Murphy's Law

Author: Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Humor, H/C, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  NC-17
Season:  3
Spoilers:  Deadman Switch, Demons, Rules of Engagement, Cold Lazarus (minor)
Size:  163kb
Written:  August 29-31, September 1-2, 2003;  Revised:  November 5,8,24-25, December 8,13-14, 2004  Revised for consistency:  January 22, 2007
Summary:  Daniel experiences Murphy's Law to the maximum.  Anything and everything that can go wrong, does.  Can Jack kiss and make it better?
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:
1) Hanky warning!
2) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
3) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  QuinGem, Drdjlover, Linda, Claudia!

Murphy's Law
by Orrymain

“I can do it, Daniel.”

“No, Jack, you can't.”

Jack lightly pushed Daniel away, determined to walk into the house under his own strength.

“Jack, you're just going to fall down again.”  He groaned from frustration as he watched his lover ignore his words of warning, trudging carefully up the steps, cursing loudly at the pain, and then walking across the open hallway.  “Fine, Jack, walk on it, injure it more.”  Daniel reached into his pants pockets and pulled out his keys. “Have it your way, Jack.  Take care of yourself.  I'm going to my apartment; if you want me, you can call there.”

Daniel headed for the door, catching Jack off guard.

~He wouldn't leave.  Crap, he is.~  “Daniel ... crap ... Daniel!  Danny.  Ouch.  Aw, Danny.”

Jack's ankle radiated pain when he accidentally hit it against the sofa table as he tried to turn to stop his exiting lover.  The pain caused his ankle to give, and he fell to the floor.  His face contorted with a grimace as he reached out to try and soothe his aching ankle.

“You called, Jack?”  

Daniel, still standing at the front door, twirling his keys in his hands, turned and faced Jack.

“I thought you left,” Jack bellowed.

“Do you want me to?”

“What kind of friggin' question is that, Daniel?”

“An honest one.”

“Danny, get your butt over here, and help me up.”

Daniel took a couple of steps, but stopped, his fingers fidgeting with his keys.

“Danny, please.  I'm ... sorry.”

“I don't want you to be sorry, Jack.  I want you to do what Janet said.  I want you to let me help you every step of the freakin' way up to our bed, and I want you to get in said bed, and stay there.”

Jack looked away for a second.

“Stupid trees.  Why are there trees everywhere we go anyway?”

“Trees are nature's air filters.”

“Oh, for crying out loud, Daniel, we aren't on some tree-infested planet where you have to play peaceful explorer.  Can't you say something more original?”

“Well, it's true, Jack.”

“Good.  We've had today's science lesson; now will you *please* help me up?”

Daniel walked over to his partner and lifted him up, though Jack fought to remain as independent as possible.

“Jack, will you cooperate, and lean on me please?”

“I'm bigger than you are, Danny.”

“Not in everything, Jack.”

“In your dreams, Jackson.”

“Wanna get a tape measure out, Fly Boy?”

“I thought you were supposed to be shy and blush all the time?”

“We're talking facts, Jack ... not ... sex,” Daniel explained.

“Facts smacts.  You cheated.”

“I did not.”

“Did, too,” the older man claimed.

“Not.”

“Too.”

“I did not, Jack.  You're the one who switched from rubber to wood.”

“I wanted a ... second opinion.”

“Jack, just ... lay down on the bed and be quiet.”

They had bickered all the way up the stairs.  Actually, they had been bickering for weeks, ever since Jack got jealous of Aris Boch on PJ6-877, accusing Daniel of flirting with the bounty hunter.

“Quiet?  Great, now I can't say anything in my own house.”

“You can say anything you want, Jack.  Freakin' trees,” Daniel muttered.

“I heard that.  See, you don't like them either.”

“I love trees.  It would have been nice, though, if you could have avoided this particular tree.”

“And how was I supposed to do that?” Jack challenged.

“How about by paying attention and not being a jacka... a ... a ...”

“Yes, Daniel?”

“Jack, go to sleep.”

“I'm not tired.  We just got home, and I'm hungry,” Jack whined.

“Gawd.  Jack, I have a headache.  Can you please, just for two minutes, be quiet?”

“It's my house, Daniel, and if I want to talk, I'll talk.”

Daniel's body sagged in defeat.  He felt as if an anchor had just dragged him to the bottom of the ocean.  Quietly, he replied, “You're right, Jack. It's your house.”

The young man turned and walked out, much to Jack's dismay as he suddenly realized what his ranting had caused.

“Aw crap, O'Neill, you're a friggin' idiot, a first class jerk, and a stupid S.O.B.”  Jack sat up and began to get off the bed.  “Ouch!  Crap!”  Unfortunately, he forgot to allow for the soreness of his ankle and applied too much pressure to his foot.  Again it gave way, and Jack landed solidly on the floor next to the bed.  He cursed, but managed to get back onto the bed, lying supine as he breathed heavily from his efforts.  ~Where is he?  Couldn't he hear?  Doesn't he know I need him?~  “DANIEL!  DANNNNNNNNNIELLLLLLLLL!”

Jack continued to call out for his lover, but it was a good two minutes before Daniel reappeared into Jack's view.

“Jack, please,” Daniel begged as he stopped at the entrance to their bedroom.

“Danny, come here.”

“I'm ... fine where I am.”  ~Maybe that stuff I just took for this freakin' headache will kill me, and I can just collapse here and die; that would be good.~

“Danny, please.”  Jack held his hand out.  “Come on, Danny.  Don't make me beg.”  Reluctantly, Daniel sauntered over to the bed and sat facing the wall, ignoring Jack's hand.  “Danny, c'mere.”

Jack tugged on Daniel's arm until finally Daniel gave in, and spread himself out next to Jack, but he was rigid and stiff, not his usual compliant self in responding to his lover's care.

“Crap, Danny, don't be like this.”

Jack reached over and finally, with a lot of maneuvering, got Daniel to snuggle in next to him, his head on Jack's shoulder and one hand on his chest.  He was still tense, and not exactly cooperative.

“I'm sorry, Love.  I'm being a pain in the ... what did that Boch character call it?  Mikta, that's it.  I'm being a royal pain in the mikta.  Guess the Goa'uld know me better than I thought.”

There was no response from Daniel.

“Danny, I'm an idiot, okay.  I am a lousy patient when I'm sick, and a worse one when it's because of an injury, and when that same injury is caused by my own ... stupidity, I'm an even worse S.O.B.  I'm taking it out on you, and I'm sorry, and I'll try to be better, but I know I'll probably make you wish you'd never met me by the time the sun comes up tomorrow.”

Jack paused, concerned Daniel still wasn't responding in any way.  He moved his hand from Daniel's back up to his head, his fingers gently sliding through the short, silky strands of hair.

“So, I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to sound so self-absorbed; and most importantly, I love you, and ... this is your house, too.  You know that.” Jack was alarmed that there was still no reaction from his young lover, who was motionless against him.  “Danny?”  Jack cocked his head at an angle to try and get a better look at the younger man.  “Aw, for crying ... Geez, Danny, I'm bearing my soul here, and you're asleep?  Crap.”

Jack wanted to be angry, but instead, he tightened his hold, kissed the top of Daniel's hair, and rubbed his lover's back.  He sighed deeply, and then spoke softly, even pleadingly, though he knew Daniel wouldn't hear him.

“Love you, Angel.  Please be tolerant, Danny.  I'll try.  I promise I'll try. I can't lose you, especially over some dumb tree.  Forgive me, Danny, please.”

“Not unless you shut up, J'ck.  Wanna sleep.”

“Danny, did you hear all that?”

“Sleepy, J'ck.  Go 'sleep.”

Jack didn't dare say another word, but he was restless.  He didn't know whether or not Daniel had really forgiven him, or heard him when he tried to explain.  He wanted to say more, but more importantly, he needed desperately to hear those three words that made his heart sing, three words Daniel hadn't said for days.  

Jack couldn't relax.  He continued to caress the man who embodied everything that mattered to him, holding Daniel securely, and yet, his mind was full of repercussions and accusations that he didn't deserve his lover.

~I don't deserve him.  All I seem to do lately is hurt him.  I should let him go.  Maybe he doesn't love me anymore, and why should he?  I'm just a dumb, run-down Colonel, and he hates the military.~

Jack's heart began to break, doubts of his own adequacy flooding his mind.  He released a sad, heavy sigh.

“J'ck, I love you.  Not dumb.  I ... forgive you.  Please go to sleep.”

“Thank you, Daniel,” Jack whispered, amazed at the silent communication that he and the man who owned his heart shared, even when they were having a bad day, and even when they weren't even talking in their minds to the other.  ~It's definitely out of the Twilight Zone, but I love that bond between us.~

====

Two hours later, Daniel woke up, still on his Jack pillow.  He knew instantly Jack was awake.  Daniel raised his head and looked into Jack's tired eyes.

“You didn't sleep at all, did you?”

Jack shook his head, his hands still stroking his lover with gentle caresses.

“Felt too guilty.  I hurt you, Danny, and I'm more sorry for that than I can say, and what really gets me is that if you stay here, it'll probably happen again.  I make one crappy patient.  Maybe ... you should go to the apartment.”

Daniel's gaze into Jack's eyes was intense and determined.  

“Let me ask you this, Jack, and ... make sure you answer carefully.  Do you want me to go?”

Jack looked deeply into the beautiful blue eyes he loved so dearly.  He brought his left hand up and ran his fingers through Daniel's soft hair.  He smiled briefly and answered truthfully, “No.”

“Good answer, Jack.  Now, do you need anything because I really should check the mail and get us something to eat.”

“No, I'm fine for now.”  Jack pondered his beautiful lover as the young man began to move to get off the bed.  ~Geez, I love him.~  Daniel was about to stand up when Jack reached out and grabbed his hand.  “Danny.”  His eyes said what he couldn't in that moment -- “I love you.  I need you.  I want you.  Thank you.”

Daniel smiled as he stood up.  He leaned over for a quick kiss, saying, “Love you, Jack,” and then walked out of the room.

“I don't deserve you, Danny,” Jack sighed after Daniel disappeared into the hallway.  He looked up at the ceiling.  “Please, whomever is up there, don't let me push him away with my own stupidity.”  ~Get a grip, O'Neill, and don't be a pain in the mikta.  You'll only alienate him and destroy yourself in the process.~

====

Daniel headed for the kitchen to fix something for both of them to eat and couldn't help but notice an increasingly rancid smell as he approached.  For the first time, he noticed a few blinking lights.

~Power outage.  Hope it wasn't out for long.~  Hesitantly, he opened the refrigerator.  “Great, just great,” he muttered out loud.

It was quickly apparent that the power had been off long enough to do its damage.  The smell that assailed him was horrible.  The meat was rotten, the fruit and vegetables 'dead', and the diary products stank so much that Daniel turned his head and twisted his nose trying in vain to escape the disgusting odor.

He cursed in one of the many languages he was fluent in as he tossed out everything in the refrigerator.  Normally, he and Jack didn't keep much meat out, but their last two missions had come up suddenly with barely a chance to walk in the door and turn on the lights between the off-world trips.  Thus, they hadn't had time to put the food away as they normally would have done.

Daniel tied up the trash bag he had used to dispose of the smelly and moldy items, took it outside, and deposited it into the garbage can, making sure to secure the lid to keep out any nocturnal animals that may try to raid the trash can.

Once he was finished, Daniel looked in the cupboards, only to find them bare.

~It figures.  Why didn't we go shopping the other day?  Oh, yeah, we ravished each other in the living room, fell asleep, and then had to go back to the SGC.~

Slowly, he went back upstairs, finding that Jack had fallen asleep.  He debated waking his lover to tell him that he was going to the store, but Jack hadn't slept since they got back, and Daniel knew he needed the rest.  Quietly, he backed out of the room and headed for their favorite supermarket.

The store was packed, and since they needed just about everything, it took Daniel two hours to shop and get through the checkout line.  When he got back to the truck with his cart full of groceries, he froze.

~He's going to kill me.~

Someone had collided with Jack's truck while Daniel was in the store. There was a dent at the rear with a couple of pieces of metal hanging down, the tail light was smashed with pieces of it laying all over the ground, and there was a three-inch scratch along its side.

Daniel put the groceries in the truck, and went back into the store where he talked with the manager and discussed insurance procedures for several minutes.

By the time the archaeologist arrived back at the house, three hours had passed.  When he opened the door, Daniel was greeted by an elephant's mating call, or at least, that's what it sounded like.  A slew of obscenities echoed down the stairs.

~I am *so* NOT going to tell Jack about his truck right now; maybe I'll move to Tibet.  Just listen to him.  No, on the second thought, don't listen.  Not telling him about his precious truck; no, definitely not.~

Daniel also opted to ignore Jack's outcries while he brought in the groceries.  Unfortunately, the bags full of food had already had an extra long stay in the truck because of the accident.  Continuing to ignore the profanities spilling out of the bedroom, Daniel put the groceries away and pondered what to prepare for dinner.  He still hadn't responded to his bellowing lover as he considered the various dinner options.

He would have preferred to make use of the fresh vegetables he had just purchased, but he was too tired to bother.  Instead, he opened a can of corn and spinach.

“I'm Popeye the Sailor Man,” Daniel sang as he poured the contents into a saucepan.  “Crap, Jack, I'm sounding like you now.”

With the corn and spinach warming over a low burner, he put a pre-cooked meat loaf into the oven, and went upstairs to face the grizzly bear in its den.

====

“You can stop bellowing now, Jack, I'm here,” Daniel said with his arms folded across his chest as he stood near the dresser just inside the bedroom.

“It's about friggin' time, Daniel,” Jack intoned angrily.  “Where the heck have you been?  I've been calling you for hours.”

“Sorry, Jack, but there was a power outage while we were gone; everything we had was rotten, so I went to the store.  It was crowded, and, ah, it ... took longer than I thought it would.”

Jack sat up on his elbows, daggers flying from his brown eyes.

“And you couldn't tell me before you left?  It would have been the polite thing to do, you know.”

~Nope, definitely not telling him about the truck.~  “You were asleep, Jack, and you needed to rest.  Besides, I left you a note.”

“I could have rested after you told me you were leaving.  Geez, Daniel, I didn't know what had happened.  You could have been down there, dead or something,” Jack said as he shifted back down, relaxing his arms a bit.

“I said I left you a note.  Have you lost your hearing along with your common sense, though I know it's a stretch to think you *have* any ... common sense, that is.”

“I'm going to ignore that, Daniel,” Jack scowled, “And instead just ask WHAT FRIGGIN' NOTE ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?”

“The note I left ...”

Jack cut his lover off.

“What note?  I don't see a note.”  Jack flung his arms all around the bed and nightstand to demonstrate the absence of any note.  “There is *nothing* here, Daniel.”

Daniel looked around and sighed.  He walked over to the space between the bed and the closet.  There, on the floor, almost under the bed was the note.  He stooped over, picked it up, and handed it to his upset lover.

“I left it on my side of the bed.  You must have knocked it off while moving around in your sleep.”

“You are not blaming this on me, Daniel.  You could have pinned the note to my chest, or done something.”

“Jack, you rarely move around like that when you sleep.”

“Well, I did this time, or maybe you wanted me to be worried,” the older man growled, protectively folding his arms in front of him as he stared up at the ceiling.

“Now, you're not making sense.”

“Daniel, I was worried about you; I thought the worst.”

“Right,” Daniel said in an exasperated tone, not believing a word of it.  He quickly added, “And if you really thought I was dead or something, Jack, then why are you still lying in bed?”

“What kind of a question is that?”

Daniel shook his head, walked over to Jack with a tiny smile, and kissed him.  Despite wanting to be angry with his lover's childish display, the small smile remained on his lips as his heart spoke next, not his exasperated mind.

“Jack, if you really thought I was dead or something, there's not a force in the world that would have kept you on this bed, and you know it.  So do I.”

Daniel paused, momentarily enjoying the feeling circulating within him, knowing that Jack would never let anything keep him from getting to Daniel if he thought something was truly wrong.

