Drawing the Line

Author: Orrymain
Category: Slash, Angst, Drama, Missing Scene/Epilogue, POV - Partial (various), Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  4 - immediately after The Other Side
Spoilers:  The Other Side
Size:  30kb, short story
Written:  October 16,19-20,26-27, November 2, 2003  Revised:  January 23, February 4, July 10, August 31, September 6-8, 2005
Summary:  Jack and Daniel come to terms with Jack's choices on Euronda, including his humiliation of Daniel and his choice to close the iris on Alar.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
2) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Mama Beast, Drdjlover, Suzanna, Tina, Claudia, QuinGem, Linda, Arawa!

Drawing the Line
by Orrymain

JACK

Point number one -- Daniel won't like this, and that little fact could make my life miserable.  The general just made it clear that I'm supposed to do whatever it takes to make a deal for some weaponry if these 'kindred' have something that would help us against the Goa'uld.  Things have been changing politically, so the winds of the SGC have had to sail along with them.

Point number two -- As a result of the changing political winds, Danny is having to play soldier more and more, and I *don't* like it.  It's been hard on him as we go further away from first contact situations and run head first into political messes.  Danny's an explorer; he should be out there doing what he loves, deciphering little squiggly lines and digging in the dirt.  That's what I want for him.  Geez, I hope he understands that as much as I believe in military power and might that I wish things hadn't changed.

Who knows ... maybe these 'kindred' will have something to help us, and we can get back to romping through the universe's playground.  There's nothing quite like romping with my Danny!

DANIEL

I don't believe this.  He's not even listening to me.  We need to ask questions before we turn over heavy water to these strangers.  I'm all for helping them; in fact, I pushed for it, but there's something wrong here.

Listen to me, Jack.  You're smarter than this!  Why are you tuning me out?

SAM

Daniel sure isn't happy; neither is the colonel.  Listen to them.  This is more than their usual bickering.  What's happened to their understanding?  Neither one of them seems to be aware of the other's position at the moment; they're throwing words at each other, but neither is listening.

The colonel is following our standing orders, to procure weapons when possible, and lately ... well, lately, the push has been “to achieve more militarily,” meaning we need weapons to fight the Goa'uld, and that takes precedence above all else.

Daniel has a point, but orders are orders.  I'm sorry, Daniel, but I have to side with the colonel on this one.  We're officers in the Air Force, and as such, we have a duty to follow orders.  I wish you could see that.

TEAL'C

I do not approve when O'Neill uses me to make his point with DanielJackson. I understand metaphors perfectly.  I shall speak with O'Neill about this later.

Nor am I pleased with their attitudes towards each other.  It is most unusual.  They should speak more softly and be considerate.  I shall speak with O'Neill about this later as well.  DanielJackson deserves respect.

What is a metaphor?

JACK

Didn't I tell Daniel not to push this?  I explained about our orders.  Okay, so I had Carter explain it.  I even had her take him back to the SGC.  I had hoped he would stay there until this business was through.  There are really times when I wish Daniel wasn't so persistent.

Come on, Daniel, get with the program.  These people can help us, big time.  We have to be willing to give a little.

Danny, stop.  No more questions.  I can't let you go on.  You have to stop ... now.

He just keeps going, like a defiant child, testing the boundaries.  I've tried to get him to slow down, but he won't.

Stop, Daniel.  We need their weapons.  It's a good trade off.  It's only heavy water.  They are fighting a war, a civil war.  They're the good guys.  They've said so, and I see no reason why we shouldn't believe them.  Hammond wants me to buy their words, so does the government.

I don't have a choice, Daniel.  I've been more or less ordered to accept Alar's words at face value, and to be truthful, I want to.  Think about it, Love: we can get weapons to end the war with the Goa'uld.  It could be over.  I could retire.  We could be free to love.

Stop, Danny, please stop.  NO MORE.  YOU HAVE TO STOP.  I'm in command.  They have to see and respect that.  You have to respect it, too.  I have to draw the line here.

“Daniel, shut up.  Is that clear enough?”

Look at you, looking at me like a wounded lamb.  Crap, I hate myself for putting that look on your face, for injuring your spirit, but I had no choice.  You didn't listen, Danny; you crossed the line.  I'm sorry.  I love you, but this time, you're wrong.

DANIEL

I can't believe he told me to shut up.  How could you do that, Jack?  How could you dismiss me like a child, without even listening to my side of the issue?

Don't you realize Alar is hiding something?  More than that, don't you trust me enough to at least consider the possibility that I'm right?

