A Glimpse into the Past

Author: Orrymain
Category: Slash, Drama, H/C of the mental kind, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  2
Spoilers:  None
Size:  39kb
Written:  November 5-6,8, 2003  Revised:  January 18, March 19, July 11,17, 2005  Revised Again:  February 23, May 24-25, June 24, 2006
Summary:  With Jack's help, Daniel faces his childhood, recalling precious memories of his parents, after having a roll of his mother's film developed.
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) This story stands alone, but is a follow up to my fic, “Echoes of the Past”
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Drdjlover, Tina, QuinGem, Claudia, Allexandrya, Gail, Jodi, Linda, Cassiopeia!

A Glimpse into the Past
by Orrymain

“It’s the big game tonight, Dannyboy,” Jack cheerfully reminded, leaning against Daniel’s clutter strewn desk, juggling a dark wooden statue from hand to hand.  “Don’t be late!” he warned.

“Geez, Jack, you'd think it was the Stanley Cup or something,” the younger man joked, managing to prise the priceless artifact from his lover’s hands.

“Not quite,” Jack frowned, staring at the statue, “but I've been waiting all season to see this hotshot rookie, and this is going to be my only chance.  Don't be late,” Jack repeated anxiously, rubbing his hands together restlessly.

“Jack,” Daniel spoke gently, finally giving up the illusion he was actually getting any work done.  “Look, I'll wait for you on the curb; that way you won't even have to come up to get me.  Okay?” he suggested, trying to placate his restless lover so that he could get back to the research he was doing.

“I do love you, ya know,” Jack teased good naturedly as he headed for the door, looking back over his shoulder at Daniel who was obviously itching to go get back to his work.  “Sixteen-thirty, and not a minute later.”

“Sixteen-thirty?” Daniel asked blankly, looking up at the older man in confusion, his pen hovering in mid air.

“Daniel ... four-thirty,” Jack clarified exasperatedly.  ~Two dang years -- you would have thought he'd know military time by now.~

“Oh, right,” Daniel dryly mused, his lips twitching involuntarily, loving being the teaser instead of the teasee for a change.

“You did that on purpose!” Jack accused, finally catching on to the joke.

“Score one for the civilian,” Daniel chimed, grinning wickedly up at the colonel before returning to his papers.

“Geeks!” Jack mocked, smiling proudly to himself at his lover’s joke as he exited the room.

“I'll get you for that,” Daniel threatened the empty office, thinking Jack wouldn't hear him.

“Looking forward to it!” Jack called out from the hallway, laughing at Daniel’s annoyed ‘humph’.

====

“Oh for ... answer the blasted phone ... 'I'll be on the curb, Jack',” the older man mimicked sarcastically, flipping the cell phone shut and tossing it onto the seat.

Jack pulled into the nearest empty parking space he could find and jumped out of his truck, slamming the door shut.  He practically ran into Daniel's apartment building, swearing and cursing under his breath, his anger growing with every passing second.  He entered the brightly lit elevator, pressing the button for Daniel's floor harder than he needed to.  He paced the length of the enclosed space, muttering a multitude of death threats as the elevator rose towards the desired level.

~I can't believe him, being late like this.  I'm going to wring his cute little neck.  'I'll be waiting for you', my foot.  Four-thirty.  For crying out loud, I even converted the blasted time for him.  Traffic is going to be murder now.~

Jack whined out loud as he checked his watch for what must have been the twentieth time since entering the building, whining, “Mister Insensitivity.”  It was now 4:52 p.m.  “You are so dead, Daniel,” Jack growled, keys ready in his hand, as he exited the elevator and began closing the gap between himself and Daniel's eighth-floor apartment.

Unlocking the door, his blood pressure having risen to dangerous levels, Jack was fully prepared to follow through on his murderous thoughts and drag Daniel out of the apartment kicking and screaming if necessary.  The archaeologist knew how important this game was to Jack, and it irritated the older man to think that Daniel was lost in some book or old relic and had forgotten all about Jack and the game.

