Freedom

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  8 - March 15 - June 13, 2005
Spoilers:  Lockdown, Affinity
Size:  49kb
Written:  November 6-12, 2005  Revised for consistency:  March 16,19, 2007
Summary:  Jack and Daniel confront the issue of rights versus national security when Teal'c finally moves off the base.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fics, “The Pact” and “Who Shot Me?”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  QuinGem, Claudia, Linda, Heather, Patti!

Freedom
by Orrymain

“What are you smiling at?” Jack asked as he and Daniel walked along the corridors of the SGC.

The two men had been in Sam's lab, along with Teal'c, just chatting and touching bases with one another for a few minutes.  Now, Jack and Daniel were headed for the commissary to grab a quick snack before continuing with their daily routines.

“Before you came in, Teal'c was telling us all about his new apartment,” Daniel answered.  “That was a good thing you did, Jack, going to bat for him with the OSI.”

“Office of Special Investigations,” Jack sneered as they rounded a corner.  “More like Office of Senseless Imbeciles.”

Daniel chuckled, then added, “Uh, he's having a housewarming next Saturday.”

“Am I invited?” Jack quipped.

“I'll put in a good word for you,” Daniel laughed, bringing his right hand up to rub his nose for a second.

More seriously, Jack stated, “The man has saved the planet repeatedly, and we still had to agree to a list of requirements for them to approve this.”

“I'm sure it will work out,” Daniel said as they entered the mess hall.  “Blue or green?” he asked, looking at the dessert offerings.

“Blue, of course!” Jack responded, a grin in his voice.

“Here you go, Blue Boy,” Daniel teased, raising his eyebrows as he handed his lover a tall glass of blue Jell-O and then taking a green one for himself.

“Blue Boy,” Jack echoed quietly yet jovially as he followed Daniel to their table.

====

“Chilly,” Jack commented thoughtfully upon hearing that Sam had managed to secretly input a new Stargate address into the computer.  Thanks to her efforts, Anubis had been sent to KS7-535, a frozen world, instead of his intended destination.  ~Close call.~

It was one week later, and a crisis caused by Anubis had just been averted, barely.

When the physical form of the half-ascended Anubis had been using was destroyed, his essence, a black and ominous-looking cloud-like being, had been released.  To avoid being stranded in the Earth's atmosphere, his essence had entered a Russian cosmonaut and then later Colonel Vaselov.

Controlling Vaselov, Anubis had eventually made his way back to the SGC, where he literally took over the bodies of various personnel at the base, including Daniel, Sam, and, finally, Jack.  Being stranded on Earth was not appealing for the half-ascended being.  As a result, his goal was to get through the Stargate and find a host for his essence so that he could return to his forces.

Throughout this time, the SGC had been in lockdown mode, which meant no one came in or got out.  It had lasted for roughly a week, thus delaying Teal'c's move from his quarters on base to his apartment in town.

While possessing Jack's body, Anubis had activated the Stargate, intending to escape to freedom.  Unfortunately for him, the Russian colonel, who had unknowingly borne him to the SGC and sickened from the possession, figured out what was happening.  Knowing he was dying anyway, the brave man forced the essence to leave Jack and enter him.  During that face-off, Sam had been able to partially override the computer, thus altering Anubis's destination when he went through the Gate.

Thinking back over the past week's events, Jack gave a soft sigh of relief that they had, once again, managed to save the day.

“Taking a nap?” Daniel asked as he entered the gate room and saw his husband lying on the floor, propped up by his elbows, with Sam and Teal'c surrounding him.

“Seems like a good place for it, doesn't it?” Jack quipped, smiling when Daniel extended his arm to help him up.

“Are you okay, Jack?” Daniel asked more seriously, his eyes locked onto his lover's.

“Peachy!” Jack answered, smiling.  He looked over at the Jaffa and brightly noted, “T, we missed your housewarming party.”

“To be precise, O'Neill, it is an apartment-warming party, and, no, you did not.”

“It's this Saturday, Jack, not last Saturday,” Daniel corrected, though he understood how easily the mistake could have been made.

“Oh, well, good then.”

“It will go on as scheduled,” Teal'c announced.  “I have contacted the manager of the apartment complex and arranged to begin moving in immediately.  We may warm the apartment on Saturday, as planned.”

“Warming the apartment,” Jack mumbled.  “Alright,” he spoke, looking around at the nearby personnel.  “Back to work, people,” he ordered, motioning with his hands for the assembled personnel to get back to their duties.  “We'll debrief in an hour.”  Jack looked over at Sam.  “Carter, you're sure?” he asked, wanting confirmation about Anubis.

“Popsicle, Sir,” Sam agreed, nodding.

“Good.  Good,” Jack replied, smiling and then exiting the gate room, Daniel right on his heels.

“Jack, I could use some help moving some things in my office,” Daniel stated, a sly smile on his face.

Pausing as they walked, he said, “Call an airman.”

The archaeologist grimaced, holding his shoulder, resulting in an immediate look of skepticism on Jack's face.

“But I want *you* to help me, Jack,” Daniel said, his sly smile accentuated by raised eyebrows.

Prior to the lockdown, when Anubis was controlling Daniel's body, Jack had been forced to shoot his lover in order to stop him from killing SGC personnel.  While Daniel didn't recall the actual event, he had found out about it while recovering in the infirmary.

Now the older man felt like a fortune teller, sensing a lot of groveling and servitude would be required of him in the days ahead.

“I foresee slavery in my future, Daniel,” Jack said quietly, vocalizing his fortune.

“For at least a week, Jack,” the younger man agreed cheerfully, heading for the elevators.  “This way ...”

