A Kiss is but a Kiss

Author: Orrymain
Category: Slash, Angst, Drama, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  3 - immediately after Point of View
Spoilers:  Learning Curve, Point of View
Size:  45kb
Written:  November 3,5-6,10-11, 2003  Revised:  January 20, March 19, May 20, July 10-12,17, 2005
Summary:  Daniel isn't happy with Jack for kissing the alternate Sam.  Can Jack explain away the goodbye kiss?
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Suzanna, Tina, Michele, QuinGem, Sentarla, Allexandrya, Claudia!

A Kiss is but a Kiss
by Orrymain

Jack looked back and smiled at the blonde with the long hair.  He gave her a little wave and then stepped through the quantum mirror, returning to the Earth that was his home.

Waiting on the other side were Jack's three teammates as well as a flurry of SGC personnel.

Sam smiled as her CO approached, asking, “Is everything all right, Sir?”

The Air Force colonel nodded, “Yes, Carter, everything is fine with ... Carter!”

“The general wants to debrief as soon as possible,” the major informed him.

Jack nodded, responding, “Quick shower and change.  Ten minutes.”

Sam nodded, and both she and Teal'c exited the area.  Jack was just a few seconds behind them, but as he got to the doorway, he stopped dead in his tracks, realizing that something was off.  Turning around, he looked back at the team's archaeologist -- the man who was his soulmate.  Daniel was staring at the mirror.

“Daniel?  Is there a problem?”


His arms folded, Daniel glared at Jack as he walked towards him.  Not stopping, Daniel brushed by his lover, saying, “What would make you think anything was wrong, Colonel?  Everything is just ... peachy.”

Jack looked back at the room which was still buzzing with activity.  He stared down the corridor, cocked his head, and nodded a few times.

~Okay, so, in other words, there's a problem!~

====

“Don't talk to me, Jack.”

“Daniel, don't be so ...”

As he spoke, Jack grabbed a hold of Daniel's right arm, just below the elbow, but before he could finish his sentence, the archaeologist interrupted him.

“So what, Jack?  Prudish?”  Daniel attempted to yank his arm away from his lover, but Jack let it loose only briefly before reclaiming it.  “Is that the term you were looking for?”

“I didn't say that!” Jack denied.

“Good.  That's the idea -- say nothing.  Now LET ME GO,” Daniel insisted in a raised voice as he tugged his arm out of Jack's hold.

“Danny, I can't believe you're doing this.”

“Jack, what part of 'don't talk to me' do you *not* understand?” Daniel asked.

Without waiting for any response, Daniel hurried upstairs.  He was heading into the master bedroom, but then hesitated and twisted back to look at Jack who was now standing a few feet away at the top of the stairs.  With a final glare at his lover, Daniel turned and walked into the spare bedroom, slamming the door and locking it.

“Oh, for crying out loud.  DANIEL!  DANIEL, OPEN UP THE DANG DOOR!”  Silence was the only response.  “Grrrrrrrr,” Jack grunted as he debated on how to proceed.  Failing to come up with any better ideas, he resorted to pounding on the door.  “DANIEL!  What's the big deal, Daniel?” Jack asked loudly.  “Come on, Love.  Her husband was dead.  It was just a friendly kiss goodbye.”

Wearing his jacket, Daniel opened the door.  He smiled alluringly and walked into Jack's personal space.

~Yeah!~  The Special Ops colonel breathed a sigh of relief.  ~This is better,~ Jack thought, believing everything was all right now, especially when Daniel leaned into him for a kiss.  Much to his dismay, however, it was a short, chaste kiss, lasting only a brief couple of seconds.  ~Hey, that was, ah, friendly,~ Jack thought as he grimaced at the completely dispassionate kiss.

“And that, Jack, is the definition of a friendly kiss goodbye.  Goodbye, Jack.”

Daniel moved away quickly, scurrying down the steps while Jack was still trying to process what had just happened.

~Okay, not forgiven yet.~  “Daniel, where are you going?  Daniel, don't do this,” Jack pleaded, turning around and heading after the younger man.

The archaeologist stopped at the foot of the stairs and looked up at Jack, who had his hands on the railing looking down at his fleeing lover.

“Don't worry ... Babe.  I'm just going to drop in on that nice Captain Hanson.  His dog died last week, and he's been having a tough time; needs a little ... consoling.  Thought I'd go say hello; make sure he's doing okay.  Of course, that means when I leave that I'll have to kiss him goodbye.  It's the friendly thing to do, after all.”

Giving the older man a smug look, Daniel headed for the door, with Jack urgently calling out to him.

“Wait ... Wait a minute ... Daniel!”

