Evolutionary Thoughts

Author: Orrymain
Category: Slash, Angst, H/C, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:   7 - Mid-Fall 2003
Spoilers:  Evolution, parts 1 and 2
Size:  34kb, short story
Written:  December 19,23-24,28, 2003  Tweaked:  January 30, February 8, 2005
Summary:  After Daniel's kidnapping, Jack goes to Nicaragua to find him.  This is their story from their reunion to their return home.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Charlotte!
3) Thanks to Maureen for the wonderful artwork!

Evolutionary Thoughts
by Orrymain

“I'm going to skin you alive,” Raphael spoke, holding a large machete as he and two cohorts had Daniel trapped against a tall tree in the Nicaraguan jungle.

Tired, sweaty, and out of breath, Daniel reached for the only object that might help him, a large rock, and as he did so, he heard gunshots.  Daniel was sure he was dead.

He had traveled to Southern Honduras with Doctor Lee to track down the Fountain of Youth, or more specifically, a device created by an Ancient.  The invention had eventually been discovered by a Goa'uld named Telchak who had later been killed by Anubis, prior to the latter's attempt to ascend.  The device had remained hidden in a temple.

The box-like object was created to heal and was believed to be the technology used to create the sarcophagus.  On humans, however, it had a different, more negative effect, even though it had also spawned the Fountain of Youth legend.

Stunned that he was still alive after hearing the round of gunfire,  Daniel turned around and saw his lover, standing tall and brave, looking all around their jungle surroundings.

His heart was pounding, no longer from the threat of being killed, but from the illusion of Jack's bravery.  If he was going to die, this would be the way -- seeing the true courage and strength of his soulmate.

Raphael and the others were sprawled on the ground, dead from Jack's precision shots.  He was not aiming to maim, but to kill.  His life partner had been tortured, and for Jack, there would be no salvation for having inflicted that pain on Daniel, so the three men had been disposed of quickly via the P-90 weapon Jack had carried with him.

“How many more are there?” Jack asked, ducking down near the leader's dead body.

Daniel only stared at the illusion that made his heart beat.  Jack rushed to his injured love.  Seeing the moving figure, Daniel flinched.  His dream was moving, in motion.  He didn't know what was real ... his pain or the man approaching him ... or maybe both.

Jack nudged his lover's arm forcibly to knock him into reality.

“Daniel?”

“That's it. You got them all.”  Daniel was breathing heavily, stunned and unsure of the moment.  “What are you doing here?”

Daniel's voice was high, questioning, his shock evident.  Jack stared at him, realizing that Daniel thought his presence was some sort of death vision.  Then, Daniel looked at the rock, surprised that he had thought it could ever have protected him and dropped it to the ground, a look of disbelief on his face as he did so.

“Rescuing you.  What does it look like?”

“I don't know.  I think I'm hallucinating.”

Jack spoke quickly, still in Special Ops mode, looking around the jungle for potential peril, “I wish we had time for me to show you just how real I am, but Daniel, we need to get out of here, so ... you'll just have to trust me, okay?”

Daniel did a laughing sigh of understanding.  It was half laugh and half sob.

Jack spared a moment from his review of the area and his tending to Daniel's leg, which he had begun as soon as he thought it was even remotely safe.

“I'm real, Danny.  I'll prove it to you when we get home.  I promise.”

“I know.  It's just ... Jack I trusted you from the moment I first saw you.  How crazy was that?”

“Very, considering the way my mind worked back then.”

Jack tied a strap around Daniel's injured leg, “Are you going to be able to walk on this?”

“Yeah.”

Just then, movement and more shots demanded their attention.  Jack and Daniel looked in horror to see Chalo, one of Raphael's henchmen, moving towards them, firing his weapon.  Chalo was now a member of the living dead, the Telchak device having revitalized his dead body tissue.  As Chalo moved towards the two men, Jack quickly helped his partner up and headed for a tree to provide some cover for the younger man.