~It's temporary.  I'll talk him out of it ... I hope.~

====

“Jack, are you sure he didn't want our help?” Daniel asked two days later.

“I offered,” Jack said with a shrug.  “Apparently, he didn't think it would take that long.”

“Come to think of it, Babe, his quarters are pretty ...”

“Compact?” Jack offered.

“Limited,” Daniel said.

“He plans to buy a lot of what he needs,” Jack added.

A bit sadly, the younger man noted, “He hasn't kept much here.”

“He has what he needs,” Jack rebutted.  Seeing his lover's questioning look, he clarified, “Us.  Teal'c needs us.”

Daniel nodded, then said, “I wish you were going to be here tomorrow for the housewarming.”

“Me, too, but I can't cancel out on Hammond.  He wants to make sure ...”

“You aren't running amok with his old office,” Daniel teased.

“You know, Weir had it for a little while.”

“I prefer not to think about those months,” Daniel responded.

Jack grimaced, agreeing, “Chilly memories, or lack of memories.”

Daniel nodded, after which the couple headed off to fulfill their various obligations for the day.  Daniel was going shopping, while Jack had to report to the Mountain for a while.  When he was done, though, he intended to devote the rest of the night to working on his special housewarming gift.

====

“You're taking him a plant?” Jack asked incredulously as the lovers stood in the living room of their suburban home.

“It's a fern and a beautiful one, too,” the younger man commented as he studied the green life closely.  “Plants liven up a place, and they make things calm and peaceful ... *and* they are a traditional housewarming present,” Daniel defended, glancing over at Jack's unique gift.

“It's a plant!” Jack exclaimed with wide eyes.

“And he can love it for years to come.  Your, uh ... what is this again?” Daniel asked about the odd-shaped item on the counter.

“It's one of a kind,” Jack said in defense of his Froot Loops and marshmallow sculpture that was made in the image of Oprah Winfrey.  “He can feast his eyes on it and then let his stomach enjoy it.”

“Or it can make him throw up,” the younger man observed dubiously about the edible gift.

“Very funny, Daniel.  You just make sure you deliver it for me, Plant Boy,” Jack teased, both men briefly remembering the mission that had sparked that nickname.

“Will do, Loopy Boy,” Daniel teased in return.  Both men chuckled, then suddenly Daniel turned serious and leaned in for a kiss.  “I'll miss you,” he added softly.

“I hate being away from you,” Jack responded softly.  Hearing a honk, Jack sighed.  “That'll be the airman,” he noted.

“Don't scare him too much, Jack,” Daniel chuckled.

“Love you,” Jack said, pulling his lover in for a tender goodbye kiss.

“Say 'hello' to General Hammond for me,” Daniel requested in between more kisses.

Two minutes later, the horn sounded again, interrupting their passionate farewell kiss.

“I love you, Jack,” Daniel intoned as he leaned his forehead against his lover's.

“I love you, Angel,” Jack replied, sighing and then backing away.

Jack put on his jacket, threw his duffel bag over his shoulder, and then picked up his briefcase before heading out the door where a driver was waiting to take him to the airport.

====

“Did he like it?” Jack asked as he and his lover caught up with the last day-and-a-half while playing with the beagles.  “Long one, Bij!” he called out as he tossed the green Frisbee into the air.

“Nice catch!” Daniel praised a moment later as he threw a tennis ball for Katie to fetch.  “He thought it was ... unique,” he answered about his lover's housewarming gift.

“I'll bet he puts it on his dining table,” Jack remarked.  “It's an excellent centerpiece.”

“If he lived on a garbage scowl,” Daniel mumbled under his breath.

“What was that?”

“I said, he doesn't have one of those, yet,” Daniel responded, referring to the dining table.  “The apartment is still pretty bare.

“I thought he was going shopping,” Jack responded.  “Grrrr yourself,” he grunted to the mama beagle as they briefly fought for the round object.  “Low and fast,” he said, hurling the Frisbee, cheering when Bijou made a terrific catch and then pranced around the yard victoriously.

“He is, but he's been busy.”

“Busy?” Jack questioned.

Daniel just shrugged as he tossed the ball for the youngest canine again.

“What did Carter bring?” the older man asked.  Seeing Daniel frown slightly, he called out, “Danny?”

Daniel sighed, “A plant.”

Jack leaned his head backwards for a moment as he laughed, saying, “Geeks -- they all think alike.”  A moment later, he expressed, “Ow!”  He turned and rubbed his rear end, glaring at Daniel at the same time.  “Hey!”

“Oh, sorry, Babe.  I guess I missed,” the younger man smirked, having tossed the ball for Katie again and 'accidentally' hitting Jack's buttocks.

“You're not sorry, Daniel,” the older man groaned.

“You're right.  I'm not,” Daniel laughed as picked Katie up to pet her for a while.

~Snarky devil,~ Jack opined inwardly.  He smiled.  ~Geez, I love him.~

====

Just under two months later, Jack and Daniel were in their bedroom.  It had been a long day at the Mountain for both of them.

“Danny, someone has to talk to him.  Kendrick is on my back big time about this last incident,” Jack stated as he stood by their dresser, fidgeting with different items.

“Jack, he's just trying to be a good citizen,” Daniel rationalized about Teal'c's behavior since moving off the military base.

“Low profile, Daniel,” Jack replied.  “He has to keep a low profile; he can't keep doing this.  Three, Daniel, he knocked out three goons.  That draws attention.”

“He was just protecting ...” Daniel began as he stood, hands in his pockets, a few feet from the closet.

“I know what he was doing, and so does the OSI.  I don't mind; they do,” Jack complained.

