I'm Fine

Author: Orrymain
Category: Slash, Angst, H/C, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  2
Spoilers:  Tok'ra Parts 1 and 2
Size:  40kb
Written:  November 3-4,8,10, 2003  Revised:  January 11, July 12, August 1,7,9, September 4, 2005
Summary:  Daniel evades Jack's advances, causing Jack to worry about Daniel's motives and his health.  Is Daniel sick?  Why is he hiding from Jack? Will it affect their current mission?
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Hanky warning, so I've been told!
2) 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.**
3) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Tina, QuinGem, Gail, Allexandrya, Claudia, Linda!

I'm Fine
by Orrymain

The clock on the nightstand ticked to ten-thirty before the phone finally rang.  Jack answered, happy to hear his lover on the other end.

“Danny, I miss you,” Jack said softly.

“I, uh, miss you, too, but I had to get those reports written,” Daniel explained.

“Please tell me you're at the apartment,” Jack requested, afraid Daniel was still at the SGC.

“I'm home, Jack,” Daniel responded unable to stifle a yawn afterwards.

“No, you're not,” Jack refuted.

“Jack, I promise you, I'm at my apartment,” Daniel promised.

“You may be at the apartment, Daniel, but you aren't home.  If you were home, you'd be here.  I love you,” Jack said after his admonishment.

“Gawd,” Daniel sighed softly.  “I love you, too, so much.”

“Then why are you working so hard to keep us apart?” Jack challenged.

“I'm, uh ... Jack, I've had a lot to do lately.  I'm fine; we're fine; but, uh, I am tired,” Daniel admitted, another yawn escaping from him.

“Okay, Love.  Get some rest.  No O.T. tomorrow, Danny,” Jack ordered.

“Jack ...”

“No arguments, Daniel.  I want your body,” Jack teased lightly.

“I want yours, too.  I want all of you, Jack,” the younger man admitted.

“Night, Love,” Jack said.

“Goodnight, Babe.”

Reluctantly, Jack hung up the phone.  As he closed his eyes, he imagined Daniel in his arms, warming his body better than any blanket could do.

Twenty minutes away, in his apartment, Daniel sighed as he struggled to get comfortable on his bed.  Finally, he closed his eyes, imagining he was atop his 'Jack Pillow', listening to the comforting sound of his lover's heartbeat.

====

“It's about time,” Jack said, spying his lover changing into his BDUs.  He smiled, walking into SG-1's assigned locker room of the SGC.  ~Beautiful and sexy; sexy and beautiful -- and all mine!~

Over the last two days, Daniel had been, in Jack's estimation, suspiciously absent from his embrace.  Yes, Daniel had assured him everything was 'fine' and that he was simply 'working', but the result was that aside from a couple of meetings and a failed attempt at mother-henning, Jack hadn't seen his lover.  While Daniel had called Jack on the phone fairly frequently, he hadn't appeared to want Jack anywhere near him.

“Hi,” Daniel said softly, a tiny smile on his face.

Seeing no one else around, Jack closed the door and seized the moment, hugging his lover.  It had been too long, and Jack didn't want to let go.

~Screw the SGC.  I need this.~  Jack took in the scent of his lover; to him, Daniel smelled like, ~home, love, happiness.~  “I've missed you,” Jack spoke softly, placing a kiss on Daniel's neck.

“I love you, Jack.  I'm sorry I've had to work,” Daniel said reassuringly, also choosing not to worry about their closeness even though they were at the SGC.

“It happens, but I think I've reached my limit.  Gawd, you feel good ... warm, but good.  Danny, you feeling okay?” Jack asked, concerned.

Daniel abruptly broke from Jack's hold and answered a bit defensively, “I'm fine, Jack.  I was jogging before I came in, that's all.”

When Jack started to approach again, Daniel put his hand up and warned, “Anyone could walk in, Jack.  We've already pressed our luck.”

“Danny,” Jack responded, not liking what was happening.

The older man's mind reverted back to the beginning of their relationship when Daniel had let his guilt about Sha're interfere in their relationship.  As a result, this conversation was eerily familiar, and terrifying, to Jack.

Understanding his soulmate's apprehension and concern, Daniel sighed, “Jack, I promise.  I love you with everything that I am.  I'm not ... I don't feel guilty ... well, not any more than usual, anyway; everything's okay ... but we *are* in the SGC, and, like I said, anyone could come in.  I love you, Jack.  I want to be with you.  Okay?”

The look in the younger man's eyes convinced Jack that his lover was speaking the truth.

Relaxing, Jack smiled and replied, “Okay, Love.  I'll let you dress in peace, mainly because I don't trust myself.  Briefing starts in twenty minutes.”