~S'pose I should be glad that he at least remembered to lock the friggin' door,~ an annoyed colonel thought.  He opened the door, stalked in, and was about to bellow out an enraged, “Daniel, get your butt over here” when he was stopped short by the image of his lover, huddled into himself in the corner of the sofa.

Dressed in his dark blue sweats, Daniel's back was leaning up against the arm of the sofa, his knees protectively drawn up to his chest, and his bare feet resting on the sofa cushions.  On the coffee table were a number of photographs.  More pictures were scattered on the floor, with a few on the sofa, and even more in Daniel's hands.

Even so, what had truly stopped Jack's outburst was the sight of tears running full force down his soulmate's face.  Every ounce of anger and rage that Jack had been building up for the last twenty minutes or so completely dissipated.  All he felt now was love, concern, and a gigantic need to comfort his angst-ridden life partner.

Jack rushed over to the sofa, quickly and carefully moving some of the photos onto the coffee table to keep them from harm.  He sat down close to an obviously distraught Daniel, wrapping his arms around him.

“Ah, Danny,” Jack spoke softly, raising his hands to the wet face of his soulmate and gently wiping away some of the falling tears that were immediately replaced by newly shed ones.  He pulled back a little so that he could look into Daniel's moist blue eyes. “I love you, Danny, love you so much.”

“Jack?” Daniel’s hoarse voice asked in surprise.

Only at that moment as his lover had spoken his name did Daniel realize he was no longer alone in the apartment.  A look of confusion crossed his face, even as his tears continued to fall.

Soothingly rubbing the younger man’s back, Jack spoke, “Yeah, that's me.  C'mere you, I need you to help me.”

“Help?” Daniel asked meekly, peering up at the older man.

“Yeah.  I'm cold and very lonely,” Jack responded, shifting his position slightly to be more comfortable and then holding open his arms.  “I need you here next to me to keep me warm and to remind me that I'm never alone when you're here and that you love me no matter what, forever.”

Daniel blinked a couple of times, more tears escaping and rolling down his face as he slowly inched over into Jack's tender embrace, immediately burrowing himself into his lover.

Jack smiled at the action and kissed his lover on the top of his head, running his long fingers through the soft strands of Daniel's shaggy brown hair.  He used the palm of his hand to cradle Daniel close to him, massaging gently, his chin resting against Daniel's head.

After a minute or so, Jack glanced over at the photos, examining them with his eyes and knowingly asked, “Mary?”

Daniel nodded against his neck, explaining, “Film was here when I got home. I took it to the one-hour place.  After all these years, the pictures came out really well.  I miss them, Jack, so much it hurts.  Gawd ...”

Daniel's sentence went unfinished as another flood of tears burst forth.  Jack suppressed a few of his own, needing to be strong for the younger man, as he gently swayed his lover back and forth, placing kiss after kiss wherever he could reach from his position.  He held Daniel tightly to him, repeating his words of love over and over.

Mary McClintock was a former schoolmate and friend of Daniel's mother, Claire.  She had volunteered at the New York Museum of Art and had visited with Claire, Melburn, and Daniel the morning of the disaster that ended not only the lives of Daniel's parents, but Daniel's happy childhood.

During their trip to New York City earlier in the year, Jack and Daniel had run into Mary at the museum.  She told them that she had a roll of undeveloped film that Claire had given her, as well as a few assorted photographs of Claire from college that she thought Daniel might enjoy seeing.  Mary had given Daniel her card and told him to contact her if he wanted the film.  He had done so not long ago, but was unsure whether or not the film would actually develop very well.

Minutes passed, and Daniel had calmed again as Jack continued to hold him close.

“Sorry,” Daniel sniffled, pulling back from his lover slightly.  “Being silly.”

“No, you're not,” Jack assured vehemently.  “These are your parents.  There's nothing silly about missing or mourning them.”

“But it's been so long ...” Daniel began to argue.