Jack made sure Daniel was safely out of target range, whispering, “Please ... don't argue with me.  Stay here and be quiet.”

Jack shot the 'dead man' again, but he didn't fall, only reacting slightly to the impact of the rounds Jack had shot into him.  Burke appeared from another direction and yelled for Jack to “get down,” which he did, ducking behind the tree, near Daniel.  Seconds later, as he blew a bubble from his chewing gum, Burke used his bazooka-like weapon to blow Chalo to pieces.

Jack helped Daniel up as Burke approached.  Daniel's right arm hooked  around Jack's shoulder as Jack's supportive left arm went around the young man's waist.  Daniel was in a lot of pain, his face wincing as he stood listening to Jack and Burke talk.  He held his left arm out in front of his stomach gingerly, as if any movement at all would rock his body to a tremendous ache.

“What's with the guy from evil dead?” Burke asked.

Jack paused, answering only “Um,” so Burke guessed, “Classified?”

“Yeah.”

After laughing in amazement at what he had scene, Burke suggested they get back to the small camp.

“Want some help, Buddy?” he queried,  motioning towards Daniel.

“No, I've got him,” Jack responded as caressed Daniel's back for just a second, a silent, covert reaffirmation of his presence.

“We have to get Doctor Lee.  He's back that way,” Daniel gasped, still out of breath from both the exerted energy and his pain.

Burke led the way to the camp, Jack and Daniel far enough behind him,  and later Doctor Lee once they retrieved him from the spot where Daniel had instructed him to wait, that they could whisper just a little without being heard.

“I love you, Danny.  Everything's okay now.  We're going home.”

“You're the sexiest hallucination I've ever had, Jack.”

Jack didn't dare to say more.  It was too risky, so the rest of the walk was in silence.  When they got back to camp, Jack did a better job of bandaging Daniel's injuries while Burke reported in.

====

“Is that, that thing that made that guy do that thing?” Burke asked about the Telchak Device that Doctor Lee held in his hands.

“Yeah, it's okay; it's off now,” Daniel responded, supporting himself with a makeshift crutch.

Jack joked seriously, “Good.  That's good.”

“Yeah, at least we think it's off,” Doctor Lee remarked, not really sure of himself.  “It's not glowing any more so.”

Daniel explained, “Glowing thing really gives it away so if it's not glowing any more it shouldn't be on any more.”

“Do you want to hold it?” Doctor Lee asked Daniel.

Without hesitation, Daniel responded, “NO!” and hopped two steps to his right, away from the item, causing Burke to grin and Jack to smile, one that seemed that pleased his lover was finally less anxious to touch potentially dangerous objects.

“Doctor Lee, what can you tell me about that thing?” Burke asked walking in front of Jack to the scientist and leading him back to the small wood shack, leaving Jack and Daniel alone.

Daniel was on a makeshift crutch, still in pain but toughing it out.  His body ached from the torture, but he tried hard to suppress the pain, knowing that nothing more could be done until they got back to the SGC and his doctor of choice, Janet Fraiser.

Jack looked at him, wanting to touch but still not being able to.

**Geez, Danny, I want to hold you so badly.**

**That's good, because I really, really want you to.**

**Soon, Love.  We're going home.**

**Not an illusion?**

**Nope, me in the flesh.  You're safe.  You did good ... again!**

**I love you, Jack.**

**Love you, too, Space Monkey.**

**Gawd, Jack, even in your mind you have to use nicknames!**

Jack laughed, causing Burke to look over, but all he saw was Jack and Daniel standing, not saying a word, just Jack laughing loudly.

**You'll always be my Space Monkey, and you know it.  You aren't complaining, are you?**

**No, I just wish,** Daniel looked at Burke who saw the glance, **that we could ... you know.**

Jack laughed again, causing Burke's face to twist in confusion.  If ever two men looked like they were deep in discussion, it was Jack and Daniel and yet they weren't saying a word.