“I guess you'd better talk to him then,” Daniel said.

Jack coughed, saying, “I was thinking you might do it.”

“Me?” Daniel asked in disbelief, his right hand moving from his pocket to point at his chest.  Shaking his head, he replied, “I don't think so, Babe.”

“Danny, you can say it right.  You're much better with words than I am,” Jack cajoled.

“No!” the linguist refused vehemently.

Jack approached his lover, who took one step back for every one Jack took forward until his back was against the wall.

“For me?” Jack asked with shining eyes.

“No!” Daniel maintained strongly.

The older man leaned in for a tender kiss.  He followed that up with several kisses along Daniel's neck, going from ear to ear.

“Please,” Jack requested softly.

“Uh, I mean, no!” Daniel said with a bit less conviction as he began to wilt under his husband's affection.

“He needs to understand; I've tried, Danny.  This needs your magic touch,” Jack spoke, after which he blew lightly into his lover's right ear.  That was followed by a gentle nibble on Daniel's earlobe.  “Please.”

“Gawd ...”

“Is that a yes?” Jack asked hopefully.

“No, it's a no,” Daniel answered, somehow finding the strength to move away from his amorous soulmate.

“But, Danny, you have a silver tongue; you can get him to understand.  From me, it'll just sound like an order,” Jack replied.  He moved to stand behind his lover, putting his arms around him, slipping his hands under Daniel's lavender shirt.  “Please,” Jack said again.

“Do your own dirty work, O'Neill,” Daniel told him, trying to keep a strong demeanor.

Jack walked around the younger man and began another kissing assault. Admittedly, Daniel wasn't resisting much, especially when Jack lowered them onto the bed.  Jack's kisses intensified, and his right hand worked diligently to undo his lover's belt, pants button, and zipper.

“Please,” Jack repeated his plea.

“No, uh, way, not ... uh, no,” Daniel answered as Jack quickly ceased his actions to take off his pants.  “Not ... going ... oh, yes, Jack!”

“Thank you, Angel, I knew I could count on you to talk to Teal'c,” an immensely pleased Jack chimed.

“But I ... oh, gawd, yes!”

As Daniel fell under his soulmate's spell, Jack enjoyed not only the pleasure of their union, but his success at talking Daniel into speaking with Teal'c.

~Well, done, if I do say so myself,~ Jack thought before putting his full efforts into pleasing his husband as they made love.

====

~That wasn't fair.  Paybacks, O'Neill.  One of these days ...~  Smiling, Daniel greeted, “Hey!” to Teal'c when the door opened.

After Teal'c invited him inside his apartment, Daniel took in the decor and commented, “Wow!  I like what you're doin' with the place -- sort of, um, Jaffa chic with a ... East African flair.”  ~At least he has furniture now.~

“I have discovered there are many programs on television which offer advice in the area of home design and decoration,” Teal'c responded.

“I'm a little more into the History Channel myself,” Daniel admitted.  ~I should have watched television last night.  Why did I let Jack talk me into this?~  Feeling a certain body part react briefly to the memory of the previous night, he thought, ~Oh, yeah, that's why.~

The polite host inquired, “Can I offer you anything?”

~A quick way out of here?~  With his hands in his pockets, Daniel nervously responded, “No, I'm fine.  Um ... How's the fern doin'?”  After Teal'c pointed him towards the item, Daniel walked over to the weakened plant.  He took note of its dryness and limping stems and asked, “I don't suppose you've tried talking to it?”

Teal'c answered, “I have not.  Perhaps you should tell me why you are here.”

~Not buying my cover, huh?~  Daniel replied, “A guy just can't come by and visit his friend?” while sitting down in a chair and trying to look as innocent as he could.

Teal'c, however, simply stared at his friend with intensity, not buying the innocent act one bit.

While biting his lip, Daniel tapped his hands on his knees rhythmically and finally thought, ~Okay, just get to it.~  With a near-gasp, and at the same time he stood up again, he spoke, “Yep, heard what happened the other day.  Three KOs, first round.”

“O'Neill sent you to speak with me,” the Jaffa correctly deduced.

“No ... ye...ye...yeah,” Daniel hesitantly admitted.

The Jaffa stated, “I broke no law.  I intervened to prevent a criminal activity and was forced to defend myself.”

~This is not easy.~  Fidgeting slightly, Daniel said, “You see, that's kind of the point.  Look, there's no reason why you shouldn't be allowed to live off-base, I mean, especially when you're not carrying a symbiote any more, but ... you're supposed to be keeping a low profile.”

“That is not always easy,” Teal'c replied.

“Yeah, I'm not just talking about the tattoo, although I do see how that could be a problem,” Daniel commented, briefly glancing at Teal'c's forehead.

Teal'c responded, “I often cover it to avoid stares in public, but I tell those who have seen it that it is a tribal mark from my home land.”

~I'm going to kill Jack.~  Daniel explained, “Yes, this is less about appearance than it is about behavior.”

“Have I not conducted myself as a typical member of this community?” Teal'c asked straightforwardly.

~No, I'm not going to kill him; I'm going to become a monk for a month, which means Jack will be a monk for a month, too; that should do it.~  Though he was nodding, Daniel stammered out, “No ... no, actually, no, you haven't.  Um, besides the other day, there was, uh, the incident with the old man and the teenagers in the park; there was that thing with the guy with the pit-bull ...”

“In each case, I was only attempting to render assistance where it was needed,” Teal'c insisted as he explained his actions.

Daniel replied, “See, that's kind of the problem.  Uh, normally human beings are a little more ... careful about getting involved in business that isn't theirs.  I know.  That sounds bad, but it's just the way it is, and, um, you can't afford to be drawing attention to yourself.”