Jack took the steps three at a time, sprang through the entrance hall, flinging open the front door, and running towards his angry lover.  The problem was that Daniel was already in his car, fresh out of the shop -- again.  The motor was running, and Jack found himself wishing it would gonk out on the spot.

~Come on, car.  I need you.  Stop working!  You do every other day!~

As Jack approached, Daniel turned up the volume on the radio and pulled out of the driveway.

Jack screamed, “Daniel!  Stop!” but he only managed to touch the front end of the left fender before Daniel put the car in 'drive' and sped away.

The angry lover never looked back, leaving a jealous and frustrated Jack O'Neill standing at the edge of the sidewalk, out of breath and cursing the day he had taught Daniel the fine art of being snarky.

“SNARK THIEF!” Jack yelled in frustration before going back inside.

====

As he wallowed in his anger and confusion, Jack replayed the prior week in his mind.

Things had begun to go downhill on Orban after the two worlds had agreed to an scientific and cultural exchange.  While Sam studied naquadah reactor with the assistance of a young Orbanian girl named Merrin, Daniel had studied the archaeological origin of the society, eventually realizing that the Orbanians might be descendents of a pre-Aztec society on Earth.  At the same time, Teal'c shared information about the Goa'uld with a an Orbanian boy named Tomin whom he liked a great deal.

At first, the exchange ran smoothly, but then Janet discovered the presence of nanites in Merrin's brain.  The SGC had then learned that select children of Orban were given thousands of nanites at birth, enabling them to accumulate and assimilate mass amounts of information quickly.  When these children reached twelve, a ceremony called the Averium was held, during which the nanites were removed.  An injection was then given to each Orbanian which passed on all the information that had been was learned.  However, these special children were not able to receive the injections as their brain rejected the new nanites.  Thus, once the Averium was held, the once genius-like youngsters became knowledgeless zombies.

While this last fact disturbed all the members of the SGC, it was Jack who had been most upset.  The Orbanians left their children to a somber existence after the Averium, claiming the essence of their children was now inside them.  The concept of teaching the children by study, and even the notion of play, was foreign to those on Orban.  Eventually, the situation had left the two lovers on opposite sides of the fence.  Daniel had argued that the SGC had no right to condemn Orbanian society while all Jack could see was the fate of the nanite deprived children.

Jack had reacted badly to the reality of the life that awaited Merrin upon her return to the alien planet and had essentially kidnapped the alien girl to take her off-base.  He had desperately wanted her to have a few moments of merriment in her life, even if he couldn't save her from her eventual fate.  In the process, the twelve-year-old learned the meaning of 'play'.  When her Averium had been held, not only was her intelligence passed on, but so was the idea of teaching, learning, and play.

When SG-1 had returned to Orban, they learned that the Orbanians children were not only playing games like hopscotch and jumping rope, but those who had gone through the Averium were going to be taught and educated the old fashioned way.  No longer were the nanite-deprived children going to be left to live a colorless world.

No sooner had the situation on Orban been resolved, than Jack was called to the SGC infirmary where he was surprised to see Sam, or rather, a long-haired version of Samantha Carter from an alternate reality.  That Sam, who was still a physicist but not a member of the military, had come through the quantum mirror that Daniel had discovered on P3R-233.  With her, was the alternate universe's version of Charles Kawalsky as well as the news that in the other reality, not only was Earth losing the battle with the Goa'uld but that Sam and that Jack were married.

In an effort to help the alternate Earth, Jack, Daniel, and Teal'c had gone through to the alternate reality and helped the other Sam to make contact with their Asgard, which Daniel had correctly determined was one reason why their world was losing the battle against the Goa'uld.  Unfortunately, because of temporal entropic cascade failure, two duplicates could not exist in the same universe without the second person, or the one from the other reality, suffering a temporal distortion and dying within a short period of time from cellular breakdown.  As her alternate was still alive, Sam was unable to accompany the rest of SG-1 to the alternate reality.

During their attempt to help the alternate Earth, Daniel had been captured and beaten, and when Jack and Teal'c found him, they were forced to surrender in order to stop the Goa'uld from killing Daniel on the spot.  Fortunately, the Asgard came through, and things in the alternate reality were finally on the upswing.

Unfortunately for Jack, as SG-1 was saying their good-byes, he made the choice to send Daniel and Teal'c back to his Earth while staying to say a more personal and intimate farewell to that reality's Sam.  The two had kissed, something Daniel didn't have to see to know had happened.

It had been a long week, and Jack still didn't understand just why Daniel was so upset.

