House of Walls

Author: Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  7 - February/March 2004
Spoilers:  None
Size:  49kb, short story
Written:  February 21,25-26,29, 2004  Revised:  March 6-8, 19, April 2,8-9, 2006  Revised for consistency:  March 3, 2007
Summary:  Daniel's desire to buy a house sends Jack into a rage.
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 fic stands alone, but it does reference my past fic, “Messages of a Friendship”
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  QuinGem, Suzanna, Claudia, Sheryl, Robert, Linda, Heather!

House of Walls
by Orrymain

“Is this seat taken?” Marie asked, hungry for both lunch and a few minutes with Daniel, someone she always enjoyed spending time with.

“No, please,” Daniel replied as he motioned towards the empty chair.  He had a smile on his face as he struggled to chew the last bite of the salad he was eating in the SGC commissary.  “How's your day going, Marie?”

“Oh, pretty much the same.  It's quiet here today,” the female commented.  Seeing Daniel nod casually, Marie snickered, “Of course, SG-1 hasn't been off-world yet today, either.”

~What?~  Daniel stopped chewing his food as he processed the quip.  As it began to sink he, he continued chewing, but it was done very slowly, as if in slow motion.  “Good one, Marie.”

“Thank you, Doctor Jackson,” the pretty nurse laughed.

Marie liked Daniel.  She had from the first moment she laid eyes on him a few years ago when she joined the staff at Cheyenne Mountain.  She'd actually kissed him once, but then he took her to lunch and explained that there could never be anything between them.  He was married, and the kiss should never have happened.  She had been disappointed, but still held out a small flicker of hope in her heart, especially since he was a widower now.

The two chatted jovially for quite a while about current events, recent missions, Marie's lack of a love life, and Daniel's latest injury, a small paper cut from the day before when he had dropped a file, and the edges of one of the papers grazed his finger, resulting in the cut.

“At least it's not infected,” Marie intoned as she seasoned her chicken salad.

“Please, don't even think it.  It's still February, and I've already seen more of the infirmary than I care to for the entire year,” Daniel complained.

“Oh, Daniel, I've been meaning to tell you.  I purchased this really classic looking Egyptian-style wall hanging for my guestroom.  It's incredible!  You should come by and see it one day,” Marie opined, her warm smile inviting, and her heart beating a little faster when the archaeologist nodded in affirmation.  “I love decorating.  I change my decor every couple of years.  How about you?”

“No, not really.  My ... the apartment looks pretty much the same as always,” Daniel replied and then took another bite of his food.

“You know, I keep wondering why you still live in an apartment.  They're so ... temporary.  Daniel,” Marie said as she leaned forward.  “There is this really lovely little house for sale near my home.  It's perfect for a bachelor like yourself.  You should go by, and take a look.”

Daniel smiled politely, but shook his head as he twirled a bunch of spaghetti (the main course of his noontime meal)  in his fork.  He hadn't had breakfast this morning and was unusually hungry so had taken a full course lunch on this day.  Of course, he silently blamed Jack for his increased appetite since they had 'you knowed' for hours before coming to work.

“Really, it's not a big place,” Marie added, seeing his hesitation.

Holding his pasta-laden fork in the air, Daniel responded, “No, I don't think so.  I'm ... happy with the apartment.”

“But think of all that money you give to a landlord every month.  A house is an investment.  You aren't planning on leaving or anything, are you?” the woman asked hesitantly.

“No, no ... uh, not at all,” Daniel stammered.  “This is ... home now.  I, uh, no ... this is home,” he nervously repeated.

“I'm glad, and that's all the more reason to buy a house and really make it your own, you know?” Marie challenged lightheartedly and then took a sip of her coffee.

They chatted a bit longer and then Daniel excused himself to continue the research he was working on.

====

“There ... just a couple more to go,” Daniel said to no one as he paid his monthly bills while sitting at his desk in the den.  He'd already taken care of the ones that he was responsible for at the house, and now he was working on the apartment -- gas, electricity, phone, cable, rent.  “Okay, let's see ...”

Daniel prepared the online check and sighed, “$1325 for what?”  He switched off the computer and went downstairs.  ~That's a lot of money for a place I don't use very much anymore.~

Jack was dusting the furniture, wearing his gray sweatsuit.  Daniel had a real affinity for that old gray outfit.  He shivered just thinking about the first time he had taken it off his husband when they made love.

“Jack, I've been thinking ...” Daniel began.

“Should I run and hide?” Jack quipped.  Seeing his lover stare at him fixedly, he said, “Sorry.  Thinking about what?”

“I, uh ...”

Jack wiped his hands on a rag he had been using, then put it down, picking up a duster instead.

“I ...” Daniel began again.

The older man grimaced, pausing his cleaning for a minute as he asked, “Why do I get the feeling I'm not going to like this?”

“You get feelings?  Wow!  I'm impressed,” the younger man snarked, wearing a big smile on his face as he teased the love of his life.

“I'll have you know I've got a feeling right now,” Jack spoke seductively.