“I understand,” Teal'c acknowledged, after which he was distracted by a knock on his door.

====

“JACK?” Daniel shouted as he entered their home.

“Study!” Jack shouted back.

Daniel entered the study and hopped up onto the desk.  He folded his arms in front of him and looked at his lover with a smirky expression.

“Hello to you, too,” Jack said.

“We'll, uh, put aside for a few minutes the fact that you're about to be frustrated for a month and get to the real news,” Daniel began, a cocky grin still on his face.

“Frustrated?”  Jack frowned.  “Frustrated *how*?”

“No sex,” Daniel practically whispered.

“Daniel!”

“He met a girl,” Daniel said, ignoring Jack's outrage.

“Who?  What?” a surprised Jack asked.

“Teal'c met a girl,” Daniel repeated.

“He has a girl.  Doesn't he?” the older man inquired.

Daniel flopped his head back and forth a few times and said, “I'm not sure about Ishta, but, uh, trust me, there was ... sparkage, as you like to call it.”

“Daniel, what are you talking about?” Jack asked.

“Her name is Krista James, and she lives in the apartment next to Teal'c's.  She, uh, brought him cookies,” Daniel said with wide eyes.

“Chocolate chips?” Jack inquired.

Laughing, Daniel shrugged and said, “I have no idea.  Teal'c gave her the cover story, uh, that he's my research assistant from ...”

“Mozambique,” Jack completed for his lover.  “Who came up with that one anyway?”

“Uh, you did,” Daniel answered.

“Oh.  Blonde?” Jack asked about the girl.

“No, brunette, long hair, asked Teal'c to fix her pipes,” Daniel remarked, still with a sly smile on his face.

“Fixing her pipes already?” Jack quipped.  “He works fast.”

“Apparently,” Daniel agreed.  “I, uh, told Teal'c every rule has its exceptions.”

“That good?” Jack asked.

“He seemed to think so,” Daniel responded as he stood up.  “So, now that I've done your dirty work for you, I'm going to go read a book.”

“Daniel, about the sex ...”

Daniel looked over at his lover, smiled, and said, “Catch me if you can,” before running out of the study.

In a flash, the general became the hunter, determined to get his prey.  He was confident he'd succeed.

Unfortunately, Daniel wasn't making it easy.  He ran all through the house and even out into the backyard, laughing tauntingly at his lover.  He ran around the front of the house, not caring in this one moment whether or not neighbors saw them.  They ran around their cars and then Daniel led his chasing soulmate back to the backyard.  As Daniel attempted to dodge his husband by moving back and forth from left to right, the beagles' doghouse between them, Jack cried out, “For crying out loud Daniel, by the time I catch you, I'll be too tired to do anything.”

“Paybacks, My Love,” Daniel chuckled as he dashed by Jack.

“If I didn't love him so much, I'd strangle him,” Jack mumbled before following after his fast-running husband.

Ten minutes later, Daniel let Jack catch him in their bedroom.  Two minutes after that, their two bodies were raging in their passion for each other.

The hunter and his prey were once again 'one' in every way.

====

Late afternoon, roughly two weeks later, as Jack headed for his office, he saw Teal'c walking towards the elevator.

“Hey, Big Guy, how about some boxing?”

“You wish to practice falling down some more, O'Neill?” the Jaffa quipped.

“That's a good one, T,” Jack responded with a forced grin.  Clearing his throat, he said, “How about it?”

“I cannot, O'Neill.  I have plans.”

“Plans?” Jack asked, raising an eyebrow.  “Brunette?”

As the elevator doors opened, Teal'c walked inside and turned around to face the front.  He stared at the general, never answering the question.

As the doors began to shut, Jack leaned over so the Jaffa could still see his face, and stated, “Just asking.  Don't do anything ...”  The doors closed, and Jack straightened, completing his thought -- “... that I wouldn't do.”

After a moment, Jack cocked his head then continued to his office.

====

The next day, Jack, Daniel, and Sam were all at Cheyenne Mountain, working the graveyard shift.  Actually, Sam didn't have to be there, but she preferred being in her lab to being at home these days.  It was Jack who was supposed to be there, determined not to use his new position as brigadier general to avoid working the less-desired shifts.  Since he was taking that shift, Daniel opted to do the same.

All three teammates planned on sleeping in the VIP rooms for a few hours before continuing on with their scheduled day-shifts.  Teal'c was the only one who had gone home as scheduled.

Shortly after midnight, Jack walked into Daniel's office, picked up a green triangular object that was on one of the shelves, and walked over to a stool, sitting down.  Staring at the object, he began to fidget with it in his hands, turning it over and over.

From his desk, Daniel watched with interest.  His lover hadn't even said hello.  Clearly, something was bothering him.

“Uh, you're not going to drop that or anything, are you?” the archaeologist finally asked, his eyes focusing on the artifact from PR2-990 that Jack was toying with.

“Daniel, Carter's doing that thing again,” Jack answered without answering the question that had just been asked.

“Uh, what thing?” Daniel asked, getting up and walking in front of his desk, leaning back against it and folding his arms across his chest.

“That thing she does with her eyes.  Eww,” Jack said, shivering.

“Jack, would you care to be more specific?” Daniel requested.

“You know, Danny, that thing with her eyes.  Geez, sometimes it gets so melodramatic that I think there should be violin music in the background.”

~Oh, that thing.~  Having surmised what the problem was, Daniel chuckled, saying, “She's scared.”

“Shanahan gave her a ring,” Jack revealed.

“I know,” Daniel replied.

“You *know*?” Jack questioned, sitting up straighter.

