again.”

“You thought I was having an affair with Paul Davis, didn't you?”

“I'm so sorry, Danny.  I should have known better.”

“Yes, you should have.”

“My war for your war?” Jack pleaded.

“Okay, but Jack, I would never, ever, not ever.  I love you, even when you're an idiot.”

“Ditto.”

“Jack, I may change my mind soon.”

“Why?”

“Because you're ignoring the motto.  War's over.  Get with the program.”

Jack laughed and tossed his spouse on his back, then leaned in to devour his mouth, their tongues dancing as one.

“I love you so much, Angel.  Never going to let you go, not ever.”

“Ditto, Jack.  Ditto.”

Bijou watched Jack and Daniel kissing and wagged her tail as she went downstairs and joined Katie on their beanbag by the fireplace.  Katie greeted her, but then got up and started to walk to the stairs, intending to spend some quality time on Jack's tummy.

“Woof, woof,” Bijou barked very softly.

Katie looked back, and Bijou put her right paw out.  Katie returned to the beanbag, and the two rested side by side, leaving Jack and Daniel to their privacy.  For the first time in two weeks, Bijou closed her eyes and rested peacefully.

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