“Do I even want to know?” the archaeologist asked as he ran a finger along the edge of a picture frame.  ~Missed a spot,~ he thought as he looked at the dust accumulated on his finger.

“Sure you do, Danny.  That's the thing I love about you -- you're so nosey,” Jack teased, his chocolate brown eyes sparkling with life at the little game he and Daniel were playing at the moment.

“I'm not nosey, I'm ... I'm ...”

“Nosey!  Full on elephant-like trunky nosey,” Jack accused, grinning and making a motion as if running his hand along an imaginary elephant trunk in front of his face.

“Your knowledge of the English language never ceases to amaze me, Colonel O'Neill,” Daniel replied dryly, folding his arms across his chest as he walked over towards the counter that separated the kitchen from the living room.

Smugly, the older man replied, “I am an enigma, it's true.  I like to think of myself as a man with many layers.”

“I'm not stripping you again, Jack -- at least, not now,” Daniel spoke as he turned to face his soulmate with a luster in his eyes.  “Jack, is that all you think about -- 'you know'?”

“You know?  You're calling it 'you know'?  Geez, Danny, you're getting me all ... *up* with your sexual innuendos,” the older man teased, leaning forward to clean the coffee table that was in front of the sofa.

“It was not an innuendo,” Daniel insisted, glancing out the patio doors and smiling when he saw their girls, Bijou and Katie, gaily at play in the backyard, romping with each other.

Jack teased, “All I'm saying, Daniel, is that if you want us to get more intimately acquainted, all you had to do was say so.”

“What?  I never said ...” Daniel reacted, temporarily nonplussed by their conversation.

“Did, too!” Jack maintained.

Shaking his head, Daniel refuted, “Did not!”

“Did!” Jack smirked, emphasizing his word with a slight nod of his head.

“Jack, can we get back to the point please?” the archaeologist requested in exasperation.

"See!  I told you I had a feeling that you were going to say that,” Jack jokingly snapped, looking around to decide where to dust next.

“You did not,” Daniel replied, glancing at the counter and spotting a small coffee stain.  ~Oops, that's from last night when he ...~  He closed his eyes, becoming lost in the moment when their foreplay had begun the night before.  ~Yeah, he ...

With a smirk, Jack responded, “I was going to before you started suggesting you wanted to practice the art of frottage with me,” his words drawing his lover out of his erotic recall and yet stimulating his sexual desire even more.

“You ... I ... gawd,” Daniel sighed, wondering how he'd gotten so undone in just a few minutes.  ~Focus, Jackson, focus.  House first, frottage second,~ he told himself.

Jack was totally pleased with himself.  Getting Daniel off balance was never easy, but it was one of Jack's favorite sporting events.  Nothing in the world was sexier to Jack than when his archaeologist was all befuddled, which is exactly what he was at the moment.

“Well, I'm glad we got that all sorted out,” Jack intoned.  “Now, can we please get back to the subject at hand, which is that you've been thinking, which for some reason usually means I'm not going to like what I hear.”

“That's because you're paranoid,” the younger man accused good-naturedly. ~That's good; throw it back on Jack; then later, you can throw yourself on Jack, or, rather, in Jack,~ he said, smiling.

“Very funny, Daniel.  Are you going to tell me or is this a national secret?” Jack asked as he decided to take a cleaning break, walking past his husband and sitting down in his favorite armchair.

~He's an intelligent man; he'll see the logic,~ Daniel thought as he took a deep breath and put a bit of distance between he and his lover by walking over to the far end of the sofa.  ~He's a soldier; this is a good tactical move,~ he told himself before turning around to face Jack.  Speaking at about a hundred and twenty miles per hour, he said, “I think it's a waste of money to pay $1325 a month for an apartment I barely recognize anymore, and I want to buy a house.  What do you think?”

His arms still folded, Daniel had a closed smile on his face as he looked over at his stunned husband.  Jack's expression told the story.  An eruption was coming; it was only a matter of seconds.  Daniel braced himself for the impending fallout.

~He's out of his friggin' mind,~ Jack silently opined.  ~Okay, he's asking a question; he wants an answer.  I can do that,~ he thought as he studied his soulmate.  With an enforced calm, he responded, “Let me get this straight.  You want to buy a house, and you're asking me what I think.  Have I got that straight?”

“Yes,” Daniel confirmed, bobbing his head one time in affirmation.

“No!” Jack barked as he stood up, the duster still in his right hand.

“No, what?” Daniel asked as innocently as possible.

“No, Daniel, you are *not* buying a house.  You *have* a house -- *this* one!” Jack said with a raised voice, adding, “Unless you've decided we need a new one?”

“Gawd, no.  I love this house.  You *know* that,” Daniel responded a bit emotionally, undoing his crossed arms to make a waving motion with his right hand to emphasize his words.  “I was just thinking I could sub-let the apartment and invest in a house.  Economically, it makes sense.”