Daniel's hand reached over to Jack's, his middle finger lightly running down Jack's palm in repetitive mini-strokes.

“You're just being cranky, that's all.  Um, dinner is cooking, so do you, uh, want to ...” Daniel nodded towards the bathroom.

“That would be a good idea.  Nature's been calling for a while, Daniel.  I ... needed you,” Jack said, his voice airing his vulnerability.

Daniel laughed at Jack's depiction of his plight.  They both knew Jack could easily make it to the bathroom if he had to.

~This is going to be a long weekend.~  He looked up briefly.  ~Give me strength,~ Daniel begged the heavens as he helped Jack take care of nature's calling.

====

“I don't freakin' believe this.  What's wrong with this thing?”

Daniel stared, willing the burners and oven to work, but nothing happened.  The corn, spinach, and meat loaf were in exactly the same non-edible state they had been in twenty minutes ago when he had gone upstairs to take care of Jack.

“Great.  Just great.  Who needs you anyway?” he barked at the inanimate object, kicking it with his foot.

He took the meat loaf and placed it in the microwave with a frown on his face.  He detested nuked meat.  Warming something up was one thing, but cooking it, even a pre-cooked item, in the microwave grossed him out.  Jack wasn't fond of it either.

~Well, what Jack doesn't know ... Jack doesn't know!~

Completely frustrated and not thinking totally clearly, Daniel tossed the corn and spinach, and pulled out some lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, celery, and other items to fix a salad.

“DANNNNNNNNNIELLLLLLLLL!” and a crash distracted the young man from his preparations.

“Oh shhhhhhhhhhhhh...” Daniel yelped, blood oozing from his finger.

He grabbed a paper towel, placing it around his bleeding digit, and hurried up the stairs, concerned Jack had injured himself further.

A quick glance assured him that Jack hadn't suffered any more injuries, except perhaps to his dignity.  The tough Special Ops Colonel was lying prone on the floor, magazines, pens, and other items sprawled all around him after his fall had knocked everything but the lamp off the nightstand.  He was looking up at Daniel with a mixture of sheepishness and indignation.

“Jack, what are you doing?”

“I was trying to get a magazine, something, to keep my mind occupied since you are anywhere but here,” Jack grumbled as he managed to twist himself around so that he was on his backside.

“Jack, I'm making dinner to ... stop that!”

Daniel pointed to Jack's stomach that growled right on cue.

“Well, you could check on a guy now and then,” Jack barked.

“It's only been fifteen minutes, Jack.  Just ... stay there.  I'll be right back.”

Daniel walked into the bathroom.

“Wait!  Where are you going?” Jack asked, but not getting a response as quickly as he wanted.  Frustrated, he called out harshly, “Daniel, answer me!”

“Gee, Jack, I'm sorry.  I didn't think you'd want blood all over your white pajamas.  If you'd rather have a red design, then fine, tell me, and I'll forget the Band-Aid and help you up this second.”

“Band-Aid?  Danny, are you okay? What happened?”

“Just hold your horses, Jack.  I'll be there in a second.”

Daniel cleaned the cut and reached into the cupboard to grab a Band-Aid.  Fortunately, he knew they had a new box.  Jack had used the last one before their latest round of missions, but had purchased a new supply just before they'd gone off-world.

“Oh, for crying out loud, Jack.”

Jack couldn't help himself.  He laughed, for the first time all day.  

“Sorry, Danny.”

“Fred Flintstone?” Daniel asked as he ambled towards the bed, holding his bandaged finger up, a picture of Fred clearly visible.

“Yabba dabba do!”

“Well, at least it isn't Homer Simpson.”

“Next time, Dannyboy,” Jack said with a big smile.

Daniel again looked up to the heavens and spoke the same words he had thought less than an hour earlier -- “Give me strength.”  Then he looked back at Jack.  “I am so NOT going to the SGC or out in public anywhere with Fred on my finger, Jack, so you'd better hope we don't need anything outside of this house for awhile.”

“I'll put Barney on my finger as a symbol of unity.”

“Right.”  Daniel got Jack back into bed, picked up the fallen items, and handed Jack his magazines. “Dinner should be done in a minute,” he said as he started for the hallway.

“Danny, wait,” Jack called out seriously.  “What happened to your finger?”

Daniel was about to give a flippant response that equaled how he felt at the moment, but his mouth was slammed shut by the genuine concern he saw in his lover's eyes.  He felt so conflicted.  For the last forty-eight hours, he and Jack had fluctuated back and forth between loving 'never going to let you go' moments and hurtful 'I'm going to kill you now' moments.  One minute their words were a light banter, and the next a harsh bickering.

“I heard a crash and got distracted while I was chopping the celery.”

“Daniel ...”

“Don't start, Jack.”

“Geez, Daniel, you don't get distracted while holding a knife.”

“You do when you hear a mule bellowing your name.”

“Mule?”

“More polite than the other word I was thinking.”

“I am not a mule, or that other word.”

“Are, too,” the archaeologist insisted.

“Am not.  I'm loveable,” Jack said, a grin on his face.

“Cranky.”

“Wounded.”

“Cry baby.”

“In need of TLC.”

“Taking advantage,” the young man said softly, but with a bit of distance in his tone, a distance from a day going completely haywire and weeks of weariness.

“Is it working?”

“No, but,” Daniel paused, then sighed, and looked at his lover with another little smile, “but I love you anyway, and now I am going downstairs now.”

“Love you, too, Fred,” Jack shouted as Daniel retreated down the stairs.

“Ditto ... Wilma!”

“Ouch,” Jack laughed.

====

“No baked potato?”

“No time for a baked spud, Jack.  Eat your food and stop complaining.”

“I'm not complaining, but you know I like potatoes with my meat.”

“Want some chips?”

“No, Daniel, I wanted a baked potato.”

“Well, you didn't tell me that.”

“You should know that already, Daniel.”

“I'm not a mind-reader, Jack.”

“You are with me, usually.”

“Well, right now, Jack, I don't particularly want to be ... in your mind, thank you.”

Jack turned his attention to the meat loaf, took a bite, and then gagged demonstratively.

“Danny, this is ... nuked!”

“Jack, just ... eat it.”

“Nuked, Danny?  I'd rather have Froot Loops.”

“Fine.”

Daniel had grown tired of arguing over food, so he disappeared briefly, and returned with an unopened box of Froot Loops.  He tossed it haphazardly onto the bed.

“Here you go, Jack.  Enjoy your dinner.”

Undaunted, Jack asked, “Where's my milk?”

“In the cow.”

~Snarky geek.~  “Danny, I need milk with my Froot Loops.”

“No, you don't, Jack.  Think of it like ... sushi.”

“Sushi?” Jack whined loudly.

“Yeah, raw Loops; that'll work.”

Daniel turned and walked towards the door.

“Where are you going?”

“To check the mail, if that's okay with you, or even if it's not!”

Jack grumbled, but it didn't do any good since Daniel had already gone downstairs.

====

Daniel rifled through the mail as quickly as possible, throwing the junk mail into a recycle pile, and separating their various magazines and flyers that might be of interest to either of them.

He stopped when he saw a letter to Jack from Sara.  Daniel wondered why she'd be writing.  He'd only met her briefly that one time, before he and Jack were lovers.  His emotions were jumbled.  He had to admit to a tinge of jealousy, a bunch of concern as to what she wanted, and loads of worry if Charlie was part of the reason for the writing and the grief that would bring to Jack.

He placed the letter in with Jack's other correspondence and continued sorting.  The last piece immediately got his attention, and when he opened it, he cursed in Abydonian as he tossed the “Notice of Loss of Service” onto the table.  He remembered specifically asking Jack to make sure he paid the electric bill before they headed off on that Aris Boch fiasco.  Jack had assured him he'd take care of it.

~Guess you forgot, Jack.~

They'd been given forty-eight hours to pay the bill, and the forty-eight hours would be up tomorrow at noon.

Daniel was so tired.  The last few weeks had been very busy, one mission after the other, and in between, Jack had been called to Washington twice and to places of undisclosed origins twice, and he himself had been 'asked' in an ordered-type of way to accompany SG-11, SG-8, and SG-3 each on individual missions.

The result was that they'd had very little time for the two of them together, except for their SG-1 missions.  The house had been ignored completely, which explained the bad food, the stack of mail, and unpaid bills.

Daniel wouldn't admit it, but he wasn't feeling so well himself, and hadn't been for the last week.  He figured it was only the usual overwork fatigue, but in his most honest inner moments, he knew he was probably coming down with some virus or something.  He didn't want to think about it, not now with Jack injured.

~Stupid, insane, ridiculous injury.  It was dumb, Jack.~

The more he thought about it, the more Jack's injury grated on him; the whole thing had been absurd.  SG-1 had been returning to the Stargate after having finally convinced a group of kids that Apophis was a dead false god.  Jack had been harping on and on about Aris Boch when he had tripped over a rock and lost his balance.  He rolled down a hill and collided into a giant oak tree.  His ankle had gotten the worst of it, fortunately, and in a few days, Jack would be fine.  In the meantime, Daniel needed to keep it iced and elevated to ...

“Oh, for crying out loud,” Daniel chided himself.

He had totally forgotten Janet's instructions because of the food and kitchen disasters.  Muttering in Egyptian, Daniel went upstairs.

“Thought you were avoiding me.”

“No, just going through the mail.  I told you that, Jack.”

“Must be a lot of mail.  You've been gone,” Jack looked at the clock, “Forty-nine minutes.”

“Didn't know you were timing me.”

“I wasn't timing you.”

“Forty-nine minutes?”

“Okay, so I was timing you.  I ... missed you.”

Ignoring the attempt at reconciliation, Daniel said, “We need to elevate your ankle and put an ice pack on it.  I forgot.  We should have done that right away.”

“That's it?  I tell you I missed you, and you ignore me and act like Fraiser.”

“Jack, your ankle is swollen because I didn't do what I should have done when we got home.  Please let me do this before something worse happens.”

“Fine, Daniel.”

Totally disgusted by Daniel's failure to fall into his arms after his remark, Jack crossed his arms and looked away.

Daniel put three pillows under Jack's injured ankle, and then got the ice pack.

“Hey, that's cold,” Jack complained, lowering his hands to the bed and staring at his foot.

“It's supposed to be.”

“And that makes it all right?”

Daniel shook his head, silently counting to ten.

“Do you need anything, Jack?”

“Why?  You leaving?”

Daniel glared at his lover, tempted to say, “Yes, as fast as I can,” but instead he took a deep breath and answered, “Laundry and to pay the bills that haven't been paid.  Call me if you need me.”

====

The young man opted for the bills first.  He wanted to sit for a while, so he took the bills into the study and wrote the necessary checks, making note of them as he went along in the record book he and Jack kept.  Because of their jobs, and the necessity of keeping their relationship a secret, they didn't have a joint account, but had agreed on who paid what each month.

Daniel prepared his half of the pile for mailing, then worked on Jack's, so all Jack would have to do was sign the checks.

He took his bills and put them on the entrance table next to his keys so he wouldn't forget them the next day.  He left the electric bill on top.  It would need to be paid first thing in the morning, and in person.

He took the pile he'd prepared for Jack and put it with the rest of Jack's mail.

~Sara's letter; I should take it to him.~  He started to move towards the stairs, but then he stopped.  ~What do you want, Sara?  You can't have him back.  He's mine.  He's ... you can't.  Gawd, what if you want him back?~

He sat down on the sofa, leaning his head against the cushion so that he was staring at the ceiling.

~What if you want him back?~  His mind kept asking Sara the question. ~He's ... mine; that's what he tells me, and I'll ... I'll fight you for him.  Of course, if you want him today, he's all yours.~  Daniel stared at the letter.  ~No, as Jack says, I'm just having a bad day.  Still, I should take the grouch his mail.~

Daniel stood up, all the mail in his hands, and took one step up the stairs before coming to an abrupt halt.  He just didn't have the energy for another round of bickering with his soulmate and sometimes sparring partner.  Instead, he decided he'd better get the laundry started.  They hadn't washed their clothes in weeks, and were down to having practically nothing clean to wear.

Daniel went to the garage where the washer and dryer were located, and sorted through all their dirty clothes, preparing the different loads.  He wished as he did so that he was one of those bachelor types who didn't care or know about warm versus cold, or delicate versus normal, and the effects it had on the wash, but he did, so he sat there, minute after precious minute, meticulously sorting the clothes into their proper piles.

He began the first batch, which included their underwear, and went back into the house.

~Okay, Jackson, you can't avoid it any longer.  Just ... get it over with.~

He hesitantly picked up the pile of mail and plodded up the stairs.

====

“Laundry done?”

“First load is on.”

“First?  Geez, Danny, you've been gone forever.  I would have thought you'd have it done and folded by now.”

Daniel didn't say anything.  He put the mail on the dresser and walked over to the nightstand near Jack.

“How's the pain, Jack, and don't exaggerate!”

“It hurts, how do you think it feels?”

“Janet said to give you some Vicodin if the pain was bad.  Do you want some, or just Tylenol?”

“Bring on the Vicodin, on the rocks, and make it a double.”

Daniel rolled his eyes as he gave Jack the medication.

“Is that the mail?” Jack nodded towards the pile on the dresser.

With a sigh, Daniel rose and picked it up.

“Yes.  Here you need to sign these first.”

“Let me see ...”

“No, Jack, just ... the bills are all due or past due.  I need to mail them first thing in the morning, and don't want ... distractions, so ...”

“Distractions.  Daniel, I want to see my mail.”

“Jack, SIGN THE DARN checks.  Now!  Please.”

Jack grunted, frantically signing the checks without even looking at them.  When he was finished, he threw the pen down on the bed towards Daniel with a last groan.

“Happy now?”

“No, but at least they won't turn off the water, too.”

Daniel put the pen on the nightstand, stood up, and picked up the checks.  He then placed the rest of the mail on the bed next to Jack.

“Here's your mail.  I'm going to stamp these, and ... I'll ... be ...”

He never finished his sentence.  Daniel hurried out the room, leaving Jack wondering what was going on in the mind of his lover, aside from wanting to kill Jack for being an inconsiderate moron.

Jack took a glance at the publications, the ads, and then the assortment of letters.  Most were business, or from Air Force buddies, and then he saw the letter from Sara.

“Awww, Danny,” he spoke as he stared at the yellow envelope.

====

“Friggin' crutches,” Jack barked as he banged his ankle for the fifth time while going down the stairs.

His anger dissipated in an instant when he saw Daniel sitting on the patio steps in the backyard.  He looked so ... ~alone; alone and ... abandoned.~  “Never, Danny,” Jack affirmed softly.

Jack opened the patio door and realized Daniel was so inside himself that he didn't even hear him.

“How about a little help?”

“Jack?  JACK!  What the HECK do you think you're doing out here?”

“I need to talk to you.  Didn't figure you'd be coming up for a while, and I was right, wasn't I?”

Daniel stood up and helped Jack sit on the patio steps next to him.  Jack groaned a few times, but finally got seated comfortably.

“Your ankle is just going to get worse, Jack.”

“It's only an ankle, Daniel.”

They sat in silence for several long minutes, not looking at each other, not even touching.

“She's ... she's getting married again.  She wanted me to know; wrote three pages about his virtues and assets.”  Jack let out a nervous laugh.  “She even invited me to the wedding.  Do you believe that?”

“She ... still loves you, Jack.”

“I love her, too, but ... we lost our chance, Danny, and then I found you.”  Daniel hung his head.  Jack reached out and gently massaged Daniel's nape for a moment before he lowered his hand to Daniel's back.  “I love Sara, Daniel, but it's not the same.  It's not even close.  We, Sara and I, were good, but after Charlie, whatever was there, disappeared.  We didn't protect it.  We let it slip away, but we, you and I, Danny, we're more than that; we're part of each other in a way I never even imagined was possible, and we're forever, Danny ... as long as that's what you want.”

“Maybe ... we might just ... slip away, too.”

