Just When You Thought You Knew Jack ...
Category: Slash, Angst, Drama, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - 1998 to 2006
Spoilers: Torment of Tantalus, Singularity, Fifth Race, 1969, Absolute Power, Grace, Chimera
Written: December 20-21, 2003, January 29, February 6-7, May 14,16, July 8,10,13, 2004 Tweaked July 19, 2004 Revised for consistency: July 14-15, 2007 Revised for Consistency Again: December 5, 2009
Summary: The retiring couple's happiness is in danger when Daniel discovers a secret Jack never wanted him to know.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) “27 Reasons to Have a Pet Mensan” by George Smiley as printed in the Mid-Mensan, the newsletter of Mid- Hudson (NY) Mensa.
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my past fics, “Paradise,” “Dare to Quiz, “In Memoriam,” and “Brothers”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: Charlotte, Claudia, QuinGem, Drdjlover!
Just When You Thought You Knew Jack ...
--March 16, 1998
SG-1 was preparing to go on a mission to the planet Hanka where they would be assisting SG-7 with collecting data on a black hole during a solar eclipse.
“So, what exactly are we going to see after this eclipse begins?” Daniel asked Sam as they entered the gate room. “I mean it is black, and it is a hole.”
“Well, it might be a black hole,” Jack responded, teasingly.
“Okay, let me put that a different way,” Daniel retorted.
“No, Daniel, you're right,” Sam began to explain. “You can't actually see it, not the singularity itself. It's so massive not even light can escape it, but during the totality phase of the eclipse, we should be able to see matter spiraling towards it.”
“Actually,” Jack interjected, “it's called the accretion disc.”
Daniel continued, “Well, I guess it's easy to understand why the local population would be afraid of something like th...” Daniel suddenly stopped talking and looked back at Jack, almost in shock. “What did you just say?”
Jack answered with great satisfaction and mock-modesty, “It's just an astronomical term.”
Daniel was stunned, but Sam offered, “You didn't think the colonel has a telescope on his roof just to look at his neighbors, did you?”
Sam headed for the Gate, and after a moment, Daniel followed, leaving Jack to nonchalantly say to Teal'c, “Not initially,” before walking through the Stargate himself.
Daniel made a mental note to ask Jack about his astronomical studies the next time they stargazed. Though they'd spent some time on Jack's roof deck after sporting events, the younger man hadn't been aware that his best friend was so knowledgeable in the field, and he was curious to know just how far Jack's knowledge on astronomy reached.
--Back in Time to August 1969
The young lieutenant opened the note addressed to “George” which he found in the female's jacket. It read simply:
AUGUST 10TH 9:15 AM
AUGUST 11TH 6:03 PM”
SG-1 sat around the camp fire, trying to figure out the best course of action. They were stuck back in time, in August 1969. They knew about the note, but didn't know what it meant yet. Suddenly, the flames sparked.
“A flare,” Sam said, making the connection between the note and the dates on it.
“What?” Jack asked.
“That's the only explanation. We had to have been sent back because
of a solar flare.”
“Was there not an error in your calculations?” Teal'c asked.
“I don't think so, Teal'c, but after the Abydos mission, when we couldn't figure out a way to make the Gate work again, I was asked to research alternative applications for the Gate, including time travel.”
Jack asked, “What'd you come up with?”
“Well, just this,” Sam began as she drew in the dirt to illustrate her comments. “What if a massive solar flare just happened to occur at the exact moment that we were traveling between Earth and another Stargate? If the wormhole itself was redirected closer to the sun because of the Earth's magnetic field, the increased gravity could slingshot us back to Earth.”
Daniel thought the concept was intriguing, but if it was that simple, it seemed like they would have utilized it before, so he asked, “Why haven't we tried this before?”
“Because flares are impossible to predict,” Sam answered. “Light takes several minutes to travel between the Earth and the sun, so by the time a flare of sufficient magnitude has been confirmed, it's already too late.”
“Okay, if they're impossible to predict, how do we get ourselves home?” Daniel asked.
Sam enthusiastically answered, “August 10th, 9:15 a.m. It's in the note.”
Jack, too, finally made the connection, and questioned, “The time and date of the next flare?”
“Yeah. General Hammond must have used my own research to figure out what we needed.”
“Or maybe that's the reason he asked you to do the research in the first place,” Daniel deduced.
“And he looked up two flares in August of 1969 that could send us home,” the blonde answered.
Realizing what needed to be done, SG-1, with the help of Michael and Jenny, the couple who had picked them up as hitchhikers, made their way to an observatory in New York, hoping to prove their flare theory by watching the first flare occur.
Sam called out a reminder to her CO, “Sir, remember to use the hydrogen-alpha solar filter ...”
“Or I'll burn my eyes out. I know,” Jack finished the sentence for her.
Meanwhile, Daniel and Sam continued on to make a covert trip to a young Catherine Langford to try and find out where the Stargate was being kept, Jack and Teal'c entered the observatory. Basically had the place to themselves.
Jack looked at the huge telescope almost like it was an old friend and said, “All right. We've got one shot to prove Carter's theory.” Quietly, he did his own version of the Alan Shepard Prayer -- “Don't screw it up, Jack.”
Teal'c was surprised at Jack's apparent nervousness and questioned, “Is not astronomy one of your hobbies, O'Neill?”
“Not quite on this scale.” Jack walked to the controls. “Let's get that dome open.”
Without a moment's hesitation, Jack pressed the button that opened the door. He moved to the telescope and, after putting on his sunglasses, looked through the lens.
The two waited for the right time to approach. Finally, Jack checked his watch and knew it was time for the flare.
“All right. In a few seconds, we'll know whether or not we can go back.”
“And if we cannot, O'Neill?”
“Guess we stay,” Jack answered. Seconds later, he added, “All right, it's show time.” He put his eye to the lens, squinting as he looked at the image of the sun which erupted as the solar flare occurred. With a positive lift in his tone, he chimed, “Brother Teal'c, at precisely 6:03 p.m. tomorrow, we're going home.”
Not long thereafter, Michael and Jenny returned with Daniel and Sam to pick up Jack and Teal'c. The two entered into the mod-colored bus and sat.
“Well?” Sam asked anxiously.
Teal'c responded, “Your theory is confirmed.”
Jack asked Daniel, “Where do we have to be for tomorrow's flare?”
“Washington, D.C.,” the archaeologist answered.
SG-1 successfully made it to the capitol and found their way home.
Sometime after the debriefing and his obligations at the SGC were complete for the day, Daniel was changing into his civvies. Teal'c was also in the locker room, talking with the archaeologist.
“I'm just glad you and Jack were able to operate the telescope,” Daniel commented, glancing over at the door in the hopes his lover would walk through soon.
“I did nothing, DanielJackson. It was O'Neill. He operated the devices proficiently.”
Daniel zipped his pants and pulled on his gray plaid shirt as he replied, “Well, he has a telescope, but that one was on a much-larger scale. I'll bet he hesitated a little.” He was admittedly fishing for information, since he was beginning to suspect his soulmate knew a bit more about astronomy than he let on, especially if he could operate an observatory telescope so easily. ~I know the dumb colonel act is an act, but I think maybe he plays dumb in other areas, too.~
“To the contrary, DanielJackson, O'Neill activated the telescope and opened the dome with great ease. While we waited, he showed me many of the controls and how they operated.”