“Danny, when did you let yourself cry for them?”  Silence loomed in the air.  “That's the thing, Love.  You never grieved for them.  You locked yourself away and learned how to be an adult at eight-years-old.  That little boy inside you never cried, not for himself and not for his loss.  You're just catching up, that's all.  There isn't anything wrong or silly about that at all.”

“Hurts,” Daniel admitted bravely, his body trembling slightly with the tears that were still falling down his cheeks.

“I know,” Jack intoned with true empathy, his own heart hurting for Daniel.  “Hey,” he said a moment later, moving away slightly as he leaned forward to get the photographs.  “Tell me about these.”

Jack carefully picked up all the photos that were on the coffee table, floor, and sofa, and took the ones that Daniel still held limply in his hand.  He began putting them in order, right side up, not really looking at them, just wanting them to be ready for easy viewing.

Daniel didn't like the loss of contact from Jack and shifted nervously towards his lover hoping to regain the comfort, but since Jack had leaned forward, the connection was impossible.  He had felt totally safe and loved in Jack's warm embrace, and, right now, he desperately needed that security.

It wasn't a physical sense of safety that the archaeologist craved, but a mental one, one of grounding himself to the present, to reassure himself that with Jack, it was okay to visit the past because there was the contentment of the present to come back to.  Daniel desperately needed Jack's touch.

Daniel's breathing became more labored, his anxiety mounting with each prolonged second in time that passed.  Silently, he wondered when his connection to Jack had become so intense; all he knew was that it had, and right now that was enough for him.  Jack had taught him that it was okay to reach out and touch and that it was normal and acceptable to speak of needs and wants.

The archaeologist still had a hard time saying what he desired, believing that it was selfish to tell anyone his wants, but Jack had a way of cajoling him, of getting Daniel to talk; yet, to come out and say, “I need this” was still so foreign and alien to the younger man.

~Gawd, I'm going to explode if you don't touch me.  I need to be connected to you, Jack,~ Daniel desperately thought.  He couldn't stand the distance any longer, even though only a matter of inches separated them.  “Jack!”

Jack twisted around to look at his lover and saw a panic in his eyes that he didn't quite understand.

“I ... I need you,” Daniel managed to whisper, his eyes lowered as his breathing grew more rapid.

Jack heard his lover swallow hard after voicing his need and that only reinforced how emotionally difficult the request had been.

“Ah, Danny, I'm right here,” Jack promised, leaning back into the cushions and pulling his Heart to him.  He could feel Daniel trembling beneath his hands, sniffles desperately trying to be suppressed as Daniel literally clung to his lover.  “Shh, Love.  It's okay.  I'm not going anywhere; I'm all yours.”

Jack continued to quietly hold his Love until he finally felt the younger man settle against him calmly, his breathing settling and becoming more normal.  He didn't move an inch until the shaking had also stopped.

“I'm sorry,” Daniel apologized meekly.

“Don't you dare.  I've told you over and over -- I love you, Daniel, and whenever you need me, you'd better tell me.  So help me, Love, you hold out on me, and I'll really make you suffer,” Jack tried to both tease and reassure.

“Yes, but ...” the younger man began to object, his voice suddenly trailing off.

“But what?” Jack asked, caressing Daniel's arm and silently encouraging, ~Tell me, Danny.~

“I don't want you to ... to ...”

“To what?” Jack asked tenderly, gently prodding his lover to tell him what he needed.

“Don't let go of me, Jack,” Daniel pleaded.

“Never, not ever.”  Jack shifted slightly so he could pull Daniel even closer to him.  ~Dumb, O'Neill.  Shouldn't have let go of him.  Well, I've got you now, Danny, and I'm not letting go.  Now, about these pictures ...~  Jack made sure his grip on his lover was secure and then said encouragingly, “Let's look at these.”

“No.”

At first, Jack thought Daniel didn't want to look at the photos, but then Daniel moved a little and motioned to where he wanted Jack to go.  Jack smiled, knowing what Daniel wanted now.  It was a favorite position they maneuvered themselves into quite often.  It made Jack happy that, apparently, Daniel loved this hold as much as he did.