“No, we won't let that happen.”

Daniel looked at Jack.

“Are you so sure, Jack?  Sometimes ... sometimes I think we do a lousy job of ... protecting it.”

Daniel's voice was weary, and Jack saw the fear in his lover's eyes that they were falling apart.

~We're just having a really bad day.~  Jack glided his hand to find Daniel's and held on to it tightly.  “Then we work harder on protecting it, because I don't intend to lose you, not now, not ever, unless you decide you don't want this anymore; but for me, you're it, Danny.  I know we've had a hard day.  Who am I kidding?  We've had a bad month, a really bad month.  I'm sorry, Love.”

Jack leaned forward and kissed Daniel, his other hand going around Daniel's neck, pulling him towards him.

“I love you, Danny.  Don't ever forget that, especially when I'm being a jerk.”

“Like today?”

“Yeah, especially today, and tomorrow, and the day after.”

“You would think, Jack, that if you knew you were being a jerk, that you could stop it.”

“And ruin my reputation?”

“It sure would make my life easier.”

“But look at all the fun we'd miss out on?”

“What fun is that, Jack?  This hasn't been my idea of fun at all.”

“We haven't gotten to the make-up sex yet.”

“Jack, we haven't gotten to sex of any kind ... in ... weeks.”

Jack laughed as he pulled Daniel into him, suppressing a loud, inner “ouch” when he moved his ankle, banging it against the step.

“Soon, Danny, very soon.”

“We'd better, O'Neill.”

“Love you, Space Monkey.”

“Jack, do you really think using ridiculous nicknames makes me feel better?”

“Yes, absolutely, totally convinced.”

“You're nuts, but ... good nuts.”  Daniel rolled his eyes and rested his head against Jack's shoulder.  It was the calmest he had felt in days, and the most peaceful in two weeks.  He missed this, just being held by Jack.  ~Too much time apart.~

“Hey, Danny, you feeling okay?  You feel a little warm.”

“I'm fine.  It's just all the running around today.  I'm tired, that's all.”

“How about helping an old man back to bed then?”

“You're not old, Jack, and I'd better.  I'm surprised you didn't fall and break your leg coming down the stairs in the first place.”

“It's amazing what you can do when you're motivated,” Jack observed as Daniel pulled him up.

They were standing so close to each other, their hands on the other's waist.

“Motivated?”

“I love you, Danny, more than life, and I needed to remind you of that.”

Daniel eased gently towards Jack and kissed him, their bodies awakening in a hunger for more.

“Crap!”

“Crap, Daniel?”

“We ... can't Jack.”

“Its my ankle, Daniel.  I think we can work around my ankle.”

“Jack, I'm ... tired ... and I haven't even ... oh, Jack, my fish.  Two weeks, Jack.”

Daniel spun around and dashed into the house.

Jack managed to get his crutches and hobble in a couple minutes later, only to see the dejected demeanor of his lover.

~Dead fish.~  Neither he nor Daniel had been in the house much during the past two weeks, and the fish had been forgotten.  “I'm sorry, Danny.  We'll get some new ones this week.”

Jack used his crutches to make his way over to his self-hugging, silent linguist, then let the crutches fall against the floor, and wrapped his arms around Daniel.

“I'm really sorry, Danny.”  Daniel continued to stare at the dead fish in the aquarium.  “I love you, Danny.”  When Daniel still didn't react, Jack decided on a more aggressive action.  “Come on,” he said as he forcibly spun his lover around to face him.

Jack saw the sadness and frustration on Daniel's face, and he knew there was nothing he could say that was going to make it better, so he opted for the next best thing.  He pulled Daniel into his arms and held him, firmly, lovingly, and possessively.  Daniel didn't resist and easily fell into the embrace, his head automatically snuggling into its usual place on Jack's shoulder.

Jack thought to himself how naturally they fit together, as if they were built just for moments like these.

~Never going to let you go, Danny,~ Jack vowed inwardly.

A few minutes later, Daniel finally remembered that Jack was supposed to be keeping his ankle elevated and that no doubt, his lover was in a bit of pain standing there, holding him like this for so long.

“Crap,” Daniel said aloud without realizing it.

Jack laughed.

“Yeah, I guess that's a good word for this day.”

Daniel pulled back.

“Your ankle, Jack.  It's going to swell, and it's my fault.”

Jack saw the guilt monster invading his partner.

“Not your fault.  I'm a grown-up.  I decided to come downstairs, and I decided to be here right now, and I don't regret either decision.”

“It's still because of me.”

“Danny, when you love someone, everything you do is for them.  You can't second guess that.”

“I love you, Jack.”

“Love you, too, but if you don't mind, I think that elevated thing and that ice pack might not be such a bad idea after all.”

Daniel flung his arms around Jack's neck, his fingers entangling themselves in Jack's gray hair, as he kissed him.  The kiss sent a lightning bolt through Daniel's body.  He wanted Jack so darn much, but knew they needed to wait a while longer.

“Or we could do the make-up sex now.”

“Not now, Jack.”

“Then what was that about?”

“I ... wanted to kiss you.  You object?”

“Oh no, never; not on your life, or mine; nope, nadda; no objections whatsoever.  In fact, do it again, anytime; right now even.”

Daniel laughed and kissed his heart again.  There was a promise of forever in the kiss that made Jack shiver.

“Come on, Lover Boy, get me upstairs,” Jack quipped when their kissed ceased.

“Anything you say, Fly Boy.”

Daniel began helping Jack back up to their bedroom.

“Love flying, especially with you, Plant Boy.”

“Cranky Boy.”

“Rock Boy.”

“Sarcastic S.O.B. Boy”

“Boy Toy.”

“Jack!”

“Love you, only you, Danny.”

“You think that's going to get you out of that boy toy line?”

“Nope, but I figure it's a temporary substitute until we get to the make-up sex.”

====

Back in bed, Jack let Daniel put the pillows under his ankle once again, replace the ice pack, and give him some more Vicodin.  Daniel placed a gentle kiss on Jack's forehead.

“I love you, Jack,” he said.

He went back downstairs to start a second load of laundry, putting the just-washed clothes into the dryer.  Then he returned inside the house, reverently taking the dead fish out of the tank and disposing of them.

“I'm sorry,” he said, apologizing for their lack of care over the past few weeks that led to their demise.

Next, he sealed up the bills with the checks Jack had signed and placed them with the others so he could mail them the next morning.

Considering it the perfect opportunity, fish tragedy excluded, Daniel decided to completely clean out the aquarium, but as he began his work, he realized the water level was lower than it should be.

~There must be a leak.  Dead fish are lucky they didn't suffocate.~

It was truly turning into a bad, bad day.  

He pinpointed the spot he thought was the source of the leak and began to gather up the items he would need to fix it -- a felt marker to mark the spot for easy recognition as he worked, paper towels to totally dry the area where the leak was, a razor blade to scrape away the existing silicone, acetone to clean the scraped area, and sealant to repair the leak.

Daniel got so far as to mark the spot when Jack yet again yelled, “DANNNNNNNNNIELLLLLLLLL!”

Daniel sighed as he walked slowly up the stairs.

~When did my name add eight N's and L's to it?~  “Yes, Jack?  What do you need?”

“Food for starters.  I'm hungry, and not nuked food, Daniel, REAL food.”

“Jack, it's late.  How about ... a sandwich?”

“I want hot food!”

“Fine, I'll ... order a pizza.  Pepperoni or supreme?”

“Steak, with all the fixings.”

“Jack, pepperoni or supreme?”

“Catsup, steak sauce, and butter.”

“I'm not fixing steak, Jack.  It's late.”

“Well, if you hadn't nuked the stuff, earlier, then ...”

“Fine, Jack.”

Daniel turned and walked out.

“DANNNNNNNNNIELLLLLLLLL!”

Daniel sank to the bottom of the stairs for a minute, and listened as Jack yelled his name every ten seconds, cursing in between.  With a sigh, he stood up and went back into the bedroom.

“Where'd you go?”

“You said you were hungry.  How can I get you food if I stay here?”

“Well, you need to help me first.”

“Help you do what?”

“You know.”

Daniel shook his head as he moved towards Jack and helped him into the bathroom.  A few minutes later, he had Jack back onto the bed, pillows in place, and a new ice pack on his ankle.

As Daniel started to exit the room, Jack warned, “Real food, Daniel.”

“Yes, Jack.”

And as Daniel got out of Jack's hearing range, he added, “And it's a good thing I love you, or I'd kill you myself.”

Daniel picked up his keys and walked out the door.

====

One hour later, Daniel returned and was immediately greeted by the now customary “DANNNNNNNNNIELLLLLLLLL” yell of the past several hours.  He stopped by the kitchen to pick up some utensils and napkins, and a breakfast tray.  He took out all the food, and spread it out neatly.  He reviewed it carefully, making sure not to miss anything Jack might want.

At the last minute, he remembered a beverage and grabbed a bottle of root beer from the refrigerator before he headed up stairs.

“Why didn't you answer me?”

“I was getting your dinner, *real* food, Jack, just as you requested.”

“Where from ... the Steaksmith?”

“As a matter of fact, yes.  Here's your filet, rare, baked potato, stuffed shrimp, and ... well, everything you like, Jack; and here's a drink.  Eat, drink, be merry, and please be quiet, just for a while ... please.”

“Root beer?  Where's my beer?  I WANT BEER.”

“Well, you can't have any; you're on pain medication, Jack.”

“I don't friggin' care.  I want my beer -- NOW, Daniel.”

“No,” Daniel said firmly, starring Jack down.

“Dictator,” Jack mumbled.

“What was that?” Daniel asked.

“I said ... Daniel, why did you go the Steaksmith when we have steak and a perfectly good oven range here?”

“It's not working,” Daniel finally admitted.

“Why not?”

“Jack, I don't know why not.  We can worry about it later.  Just ... eat, before it gets cold.”

“You could have told me, Daniel, and where's your food?”

“I'm ... not hungry.”

“Daniel, you need to eat something.”

“I ... ate something ... earlier.”

“What, and when?”

“Jack, I'm not a child.”

“Ah, the power bar on that planet, right?  No need to answer, I know I'm right.  Eat, Daniel, and that's an order.”

Daniel glared at Jack.

“We're at home, Jack.  You can't order me to do anything ... at home.”

“I certainly can and am ... EAT.”

“Fine.”

Daniel stalked over to Jack's bed and grabbed one of the little shrimps and ate it.

“I ate.  Now, excuse me, I have to fix the leak in the aquarium, not that it matters since the fish are DEAD.”

====

“Danny?”  Two hours had gone by and Jack hadn't heard a sound from downstairs.  His yells had been ignored.  ~Maybe he fell asleep downstairs,~ Jack tried to tell his subconscious, but it didn't work.

He flashed back to his earlier conversation with Daniel, how his lover knew that if Jack were truly concerned about Daniel's well being, nothing would keep him upstairs.  Jack's heart swelled; Daniel was right, and now, Jack was a little worried.  Even if Daniel were angry, he wouldn't have ignored Jack for so long.

Jack cursed as he tossed off the ice pack, grabbed his crutches, and once again made his way down the stairs.

“Danny?”

Nothing but silence.

Jack saw the aquarium, apparently repaired, the water level again back up to the top.  He went to the patio, thinking Daniel might have gone up to the roof deck, but the patio door was locked.

~Ah, the study I bet.~  Jack hobbled to the study, but the lights were out, the computer was off, and there was no sign of his lover anywhere. “Danny?”

This time the call was not curiosity over where Daniel was, but was one of deep concern.

Jack looked out the front, and panicked when he saw Daniel's car was gone, until he remembered the car was in the shop “for the second time in two weeks; you need a new car, Danny,” Jack admonished to thin air.

The colonel decided he would check the front yard thinking Daniel might have gone outside and was talking with one of their neighbors, probably Mrs. Valissi who was a self-proclaimed night owl just like Daniel.  It's how Mrs. Valissi had met Daniel, even before Jack and Daniel were lovers.

//Flashback//
Their chess game concluded and seeing the time, Jack suggested, “It's too late to go to your apartment; just stay the night.”

“Well ...”

“Daniel, stay, and that's an order,” Jack stated firmly.

“You and your orders, Jack,” Daniel admonished lightly.

“Humor me.”

Daniel chuckled, then agreed to stay, but he had some things he needed to do on the computer, so he went outside to retrieve his laptop from his car.  Opening his trunk, the archaeologist was lost in thought as he planned out his research for the night.

“Hello.”

The voice sounded thundering loud to Daniel, so much so that he startled, even jumping back a little from the car.  He felt terribly embarrassed when instead of some alien Goa'uld standing in front of him, there was a nice looking older woman.  He'd seen her before, many times.  In fact, they'd waved at each or said a courteous 'hello' in passing, but they'd never actually talked.  He guessed she was in her late fifties or early sixties, but she was definitely fit, and he really couldn't tell her age.

“I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you,” the woman spoke apologetically.

“Oh, that's all right.  Uh, I'm Daniel Jackson.”

Warmly, she replied, “It's a pleasure to meet you, Mister Jackson.”

“Tech...technically, it's, uh, Doctor,” the bashful genius corrected.

“Oh.”

“Archaeology and anthropology and ... um, anyway, doctor,” Daniel clarified.

The woman laughed warmly, and said, “I'm Sophia Valissi.”  Pointing, she added. “I live two houses down.  I've seen you here several times.”

“I'm a friend of Jack's,” Daniel explained.  “We, uh, work together.”

“That must be exciting.  Well, I won't keep you.”

“It's late, Mrs. Valissi.  Did you need help with anything?” the archaeologist asked.

“No, no.  I love to walk, especially at night.  It clears my mind, and I love the fresh air and the quiet of the night.”

Nodding, Daniel spoke, “It was good to meet you.”

“You, too.  Goodnight, Doctor Jackson.”

Daniel watched her walk away, but he didn't feel right about letting her walk alone.  He left his laptop in the trunk, forgetting to close the trunk, and hurried after her.

“Um, Mrs. Valissi, I wouldn't mind a walk.  I've been sitting all night.  Would it be all right if I accompanied you?” Daniel asked with a polite smile.

“You're a sweet, young man.  It would be a pleasure.”

====

Ten minutes later, Jack glanced at his watch, realizing Daniel had been gone way too long.  Concerned, he went outside, and became even more alarmed when Daniel's car sat undisturbed in his driveway, except for the open trunk.  Not knowing what to think, Jack closed the trunk and began to search the neighborhood.

Unfortunately for Jack, he picked the wrong direction and walked the opposite way from the route Daniel and his neighbor had taken.  It was thirty-five minutes later, just before he was about to call the police, when he heard his friend laughing.  As he got closer, he realized Daniel was chatting with his charismatic neighbor on her porch.

Jack looked at his watch, noting it was one in the morning and thought, ~I may kill him.~  “Everything okay out here?” he asked as he joined the two.

“Colonel O'Neill, how are you?”

“Fine, Ma'am; was a little concerned about Daniel here,” Daniel stated, giving his friend a stern look of rebuke.  “I thought maybe some aliens had come and beamed you up, Daniel.”

The two shared a secret smile that Mrs. Valissi noticed, but didn't ask about.

“You've been watching too many 'Star Trek' reruns, Jack,” Daniel replied.

Jack shrugged and responded, “You have to admit that you sort of disappeared on me, Daniel.”

“Oh, yeah, I'm, uh, sorry about that, Jack.  I went to get the laptop, met Mrs. Valissi when she passed by, and I just didn't feel right about her being out alone this late.”

“Just like my son, another worrywart.  I'm fine; I know karate.”  Mrs. Valissi laughed as she continued, “But it is late.  I'm sorry if I took him away from you, Colonel, but he is a joy, isn't he?”

“Yeah, a real bundle of joy, except when he gets lost,” the colonel quipped.

“Jack!”

“I'm glad I finally got to meet you, Daniel,” Mrs. Valissi spoke after a short chuckle in response to the antics of the two men.  She looked at Jack and added, “I told Daniel I've seen him at your home many times and that I was surprised we hadn't actually met formally until tonight.”