====

“OPEN UP THIS FRIGGIN' DOOR!” Jack shouted as he pounded his fist on Daniel's door thirty minutes later.  ~Fine, I'll just use my key!~

Daniel was seated in the corner of his sofa, his back shoved against the angle nearest the balcony.  He had his bare feet up on the cushions, his knees drawn to his chin, and his hands keeping the knees taut to him.  He was lost in thought, ignoring the banging on his door, not that it mattered as moments later, the door shoved open.  Still, Daniel didn't move.

“Oh, for ... DANIEL, UNLATCH THE BLASTED CHAIN!”  Jack grunted in frustration.  ~I can't believe he *finally* latched the thing!~  “Daniel!”

Getting no response, and sensing his lover had no intention of cooperating, Jack shoved his shoulder against the door, breaking the chain.  Once inside, he slammed the door shut.

“Daniel, stop this insanity now,” Jack ordered as he stood at the edge of the living room, staring at Daniel.

“Go home, Jack, and leave me alone,” Daniel responded without moving an inch.

Jack groaned at the unwanted reply, walked over to the sofa, and forcibly moved Daniel's legs off of it.  When that was accomplished, he grabbed his partner's hands, playing a momentary tug-of-war as Daniel struggled unsuccessfully to prevent the link with his lover.

“Listen to me, you stubborn as a mule archaeologist, it was only a kiss.  It didn't mean anything.”

“Why?” Daniel asked curiously.

~Simple enough to answer.~  Jack gently squeezed his lover's hands and said, “Because I'm not in love with her.  You get that honor.”

“Thanks,” Daniel replied sarcastically, looking down, unsuccessfully trying again to pull his hands free.  ~Let go of me, but ... gawd, I love it when you touch me.~

“Danny, come on.  She lost her husband,” Jack pleaded in his defense.

“And he wasn't you, Jack.  You weren't helping her.”

“She needed some comforting,” Jack argued.

“Comforting?  Is that what you call it now?” Daniel asked angrily.  This time, Daniel did pull away from Jack, walking to the balcony doors, though not stepping out.  ~I may like it when you touch me, but I ... I deserve respect, and I ... I won't trade it for ... for how I feel when you ... gawd, why did you kiss her?~

Jack shook his head in denial of the entire situation, finally saying, “Okay, I can't believe this is all because of a harmless kiss.”

“Harmless?” Daniel snorted.  With disgust, he said, “Fine, Jack.  I'll go find ... Janet and give her a harmless kiss.  How would you like that?”

“The Doc?  You wouldn't!  Don't you dare!” Jack threatened.

“What's wrong?” Daniel asked.  “Not so harmless now?”

“Daniel, you're acting like a two-year-old.  Kissing a grieving widow is totally different from kissing the Doc on purpose for revenge.”

“Tough,” Daniel said as he headed for the door.  ~Stubborn, two-timing colonel.  I'll show him!~

“DANIEL!”  Jack moved several feet towards his fleeing lover, calling out, “You wouldn't!”

Daniel paused and looked back at Jack.  He contemplated their situation for a moment, and then he replied seriously, “Yes, Jack, I ... I think I would, and ... and you know what?  If Janet is busy, I *will* go find Captain Hanson ... or ... or maybe I'll just kiss them both,” Daniel exclaimed and then defiantly continued towards the door.

Jack ran, catching Daniel as he reached for the doorknob.  He turned the young man's body to face him, and, with Daniel's back to the door, Jack announced harshly, “You are so not going to kiss the Doc or anyone!”

“I will if I want to,” Daniel proclaimed.

“Okay, Daniel, what is this really about?” Jack asked, backing away a step or two.  “No way is this about a simple little harmless goodbye kiss.”

Daniel just shook his head at his lover.  Resigned, he said, “It doesn't matter.  Go home.”  More snarkily, he added, “Better yet, go ... go find Sam.”

“I don't want Sam, and you know that.”

“Right,” Daniel said with a low despondent voice as he scooted around Jack, self-hugging.  He made his way to the fish tank, stopping and staring at the swimming fish.  ~Want some company, fishies?  It looks nice in there.~

“Danny, come on.  Talk to me.  What's really wrong?”

~I can't believe he has no comprehension about this.  Is he really that dumb, or is this just a game?  Fine, I'll play.~  Daniel turned, his back now to the tank, and answered, “You kissed her.  You sent me on my way so you could kiss her.”

“We've been over this,” Jack challenged in frustration.

“You ... Why'd you single me out, Jack?  You never do that.  Even when you hated me, you protected me.  Why all of a sudden did you single me out?”

~Okay, change in subject, I guess.  How does he do that?~  A confused Jack shook his head, asking, “What are you talking about?”

“Apophis.  He was talking to you, asking you questions, and you pointed him to me.  Gawd Jack, they'd already beaten me, and you made me a target.  I still hear you ... 'He does' ... you just tossed me to the wolves.”