Jack was positioned at the edge of the sofa, somewhat kitty corner, with Daniel leaning his back against Jack's torso.  Both of Jack's arms were wrapped securely around Daniel's waist, and the younger man's head rested against Jack's left shoulder, leaning slightly against Jack's chin.

“Geez, I love you,” Jack reverently said as he placed a loving kiss on the top of Daniel's head.

Jack had to be honest with himself.  He hated the pain his lover was in; yet, there was a part of him that was glad Daniel was learning to speak up for himself and express his personal desires.  He knew that it had been difficult for him, that the little boy inside Daniel was frightened and needed protection.  For once, though, Daniel was letting Jack protect him, instead of turning into himself and shutting out the pain.

Jack asked, “Where do you want to start?”

“I love you, Jack,” Daniel intoned, needing to express his feelings verbally.

“I know, My Love.  I love to hear you say it, though.”

“Look,” Daniel said tentatively, taking the photos respectfully from Jack’s hands, “our last week in Egypt.”

Jack's hands snaked under Daniel's sweatshirt, lovingly caressing Daniel's abdomen as he viewed the photos and listened.

“Is that you?” the older man asked with a smile.

“See ... told you,” Daniel chuckled softly.  “Daddy would carry me on his shoulders as he walked around the dig sites.”

When Daniel turned to the next photo, Jack burst out laughing, “Danny, you lost your drawers?”

“It wasn't funny, Jack,” Daniel chastised, cringing at the photo, though it wasn't a bad feeling really.

Speaking emphatically, Jack intoned, “Oh, I've got to hear this story.”

Daniel wasn't the least bit tense anymore, so Jack felt it was safe to tease.  The photo was of an eight-year-old Daniel running along the side of a golden pyramid, completely naked.  The shot was from behind, so it was a “rear” shot, his long hair flopping on his back.  At the edge of the frame was a light brown camel, apparently following the youngster.

“I was so embarrassed,” Daniel admitted, stroking the photo with his thumb.

“Is that camel really chasing you?” Jack asked.

“Yes.  Mommy ... Mom ...” the younger man stuttered.

“Daniel, it's just me.  Let Danny tell the story,” Jack urged his lover.

Daniel sighed contently.  He had never realized just how much work it took to cover up his true emotion until he didn't have to.  He began again, and this time, he didn't try to edit himself or use adult words.  He let his inner child, the little boy, tell the tale.

“Mommy was visiting at the tent next door for a minute, and I was hot.  I was changing, and then there was this big beast; um, well, okay, so it wasn't a beast, it was a camel, but at the time ...”

“At the time it scared the living daylights out of you,” Jack chuckled.

“Yes, I ran and ran until I found Daddy.  I thought he'd be mad at me for disrupting everything.”

“Was he?”

“No.  He laughed at first, though, until he saw I was really upset and scared,” Daniel confided.

“What did he do?” Jack asked, already knowing in his heart that Daniel's father would have comforted him.

“He smiled and picked me up.  I felt so safe in his arms.  He told me he loved me and that he'd protect me from everything bad in the world, from all the monsters and beasts, and even camels,” Daniel sniffled, recalling the words his father had spoken.

“Some of the workers chuckled, but Daddy gave them a look, and they stopped,” Daniel explained, smiling at the recall.  “He carried me all the way back to the tent and stayed with me until Mommy was done.  After I got dressed, he held me and told me a story about when he was a little boy and ran away from spiders.”

“Spiders?” Jack asked with surprise.

“He said he used to be really afraid of spiders, but then he faced his fear, made himself outlast it, pick them up and stuff.”

“At least he didn't make you pick up a camel,” Jack teased.

“No, he made me ride one,” Daniel revealed, his voice sounding light and free with the memory, a happy smile on his face.  “Actually, uh, he made me ride the same one that had been chasing me.~

~Way to go, Mel~  Jack laughed, loving Daniel's parents more and more with each new story about them he heard.  “Who took the photo?”