The colonel explained, “Daniel had been out of the country for a while, so when he came back, he bunked in my spare room until he could find his own place.”

“So, Daniel told me earlier,” Mrs. Valissi acknowledged with a sweet smile.  Then she requested, “Come down and visit me sometime, will you, both of you?”

“Sure.  We ... I'll do that,” Daniel said, not sure how to respond.  When he looked at Jack, he could have sworn Jack was blushing a little, but he couldn't figure out why that would be.  ~It's my imagination.~

Just as the woman was about to close the door, she suddenly exclaimed, “You look like a man who enjoys a good brownie, Doctor Jackson.”

As Daniel looked down shyly, Jack retorted, “Mrs. Valissi, Daniel swears by chocolate -- chocolate anything.”

“Good.  Wait right here,” Mrs. Valissi requested.  A minute later, the Italian woman walked out with a plate full of brownies wrapped in foil.  She handed them to Daniel, saying, “You take these home and enjoy.”

“But you must have made these for ...”

Mrs. Valissi cut off the man's objections, saying, “Daniel, I always make them out of love, and share them when I can.  Please, enjoy.”

“Thank you, Ma'am,” Daniel spoke appreciatively.

After a few more moments of conversation, Jack and Daniel made sure Mrs. Valissi locked her door before leisurely strolling back to the house.  It was a beautiful night, and Jack seemed in no hurry.  He also seemed far off, a bit distant.

“Jack, I'm ... sorry if I worried you.”

“You did, Danny, but I understand.  You're a good neighbor to have around.  In fact, I think Mrs. Valissi just adopted you,” the older man said, smiling.

“You really were worried,” Daniel spoke, a statement that was also a question.

“Who me?” Jack asked, dramatically putting his hands to his chest.  “My best friend goes outside to get something from his car that should take two minutes.  Ten minutes later I go check on him, and he's nowhere to be found, but the trunk of the car is open.”

“It is?  Gawd.”

Jack shook his head and continued, “And then I spend thirty-five minutes looking for the aforementioned best friend until I'm so worried I figure it's time to call the police.  Worry?  Me?  Would you be?”

“I'm sorry, Jack.”

Jack ruffled Daniel's hair just as they approached Daniel's car and spoke, “Just stay safe, Danny, okay?” as he patted his friend's back quickly.

“Okay, Jack,” Daniel agreed, bowing his head, feeling a bit embarrassed at the caring being shown to him.

“Get your laptop, and let's go have a beer,” Jack suggested.

====

A few minutes later, inside the house, Daniel placed the plate of brownies on the counter.  Carefully, he took one to sample while Jack grabbed the beers.

“These are great, Jack.  Have one,” the younger man invited.

Jack did as requested, then agreed, “You're right,” as he stuffed a brownie into his mouth and chewed.  “Rrry ood.”

“What?”

Swallowing, Jack said, “Very good.”

“Oh,” Daniel laughed.
//End of Flashback//

Standing at the edge of the sidewalk, Jack smiled at the remembrance, and then it hit him.

“I wonder if she knows, or was that just me wishing someone knew.  I hate this hiding, Danny.  Danny?”

Jack's conversation with himself had ceased when he remembered why he was standing outside in the middle of the night.  He heard no sounds and didn't see any sign of his lover, so he turned intending to go back into the house, and that's when he saw his truck.

Jack loved his truck.  It was his joy, his hobby, his baby.  There were only a few things he really cared about.  Daniel, of course, was at the top of the list, but then there was his house, the cabin, truck, telescope, hockey, and pizza nights.  Now, here was his baby, his beautiful black Avalanche, hurt!

His pulse raced with anxiety and tension.  He almost yelled Daniel's name, but he quickly remembered it was almost midnight.

Jack returned to the house.

“Daniel, answer me.  Danny?”

At this moment, Jack wasn't sure which was ruling him, anger about the truck, or concern for his wayward archaeologist.  Then, seeing the fish tank, the anger left him.

“It's only ... a truck,” he told the dearly departed fish ~wherever you may be.~

Jack needed help and didn't want to wait any longer, so he picked up the phone, and started to call Sam, but then he remembered the one spot he hadn't checked yet.  Putting the phone down, Jack went to the garage.

Opening the door, he saw his lover wet, sweaty, looking totally frustrated, and in a world of his own.  Since it took Jack several tries to attract Daniel's attention, it wasn't surprising that his earlier calls had been ignored.

“Danny, what's going on?”

“What does it look like, Jack?  The washer backed up, and, as you can see, I'm trying to fix it and keep the garage from being a pond so that it won't ruin your things.  Is that okay with you?”

Daniel never stopped his efforts, trying to get the water under control before it reached their boxes of stored items.  Actually, they were all Jack's things, mostly memorabilia of a life he'd left behind years ago.

“Danny, it's okay.  Come inside.”

“No, Jack, it's still leaking.  It'll just take a little longer.  Go back to bed.”

Jack watched for a moment.  Daniel was trying so hard to safeguard things Jack just didn't care about anymore.  What he did care about was the man who was exerting himself into exhaustion trying to protect those things, and it made Jack feel good to know Daniel cared so much, even on a bad day like today had been.

Jack spoke softly as Daniel worked so desperately, “Angel, please come inside the house.  That stuff doesn't matter.”

“It's ... important, Jack.  It's ... history and family ... and ... you have to protect it, Jack, cherish it and keep it safe, or ... or maybe it'll all disappear.”

“Daniel, didn't you turn off the water?”

Daniel looked at Jack as if he would kill him in the next sixty-seconds.  He closed his eyes, silently counting to ten.  Then he responded, “See that?”  He pointed to a small object on top of the dryer.  “That's the valve.  It broke, just like everything else around here today.”  Daniel threw his attention back to what he had been doing.  “These are important things; can't stop; have to protect them.”
 
Jack knew Daniel wouldn't stop, not of his own accord, so he threw down his crutches and carefully traversed his way through the puddle of water towards his distressed partner.  Daniel didn't notice, his focus on a bucket of water he was tossing outside.

As Daniel turned around, he saw Jack standing right in front of him.  Jack grabbed the bucket and set it down.  He looked around the garage and grabbed a couple of old blankets he often used to cover things and placed them near the draining washer and tub.

“Jack ...”

Jack grabbed Daniel's hand and drew him into a tight hug, holding him close.

“It's okay, Danny.  Thank you for looking out for my stuff, but the only thing I need to make sure is cherished and taken care of now is you.”

“But, Jack, if they get wet ...”

“Then they get wet.  Angel, you're exhausted; you've had a miserable day, and I haven't helped one bit.  It's time for bed.  We'll deal with whatever we have to tomorrow, and the next day.”

“But ...”

“No buts, Angel.  You're the most important thing in my life; it's time to keep you safe.”

Reluctantly, Daniel let Jack lead him back inside the house, but before he shut the door behind him, he took another look at the still-dripping water and started to go back out.

Jack reached out and took Daniel's hand again, shutting and locking the door.

“I need you, Danny, not those things.  Bed, now.”

====

Back in their room, Daniel took a quick shower, then changed into the brown flannel pajamas Jack had given him for Christmas.  They had pyramids on them that reminded Daniel of Egypt and his parents, and tonight, the idea of Jack losing precious memories of his family made Daniel think about his own mother and father who had died when he was eight-years-old.

Daniel helped Jack change into a dry pair of green pajamas and get into bed.  Then, he made sure Jack's pillows for his feet were in place and the ice pack readjusted.  Finally, he climbed into bed himself.  Both men were on their backs, separated by more distance than they had ever experienced in their little paradise.

“Danny, c'mere.”

Jack reached out his hand and massaged his lover's soft hair for a moment before the young man finally moved to rest in his normal position: his head on Jack's chest over his heart, one leg hooked in between Jack's, and his hand on Jack's chest playing with the little silver-gray hairs that most always aroused Daniel so much.

“Bad day, huh?”

“Hmm-mmm.”

“Tomorrow will be better.”

“If you say so, Jack.”

“Love you, Daniel.”

“You haven't seen your truck yet.”

Jack grazed the top of Daniel's head with his lips, planting a sweet peck of support on the soft hair his chin was nuzzled into.

“Yes, I have, when I went outside looking for you.”  Jack felt the muscles in Daniel's back constricting.  “You can tell me about it later.  It's ... not important.”

“It's ... not?”

“No, it's not,” Jack said firmly, adding, “but you are.  Go to sleep, Angel.  Everything can wait until later.”

“You'll yell at me tomorrow?”

“Maybe the day after tomorrow.  Don't want to rush it.”

Daniel smiled.

“I was worried there for a minute.”

“Don't worry.  I'll give you grief about it eventually.”

“Promise?”

“Oh yeah, I promise!  Sleep, Danny.  I love you.”

“Love you, too, Jack.”

====

When Daniel awoke the next morning, he hoped the last twenty-four hours had been a nightmare, but two minutes after waking, he knew it was very real.

“Oh, for crying out loud, Daniel we're out of toilet paper.”

Daniel put the pillow over his head.

“Daniel!”

“There's some in the truck, Jack.  I bought it yesterday.  Forgot to bring it in.”

“It's not doing me any good in the truck, Daniel.”

Daniel got up and slipped on a pair of sweats.  He and Jack both loved the comfortable attire, and had plenty of pairs to choose from all the time, that is, when the laundry was up to date, and that certainly wasn't today.  Having no choice, he put on the same gray pair of sweats that he had been wearing the day before.

“Be right back.”

Two minutes later, he returned with a new supply of the much-needed item and took it to the bathroom.

“I'm hungry, Danny.”

Daniel groaned, but compliantly went downstairs.  Breakfast for Jack was the easiest meal of the day.

Daniel smiled and chimed, “Froot Loops, the next best thing to sex according to Jack O'Neill.”

====

Having gotten Jack settled again, and happily chomping on his cereal, Daniel thought he'd spend some quality time with his journal and escape from the Twilight Zone of the past few weeks, except it wasn't in the nightstand where it should have been.  He spent the next fifteen minutes looking in all the usual places, but it wasn't anywhere to be found.

“Jack, have you seen my journal?”

“Nope.  Isn't it in your nightstand drawer?”

“No.”

“The study?”

“No.  I've looked everywhere.”

“Did you take it to the SGC?”

“No, Jack, not my personal journal.  Are you sure you didn't ...”

“Didn't what?  Daniel, I'd never read your journal, and you know it.  I haven't seen it.”

“Great.”

“Danny, it has to be here somewhere.  We've been gone so much.  It'll turn up.”

Daniel nodded.  He didn't want to argue.  He was tired of arguing.  It was practically all he and Jack had done since their return from the last planet P-whatever-it-was.  Daniel couldn't concentrate enough to remember the planet's designation.  He still wasn't hungry, and he knew he had a slight temperature, but he was confident it was just the stress.

He figured there would be no peace for him today, so he might as well tackle the washer.  He called the plumber, giving up on handling the job himself.  While he was at it, he called the electrician.

~The more the merrier!~

Already on his fourth cup of coffee, Daniel thought he'd quickly check email while he waited.  He wanted to relax, so opted to use his laptop instead of the desktop.  He reclined against the leather sofa in the study and powered on the computer.

He scanned the listing of emails, reaching for his coffee at the same time.  Opening an email from his friend Robert Rothman, Daniel took a sip of the hot brew, and leaned his head back to stretch.  He closed his eyes for just a moment, forgetting the coffee was in his hand.  He heard a noise outside the window that startled him, and he jumped, causing the coffee to spill over the laptop.

Daniel didn't even curse; he just watched, a blank expression on his face.  The coffee was seeping through the entire keyboard.  Finally, he unplugged it, set it on the floor, and then looked at the window at the meowing cat, shaking shook his head as he watched.

“Great, just great.  Startled by a cat!”

“Meow!”

Daniel glared, then shook his head rapidly, trying to rid himself of his frustration.

~I need some air, something, to get away from this nightmare.  Everything is going wrong; it's like some ... omen or something.~

Hoping physical exertion combined with fresh air would help, he went outside to do some gardening and other chores.

The lawn was definitely in need of mowing, so he took out the mower.

~This is better.~

Half way through, the mower 'coughed, suddenly ceasing to function. No sputtering, no lag; it simply died on the spot.

Daniel checked for gas, but found a full tank.  He checked the bag, and every piece of the motor he knew anything about, which frankly, wasn't much, but everything seemed in place and where it should be.  He tried again to restart the mower, but nothing happened.

~I'm cursed.~

As he put the mower back in the shed, he swore some more in Abydonian.

Emerging from the shed he looked at the half-mowed lawn, three inches on one half, smooth as silk on the other.  Daniel shook his head.
 
~What next?~

As he walked into the house and tried to close the patio door, Daniel received the answer to his question.  The door wouldn't shut.  It was partially off the track and wasn't responding to his efforts to get it back in place.  Daniel looked to see if something was stuck at the bottom of the track, but found nothing.  He tried again to shift it, and suddenly, the door jumped completely off the track, on the patio side.

It happened at the precise same moment that the doorbell buzzed, the phone rang, and Jack yelled out his tenth “DANNNNNNNNNIELLLLLLLL!” in the last ten minutes.

The archaeologist lost his grip, and it became a choice of either him or the door, and just in time to avoid falling into the soon-to-be-broken glass, Daniel jumped sideways, cursing simultaneously in at least five different languages as he fell to the ground.  The door itself broke into several pieces, glass crashing all around.

Realizing he was very lucky not to have been seriously injured, Daniel slowly stood up as sounds of the buzzing, ringing, and yelling filled the air.

~Where am I?  Sounds.  Buzzing?  Bees?  Ah, no, that's wrong.  Door.  It's the door.  No, door is broken.  Buzz.  Oh, the front door.  Ringing.  Bells?  No bells here.  Wait, phone.  I don't have a phone here.  Inside?  Yeah, it's inside.  Where did I say I was?  Yelling.  Gawd, the grizzly bear.  Jack.  Trees.  Ankle.  Bad day.  Another bad day.  It can't get any worse; it just can't.~

His hazy daze only lasted a few moments, and the entire episode seemed very surreal to him.  He shook his right hand which tingled from its impact with the ground.  He felt something liquid on his knee, and realized he must have skinned it when hitting the ground.

“I had to ask, didn't I?” he cursed himself loudly.

He headed towards the front door, picking up the phone as he did.

“Hello.”

“Hello!  It's important I speak to you about your future.”

Daniel clicked off the phone, cursing again about recorded messages from psychics, and tossed it over onto the sofa.  When he got to the door, he found both the plumber and electrician waiting.  He shook his head.  Both charged exorbitant prices for emergency calls, and both had to arrive at the exact same time.

He let them in and discussed the respective problems to be solved, and then, seeing the looks he got from both about Jack's bellowing and the broken door, Daniel smiled and spoke calmly.

“Don't worry.  He's in heat, used up most of his energy on the door here, but I've got him chained up for the duration of your visit.  As long you get this done within an hour, I'm sure you'll both be fine.  After all, it usually takes him an hour or so before he breaks lose ... usually.”

The repairmen exchanged looks of 'Let's get out of here ASAP' and went about their repairs.

Daniel walked away, knowing he sounded like a lunatic, but he really didn't care.  He went up the stairs to see what ~his majesty~ wanted now.

“Jack, why couldn't you answer the phone?”

“You told me to rest, Daniel.  How am I supposed to rest if the phone is ringing?  And who was at the door?”

“The plumber and the electrician.”

“What?  Daniel, we could have fixed those problems.  Do you know what they charge?  Get me up.”

“No, Jack, stay right where you are.  I guaranteed their safety for one hour.”

“You what?”

“Never mind.  You want some more Vicodin?”

“No, but I need a new ice pack, and you need to help me into the bathroom.”

“Jack, you're a big boy.”

“Oh, so now you admit it.  I told you.”

“Jack, stop it, or I'll ... get Janet to do an official measurement.”