Why, Jack?  Why did you have to say that in front of everyone?  You humiliated me just as much as those Academia hecklers did at my last lecture.  Gawd, I feel like a child being scolded.  You could have waited, but you chose not to.  I deserve your respect, don't I?  I mean you, of all people, couldn't you have been more considerate?

I know we're different, that we see things differently, but I never thought you'd treat me like a second-class citizen -- not you, never you.

Now what?  Where do we go from here?  You can't take it back, and I can't forget that you said it.  Where does that leave us?  How can we have a relationship where there's no respect?  How can we ever get past this?  Gawd, Jack, what have you done to us?

JACK

Heaven help me, Danny was right.  Alar said Teal'c wasn't “like us,” like the big guy was some sub-human creature.  Geez, O'Neill, when will you learn that you should *always* listen to Daniel?

I have to apologize.  His hand is cold as I touch it.  His eyes -- they're confused.  More than that, they're hurt, so hurt.

Thank you, Love, for listening to me.  I guess I should have listened to you earlier.  You can make me suffer tonight, at home, in our bed.

Danny, how can I make this up to you?  Please let me try, but first, we need to find out the truth about these 'kindred' so we can get the heck out of Dodge as soon as possible.

DANIEL

Well, that was strange.  I wonder what happened to turn Jack around.  It certainly wasn't me; he hasn't heard a single word I've said since we stepped foot onto this planet, but somehow, Jack got the message.

Okay, I was right.  These people started the war; they aren't tolerant of others who aren't like them -- different shapes, sizes -- no, they aren't tolerant of anyone not like them.

That's odd.  I don't think I've ever seen Jack look so ... so devoid of ... What is that?  Jack's standing at the top of the ramp with an expression I can't quite understand.  And Sam ... she looks ... wow, she looks almost as blank as Jack does.  I've missed something.  I've definitely missed something.

I've already forgiven you, Jack, for telling me to shut up.  I know why you did it, and I know now that we can get past it, but I do need to make sure you understand that it can't happen again.  We're going to discuss this, My Love ... a lot ... tonight ... as soon as I get you home.

Jack, what happened to make you look like that?

JACK

I'm sorry, Danny.  Maybe I'm not the person you think I am, but I made another choice I don't think you'd agree with.  I didn't want to unleash that Hitler onto our world.  I couldn't.

I see you there, at the base of the ramp, gaping at me, totally clueless about what just happened, but you'll know soon enough.  It'll come out in the mission briefing, and even if it doesn't, I could never keep this from you.

You're my Angel.  Forgive me, Danny, though I don't know if I can ever forgive myself for letting you down ... again.  I don't deserve you.

====

“Daniel, give a guy a break,” Jack pleaded.  “Be reasonable.”

“Reasonable?  You told me to shut up in front of Sam and Teal'c, not to mention Alar and his group, though admittedly they aren't worth caring about.  Still, you sat there and told me to shut up,” Daniel said loudly as he waved his right hand in front of him.

Jack and Daniel had been arguing ever since they returned home after the disastrous mission on Euronda.  It had been a painful mission for each of the members of SG-1 in one way or another.  The briefing had been especially intense, everyone hesitant to talk about their experiences on the planet.  The briefing had gone on for hours, much longer than the average debriefing.

The couple was tired and emotionally drained, but their argument over the events on Euronda couldn't be tamed, and thus, for the past thirty minutes, they had rehashed the mission until both were frustrated and on the verge of taking their work disagreement deeply into their personal space, something they usually tried not to do.

“What was I supposed to do?  You weren't listening to me.”  Jack took a deep breath, becoming more on edge as their discussion escalated.  He did regret what he'd said to Daniel, especially given the way things turned out, but the fact remained that he was the CO of SG-1 and he didn't think Daniel quite understood what that meant.  “Daniel, when we're in a negotiation like that, I have to be the leader.  My command can't be questioned.”

“Colonel O'Neill, the picture of perfection,” Daniel quipped as he spoke rapidly.

Ignoring the barb, Jack replied, “Daniel, it's important to present a united front in negotiations; you should know that by now.  It's the military way.”

“But I'm not military, Jack, and as you know, I always question your command, or any command that acts without thinking.”

“Tell me about it,” Jack sighed.  “You wouldn't know an order if it hit you in the butt.”

This time, it was Daniel who ignored the wisecrack.  Still speaking rapidly, the archaeologist continued, “And even more to the point, I don't ever hear you telling Sam or Teal'c to shut up when you disagree with them.  Aren't I entitled to the same courtesy you extend to them, or do I have just have a sign on my head that says, 'Kick Me'?”