“I don't know.  Mommy always left the camera out, and everyone knew she was picture crazy.  She always told them to use it, so someone probably saw me and took it,” the archaeologist surmised.  “She didn't know what had happened until she came back to the tent, and Daddy told her.”

“Hey, look at you, digging so happily,” Jack said as he studied another photograph.  “Wow, what a smile you had on your face, Danny.”

“I was Daddy's helper.  He was testing me,” Daniel explained contently.

“I'll bet you passed with flying colors,” Jack stated with absolute confidence.

Daniel blushed, and then they looked at more photos -- of Claire homeschooling her son, Claire and Mel tickling Daniel unmercifully in the tent, Daniel hugging some of their friends as they were saying goodbye, Daniel on the camel that had been chasing him, Claire and Mel kissing, and one of the three of them in front of a collection of relics from the dig.

====

Jack and Daniel spent the next several hours talking about the photos and the memories associated with them.  When they were done, it was well after nine o'clock.  They hadn't eaten; in fact, they hadn't even moved.  Daniel had cried more tears than he knew he had, and Jack had shed a few himself, in spite of his best intention not to.

Daniel had put the photos down on the coffee table and was relaxing against Jack.  They hadn't said anything in several minutes, but had simply continued to caress and touch each other.  Jack and Daniel often spoke without words, and that's what they were doing now -- speaking with their touches.  After a while, Daniel fell into a content asleep, turning slightly to nuzzle into Jack's neck.

~Geez, how I love you,~ Jack thought to himself.  He was beaming with the love and trust Daniel was giving him, knowing no one else in the world could make Daniel feel so safe.  He glanced down at the photos, the top one being the family shot with the relics.  Jack remembered making a promise to Daniel's parents not too long ago, after the incident with the Keeper.  He reaffirmed that promise as he whispered, “I'll take care of him for you, I promise.  I'll love and treasure his precious spirit forever.  I wish you were here for him, but I'll try my best to make him happy.  I'll keep your Danny safe.”

Jack felt a couple of unbidden tears escaping from his eyes and wished he could reach for an handkerchief, but his hold on Daniel was just right, and he wouldn't disturb his love for something so trivial.  Then he heard a small sniffle.

Daniel shifted and looked up at his soulmate.  He smiled lovingly, reached up, and dried Jack's tears with his fingertips.  The younger man said nothing, but he snuggled even closer to his Love, his hand continuing to caress Jack's cheek, to dry the tears.

~Better than a handkerchief any day,~ Jack thought as he held the precious life close.

Sometime later, both men fell asleep, their hold on each other firm and their bond deeper and stronger than ever.

====

Shortly after midnight, Daniel awoke, and as he moved, Jack woke up, too.

“Hey there,” Jack said softly, his eyes full of love.

“Hey, I have to ...” Daniel began, not bothering to finish his sentence as moved quickly off his lover and the sofa.

“Yeah, me too,” Jack chuckled as he rose.  “Race ya ...”

“Jaaaack.”  Daniel had to smile in spite of his verbal protest.  ~And he's all mine,~ he thought.  ~Please stay mine, Jack,~ he added, still afraid to believe in the forever that the older man was always promising.

====

A few minutes later, their calls of nature taken care of, the two lovers lingered in the kitchen.

“I'm starved, Danny.  I sure hope you have something in here.”  Jack opened the refrigerator as Daniel checked the cupboards.  “Ah, hot dogs -- perfect,” he opined as he pulled them out.

“Hot dogs,” Daniel repeated, a look of utter dismay crossing his face.  “Jack, we missed the game.  Gawd, I didn't even think about it.  I'm so sorry.”

Daniel was devastated, certain he had done the most unforgivable thing, making Jack miss his game.  In a flash, Jack tossed the package of beef franks onto the counter and approached Daniel, scooping him up into arms.