“Oh. That's ... good.”
“Hey,” Jack called out, entering the locker room. “What's up?”
“We were talking about the observatory. You didn't have any problems there at all?” Daniel questioned.
“Nope. Piece of cake,” Jack answered as he began to change into his civvies.
Daniel moved a bit slowly as he buttoned his shirt, then sat down to put on his socks; but his mind was churning rapidly from his thoughts. He was glad it had gone well, but to just walk into an observatory and use such a sophisticated piece of equipment so easily made him a bit suspicious. Something was amiss, but he didn't know what.
A minute later, Teal'c bid his friends goodnight and headed for his quarters. Jack noticed his lover was a bit quiet.
“Daniel, anything wrong?”
“No. Nothing's wrong. Jack, how'd you know what to do in the observatory? I mean, astronomy is your hobby, but ...”
“It wasn't hard. The basics are the same.”
“Teal'c said you didn't even hesitate.”
“You know Teal'c,” Jack said, as if that answered the question. “How about Chinese tonight?”
“Yeah, first let's stop and get a video I want to rent, and then we'll get that moo-goo-taipan stuff and some of those wooey gooey ...”
Daniel shook his head as Jack murdered the Chinese menu. He was hungry, and he was happy that Jack was agreeing to the foreign food without a fight. He let any thoughts of the observatory in 1969 escape from his mind, opting to focus on dinner and his upcoming “Jack Dessert” instead.
--April 10, 2002
“What's so fascinating, Doc?” Lou Ferretti asked as he sat down to join SG-1 at their table in the commissary.
“Oh, just a letter from the local Mensa chapter about some party next month.”
“Mensa? Oh, that's the group for all you way-too-smart types, isn't it?” Lou smiled.
Daniel shrugged, folding the letter and putting it back into the envelope. He had brought some mail from home to handle during work breaks since he was in the middle of a major research project that was taking up a lot of his time.
“DanielJackson,” Teal'c spoke, “what is a Mensa?”
“It's just a group, actually lots of groups, all over the world. Some people join for prestige, but for others, it's a way to do some good, or at least try to.”
“And how do they do that?”
“Well, technically, if you read the brochure, the goals and purposes of any Mensa group are, uh, to identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity ... and um, to encourage research in the nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence, and to promote stimulating intellectual and social opportunities for its members.”
“I see,” Teal'c said, wishing he hadn't asked the question in the first place.
“Hey,” Lou spoke up again, “what does Mensa mean ... I mean, what do the letters stand for?”
“It's not an acronym, Lou,” Jack stated calmly, “It's Latin for table, sort of indicating a round-table culture ... you know, King Arthur, a society where everyone is treated fairly. In theory, it wouldn't matter what race or color you were, anymore than it would your age, political affiliation, or education. Everyone is equal.”
Daniel looked at Jack, stunned. In fact, everyone was surprised and staring at Jack.
“What? I do know how to read, you know!”
“Hey, we better get going. Briefing starts in ten minutes,” Sam stated.
Daniel stood. He still couldn't believe the eloquence of Jack's explanation, but then again, Jack had always been full of surprises. He figured Jack had probably read one of the pamphlets or booklets he had brought home with him over the years.
~What other explanation could there be? After all, he'd tell me if ... no, no way. He just read a pamphlet, that's all.~
--November 22, 2003
“Love you so much,” Jack whispered into his husband's ear.
The two were on their honeymoon in Australia. They had spent the first two days in their luxury suite, content to live on nothing but their love. At the end of the second day, however, Jack had found out that “The Wizard of Oz” was going to be on TV that night, coaxing his husband into cuddling on the bed and watching it. It was then that they had discovered that the VCR connected to the TV had a videotape inside it.
“We should turn it in to the front desk, Jack.”
“Let's see what's on it first.”
“Jack, it might be ... you know ...” Daniel said timidly.
Ignoring his husband's caution, Jack hit “play,” and the tape began.
“... pornoooooo,” Daniel sighed, shaking his head as Jack started the videotape before he had even finished his thought.
“Well, it's certainly nothing very exotic,” Jack said, not sure whether he was happy or disappointed.
The tape had thirty minutes of news on it, and then after that was “Test Australia: The National IQ Test 2003.” Apparently, Jack and Daniel discovered from the introduction, it was an annual event designed to test the IQ of Australian citizens in five areas -- language, spatial processes, arithmetic, memory, and reasoning.
“Let's play,” Jack challenged. “Winner gets to ...”
“Come on, Jack,” Daniel said shyly. He knew Jack was smart, but he also had to admit that his own genius was, ~Well, I am a genius. Gawd, I hate saying that.~
“Jack, get real.”
“Winner in each category gets to select what we do over the next five days, in and out of the room.”
“You mean one day for each category, right, so that the winner of category one picks what we do tomorrow, and the winner of the second category picks what we to the day after tomorrow, and so on?”
“Isn't that what I just said?”
“I'm not really sure, but I know what you mean,” Daniel smirked as he considered the bet. “Hmmm,” he smiled self-assuredly, “it's a sure way to make sure we get to all the museums I want to visit, and um, you know.”
His smile became more shy and sweet.
“I just love it when you think you're a shoe-in!”
“It's a bet! Don't worry, Babe. You're much better at math than I am, so they'll be at least one day when we'll do what you want.”
The two took out some paper and pens. The first section was a group of twelve questions, the second contained eighteen, and each of the third, fourth and fifth groupings also had twelve questions. It made a total of sixty-six questions asked over a couple of hours.
The newlyweds sat in separate places, Daniel on the bed, Jack on the love seat that was adjacent to it.
“My head hurts,” Jack said when it was over.
Daniel laughed in understanding.
“Yeah, it did require a lot of concentration, but any legitimate testing does. This was a pretty good sample.”
Daniel watched as Jack brought his paper over to the bed to sit next to his lover, now that the testing was over and the scoring was about to begin.
“You're awfully sure of yourself, Doctor Jackson.” Daniel shrugged off-handedly ... and smiled sweetly at Jack. The older man grinned broadly in return. “Hey, I can afford to lose the bet because even if I lose, I win.”
“Win or lose, I have you, don't I?”
“Gawd, Jack,” Daniel leaned in for a kiss, but had to break it off when the commercial ended, and the test results began.
“I don't believe it!”
“I got lucky.”
Daniel glared at Jack, stunned.
“It was multiple choice, Love.” ~Geez, don't look so shocked. I'm not a complete dummy, you know.~
Daniel looked at their papers. In the first part of the exam, Jack and Daniel had tied, both scoring twelve of twelve.
“What do we do with tie scores?”
“We bicker it out like normal,” Jack said, laughter in his voice.
Daniel joined in. He was having fun, but then being with his husband was always fun.
After the second group of answers were revealed, Daniel continued to be stunned.
“Multiple choice, Danny. Just ... lucky guesses, that's all.”
Jack grinned, looking down at his score sheet, silently proud of his accomplishment. Daniel had outdone Jack, but not by much. Of the eighteen questions, Daniel had gotten seventeen correct and Jack fifteen. Daniel decided he was dreaming.
When the next round of answers had been revealed, Daniel knew it wasn't a dream, but a nightmare. The subject was math, and Jack had scored ten out of twelve compared with Daniel's nine correct responses.