**Danny, no one can hear us.  You can say ... you know!**

**I WANT SEX ... WITH YOU ... NOW!  How's that, Jack?**

**Geez, not so loud.  You'll wake up the other part of me that so doesn't need to be a part of this right now!**

The telepathic-like discussion was interrupted when Burke approached, “What are you guys doing?”

“Nothing,” Jack answered.

“Just ... standing here,” Daniel said at the same time, a small grin on his face.

“Crazy.  You guys are crazy,” Burke said, shaking his head and returning to Doctor Lee.

Jack and Daniel exchanged a smile and joined the other two as they prepared to leave the camp.

“There will be medics waiting in town to help you guys out.”

Daniel looked at Jack, and Jack knew that look.  It was the 'I just want to go home' expression.

Jack asked, “Janet?”

Daniel nodded.

“Janet?” Burke inquired.

“She's the doc ... where we work.  She has an exclusive on our bodies,” Jack teased, “Daniel's ... fine.  He'll see Janet when we get back.  Doctor Lee, you are free, of course, to do whatever you'd like.”

Burke shook his head again.  The more he saw and heard, the crazier things seemed to get.

====

Jack sat next to his lover on the military plane that was taking them home.  Doctor Lee was asleep on the other side, and Burke was up towards the front.

“Still can't believe it,” Jack said with a smile.

“What?”

“You finally learned not to touch things before we know what makes them tick.”

“I ... have a reason to live now.”

Daniel looked at Jack, his head leaning against the fuselage of the plane.

“You'd better believe it,” Jack smiled, looking at the bruises that were starting to appear all over his lover's body.

He saw again the tired eyes, the cuts, the signs of the beatings Daniel must have endured.  It was over, but Jack ached for what his love had gone through.

“Geez, Danny, what did they do to you?”

Daniel didn't answer.

“We'll be home soon,” Jack finally said.

“I'm okay, Jack.”

“Yeah, I know.  You're ... fine,” Jack said with contempt of the four letter word.

“Jack, until we get home,” Daniel whispered, “I have to be fine.  Please.”

Jack got the message.  His partner had just had a helluva week.  He was tortured and interrogated to within a hair of losing his life.  He had fought to stay alive and to keep the much-weaker Doctor Lee alive, too. His body hurt; his mind was weary.

Daniel wanted nothing more than to sink into Jack's tender and protective hold, but he couldn't, not yet, so Daniel would remain strong.  He would, in fact, be just “fine” to anyone who asked.  He had to be ... until they got home and he could let go, be free, and let Jack ease his pain.

Jack took a quick look around the plane.  Doctor Lee was still sleeping and Burke seemed to be lost in some book.  Still, he couldn't risk much, and yet, he felt a strong need to do something, so, he did what he had done aboard Apophis' mother ship.  He brought his left hand to Daniel's cheek and rubbed his thumb in a gentle caress.

**Okay, My Love, be fine.  I understand.**

**Just until we get home.**

Jack nodded, and Daniel leaned in just slightly to the palm against his face.  He closed his eyes, and swallowed.

**Gawd, Jack, let go, or I'm going to lose it.**

**Sorry.  I love you,** Jack lowered his hand regretfully.

**I love you, too,** Daniel sighed.

Daniel moved his head to face forward, desperately trying to regain his composure.  He had thought he was going to die, that Jack had been a hallucination, but he knew now, that his lover had rescued him, just like Daniel had known he would.  Still, while he had been captured, Daniel had thought he would never see Jack again, that they had waited too long for their happiness.

They were going to be married soon, and Daniel had feared he'd die before that happened.  When Daniel had seen Jack standing in the jungle, having killed the attackers, it had been like a dream, because all the young man had dreamed of since the moment of his capture was seeing his Silver Fox again.

====

Midway through the flight, Doctor Lee came over to check on Daniel.

“I'm sorry, Daniel, for being so weak.  I shouldn't have ...”

“No, it's okay,” Daniel quickly interrupted the man who had been held hostage with him.

Jack instantly caught the subtle move, but before he could say anything, the other archaeologist spoke again.