“You're exaggerating,” Jack accused.

“No, Jack, I'm not.  I expect you to give me the same courtesy that you extend to Sam and Teal'c.  You say that you love me, that you respect me, that I'm one of the brightest people you've ever known, and yet on missions you treat me like I'm nothing but a major embarrassment.”  Daniel's eyes darkened in intensity, and his posture straightened as he continued.  “Well, wake up, and smell the coffee, O'Neill, because sometimes I do know what I'm talking about, and sometimes I *am* right.”

“Thank you for your support, Daniel,” Jack said sarcastically.

Daniel took a step forward.  He'd thought Jack understood why he was so upset, but obviously the older man still didn't quite get it.  His tone softened as he pleaded his case.

“Jack, I'm part of your team.  My job, my ... function ... is to ask questions and to give you alternatives, but how can I do that if you try and ... and gag me?”

“Gag you?  Danny, your motor-mouth was in full force on that planet.  I couldn't get you to keep it closed for thirty lousy seconds,” Jack said before grimacing.  ~See foot.  See mouth.  See Jack stick foot in mouth.~

Daniel's softened tone turned angered and sarcastic.  Incredulously, he challenged, “Motor mouth?  That's rich, Jack.  Thanks.  You make it sound like I'm a nagging wife or something that you can't shut up.”

“Nagging wife; that'll be the day.  Where are the pantyhose and bras?”

“Spare me the ridiculous notions, Jack, or maybe that is what you want.  Maybe I should just quit the SGC for your sake: stay home and do all the things a good little wife should.  You know, the cooking, the cleaning, washing your underwear, darning your socks, and, uh, most of all, keeping my mouth shut as I obey my lord and master, the great Jack O'Neill. Is that what you want ... Dear?”

“Oh, for crying out loud,” Jack yelled, raising both of his hands up high as he turned ninety degrees before moving back to face his upset lover.  “Don't go there, Daniel.  You know that's not what I want, but ...”  Jack stopped.  ~See foot.  See mouth.  Do *not* insert foot into mouth.~  Calmly, Jack stated, “Come on, Danny, you know how you are.  Once you start, it's near impossible to turn you off.”

“Turn me off?” an outraged Daniel asked.

Jack inwardly winced, thinking, ~Foot in mouth times ten.~

“Oh, Jack, you want me turned off?  You got it,” Daniel said smugly, delivering a silent message.

Jack immediately saw he would be sleeping alone tonight if things didn't take a turn for the better soon, and to Jack, Euronda and all the military weapons in the universe weren't worth a night without his 'Danny Blanket'.

“Danny, you should have waited and talked to me privately; that's all I'm saying.”

“Oh, and when was I supposed to do that?  You were making the deal as we sat at the table, and you had ignored all my requests prior to that, so when exactly was I supposed to talk to you?  I didn't have a choice, Jack, and you know it.”

“And neither did I.  I had to ...”

“... tell me to shut up?” Daniel interrupted, continuing with, “Humiliate me in front of my teammates, make me look like a fool to potential allies, even if they were garbage?  Is that what you had to do, Colonel O'Neill?”

“Daniel, I said I was sorry,” the older man reiterated desperately.

“Yes, you did, and, uh, why exactly was that?  Which of my words finally got through to you, Jack?”

Jack took a deep breath and looked away.  He was well aware Daniel knew the truth, that it wasn't anything that Daniel had said that changed his mind. In reality, it was Alar's own words as he had walked Jack and SG-1 towards the Stargate.  It had been the alien's tone and the look in his eyes.  No, Teal'c wasn't “like us,” and for Alar and his kindred, that meant he was unwelcome.  The brief exchange had finally opened Jack's eyes and left the hairs on the back of Jack's neck standing up.

Jack had blown it big time, and he couldn't blame his lover for being upset.

“It wasn't me, was it?” Daniel prodded, seeing Jack's discomfort, but wanting his partner to admit the truth.

“No, not entirely,” Jack admitted at last.  “Alar made a comment about Teal'c not being like us, and that's when I started thinking you might be right.”

“Might be?  That's kind of you,” the younger man snapped.