“Math's never been my thing,” Daniel pouted.
“It was just ...”
Daniel's hand flew over Jack's mouth.
“So help me, Jack, you say it was a lucky guess again, and I'll forget this is our honeymoon!”
Though Jack was dying to tease back, he wasn't willing to risk a lonely night so he remained silent.
The next test grouping dealt with memory. Daniel had a perfect twelve score, while Jack had a more common place ten. Daniel was feeling a tad better about his nightmare.
The final area of testing had been reasoning. Again, Daniel excelled, the logical progressions not proving to be much of a challenge for him. He answered all twelve correctly, but was impressed that Jack had done quite well, getting nine answers right.
When they totaled their scores, Daniel had scored sixty-two correctly, the arithmetic section having done him in as it usually had done on any IQ testing he had taken over the years.
“I *hate* math,” he grunted, knowing that his three wrong answers in that section had cost him.
Without those wrong, Daniel would have only missed one. Jack laughed, totaling his numbers. His tally added up to fifty-six correct responses. When they converted their sums using the age chart, Daniel was, of course, a genius with an IQ of one-hundred thirty-six, though that was much, much lower than his actual IQ.
This national test was only meant to be a general average, and it topped off at one-hundred forty. Anyone scoring a one-hundred thirty or above was believed to be in the top two percent in the nation, which of course, Daniel was -- even though Australia wasn't his nation.
“I *don't* believe it.” Daniel sat up straight, staring at the screen, almost as if he stared long enough, the numbers would change.
Jack's totals converted into a whopping one-hundred twenty-nine, just one shy of “genius” on this particular test. He should be proud of Jack. He wanted to be. He just hadn't anticipated that he and Jack would score so closely together, and the truth was that it was a bit unnerving for the younger man. Daniel's intelligence had always been the one thing that had kept him going, set him apart from others as he made his way through life.
“I told you ... just ...”
Seeing Daniel's glare, Jack shut up, crumpling the paper and tossing it into the trash. Daniel sulked for five minutes while Jack went to the bathroom. When he returned, Jack laid down on the bed, pulling a still shocked Daniel into his protective hold.
“You know what they said on the telecast. The results vary. Someone could be tired or distracted or sick, or any one of a number of things that would affect the scores. It was just a game. Multiple choice, Danny. I'm still just a ...”
“Don't you dare say it. You are *not* that dumb, dense colonel you pretend to be. I've said it for years, and I know I'm right!”
“I'm not a genius, either, nor do I want to be. All that stuff you and Carter prattle on about makes me want to explode.”
Daniel sighed. He liked that his husband wasn't that persona so many believed him to be, but he hadn't been prepared for a near-genius either.
~Stop your pouting, Jackson. What's your problem anyway? It's ... just a test. Besides, you love him anyway, even if he does have a brain.~ Chuckling at his private thoughts, he decided it didn't really matter how smart his husband was.
“I love you, Jack,” he spoke as he began a thorough ravishing of his lover once again.
--April 16, 2004
It was Jack's and Daniel's five-month wedding anniversary, and Jack had given Daniel a very special surprise. It was a French edition of “Cigars of the Pharaoh,” the story of Tintin and the boy reporter's adventures with his faithful sidekick, Snowy.
The archaeologist's parents had given him this particular book for his seventh birthday, a book Daniel's grandfather had discarded along with most other items that had been Daniel's as a child. They knew this was the exact same book because of the inscription inside, which read, “To our little Pharaoh.”
Jack had asked Daniel to read him the story, but before doing so, the two adjourned to the roof deck. Jack sat with his back against the wall with Daniel in front of him, his head against Jack's shoulder. It was nighttime so they brought out a lantern to light the deck sufficiently for them to read the book.
Jack's arms embraced Daniel, his hands caressing his lover's abdomen. “Do you want me to read it?”
“Jack? Do you speak French?”
Jack smiled and shrugged, not really answering the question. Daniel assumed his lover was just teasing, and yet, he wasn't really sure.
“Well, anyway, thanks but ... No, I want to,” Daniel said securely as he opened the book. They saw the cruise ship, and the young boy looking over the rails, his dog on the ledge of the rail. “This is the life, Snowy,” Daniel began to read, translating the French into English, “A really quiet holiday for a change ...”
It was an emotional night, capped off by lovemaking right there on the deck, under the Colorado stars. Still, Daniel couldn't help but wonder about Jack's language skills. He knew he spoke some Arabic and Italian, but this was the first he had noticed that his lover apparently knew French -- maybe.
The “maybe” of the question didn't last long. Though Jack hadn't really answered the question earlier, once their lovemaking session had begun, the older man surprised his lover by speaking in French, reciting an old French love poem that melted Daniel's heart.
“When did you learn French, Jack?”
“High School. I've forgotten most of it, but I still remember a little.”
~A little? I think you're being modest. I wonder what other surprises you have in store for me, Love.~
Daniel's thoughts drifted away when his attention was drawn to Jack's kisses, and the older man's language skills were no longer the priority in Daniel's brain.
--December 23, 2005
Jack and Daniel were among the many guests attending a holiday party at the home of Lieutenant General Hammond. Many friends and co-workers were also present, partaking in the merriment. Hammond had been stationed in Washington, D.C., in charge of Home World Security for a time, but had officially returned to his post as commander of the SGC in October.
This was Hammond's first party or get-together of any kind since his return from D.C., and he was having a great time kicking back and visiting with the people he considered family. It was even more poignant because the Tau'ri were in the midst of a war with the Ori. Though the threat was serious and just about the entire guest list was subject to being called to duty, he'd decided they needed a time out and Christmas was the perfect excuse for taking a brief break from the rigors of war.
At one point during the festive party, the subject turned to dating and couples and what people were looking for in others.
Gleefully, Cassandra commented, “I have what I want.” With a giggle, she added, “And I'm keeping him.”
“That boyfriend of yours must be something. You two have been a couple for as long as I can remember,” one of the SGC nurses commented.
“He's just dreamy,” Cassandra gushed.
“Sam, when are you and that adorable cop going to get down to real business and get married?” Carolyn Ferretti asked.
“Wish I knew. It's a little tough with our careers right now.”
Sam took a drink. She really didn't want to talk about it, not with her history of dead boyfriends and workaholic tendencies. She was very hopeful for a future with Pete, but it was still too early to bank on a long-term relationship, especially with Pete still living and working in Denver.
“Military,” Carolyn sighed as she spoke.
“Oh, no, not this time,” Sam corrected. “That's what makes Pete so special. He can handle it. Actually, it's not the military that most guys have a problem with; it's my brain they can't handle.”
“Just stop prattling on about solar flares and stuff, Carter,” Jack, now a brigadier general, chimed in. He had taken over for Hammond, thus the promotion, but was happy as a clam to be back as the full-time leader of SG-1 now. ~Those science monologues still give me a headache.~
“Right, Sir, like I talk about astrophysics on a date.”
In truth, Sam hadn't done so bad. For the past year or two, she did have a boyfriend, but she had kept it a secret, not wanting to jinx the relationship. Only a handful of people had known about it, including Jack and Daniel, though they had never met him. However, Sam had broken up with the mysterious boyfriend right after the nebula incident on the Prometheus. She realized she hadn't been true to herself, and needed to make some changes in her personal life.