“I know, Jack,” Daniel said as he rolled his eyes at the unneeded reminder.  When Jack walked out, Daniel heaved a sigh of relief and quickly collapsed onto to bench that was in front of the lockers.  ~I can't give in.  I ... I can't.  I can do this.~

In the corridor, Jack stared back at the locker room door, thinking, ~Okay, I believe you that whatever is wrong isn't about us, at least not on the surface, but there is something wrong, Daniel, and I *am* going to find out what it is.~

====

The scheduled mission briefing took a left turn when Sam began talking about Jolinar, the symbiote she had unwillingly hosted for a short period sometime earlier.  The memory of Jolinar had given Sam a dream wherein she envisioned the Tok'ra, the Goa'uld 'good guys', as Daniel called them.

~Good Goa'uld.  Right,~ Jack silently thought.  Looking over at Daniel, Jack grimaced lightly.  ~This isn't normal for him.  He's talking, but something's off.~

Sam told them that during the dream, she'd been able to recall a set of coordinates to the place where the Tok'ra were, and she strongly believed that SG-1 should “at least check it out.”

Following her advice as well as Teal'c's intel that the Tok'ra were known as the Goa'uld resistance, “hunted and despised by the Goa'uld,” SG-1 prepared to travel to P34-353J, a desert-like planet.

En route to the gate room, and having a few minutes before their scheduled departure time, Sam made a quick phone call to her ailing father, Jacob Carter, to check on him.

Once again seizing the moment, Jack pulled Daniel aside to a corner of the gate room and asked, “Danny, are you okay?”

“Jack, I told you, I'm fine,” the younger man insisted.

“You don't look fine.  You weren't yourself in the briefing,” Jack observed.

“I was, too.”

“Were not,” Jack maintained.

“Was, too,” Daniel argued.

“Daniel, we don't have time for this.  You were distracted, slouching in your chair and leaning away from the rest of us.  Normally, you're practically sitting on the table during a meeting, or at least leaning on it.”

“I'm so sorry my table manners aren't up to par, Jack,” Daniel snapped snarkily.  He sighed and shook his head.  “Sorry.  Look, Jack, I'm fine.  Really, I am,” Daniel assured.

“Daniel ...” Jack began.

Happy to have a reason to move on, Daniel interrupted, “Jack, here comes Sam and the general.”

Daniel walked away to stand near Teal'c as they waited for the 'go' from Hammond.

~What is going on with him?~ Jack wondered.

====

Soon after they arrived on the planet, SG-1 made contact with the Tok'ra, including one named Martouf.  After a brief standoff with each side holding weapons on the other, the Tau'ri were taken below ground to the tunnels the Tok'ra had created.

Jack continued to covertly watch his lover, concerned at how pale he seemed to be.  He couldn't recall ever seeing Daniel's skin look so clammy, not even when the younger man had gone through withdrawal from the sarcophagus.

In the Tok'ra tunnels, SG-1 met Garshaw, the Tok'ra leader, and then learned about the impending deaths of Selmac, a symbiote, and Saroosh, the symbiote's host.  Having heard that the Tau'ri wished to ally with them, the Tok'ra asked if any of SG-1 would like to become Selmac's new host.

Everyone was stunned -- SG-1 at the invitation and the Tok'ra at the immediate declines by the Tau'ri.  Sam, with memories of Jolinar stirring within her, was the most upset at the mere thought of becoming a host again.  As Martouf tried to apologize and calm her, he asked if she would like to go to take a look at the surface of the planet.

With Sam and Martouf above ground and Teal'c sitting quietly, apparently mulling something over, Jack had another opportunity to approach his lover and broach his personal hot topic of the day -- Daniel's wellbeing.

“Daniel ...”

“Jack, don't start.  Not here, please,” Daniel begged quietly.

“Danny, you were practically holding on to that table for support, and you're working way too hard at trying to convince me you're fine,” Jack stated in a somewhat strained tone of voice.

“Leave it alone,” the younger man demanded coldly.

“Daniel ...”

“Jack, go ... find Sam or something.  You were so worried about her, so why don't you go find her?  After all, there was a spark there,” Daniel spoke antagonistically, wanting the discussion to end immediately.

Daniel moved away, but Jack grabbed his left forearm, stopping him.

“Not going to work, Dannyboy.  You are so not jealous of Carter, not this time.  Something's wrong.  You know it, and I know it,” Jack stated strongly, continuing to look around to make sure they weren't being watched.

“Leave me alone, Jack,” Daniel repeated, pulling himself from Jack's hold.