“No,” Jack answered angrily as he turned his back on Daniel to dust ... ~Crap,~ he thought, realizing there was nothing there to dust in the direction he currently faced but the patio doors.  In desperation, he turned and cleaned the coffee table for the second time.  ~Need a table by my chair,~ he inwardly lamented.

“Jack, just listen!” Daniel pleaded as he moved forward slightly, the coffee table the only thing separating the two men.

“NO!  NO!  NO!  Or as you sometimes like to say, *nyet*,” Jack spoke sarcastically, causing Daniel's eyebrows to raise.

“Old history, Love,” Daniel answered sedately.  “Jack,” Daniel put his finger up in front of his body, “just hear me out.”

“WHAT PART OF 'NO' DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?  YOU HAVE A HOUSE, DANIEL.  WHY ... WHY WOULD YOU WANT ANOTHER ONE?” the enraged man shouted, the veins in his neck bulging as he yelled.

“Jack ...”

“Or is there something you want to tell me?  WHY?  Come on, Daniel, tell me,” Jack angrily beckoned, whipping the duster in front of him forcefully, so much so that he almost lost his grip of the item.

Daniel took a breath and reached out to touch Jack, but the older man backed up slightly, not allowing the touch.

“NO WAY ARE YOU BUYING A FRIGGIN' HOUSE!” Jack yelled, stalking back to the bookshelves and whacking haphazardly at the rows of novels with his duster.

“Jack,” Daniel called out.  He tugged on his lover's elbow, spinning Jack around to face him.  Then he put his arms around his soulmate's neck, smiling warmly as his fingers played with the hairs at the base of Jack's neck for several seconds.  “Listen ... to ... me,” Daniel requested emphatically, after which he kissed his husband.  It was a full, deep, very wet kiss that Daniel knew would have his husband thinking about something other than houses for a moment.  “Did you hear that?” he asked when he pulled back.

“You don't need a house.  A house is ... permanent.  *We're* permanent,” Jack argued.  “NO!  NO!  NO!”  So upset was the older man that his face was reddened with ire, his heart beating faster than normal, and his voice was raspy from its loudness.  “Nooooommmmmmmph,” Jack attempted to argue, though this time, his words turned into a needy and urgent moan.

This second kiss went even deeper than the first.  It lasted so long that both men were gasping for air when it stopped.

“Did you hear me that time?” Daniel's soul asked.

Jack took a moment, then answered, “Okay, this isn't about us,” his statement also a question.

“Exactly.  Will you listen now?” Daniel asked as his right hand ran all along his lover's nape and then down his chest alluringly.

“Why do you want to buy a house?” Jack queried, backing away and moving outside of Daniel's personal space, needing some distance to digest what was about to come.

Understanding Jack's need, the younger man remained in place while he explained, “I was talking to Marie last week, and ...”

“Marie?  The nurse who has the hots for you?” Jack asked, his ire ready to stir before his blood pressure had even calmed.

“Jack, come on.  That was years ago.  Get over it already,” Daniel ordered, not wanting the discussion to shift from the house to Jack's crazy delusions about imagined infidelities.

“She likes you.  Be blind if you want, but I see it in her eyes.  She wants your body,” Jack claimed.  “She wants you to buy a house so she can help you decorate it, then cook your dinner, then get where only I get to go, until finally she has somewhere to hang her stockings.  I can see them now, draped all around the bathroom.”

“Try and get a grip, Babe,” Daniel responded, trying not to laugh.  ~I know you're upset, but that is just about the most ridiculous thing you've ever said to me.~

“I'd like to get a grip around her precious, little neck,” Jack's Mr. Jealousy groused.

“Marie's?” Daniel sought to verify as he still struggled not to chuckle.

“Is that what she's calling herself nowadays?  She used to go under the name of Mata Hari.  She's not interested in your living arrangements, Daniel; she's after your ...”

“Body.  Yes, I know, you've told me,” the younger man spoke.  He smiled a soft, sensuous smile as he said, “Well, if she wants my body, that's too bad for her because my body belongs to a certain Air Force studmuffin.”

“Studmuffin,” Jack echoed as he folded his arms, flipping the duster up and down a bit between his fingers.  Daniel didn't call him that often and usually when he did, it was in the throes of passion.  Jack had never decided whether or not he approved of the nickname, but one thing he did approve of was the lust in Daniel's eyes whenever his lover spoke the word.

“You want to hear this or not?” the archaeologist asked.

“Go on,” the frustrated husband sighed.

Daniel explained, “There's a house she mentioned.  She wondered why I hadn't purchased one since I've indicated that I plan to be here for a very long time.  Long story short, she also mentioned the investment potential, and that's the thing I haven't been able to get out of my mind.”

“Why is she so interested in your living arrangements if she hasn't got a little plan to plant herself in your brand new bedroom?” Jack challenged irrationally.

“Jack, you really need some therapy.  Maybe MacKenzie could help you talk through your insecurities,” Daniel replied sarcastically.

“Insecurities? That quack?  Low blow, Daniel -- which is what she's after, by the way,” the colonel pointed out, his eyes focused on his lover's mid-section.