Soon afterwards, though, the major had met Pete, the Denver policeman who had quickly captured her heart. Most everyone knew about him by now, especially since he'd been given clearance to the SGC.
“Actually, there are some great reasons for taking a brain on a date,” Jack said, glancing quickly at his husband.
“And those would be?” Daniel asked warily.
“For example, you can take a brain to a party and win at Trivial Pursuit!”
Everyone laughed at the humorous quip.
“Great reason, Jack,” Jeff Cornell said.
“There's more than that, Jeff.”
“Such as?” Daniel asked wryly, almost as a challenge.
“Okay, let's see, reasons for keeping a geek, um, I mean a brain ... let's make that a genius ... reasons for keeping a pet ... I mean, reasons for getting to know a genius and making sure they are part of your life ...”
Daniel coughed, and not very covertly. His eyes were glaring at Jack. In fact, for a moment, Jack wondered if a Goa'uld had invaded his lover's body. Jack took a breath, shaking off Daniel's death glare and desperately trying to get his foot out of his mouth.
The brigadier general continued, “A genius can do your taxes, maybe not right, but at least they get done, and if they do mess up, they can talk so fast they confuse the IRS, not to mention that if you get audited, they can usually get you out of trouble!”
“Know that from personal experience, Jack?” Lou asked.
Jack coughed to avoid the question, quickly moving on as he spoke, “Sorry, Lou ... frog in my throat. Where was I? Oh, yeah. He, or she, can explain the funnies to you. A genius will never be depressed or sulk, unless he feels like it.”
“That's rich, Jack,” Daniel said. “Have more of these pearls?”
“Plenty. A genius is so smart he can always find a party on Friday nights.” Winking at Daniel, Jack put forth, “One of my favorite reasons, though, is 'If you've done something naughty, the genius will always be interested -- probably want lessons!'”
“Gawd, Jack, your brain is crumbling in front of our eyes!” Daniel warned in a teasing voice.
“Don't stop, Sir, I'm dying to hear more,” Sam encouraged, already preparing her revenge as she listened. ~A nice, long scientific explanation about why we need to return to PR8-991 ought to do it.~
“I aim to please, Carter. Another favorite: 'a genius can insult your enemies with a certain decorum so they have to resort to their dictionaries later to even know they have been insulted'. Geez, I love that one. Daniel uses it a lot with clowns like Samuels, Simmons and Kinsey.”
“Hmm, yeah ... 'go slow' ... great one.”
Jack smiled, silently remembering the story Daniel had told him about a past run-in with Frank Simmons when Daniel had shut the man down with a sarcastic phrase or two.
“Jack, you still with us?” Jeff asked.
“Just remembering,” Jack answered as he smiled at Daniel, who was still looking at him with icy cold eyes. “Anyway, gotta have a geek to out-word them or play dumb. Works great either way. They don't even know what's hit them. Oh, and of course, there's this one, close to my heart.”
Everyone was all ears, waiting, thoroughly enjoying Jack's witticisms.
“A genius will always do what you want to, unless he, or she, doesn't want to do it, right Daniel?”
Daniel's eyes were black, and not from lust.
Jack swallowed, deciding to look another direction as he stated, “Another one many of us can identify with: 'a genius can draw a map on a cocktail napkin that can have you lost in less than five minutes'. Go on, deny that one, Dannyboy!”
“That's okay, Jack,” Daniel answered before taking a drink of his eggnog.
“These are great, Jack. Anymore?” Lou Ferretti inquired.
“Yeah, Lou, hundreds ...” Jack saw yet another death glare coming from his husband, “But let's top it off with this one. 'A genius is easy to amuse -- just give him or her a problem with no answer and leave said geek, uh, brain, alone.' I love that one, too. It works every time.”
Jack laughed loudly, as did most everyone else, except for Sam and Daniel. The silver-haired man suddenly felt very cold, finding himself surrounded by the silent treatment from his lover for the duration of the night.
When the party ended, and Jack and Daniel were driving home, Jack looked over at his husband and asked, “It's going to be cold in the bedroom tonight, isn't it?”
“Severely,” Daniel responded.
Once inside their home, the couple talked to their beagles, Bijou and Katie, and headed for bed. As promised, it was cold. Jack squirmed in frustration.
~The Antarctic was warmer than this,~ the older man bemoaned silently. Suddenly, his lover got up out of bed and began to pace. “Danny, what's wrong?”
“I've heard that before,” the archaeologist answered, his brain working rapidly on solving a puzzle.
“Heard what before?”
“Those ridiculous reasons. I've seen them. You didn't invent those, Jack. Where did I see those?”
Jack coughed nervously. He really didn't want to start a conversation right now, especially not about this.
“It's late, Danny. Let's get some sleep.”
“You ... how? Where? When?” Daniel was going into his 'I've figured it out mode'. “Jack, where did you see those ridiculous so-called witticisms?”
“I ... don't know. Just ... somewhere.”
Daniel jumped up and down as he remembered. It was what Jack lovingly called the Danny Dance, and if he weren't so desperate for the conversation to end peacefully, he would have mentioned that to Daniel.
“Jack! Those reasons were all part of some silly list about reasons to have a pet Mensan!”
“Too late, General. Two years ago you proved you knew what Mensa was, so out with it. What are you doing going around quoting something that appeared in a Mensa magazine, *years* ago, in fact?”
Jack gulped and shrugged, speaking evasively, “I must have seen it somewhere. You have it, don't you? I bet I saw it in one of those newsletters you get all the time.”
~Maybe, but I don't know.~ Daniel was skeptical, but Jack's answer did make sense, to a point. “Jack, why on Earth would you read a Mensa newsletter?”
“Maybe I was bored waiting for you to stop playing with your rocks or something.”
“I don't know,” Daniel responded cautiously. “I smell something fishy, and it's not my fish.”
“Don't start or you *will* clean out the fish tank next time.”
Jack decided to go on the attack. Without warning, he leaped off the bed, swooped Daniel up into his arms and tossed him on the bed, falling down on top of him. He proceeded to kiss his husband passionately.
“Mmmm ... Jack ... wai...t ... oh, Jack ...”
Daniel's brain was overruled by the rest of Daniel's body, which made Jack's brain, not to mention the rest of his body, very happy.
--April 13, 2006
“Hey, Jack!” Daniel greeted his husband as he walked into his office.
“Hey yourself,” Jack greeted, walking over, closing the door, and using the remote to turn off the recording equipment before kissing his soulmate.
“I thought we didn't have to hide anymore?” the archaeologist asked.
“We don't, but, then again, some things are best left for ...” Jack pulled Daniel in for another sumptuous kiss that caused Daniel to moan loudly. “... behind closed doors.”
“How's the packing?” Daniel asked as he looked around.
Tomorrow would be their final day at the Mountain. Daniel had already neatly packed and organized the majority of his things, but his lover was still going through his 'clutter', as he called it.
“I had no idea I'd collected so much stuff,” Jack whined.
“Can I help?”
“Sure! See those boxes? Who knows what is in them. Pull out the classified junk and put it someplace, and the personal stuff in another, and anything personal, we can take home to throw away later,” the older man suggested.