Daniel backed away and walked over to Teal'c, beginning a discussion with the Jaffa about the Goa'uld and Tok'ra differences, leaving Jack and his concern alone.

Jack sighed as he moved to a spot across the small room where he could keep an eye on his archaeologist.

**Trust me, Danny.  I'm going to get to the bottom of this!**

Jack wasn't positive Daniel had received the silent message, but it didn't matter.  It was a promise he had made to himself, as much as to his lover.

~And I always keep my promises.~

====

“Daniel, you were struggling to think of something to use in the negotiations, and don't you dare try and tell me that's normal,” Jack warned brusquely.  “When have you ever been unable to come up with something concrete off the top of your head?”

“I did say something,” Daniel responded defensively as he stood, self-hugging.

Garshaw had come to the section of the tunnels where SG-1 was being held.  The Tok'ra had already turned down their offer of working together as they didn't believe the Earthlings had anything to offer them.  However, Jack had requested another meeting.  He had been surprised when Daniel was not only slow to enter the discussion, but once he did, had been hard pressed to come up with reasons for the Tok'ra to partner with the Tau'ri.

“That we had the same goals?  Daniel, come on,” Jack replied.  ~Give me more credit than that.~

“Jack, don't you have more important things to be thinking about right now, like Sam's dad, or getting out of here alive?” Daniel asked in an attempt to derail his concerned lover.

“Other things?  Yes,” Jack admitted, but quickly added, “But more important?  No, not in a pig's eye.  Listen to me, Daniel Jackson, nothing is more important to me than you.  Now,” Jack looked around to make sure no one was paying attention to their little discussion.  “I may have to let this go for a little while, but it's not over, Danny, not by a long shot.  You don't think I've noticed how pale you look, or how you've you been hanging on to the furniture?  I have news for you, Love; when it comes to you, I notice everything.”

“I'm not hanging on,” Daniel denied.  “I ... I was examining the crystals.”

“Sure you were, for about one minute, and then you were clinging to it.  I'm not blind,” Jack commented with concern.

Daniel said nothing, but walked across to Sam to try and console her.

Colonel Makepeace and SG-3 had arrived to extract Sam back to Earth.  Her father, Jacob Carter, was dying of cancer and wasn't expected to live much longer.  The Tok'ra, however, fearing that the Tau'ri were a weak link and would somehow betray them to the Goa'uld, had refused to let her leave until they could complete their move to their new home base.

~I'm right, Danny.  You're trying to run; I'm not sure why, but that's what you're doing.  Well, I may have bad knees, but where you're concerned, there's no way you can outrun me.~

====

A while later, Jack again observed his wilting lover leaning against the crystal-made table.  In fact, Daniel seemed not to be noticing much of anything that was going on around him.

Garshaw had announced her return, but Daniel was in another world, not responding until Jack had called out to him to focus on the task at hand, which was trying to get the Tok'ra to allow Sam to go home.  So far, they hadn't had any luck, and things weren't looking any better this time around, either, not even after Daniel pleaded their case.

Fortunately, though, Sam came up with her own solution.  Once she realized that the Tok'ra symbiote could cure human diseases like cancer, she managed to convince the Tok'ra to consider her father as a host for Selmac.  On condition that Daniel and Teal'c remain with the Tok'ra, Garshaw agreed, allowing Sam and Jack to return to Earth to see if Jacob would be willing to come back to the planet with them.

**Danny, try and get some rest while I'm gone.**

**Jack, I'm fine.**

**So you keep telling me.**

Daniel welcomed the reprieve from the ongoing rows with his lover.  He was fine and wished Jack would keep the mother hen stuff for when they were alone.  He didn't need Sam or Teal'c thinking he was getting special treatment, or wondering if Daniel was pulling his own weight as a member of SG-1.

~Finally, peace.  Gawd, Jack, you're just making it worse.  Why can't you listen to me for once?~  Making sure no one was watching, Daniel sank down along the wall and bent his legs upward to his chest.  ~I'm trying to save us. Don't you know that?~

====

When Jack and Sam returned with Jacob, they found the Tok'ra camp in an uproar.  Somehow the Goa'uld had discovered the location of the Tok'ra, and Garshaw was convinced that the one of the Tau'ri had betrayed them.  As the Tok'ra continued to destroy their labyrinth of tunnels and evacuate the planet, Sam took her father to meet Saroosh and Martouf, while Jack joined Daniel and Teal'c.

~We're not the ones with a spy; you are,~ Jack thought with annoyance.  Having just seen one of the Tok'ra with a Goa'uld communication device, Jack and Daniel went in search of Garshaw to inform her that there may be a spy amongst the Tok'ra.  As they walked, Jack quietly said to Daniel, “Don't think I haven't noticed that you're almost out of breath.”