“Snakeheads,” Jack tried to correct teasingly.

“Whatever,” Daniel replied despondently, looking down at the carpet with fascination.

Sighing, Jack pleaded, “Danny, you know that's not what I was doing.”

Still staring downward, Daniel quietly questioned, “Do I?  You've never done it before.  Why now?  Maybe because you wanted to stay with her, or go with her?  Maybe you just wanted me out of the way.”  Daniel turned around again to stare at his fish.  ~Can't I please be a fish?  What was that movie?  Some stupid movie Jack made me watch once.  A man wanted to be a fish, so he ... he became a fish.  Well, I think being a fish would be ... it would be awesome.  Make way, fishies, here I come!~

“Danny,” Jack whispered, moving to his lover and trying to hold him.

Daniel, however, would have no part of it.

~Gawd, I was going to be a fish,~ Daniel mentally whined.  Back in the moment, however, his anger rose.  He spun around and glared at the older man.  “They beat me up, Jack, and when you saw that and Kawalsky asked about putting down your guns, you were so ... nonchalant.  'Yeah, we should do that,' you said.  Thanks, Jack ... thanks for that decision.  I'm ... touched by the depths of your concern.”

Daniel blinked several times as his emotions swelled.  Breathing hard, he walked onto the balcony where he grabbed hold of the railing and clung to it for dear life.  His arms were straight, the weight of his body resting on them.  He bowed his head, keeping his eyes closed.

“Daniel ...”

“Don't, Jack.  Gawd, you've been mad at me since Orban anyway.  I'm letting you go, Jack.  Just ... go find Sam ... and leave me alone,” Daniel begged, his stance still rigid as he gripped the balcony rail tightly.

Jack sighed, closing his eyes.  He was beginning to realize that this wasn't some childish tantrum, that Daniel was really hurting.  He moved forward, sliding his arms around Daniel's waist.

“I don't want Carter, in this or any reality.  I *do* want you.”

“I don't think you know what you want.  You knew how much that would hurt me; how it would make me feel.”  Glancing briefly over his shoulder, Daniel asked straightforwardly, “Can you deny that, or did you just think that, as usual, I'd be understanding and forgiving?  Just once, Jack ... just once, couldn't you have put your brain into gear first instead of ... instead of your ...” Daniel trailed off as his hand waved toward Jack's groin.

“Danny, how many times are we going to have to talk about this?  When are you going to believe me?”

“How about when you stop chasing after Sam?” Daniel argued, trying to move forward so that he was as close to the railing as possible and lessening Jack's possessive hold on him in the process.

Jack groaned, his frustration reaching new heights, as he angrily responded, “I am *not* chasing after Carter, and you blasted well know it!  Stop using her as an excuse for whatever is bugging you!”

~Right.  Why don't you try not kissing her all the time?~  Daniel said nothing verbally and was totally unresponsive to Jack's closeness.  ~You're supposed to love me.  How can you love me and kiss her?~

“Danny, haven't we done this already?  I am *not* in love with Carter.  I don't want Carter.  I want you, stubborn and pig-headed as you can be sometimes.”  Jack felt Daniel tense and figured he had better try to hold back on the sarcasm.  “Listen, I didn't mean for you to feel singled out.  Daniel, since when do you hesitate about taking on a System Lord?  You're at your snarky best in front of Apophis and those idiots.”

“They beat me up, Jack,” Daniel said softly.

“I'm sorry about that.  I don't like it when you get hurt,” Jack said truthfully, then mentally smacked himself on the head.  With all the anger between them at the moment he felt that he hadn't spoken the words as gently as he could and should have.  ~Idiot.  You made that sound like you were writing a report when the truth is so much the opposite.~

Daniel laughed a sad refrain as he responded, “Where did I get hurt?  Have you even noticed, Jack?”

~Gotcha, My Love!~  Jack's own frustration disappeared behind his exuberance that on this issue, he was ahead of the game.  He knew every beautiful inch of Daniel's body.  This was, in Jack's mind, a piece of cake.  ~You're mine now, Dannyboy!~

Jack turned Daniel to face him, and smiled.  He raised his hand to where Daniel's cheek was bandaged and gently ran his thumb over it.  He found the spot just below Daniel's right ear where there was a small cut and kissed it.  He looked in Daniel's eyes for a moment and then ran his right hand to the spot on Daniel's left side, just below the ribcage.

Gently, lovingly, Jack caressed the area.  He pulled up Daniel's shirt, knelt down, and placed a trail of kisses over the bruised area.  When he stood up, he leaned in and kissed Daniel on the lips briefly.