“No, it's not.  I'm just not used to that kind of treatment, to being treated like an insect, but I shouldn't have ...”

“Really, it's okay,” Daniel said, trying to stop the man from speaking further.

“What did you do, Doctor Lee?”

“Jack, it's not important.”

**Oh, yes, it is, Love, or you wouldn't be trying so hard to keep the good doctor from yakking his brains out.  There's something you don't want me to know.**

**Jack, gawd, please.  I can't ... not right now.**

**Okay, but so help me, Danny, you leave anything out later, and I'll ... I'll ... oh for crying out loud, I love you, Angel.**

**I love you, too.  Jack ... the girls?**

**Fine.  They miss you.  Cassie's taking care of them while we've been gone.**

**I missed them so much ... along with hot showers and food ... real food ... and clean clothes ... the bathroom ... gawd, I missed the bathroom,** Daniel's mind laughed, **and my Jack pillow!**

**Glad I finally made it on the list!**

**You know you're always on the top of all my lists.**

**Top is good.  Very good!**

**Bottom is, too,** Daniel relayed as he remembered the last time that 'event' occurred.

**Bottom definitely has its advantages.**

**I like bottom.**

**You can bottom me anytime, Danny.**

Jack grinned in anticipation of a future 'event'.

**But I want to top, too.**

**You're the top!**

**Gawd, I love you!**

The two lovers had engaged in a silent telepathic-like discussion for several minutes, each completely blocking out Doctor Lee who had answered Jack's question and then some.

“... so, like I said, I'm very sorry.  You saved my life out there.  Thank you, Daniel!”

Daniel was snapped out of his link by Doctor Lee's words, and uttered a stuttered, “Wha...what? Oh, you're welcome.”

“Doctor Jackson, are you all right?”

“No,” Daniel answered, but looking at Jack, he added, “But I will be.”

Totally unaware that neither Jack nor Daniel had heard more than a few words of his long explanation, Doctor Lee nodded and went back to his seat on the plane.

====

“Okay, Daniel, you can get dressed.  I really should keep you here for a day or two ...”

“No,” both Jack and Daniel spoke at the same time, then looking at each other in understanding.

Janet shook her head.   Jack and Daniel were so predictable sometimes, and this was one of those times!

“... but, as I was saying, I know it's pointless.  Colonel, you know the routine.  I'll write out the instructions for the medications I'm prescribing and some general care.  Daniel, you're to take 48 hours off to relax and get yourself some proper rest and nourishment.  After that, if you feel up to it, you can do light duty.  No missions and no 17-hour days.  Is that understood?”

“Yes, Ma'am.”

Daniel nodded to Janet as she had on one of her sterner expressions, the one that frequently reminded her patients of Napoleon.

“Colonel O'Neill.”

Jack turned to face the airman who had entered the SGC.

“Yes?”

“General Hammond said to tell you that SG-1 is due back within the hour.”

“Thank you.”

Jack looked at Daniel who was struggling to put on his blue jacket.  Jack glanced around and then moved over to his soulmate, reaching out to help put the jacket in place.

“There,” Jack said, smiling.

“Okay, here's the medicine and the instructions, Colonel.”

“Thanks, Doc.  You remember how to use these, Daniel?”

Daniel nodded as he stood on the crutches Janet had brought over.

“Glad you're home safe, Daniel.”  Janet smiled, adding, “You, too, Colonel.”

Then she turned and returned to her office.

“She's not so tough,” Jack stated.

“Wait until the next time you do something she doesn't want you to do.”

Jack looked at the list and nodded.

“You mean like number one here,” Jack asked as he held the instructions for Daniel to see.

Daniel grinned, replying, “Yeah, like number one.”

“I won't tell if you won't.”

“Deal,” Daniel agreed with smile until he flinched slightly in pain.

“Maybe number one will have to wait a day or two,” Jack said, seeing Daniel's ache.

“Gawd, I hope not,” Daniel whined.