“She told me last week,” Daniel stated informatively.

“And *why* didn't you tell me?” Jack asked.

“Because she asked me not to,” the archaeologist answered.

Jack groaned, then said, “She was muttering on about kids and daycare, and then she asked me what if things were different.  Daniel, she had those eyes going.”

“I told you, Jack, she's scared.  She loves Pete, a lot, but she's not sure she knows how to integrate being a wife and a colonel, so, uh, I guess she's ... slipping,” Daniel supposed.  “It doesn't mean anything.  It'll pass.”

“I don't like it when she does that,” Jack confided as he continued to flip the green item around in his hands.  “It makes me nervous.”

“It'll be okay, Jack.  She just needs a little time to make up her mind,” Daniel said.

“It's been *two* weeks, Daniel,” Jack complained.  “How long does it take to say 'yes'?”

“And it's the first time she's said anything to you, which probably means she's close to saying 'yes',” Daniel stated assuredly.

“You think she will?” Jack asked hopefully.  ~I can't handle much more of those dang violin moments.~

“She loves him.”

Jack nodded, agreeing, “Yes, she does, and that's a good thing.”  Standing up and walking towards his husband, he glanced out the door and then whispered, “Daniel, if Carter and I ever even thought seriously about getting together, we'd kill each other.  Doesn't she know that?”

“I'm sure you're overreacting.”

“Daniel, she asked what if things were different!” Jack responded.  “I told her I wouldn't be here, if they were.”  He sighed, “I'll give her this -- she's a good friend, but if I had to spend more than a mission with her, she'd drive me out of my friggin' mind.  I'd kill her; end up on 'America's Most Wanted' or something.”

“Is that still on the air?”

“Daniel!”

Daniel chuckled, then replied smugly, “Good thing you're already married then,” raising his eyebrows as he spoke.

**I love you.**

**I love you, too, Babe.**  Smiling, Daniel stated, “Trust me.  Sam gets confused sometimes when she gets scared.  I don't think it'll be much longer.”

“I hope not,” Jack groaned as he walked over and put the artifact back in its place.  As he was about to exit, he smirked, “See, I didn't drop it.”

“You never do, Jack,” Daniel chuckled as he returned to his task.  As he began to go back to work, he glanced up at the security camera.  ~Oops.  Probably should have turned that off.  We ... stretched it that time.  Oh, well.  No one pays attention to those things unless there's an emergency ... I hope.~

====

“Jack, have you found out anything more?” Daniel asked mid-morning, entering his lover's office.

Earlier, it had been learned that Krista's boyfriend, Doug, had been found murdered in the woman's apartment.  As a result, Sam had left the Mountain, meeting Pete to request his help, since he was a police detective.

Jack was on the phone and held his hand up, signaling Daniel to pause and wait for him to finish.  When he was done two minutes later, he hung up and sighed.

“Was that about Teal'c?” Daniel asked.

“Yes, it was Andy,” Jack replied, referring to a friend of his who was the local sheriff.  “It's not his territory, but he told me what he could.  Neighbors have reported confrontations between this Doug person and Teal'c.  Just how close has Teal'c gotten to this girl?”

“Pretty close, I think,” Daniel answered.

“Close, as in close?” Jack asked pointedly.

Daniel's eyes darted around the room, and then he shrugged.

Jack shook his head, saying, “It doesn't look good.”  Just then, the phone rang.  “O'Neill.”

Daniel saw Jack's tense reaction to the news, but didn't know if the message was good or bad.

Hanging up, Jack announced, “SFs found Teal'c in a motel room on the outskirts of town.  The girl was gone.  They're bringing him in.”

“Kendrick is going to want Teal'c's hide,” Daniel bemoaned about the OSI operative.

“I can handle Kendrick,” Jack insisted confidently.

“I know you can; just pick your battles, Jack.  Teal'c needs us to clear him, not make things worse,” Daniel stated.

“And how could I make things worse?” the general questioned.

“All I'm saying is don't make things worse by picking on Kendrick; he's just doing his job, no matter how misguided he may be,” Daniel spoke.

Jack nodded, as did Daniel, and then he quietly left the room a few moments later.  Of course, he understood what his lover was saying.  Soon, Kendrick would show up, probably demanding Teal'c be locked up.  If Jack refused, he'd probably go over his head and have Teal'c taken to some military prison.

~You're right, Danny.  I'll play ball with Kendrick.  I'll give a little when I have to, and Teal'c will stay here.~

====

“Daniel, I could break your friggin' neck for not telling me about this,” Jack  snapped.

“Jack, you wouldn't have let me go,” Daniel rationalized as they stood in his office, the security equipment having been turned off and both doors shut and locked immediately upon Jack's entrance.

“You've got that right,” Jack barked.

“It was the only way to get the tape, and the tape was the only way of proving Teal'c didn't kill Krista's boyfriend,” Daniel explained.

Earlier in the afternoon, Daniel had been contacted by the Trust, a group of ex-NID members who believed in doing whatever was necessary to secure weapons or technology that would help defeat the Goa'uld.  They had demanded he translate a group of symbols from Ancient into Goa'uld, for a purpose that was still unknown to the linguist.  In return, they had offered a tape they claimed proved Teal'c was completely innocent and had no involvement in Doug's death.

The tape showed that Doug had confronted Krista and was becoming uncontrollable when the young woman used a move the Jaffa had taught her to crush Doug's windpipe.  It was a clear-cut case of self-defense on Krista's part.

In addition, the Trust had kidnapped Krista to help secure Daniel's assistance.  They had ordered him to go to a park alone.  From there, they had taken him to a warehouse where Krista was brought in.  Having had no choice, Daniel provided the translation to the Trust.