Daniel moved to Jack's desk and began to make room for his file sorting. He took the inbox and other items and either moved them completely out of the way or put them on the floor. Then, he began his task.
“Danny, I'll be right back.”
“Sure, Jack,” Daniel replied as continued his task.
Several minutes later, the archaeologist came across a large manila envelope labeled 'ChiMe'.
Not knowing what the name meant, Daniel started to ask his lover, “Jack, what's a ... oh, I forgot,” he laughed at himself for talking to thin air, having forgotten Jack had left the room.
Daniel opened the envelope and pulled out what appeared to be a pile of newsletters, and then his jaw almost hit the top of the desk as he realized what 'ChiMe' was. He looked carefully at the address label -- “Colonel Jack O'Neill c/o General Delivery, Ashby, Minnesota 56309.”
Daniel looked down into the box where he had found the envelope, and he discovered there were several others. In fact, the envelopes contained years worth of the ChiMe newsletters. He noticed older ones were sent to a Chicago address, but later the address had changed to the General Delivery one.
“Danny, what's wrong?” Jack asked, seeing Daniel's frown upon returning to his office.
Daniel picked up the first envelope, the newsletters flat on top of it, and walked to Jack, handing them to him.
“Geez, forgot I had all of these. I should give them a good review, see if I can find new joke material now that I have a real live geek to love.” Jack smiled, leaning forward to kiss Daniel, but instead of warm lips meeting his, it felt more like kissing a cold wall. He shrugged it off. “Oh this is funny,” he said, starting to read the top copy.
“Um?” Jack answered automatically as he got further involved in reading an article on the intelligence of pigs, cows and other animals.
This time the name was said as more of a statement than a question.
Jack still hadn't looked up at his husband, finding the article about which animal is smarter very amusing.
“JACK!” Daniel called out in a harsh, raised voice.
“What, Angel?” Jack asked, glancing up just for a second, but still reading, and, in fact, trying to memorize some of the data contained in the story.
“JAAAAACK!” Daniel shouted at the top of his lungs.
Jack looked up startled and asked, “Geez, what?”
“You're a member of Mensa?”
“Yeah,” Jack answered casually as he returned to his reading.
“What? Geez, stop yelling. You're scaring me!”
“YOU'RE A FREAKIN' MEMBER OF FREAKIN' MENSA!” the archaeologist yelled in total disbelief.
It hadn't been a question, but it was definitely a statement, one full of warning, only Jack was clueless as to what the warning was.
“YOU'RE A FREAKIN' MEMBER OF FREAKIN' MENSA, AND YOU DIDN'T FREAKIN' TELL ME?”
~Whoa!~ Daniel's veins were bulging, his face red, his eyes wide, and the use of so many “freakin's” had Jack finally concerned. He put his hands on Daniel's shoulders as he asked, “Danny, Love, what's the problem?”
“DON'T TOUCH ME, O'NEILL,” Daniel ordered, his arms flailing to push Jack's away as he took three steps backward.
~Okay.~ Jack sensed he was in big trouble. He put on his best innocent face and asked softly, “Danny, Angel, I don't understand what the problem is.”
Daniel stared and stared at his husband. Saying nothing, he turned around, opened the locked door, and headed down the hallway. Jack gave chase immediately, stopping his fast-walking lover just at the elevator.
Jack grabbed Daniel's forearm as he pleaded, “Danny, wait!”
“LEAVE ME ALONE, YOU ... YOU ... YOU FREAKIN' GENIUS!”
The elevator door had opened just as Daniel had begun to yell. Jack feigned a smile as Lou Ferretti and Jeff Cornell walked off the elevator. Daniel didn't even acknowledged them as he got into the elevator and disappeared behind the closing doors.
“Trouble in paradise there, Jack?” Lou teased, cracking a smile.
Jack groaned and went back to his office.
“Yep, he's got troubles, Jeff,” Lou surmised.
“Better him than us, Lou,” Jeff pointed out.
“You're right about that one,” Lou chuckled. As the two walked on, he began, “I remember one time when my Mrs. really tanned my hide. We ...”
“I don't want flowers, Jack,” Daniel said, throwing the large bouquet of red roses into the fireplace of their home. “What I want is honesty.”
“Angel, I ...”
“DON'T 'ANGEL' me, Jack!”
Daniel's anger was hotter than ever. His hands were on his hips, his eyes big and wide from what he had only just learned about his husband.
“Daniel, shouldn't we take the girls for a walk and maybe ...” Jack was desperately trying to skirt around the issue, one he hadn't really identified yet. He figured if he could distract Daniel with romance, all would be well. “Where are the girls?” he asked, realizing he hadn't seen them since walking inside their house.
“They're with their mother!” Daniel snapped in his snarkiest tone.
~Oh, yeah, I'm in for it ... big time.~ “Danny!”
“Mrs. Valissi is babysitting at her house. I didn't want them to see this!”
Jack swallowed. Daniel had never sent their girls away, not ever. He was in trouble -- big, big trouble.
“Okay, Daniel. Just tell me what it is that I've done so I can fix it, or whatever.”
“MENSA, Jack? FREAKIN' Mensa?”
“Yes. Danny? Haven't we covered this already?”
Daniel paced the room, swearing in at least five different languages that Jack could distinguish.
Finally, Daniel blurted out as he stopped behind Jack's favorite chair, “WHAT'S THE WOKENA SCZLIEZI LAGNAMUM DUMB COLONEL ... GENERAL ... WHATEVER THE HECK RANK YOU ARE ... ACT ABOUT?”
“Huh? Danny, I can't understand you when you start talking ... whatever it was you were talking.”
If Daniel could spit fire, Jack was sure he would have. The younger man was so upset, he wasn't even sure of Jack's rank. Years worth of talk of the “dumb colonel” had transitioned to the “dumb general” when Jack had been promoted, but it was less visible, the star on Jack's collar intimidating many.
“YOU'VE BEEN LYING TO ME FOR YEARS!”
“No I haven't!”
Daniel grunted, his rage building to an all-time high, as he argued, “All those years. Everywhere we went. Exhibits, conferences, briefings. Anything scientific.” He was talking more to himself than to his husband, but then he raised his voice again, shouting, “YOU SAID YOU WERE BORED, for crying out loud!”
“No, at exhibits and things, I said I hate rocks, which I do.”
“Danny, how many museums have we gone to? Have you ever had to explain anything twice? In fact, haven't I usually contributed to the conversation, even while saying it was boring? And why are we talking about this? You still haven't told me what has you so upset! Look, Angel, why don't we calm down and give this a rest for a while? Let's go upstairs, get into our nice big bed, and I can keep you comfy, and you can keep me warm.”
~He has nerve.~ Daniel's wrath was even bigger now. Grabbing a sofa cushion, he threw it at Jack, shouting, “HERE'S A PILLOW. FIND YOUR OWN BLANKET!”
“Ouch,” Jack said softly, reacting more to Daniel's pronouncement than any sort of physical pain, running after his warm human blanket, his Daniel, reaching out to grab his arm, spinning Daniel around as he tried to walk around him to get to the door.
“DON'T TALK TO ME, JACK, AND WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T TOUCH ME! JUST LEAVE ME THE ... THE ... OH, CRAP, JUST LEAVE ME ALONE,” Daniel barked as he turned in a huff and walked outside where he paced the backyard frantically.