“Come on, let's go wait for the team to come back.”

“I hope they're okay.”

“We'll stop by Hammond's office first and see what he knows.”

“Okay,” Daniel said as they exited the infirmary.

“Jack?”

“Yes?”

“Number one ... thinking about that ... helped keep me alive.”

“Long live number one!”

Jack glanced at the notes again.

“One:  no physical exertion.  NONE, Colonel.  And you *know* what I mean!”

“Sorry, Doc!”

The two laughed as they headed for Hammond's office, where they learned that SG-1 was alive and well, though Sam had been slightly injured.  Jack and Daniel each gave a private thanks that their family of friends were safe!

====

“So, miss me?”

“Of course, Sir,” Sam spoke at the base of the ramp, her arm in a sling.

“Well, it couldn't have been that bad.  You're all still alive,” Jack said, facing Sam and Teal'c as well as Jacob and Bra'tac who had accompanied SG-1 on their mission to try and defeat the Super Soldiers created by Anubis.

“As are you and DanielJackson,” Teal'c said, a smile in his voice.

“Daniel?” Sam asked, her voice soft and tender, concern evident as she saw the young man bracing himself up with a pair of crutches.

“I'm fine.  And we got the device from Telchak.”

“Good, hopefully we can engineer a weapon from it,” Jacob added.

“You must or we will be left helpless to combat these new warriors,” Bra'tac commented in reference to Super Soldiers that had been created with the Telchak technology.

Sam explained that Anubis had thousands of the 'living dead' warriors  and that unfortunately all they had been able to do was to delay his ability to create more.  At this point, General Hammond announced they'd meet in an hour for the briefing, so everyone began to filter out of the room.

Jack stayed behind a few moments to acknowledge his 2IC's job well done, ending with an invitation, “Lunch?”

Sam agreed and they headed out of the gate room.  Sam filled her CO in on more specifics of what had happened on the mission as he  walked her to the infirmary where Janet did her post-mission exam.  Except for her arm, she was free from major injury, though she'd be sore for a few days.  Then, the two headed for the commissary for lunch.

“You did a nice job, Carter.”

“Thank you, Sir.  Is Daniel really all right?”

“He will be.”

“He is joining us for lunch?”

“Oh yeah, we figured you'd be ready for some real food; well, as real as it can be in the commissary.”

Sam nodded.

“As Daniel always says, it beats macaroni that tastes like chicken!”

The two were still laughing when they entered the mess hall.  Daniel was just getting seated, having just arrived himself from visiting with Teal'c and Bra'tac for a bit.

“Here, let me help.”

Sam took the crutches and placed them against the wall.

“You aren't much better, Sam,” Daniel said, referring to her injured arm.

“I guess we all got a little beat up this time,” she replied, a weak smile on her face as she sat down.

Jack sat next to Daniel, glancing around the sparsely occupied room at the moment.

“How's the pain, Danny?”

“I'm fine, Jack, remember?”

Jack smiled, and glanced quickly at his 2IC who asked, “When did you guys get back?”

“Just a few hours ago ... long enough for Janet to give us the once-over and Daniel to take a very cautious shower.”

“Jack!”

“Sorry.”

“No, you're not.  You love to embarrass me.”

“Not trying to embarrass you.  I just meant ... oh never mind!”

Sam chuckled quietly, and the three began to eat, all having chosen  a simple salad.

Though Daniel had invited them to lunch also, Teal'c had stayed with Bra'tac, wanting to visit leisurely with his mentor before the older Jaffa would have to return to Chulak.  Jacob, meanwhile, had checked on his daughter when she had been examined in the infirmary, but, having not been hungry, had told her, “Honey, I'm going to talk with George for a while.  If you have time later, come get me.”

When she was done with her lunch, Sam excused herself, “Dad's not here that often.  I think I'll take advantage and spend some time with him while I have the chance.  I'll see you guys in the briefing.”

“She looks tired, Jack,” Daniel said, watching his friend exit the large dining area.