“I'm aware of that, but you were wrong, Daniel, and you know it,” Jack accused harshly.

“Would you have done any different, Jack?” Daniel asked calmly.

“Yes, I would have told you,” Jack said.  “I would have found a way.”

“That's crap, Jack.”  Daniel paused, walking three steps closer to his lover. “It was the time factor.  I had to move, and move fast, and I *did* try to tell you.”

“Yes, Daniel, your message was 'I have to go; don't worry'.  'Don't worry?'”  Jack's voice raised as he asked, “You put that in my mind and think I won't worry?”

Daniel sighed, admitting, “I knew you wouldn't let me go, and I had to go.”

“The Trust is serious business, Daniel.  They'd kill you without blinking, if it would help their cause,” Jack said.

“I know that, but it worked out okay,” Daniel said quietly.

“Daniel,” an annoyed Jack began, shaking his head.  “You translated those Ancient symbols into Goa'uld for them.”

“If I hadn't, they would have killed Krista,” the linguist pointed out.  “I didn't have a choice.”

“Yes, you did.  You could have told me and gone in there with backup,” Jack challenged.

“They would have known if I wasn't alone; I told you that.  I did the only thing I could have,” the younger man stated firmly.

“YOU COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED!” Jack shouted.

Nodding, Daniel agreed and added, “I ... Jack, I thought I was going to die.  For a few seconds there, when he told us to face the wall, I really thought they were going to kill us.  I ... I thought forever was over.”

“Danny,” Jack said more calmly than before, sensing the vulnerability in his lover at the moment.  He moved closer, raising his right palm to his soulmate's cheek.  “What am I going to do with you?”

“I have, uh, a few ideas about that,” Daniel answered with misty eyes and a tiny smile on his face.

“Ah, Danny,” Jack sighed, taking his husband into his arms.  “You were scared.  You don't normally get scared.”

“I was scared for you, of me being killed, and you being alone,” Daniel confided.

There was a pause as the two men held onto each other, grateful for this moment.

“But you know I wouldn't have been,” Jack replied softly a few moments later, a gentle reminder of their pact made long ago.

“I love you, Jack, and, deep down, I know you're right because if you had gone off like I did, I'd be angry, very angry, but they had me on the clock, and I just didn't see a way out,” Daniel explained emotionally.  “On the, uh, bright side, Sam finally made up her mind and told Pete she'd marry him.”

“That makes it all worth it then,” Jack replied sarcastically, pulling away from his lover.  Angrily, he continued, “Daniel, you're lucky The Trust used that gizmo to transport themselves somewhere else and didn't kill you before Carter and the others were able to break into that warehouse where you were being held!”

“Jack, we could fight about this all night, you know, and it wouldn't change the fact that it's already happened.  I'm sorry, but there's nothing I can do about it now,” Daniel stated.

“Yeah, but if this all happened again, you'd do exactly the same thing,” Jack challenged.

Daniel didn't respond.  He didn't need to.  He knew that there was no way he could have not done everything he could to help Teal'c.

Jack sighed as he took his lover back into his arms, saying, “It's not okay, Danny, but in your place, I probably would have done the same thing.”  He placed a kiss on Daniel's neck and then pulled back for a more tender kiss on the lips.  “Love you, Space Monkey.”

====

A couple of days later, Daniel put on his green BDU jacket and turned out the lights in his office.  He walked, head down, towards the elevator.

“Goodnight, Doctor Jackson,” Joanie Campbell said as she passed her boss in the hallway.

“Goodnight, Joanie,” Daniel said, lost in his thoughts as he arrived at the elevator and waited for the doors to open.  Patiently, he stood, hands in his pockets, until the doors opened.  Walking inside, he pressed the button, selecting the twenty-eighth floor.  ~I wish I could press a button and figure out a solution to this problem.  On the one hand, Teal'c has the right to live where he wants to; he's earned that after all these years.  On the other hand, the government has to protect the Program.  I understand that, too.  Rights versus security: there has to be an answer; we just need to find it.~

A minute later, Daniel was on the desired floor, walking towards his husband's office.  As he approached, he put his right hand to his face, momentarily rubbing his nose with the crook of one finger.  He was trying to think of something positive to say, but as he turned into Jack's office, he gave up the idea.

“Yes, General, I understand,” Jack droned.  “We have no choice,” he said, looking over at Daniel with dull eyes.  “Right, Sir.  I'll take care of it,” the brigadier general promised the lieutenant general.  Hanging up, Jack stated dryly, “Hammond.  He agrees with the OSI; Teal'c's too much of a risk.”

Daniel looked back into the corridor for a moment as he walked to the center of the office and sat down on one of the chairs in front of Jack's desk.

“The military doesn't always make smart decisions,” Daniel responded, not really knowing what else to say.

Jack stood up and walked to the other side of the room, staring at some of his memorabilia on the wall.  He was already in street attire, having been on his way out of the SGC when Sergeant Davis had caught up with him to announce Hammond's phone call.

“It's not fair, Daniel.  He's saved our butts how many times?” Jack asked, glancing back at Daniel.

“I've lost count,” Daniel admitted.

Jack nodded and continued, “This isn't about his saving our collective butts, it's about freedom, the right to move about freely, to live where you want to live.  It's not about size.  I'm, uh, going to make sure Teal'c's new quarters are bigger than before, but that's not the issue, either.”

“I know,” Daniel replied softly.

“This planet wouldn't exist anymore, or we wouldn't be able to think without snakes in our guts or our heads, if it weren't for Teal'c, and the best this country can do is give him a few candles?”  Jack shook his head.  “He knows our laws better than we do.”