“I don't regret missing that game, not one bit.  There's nowhere I'd rather be than right here with you -- ever,” Jack stated just as his hands snaked under Daniel's shirt to warm his bare back.

“But that rookie ... you said ...” Daniel began, hating himself for his actions.  ~Gawd, I *knew* how much it meant to him.  Selfish!~

“Danny, stop,” Jack instructed sternly, not caring one bit about the missed game.  “He's just a rookie.  Next year, he'll be a veteran.  He's a guy who plays a sport.  He's a hobby.  You, my beautiful falling star, you're my life.  Big difference.”

Jack leaned in and kissed Daniel on the lips to stop the younger man’s protest.  Their kiss soon escalated, their tongues waltzing together as their arms enveloped each other.  Tiny moans of contentment escaped from their throats, and when they pulled apart, Daniel let out a happy sigh as he leaned into Jack's embrace.

“Thank you, Jack, for loving me so much that you'd ...” Daniel began, pausing suddenly.

“Miss a hockey game?” Jack completed, filling in the blank.  “Daniel, that's nothing.  I'd do ...”

“No,” Daniel continued, moving to look into Jack's luscious brown eyes, “for loving me so much that you'd ... promise my parents.”

“Yeah, I sorta figured you heard that,” Jack admitted, feeling a little bit embarrassed.  “They were good people, Danny.  I just figured they'd want to know that I love you and would do anything in the world for you, that's all.”

“All?  No, Jack, that's *everything*!  Uh, would you really tell them, if you could?” Daniel asked, searching his partner's eyes for the answer.

“Sure; wouldn't hesitate,” Jack answered without letting a split second pass.

Seeing the honesty in his soulmate's eyes, Daniel smiled happily and leaned into Jack again, soaking in the love and warmth.

Jack sensed there was more to come and prodded, “Tell me what you're thinking.”

“I keep saying that I want to honor them, remember those fun times in the photos, and not ... not the museum,” Daniel stammered as he struggled to get his thoughts out.

“I know, Love, and you are.  You will, and I think you're doing great, too,” Jack replied as he gently caressed Daniel's cheek.  ~You've made great strides in that, Danny, but it takes time.~

“I need to say goodbye to them, Jack.  I never got to say goodbye,” the younger man spoke in an almost-subdued tone.

~What does he mean?~  Jack thought for a moment, trying to figure it out.  Then the reality sank it.  “They didn't let you go to the funeral, did they?”

“I guess it depends how you look at it.  I ... I was there, faraway with ... with someone who ... who doesn't really matter now,” Daniel replied cryptically.

“Who?” Jack bristled, getting ready to hunt them down.

“No one important,” Daniel responded, dismissing the importance of the person on any level in his life.  “I never saw my parents again, not even for a second.  I remember asking if I could go to the funeral, but everyone said I was too young, and I'd be in the way.  Finally, this, uh, person took me, but we stood far away.  I didn't even know what was being said, or who was saying it.  All I remember are people in the distance, standing over some ... hole in the ground.”  Daniel let out a sad, little laugh, “Instead of saying goodbye and burying my parents, I had to listen to some folk tale.”

“What?” Jack asked in disbelief as his blood pressure began to boil.

“Don't ask.  Long story that doesn't matter,” Daniel prevaricated.

~Yes, it does, Danny, but we'll save that for another time.  Right now, we have to get through this,~ Jack decided silently.

“So, we stood by the road, so far away that I didn't have a clue what was happening.  No one even knew I was there.  Then,” Daniel laughed hollowly, “we went to eat -- waffles -- my favorite food.  He thought waffles would make everything all right.  Gawd.”

“Who, Danny?” Jack asked, wanting to knock this unfeeling man's lights out.

Looking away, his eyes dull, Daniel replied, “Just some man they made me stay with for a few days.”

“Geez, Danny.  Are you telling me the absolute last time you saw your folks was ...”

Daniel nodded, his expression full of sadness, as he affirmed, “Their blood, the ... I saw them ... then they took them away, and I never saw them again. I couldn't even tell them I loved them.  I need to say goodbye, Jack.”