“She took some lumps, but she also did an excellent job.  She might get those wings soon.”

“You think so?”

“Another year or so -- she's come a long way.”

Daniel winced as he moved to reach for the pepper.

“Danny, as soon as the briefing is over, we're going home, and you're going to stay there for a week.”

“Only if you stay with me.”

“Now, no arguments. I know Janet said you could do light duty, but I know you and if you even start you'll ...”

“Okay, Jack.”

“...get so involved that you'll ...”

Jack suddenly stopped, his eyebrows arching, “What?”

Daniel smiled and said, “I said okay.”

“That bad?”

“I'm not really very hungry.  I want to see the girls.”

“Soon.  Very soon, Love!”

====

Jack closed the door, locking it and tossed the keys on the entrance way table.  Then, in one tender swoop, for the first time in way too many days, Jack took Daniel into his arms.  The crutches fell to the ground, no longer needed or desired.  Jack felt the tension in his lover's body and then suddenly, he felt it dissolve as Daniel released the brave exterior, giving it up to the security of his soulmate's protection.

They stood there silently for a few minutes, just holding and reassuring.

“The girls,” Daniel finally spoke.

Jack nodded and helped Daniel to the sofa.

“I'll go get them.”

As Jack walked to the patio doors, Daniel twisted his body to take in the panorama of the ... Jack's house ... his house ... their house together.  He took in every item, smiling at his fish that were 'their' fish except for when it was time to clean out the tank.  He felt happy to be alive.  It was good to be home.

“Woof!”

“Hey!  Hey!  Oh gawd, I missed you guys,” Daniel said with a happy laugh as Bijou and Katie jumped onto the sofa and welcomed the young man home.

Together, Daniel and the two dogs played for several minutes.  Daniel held them both, taking in their kisses and warm touches.  Jack, who stood watching from a few feet away, could tell it hurt from time to time, but the animals had been fairly gentle, and the mental health Daniel was gaining from the reconnection with Bijou and Katie far outweighed a bit of pain.

After fifteen minutes, Jack decided it was enough.

“Bijou.  Katie.  Beanbag.  Now, please.”

The girls looked at Daniel and gave him another kiss and then did as instructed.

“Thank you.”

Jack smiled as he went to the sofa, sitting next to Daniel, his right arm going around the young man's shoulders.

Daniel leaned into Jack who kissed his forehead.  Again, they just sat for a few minutes.

“You want to take a shower?”

“In a little bit.”

“You didn't eat much.  Want me to fix you something.”

“No.”

“How about we go upstairs and lay down for a while?”

Daniel nodded so they headed upstairs.  A few minutes later, changed into their sweats, they rested on their comfortable bed.  Because of Daniel's leg injury, they reversed their normal positions, Daniel wanting, and perhaps needing, the comfort of listening to Jack's beating heart.  It was a sound he treasured and depended on.

“Home,” Daniel said softly.

“That's where we are.”

“Jack?”

“Yes, Love?”

“I'm *so* not fine.  Gawd, I'm not fine.”

“I know.”  Jack kissed Daniel's forehead, and gently squeezed him nearer.  “Want to tell me?”

Daniel nodded, and amid the tears that fell over the hours that followed, he omitted nothing.  He shared with Jack the hours of torture, the beatings, the starvation, the threats.  Daniel recounted the days of darkness as they were kept inside the small shack, and even the sicknesses of his body from the filth he had been forced to live in.


He told his lover about Doctor Lee's admission that he had told Raphael everything, and how when they were escaping that Doctor Lee couldn't continue and Daniel had hidden him in an successful attempt to distract the attackers away from Doctor Lee.

And he told Jack that he had never given up, that he had known that Jack would somehow come for him.

A small whine got Jack's attention, a smile forming on his face when he angled his head to see Bijou and Katie at the doorway.  Katie was the culprit behind the whine while Bijou seemed to be on guard, her ears up, looking around frequently.

“Danny, look.”