“Daniel.  I'm sorry ... very, very, very, very sorry,” Jack said, more sincerely than any of his prior apologies since the incident on Euronda.  ~I really am, and I wish the memory of what happened there, of *everything* that happened there, would just fade away.~

“You told me to shut up,” Daniel said wearily, self-hugging now and with his head bowed.  ~No more.  Please end this.~

The argument had gone on too long, and Jack had apologized repeatedly.  Daniel knew his soulmate was being pressured by higher ups.  Plus, he had to admit that Jack had been fighting hard to keep some of the exploration in the program, and the reason he was trying so hard was because of Daniel.

Thus, Daniel decided to shift his mode of discussion, his bottom lip in its sour mode, his eyes drooping.

~You're ready to put this behind us, aren't you, Love?~  Jack carefully sauntered up to his pouting lover.  ~You're either going to kiss me or punch me.~  Jack risked a right hook as he put his arms around Daniel's waist.  As he gazed into his partner's eyes, he said, “Danny, I am sorry.  I know what I said, and it was definitely out of line, but you have to understand, times have changed.  The powers behind the SGC aren't as interested in exploration anymore as they are in ...”

“... Big honkin' weapons?” Daniel completed for the older man.

Jack nodded and sighed, “I don't like it, Danny, but they are applying pressure.  They want something to fight with.”

“You mean that they think the only way to justify the cost of the program is to come up with weapons that will annihilate a race,” Daniel surmised.  “Learning about other cultures and discovering ways to make our own planet more inhabitable isn't enough, is it, Jack?”

The look in his lover's eyes tore Jack to shreds.  Times had changed, and not for the better.

“You'd get sick attending some of those meetings that I have to, listening to them,” Jack explained about the Brass and the politicians who were pushing for military might over anthropological finds.  “I'm a fighter, and you know that, but while I don't like the new plan, what can I do?”

“You can do what's right,” Daniel spoke solemnly, placing his hands on Jack's forearms and rubbing gently up and down.

“Danny ...” Jack began.

“No, Jack.  I love you, but there's no freakin' way I'm going to let you get away with treating me like a child you don't respect during a negotiation.”

“I didn't ...”

“Yes, Love, you did,” Daniel maintained.  “You knew I had doubts, but you wouldn't listen to me.  You let the ... prime directive ... motivate you.  Jack, I don't care if you do what you have to do, as long as you do it with understanding and without making me look like a bumbling imbecile.”

“Daniel, you wouldn't stop.  I needed you to stop,” Jack stated quietly.

“I wouldn't stop because it was too important that I get through to you.  You weren't listening, either, Jack -- not at all.  You could have taken me outside and spoken to me in private.  I still wouldn't have liked what you had to say, but at least it wouldn't have been so humiliating. That wouldn't have done it for you though, would it?

“You were in full Alpha-mode, running full steam ahead with visions of weapons dancing in your head, knowing you had Hammond and the Pentagon firmly on your six.  So you ... you took advantage, Jack.  You were determined to stamp your authority over me for all to see, weren't you?”

Jack moved away from Daniel, walking close to the patio door.  He put his hands up to his head and ran his fingers through his hair.  He had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach that Daniel was right.  He paced the room for a few minutes while Daniel stood where Jack had left him, only a few feet in front of the entranceway, his arms folded.

Daniel watched Jack intently, waiting to see what he'd say.

“I didn't know what to do.  Danny, I'm sorry.  I guess I wanted those big honkin' weapons, too, and I let it influence my common sense.”  Shaking his head, Jack took a breath of disbelief and admitted, “I let the desire for superior weaponry take over.  I was wrong.”

Daniel smiled, knowing Jack had finally admitted the entire truth to himself, just as Daniel had done within his own being.  He walked to Jack, placing his right hand over Jack's heart and putting the other on his lover's waist.

“Jack, I know you're sorry, but I meant what I said, never again, not like that,” Daniel warned.  “I deserve better, especially from you.”

“Danny,” Jack said leaning his head against Daniel's forehead, an act that was a symbol of their unity even when things got a bit rough.  “I love you, and I respect you so much.  You're right, Angel.  You deserve better, much better, and I do know that.”

Jack was full of sorrow for his words to Daniel during the negotiations, and yet he didn't know how to express it.  All he felt he could do was try to explain what he was feeling and hope that maybe his body language could say what words could not.

“They had so much that could have helped us.  The military: they drum it into us -- the need for superiority.  The government wants this war with Goa'uld to end; and you know the military, Danny.  Let's face it; the Brass wants anything that would give us an advantage here on Earth, too.”

“They?” Daniel echoed probingly.  ~Come on, Babe.  It's not just 'they', and you know it.~

“I'm in the Air Force, Daniel, and even when nincompoops are leading us, I love this country.  I want us to have an advantage.”  Jack sighed.  “I guess Alar's toys blinded me for a while.  I didn't think about the cost, and I was angry that you were.  I was wrong,” he admitted contritely.