“I know every inch of you, Danny.  I know exactly where they touched you; every piece of damaged skin is etched my mind.  Oh, yeah, I do know, and I have most definitely noticed.”

Daniel tried to evade Jack's look, but Jack's hand turned Daniel's face back to his.

“Danny, Love.  I'm not perfect.  I make mistakes.  I swear to you, that if I made some on this mission, it, they, were totally accidental.  I would never let anyone hurt you.”

“They zatted me,” Daniel spoke softly, like a homeless little boy that no one cared about.  ~Doesn't that matter?  Don't ... I matter?~

That's when Jack understood.  His lover had gone through a thoroughly lousy day.  It was that simple.  Daniel was tired, he had been hurt, and he had watched his partner kissing someone else; and all without anyone taking two minutes to ask him how he was feeling about any of it.

When Jack came back through the mirror, the post mission briefing had droned on and on about the temporal entropic cascade failure.  Sam, in both realities, had been discussed ad nauseam.  It wasn't until at least an hour into the briefing that anyone even bothered to ask Daniel why he hadn't gone straight to the infirmary.

The briefing had begun within minutes of Jack's return since there were no injuries, at least, none that were obvious.  Daniel had kept in the background after Jack kissed the alternate Sam.  He was good at hiding, at going unnoticed, and with all of the hubbub over the two Sams, not even Jack had said a word to him other than their brief exchange in the gate room.

Jack shook his head at his own failure to be more observant.  With a heavy sigh, he prepared to grovel, not because he had been so wrong, but because Daniel needed him to be wrong, for now.

“Okay, Love, from the beginning.  Yes, I wasn't thrilled with what happened on Orban; and I was less than happy with you for switching sides.”

“I did not switch sides!” Daniel refuted emphatically.

Jack heard the rising tone in his voice, and spoke a compliant, “You're right, but I did get angry at the way Merrin and those kids were treated.”

“Jack ...”

“Danny, I know.  It worked out okay, but it was still hard to take that Merrin lost herself in Orban's warped version of a graduation ceremony.  I suppose I've been a little testy the last few days.”

“A little?” Daniel scowled.

“Okay,” Jack said tentatively, willing to grovel however much was necessary.  “I've been an absolute bear, and I'm sorry.  As for the Carters, you know I love you, and only you.  I kissed her out of compassion.”  Jack saw Daniel tense, his facial features tightening, and figured maybe he'd better give Daniel what he wanted -- a complete confession of guilt.  “Okay, I kissed her.  She's beautiful, and I saw my chance for a quickie so I took it.  I was ... bad; very, very bad, and so I offer myself up for mercy,” Jack said with a smile.

Daniel glared at the older man, an edge to his tone as he asked, “You think this is funny, Jack?  That it's a ... a game?”

“No, it's not a game,” Jack admitted.  “I'm sorry.  That was uncalled for, but you know me, Daniel, it's my way; I use laughter to survive in this crazy world.”

“You aren't the least bit sorry,” Daniel said sadly, and a bit too distantly for Jack's taste.

“Danny, I love you.”

Jack scooped Daniel into his arms.  Daniel started to back off, but Jack was tired of the ridiculous fight, so he held on.

“Let me go.”

“Nope.  Not gonna happen.  Not ever.  Love you too friggin' much, so much, forever and always, Danny.  So, no, not letting you go.  You can kick, punch, and bruise me all you want, but I'm so not letting you slip away from me now.  I love you.”

Daniel took a big breath and let out a huge sigh as his struggle came to an end.

“Jack,” the younger man stated softly, succumbing to his lover, his head finally resting against Jack's shoulder where it so often did.  ~I'm so tired.~

Jack held his soulmate tightly, rubbing his back in soothing circles.

“I love you, Angel, so much.  I'm sorry I was a jerk.”  Jack smiled.  ~There's more to this, and I think it's ... nah, it can't be.~

“You weren't a jerk ... at least not completely,” Daniel admitted.

“If I agree, are you going to yell some more?” Jack asked, not wanting to lose any ground since they were now in 'make up mode'.

“No ... tired, Jack.”

“Do your ribs hurt, Love?”  Daniel's head brushed against his lover's shoulders as he nodded, and Jack kissed his soulmate's forehead.  “Come on, let's go lay down for a little while, and I'll ... I'll grovel some more.”

Daniel chuckled, then winced as he held his bruised ribs, saying, “You need practice at groveling, Jack.  You don't do it very well.”

“Angel, you tell me what you want, and I'll do it, no questions; no hesitation.”

“Hold me,” Daniel requested softly.

====

Three hours later, Jack awoke and discovered his soulmate was missing.  He got up and went to the living room, finding Daniel on the balcony, sitting against the wall of the apartment.