Before Daniel could respond with a denial or rationale, Jack darted ahead, satisfied that he had made his point.

Daniel slowed for a moment to collect his thoughts.  He loved Jack, and it scared him to think of life without him.  He felt awful inside as he considered that possibility.  Closing his eyes for a moment, Daniel took a painful breath.

~Stay focused, Jackson.  You don't want to lose him.  You have to stick with the plan; you have to!~

His resolve gathered once again, Daniel picked up his pace to join his friends with the Tok'ra.

Though resistant at first, Garshaw finally accepted the notion that there was a spy among the Tok'ra.  She was very upset and immediately sought out the traitor.  Jack followed, ordering Teal'c and Daniel, who had taken hold of the table again, to stay behind.

Daniel sarcastically repeated the command, “We'll stay here.”

**That's the idea.**

The younger man grimaced at his lover's silent communication, though inwardly, he was a tad relieved.  Daniel's stomach was in knots, and he was tired of fighting with Jack.

~I love you.  I don't want to fight.~  Still, the young man was in agony as his brain was working overtime with painful scenarios of what would happen soon if he didn't remain strong.  ~I have to hold my ground ... for us.~

====

It wasn't long before the Tok'ra captured the traitor, and as the gliders of their enemy attacked, they successfully escaped the planet.

Jacob's blending with Selmac had gone well, and he was pleased that, as it turned out, he was one of the oldest and wisest among the Tok'ra, and thus, a leader.

Making a brief visit to the SGC before gating to their new home planet, Garshaw, Martouf, and Jacob visited with General Hammond.  Jack glanced at his lover as Daniel presented Garshaw with one of the Sagan boxes, which would allow the Tok'ra to communicate with the SGC.  Jack wasn't happy with what he saw, and it had nothing to do with Garshaw.

Daniel still looked pale and clammy.  The young man's blue eyes were weary, and he was working too hard to act 'normal'.

~Something's wrong, and I'm going to find out exactly what it is.~  Jack shifted impatiently as the Tok'ra said their farewells.  ~Aw, good.  They've gone.  Okay, Dannyboy, now ...~

“SG-1, we'll debrief immediately.  I want to hear all about your meeting with the Tok'ra,” General Hammond announced, interrupting Jack's thoughts.

~Crap!~

====

“Colonel O'Neill, where is Doctor Jackson?”

~That's what I'd like to know,~ Jack immediately thought.

The mission debriefing had ended fifty minutes earlier.  When Jack had been stopped in the hallway by Janet Fraiser, he had already gone through his post mission exam and was currently following through on an order of General Hammond's, after which he planned to track his lover and get to the bottom of Daniel's current evasiveness.

“Actually, Doc, I was wondering that myself.  After the briefing, he disappeared.  Why are you looking for him?” Jack asked curiously.

Annoyed, Janet answered, “He skipped out on the pre-mission exam, and as you know, I sometimes allow that when schedules are colliding, but never on a post, and he never showed in the infirmary.”

“I'll find him, Janet,” Jack promised.

“See that you do,” Janet said sternly.  Then she warned, “I won't clear him for the next mission until I've examined him.”

“I'm sure he knows that,” Jack responded.

“And now so do you!” Janet said, her Little Napoleon persona shining through as her eyes radiated determination.

Jack watched the SGC's little dynamo walk away and shivered from visions of long needles and unwanted probing fingers.

~Dannyboy, you are so in trouble, but better you than me.~  For a moment, Jack smiled.  Then he sobered as worry for his soulmate overtook the temporary lightheartedness.  ~Whatever is wrong, we'll get through it together.~

====

Having checked all the usual places within the SGC, but not finding any signs of Daniel, Jack went to their home.  It wasn't technically theirs, but that's how Jack thought of it.  Since his lover wasn't at the house, Jack headed for Daniel's apartment.  Daniel hadn't answered the phone, and Jack's internal Daniel alarm was blaring.

~It's not just me you're evading; it's the Doc.  I'm not sure why you think you have to do this, but I'm sure now what's wrong.~

Daniel was sick.  Every bone in Jack's body told him that.  He had watched his lover on the Tok'ra planet and couldn't ignore all the signs -- the clinging to tables, his pale, sweaty skin, the unusual lack of energy, the warmth emanating from Daniel's body the one time Daniel had allowed Jack near him.