“Jack,” Daniel said, caressing Jack's chest.  “I know the higher powers want weapons, that they are putting the heat on the SGC, on Hammond and you, to get those devices.  Our missions are different now, and to be honest, I hate that.  I realize they are hounding you, urging you to do anything and everything to acquire something to help us in the battle.  I can handle that.  I can handle losing the argument, as long as you listen.  Is that so much to ask, especially between us?”

“No, no, Angel, it's not,” Jack answered as the lovers moved in for their first kiss of the night.  “I should have listened to you.”

“We both should have worked harder, Jack.  We need to be more diligent in the future.  Maybe, uh, maybe I could have approached it differently, too, rather than barging ahead with the questions,” Daniel confessed as he did a quick self-assessment of his actions on Euronda.

“Are you going to be angry if I agree with you?” Jack asked cautiously.

Daniel laughed, “No, Babe, not angry, but you might be cold when you sleep on the couch tonight.”

“Daniel!”

“Just kidding,” the younger man chuckled.  “I love you, Jack, and I hate fighting with you.”

“It's not my idea of a good time either, and for the record, I happen to love you, too,” Jack said with a warm smile.

“Good to know, Jack,” Daniel replied and then kissed Jack again.  “So, what shall we do tonight?”

“ESPN is having a hockey special, airing back to back Stanley Cup games from years past.  It should be great.  We'll order pizza and ...”

Jack's words were silenced by Daniel's hand firmly on Jack's lips.

“Jack, Love, listen carefully to what I'm about to say and know I say it with the deepest love and devotion I can ... Jack, shut up.  Is that clear enough for you?”

Daniel removed his hand, allowing his partner to speak.  With an amused smile, Jack answered, “Crystal.”

“Good, now here's what we're going to do.  We're going to order pizza, because I love you, and you love pizza, and this is a compromise.  Then we're going to eat the pizza, and then Jack, we're going to bed, and we're going to make love ... over and over again until we're so exhausted that the phone won't wake us up.  Any objections?”

“No, Sir, not a one!” Jack barked out as if he were an airman.

“That's a good little colonel,” Daniel commented as his hands roamed Jack's chest, then sliding around to warm the older man's back.

“Not little, Daniel,” Jack whined.

“Not little at all, Jack.”  Daniel smiled, as he leaned into an embrace.  He sighed happily.  “Gawd, this feels good.”

“Better than good,” the older man agreed.  “Danny, thank you for being my Angel, and loving me even when I'm a first class jerk.”

“It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it, and I seem to be the one stuck with it,” the younger man teased as he lay his head firmly against Jack's shoulder.

“You're so noble.”

Seductively, Daniel asked, “Jack, how hungry are you?”

Jack grinned as he pulled back and saw the lust in his love's eyes.

“For you, starving.”

“Bed first, pizza second,” Daniel tenderly ordered.

“Sounds like a plan, Doctor Jackson.”

====

It was 3:15 a.m. when Daniel awoke holding on to a white fluffy pillow.  He grumbled, realizing that wasn't the pillow he wanted to be clinging to.  He much preferred his Jack pillow, the same one he had fallen asleep on a few hours earlier.

~I don't like this, Jack.  You know that!  Nice move, though, slipping that pillow in there.  Dang Special Ops training,~ Daniel silently muttered as he beat his hand against the pillow.

Daniel rose, put on his navy blue velvet robe and slippers, and went in search of his wayward lover.  He soon found him on the roof deck, looking through his telescope.

“What do you see?” Daniel asked as he stepped onto the roof deck from the ladder.

“Stars.  Lots and lots of stars,” Jack answered quietly.  After he put the lens cap on the telescope, Jack stood and walked over to Daniel, kissing and hugging him tenderly.  “I love you,” he spoke tenderly.

“Are you okay, Babe?” Daniel asked as his hands crept underneath Jack's shirt, rubbing soothingly against his lover's lower back.

“Yeah, it's just ...”  Jack sighed and shook his head.  “I murdered him, Danny.  He may have been garbage, but I still killed him.”

“No, you didn't, Love,” Daniel refuted while never losing eye contact with his soulmate.  “You told Alar not to follow you, and he knew about the iris, so ... he gambled, and he lost.”

“You make it sound so simple,” Jack whispered into his heart's ear, still embracing him as Daniel made soothing circling caresses on Jack's back.