“Oh, I'd like to see you do that.”

“Don't tempt me, Jack.  Not today!”

Seeing Daniel shaking his hand slightly, and then noticing his archaeologist looked a bit more mussed than he had earlier in the morning, Jack suddenly switched his tone.

“Danny, something happen to your hand?”

“No, it's fine.  I should go check on the repairmen.”

Daniel went down the stairs before Jack could say another word.  He took out the yellow pages and made the next important call ... to a door company.

“No, tomorrow isn't soon enough ... How much?  ... Fine, one hour.”

====

“Doctor Jackson, I'm afraid it wouldn't be worth fixing.”

Daniel nodded, wrote the electrician a check, and sent him on his way.  Another hour passed, and then the plumber presented his bill.

“I listed some recommendations on the bill that might prevent this from happening again, but the equipment is pretty old.”

“Thank you,” Daniel said as he ushered the man out, just as the door company arrived.

“We need something today.  I don't care what.  I just ... need a door ... that opens, closes, and locks ... today.”

“Sir, normally ...”

“TODAY.  I told you ... I don't care what type.  Just ... get me a door.  I know you have doors, lots of doors.  Put one in and give me a bill and I'll pay you ... TODAY.”

Daniel was at the end of his rope and patience, which meant that three hours later, a new patio door was in place.

====

“Danny, fooooood!”

Daniel closed his eyes.  For the last two hours, Jack had barked one order after the other.

“Bring me my Flight Journal; not that one, the new one.”
“I need another pillow.”
“Daniel, I want some water.”
“Where's the dang remote control?  DANIEL!”
“I want BEER, not root beer, not punch, not water, not coffee -- BEER!”

Daniel was ready to disavow any knowledge of Jack O'Neill's existence.

He got up and went to the kitchen.  The oven was dead, and Jack was going to have to settle for nuked whatever.  Daniel opened the refrigerator and at that precise moment, the light went out.

“Guess we need a new light bulb,” he thought to himself.

He pulled out a package of hot dogs.  He wasn't in the mood to cook anything more elaborate, so Jack was just going to have to deal with it.

He put the franks on a plate, a paper towel over them, and opened the microwave.  He punched the usual numbers but nothing happened.  No dings or lighted displays.  And then, Daniel remembered.

“The bills,” he sighed.

“DANNNNNNNNNIELLLLLLLLL, what happened to the lights?”

Daniel opened the refrigerator, grabbed two beers (~If he wants to kill himself, let him~), took the hot dogs from the microwave, and walked slowly up the stairs.

He put the plate of raw hot dogs next to Jack on the bed.  He opened Jack's beer and handed it to him, though he glared at Jack as he did so. Then, Daniel opened the other beer, and took two long gulps as Jack stared at him.  The normally mild-mannered archaeologist had finally reached his limit.

“Danny, what's this?”

Daniel looked where Jack was pointing.

“Um, those would be hot dogs, Jack.”

“They aren't cooked, Danny.”

Daniel looked again.

Nodding, Daniel said, “That would be correct.”

“Why?”

“Because they aren't cooked.”

Jack grunted, “Why aren't they cooked?”

“Same reason the lights are out, Jack,” Daniel said just before he downed another large gulp of the beer.

“I thought you were going to pay the bill today.”

“Me, too, Jack.”

“Then why didn't you?”

“Didn't feel like it.  Thought we'd ... wing it awhile.”

“Daniel, didn't you just go shopping?”

“Two-hundred fifty dollars worth; sure did.”

“The food will rot.”

Nodding, Daniel retorted, “Wow, Jack, you're sharp today.”

“Daniel, what's wrong with you?”

Daniel laughed.

“Nothing at all.  Everything's ... just peachy.”

“Have you been drinking, Daniel?”

“Who me?  Just this beer, Jack.”

Daniel downed the rest of the beer in his hand, then continued, “If you're not going to drink yours, I'll take it though.”

“I don't think so, Dannyboy.”

“Whatever.  There's more downstairs.”  Daniel started to leave, but turned when Jack barked out his next diatribe.

“I don't think so.  I'm up here stuck in bed, begging for water, and you're downstairs ... doing what, Daniel?”

“Having an orgy, Jack.  Yep, I've been dirty dancing with the electrician, was footloose with the plumber, and then dallied with the door man.  Yeahsureyabetcha, I'm having the time of my life.”  Daniel lunged towards the food tray.  “Give me that,” he said as he grabbed Jack's beer and took a swig.

“That's terrific, Daniel.  I risk my ankle coming down to ... to ... to take care of you, not once, but twice, and see, it's still swollen and hurts like Hades, and you're downstairs drinking and having a party?  Thanks a lot, Daniel.”

Daniel just stared at Jack.  He didn't move, didn't say a word, just stared ... and stared ... and stared.

“Daniel, say something.”

But Daniel said nothing.  Instead, he calmly put the beer bottle back on the tray and then made sure Jack's pillows were back in place.  He replaced the ice pack, and motioned for Jack to take the Vicodin.

He looked at his watch and laughed.

“What's so funny?”

“It's ... broken.”

“Why is that funny, and for that matter, how did it break?”

“You don't want to know, Jack.  Go to sleep.”

“Daniel, where you are going?”

Daniel turned and looked at his lover.  Their eyes made contact; it was intense, but it was also distant.  The younger man felt empty.  Dryly, in a near-monotone, he responded, “I don't know, but don't worry ... I'll ... make sure you get your dinner,” and then left the room.

“Danny?”  ~Geez, what did I miss.  Something's very wrong here.~ Jack's heart pounded.  He couldn't let Daniel walk out the door.  ~He won't come back.  His eyes: they were far away.  There was no shine.~

Jack found a lump lodged in his throat as he acknowledged that if Daniel never came back, then his life was over.  He again flung off the ice pack and went as fast as could to the stairs, ignoring the crutches that would only slow him down.  Physical pain meant nothing to Jack if he lost Daniel.

Jack made remarkably good time, but knew he'd be too late if Daniel walked his normal pace.  Jack cursed his ankle as he flung open the front door, prepared to leap off the front porch if he had to, but he was stopped by the image of his lover, sitting on the front porch, his body slumped forward.

~Oh, geez, Danny.  You didn't leave.  You stayed.~

Jack's heart ached.  He had missed something during his rantings over the last two days.  This was more than a power outage and a leaking washing machine.  Whatever it was, he had to fix it before it destroyed the man he loved.

“Jack, go back inside.  You're supposed to stay off the ankle.  Janet is going to get on my case about it and make my life more ...  make it miserable.”

“Thought you were going somewhere.”

“No car.”

“There's a ... perfectly good, dented truck out there.”

“Your truck.”

“Our truck.  Danny, what's wrong?”

“Nothing, Jack; I'm fine.”

“No, you're not.”

“Jack, let it go.”

“Daniel, talk to me.”

“You want the neighbors to hear?”

There was a challenge in Daniel's voice, but Jack wouldn't be detoured.

“Let them listen.”

Daniel gave in, got up, and went back into the house.  Jack noticed for the first time that his lover was limping.  Actually, now that Jack wasn't focusing on his own bad luck, he noticed Daniel was pale, flushed even; and he finally saw what looked like a small bloodstain on Daniel's sweatpants, the same pair Daniel had worn the day before, and Daniel was still shaking his hand slightly.

~You're a self-centered jerk, O'Neill.~  He most definitely had missed ... something.  “Talk to me, Daniel.  What's wrong?”

“You don't really want to know, Jack.  You just want ... hot dogs, cooked.”

“Danny, talk to me ... now.”

“Oh, is that an order, Colonel?”

“If I need to make it one, yes.”

“Haven't we already been through this?  You can't order me around, especially in our ... at ...  here.”

This time, Jack stared.

~Oh, no you don't, Danny.  You are so not going to that abandoned child place.~

Daniel was standing in front of the patio door facing Jack, who was standing gingerly next to the sofa.  Jack's ankle was throbbing, but he wasn't going to sit down.  Daniel's head was bowed, and he was self-hugging.  More than that, Jack thought he looked defeated and lost.

“Okay, not an order, just a request.  Tell me, from the beginning, what's wrong.”

Daniel took a deep breath, and then began what would become a very long seven-minute oration of all their woes from the last three weeks.  It was a tirade of emotion, frustration, stress, and distress, but ~if his majesty wants to know, then fine.~

“Okay, Jack, let's just look at the joy and happiness of the last few weeks.  First, I almost break my nose against some alien force field set by an egomaniac who doesn't know the difference between a doctor of archaeology and a medical doctor.

“The same egomaniac captures us and plays little games with our minds.  You know, the 'you're captured, no you're not, oh yes, you are' game.  I trip over our vests and almost break my neck, only to find out I'm worth a day's rations, tops, in the bounty hunter trade.  Real valuable, aren't I, Jack?

“Oh, and you think I'm flirting with this ... idiot, and spend three days accusing me of ... what, batting my eyelashes, like what, Jack, like I would want that creep to touch me?  You think I'm that easy?  Is that what you think of me?  Thanks, Jack, for the trust.  It's just so ... sweet of you!

“Then the same egomaniac lets us believe we're going to die via a self-destruct system, and you send me away, you freakin' send me away, O'Neill, which by the way I only went along with to try and find that stupid S.O.B.; then we thought we might lose Teal'c.  Great time had by all, right, Jack?

“We come home and barely get inside the house with no time to ... to ... to feed the ... the fish or do the laundry or even have a decent meal when we get called back to the SGC for that idiot Kinsey who keeps us tied up in conference meetings for two days because he wants to look good to the President.

“We start to come home again, and my car breaks down ... again, and instead of making love all afternoon, I'm stuck in a freakin' repair shop until just before you had that freakin' Air Force thing to go to, which meant we didn't make love, didn't even ... do anything, and as soon as I got home from dropping you off at the freakin' airport, I had to go back to the freakin' SGC and hold Williams' hand during what should have been a routine mission.

“Then we go to some crazy backward time where it's still the Dark Ages, and we almost lose Teal'c again; no, we did lose him; sure felt that way until he resurrected himself; but forget that, because there's more.

“I have to convince you to have compassion for a girl we shouldn't have thought twice about saving, but no, you just stand there, looking sexy and ... and edible, AND stubborn and unfeeling.  Gawd, I had to practically shove you to do the right thing.

“Next thing I know we go tumbling down a hill, and again I almost break my neck, but somehow we get back to the SGC, and before we even get off the base, you're called away, and so am I, and again, no food for the fish, the bills don't get paid, and ... and ... and no sex.

“And yadda, yadda, same ole, same ole, until a few days ago when the UAV puts us in the middle of nowhere, we get zatted by kids in SG uniforms, one of whom calls me 'four eyes', and you just patronize me in response.

“As if that isn't bad enough, I have to relive that nightmare with Apophis like a TV rerun in order to convince some other kid that we're the good guys, which reminds me of Sha're and Skaara and every other pain of the last few years, and then, THEN, Jack, on the way back to the Stargate, you start ranting AGAIN about Aris Boch for reasons I'll never understand, and you don't look where you're going and end up tripping over a tree root and falling onto a huge tree trunk, injuring your beautiful body, a sexy, beautiful body I had ... had plans for.

“I beg Janet, begged, Jack ... BEGGED ... for *you*, to convince Janet ... you know, Little Napoleon, the dictator of the SGC, to let you come home.  I promise her that you'll behave and that you'll stay off your feet for at least three days.  I swear on my secret stash of chocolate that you'll take your medication and will relax, eat on schedule, and sleep a full eight hours every night.

“I bring you home, and all you do is yell at me, get grouchy, more grouchy, and even grouchier with every hour.  You've been on your feet, or your butt, more than off; I didn't even remember about the ice pack until hours after we got home  By now, Jack, you should be having your ankle heated, but look ... look ... at your poor ankle.  I love your ankle ... and it's all swollen, because of me, Jack.

“You order me around, acting like I'm a mixture of a slave and a child.  You can't even walk a few feet to the bathroom without me when we both know you could do it, but no, you have to do the sympathy thing.

“And the house, let's talk about the house, Jack, *your* house, Jack, as you so graciously reminded me when we got home yesterday.  I don't even know where to begin.

“First, the oven burners won't work, so I go out in the middle of the night and get you steak because you can't live on nuked food for even one night.  The washer floods the garage, probably destroying boxes of precious memories, Jack, and I don't care what you say, they are precious, and some day you might regret that you stood by and let them be soaked and maybe ruined.

“I decide to get some peace by writing in my journal, but it's lost somewhere, and I've looked everywhere for it.  My personal journal, Jack ... personal ... you, me ... private stuff ... and ... I can't find it.

“Then, I admit, I was distracted, and dropped my coffee cup, and it went onto my laptop, and I think it may be dead, and speaking of dead I forget to feed the fish and they all die, every single fish, dead.

“There's a leak in the aquarium, the lawn mower died halfway through mowing the lawn which means you now have a very interesting fifty-fifty look out there.  We didn't have any food so I had to go shopping, and since my car is in the shop, again, I had to use the truck, your truck, which gets dented and bashed in while I was in the store, and I just know you're going to kill me with your own hands, once your ankle heals, if it heals, and if it doesn't, it's all my fault for not following Janet's orders.

“And you don't even want to know about the patio door, Jack, trust me on that, and my watch is broken now, too.

“That brings me to the next major point.  We forgot to pay the electric bill, and I realize it in time to prevent them from turning off the power, but with the washer, the oven, the fish, and the patio door, I forget to pay the blasted bill, so now the power is out.

“Not only that, I didn't mail the other bills either, and they're already late or due today.  Besides, I'd have to take the truck to mail them, and with the last forty-eight hours, I'm scared to death someone will demolish it, and you'll kill me yourself, or hurt your precious body trying to kill me.

“And ... and ... and we haven't made love in two weeks, and I'm tired, Jack.  I ... I ... gawd, I think I'm going to hyperventilate, or maybe die now.  I really don't care which.”

The last line was almost whispered.  Daniel was trying not to cry from his long list of woes he had just recounted.  He didn't want to.  He hated looking like he was weak.  He was just so worn out, and everything had been going so wrong lately, that he was beginning to think he was doing something wrong himself.

~Maybe it's an omen.  Life ... life sucks sometimes.~

A little sob escaped in spite of his best efforts to stop it.

Jack had listened carefully to every word Daniel spoke, not once tuning out.  He soaked it all in, like a sponge, absorbing his heart's pain.  He wouldn't forget anything on Daniel's list of woes.

Jack hobbled over to his lover, and scooped him into his arms.  Daniel was too exhausted to fight him.  Besides, it felt good to be in Jack's arms.  Jack's hold was firm, one hand reaching up under Daniel's sweatshirt to caress his lover's tense upper back while the other concentrated on Daniel's lower back and waist.

“Shhh, Danny, I'm so sorry; so sorry, Love.  Gonna spoil you rotten for at least a month ... make it all up to you.  Awww, Danny, love you.  You've been a saint, and put up with my whining and groaning.  You should have told me about all that stuff.

“I love you, Danny, so darn much.  Don't deserve you, but not letting you go.  We can beat anything together, anything, even ... home appliances.”

Daniel began to relax under Jack's tender caresses and calm, loving voice.

“We can fix it all, Daniel,  you and I.  New fish, new oven, new washer, new anything we need.  We can fix the truck and pay the bills.  So the power is out, it's ... romantic.  We can snuggle, or go to a hotel and snuggle, or there's always your apartment.  I almost forgot you had one, because this is your home.

“And yes, I know what I said, but you know I'm ... ornery when I get sick or hurt, and I took it out on you, and I'm sorry, sorrier than I can ever say.  I *will* make it up to you, and that includes lots and lots of sex, especially make-up sex, because goodness knows I have a lot to make up for.  It's okay, Love.  Love you, Danny.  As long as you are right here, in my arms, then life is good.”

Jack continued to hold and reassure Daniel, but then he remembered the blood he had spotted earlier, the hand, how Daniel hadn't eaten much of anything, how pale he looked, and now Jack realized Daniel wasn't just warm, he was hot, as if he had a fever.