~You've been holding out on me, Danny, but I understand why.~  This understanding, however, didn't alleviate Jack's temper, and the more Jack pondered the ways in which Daniel had shut him out, the angrier he got.  ~You're just sick; everyone gets sick.~

A part of Jack feared that just maybe it was something serious, and maybe Daniel knew it, and that's why he was playing this game of Hide and Seek.  He prayed, though, it was the everyday flu or common cold, so he could simply lambaste his lover for being skittish about being sick and then pamper him until he got better.

====

Jack entered Daniel's apartment.  Other than a light on atop the piano, there was no sign of life in the living room area.  He walked the hallway to Daniel's bedroom and turned to see his lover sitting up against the wall where the bathroom and the bedroom joined.

~Aw, Danny.~  Jack sat down next to his lover, his back against the wall.  Daniel had his legs raised and brought up to his chest, his body hunched forward, and his head lying atop his hands that were across his knees.  He hadn't looked up to acknowledge Jack.  “Danny.”

“I'm fine,” Daniel said softly, his voice not very convincing.

“No, you're not, Love,” Jack said with his new-found awareness.

Jack's hand reached out, tenderly rubbing the back of Daniel's head.  He slid his hand downward a bit and then ran his fingers through Daniel's long silky hair, pulling it back so that he could get a good look at his lover.  The older man could feel heat radiating from Daniel's body.

~You've got a fever; no doubt about it.~  Jack couldn't take their distance any longer.  “Danny, come on, come over here,” Jack urged as he tugged on his lover gently.

Daniel's head went up slowly.  He wasn't really sure he could move, and yet, he saw what Jack was offering, and the thought of being held was appealing. He moved at a snail's pace into Jack's hold, his head leaning contently against Jack's right shoulder, with his lover's arms caressing both his back and his abdomen.

“Why didn't you tell me you were sick, Danny?” Jack asked gently.

“Not sick, just tired.  I'm fine,” Daniel maintained as he continued with his delusion. “I just need sleep, that's all.  Maybe you should go, and I'll just sleep here for a day or two.”

“A day or two?” Jack echoed, almost chuckling.  “I don't think so, Danny.”

“Please,” Daniel begged.

“Danny, why do you want me to go?” Jack asked as he kissed the top of Daniel's warm head.

“I ... no, it's not that.”

Jack could feel Daniel tense a little, so he placed another kiss on Daniel's forehead and said softly, “I love you.  You're sick, and I'm going to take care of you.”

“I'm ... fine.”

Daniel's voice was shaky, and he was so obviously not fine that Jack couldn't understand why Daniel would try to pretend, especially since his fever was shooting up towards the sky.  As if a light switch had been turned on, a thought occurred to Jack about his lover's behavior.  Daniel's avoidance of him prior to the mission, his insistence that all was well and he could keep up with the Tok'ra, and now trying to get Jack to leave for a couple of days -- all of these actions were all pointing Jack in a specific direction.

“Danny, when you were a little boy in foster care and you got sick, did your foster parents hold you?”

Daniel didn't move, not one inch.  He was totally still in Jack's arms.

“Did they make you chicken soup and read you silly stories to try and make you feel better?”

Daniel was so still that Jack thought for a moment he was holding a mannequin and not a living, breathing man.

“What happened when you got sick?” Jack asked tenderly.

Finally, Daniel answered quietly, “Pills.  They'd usually give me whatever they had to.”

~Had to?~  “And then what?” Jack questioned gently.

“I'd get a new family,” Daniel confessed.  ~All the homes were horrible, well most of them anyway; okay, all but one, but I tried so hard.~

The words were whispered, so softly that Jack had to strain to hear him.  Jack closed his eyes.

~I should have guessed this,~ Jack lamented.

It was all so simple and clear to him now, but before Jack could say anything Daniel spoke some more.

“No one wants a kid who's sick, especially if he has allergies, and is smarter than they are, and ... maybe hasn't talked in a long time.”

Sometimes, Jack really hated the world, and this was one of those times.  He wished he could make it go away, disappear, and change it all for his lover.  The nightmare of Daniel's childhood made no sense to Jack.  How could anyone not love the sweet, innocent child that Daniel Jackson had been?

“Danny, Love, listen to me.  I'm not going anywhere, and neither are you.  I'm going to take care of you.  You're sick; it's probably just a nasty flu bug, but we'll have Fraiser check you out to be sure.”

Daniel started to shake his head, but Jack shushed him with another kiss on the forehead as he continued to massage his partner's warm body, holding him securely.

“I love you and what that means is that I'm going to be here if and when you need to get out of bed and throw up.  If you miss, that's okay.  I'll clean it, and I'll still love you.

“It means if you need me to bring you box after box of Kleenex, I'll do it, even if I then have to pick them all up off the floor because that's where you've tossed them after you've used them.