Jack sat down in front of him, Indian-style, though his knees objected slightly.  He took Daniel's hands and kissed them.

Both men were still completely dressed since they had fallen asleep after simply snuggling together on Daniel's bed after making up earlier.

“Talk to me, Angel.”

“I was so angry at you, Jack.”

“Past tense?”  Jack's heart smiled seeing Daniel's nod.  “Why?”

~Gawd.~  Daniel blinked and then admitted, “I was jealous.  Gawd, I hate being jealous.  Hate it!  Hate it!  Hate it!”

~Whoa!  I was right.  Jealous?  Of Carter?  Never, Danny, not of Carter or anyone, ever.~  Jack smiled reassuringly.  “Since I'm the master of that green-eyed monster, I know it's no fun.  Danny, I could have handled it better.  I swear I was just trying to make her feel better, that's all.”

“I know, Jack.”  Daniel hesitated then admitted softly, “But it hurt.”

“Do you?  Angel, do you know how much I love you?  You're all I want.  I wouldn't give you up for anything, or for anyone.  Please tell me you know that.”  Daniel nodded.  “Danny?  Come on.”

“I know, Jack.”

“It's that blasted adult Daniel trying to protect that innocent little boy, isn't it?  Crap!  Daniel, I am not, let me repeat this loud and clear, I am NOT leaving you ... never ... never ever ever ... not ever.  I thought I gave that guy his walking papers.”

“You did,” Daniel said, his blue eyes shimmering a bit in the glow of the moonlight.  “He just ... sneaks back in every now and then,” Daniel commented shyly about his very protective adult self, the one that so often shielded his inner child from pain.

“Well, listen up protector of the inner child.  This colonel isn't budging.  You couldn't blast me out of this spot.  Get lost.  Protecting and loving Danny is my job, my love, my pleasure, and my right.  He's mine, and I'm his, and nothing is ever going to change that.”

Daniel smiled, his first smile in hours, in way too many hours in Jack's opinion.

“And for the record, Love, I'm not mad about Orban anymore, but I admit I was -- not a lot, and certainly not to any extent that I would ever let it come between us, but just a little.”

“I know; I really do.  It was just a convenient ... flag to wave when we were fighting.”

“Good.  Now what else was there?  Oh, yes.  Danny, I will kill ...”  Jack paused, seeing his lover's face was looking down.  “Look at me, Danny,” Jack requested as he lifted Daniel's face up by placing his hand underneath his lover's chin and raising it upwards.  “I will kill anyone who hurts you, and I know you know that.  The honest truth is that  if I dwell on that, then I will become a lethal arsenal right in front of your eyes.  I knew you were hurt, but I also admit that I didn't realize how much until the briefing, watching you.  You hid it, Angel, didn't you?”  Again, the younger man nodded.  “Why, Danny?”

“I don't know.  Everyone just seemed so ... busy, and I ... gawd, Jack, I was jealous, okay?  Nothing mattered at the time.  Physical pain was better than emotional pain.  I was ... so darn jealous,” Daniel said, his tone anxious and frustrated.

“That's okay.  I forgive you,” Jack teased though his tone was serious.

Daniel glared, but then chuckled, seeing Jack's broad smile, “And I know you'd never throw me to the wolves.  I was just being snarky with you.”  Daniel smiled.  “It was just a ...”

“... lousy day?”

Daniel nodded again, so Jack leaned in for a proper kiss.  There was nothing brief or tentative about this tender exchange as Daniel's arms reached up and around his lover's neck.

“I love you, Jack.  I'm sorry I was a jealous loon.”

“Yeah; that's my schtick,” Jack chuckled.

“And you do it so well, My Love.”

“That's because you're all mine, Danny: my most treasured possession.”

Daniel's hands caressed the back of Jack's nape tenderly, and then he brought them to Jack's face, cupping it for a moment.  He let his hands trace every facet of Jack's lips, then his nose, and then Daniel studied his lover's eyes carefully.

“What are you doing, Angel?”

“Studying you, my most cherished artifact, memorizing every millimeter of you,” Daniel said and then leaned in to kiss his soulmate. “You're mine, Jack, and you know something?” Daniel asked, a definitive strength in his tone.

“What?”

“I won't let Sam have you, not our Sam, or any Sam!  I'll fight for you if I have to.  You're ... you're mine, all mine, forever mine.  I ... I won't let you go, either.”

“Danny ...”

Daniel interrupted his lover with a passionate kiss that began with a nibble on Jack's upper lip.  One led to another, and so on, and so on, and so on.  The two kissed for a long time, reminding themselves of their love and commitment.

“It's late, Angel.  Let's go back to bed,” Jack suggested as he stood up.