Jack nodded in agreement and softly asked, “Do you know where they are buried?”

“Jack, it sounds dumb, but I'm not sure.  I should know, but I don't. Gawd, I don't.  They kept telling me I was too young to be worrying about such things.  I don't even remember where we were that day.  We drove for hours, or it seemed like hours, but we made stops, and I ...”

Daniel trailed off, being on the verge of hyperventilating from the anxiety he was feeling.

“Daniel, take a deep breath,” Jack suggested, trying to get his anxiety-ridden lover to calm again.

Daniel nodded and took several calming breaths.

~Not helping.  I was so dumb.~  Daniel closed his eyes tightly, trying to sort through that horrible time in his past.  “I guess ... it must be in New York, but I ... I don't ... I don't know.  When I grew up, I just ... I didn't ... gawd, I abandoned them like they abandoned me.  I mean ...”

“Danny, you said exactly what you meant.”  Jack pulled back and gently pushed the shaggy hair out of Daniel's eyes.  “Listen, those feelings aren't going to go away over night and not even over a couple of months of finally allowing yourself to remember.”

“But ...”

Jack kissed Daniel, a brief tender union of their lips, and spoke again, saying, “Daniel, you were barely eight when you witnessed a nightmare.  You didn't understand, and I don't give a fig about your genius.  You were a boy, a child, whose parents died in front of your eyes and left you alone, alone in a world where no one else seemed to care.  Now, to an eight-year-old boy, that's abandonment,” Jack firmly stated.

“I'm not eight-years-old anymore,” Daniel lightly argued, knowing he'd already lost the argument.

“Thank goodness for that,” Jack laughed briefly, “and that's why you're finally ready to face the sadness, the pointlessness, and, I don't know, Danny, just ready to let go, but ...” Jack spoke.

“I'm not sure I feel ready,” Daniel confided as his eyes stared straight into Jack's for reassurance.

“My Love, you have to let them let go, too,” Jack spoke.  He took a breath, then continued, “I studied those pictures of your parents last night.”  He smiled brightly, saying, “I love your parents because it's so obvious that they loved you very much.  Just look at their eyes and their smiles.  It's in every picture, and it's in the stories you tell.”

“They didn't mean to ... to ...” the younger man stuttered.

“No, they didn't mean to abandon you, and that's the sin.  They know what happened, wherever they are.  We talked about that at the museum.  Let them go, Danny.  Let your folks find peace, too.  The one thing I know, as a parent, is that as long as your child is in pain, so are you,” the older man spoke.

Daniel looked down, his hands holding steady over Jack's heart, and then he looked up, saying, “So, you're saying that I have to be at peace, so that they can be at peace, too.”

Jack nodded, affirming, “You free each other.  Face your demons, and they can face theirs.”

“They don't have any demons,” Daniel refuted.

“You wanna bet?  Danny, you don't think those two loving, caring people who made you and loved you aren't in some kind of nightmare, knowing they left you behind, alone?  And don't you know ... Danny, listen to me.”  Jack raised his hand to beneath Daniel's chin, forcing his lover to look into his eyes.  “Don't you know they've always been with you, loving you, trying to steer you to find your own peace?  They're here, Love.  I believe that as sure as I know that I love you.”

The tears were flowing freely again as Daniel's blue eyes once again stared deeply into Jack's brown eyes.  He wanted desperately to believe and to let go, as much for his parents as for himself.

“Jack, help me,” Daniel begged with every fiber of his being.

“That's what I'm here for,” Jack asserted with a charming smile. “So, we do a little research.  We'll start with New York and then branch out if we don't have any luck there.  We can do it on our own, or bring in the computer whiz; that's up to you.”

“Sam?” Daniel surmised in question.

“You know the captain and computers.  She'd probably find what we need in half the time, but we can do it ourselves, too.  It's up to you, Love,” Jack intoned.