“It means if you have an upset stomach, I'll ... well, I'll keep doing what I'm doing, for as long as it takes, because it makes you feel better.
 
“And it means that if you want to be cranky and whiny, then that's okay, too. Acting like a crabapple goes with being sick.  Wait until it's your turn to take care of me.  I am not a patient patient,” Jack laughed.  “So you be as annoyingly cranky as you want, and that'll be okay, because you're my love.

“You hear me, Daniel?  I *love* you, and that doesn't go away because you are sick.

“I'm going to spoil you rotten, drive you crazy taking your temperature, and make you eat chicken broth until you can't stand it anymore.  I'm going to read you a story, Danny, and I'm going to hold you until you feel better.

“And when this flu bug hits the road, and you really are fine again, we're going to make love, and I'm going to remind you just how friggin' much I love, need, and want you.

“You got that?  I love you, Danny,” Jack spoke as firmly as he could.  Daniel hadn't said anything, so Jack lifted his lover's face to look at him, and he saw the tears.  “Aw, Space Monkey.”

“No one wants a little boy who's sick,” Daniel sniffled.

“I would have,” Jack said, trying to dry the tears.  “But I'm the lucky one.  I found you all grown up.  You're all mine, Danny, and I don't intend for that change, not now, not ever, and especially not over the flu.”

“I love you, too, Jack.”

“Love you to the moon and the stars and beyond, and back again.”  Nestling his chin atop Daniel's sweaty hair, Jack asked, “So tell me, how do you feel?”

Daniel pulled back and looked deeply into the brown eyes he so often got lost in.  He swallowed hard, and it hurt.  Part of him wanted to say he was fine.  It was a word he so often used as a mantle of protection.  If he was fine, he wouldn't be sent away; but looking at his lover, he saw such love and devotion that Daniel hesitated, letting Jack's words reverberate through his soul.

“How do you feel, Love?” Jack asked again.

This time, Daniel crumbled, lying his head back against Jack's shoulder.

“Lousy.  Everything aches. I'm so hot, sore throat.  I think I'm dying,” Daniel answered exasperatedly, causing Jack to chuckle slightly.

“Not dying, just sick,” Jack corrected.

“Make it better?” Daniel requested as he allowed his trust in his soulmate to take over.

“Oh, yeah, gonna do that now, starting with this.”  Jack lifted Daniel's chin up and placed a soft, sweet kiss on his lips.  “There's more where that came from when you're feeling better.”

“Motivation,” Daniel replied softly.

“You got it.  Now, come on, let's get you into some pajamas and into bed,” Daniel's own personal Florence Nightingale suggested.

“Jack?”

“What?”

“I'm sor...r... oh ...” Daniel stuttered.

Jack was about to ask what Daniel was sorry for when he got the answer -- Daniel threw up all over him.

“Taking me at my word?” Jack teased very lightly before tending to his lover gently and lovingly.

After getting Daniel into some pajamas and into bed, Jack changed his clothes.

~What we do for love,~ Jack thought.  Smiling, he said, “And I wouldn't have it any other way.~

====

Jack phoned Janet and arranged for a house call.  Arriving within the hour, Janet gave Daniel an antibiotic, a long lecture, and prescribed some other medications.  While the physician stayed with Daniel, Jack took the opportunity to run a couple of errands, stocking the apartment with food, picking up a book, and getting the prescription filled at the drugstore.

After Janet's departure, Jack prepared a meal and spoon-fed his lover a bowl of chicken noodle soup.

“I can feed myself, you know,” Daniel informed his lover.

“Of course, you can,” Jack agreed, smiling as he moved the spoon into Daniel's mouth.

“Not a child,” the younger man argued.

“No, you're not,” Jack affirmed as he spooned up another taste and placed it in Daniel's mouth.

“You don't have to.”

“No, I don't,” Jack concurred, lifting another spoonful to Daniel.

“I can hold a spoon,” Daniel lightly argued.

“I know that,” Jack said with yet another morsel of the hot soup headed for Daniel's mouth.

“I love you,” the younger man said softly.

Smiling brightly, Jack replied, “Love you, too,” just as Daniel swallowed the next spoonful of chicken soup.

====

Jack had given his lover a quick sponge bath after dinner, and now it was time for sleep, according to the Jack O'Neill Book of Illness.  He had changed into his own flannel pajamas and was now leaning against the headboard.

“Come on, scoot down,” Jack requested as he motioned for Daniel to lay down again, which he did, his head resting on Jack's lap, his right hand wrapped around Jack's right leg possessively.  “Okie dokie, story time.”

“What?” a surprised Daniel responded.