“No, it's not simple, but it is what happened.  Jack, even if you were sure Alar would follow you through the Stargate, the choice was still his.  He knew what could happen, so it may be a simplification of things, but those are still the facts.”

“You're not going to let me take the rap for this, are you?” Jack lovingly accused as they pulled back, their hands on each other's waists.

“No, I'm not,” Daniel strongly affirmed, remaining dead serious as he spoke.  “You didn't hold a gun to his head, Jack.”

~I want to believe you.~  Jack searched within himself, hoping the words were the truth and not just a rationalization.  “But I ordered the iris closed.  Isn't that the same thing?”

“No.  He made the decision to follow you.  Jack, don't beat yourself over the head because of Alar.  He's not worth it,” Daniel opined.

“Danny ...”

“Listen to me,” Daniel ordered his lover.  “Were you right?  I don't know.  I can't answer that, any more than I could grant you absolution, but what I do know is that you didn't force Alar to do anything, and closing the iris is standard procedure for the situation we were in.  So, I can't say you were right, but I can't say you were wrong, either.”

Jack nodded slightly as he let the night air soothe him.  Both men turned to look out into the night, their arms now around the other's waist as they stood.

“There could still be repercussions, Danny,” Jack spoke softly without looking at Daniel.  “Hammond could ...”

“The general isn't going to do anything, Babe.  He knows who Alar was and what he stood for, and besides, it still comes down to choice.  In the end, Alar made a choice.  He was a coward.”  Daniel watched Jack's head turn sharply to face him.  “Isn't that you what you said?  Their world was crashing down and instead of ... of ...”

“Going down with the ship?” Jack asked.

“Instead of being with his people, maybe helping the survivors of the attack, he ran.”

“If there were survivors,” Jack remarked.

“Jack, he was their leader.  They looked up to him, right or wrong.”  Daniel sighed.  “Never leave anyone behind, remember?” he challenged.

Alar paid a price for his cowardice, Jack, and I won't let you second-guess yourself and end up being a victim of his ill-advised decision.”

“My protector,” Jack smirked quietly.

“Always, because I love you, and there's plenty of things to blame you for, but this isn't one of them,” Daniel quipped wryly.

Jack saw Daniel's teasing smile and smiled himself; then he said, “I love you, Danny.”

“Let's go back to bed, Love,” Daniel suggested.  “I need my special pillow to be ... comfy.”

“Gotta have you comfy,” Jack responded as he kissed Daniel quickly on the lips.

“Uh, Jack, you owe me,” Daniel admonished a bit sternly.

“For saving my sanity?” Jack asked only half jokingly.

“No, for letting me wake up alone.  You know how I feel about that.  I ... I don't like it.”

“I'm sorry, Love, but I couldn't sleep.”

“Then wake me up, Jack,” Daniel insisted.  “I don't want you to keep doing that.  I ... I spent too many nights alone; there were too ... too many mornings with no one but myself,” he said, briefly drifting off to a sad and lonely place.

“It was my ...”  Jack paused, and then he smiled, seeing Daniel's look of warning.  He chuckled lightly, and then he nodded.  “My problems are your problems, and vice versa,” Jack stated.

“Something like that; at least, that's what you've been telling me.  Don't let me wake up alone.  It ... gawd ...”

“I know, Love.  It scares you,” Jack said, pulling Daniel into an firm embrace. “But you don't need to be afraid because I'm here for as long as you'll have me.”

“Forever,” Daniel whispered.

~Geez, I hope so,~ Jack thought, not being able to imagine a life without the younger man.  “Forever,” he spoke aloud.  Danny, I was wrong.”

“Wrong?  About what?” the archaeologist asked as he backed up slightly so he could look at Jack's face.

“Gotta have you comfy, but even more important, I just gotta have you, Danny.”

Daniel smiled as he assured, “You've got me, Babe, forever and always.”

Jack laughed, “Sounds like a song.  I've got you Babe, and I do, don't I? Even when I mess up?”

“You're human, Jack.  I don't need you to be perfect.  I only need you to listen, like now, when I say it's time to go to bed.  I want to hold you and show you just how much I love you,” Daniel said, taking hold of his soulmate's hand.

“You show me every day, Danny, just by being here,” Jack told the younger man.

“Let's go to bed, Jack,” Daniel suggested again.

Jack nodded Daniel led them to the ladder and then to their bedroom to revel in their nation of two, having survived yet another crisis of their spirits.  As always, they were the victors.  After all, they were together, and together, Jack and Daniel would always be unbeatable.

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