Daniel arched up a bit and saw their beautiful beagles.  Frowning a moment when his sudden movement of his right arm caused a jab of pain, Daniel motioned for the two dogs to come up on the bed, which both did.

“I'm okay, Girls,” Daniel said with a smile.

Katie sniffed the bandage on Daniel's leg and whined several times.

“Ah, Katie.  It doesn't hurt much.  Come here,” Daniel called, and Katie moved up to Daniel's face.  It ached to move, but Daniel turned on his back for a moment to pet the young puppy, reassuring her.  “It's okay.  I promise.”

Meanwhile, Bijou was still keeping watch at the foot of the bed.  Daniel's assurances to her pup not diminishing her concern.  Jack chuckled, amazed at Bijou's desire to protect her family.

“Bij,” Jack called.  “All's well.  Danny's going to be just fine.  Lay down; relax.  Join the family.”

Bijou wagged her tail and went to Jack, lying down near his head.  Jack had to chuckle because she was watching the door, not yet totally convinced that the danger had passed.

“You're a good girl, Bijou,” Jack spoke softly as he ran his hand along her floppy left ear.

“She's going to be concerned for a while,” Daniel said as he readjusted his body to nuzzle into Jack again.

“Just until she sees you up and about, and smiling.”

“Soon ... very soon, Jack,” Daniel said with confidence.  “It's funny how things have changed over the years, and yet, they haven't.”

“What do you mean?”

“On Oannes, I knew you'd come for me even after Nem told me about the false memory of my death, I just ... knew that somehow you'd find me.  And ... every second I was in the hellhole in Nicaragua, I knew you'd show up eventually.  I tried to tell Doctor Lee that people would come.  He just didn't understand, but I knew, Jack.  I knew.  I just ... had to stay alive long enough.”

“You did so good, Angel,” Jack said, his voice cracking from the emotion of what he had heard.  “I'm so proud of you.”

“Don't be mad at Doctor Lee, okay?  He's just ... he's an archaeologist, Jack,” Daniel said, trying to smile.

Jack tried to smile, too.  Daniel would be fine in a few days.  There would be a nightmare or two, but Jack was sure they'd get through it better than ever.  They always did.  And Daniel was right.  Some things hadn't really changed, certainly not Daniel's faith in Jack ... but one thing had evolved with time.

Jack remembered many occasions when after a trauma he had to fight Daniel to admit the bad; he'd battled with his lover to let out the pain, but now, Daniel had only needed the safety of their home to let go, to verbalize the pain, to admit the horror of the experience.  Jack was glad that Daniel finally felt safe enough to be vulnerable with him without prodding.

“Love you so much, Danny,” he whispered as he continued his silent parade of thoughts.

Jack thought about Doctor Lee. Once upon a time, he had accused Daniel of being just an archaeologist, but he had been wrong.

Daniel Jackson had never been just anything, nor would he ever be.  No matter the odds, Daniel was a fighter.  He never gave up, and he always found a solution, just like Jack always had an 'or' for them to consider.

In his mind, Jack wondered if maybe that was one of the reasons the two were so strong together.  Both were always looking for a way to get out of whatever predicament they were in.  With very few exceptions, neither ever just stood and accepted defeat, and on those few occasions when they had, it hadn't lasted long before they'd regain their fight.

Jack was proud of Daniel, of who he was and all he had become.  While he had once hated the soldier part of his lover, regretful that the persona had almost overtaken him, it now was just another piece of the man who owned his heart.  It had been quite a ride from that first trip through the Stargate to the moment at hand, with Daniel secure in Jack's protective arms.

“What an evolution we've gone through, Danny,” Jack suddenly said aloud, “but it's been the best, and who knows where we'll end up.”

“We're only just beginning, Jack.”

“Amen to that,” Jack said, caressing Daniel's back, and smiling as he turned his thoughts to their future, a future that would be strong and full of love, for nowhere on Earth was there a greater nation than Jack and Daniel's nation of two.

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