“I told you that I was going to read you a story, and I am.”  Jack grinned as he held a children's book in his hand.  Daniel's eyes widened, a look of disbelief on his face.  “No arguments, Daniel.  You just keep your head down and listen.”

“You're silly, Jack,” Daniel replied, concealing a smile as he did as Jack had asked.  ~I can count on my hands the number of times anyone has read me a story since Mommy and Daddy died.  I can do it on one hand.~

“Once upon a time,” Jack began, reading with all the zeal he had done years ago when reading the book he held in his hand to his son, Charlie.

Minutes after Jack had begun reading, Daniel fell sound asleep.

====

“J'ck!”  Daniel tossed his body across the bed.  “JACK!”

“Hey!  Hey, Danny, I'm right here,” Jack said, running into the bedroom and realizing his lover was caught in some gruesome nightmare.  “Wake up, Love,” Jack prodded urgently.

“Jack.  Don't go.  Monk'y.  Please.  Not sick ... Don't ...”

Daniel was moving wildly on the bed, his arms flailing about.

“Space Monkey,” Jack said softly, leaning over to kiss Daniel on the cheek, instantly calming the younger man.  “You're my Space Monkey, Danny.  It's okay to be sick.  I love you.  It's okay.”  Jack smiled as Daniel slowly opened his eyes and stared up at him.  “You were having a nightmare, Danny.”

“It was the worst,” Daniel acknowledged with a weak and cracked voice.

“C'mere,” Jack raised Daniel's body so that he was holding him in his arms, Daniel nuzzling his head against Jack's shoulder.  “Not going anywhere without you, remember?  So you just tell that nightmare it can adios out of Dodge.  It's full of crap.”

Daniel laughed, “Adios out of Dodge?”

“That's what I said.”

“Is this how you talked to Charlie?” Daniel asked, feeling safer with each passing second.

“Sometimes,” Jack admitted.

“I'm not a child,” Daniel proclaimed, though he knew he didn't want to move out of Jack's embrace for quite a while.

“No, you're not.”

“I can take care of myself,” Daniel said, stating the obvious.

“Yes, you can, but you don't have to anymore, not when you're sick,” Jack explained tenderly.

“Jack?”

“Yes, Love?”

“I love you.”

Jack smiled, kissed Daniel on his nape, and said, “I love you, too, Danny.”

~Don't let go,~ Daniel thought.

“I won't, Danny; not ever,” Jack responded, not realizing Daniel hadn't spoken the words out loud.

Daniel blinked realizing Jack's spoken response, but he didn't care.  All he wanted was to be held, and Jack was doing that just nicely in Daniel's opinion.

====

“Rise and shine, Sleepy Head,” Jack said in between his happy whistling, waking his lover as he brought in a lunch tray.

“Are you going to feed me again?” Daniel inquired as he woke.

“Nah, you're better.  You can feed yourself now,” Jack answered with a smile.

“Oh,” Daniel said softly as he sat up against the headboard of the bed and prepared to eat.

Daniel's temperature had gone from its high of one-hundred-three down to a more tolerable one-hundred-point-five.  Another day and Jack figured Daniel would be back to his old self.  Daniel reached for the spoon, but Jack grabbed it.

“Humor me,” Jack requested, spooning up some of the chicken soup.

“Jack, I can ...”

“But you don't have to, remember?”

Daniel smiled and opened wide to let his lover feed him.  He knew it was ridiculous, but part of him relished this caring treatment.  Not since his parents had been alive had anyone taken such tender care of him when he was sick and done it with such a happy look on their face as Jack had.

====

The rest of the day went smoothly.  Daniel had gotten up a couple of times as he regained his strength.  His temperature had dropped to an even hundred, and Jack had actually let the younger man drink his own juice without assistance at dinnertime.

It was 9 p.m., and Daniel was tired, so Jack figured they'd go to bed.  He hoped that in the morning, Daniel's temperature would be normal, and his lover would be healthy again.  He hadn't minded taking care of Daniel.  In fact, he had loved every second of it, even the nastier moments.

Daniel lay on the bed as Jack sat down, about to turn out the light.

“Jack?”

The name was spoken with hesitancy, something that hadn't escaped the older man's notice.

Jack turned, shifted his body towards his soulmate, and asked, “What?”

“I'll be all better tomorrow,” Daniel announced casually.

“I hope so.  I have plans for us, remember?” Jack stated with a twinkle in his eye.

Daniel grinned and whispered lovingly, “I can't wait.”

“What is it, Love?” Jack prompted, knowing there was more to what Daniel wanted to say.

“Um ... never mind,” Daniel said as he turned away, rolling onto his left side.