Daniel chuckled, “I don't think I've ever known anyone before who could quote the vehicle code ... and give you the page number it was on.”

“Did I ever tell you,” Jack began, turning around to face Daniel, who was still seated.  He crossed his arms in front of him and continued, “... that when Teal'c took the written driver's exam he complained to the gal doing the scoring that she only graded the first side of the test?”

The archaeologist chuckled, “You mean he did both sides?  Didn't she tell him to only do the one?”

“Teal'c said he'd never heard anyone talk as fast as you before.  He missed that comment and filled out both sides,” Jack answered.

“I don't ... talk fast,” Daniel said.  Seeing Jack's daring stare, Daniel coughed and said evasively, “So, uh, no chance of a reprieve?”

“No,” Jack answered sadly, shaking his head.

“Jack, Teal'c will understand,” Daniel claimed confidently.

“Of course, he will.  He'll stand there and take it like a Jaffa,” Jack agreed.

“But that doesn't make it any easier,” the younger man admitted.

“I might as well get it over with.  This has been one friggin' bad day.  Blasted OSI,” Jack cursed as he grabbed his leather jacket and briskly left his office.  **See you at home.  I love you, Angel.**

**Okay.  I love you, too.**  Daniel sighed.  He felt bad for their friend, but he also knew Jack was feeling this even more deeply.  Yes, the Jaffa were on the verge of obtaining their freedom, due in large part to the help of the Tau'ri, but it was Jack who had promised Teal'c a better life for himself and his family years earlier when they had first met.  ~That's what this is about, Babe.  We've never quite lived up to our words, to our ideals.  You made all those promises, and the government has let you down.  I can't change that, but maybe I can make you feel a little bit better.~

Daniel gave a quick smile and then stood.  He headed for the locker room where he planned to change clothes and go home, where he'd be ready to console his lover when Jack arrived home.

====

Jack knocked on the door to Teal'c's apartment.  He stood with his hands on his hips as he bounced slightly on the balls of his feet.  He stared downward, still searching for the words he was about to say when the door opened.

“O'Neill,” Teal'c greeted.

“Hey, T.  May I come in?” Jack inquired politely.

Teal'c bowed his head and stepped aside, allowing room for Jack to enter.

A bit nervously, the general entered the apartment.  He looked around, focusing on the fern that sat on the mantel.

“It looks better than Daniel described,” Jack said out of nowhere.

“Both DanielJackson and SamanthaCarter advised me to talk to it,” the Jaffa revealed.

Jack looked around in surprise, his eyes wide and voice a tad lilted as he asked, “You talked to your plant, T?”

Teal'c simply stared, refusing to answer the question.  His hands were behind his back, clasped together.  He wore khaki pants and a white shirt with yellow and black squiggles all over it.  Teal'c's casual clothing was a freedom that was a byproduct of having his own apartment.  Seeing that fueled Jack's regret at the situation.

Still not ready to face the task at hand, Jack asked, “T, I don't think I've ever seen you wear anything quite so festive.”

“O'Neill, you have not come here to discuss my attire,” Teal'c announced.

“No, no I didn't, exactly,” Jack admitted with a heavy sigh.  “Teal'c, this is a great place.  It's a good start,” he sighed.

Teal'c's head raised a bit higher, and he raised an eyebrow as he observed the general's demeanor.

“I am being ordered back to the SGC, am I not?” the proud Jaffa asked.

“T ...”  Jack looked away, biting his lip for a moment.  Then, he nodded.  “I tried everything I could.  They're afraid you'll continue to draw attention to the Program.  The OSI,” Jack said, rolling his eyes, “doesn't believe it's advisable to take the risk.”

“I have done my best to live by the laws of your land,” Teal'c announced.

“And you have, to a tee, T,” Jack said, full of guilt and anger over his friend's impending move back to the Mountain.

“The Tau'ri do not honor laws as the Jaffa do,” Teal'c observed.

“No, no we don't,” Jack admitted.  After a pause, he added, “I'm sorry, Teal'c, but you have to move back to the base.  I'll try again, but right now, there's nothing I can do.  I tried.  Maybe ...”

“I understand,” the warrior interrupted with understanding.  “My lease requires a thirty-day notice.”

“Honor that,” Jack said.  “I'm not going to have you breaking your word because of this.  Ah, you have to come back this week, but we'll stick 'em with the month's rent,” he spoke about the government.

“Thank you, O'Neill.”

“That's what Level Three is for,” Jack replied about the accounting department as he nodded and headed for the door.  He paused and looked back, saying, “I am sorry.”

Teal'c bowed his head and watched as Jack left the apartment.

Staring back at the closed door, Jack felt like a heel.  His heart heavy, he headed for home.

====

Dejectedly, Jack walked inside the country-style home that was his paradise shared with his husband.  He hadn't been this depressed over anything in quite a while.  Immediately, though, the ambiance of the home drew him away from his despair.  The lights were dimmed, and candles flickered throughout the hallway and living room.  Livening up the air were the sweet sounds of John Tesh.

Jack smiled at Bijou and Katie, who were sleeping on their beanbag, next to the fireplace.  For a moment, Bijou looked up, yawning when she saw Jack.

“Hello, Girl,” Jack greeted warmly.

The beagle's reaction was to lay her head back down and lick her chops.  Clearly, they'd been asleep for a while, and the room was so cozy and warm that Jack couldn't blame the dogs for not running over to greet him on this one occasion.

A fire was roaring in the fireplace.  Jack and Daniel loved fires, no matter what month of the year it was.  They oftentimes would put on the air conditioner just to chill the house so that they could enjoy a toasty fire, and that's exactly what Daniel had done today.