“This conversation is getting stranger and stranger by the minute,” Daniel sighed, wondering just how much further down this crazy path they could go.  “Do you mind if I continue, or do you have some other words of wisdom you'd like to impart?”

“As a matter of fact, I have a lot to say about that little home-wrecking Jezebel, beginning with ...”

“Jack, put Mr. Jealousy back in his corner, and try to listen to some common sense,” Daniel cajoled.

“Love to.  Where is it?” Jack asked snarkily, looking all around the room.  “Daniel, I don't see it.  Could you point it out to me?”

“It certainly isn't in your brain,” Daniel sighed, shaking his head.  Ignoring his partner's stare, he began to pace a little as he talked.  “Jack, I pay $1325 for space that means nothing to us.  It's a ... a facade.  Think about what that $1325 could mean for our ... our family,” he intoned shyly.

Softening slightly, Jack smiled in acknowledgement of their plans to have children at some point in the future.

“For Christmas, you gave me a bond for our children, remember?” Daniel questioned.

Jack nodded, elucidating, “Yes.  We need to plan, to help the kiddies in case something happens to us.”

Gently, Daniel elaborated, “Love, if I sub-let the apartment, it would pay for itself until the lease expires; and if I bought a house, it would be an investment for our future.  As soon as you retire, we could sell it or ...”

Jack couldn't help himself.  His breathing was heavy, and his blood pressure was on the verge of skyrocketing.  The thought might be sentimental, but he just couldn't handle the reality of Daniel owning a separate home.

Shaking his head vehemently, Jack negatively expressed, “No.  I don't care, Daniel.  Rent is rent.”

Undaunted, Daniel continued, “The house that I looked at is only about twelve minutes away, and it ...”

“You looked at a house?  You are kidding, aren't you?” Jack's anger increased as he saw Daniel's affirmation.  “YOU ACTUALLY FRIGGIN' WENT HOUSE-HUNTING WITHOUT EVEN TELLING ME?”

“It was on the way ho...”

“I DON'T CARE.  NO!  READ MY LIPS, DANIEL!  THE ANSWER IS UNEQUIOVALLY NO!  YOU ARE NOT BUYING A HOUSE.  HAVE I MADE MYSELF CLEAR?” Jack shouted at the top of his lungs before turning and storming outside, not waiting for a response of any kind from his husband.

~Stubborn,~ Daniel thought as he shook his head and sighed.  He stared at the carpet for a minute, and then the burble of the filter drew his attention to his fish.  He smiled, telling the swimming creatures that, “You know, if I didn't love him so much, I'd strangle him myself.  But, I do, love him, even when he is a cantankerous old grizzly bear.”

====

Renewing his focus a few minutes later, Daniel went outside, hoping that his soulmate would be ready to discuss his proposal seriously.  Seeing Jack petting Bijou, Daniel sat down next to him on the patio steps, gently rubbing his shoulder against his lover's as a sign of their closeness.

“Katie's having fun,” Daniel observed as he looked out in the middle of the yard.

“She's sunning herself; wants a tan, I guess,” Jack sighed.  “Can't get a tan in February.”

Daniel slipped his arm through Jack's, and leaned forward to kiss his cheek. He let a couple of minutes pass as the two simply sat quietly together.  The lovers could often say more in silence than they ever could with spoken words.

Finally, and totally serious, the linguist said, “Love, if you really don't want me to buy the house, I won't.”

Jack looked at Daniel, sternly replying, “I don't want you to buy the house.”

Daniel nodded, agreeing, “Okay.”  He stood, rubbed his hands together for a moment, and suggested, “Why don't we take the girls for a walk?  It's a beautiful day out.”

“Sure,” Jack quickly agreed, ready to forget all about the nonsense of a second house.

====

The couple went for a nice long walk, leaving all discussion of a second house behind.  Instead, they focused on conversation about their plans for St. Patrick's Day, a couple they'd met recently at their favorite same-sex club in Denver, and other everyday chit chat.

When they got home, they did some more cleaning, played a game of chess, which Daniel won, of course, and then ate a cozy dinner for two in front of the fireplace.

Afterwards, the lovers watched “Young Frankenstein” on cable, Daniel dealing frequently with Jack's outbursts of Frankenstein and Igor humor both during and after the film played.

Jack and Daniel concluded their day by making out for an hour on their old, comfortable sofa before going upstairs for an intense lovemaking session in their bedroom.  Finally, they fell asleep in each other's arms, completely satiated and happy.

Their disagreement aside, it had been a wonderful day of love and togetherness for the newlyweds.

====

~Crap!~  Jack woke up at 4:15 a.m. and wasn't able to go back to sleep.  “Danny?” he whispered, lightly shaking his lover.

“Sleeping, shhhhh,” Daniel responded without thinking.

“Angel, I'm going out on the roof for a while,” Jack quietly spoke.

“Need pillow.  Sleeee...” the sleeping man mumbled.