Daniel took his partner's hand as he rose.  He put his arm around Jack's waist, and they headed for the bedroom.  As they hit the doorway, Daniel stopped.

“Jack, I know it's late, but ... I want to go home.  I want us to make love in our bed ... at home.”

Jack smiled a huge grin.  He'd been working long and hard at getting Daniel to speak of his inner desires and wants and to think of Jack's house as their house.  Jack had only convinced Daniel to move in earlier in the year, but to Jack, the house had been both of theirs for at least a year.

Basking in the warmth of Daniel's words, Jack kissed the man who was his heart.  Then he nodded, professing, “I love you so friggin' much.  Let's go home.”

As Daniel pulled out his keys to lock the door, Jack entered the hallway.  Daniel looked around his apartment for a minute, scanning every inch that could be seen from the doorway.

“You okay, Love?” Jack asked when Daniel had become still.

“Just wondering.”

“Wondering what?” Jack asked, glancing over his lover's shoulder to see what Daniel might be staring at inside the apartment.

Daniel tilted his head slightly and made a tiny sound as he smacked his lips in contemplation.  Finally, he answered, “I was wondering when this place stopped being home and became just ... just an apartment like any other?”

“Do you have an answer?” Jack inquired, his soul singing from the words.  ~Yes!  Progress, Danny, and we have all the time in the world to make sure it sinks in.~

Daniel looked over at his lover standing next to him and let out a short nervous laugh as he answered, “I'm not sure it ever was home.  I kinda think ... you know ... the spare room ... it was ...”

“It was your room from the day you walked back through the Stargate.”

“You made it home for me.  I never really wanted to leave, Jack,” Daniel confessed.

Jack grinned.  They hadn't ever talked about when Daniel moved out of the house a couple months after returning to Earth.

“I never wanted you to go, Danny.”

“Why'd you let me?”

“It was the thing to do.  You said you wanted to go.  What was I going to say -- stay for pizza and never leave?” Jack asked.

“Yeah, I guess I know what you mean.  I couldn't figure out how to ask if you wanted a roommate forever.”

Jack took his left hand and ran it through his lover's hair as he said, “We wasted a lot of time.”

“We weren't in love then, though,” Daniel noted.  ~At least, I don't ... I mean ... gawd, I don't know what I mean.~

“I know ... I think.  I don't know any more.  Danny, the truth is, I know when I knew for sure that I loved you.  I know what the catalyst was that made me see, but you know, I'm not sure when I really fell in love with you.”

Jack's hand continued to run through Daniel's hair, settling at the base of his neck and massaging there in support, as he continued, “I just don't know.  I remember how you shined in front of those so-called experts, how brave you were, how funny you were when that whatever it's called dragged you all over the desert.  I remember how lost I felt returning to Earth without you; and I remember finding Sara gone and my mind thinking as much about you being on Abydos as it did about Sara not being here.”

Jack dried a tear that fell down Daniel's cheek and then kissed the dried spot.

“All I know, Danny, is that from the day we met, there's been a crazy connection between us.  Friends, best friends, lovers -- whatever and whenever that happened, what I know now is that I need you, and I want you, and geez, you make me happy.”

“Jack,” a bashful Daniel said as he began to blush from the loving words.

“I love you, Danny, and it doesn't matter when it started; I'm just glad that somewhere along the line, you fell in love with me, too.”

“Jack,” Daniel said again as he practically leaped into his soulmate, kissing him hungrily.  He didn't care that they were in the open hallway where anyone stepping into the corridor could see them.  “I do love you, Jack, and sometimes, I don't know when it started it either except ... I ...”

“Danny, it's okay.  I know Sha're's out there.  We're gonna bring her home, and whatever happens after that, happens, but I won't ever regret a moment with you, and I won't let you go, unless you want to, and I mean really want to, for Sha're.”

Jack had never said that out loud before, and he didn't think he could ever say it again.  It would kill him to lose Daniel to Sha're, but when they got her back, he knew it would happen.  The older man had already pledged not to make things difficult for his lover when the Abydonian woman returned.  He just couldn't do that to Daniel.

“Jack, I need to tell you ...” Daniel began, realizing he hadn't told his lover the real truth about his feelings for his wife.

“No, Danny,” Jack said, refusing to listen on the assumption that Daniel was going to try and placate him.  “Come on, it's late, and I'm tired, too; you need to rest.”

“I wasn't exactly planning on resting,” Daniel revealed with a wicked gleam in his eye.

“Oh, I think I can be talked into ... that,” Jack said enthusiastically as he leered at the man he lusted after without pause.

“Talked into?” Daniel said in a light tone as his eyes widened.