Jack pulled back and brought his hand up to Daniel's face.

“You've got a fever, Daniel.”

“I ... I know.”

“Danny, you're sick.  When?”

Daniel shrugged.

“A few days I guess.”

“Why didn't you say something?”

“Why?  You couldn't have done anything.  I had to ...”

“... take care of me, and the house?  Ah, Danny, you crazy geek.  Love you so friggin' much.”

Jack kissed Daniel long and hard, and it felt deliciously good for both of them.  They wanted more, but now wasn't the time.  Daniel was beginning to wonder if it ever would be the right time again.

“Come on, Angel, up to bed.”

“No power, Jack.”

“Don't worry, Colonel Jack is on the case.  Come on, my turn to take care of you.”

“But, Jack, your ankle.”

“No arguments, and that's an ... a request from someone who loves you and needs you.  Please.”

Daniel nodded, and went up to the bedroom with Jack.

“Danny, let's get you in some clean PJs.  These sweats look like they've had it.  What happened?”

Daniel sat at the edge of the bed, not wanting to look at Jack.

“The ... patio door came off the track.  I ... dropped it I guess.”

“Daniel, look at me.”

Daniel hesitantly raised his head towards his lover who walked over with Daniel's PJs and sat next to him on the bed, handing him the nightclothes.

“Our patio door came off the track, and you dropped it?”

Daniel nodded.

“Danny.”

“It was stuck, and I kept trying to get it to move.  I don't know.  One minute I was trying to push it, and the next, the whole thing was in my hands, but I lost my grip, and it ... fell.”

Jack raised his right hand to Daniel's left cheek, caressing and nudging Daniel's face to look at him.

“And where'd you go when the door went ... boom?”

“Onto the patio.”

“Danny, you didn't go with the door.  Glass.  Daniel?”

“No, I ... jumped to the side and got lucky, I guess.”

Jack moved his hand down to Daniel's right hand and touched it.  Daniel winced.  Jack muttered under his breath as he moved his hand down to Daniel's knee, gently pushing, and as he expected, Daniel flinched.

“Jack, it's nothing, and I'm fine.”

“Someday, Love, you are going to stop telling me you're fine because you'll finally know that I know that when you say you're fine, it means the exact opposite.”

Jack kissed Daniel tenderly, and then the two placed their foreheads together, touching.  It was something they had done first on the roof deck their very first night together, and it symbolized a closeness that words couldn't express, a oneness of their spirits.

“Danny ...”  It was all Jack could say.  This was all wrong, and he figured it was mostly his fault.  ~Don't worry, Danny, I'm going to fix it.~

It was a pledge Jack wouldn't fail to meet.  He kissed his weary lover again, nibbling slightly on his upper lip, then sliding his tongue inside to explore the mouth he loved.

“I want you, Jack.  Want you so much.”

Jack kissed him again.

“I know, Love, and believe me, I have big plans for you, very soon, but we need to get you feeling better first.”

“I'd feel better if we made love.”

“You'd probably pass out before the main event.”

“I miss you.”

“Miss being with you, too, Angel.  Come on, let's get the PJs on.”

Daniel pulled off his sweatshirt and put on the pajama top, and then pulled down the dirty and bloodstained sweatpants.

“Daniel!”  Jack started to get angry, seeing Daniel's bloodied, uncleaned knee, but caught himself just in time.  Daniel needed support right now, not Jack's anger or sarcasm.  “Be right back.  You lay down and get comfortable.”

His own injury practically forgotten, Jack grabbed a towel, got out the peroxide and some bandages, and went back to his lover.  He thoroughly cleaned the knee and bandaged it.

“Here, brought you a new Fred for your finger.  Did you even change it today?”

Daniel shook his head, so Jack took the finger Daniel had sliced in his attempt to make a salad, cleaned it, and put on a new Band-Aid.  Then, he kissed it, causing Daniel to laugh.

“Kissing it better, Jack?”

“That's the idea.  Did it work?”

“Yes,” Daniel admitted wishing Jack would make the rest of his body feel just as good with his tender kisses, but instead, Jack took Daniel's temperature.

“Geez, Danny, one-hundred two.  How'd you get so sick and manage to keep it a secret?”

“You were ... distracted.”

Daniel's voice was so soft, guilt-ridden for being sick.

“I was self-absorbed and thinking about me and not you, like a selfish S.O.B.  I'm sorry, Danny.”  Jack winced from his realization.  ~Gonna make 'I'm sorry' my theme song if I'm not careful.~

Jack felt like he'd apologized more in the past several minutes than he had in his entire lifetime.

“It's okay, Jack.”

“No, Daniel, it's not.  I've done nothing but think about myself for  ... well, for a long time, but now, now I have you, and you come first.  You may not believe that yet, but you will.  As long you'll have me, I plan to spend every day showing you just how much I love you and how much you mean to me.”

Jack gave Daniel some Tylenol and kissed him on the forehead.

“Go to sleep, Love.”

“Jack.”

“I have some things to do.”

“Stay with me, Jack.  I ... I want ...”  Daniel quieted and turned his head.  “Never mind.  It's okay.”

Jack put on a clean pair of his own PJs and slid into bed, knowing what Daniel wanted but was still too shy to ask for.  Someday, Daniel was going to feel confident enough to tell Jack he wanted to snuggle.  Jack mentally added it to his list of important priorities for the future.

Feeling Jack's presence, Daniel's eyes blinked a few times.

“C'mere you.”  Daniel smiled and snuggled happily into his Jack pillow which enveloped him with warmth and love.  “Love you, Danny.  Go to sleep now.”

“Jack, I'm sorry.”

“Shhh, Angel, sleep.”

====

Once Jack was sure Daniel was sound asleep, he disentangled himself and hobbled down the stairs to the study.  His ankle still hurt, but it simply wasn't important at the moment.  Jack looked at the clock -- 1 a.m.  It was a good thing they had lots of flashlights handy.

Jack dialed the number of the one person he knew he could rely on.  She'd do anything for Daniel.

“H'lo.”

“Carter, you're up.  Good.”

“Sir?  Is, um, is everything ... <yawn> ... okay?”

“Of course it is, Carter.  I always call you in the wee hours of the morning to check in and let you know everything is fine.”

“Is Daniel all right, Sir?”

“No, and I need your help.”

“What's wrong with Daniel?” Sam's tone had changed drastically as she jolted up in her bed, suddenly alarmed, her mind consumed with concern for one of her dearest friends.

“Don't worry, Carter, he's alive.  I just ... messed up, and I need you to help me set it right.  I'd ... appreciate it.”

“What do you need, Sir?”

====

Ninety minutes later, Jack opened the door to a grumpy looking Sergeant Siler.

“Nice to see you, Sergeant.”

“Yes, Sir.  Major Carter ORDERED me to bring this by and hook it up, Sir.  Where do you want it?”

“How the heck do I know, Siler?  I want power.  Hook it up wherever it gives me power!”

“Yes, Sir.”

====

“Jack, long time no see!”

“Hi, Sylvia.  I know, time just zips on by when you're having fun!”

Jack hugged Sylvia Preston.  She was a good-looking blonde in her forties, wearing a very sophisticated red three-piece skirt set.

“You just caught me, Jack.  I was getting ready to leave for a seminar.”

“I appreciate your coming by.  It's ... important.”

“I see you're limping a bit.  Is that why I'm here?”

“No, I ... fell the other day, sprained the ankle, but it'll be okay. I've already seen a doctor at the Mountain for it.  That's not why you're here.”

“Okay, then why have you summoned me here at seven in the morning?”

“A ... friend of mine.  Actually, Syl, he's my best friend, and he's not feeling so well, and I was hoping you'd make sure it's just the flu or whatever and give him an antibiotic or something.”

“He doesn't have a doctor?”

“Yes, he does, but she's ... not convenient right now.”

“Hmm.  Okay, Jack, lead the way.”

Jack led the physician up to the bedroom.

“Oh, he has allergies, but I know what he's allergic to, so if you tell me what you're planning to give him, I can tell you if it's on the 'okay' drug list.”

“You know your friend's medical history, Jack?”

“Pretty much.”  Jack gave Sylvia a hesitant smile as they reached the room.  “I guess he's still asleep.  Just a second.”  ~Crap, I should have made sure Danny was awake before bringing Syl up here.  Okay, Danny, no exhibitions.  Just rise and shine, and no touching ... until later, of course.~

Jack realized he should have made sure Daniel was awake before bringing Sylvia upstairs, but there was no turning back now without making it even more obvious than it already was.  He just had to hope for the best.  Fearing Daniel would reach for him, Jack didn't sit on the bed, but instead, he arched over a bit to whisper into his lover's ear.

“Danny, I need you to wake up now.  Daniel.”

“Sleeping J'ck.  Go 'way.”

Sylvia chuckled, drawing Jack's attention.

“He's, ah, not a morning person.”  Jack saw Sylvia's nod and then tried placing a hand on Daniel's arm.  “C'mon, Daniel, time to wake up.  Someone's here to see you.”

“Show me later.  Still big'r than you, J'ck.”

Daniel chuckled as he twisted his body away from Jack, who was turning a light shade of red trying to think of how to explain Daniel's last comment.

“It's a game we play; you know, Syl, who is bigger, bulkier.”  Jack grinned, praying his Irish smile was going to get him out of this mess. “Danny's been working out lately -- muscle tone.”

“I understand, Jack.  Do you think he'll actually wake up anytime soon?”

“Should have made coffee; works every time, but I didn't think of it soon enough.”  Jack took a chance and leaned over Daniel again for a second.  “Okay, Danny, rise and shine.  Time to ...”

Jack's words were cut off by two strong arms pulling him down, lips devouring his, a tongue playing inside his mouth.

“Hmm ... Dan... mmmph ... Daniel ... mmm ...  Com...pany ... Dan...iel.”

Sylvia laughed loudly, and suddenly, Daniel's eyes snapped open.  He stared widely at Jack.

“Jack, did your ... voice change?”

“No, Danny, my voice is the same as always.”

Daniel moved his torso to peek around his lover's back.  His eyes grew even wider at the sight of a strange woman laughing in his bedroom doorway.

“It's okay, Danny.  She's an old friend, and she's a doctor, and we're both paying her.  Confidentiality and all of that.  Right, Syl?”

“You're correct, Jack.”

Sylvia advanced to Daniel's side of the bed.  Daniel's eyes were still wide, and he was so stunned that his arms were still wrapped around Jack.

“Doctor Sylvia Preston.  I understand you're a bit under the weather as they say.”

“Danny, talk to Syl, and you might want to ... ah ... let go.”

“What?”

Jack motioned towards his neck.

“Oh, sorry.”

“No need to be embarrassed, Mister ...  Jack, you haven't even told me your ... friend's name.”

“I'm ... I'm ...”

Jack laughed.

**Laugh it up, Jack.  Gawd.**

**I am, Babe; you're gorgeous, by the way.**  Jack smiled, seeing Daniel turn even rosier after the silent exchange.  “He's embarrassed, big time.  Syl, this is Doctor Daniel Jackson, and the doctor bit is archaeology and anthropology, and, then there's the masters in linguistics, so don't try word games with him.  Once he gets over the shock, he'll get the better of you any time.”

“Jack.”

“He's ... way smarter than I am.”

“Jack.”

Jack smiled.

“So tell Syl everything.”

“Ev...ev...”

Jack shook his head.

“No, Danny, not that.  Finger, knee, fever, symptoms: all that everything.”

“Oh,” Daniel said, suddenly feeling very relieved as Sylvia tried unsuccessfully to suppress a chuckle.

Sylvia listened while Daniel explained the calamities that resulted in the injuries to his finger, hand, and knee, and admitted he hadn't been feeling up to par for a few days.  He told her he hadn't had much of an appetite, and had thrown up a couple of times.

“Daniel, you didn't tell me that.”  Jack's voice was full of concern and alarm, and he wasn't pleased when Daniel's only response was a slight shrug of his shoulders.  “Syl, whatever he just told you, magnify it by a factor of ten.  When Daniel says he's fine, he never is, so if he says it hurts a little, that translates to he's about to die.”

“Jack!”

Sylvia couldn't suppress another chuckle.  These two were delighting her.

~They are so cute.  Jack looks ... good, much better than the last time I saw him.  Can't say I even liked him back then.~  “I see.  So when you say, Daniel, that you haven't had much of an appetite, but you've eaten some, that means what?”

“I ... didn't starve.  I ate.”

Sylvia looked at Jack who smiled.

“Translation, Syl.  He overdosed on coffee, his addiction of choice.  He probably ate a Twinkie or maybe a power bar, but not all of it, probably three bites which is his average for when he's sick.  If he's had more than that, I'll give you my house.”

“Jack!”

“Did I say anything inaccurate, Daniel?”

“No,” Daniel admitted, looking over towards a wall.

“Didn't think so.”  Jack faced Syl, who was writing a prescription, and gloated, “I speak fluent Daniel.”

~I wonder if Sara knows about these two?  I wonder if he knows she's getting married again.~  She laughed again at Jack's words, put down her pad, and did a quick examination of her patient.  Then, she removed the prescription she had written and handed it to Jack.

“Here, you need to get this filled as soon as possible.  I've written out all the instructions.  The usual plenty of rest for a couple of days.  It sounds like you're bordering on exhaustion, Daniel, maybe even mono, so if you don't want this to turn into something more than a passing flu bug, I'd follow doctor's orders.”

“Yes, Ma'am.”

“Sylvia is much better than Ma'am, especially since you're such a good ... friend of Jack's.”

Daniel turned bright red and Jack laughed.

“You made him blush again, Syl.”

“Nothing feels broken.  You probably should get your hand X-rayed to be sure.  Jack did a good job on the knee, but if you continue to limp, have it X-rayed; but honestly, I think you're just tired, Daniel.  It sounds like you've had a long weekend, so have the prescription filled, get plenty of rest, and you should be fine in a couple of days.  Now, Jack, about that ankle.”

“Syl, it's covered; I even have some Vicodin for when the pain gets too much, but it'll be fine.”

“If you insist, and I should get to that seminar.  It's in Denver.  Good to meet you, Daniel.”

“It was good to meet you, too.  I, uh, I'm ... I'm sorry about ... I mean ...”

Sylvia smiled, reaching over to touch his arm for a moment.

“Don't give it another thought.”

He smiled, appreciative of her kindness and understanding, but he still felt embarrassed.

====

Back downstairs, Jack reached out to open the door for Sylvia, but paused.

“Syl...”

“You're still in the Air Force, aren't you, Jack?”

“Yes, and Daniel works with me.”

“Don't Ask, Don't Tell?”

Jack nodded as he moaned, “It's a ridiculous, outdated rule, Syl, designed to make people miserable.”

“Don't worry, Jack.  Confidentiality, remember?”

He nodded again, and took a cleansing breath.

“Sara doesn't know; very few people know.  I didn't intend for you to know either; I just made a tactical error.”

“Take good care of him, Jack.  He's ... done wonders for you.  The last time I saw you, I wasn't sure I would see you again.”

“The reason you are is upstairs in that bed, and taking care of him is my number one priority from now on.”

“Call me if you need me, Jack.”

“Take care, Syl, and thanks.”

Jack hugged his old friend, and watched her leave, waving a final goodbye as she drove away.

====

Jack went back up the stairs to check on Daniel who was wide awake.  He smiled as he sat on the side of the bed.

“Jack, I'm sorry.”

“Danny, nothing to be sorry about.”

“But ... she ... ”

“I made the mistake.  I should have made sure you were awake before bringing Syl upstairs.”

“Why did you call her and not Janet?”

“You know why; I ... I need to take of you myself for a while.  Trust me?”

“Always.”

“Go back to sleep.”

“'K, J'ck.  Love you.”

“Love you, too,” but Daniel was already asleep, his eyes starting to close once Jack had assured him he wasn't angry at the display of affection.