Jack smiled as he intoned, “You stay here.  I only woke you up because you keep yelling at me for not waking you up, and then you wake up, and you're alone, and you say you don't like that, not that I'm crazy about it either, but ... oh, for crying out loud, I'm prattling and talking to a sleeping geek.  Cute, but sleeping.”

Giving himself a mock shudder at his long, almost nonsensical sentence, Jack rolled gently out of Daniel's embrace.  He put on his gray sweatsuit and went straight to the roof deck.

Not caring that it was very chilly out, the military man approached the railing overlooking the backyard, pressing his hands against the wooden rail.  Taking a deep breath, Jack closed his eyes to take in the crispness of the air.

~That's my Danny,~ Jack thought mere moments later.  He laughed, “Missed me, eh?”

Daniel yawned.  He had put his arms around Jack's waist, and now he leaned his head against Jack's back.  He closed his eyes and yawned again.

“J'ck, pillow gone.  Why?” the still-groggy man muttered, letting out a tiny moan as his head rested against his soulmate.

~Maybe we should just go back to bed,~ Jack wondered.  Daniel was clearly not fully awake.  ~No, we need to discuss this,~ he decided as he placed his hands atop his husband's.  “Danny, tell me about the house.”

~Hou...house?~  Suddenly alert, Daniel's eyelids flew open in a flash.  He slid his hands back and instructed, “Look at me,” turning his lover around to face him.  “I meant what I said, Jack.  You told me that you didn't want me to buy the house, so I'm not going to.”

“You don't need my permission,” Jack quietly pointed out.  ~Don't change your mind.~

Daniel took hold of his partner's cold hands, pulling them taut to his chest as he acknowledged, “No, I don't, but we're married, Jack, and I don't think we should go out buying houses and big money items unless we both agree.  Do you?”

The older man smiled as he gazed into his soulmate's cerulean blue eyes, marveling at the understanding and gentleness of the man he loved.

“What?” Daniel inquired, seeing the soft smile on Jack's face.

Jack mused in amazement, “You're not even angry with me.”

Daniel let out a tiny albeit brief chuckle, commenting, “Why should I be?  I understand why you don't want me to buy it, or any other house.”

“And, ah, just why is that?” Jack challenged.

“You're scared,” the younger man astutely answered, raising his right hand and running two fingers gently over his husband's lips.  “Somewhere in the back of your mind, you're wondering if I want out.  You're thinking I'm looking for some place to run to, or that I want some kind of backup,” he continued as his fingers painted a smile at the crook of Jack's mouth.  “You're worried I don't love you like I used to.  Things like that,” Daniel spoke, bringing both hands level and caressing Jack's chest.

“You ... do love me,” Jack spoke, not as a question and yet with a small air of uncertainty in his tone.

“But not like I used to,” Daniel intoned.

~Not what I wanted to hear,~ Jack thought as his heart stopped.  As he stared into Daniel's eyes, his mind raced.  ~He doesn't love me anymore?  Crap, I was right.  It's that Davis idiot.  I'll kill him.  I'll ...~

“Jack, you crazy loon,” Daniel spoke, sensing his husband's silent war.  “*Every* second of *every* day, I love you more.  Every time, every single time I think that my heart can't hold anymore, I ... I find it's bigger than ever, more wondrous and more complete.  It's not anything like it was that very first night when you filled me up with your warmth , or just last night when you reminded me just how far our passion could take us.”  Daniel cupped Jack's face, “I love you, Jack, in ways I still can't fathom or understand.  I think maybe it'll take an eternity to learn about that love.”

“My linguist,” Jack softly spoke just before he kissed his heart, his soulmate, his Daniel.  He held him close, admitting, “You're right, Angel.  I was scared, and I'm sorry.  I shouldn't doubt you, not ever.”

“You don't,” Daniel denied.

“What?”

Confidently, Daniel replied, “Jack, I'm the expert on self-doubt.  It's not me you were unsure of, was it?”

Jack smiled, confessing, “I guess a piece of me still thinks, still wonders, 'why me?'”

“The old 'I'm a broken-down colonel with bad knees' garbage, right?” Daniel asked.

Jack sighed, “Something like that.”

“But you know better,” Daniel stated as firmly as he could.

His upper body swaying slightly back and forth, Jack responded, “You keep reminding me.”

“And I always will, Jack.  Let's go back to bed,” Daniel suggested and then kissed his husband again.

“Angel, please,” the older man requested.  “Tell me about the house and the logic behind it.”

“Are you sure?  We don't need to discuss this,” Daniel stated, his eyes boring into Jack's, relaying his decision was fact and not just an appeasement.

“I know, and that's why we're going to,” Jack straightforwardly replied.

“Okay,” the younger man agreed, the two men holding hands while facing each other.  “It's not a big place by any means.  It would be the same as the apartment, Babe -- a ... a place that means nothing, but it would give us a bigger return financially.  When you retire, we could sell the house and make a nice profit on it.”

“You think it will go up in value,” Jack responded.