Jack reached over with his right hand, touching Daniel's forearm, and urged, “Come on, Danny.  No holding out.  Tell me.”

“You didn't finish,” the younger man confessed quietly.

“Finish what?” Jack quizzed.

“I ... I fell asleep,” Daniel explained.

“Daniel, what are you ... oh,” Jack laughed.  “Just a second.”  Jack went to his backpack and pulled out an object.  He sat back on the bed, a huge grin on his face.  “C'mere you,” he commanded lovingly.

Daniel turned, smiled, and rolled over, placing his head on Jack's lap.  His left hand held onto Jack's leg as Jack finished the book he had begun two nights before.

Running his left hand through Daniel's shaggy hair, it was sometime later when Jack read, “and lived happily ever after.”

“Just like us, Jack, living happily ever after,” Daniel spoke contently.

“Just like us, Danny,” Jack agreed and then kissed the top of Daniel's head.

“Interesting choice for a story,” Daniel commented after a couple of minutes.

“I thought parts of it were appropriate,” Jack smirked.

“Big bad Goa'uld giants?” Daniel asked with a chuckle.

“Yep, and like I always do, I'll make them come crashing down to keep you safe,” the older man assured.

Jack put his “Jack and the Beanstalk” book on the nightstand, turned out the light, and lay down on the bed, after which Daniel took his customary place on his Jack pillow.

“Jack?”

“Yes, Love?”

“Thank you.”

“For what?” Jack asked.

“Not leaving, feeding me, reading to me, loving me, for everything,” Daniel listed appreciatively.

“I love you with all my heart.  I will always take care of you; and, Danny, thank you, too.”

“For what?”

“For letting me take care of you,” Jack acknowledged.  “I wish I could undo all your pain.  If I could, I would, but I want you to remember, that loving someone the way I love you ... geez, I need you so much; I love taking care of you, Danny.  I know you could do it all by yourself, but ...”

“I don't have to anymore,” Daniel said, believing the words for the first time.

“Right,” Jack confirmed.

“Jack?”

“What?”

“Neither do you,” Daniel told him astutely.

Jack chuckled, “I know, but don't forget what I said; when I get sick, I am a nightmare.”

“But I love you, Jack, and I want to take care of you, too, okay?” Daniel lovingly informed him.

“Okay.”

“Night, Jack.”

“Night, Danny.”

====

“Hmmm, I missed this,” Daniel sighed after a very long kiss with his love on the balcony of his apartment.

“Me, too.  I'm glad you're feeling better,” Jack said.

“All better, because of you.”

“More like because of Janet's shot and happy pills,“ Jack smiled.  “I need to go, Love,” Jack spoke regretfully.  “I haven't been home.  Gotta check the mail, pay the bills, all that yucky stuff.”

“I'll miss you,” Daniel responded softly.

“Won't be for long,” Jack sighed as he leaned in for a tender kiss.

====

Five minutes later, after more kissing and fondling, Jack sighed, “I really have to go.”

“I know.  I'll see you tomorrow,” Daniel said sadly.

“I don't want you out in this storm, Danny.  You still had a temperature early this morning.”

“I know,” the younger man acknowledged unhappily.

“I love you.  Go to sleep,” Jack ordered his lover.

“Like a good little boy?” Daniel asked.

“Like my soulmate who I worry about because he takes better care of rocks than of himself,” Jack answered.

“Artifacts,” both said in unison, a burst of laughter escaping.

“I love you,” Jack stated again.

“Hmm.  Love you, too,” Daniel replied.

Jack took a deep sigh, kissed Daniel once more, and left the apartment.

====

Thirty-five minutes later, Jack was home.  He had begun a load of the wash and was about to check the mail when he heard the door creak.  He smiled and calmly strolled to the door.

Daniel walked into the waiting arms of his lover, and they kissed passionately.

“What took you so long?” Jack inquired with a smile.

“Traffic,” Daniel laughed.

“I knew you wouldn't listen to me.”

“You know me and orders, Babe,” Daniel quipped.

“Thank heaven,” Jack sighed into his lover's mouth as they kissed again.  “Danny, how do you feel?”

Daniel grinned and answered, “I'm ... right this second, Jack, I'm so happy.”

“I intend for you to stay that way,” Jack proclaimed.

“So, uh, what about all those chores you have to do?” Daniel asked as his hands warmed Jack's back.

“Chores?  What chores?”

Laughing, the lovers headed upstairs.  The mail would wait one more day as Jack and Daniel reunited their bodies to the unity of their souls.  It was an act that would be repeated several times over the next two days as their nation of two continued to grow and flourish.

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