“I'll beg!”  The two laughed, as Jack motioned toward the elevator.  “Time's a wastin', Angel.”

“By the way, Jack, don't forget you have to get a new chain for my door,” Daniel stated as he finally closed his apartment door.

“Me?  I'm not the one who decided to use the chain, and for what?  The first time in a month?” Jack asked incredulously.

“Not that long ... just a couple of weeks,” Daniel conceded, “but you still broke it.”

Jack chuckled, “And don't you forget that, Danny.  There's not a lock or chain in the world that can keep me away from you.”

Daniel smiled and raised his right hand to caress Jack's left cheek as he leaned in for a kiss.

“I guess it doesn't really matter, Jack, because ... you are the key to my heart.”

“I love you so much, Danny.”

“Enough to fix my lock?” Daniel teased.

“Okay, okay, such a nag,” Jack whined in return.

“Nag?  Well, if you want me to start nagging, I can.  Let's see ...”

Daniel's words were cut off by another kiss from his lover.

“Nag me in bed,” Jack whispered.

“Oh, the possibilities,” Daniel said with an extra spark of electricity in his eyes.

“Exactly!” Jack winked, adding, “Angel, we've just had a very intimate discussion, and while I'm glad we had, we're still standing in a public hallway.”

“Oh!” Daniel laughed, locking his apartment door.

The two laughed as they finally headed down the hallway, their arms around each other's waists.  It was late, and, after all those kisses in the hallway, Jack decided they'd continue to live dangerously at the moment.  If someone saw, they'd explain it away somehow.

~Or not,~ Jack smirked.

====

In the parking lot, Jack kissed Daniel as they stood by his truck.  Reluctantly, Daniel moved to his car, hesitating when he reached it.  Automatically, he looked over at Jack.

The soulmates exchanged a look of forever, and each mouthed, “I love you.”

Jack started the engine and drove away, making sure Daniel was in his rear view mirror.  At one point, Jack made a light on the yellow, but Daniel had to stop.  They were now separated by a couple of blocks.

**Let's try this.  Does it work?**

Their non-verbal communication usually worked best when they were standing together in the same room, or when a crisis was occurring, but they'd also learned that it had expanded as their love affair strengthened.  With Daniel out of his view, Jack decided now would be a good time to test it and see if it worked in the chilly calm of the early morning in Colorado Springs.

**Danny, I love you.**

Daniel grinned as the comment settled into his consciousness.  Just as the light turned green, he responded in kind.

**Gawd, yes.  I love and adore you, Babe.**

As he caught up to his lover and continued to trail the truck in his old jalopy, Daniel sighed, thoughts of Sha're and his marriage circulating within him.

~He deserves to know.  Why haven't I told him yet?  It's my guilt, not his.~

Daniel needed to talk to Jack about Sha're.  He was still confused on many levels, but there was one thing he was certain of without a doubt: he loved Jack, and he didn't think he could ever live without him.  Daniel knew he needed to communicate this very important fact to Jack.

~I need to tell you.  You're not second choice, Jack.  You're ... you're my first and only choice.  I ... I need to ... to tell you.  It's not fair for me not to.  Gawd, Sha're, I'm sorry.~

====

~Crazy geek.  Jealous!~  Jack laughed as he made a right turn.  ~He was actually jealous.  Amazing!~

Jack grew serious, his smile fading.

“I'm not much,” Jack spoke aloud, “but I'm glad he thinks I am.  What did you think you were doing, O'Neill, by kissing that Carter?”

Jack shook his head violently as he scanned the action around his vehicle.

~That was dumb.  Dumb with a capital 'D'!~  “Do not do that again, Jack.  It's not worth it.  Besides,” he chuckled, “Carter kisses like a wet duck.  Danny, now, whoa, kissing him is ...~

Jack's smile was back.  Home was only a few miles away now.

~And when we get there, I'm gonna prove to you that you are all I want, Danny, because it's the truth.  And tomorrow, I'm going to make it up to you for me being a jerk.  Breakfast in bed, flowers, making love, making love, making love ... Did I say making love?~

====

As he pulled into Jack's driveway, Daniel was prepared to tell his lover the truth, except that once he got out of his car, Jack began to tickle him, and that led to a late night chase that ended with Jack pursuing the younger man into the house and up the stairs, tackling Daniel just as they reached their bed in the master bedroom.

~He's wonderful; he's so sexy; and he's mine.  I'm yours, too, Jack, and I'll tell you just as soon as I can, but, uh, right now, well, something's, uh, come ... gawd, it's, boy is it up, and ... oh, Jack!~

Their laughter fueled their fire as Jack and Daniel made love, each knowing that the only reality they ever needed was the reality of their love for each other in their dedicated nation of two.

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