“Easily.  It needs some work, but we can handle that.  The house is in a prime location, too, but here's the other thing,” Daniel explained.  “I checked the zoning laws.  After you retire, if we wanted to, we could convert the house to our office for whatever we end up doing.  The zoning in that area is perfect for small offices that don't use hazardous materials.”

“So, we'd save the rent money, but what about maintenance and the bills?” the older man questioned.

“It's a trade off,” Daniel answered.  “We could do the outside work ourselves, making it a weekly outing with the girls.  There is a big backyard. Uh, we'd have to add fencing if we take the girls, though.”

“No fence?” Jack asked.

“No, and like I said, the house itself is pretty small.  The loft almost seems bigger.  In fact, it might be bigger,” Daniel snorted, quickly pointing out “but the investment potential is huge, *and*, like I said, it's closer than the apartment.”

“How many times did you have to go back and forth to figure that out?” Jack asked a bit humorously.

Daniel chuckled, “About five.  I found the perfect path -- twelve minutes from our home.”  After seeing Jack's nod, he continued, “Jack, I told  you last year that this place is home.  That's ... a bit of a lie.”

“What?” Jack asked in alarm, wondering if he'd made yet another mistake.

“This,” Daniel patted the spot over Jack's heart with their hands, “This is my home, right here -- your heart.  You're my home, Jack.  It doesn't matter where we are, because here,” Daniel caressed the spot, “here's where I live.  This house -- it's full of you -- your scent, your essence, memorabilia and items that symbolize you.  I *love* this house.  I love it because it's a representation of you.”

“My linguist,” Jack whispered again, amazed at Daniel's eloquence that never failed to reach down into his soul.

Daniel kissed Jack briefly on the lips and then elaborated, “Love, the loft is space, empty space, and that new house isn't a home, not by the definition of the word.  All that place is, all it can ever be, is a house of walls, a structure to store trinkets and furniture that are meaningless, except for the piano.  Do you understand?  You're my home.  That place ... it's just a shelter that we still need to play a game that we both hate, but at least some good could come out of it because, in the end, we help secure our children's financial future.”

The archaeologist's piano was the only item Jack and Daniel didn't have room for in the house they shared together.  Both regretted that, but there just wasn't a place for it the small country home, so reluctantly, the piano remained at the loft while they played their game for the public.  Now, it would be moved to the new house of walls, if Daniel decided to purchase the house Marie had told him about.
 
“I love you, Danny,” Jack intoned softly.

“I love you, too.”

“Why don't you show me the house tomorrow, and we'll go from there?”

Daniel nodded, but added, “Jack, any doubts at all, and we aren't getting it or any other house.  I don't want you to ever second guess this decision.”

Jack gently ran his hands along Daniel's upper arms, shaking his head as he steadfastly responded, “Nah, twelve minutes is too good to pass up.  When you have to do those fake sleepovers, it'll be easier now.”

“Gawd, I love Covert Ops 102,” Daniel mused.

“The advanced course!” Jack smirked lustfully.

“It was one of your best training ideas ever,” Daniel spoke, lust in his eyes from the memories alone.

“We could have some fun with this new house,” Jack seductively smirked as he drew his lover closer.

“Lots of fun, Jack.  New places to ... you know,” Daniel teased, his eyes sparkling with the adventure of their love as his arms raised up to go around Jack's neck.  “Lots and lots of new places,” he whispered.

Jack loved his lover's modesty and laughed, “Don't ever change, Angel.”

“Never,” Daniel promised, leaning in for another kiss just before the two collapsed to the floor of the deck for an impromptu lovemaking session.

The chill of the early morning air faded quickly as the lovers heated the flames of their bodies until, satiated, they watched the sun rise into the sky and light up the new day.

====

“That's it, Babe -- 4075,” Daniel called out to his lover, pointing out the open passenger window.

Bringing the truck to a halt at the side of the street, Jack shook his head in amazement, commenting, “Daniel, a flea would be crowded in this place.  Geez, my shoe is bigger than this house.”

For a moment, Jack and Daniel stood by the Ford vehicle and studied the home.  The small house was a reverse L-shaped property, with the projection part of the 'L' extending out towards the street.  A two-car detached garage was off to the left and to the rear of the property.

Jack twisted his body around to take in the area.  The street was wide, and on the other side, the homes were up atop a hill with a large wall enclosing the buildings.  Daniel's proposed house was on a street that sloped gradually downward, though his home was on fairly even ground.

Several cars were parked on both sides of the street.  He didn't see anyone outside at the moment, however.

“You're right -- no fence,” Jack remarked.  While the house was small, Jack could tell that there was a decent-size backyard, though nowhere as big as the one at their 'true' home.  ~Definitely have to take care of that.~

“We could build one, or just put a dog tether in the ground to make sure the girls won't run off,” Daniel suggested.  When Jack looked at him with raised eyebrows, he chuckled, “Yeah, I know.  They wouldn't do that, but still, I don't feel comfortable bringing them here without making sure they'd be secured.”