Jack marveled at this faith Daniel placed in him.  Charlie was the only other person who had ever such an eternal trust in Jack.

“He would have loved you, Danny,” Jack said quietly before he placed a kiss on Daniel's forehead and went to the study to make another phone call.

====

“Hello.”

“Morning, Carter.  Everything set?”

“Good morning, Sir.  Yes, just waiting for your call.”

“Bring it on.  Oh, and one more thing.  I have a prescription that needs to be picked up.  Can you do that, too?”

“For Daniel?”

“Carter, all of this is for Daniel.”

“No problem, Sir.  How's he doing this morning?”

“Temp is still one-hundred two, but he just had an antibiotic shot in his butt, so hopefully, that'll bring it down soon.”

“Was Janet there?”

“No, Carter, and don't say anything to Fraiser.”

“I don't understand.”

“Carter, if Fraiser finds out about all of Daniel's little ... accidents, and the fever, and knows what I'm doing, she'll haul him in to the infirmary which would be the worst thing she could do for him right now.  He needs ... Carter, he needs me to fix this.  I can't do that with him in the infirmary.  Okay?”

“Okay.”

“Thanks.  So, we have a go.  Operation Rainbow commences now.”

“Rainbow?”

“Multiple meanings, Carter.  Daniel's just gone through a nasty storm, and after every storm ...”

“There's a rainbow,” she said, smiling.

“And he's my rainbow, my pot of gold; I let him down, Carter, and now I'm going to make it right.”

“See you soon, Sir.”

====

The day had gone by quickly.  Jack grunted and groaned quite a bit as he moved about the house, but he'd gone through a heck of a lot worse than a sprained ankle.  He checked on Daniel off and on, making sure he ate regularly, and took the medication Sylvia had prescribed, which Sam had picked up and delivered with her 11 a.m. arrival.

They snuggled a little, too.  Daniel seemed to relax more when Jack was with him, and that warmed Jack's heart.

“The power you give me, Danny, is too much, but I won't let you down, never again,” Jack vowed during one such snuggle fest with his lover.

Mostly, though, Daniel slept, his exhaustion evident.  Jack had thought he'd have to work hard than he had on keeping Operation Rainbow a surprise, but that in itself added to his guilt, that Daniel was that sick and that exhausted that he had slept through the not-always-quiet activities of the day without being disturbed.

At 8 p.m. that night, the last of the coerced workers left the house.

“All done, Sir.  I'll try to get this,” Sam held up the item she was holding, “back to Daniel in a couple of days.  Is he okay?”

“Better.  One-hundred and one as of thirty minutes ago, and I finally got him to eat more than two bites.  Do you want to say hi?”

“I'd like that, but then he'd wonder why I was here.  I'll see him next week.  See you tomorrow, Sir.”

“Thanks, Carter.  This was ... above and beyond the call.  I won't forget it.”  Sam started to say something, but Jack cut her off.  “Anything for Daniel, I know, Carter.”

Sam smiled and walked to the edge of the porch.  She paused, turned to face her CO, and added, “... and for you, too, Sir.”

Jack smiled, and Sam departed.  He locked up the house, taking a quick look around, and felt satisfied at the results.

“Not bad, O'Neill, not bad at all,” he said just before going upstairs.

====

When Jack walked into the bedroom, Daniel was sleeping on his side. The older man changed his clothes and climbed in under the comforter, spooning in next to his soulmate, his arms both holding and caressing his warm, smooth skin.

“Jack?”

“Were you expecting someone else, Doctor Jackson?” Jack teased as his kissed Daniel's nape, thankful the warm skin was cooler than it had been the last time he had kissed his sweet lover.

“Go back to sleep, Danny.”

====

Both men slept peacefully until 9 a.m. the next morning when Jack awoke.  He touched Daniel's forehead and cheeks and smiled at the cool skin.  Then he kissed Daniel's nape.

“Love you, Danny.”

Daniel moaned softly and turned towards Jack.

“Hey there, Beautiful.”

“Jack?”

Daniel's blinking eyes opened slowly.

“Feeling better?”  Daniel nodded.  “Hungry?”

“Little.”

“Love waking up with you in my arms, Danny.”

Jack brushed Daniel's lips lightly for a moment, then nibbled on the lush top lip before his tongue knocked requesting and receiving entrance into Daniel's mouth.

“You're my favorite alarm clock, Jack.  No buzzing or loud music, just your body against mine.”

“Have to make sure you're awake and recovering.  We have a hot date coming up you know.”

“Coming, can't wait.”

“Soon, Danny, very soon.  Be right back.”

====

“All fixed, Sir, just like new.”

Sam handed Jack the keys to his truck.

“And the other?”

“Right there,” Sam pointed towards the driveway.  “And, wow, Sir, it's wild!”

“You did great, Carter.”

“Did my best.  If you need anything else, just call.”

“Get a life, Carter.”

“I'll ... try to do that, when I can find some free time.”

“Goodbye, Major,” Jack smirked.

====

“Hey, you look lots better,” Jack said, seeing Daniel sitting up against the headboard, the color back in his cheeks, and his eyes looking alive instead of cloudy as they had the day before.

“Feel better, too.  Thank you, Jack.”

Jack got into the bed and sat next to Daniel, putting his arm around his shoulder.  Daniel relaxed into him.

“We're quite a pair, Danny.”

“Crazy Pair.”

“Mixed Pair.”

“Outrageous Pair.”

“Perfect Pair.”

Daniel raised his hand to Jack's cheek and said, “Forever Pair.”

“I ... hope so, Danny.  I really do.”

“Me, too, Jack.”

Jack held Daniel tightly.  He prayed silently that they were forever, but he also knew Sha're was still out there, and truth be told, Jack wasn't sure what Daniel would do when they found her.  It was something he didn't want to think about it, and yet, he couldn't help it.

~We'll find her, Danny.  I promised you.  Just remember, when we do find her, that I love you.  Remember me, Danny.~

Almost as if he had heard Jack's thoughts, Daniel looked at Jack's misty eyes, and smiled, and said, “I love you, Jack, for always” and then they kissed for quite a while.  It was a pleasure they hadn't been able to enjoy fully for some time, and it felt good, and made both happy inside.

“I'm going to go get us something for breakfast.  Don't go anywhere.”

Daniel watched Jack get out of bed, but then, he smiled shyly, calling out to his lover who turned to face him.  

“I need some help, Jack.  Weak and all that.”

There was a gleam in those blue eyes that set Jack on fire.

“Oh, you do, do you?”

“Hmm-mmm.”

“I could call Sam.”

“Noooooooo.”

“Teal'c?”

“Definitely, no.”

“Me, eh?”

“Just you, only you, forever you, Jack.”

“Breakfast can wait.”

Jack pulled his lover up off the bed.  They both laughed.  Daniel didn't need his help to the bathroom anymore than Jack had needed Daniel's.  It was just an excuse to touch and hold on to each other while the world fell apart around them.

“I want to take a shower, Jack.  I'm ... stinky, and so are you.”

“Gee, thanks, Doctor Jackson, but no hanky panky.  Not yet.”

“How about just ... hanky?”

“No.”

“Panky?”

“No.”

Daniel gave Jack his best pouty lip, but Jack counteracted by nibbling on it.  Daniel retorted by moving his tongue into Jack's mouth.  Jack battled back with a squeeze of his lover's butt cheeks.  Daniel moaned, and Jack wondered why they were waiting.

~Oh yeah,~ his inner voice reminded him, ~Daniel's sick.  Patience O'Neill.  He'll be fully recovered by tomorrow and then you can feast on him all day long.~

“Jack?”

“Hmmm?” Jack answered kissing Daniel's neck.

“What was that look about just now?”

“You, me, bed, make-up sex -- all day; no phones, no interruptions; just you, me, and the bed.”

“Oh, I like that Jack.  Now, Jack,” Daniel said, pouncing on his soulmate.

“Whoa, boy; tomorrow, if you behave today.”

Daniel looked at Jack, his eyes full of want and need, with a hint of discord at being told 'no'.

“Don't look at me like that.  One more day, make sure we're both recovered, and then it's just the two of us.”

“Don't answer the phone, Jack.”

“I won't.”  Jack recalled how three times in the last three weeks, just as they were getting their lives back together, calls from the SGC had come in and forced them apart.  “I promise, Danny.  Tomorrow, just you and me, no exceptions.”

“We're still ... stinky.”

“Well, we can take care of that, just no ...”

“Hanky panky,” Daniel sighed sadly.

====

A shower and breakfast in bed later, Jack nudged his partner up, and urged him to put his sweats on.

“Thought you were going to keep me in bed all day?”

“I am ... tomorrow, but I have something to show you.”

“Unless it's your ...” Daniel pointed toward Jack's zipper, “I'm not really interested.”

“Daniel Jackson, you have such a one-track mind.”

“Nineteen days, Jack.  It's been nineteen very long days, or maybe you haven't noticed.”

Jack scooped Daniel into his arms.

“Nineteen days, six hours, and,” looking at his watch, “twenty-two minutes since the big finish.  Love you, Danny, and want you desperately -- tomorrow; right now, I want to show you something else I hope you'll like.”

Once they were both completely dressed in their sweats, Jack took Daniel's hand and led him down the stairs.

“Close your eyes, Danny; let me guide you.”

Daniel closed his eyes and trusted Jack to get him safely to wherever they were going.  When Jack got him in the position he wanted, he moved behind the younger man and put his arms around his waist, and kissed his nape.  It was one of a thousand things Jack loved to do with his soulmate.

“Open your eyes, Love.”

“Jack!”

Daniel's voice was light with surprise from the gift of life in front of him.

“I hope they're the right ones.  I ... had to guess.  I'm sorry to say that I've never paid close attention before, but I will from now on.”

“Oh, Jack.”  Daniel moved out of Jack's embrace and kneeled down to get a better look at the new aquarium, full of colorful fish and places for them to hide and hang out in.  Daniel put his fingers up to the tank.  “Hey, Fishies,” he sniffed.  “They're beautiful, Jack.  Thank you.”

“You're welcome, Daniel.”

Jack had a lump in his throat.  To a lot of people, including himself in the past, fish were just ... fish, something he had tried to catch in a lake but seldom did, but Jack had come to realize that to Daniel, they were friends.  Until Jack, Daniel hadn't had anyone.  He'd shut himself off from the world, with the exception of Sha're, of course.

Daniel's fish were the only friends, the only family, Daniel had, and they had died, and no one, not even Jack, understood that to Daniel, it was like losing siblings.  How many times had Jack caught Daniel “just visiting with them, Jack”?

There had been many, and Jack kicked himself for not paying heed to the needs of Daniel's heart sooner.  

“Danny, look at this.”  

Jack pointed to something Daniel had often thought about getting, but never really thought he needed.

“So now, Angel, it'll never happen again.  The feeder has a timer, and we can set it for twenty-one days; and it's battery operated, so not even a power outage will affect it.”

Daniel smiled in grateful acknowledgement, and then placed his fingers against the edge of the tank, tracing a couple of fish that seemed to be saying hello.  He stood up, and faced Jack, tears escaping his eyes.

“I love you, Jack,” he said as he moved gently to embrace the colonel of his heart.

“There's more.”

“More fish?”

“More rainbows.”

“What?”

“Come on.”

Jack took his lover into the garage where the new top-of-the-line washer and dryer were.  The boxes of Jack's memorabilia that Daniel had been so concerned about now sat on the newly built rafters that hung from the ceiling, safe from any potential future floods.

“Jack, how did you do this in one day, and without me hearing?”

“Magic, but now you don't have to worry about my ... about our memories.  We have lots of room on these rafters, Danny, and they are easy to get to, so, our things will be safe.  By the way, a couple of the boxes did get wet, but no real harm, and since didn't thank you for caring so much about all this ... history, let me do it now.  Thank you for caring so much.”

Jack squeezed Daniel's hand and pulled him back into the house.

“That was quite a surprise, Jack.”

“There's more.”

Jack showed Daniel their new oven and microwave, smiling, “Home cooked steaks tonight.”

“You've been ... busy, Jack.”

“Not through, yet.”

Jack walked to a drawer, and pulled out Daniel's missing journal.

“Now before you get angry, I didn't take it intentionally.  It didn't occur to me until yesterday what happened.  If you recall, Daniel, before our lives turned into a nightmare a few weeks ago, we were having a nice quiet night at home.  I was watching hockey, and you were writing in your journal ... on my lap.  Remember?”

“It's ... coming back.”

“The doorbell rang.  We thought it was the pizza.  We both got up.  You left the journal open on the coffee table.”

“It wasn't the pizza.  It was Lou and Carolyn.”

Daniel was beginning to remember what had happened.

“Dropping by to say hello, and you were in those gorgeous cut-offs that I couldn't wait to get you out of.”

“Jack,” Daniel cried out in mock embarrassment, his mind well aware of how Jack felt about him in cut-offs, and in fact, that had been why he was wearing them.  He just didn't want Jack to know that.

“You were trying to sound plausible about why you were here, so relaxed, on a Tuesday night.  Lou and Carolyn were focused on you, trying to embarrass you to pieces, and it was working I might point out, and I noticed the journal.

“I didn't read it, Love, but I know the kind of stuff I think you write about in there, and I picked it up as nonchalantly as possible along with a couple of magazines.  My intent was to put it in the cabinet, but then  the conversation came back my way.

“That's when Lou asked about the telescope, and I took him up to the roof deck, with the journal and the magazines, and I left them there, on purpose.  Who knew we'd be gone for three weeks?  I ... forgot, Danny.  I'm sorry.  I'm just glad that I had placed them in the storage box with the scope accessories so it didn't get wet or damaged by the weather.”

Daniel smiled and acknowledged, “You had to put it someplace.  It was a pretty funny night.  Do you think they ... believed us?”

“Not a word, but Lou won't ...”

“Ask, and we won't tell.”

“Exactly.  Sorry I didn't remember sooner about the journal.”

“It's okay.  I shouldn't have left it open.  Thank you, Jack, for all the surprises.”

“Not done yet, Love.  Rainbows stretch a long, long way.”

Daniel laughed as he asked, “What's next?  The Taj Mahal?”

“Not exactly, but close.”

Jack led Daniel to the door and let go of his hand as he opened the door.  He looked into Daniel's eyes, Jack's brown vistas expressing sorrow at the loss of contact, regret that going into their front yard meant pretending.

“I hope you like this, Danny.  I've actually been looking at it for a while, talking with someone about it, but I didn't know if you'd think it was overstepping; I had to do it now.”

Daniel hadn't a clue, but once they reached the driveway, he stopped dead in his tracks, completely floored by the sight of the exquisite 1999 Shelby-American convertible.  Jack handed his stunned lover the keys to the small two-door vehicle.

Daniel's voice had disappeared.  He examined the car, admiring its sleek black leather interior and the bucket seats.  He noticed both a CD and cassette player, custom wheels, and even an alarm system on the vehicle.

“This thing even has a radar detector in the bumpers, Danny, but so help me, don't you dare go that fast.  I need you, you know.”

Daniel smiled.  He was still speechless.  He placed his hand on the body of the car and ran it along the outside of the carbon fiber body, relishing its sleekness and beauty.

“It's silver, like your hair, Jack.”  Daniel looked at Jack with such lust at that moment.  “It's like a fox, my silver fox ... like you.”

Jack hadn't thought about that, and was thrown Daniel would make a comparison between this beautiful car and his run-down body.  It made Jack's eyes misty, and ... his arousal grew, too.

Needing to regroup, Jack gave Daniel some of the specs on the car.  “It's a V8, six-speed transmission, A/C of course, power everything -- brakes, steering, windows, locks; aluminum frame, dual exhaust, rear disc brakes, goes zero to sixty in four-point-one seconds, but so help me, Danny, you kill yourself in this thing, and I'll haunt you forever.”

“Is ... that a promise, Jack?”

Jack wanted to grab his archaeologist and never let go.  He wanted him, badly, but remembering where they were and that Daniel was still a bit under the weather, he just smiled and said, “Yes.”  After another moment, he asked, “So, what do you think?”