Still clueless as to why his husband was so angry, Jack bravely set foot onto the patio deck. He watched for a minute before making his brave request.
“Danny, talk to me -- please!”
“Daniel, what about it? What's wrong?”
“Mensa! Mensa! Mensa!” Daniel exclaimed, hopping up and down, turning himself around in a circle.
Jack couldn't help it. He laughed. He always did when Daniel did this particular movement.
“Danny, you did that Danny Dance! It's been years! Geez, I love ... that.”
Jack coughed, seeing a look of murder in his partner's eyes. In fact, Jack backed up a couple of steps and fiddled with his shirt collar that suddenly felt a bit tight.
“Mensa?” Daniel asked again, but not waiting for a response as he muttered in foreign languages as he walked around the backyard.
Jack was amazed that his husband seemed to be down to a one word vocabulary. No matter what Jack said, for the next hour as Daniel paced, all he said was, “Mensa?”
Jack didn't know what to do so he sat on a lawn chair and waited, knowing that sooner or later, Daniel would calm down, he hoped.
~Why?~ Daniel finally stopped, right in the center of the backyard. He stood, again with his hands on his hips. He spoke calmly, a chilling calm Jack noticed, and asked simply, “Why didn't you tell me?”
“Tell you what?”
Daniel closed his eyes. He counted to ten in English, then in Arabic, then in Goa'uld. For a moment, when his lover opened his eyes, Jack thought they glowed.
The angry man smacked his lips, bobbed his head up and down for a minute, and then again, with an eerie calm answered, “Mensa. Why didn't you tell me you were a MEMBER OF FREAKIN' MENSA?”
Daniel's calm had morphed into a rage as he asked the question. He couldn't believe Jack was still trying to play dumb about being a genius.
“I thought you knew,” Jack answered with a shrug. “You always said you didn't buy the dumb crap.”
“HOW WOULD I KNOW, JACK? Not being dumb hardly equates to being a member of Mensa ... and even if that's true ... GENERAL ... then why all the subterfuge hiding it?”
“H - I - D - I - N - G ... OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, YOU FREAKIN' KNOW HOW TO SPELL IT; YOU'RE A FREAKIN' GENIUS, AFTER ALL!”
Daniel finally collapsed to the ground, sitting Indian-style, his elbows on his knees and his head buried in his hands.
Slowly, Jack got up, walked to his husband, sitting down in front of him, and asked, “Danny, please tell me. I'm serious. What's wrong?”
“Jack, you played the dumb colonel from the day we met, and when you were promoted, you didn't do much to try and change that perception. I've known you were intelligent from the beginning, but I never knew you were a freakin' genius, and don't you *dare* tell me you thought I knew. That's a load of crap, Jack, and you darn well know it!”
Jack coughed, trying another tactic as he responded, “But, Love, we have to keep some mystery in our relationship. That's what Sara said, remember?”
“Sara is your *ex*-wife, Jack. I *am* your husband, at least for the moment.”
“Okay, okay,” Jack gave in reluctantly. “Daniel, I'm not smart like you. I don't even want to be. What I've learned in education, I've tried to put to use in my career, but my life has always been military, not books.” He ran his right hand through his hair and blew out a big puff of air. “At first, I didn't make a big deal out of it. I knew that to progress in rank I had a better chance if I got some post-grad degrees, so I ...”
Jack paused, seeing his lover's eyes had grown wide again and his veins were bulging. He feared another eruption would soon be happening.
“What did I say?” Jack tried to ask without provoking his furious spouse.
Jack closed his eyes and sighed, “Yeah, well, like I said, I wanted to get as far as I could, and for all the weapons talk, you get further in the service if you've got the education to back it up.”
“POST-grad degrees?” Daniel repeated. “Degrees as in the *plural*, Jack. You know what *plural* is, don't you? You're a genius after all. You have freakin' post-grad degrees, as in the *plural* -- degrees! And you didn't freakin' tell me?”
For a minute, Jack was happy they were at least off the Mensa subject, but then again, this one wasn't much better.
“Jack, when you graduated from high school, who was the class valedictorian?”
“Um ... well, that was a long time ago,” Jack responded as he fidgeted nervously.
“Jack? In college, who was the ...”
“Not me, I swear!”
“But high school?”
“Okay, high school I'll admit to, but I didn't like high school that much, Daniel.”
“You are so going to suffer, O'Neill.”
“I like how you make me suffer,” Jack tried to tease, but his husband wasn't joking.
“POST-grad degrees?” Daniel questioned a third time.
“Danny, you're repeating yourself a lot tonight.”
“Listen to me, Jack,” Daniel requested, his voice tense, low, and almost forced. “On the wall of your office has been one certificate -- for Military Science and Engineering -- and a couple of other Air Force courses. That's it. That's all you've ever talked about -- the training at the Academy. SO WHERE IN NETU ARE THESE FREAKIN' DEGREES COMING FROM ALL OF A SUDDEN?”
“David Copperfield?” Jack attempted to joke. When he didn't get a reaction, he continued, “The Great Harry Houdini?” He coughed. It wasn't going well at all. “The magic of Montgomery Scott beam...ing ...”
Daniel just looked at Jack as if he were a lamb going to the slaughter, so Jack ceased his ill-advised attempts at humor and bit the bullet, deciding to get it over with.
“Like I said, I only did it for the career, and it was years ago. I did high school and ROTC and got my BS and just kept studying while going through the Academy. If you remember, I told you once I was pretty straight-laced, all things considered. I was studying, to learn my career. I wanted to be a success. It was one of the things Billy taught me -- to cover my bases. He did it himself. I learned by watching him.”
Jack spoke of his older brother, Billy, who had been killed on a mission during the Vietnam Conflict.
“So, I kept on. I got a ...” Jack closed his eyes, not quite wanting to admit this, “... Masters in my major which was Astronomy and I ... geez, Danny, I knew Sara and I were going to get married so I took it a step further in case something happened. I needed a backup to the military so I got my ... my ...”
“... my doctorate in English Language and Literature,” Jack spit out quickly, closing his eyes for a moment as he spoke.
Daniel sprung up to his feet and yelled, “WHAT IN NETU DO YOU MEAN YOU HAVE A PhD IN ENGLISH?”
“I told you,” Jack remained seated, staring at the ground. “I did it first for my career, and then to have a backup in case that career fizzled or I ... I couldn't stand it anymore. They had me doing things that I ... I didn't know if I could live with at first, so I kept on with the education to get that backup.”
Jack tore some blades of grass from the lawn, playing with them in his hands.
“I guess I should have told you, but at first, we were strangers, then we were best friends, and it just didn't seem important. I knew I'd be career military for sure by then. I had my wings. It just didn't matter. It's not even my jacket. Besides, I didn't want you to think I was bragging or ... trying to compete with you.”
“So, if I tell you I have degrees in whatever or even acknowledge my intelligence, it's bragging?”
“No, of course not, but, Danny, it's not me. Telling you or anyone I have the paperwork on education is ... well, it's misleading,” the older man claimed.
“I don't get it, Jack, and what did you mean by competing?” Daniel asked.
“Oh, come on, Daniel. We compete. You know we do. Chess, gin, who's right on what mission, who's bigger ...”