“I agree,” Jack said, standing with his hands on his hips as he took in the shrubbery in front of the extension.  ~Not much; kinda ugly.  Wonder who used to live here, and no window,~ he inwardly complained about the extension.

There actually was a window, but it was higher up, measuring only two-feet tall and five-feet wide.  Jack wasn't sure how much sunlight that would let in, and worse, to look outside, a person would have to be standing.

Where the lovers now stood, there was a cement walkway that divided the front lawn into two sections.  It also led up to the house, and where it joined with the extension, the cement gave way to two brick steps and then several feet of a brick walkway that ran parallel to the projection until reaching the front door.

“I like the white paint between the bricks, Danny; makes it stand out a little,” Jack commented as they stepped up.

Daniel nodded as he ran his hand along the wood railing that ran from the steps almost to the front door.  He looked briefly at the tall, slender window that was by the front door, not sure whether or not he liked it, but then deciding it didn't matter since this house was only part of their 'Hide in Plain Sight' game.

“Are we going in?” Jack smirked when his lover just stood at the door.

“Oh, sorry,” Daniel replied, using the key the real estate agent had given them.  The house was completely empty, and the realtor had another meeting just two blocks away.  He agreed to let Daniel use his key and would be meeting them in about twenty minutes or so.  Daniel opened the door, gently swinging it to the right where it eventually was flush to the wall.  “I like the wood floor.”

“Me, too,” Jack replied.  He walked slightly to his left and opened the door that was there.  “Closet is small, but adequate.”

Standing at the front door, Daniel noted, “The stairs down to the basement end underneath it.  You'll see the door when we look at the dining space.”  He then turned to his left, walking a few feet to go through the archway that led to the living room.  On both the front and back of this room, were matching windows, roughly six feet wide by four feet tall.  In total, the room, which ran from the front to the back of the back of home, was about eighteen feet.

“Come in here, and you stay in here -- captive audience,” Jack mused since the only exit out of that part of the house was to go back the way they came.

“I like captive audiences,” Daniel replied with a leer.

As Jack chuckled, the two went back to the front hallway, past the closet.  They turned left into the tiny kitchen.

“Daniel, you've got to be kidding,” Jack intoned, running his hand along the counter area as he walked forward.

“Uh ... no,” Daniel replied with a smile.

On both sides of Jack were several feet of cabinets. The left side, coming from the front hall, was about six feet long.  Opposite the cabinets and to the left was a tiny sink installed in a base cabinet.  To the right of it was a portable dishwasher that had to be wheeled out to be connected to the sink. Its top provided the only countertop surface on that side of the kitchen. To the left of the sink, the apartment-size refrigerator and stove were crammed next to each other, using all the remaining wall space. The floor in between the two sides was just barely four feet wide.

“Talk about a vest-pocket kitchen.  You couldn't change your mind about what to cook without stepping outside,” Jack remarked dryly.

“I don't plan on eating here very often,” Daniel responded.  “Do you?”

“No, I don't think so,” Jack said as he walked to the back of the house, going through the doorway at the edge of the kitchen.  ~I plan on doing my eating in the bedroom anyway,~ he thought lewdly.  “I take it this is the dining room,” he mused, observing the tiny six-foot deep space that was between the kitchen and the back door that led outside, just opposite the door to the basement stairs.

“Sounds right,” Daniel replied, moving to his left and opening a door.  “Here are the stairs to the basement; it's pretty basic,” he noted, closing the door again.

After looking outside at the yard, Jack turned to his right and walked through the small dining space and into the corridor that led him to the back right corner of the house where a bedroom was.

“Danny, your bed is bigger than this bedroom,” the older man noted about the eight-foot deep room.  “You'd have to step outside to change your clothes,” he quipped, shaking his head.  “Geez, look at the closet.  Is it for a human or an ant?”

Daniel just smiled at Jack's non-stop teasing about the size of the small house.  It was small, but that was of little consequence, considering it wasn't really intended to live in.  He watched as Jack closed the closet door.

The closet backed up against the shallow built-in hutch, which Jack had already dubbed the breakfast nook.  In his mind, the area was too tiny to be called a dining room.

“Where exactly are you planning on storing your stuff?” Jack questioned.

“Here,” Daniel answered with a shrug, moving past his lover and heading back towards the front of the house where the tiny bathroom was.  It was nothing special -- a bathtub/shower, sink, and toilet.  “Here's the front room,” he called out.

Jack walked past the bathroom and followed the ninety-degree turn in the corridor to his right.  They were now back at the front of the house.  If he bypassed the door on his left and continued walking, he'd be back at the front entranceway.  Instead, he turned left, following his husband into the front bedroom that extended out towards the street.

“Well, it's bigger, I think,” Jack mused.

Daniel sighed, “Jack, I just need an address until you're out.  The apartment is costing us so much money.  I'm never there anymore, just a few days a month.  Doesn't this make sense?”