On the coffee table in front of the sofa was a glass-covered platter of finger sandwiches, celery strips filled with peanut butter, chocolate truffles, chocolate covered strawberries, and a Big Hunk bar, cut into pieces, which caused Jack to chuckle since it was his all-time favorite candy bar.

Jack looked over at the counter, and there stood the most beautiful sight in the world to him -- his Daniel.

Dressed in a long-sleeve, blue velveteen shirt with a V-neck that was open and navy pants, Daniel held two drinks, one in each hand.  He walked over to Jack, leaning in for a tender hello kiss.  Jack took his glass, the couple staying close together.  He tasted the wine, and then he tasted his Love once again.

“Mmmm, that's good,” Jack sighed with a smile.

Instinctively, the two swayed to the piano keys that played in their hearts.  Daniel's arms wrapped around Jack's neck, his wineglass in his right hand.  Jack's arms were warming his lover's back, his glass in his right hand as well.  They kissed yet again.

“How'd it go?” Daniel asked.

“He took it well.  I think he was expecting it,” Jack said sadly.

“I'm guessing he insisted on giving notice,” Daniel replied.

“To the letter of the lease, and ...”  Jack stopped, walked to the phone, and made a quick phone call, surprising the younger man.  “Teal'c, screw the OSI.  Stay the full month, if you want, and we're still gonna stick them with the bill ... Right; it's your choice ... Night.”

“Jack?”

“They wanted him back at the Mountain this week, but, blast it, Danny, they can wait thirty days before making him a prisoner again,” Jack snapped.

“He's not a prisoner; he, uh, he ...”  Seeing Jack's glare, Daniel sighed.  “He can still go out whenever he wants, Jack.  He just can't live off-base right now.”

“Does he want to stay?” Daniel asked as the two men drew close once again.

“I don't know, but he's made friends out there, and he deserves better than to have to pack up and disappear from their lives in two days.”  Jack paused, then groused, “The OSI was against it from the beginning.”

“Shhh!” Daniel said, kissing his lover again and wanting to soothe the tension he felt from the older man.  He then placed a few kisses at the base of Jack's neck and cuddled closer as their bodies gave in to the smooth calm of the chords from the CD player.  After a couple of minutes, when Jack's heartbeat and pulse rate were back down in Daniel's perception, he quietly stated, “You're my general, General, and you are very determined.  You'll find a way to fix this.”

“How, Danny?  It took my promotion to make this happen.  I don't foresee another promotion anytime soon,” Jack opined, his voice full of disappointment at the turn of events.

“Jack, we can't fix this today or even tomorrow.  I know we both feel lousy about Teal'c having to move back to the SGC, but I've been thinking.”  Daniel paused, then smiled as he said, “Don't say it.”

“I love your thinking,” Jack surprised his soulmate by saying.

“Right,” Daniel replied dryly.  “As I was saying, there's always an 'or'.  That's what you've always said, and I believe you,” he proclaimed, gazing into his lover's chocolate brown eyes.

“And what 'or' did you come up with?” Jack asked, having complete faith in Daniel's 'or-thinking' capabilities.

Smiling, the younger man answered, “We just need to help Teal'c adjust a little more to the quirks of our culture.”

Jack smirked, “You mean learn how not to be so honest and not to come to everyone's aid at the drop of a hat?”

Daniel sighed as the two continued their slow dance around the living room floor.  He took a sip of his wine and then a taste of his Love before returning to his previous position with his arm around Jack's neck.

“It's a fine line, Jack.  We both know that, but I don't want to think about Teal'c living the rest of his life in that ... room,” Daniel stated about Teal'c's quarters at the Mountain.

“So, starting tomorrow, we begin 'Operation Move Out',” Jack quipped.

“All of us can coach him, use examples from the news and the papers, and maybe over some time, he'll learn,” Daniel said hopefully.

“Learn that he's a better human than humans?” Jack asked softly.

Daniel sighed again and shook his head just slightly before responding, “Babe, we are who we are, and, uh, maybe we need to be a little more honest with Teal'c about that, although I'm sure he already knows.”  After a moment, he added, “The human race has a lot to learn.”

Suddenly, both lovers chuckled, and in unison said, “The very young do not always do as they are told.”

“Or as they should,” Daniel added.

“Next year,” Jack announced firmly, referring to when he'd again go to bat for the Jaffa and use his weight to convince the OSI to give Teal'c another chance for freedom, at least as it relates to living outside the gray corridors of the military installation.

“Next year,” Daniel agreed, smiling.

Jack led the two over to the sofa where they sank down, Daniel gazing up into his soulmate's sexy brown eyes.  Jack took their glasses and put them on the coffee table before beginning a gentle round of kissing and fondling.  The girls were still sleeping on their beanbag, so he knew they wouldn't make love -- yet.

“I love you, Angel.  Thank you for coming up with an 'or',” Jack spoke between kisses.

“Love you, too, my Silver Fox, and, uh, you're welcome,” Daniel replied.

Daniel had known there wasn't an instant fix to their sadness, but resolving that they could try again down the road, coaching Teal'c a bit more thoroughly in the meantime on daily Earth living, had eased their sadness.  Now, the soulmates agreed on yet one more thing -- that they would spend the rest of this evening having the romantic interlude Daniel had arranged for them.

~All things considered, it wasn't such a bad day after all,~ Jack thought.  Sharing a chocolate-covered strawberry with his lover, he decided, ~No, it's definitely a good day -- a good, good day.  Geez, I love him.~

Life may not be perfect on Earth, but for Jack and Daniel's nation of two, life was never better.

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