“Don't start that, Jack, or I swear, I'll get Janet on that phone so fast ...”
“Okay, okay, yours is bigger.”
“Somehow, Jack, right this minute, that doesn't make me feel any better,” a self-hugging Daniel remarked.
“Daniel, I swear. I honestly didn't keep it from you on purpose. I don't think about this very often. It's a part of me that almost seems non-existent. I ... Danny, you're the genius. The couple of times I thought about saying something, you had just solved some big whoopa thing, and I didn't want you or anyone else to think I was trying to hone in on your glory.”
“Ernest's Planet ... when you figured out about the elements. I thought of it then. But you were so excited, and everyone was just ... so taken with how you pieced it together. You didn't need me jumping in and saying, 'oh by the way, have I mentioned I'm a Mensan?”
“When else did you think about it?” the younger man asked.
“I don't know ... um ... when the Ancients downloaded that ... stuff ... into my brain ... but by then, I couldn't communicate with you anymore.”
Jack thought and looked at Daniel solemnly as he answered, “When you had that crazy dream, the one about ...” he looked away for a second, “... destroying Russia. I remember thinking that if you had the time and facilities that you could probably do all that stuff on your own ... and I kinda wondered if someday that might happen ... that someone would offer you this golden opportunity that would take you away from me. So, I thought about it then ... wondered if I could actually engage my brain enough to keep you hooked so you ... geez, so you wouldn't leave me behind.”
“Jack,” Daniel sighed, relaxing his self-hug pose and letting his arms drop down in response to his lover's admission. “You're a freakin' genius. What are you worried about?”
“I'm not, Danny. I mean I'm not a genius. It's a number on a piece of paper, that's all. And ... okay, I worked my butt off to get a little education that would get me a bit further in my career and maybe protect my family, but Danny, I am so not a genius! I'm not.”
Daniel walked around for a second and then turned back, questioning, “Why play the dumb ... colonel or general, or whatever?”
“You know why!” Jack finally stood. “You know better than anyone because we've talked about this before. In the field, it's better to be underestimated than overestimated. It's a tool. People do and say things around me that they wouldn't otherwise if they knew I was a bit more on the ball than they thought. That little fact has, on more than one occasion, saved both of our lives.”
Daniel folded his arms, though not in the self-hugging pose, as he blinked a few times. He felt so many emotions at the moment that he was almost numb from it all.
“You should have told me, Jack ... sometime ...why? I understand the competition thing, but ... there has to be more. Why didn't you tell me?”
“I was scared,” Jack finally admitted his secret truth.
“This! Of exactly what's happening. Danny, I'm not you. I don't have your brilliance. I worked my butt off in school, spent hours getting papers done that my brother could turn out in one-third the time, gave up most after-school activities, and hated every second of it. But I made those awful days count for something at the same time. Okay, yes, I'm a ... friggin' genius by the numbers, but it's not like you.”
Jack focused on Daniel as intently as he could. He needed his lover to hear him.
“Danny, I have one ... *one* friggin' PhD and a masters. You have four PhDs, and I've lost count at how many other degrees you've acquired over the years, and the thing is, it took me years to get what I've got, but you got most of those honors and degrees at such a young age. Do you have any idea how remarkable that is? Do you?”
Daniel stood, his arms still folded across his chest. He didn't want this conversation to become about him. He needed to understand his husband, and the choices he made. The young man said nothing.
Jack took a large breath. He wet his lips for a moment, and then spoke as honestly as he could, his voice as soft as he could make it.
“You have to understand something. In high school, I didn't care about the numbers. I wanted ... oh geez ...”
“YOU WANTED WHAT?”
“I wanted to make my mother happy. She ... Danny, we haven't talked much about my folks; at least, not about this kind of thing. I had a wonderful childhood in a family full of love. You remember?”
Jack alluded to a time when he and his lover had become children, the effects of an alien device. Somehow, he had been reverted to the age of nine, and Daniel to eight, and the two boys were brothers. When everything had been set right, and they were back to normal, the two lovers discovered they had retained a year's worth of family life, a sort of alternate reality with a twist. Daniel treasured the feelings those remembrances gave him, even if they weren't exactly real.
“Yes, I remember,” Daniel admitted softly.
Jack continued, “As ... geez ... as mama's boy as it sounds, I loved it when I pleased her. Danny, she was so excited when she found out my GPA was the best of the class. She insisted we have my IQ tested by the local Mensa chapter, and when I managed to creep over the edge to get that ... that label I don't really deserve, she beamed.”
Daniel was the calmest he'd been all day. He knew Jack cherished his mother. He had no problem believing that Jack would have done anything she desired.
“She paid the membership fee and insisted that I be active in the local chapter, so while I did college, up until the Air Force, I did it ... for her. When I headed for the Air Force Academy, I told her that I should drop out, but she wouldn't hear of it. Danny, my mother made me promise to always be a member, to stay up on it, and I have.”
“Why were the newsletters sent to Chicago or now to some General Delivery address?”
“Because I was moving around a lot, and Mom got a kick out of the newsletters, so I had them sent to her. When my parents died, I didn't want the newsletters following me around, for the reasons we just discussed, so I had them sent to the cabin. You know the arrangement I have with the postmaster there. He forwards any mail to the cabin twice a year. Mostly it's the Mensa newsletters and junk mail. Danny, if you noticed, I never even updated my address with my change in rank.”
“I noticed,” the archaeologist admitted. “Sara doesn't know?”
“No. Danny, it's just ... to me, Mensa is something I did for my mom. She thought it was special. She enjoyed bragging rights, I guess, but it always made me feel uncomfortable. I've never told a soul about the membership or the degrees.”
“The Air Force must know ... and Hammond.”
Jack knew he was still in trouble. Daniel rarely referred to the general by just his last name.
“Not about Mensa, but the Air Force paid for part of the degrees, and getting the degrees is part of what got me the wings. Danny, it's not in my file anymore. I cashed in a favor and ...”
Daniel was staring at Jack in total disbelief, his eyes urgently trying to reach into Jack's soul. He wasn't understanding his lover's words.
“Danny, the reasons for getting the degrees didn't exist anymore, and I didn't want the wrong people getting a hold of my history, so I took care of it. Now, my jacket shows only my military honors.”
“Jack, that doesn't make sense. All anyone would have to do is a search of universities ... run you through the computer.”
“I had it taken care of,” Jack repeated, his Special Ops voice and stare talking. “If I ever really need to, I can prove my education, but otherwise, it's just ... tucked away.”
“What about Sara? Does she know you have a Masters and a Doctorate?”
“No,” Jack sighed. “I told her I was studying for some kind of continuing education credit. She had no idea the time I put into it. I was gone mostly, so she thought it was just an occasional class here and there. Danny, I swear, I just don't think about this stuff because I'm *not* a genius. But you are ... in every way.”
Daniel shook his head. It sounded like some spy novel. He could understand the part about gaining information and being underestimated, but everything else seemed a little surreal. More than that, though, it was a secret that had taken years to come out.
“I understand what you're saying about your mother, BUT WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME THAT YOU'RE A FREAKIN' GENIUS, JACK? And you *are* one if you are a member of Mensa!”