“Yeah, I guess it does,” Jack agreed.  “We'll just tell Bij and Katie we bought them a new doghouse -- right here at ole number 4075,” he mused walking out after hearing the realtor drive up.

Daniel chuckled, taking a last look at the front bedroom and thinking out loud, “He's right.  I just hope the girls don't demand carpeting.”

====

Jack looked around his lover's empty loft apartment.  He went to the bedroom where years of memories played through his mind.  He paid a visit to the spare room that was never used for anything more than storage of boxes and treasures Daniel had collected over the years.  He smiled as he ran his hands along the kitchen counter, numerous recollections of moments spent there with his lover.  The living room tugged on his heartstrings for a moment as his eyes moved from spot to spot.  There had been so many crucial moments of their relationship that had occurred in this room.  Now, they were leaving.  Eventually, the reflective man walked out onto the balcony which overlooked Colorado Springs.

“You were a good apartment.  I didn't hate you.  I just hated what you represented.  I'm actually going to miss this,” Jack intoned as he touched the balcony railing, adding, “although not the memory of when Danny almost took a header from here.”

“Not one of my best memories, either,” Daniel confided, smiling as he leaned against the entryway back to the living room.

“It wasn't a bad place,” Jack opined.

“No, it wasn't,” Daniel said as he looked around.  “It's so empty now.”

Jack inquired, “Did the Kennedys say when they were moving in?”

“Not until Monday.  I think they'll like it here.  I did ... that first year,” Daniel noted.

Jack went to Daniel, scooped him into his arms, and kissed him.

“You know, Angel, I thought that when we eventually burned the lease to this place that it would mean ...” Jack's voice cracked a little.  ~Freedom; complete freedom.~

Daniel leaned in for a tender kiss, promising, “It won't be long, Jack.”

“Come on, you,” Jack coaxed, tugging on Daniel's hand.  “We have a house to unpack.”

The two went to the door and took a final look at the barren loft.  Then they faced each other and smiled.  Jack turned out the light, and, for the last time, Daniel locked the door.  They went to the elevator, and in silence rode it down to the ground level.  Then they walked to the rental truck parked in the front that was loaded with boxes and furniture from the apartment.  They leaned against the truck and looked up at the apartment balcony.

“Regrets?” Jack asked.

“Not a one,” the archaeologist answered without hesitation.  “Not a single one,” he reiterated.  Smiling, he intoned softly, “I love you, Jack.  You're my heart and my light; you're all I'll need.”

“You're my soul, Angel,” Jack crooned.  For a moment, the two were lost in each other's eyes.  Jack coughed, saying, “We'd better go before we ...”

“Yeah,” Daniel strongly concurred, turning and opening the passenger door.

====

The two lovers drove to the new facade, the new place of their 'Hiding in Plain Sight' game, and began filling up the back bedroom with boxes and such.

When Sam and Teal'c dropped by to help out, the blonde chuckled, “Daniel, where are you putting your bed?”

Daniel laughed, “I had to buy a new one, Sam.  I'm putting it in the living room.”

“The living room?” Sam laughed in question.

“I don't have a lot of room, so for now, that's the best place for a bed.  I think I'm going to need the bedrooms to store things in.”

Later on, the teammates and friends ordered pizza and enjoyed their day, but by the end of it, they were all exhausted.

“DanielJackson, I have noticed that my quarters at the SGC are not much smaller than your new home.  Did it shrink?” the Jaffa inquired with a stoic expression.

“Yeah, it shrunk,” Daniel chose to muse.

“It is a pretty small place, Daniel,” Sam commented as she straightened out a couple of shelves on the outer wall of the living room.

“I don't need much room.  It's just me after all,” the archaeologist pointed out.

Sam smiled covertly at Daniel and then at Jack.  They had told her the real reason for the move, but Teal'c still didn't know about Jack and Daniel being lovers -- at least not officially.

====

By 1 a.m.,  Sam and Teal'c had gone, and the house was set up with all the furniture in place.  Daniel had things pretty much where he wanted them, at least for the items not being kept in boxes in the back and front rooms.

“Don't you think this is a funny place for a bed, Daniel?” Jack asked, noticing the smaller bed that Daniel had purchased was sitting almost at an angle in the middle of the room.

“That's what Sam said, but it's a small house.  Besides, it doesn't really matter, does it?” the younger man challenged.

Jack laughed, “No, it sure doesn't.”

“Jack?”

“Yes, Love?” Jack asked.

With a smile, Daniel requested, “Let's go home.”

“I thought I was your home,” Jack smirked with pride.

“Exactly!” Daniel exclaimed, shoving Jack down on the bed where they kissed passionately.  “This building -- it's just a house of walls, Jack, but you, you're my home.  Remember that always.”

“Forever and always, Angel,” Jack crooned as he gazed into the blue eyes he adored more than life.

“Forever and always, my Silver Fox,” Daniel crooned in replay.

Jack and Daniel made love in the homes of each other's hearts and souls, knowing that the only walls that existed for them were the walls their two bodies framed together.

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