“Jack, I'm not even sure if where we were was where they were buried.  I mean, it could have just been a memorial or something.  No one would even talk to me about what was happening, and he ... he only took me because I kept begging him,” Daniel spoke regrettably.

“Danny, who ...”  Jack stopped.  Whoever Daniel was talking about, Jack knew his lover wasn't ready to discuss him in more detail.  Like earlier, the older man decided to put that on hold for the time being.  ~Maybe it's just one of those idiot foster care parents, or maybe one of the workers from that joke of a social services system there.  “Okay, we go from scratch.  You've always thought it was a funeral, right?”

“Yes.  I remember people on a hill, but I couldn't make them out.  I was too young.  No one wanted to talk to me.  No one ... no one cared what I said, not that I had a lot to say.  I ... I didn't really,” Daniel admitted sadly.

“I love you, Danny.”

Daniel smiled and then asked, “And if, I mean, when we find them?”

“We go, say hello, and let them know you're okay.  I'll say 'hi' and thank them for trusting you to me.  You’ll talk to them for a bit; tell them what you've accomplished, and then we'll say goodbye; maybe return for visits from time to time, but that's up to you, too.”

“We?” Daniel asked hesitantly.

“No way you're going without me,” Jack stated firmly.

A bit vulnerably, the younger man asked, “Promise?”

“Cross my heart,” Jack laughed, crossing his heart and then kissing Daniel firmly again, reiterating his promise.

Daniel let out a very long, loud breath of release.  He felt as if a part of him had just been freed.  While he knew this visit to his parents wouldn't be easy, he'd get through it, and he'd be better for it, all because Jack would be there, loving him.

“They'd like you, Jack,” Daniel promised.

“Heck, they'd love me.  How could they not with all my lovable traits?” the older man joked.

Daniel pulled back, teasing, “Like bellowing like a bear?”

“And nagging you to eat!” Jack teased, pulling his lover to him.

“And mother-henning me like I'm a two-year-old?”

“And being charming, sexy, and smart enough to know a good thing when I see it,” Jack said with a gleam in his eye.

“And threatening half of the universe if they so much as look at me?” Daniel queried with a small smile.

“For loving you more than life itself,” Jack said softly.

“They'd love you,” Daniel happily opined.

“I hope so.”

“I do ... so freakin' much.  No one would believe this, Jack -- you and me, like this.”

“I don't care,” Jack replied with a light laugh.  “Heaven help me, Danny, I don't.  I only care that you love me, and that you let me take care of you.  That's a privilege I take very seriously.”

“Privilege,” Daniel sighed with a small smile.

“Privilege and an honor.  You're the ultimate, Daniel Jackson.  You may not always believe that, and I may want to strangle you sometimes, but you are perfection -- dazzling, beautiful perfection to me,” Jack sappily spoke.

“Jaaack,” Daniel blushed, “men aren't supposed to be beautiful.”

“Tough.  Get used to it!”

“But, Jaaammmmmmmph...”

Jack decided that between the emotions of reviewing the family photographs, and the intensity of the decision to seek out the gravesites of Daniel's parents, that it was time for a bit of physical nurturing.  They had spoken enough words.

~He is beautiful, inside and out; simply captivating.~  He was still hungry for those hot dogs, but Jack's mind decided, ~Franks or Daniel?  I'll take Daniel any day,~ and with that, Jack quieted his lover and adjourned them to the bedroom, where they spent the next two hours engaged in nothing but physical communication that ended only with the breathless words, “Gawd, I saw stars again.”

Jack never again thought about the hockey game he had missed, not seriously.  He sometimes teased his lover about it, but Daniel knew that Jack loved him.  Besides, Daniel would surprise Jack with tickets to the Stanley Cup that year, and that pretty much took care of any lingering complaints.

Their future was still uncertain, and both knew they had their share of ups and downs to face, but what was a certainty, was that Jack and Daniel were in love, and being together gave them both a peace they had never known before.  Both hoped that this perfect peace would go on forever.

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