“Because I'm not. I'm a number. Daniel, I can't figure out the puzzles like you do. I can't think outside the box and pull answers from the stars like you can. I know some facts. I have a decent memory that works best when I'm in a crisis. I know how to finagle, how to make a plan B or C when A falls apart, but I'm not like you,” Jack confided.
Daniel stared at his husband, but for the first time, with the comments about Jack's mother and now this point of view, the anger was disappearing.
“Daniel, I wanted to tell you, lots of times. I ... Do you have any idea how I've wanted you to be proud of me for doing something that was worthwhile in your world, not just because I know how to use some big honkin' gun? But I was afraid you wouldn't understand, and the more time passed, the harder it became, and then I convinced myself that you knew, that you were just playing the game, too, and maybe you ... you didn't really want to know either.”
“Gawd,” Daniel expressed as he sank back down to the ground, the energy draining from his body.
Jack moved to sit next to him, daring to put his hand on Daniel's back, rubbing gently in support.
“You knew, didn't you?” Daniel asked quietly.
“Knew what, Angel?”
“I'd be ... jealous. Jack, I'm supposed to be the freakin' genius, but you are, too. Kinda puts me in my place, doesn't it?”
“No.” Jack put his hand on Daniel's left cheek, turning Daniel's face towards his. “Danny, did you hear what I said? I'm ... book smart to a degree, and I'm a good backup thinker. I plan well. I know how to strategize. I excel at challenges and competitions, but I'm not a genius, not in that awe-inspiring way that you are. Don't confuse the two. My intelligence keeps me alive. Yours ... saves worlds and gives us a way to make life better.”
“No, I'm not any better, not at all.”
“Angel,” Jack caressed Daniel's face, “You need to hear me. Daniel, I was a colonel in the United States Air Force that by a fluke of nature was promoted to general. No one puts me in the same league as someone like you. On Ernest's Planet, I recognized elements. That's it.”
Daniel was facing Jack, but his eyes were down. Jack dipped his head and held his lover's chin up with the palm of his right hand, wanting and needing Daniel to look into his eyes, to see the truth of his words in Jack's eyes. He didn't speak again until he made sure Daniel was looking into his eyes.
“Danny, do you understand? I recognized an element of the periodical table. You didn't see an element, Angel, you saw a universal language. You saw a people. I saw stuff floating in the air. Do you hear what I'm saying? Anyone can have a language downloaded into their brain, but not everyone can translate that language in days like you did. I read and I comprehend. You read and expand on it, link it to other things. You find solutions and more questions that lead us to even more answers. I'm lucky if I can follow along.”
“I'm sorry, Jack. It was just such a surprise, and, yet ... gawd, I think I was jealous. I knew ... I knew years ago when you knew what Mensa was. It wasn't just knowing what the name was, but it was how you explained it. No one knows that unless ... they're a Mensan. I just ... I just didn't want to see it. I'm sorry.”
“No sorries needed, Love, except from me, because I should have told you years ago. Honestly, though, it's not something I think about except maybe when those newsletters showed up twice a year.”
“I'm so tired,” Daniel said as he leaned into Jack, “and I feel like such a dope ... a great big, silly, sulking dope!”
“But you're my dope, and I love you to pieces.”
“And you're my ... genius,” Daniel smiled, “And I am proud of you, Jack. Gawd, you did great to get a Masters and a PhD while in the Air Force and raising a family. I am so proud of you!”
“Um, you wouldn't scream if I told you I had a teaching certificate, would you?” Jack questioned cautiously, studying his lover's face carefully.
“You do?” Daniel asked as he began to pull back a bit, full of surprise and shock.
“No, just kidding!”
Jack took a breath, grateful they'd gotten past this argument over something that just didn't seem all that important.
“Jack, I have to ask you something.”
Jack panicked for a moment, mentally bracing himself, and responded, “Okay. Shoot.”
“Your major is in astronomy?”
“Yes. You do know how much I love that. That's not a secret,” the general answered.
With a nod, Daniel replied, “Jack, to get a degree in astronomy, you have to know ... physics.”
“Your point is?”
“Just how much of your driving Sam crazy about her ... technobabble is real, and how much of it do you really understand?”
Jack laughed softly, caressing Daniel's cheek as he spoke, “I promise, Love. She drives me crazy. Physics is way out of my league. I got by. I learned what I had to in order to get my major done, and then it ... blew up inside my head.”
“So ... you really don't understand what she's talking about when she starts ... prattling on?”
“Not a clue.”
“Thank goodness,” Daniel expressed with relief.
“Because I don't, either. Not a word, Jack. It's like another language that I just can't learn.”
“I tell ya something else, Angel, I never want to learn it either.”
“She'd kill you if you ...”
“Danny, I swear,” Jack assured while crossing his heart. “I do not understand physics. Whatever I had to memorize in order to get a passing grade has long ago dissipated from my brain. That science stuff gives me a headache.”
“I love you, Jack!”
“I love you so friggin' much, Danny.”
The soulmates kissed, their fight now definitely over.
“Jack, let's go get the girls. They're going to be worried,” Daniel suggested.
“They've been with Mrs. V before.”
“Yeah, but ... they knew I was upset,” Daniel admitted as he hung his head, a bit embarrassed now that their fight was done.
“Let's go bring them home.”
The two stood up and walked to the patio door, holding hands. Daniel stopped and looked at the doghouses.
“I think the girls are geniuses, too.”
“Of course, they are. They're our children, aren't they?” Jack mused brightly.
Daniel laughed as he stated his agreement -- “They sure are!”
With another kiss, Jack and Daniel went up the street to fetch their children home.
The happy couple spent an hour of quality time with their beagles, reassuring them that everything was okay. Now the lovers were sitting quietly on their sofa, Jack's left arm around his husband, Daniel's head resting on Jack's shoulder. Jack's right hand and Daniel's left hand were interlaced, both constantly moving in a sweet and slow motion.
“Where are your diplomas?” the younger man asked curiously.
“In one of those boxes on the rafters in the garage probably,” Jack answered. He was surprised when Daniel stood and began to walk towards the hall that led to the garage. “Danny, where are you going?”
The archaeologist turned and smiled at Jack. His eyes shone with love and pride at the retired general.
“You know all those diplomas of mine that you insist on hanging in the study?”
The young man's smile was broad as he confirmed, “Exactly. I'm just as proud of you as you are of me, and I want them out, Jack. I don't care how much you try to belittle what you've achieved, we both know you worked hard for those degrees, and I want them there for our kids to see.”
Daniel paused a moment and then walked out, leaving Jack alone on the sofa. He was amazed, totally awed by the man he loved, though he wondered how he could continually be surprised. Daniel had been so angry, and now? Now, everything in his demeanor had spoken of nothing but joy about Jack's accomplishments.
~Geez, I love him,~ Jack thought as he stood up and walked into the garage. He saw Daniel up on a step ladder, examining several boxes. “Angel, I think it's the one marked 'comics' in the back.”
Jack shrugged and moved to make sure Daniel could hand the box down to him. With the box on the garage floor, Jack began to rifle through it, focused on finding the diplomas. As for Daniel, he was focused on Jack.
The world was full of surprises, and Daniel wondered what else Jack had in his past that might one day be unearthed. He didn't know if there was anything else, but one thing he did know was that he'd spend the rest of eternity discovering all the mysteries of Jack Jackson-O'Neill, and he'd have the time of his life doing it.
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