He was worried that it wasn't what Daniel wanted; maybe it was too small, or the wrong color, or maybe ... a string of maybes flooded Jack's mind, ending with maybe Daniel would think it was inappropriate, assuming too much about their relationship.

“I think ... I think ...”

“Yes, you do, and usually way too much, but what about the car?”

Daniel blinked several times, overwhelmed with the emotions churning inside of him.

“I think I want you to make love to me, Jack.”

Daniel turned and raced into the house, as if he had been set on fire, and he had, by the man who smiled and followed him into the house. Jack was thoroughly pounced upon as soon as he closed the front door, the flames rising quickly inside them.  Daniel took one more look at his love, his eyes taking in every inch of Jack's face.

“It's beautiful, Jack.  It's way too much, and ... I'm going to pay you back for it, but ... it's perfect, and it will always remind me of you, like being ... inside of you.  I love it.  I love you.  Thank you.”

Daniel pounced on Jack again, not giving the older man a chance to say anything.  The weeks of their bodies being separated had put them both on the edge of an uncontrollable hunger, and it was finally time to feast.  Jack still thought they should wait, but his body was no longer listening to his brain.

He started to suggest they go upstairs, but Daniel already had Jack's pants down, and he wasn't interested in any more postponements or delays.

The two dropped to the floor, Jack's ankle causing him to send out a brief cry of pain, but Daniel distracted him quickly with a deep kiss.  They rolled along the floor as they finished removing their clothes.

~It's cold,~ Jack thought as his butt felt the hardwood floor, ~but you're gonna warm me up in no time, aren't ya, Danny?~

Their kisses were like untamed wild fires, raging out of control; their hands roaming the forests of their bodies, stroking, rubbing, caressing, pumping each other to the edge of release.

“Want you, Jack; want you inside me, shielding me ... like the car,” Daniel said, his eyes dark with passion, his voice low and demanding, and his want and need for Jack overwhelming him.  “Need you so much, my Silver Fox.”

Just hearing Daniel say those words so seductively caused Jack's body to begin to blend with Daniel's.

“Anxious, too, Jack?”

“Upstairs, Danny.”

Jack started to get up but Daniel pulled him back down, turning them so that Jack was on top of him.

“Now, Jack, Can't wait.  Don't want to wait.”

“Too painful, Love.  Lube is upstairs.”

“Don't care.”

Daniel's kisses didn't allow Jack to debate the issue.  Daniel's legs hooked around Jack, his arms holding him down to him.

“Inside me, Jack.  Love me, please.  I need it, to feel you.”

A part of Jack hated it when they did this.  Their sex, like their love, was mind-blowing; the unions of their bodies sometimes gentle, sometimes rough, but without preparation, it was painful.

Still, sometimes, Jack admitted he wanted that, needed to feel the hurt. It was like ... dues.  The price of loving and being loved, and it made the ebbing that much sweeter, even if he ended up sore and barely able to move for two days afterwards.

He just hated to be the one inflicting the pain to the man who gave him nothing but unconditional love, total trust, and a reason for living.  Yet, he saw the need in Daniel's eyes.

“You sure, Danny?”

“Don't freakin' argue, Jack.  Do it!”

Jack used saliva to do the best he could to prepare his eager lover, first one finger, then two, and three, before entering Daniel.  He started slow, as gentle as he could, knowing it was hurting, but Daniel demanded more, and he wanted it fast, “Now; geez Jack, what are you freakin' waiting for ... a green light?”

Jack had to chuckle, for the second his body would allow, and then did as Daniel asked.  They had waited so long for this moment, too long for them.

“All the way, Jack.  Jack!  Please, Jack.”

With each thrust, their rhythm increased.  Jack's forward motions were harder, going deeper inside his heart each time, and Daniel encouraged him, by meeting those thrusts with upward movements of his own.

“Yes, Jack.  Love you so much!”

Sweat was pouring down their thrusting bodies, their movements more fierce and urgent than ever before.  Their hunger for the other overwhelmed them.  They couldn't think; their bodies had taken over, fusing with the other.

“Danny, so tight ... love you.”

They were looking into each other's eyes as much as possible.  It wasn't the easiest way for two men to make love, but Jack and Daniel preferred it, their eyes another conduit that connected them together as they loved each other with vigor.

It had been such a long time, nineteen long days, the last forty-eight hours of which had been nightmarish.

Jack buried himself inside Daniel, his grunts sounding like sweet music to Daniel.  Daniel moaned and said Jack's name over and over, beckoning his lover with the sound of his voice.  They clamored more and more for the other in a desperation neither had ever felt before.

Back and forth their love went.  Jack was on the verge, and Daniel was almost there, his hand stroking with Jack's rapid pace.  Their bodies still burned, pulsating with their efforts, and the jolts of their movements sent wave after wave of pained pleasure throughout the younger man.

They were both soaked with their sweat, their hair wet from the efforts.

“Dan...ny ...  Babe ...  feels so good ... in you ... Love you.”

Jack's pants were deeper now, his voice hampered by the harshness of his breathing.  Every muscle, every cell in his body was pressing into Daniel, as fast, hard, and deep as he could go, as long as he could go.  He didn't know it could be like this.

Their hips continued to rock in motion, but it still wasn't enough.  Jack thought he might explode, physically, like a bomb, at any moment.  He couldn't think.  He was lost in the sensation of Daniel's warmth.

Daniel couldn't think at all; his body was full of tremors, shivers, and bolts of thunder from the fullness of Jack inside him.  His body was bursting with sensations he had never even imagined.  Sex had always been amazing with Jack, but this was beyond Daniel's imagination.

Daniel had one hand on Jack's shoulder, his fingernails were cutting into the skin.  He yelled Jack's name loudly, his head shooting backwards for a moment with the last powerful piercing thrust, and then he looked up again, needing to see Jack.

And then time stopped.  Their lovemaking was about to culminate, and both knew it.  It was only a second in real time, but it seemed much longer to Jack and Daniel.

Their eyes locked.  They weren't breathing.  It was that moment that was just before euphoria, when stars would encircle them, when there was nothing else in the universe, and no one else, except for Jack and Daniel and their nation of two.

Their eyes stayed connected, speaking of love, hunger, need, devotion, happiness, and satisfaction.

The world was still stopped.  They didn't want it to end.  They'd made love before and would again, no question of that, but their need on this day was so strong, that it carried them to a place they had never been before, beyond coherency, beyond descriptive words.  It was a place of the heart and soul where words and terms weren't needed, only love.

In that moment when everything froze, they pledged their love again, that they would be forever.

Time melted, and the clock ticked again, their bodies pushing and shoving, melding and fusing, grunting and moaning.  Their lovemaking was intoxicating, like an addiction without a cure, and they worked themselves to the edges of nirvana, until they couldn't hold on anymore.

“Jack ... Can't ... can't ...  'ymore ...  Jack ... Gonna ...”

And then Jack and Daniel came together.  As they often did in talking, their love erupted in unison, their bodies shattering in jubilation with their discharges.

Jack collapsed onto his lover's chest, and Daniel held him close, his body still convulsing from their love.  They stayed like that for a minute or two.  They always did, taking their time after orgasm to settle.  Both men liked the feel of the other still inside them as they calmed.

Daniel's fingers glided through Jack's soaked gray hair and then went to his back, rubbing gently.

“Geez, Jack.  Wow!”

It took all of Daniel's strength to say those three words.  He was in a blissful paradise where words were scarce.

Finally, Jack withdrew and turned to lay his back on the cold floor, taking Daniel into his arms.  Daniel snuggled close, his head on Jack's shoulder.

“You're incredible, Danny,” Jack said with short labored breaths.  ~Sure hope I can keep up with you.~

“Love you, Jack.”

It was all the young man could say.  He was still lost in post-coital bliss.  He loved these times.  The pain of Jack inside him never stayed with him, but the pleasure and waves of electricity from their union did. Daniel felt more alive than ever when Jack was in him.

They held on to each other for several minutes, as their breathing evened out, speaking words of love and commitment.

“You're my life, Danny.  You make me feel so young.”

“You make me feel ... alive, Jack.  I feel things ... things I can't even understand when I'm with you.  Love you so freakin' much.”

“I guess we've done pretty good for two guys who had never done this before.  Who needs books?”

“Might have been easier, but I ... I like experimenting on our own.  Scary sometimes, though.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean, but I trust you, Danny, trust you with my life, and my body.”

“That's good, Jack, because I have lots and lots of plans for your body.”

“Oh, I like that.”

A few minutes passed as they continued to caress one another.  This was always a special time for Jack and Daniel, these precious moments after the fusion of their bodies when they simply held on to each other, bonding and sharing the aftermath on yet another level.  They nurtured it, never taking it for granted.

~We're such snugglers, Danny.  No one would ever believe this.~

Jack himself didn't.  He hadn't been anything like this with Sara.  With his wife, sex was good, but once it was done, he'd give her a kiss and they'd just go to sleep or move away from each other, but with Daniel, their after time together was just as important as the foreplay or the act itself.

They loved to hold each other, snuggle, caress.  They had never once not continued to kiss and reaffirm their love for several minutes if not longer after orgasm.  Jack didn't really understand why it was different, except that there was a freedom he felt with Daniel, that wasn't there with Sara.

Daniel knew every part of Jack, including that dark side, the secrets and pain of a Special Ops existence.  He had to keep that part of himself from Sara.  She knew it existed, but didn't really know how to deal with it or what kind of pain was there.

It wasn't her fault.  Jack had kept that side of his being shielded from her, but with his lover, it was becoming increasingly more difficult to hide any part of himself, and somehow, that wasn't bothering Jack the way he thought it should.

“Hey, it's ... not very comfortable down here.  Let's go upstairs, clean up, and ... go back to bed.”

Daniel sighed and moved, wincing just a moment.  Jack helped him up.

“I'm sorry, Danny.  I hate ...”

Daniel kissed him and said tenderly, “I love you.  Love you so much.”

Jack picked up their clothes, and the two went upstairs.  They took a shower, and then Daniel lay down on the bed.  Jack gave his lover his next dose of the medication Sylvia had prescribed, and then they nuzzled together and fell asleep.

====

A few hours later, the two were up and about in the downstairs part of their home.  They had fixed a salad and sandwich for dinner.  Jack had wanted Daniel to stay in bed since he still had a slight fever, but Daniel wanted to be downstairs.  Jack had excused himself to make a phone call.

“Carter, I just ... needed to say thank you, again.”

“No need, Sir.  I take it Daniel is feeling better today?”

“Much.  You ... you helped me put the smile back in his soul.  That ... means a lot, Major.”

Jack was beginning to choke.  He just hated this stuff, sharing emotions, saying words that he had to work so hard to say, but this was important.  Jack had felt like he might have lost the most precious gift he'd ever been given, his Daniel, but with the help of his 2IC and lots of friends, he'd been able to keep that gift, and now, he was more determined than ever to treasure and savor every moment he'd be able to hold that gift in his arms.

“I was glad to help make Operation Rainbow a success, Sir.  Tell Daniel I'm glad he's feeling better.”

“I will.  Goodnight, Carter.”

Jack left the study and found Daniel on the patio looking at their backyard, watching some squirrels scurrying through the trees.

“Hey,” Jack said softly as he sat next to Daniel, putting his arm around his waist.

“Hey,” Daniel said equally softly, immediately leaning into Jack's hold. “You fixed the lawn mower, too?” he asked, seeing the green grass now level in height.

“Not me, Siler.”

“Siler?  How'd you do all this, Jack?”

“Carter.  I called her, told her what I needed, and she made it happen, even the power; rigged up a generator to keep us going until we could get the payment to the electric company.  She even restocked the freezer for us.”

“What'd you do, Jack, threaten her?”

“No, told her I had a sad archaeologist, and I wanted him to smile again.  She's like me, Danny, has a big thing for archaeologists, especially ones with beautiful blue eyes, and soft silky hair, smooth skin, long ...”

“Jack! ... Sam ... wouldn't know about that.”

“She'd better not,” Jack warned with a laugh before continuing,  “No, Danny, I made a few calls around town, found the places that had what we needed and were able to deliver without a wait.  Gave Carter the info, and she and Siler coordinated the deliveries and installations.  Siler didn't know you were here, by the way.  Carter just told him the old bear needed some help, and it was in his best interests to help out.”

“The old bear.  I'll remember that,” Daniel said quietly, his voice calm and peaceful.  He let out a contented sigh that made Jack smile inside. “You fixed just about everything except the laptop.”

“And your watch,” Jack laughed.

He had worked hard to make it up to Daniel for his lapses, and feeling a relaxed Daniel in his arms made it worth all the effort it took to make it happen.

“Actually, Carter's working on the laptop.  She thinks she can retrieve the hard drive and load it onto a new one for you... and I warned her not to go snooping.  As for your watch, I figured we'd go shopping together.”

“You hate shopping.”

“Not with you, I don't.  I love every moment we have together, even shopping.  So, maybe we can hit the mall, get you a new watch, and ... a new blue sweatsuit to replace the one you destroyed this weekend.”

“It was a gray sweatsuit, Jack.”

“But I love you in blue, Danny, brings out your eyes.  Blue sweats, definitely blue.”

Daniel didn't mind.  He felt a little embarrassed, but if it made Jack happy, he'd buy everything in blue.

“Thanks, Jack.  I mean ... really ... you didn't have to do all of this.”

“Yes, I did; you're my pot of gold, Danny; my rainbow.  Besides, like I said, I ... supervised, made the phone calls, gave the orders.  Carter did the hard stuff.”

“Gawd, Jack, I ...”  Daniel was overwhelmed.  He looked away for a moment to regain his composure.  “And what about the car?  You didn't just ... call around, did you?”

“Nope, told you, I've been looking at it for a while.  Saw it, and it seemed to have your name on it.  Besides, your old car is ancient; keeps breaking down.  I ... worry, Danny.”

“I'm a big boy, Jack.”

“Are you ever!” Jack smirked.

“Jack!”

Jack ruffled Daniel's hair as he laughed and gave him a quick kiss, before putting his hand back around Daniel's waist.

“You worry too much, Jack.  I ... survived a long time before meeting you.  Even if you don't believe it, I can take care of myself.”

“You don't understand, Daniel.”

He was right.  Daniel had a difficult time understanding Jack's constant 'mother hen' attitude.  It drove him crazy.  He wanted Jack to take him seriously, not treat him like a kid.  He was getting used to it, but he didn't like it and didn't realize what the motivation for it was.

“Danny, you are without a doubt the strongest person I've ever known. I am constantly amazed at how you don't just survive, but you ... endure and move forward.  You don't dwell or sulk on the bad stuff.  You learn, and you don't get jaded by the sadness life throws at you.  I'm ... not like that.”

Jack looked away into nothing, remembering Charlie, memories of his son's death and his loss of caring about life flooding his mind.  Daniel knew what Jack was thinking about.  He always seemed to know when Jack thought about his son.

“Jack, I'm sorry.  We don't need to talk about this.”

“No, Danny, let me finish.  I know I'm a mother hen; that I bug you about eating, sleeping, and tying your shoelaces.”  Jack laughed, remembering how he had actually said that to Daniel once and how Daniel had glared at him in response.  He continued, “I nag you about the meds Janet gives you and about being on time.  I guess I pretty much nag you about ... about anything that might have something to do with keeping you safe and healthy ... and alive.

“It has nothing to do with your capabilities or your strengths, but it has everything to do with ... my fear ... of losing...” Jack paused for a moment, shaking his head, fighting back tears, “... I can't lose you, Danny.  You are the most precious gift I've ever received.  I need you, and I have to ...”

Jack cleared his throat, trying to keep his emotions in check.  Finally, he just came out with the essence of the truth, as he knew it appeared to his lover.

“Oh, for crying out loud, Daniel, I'm sorry.  I don't ever mean to make it look like I don't trust you or don't respect you, and I certainly don't mean to treat you like a child, but I guess sometimes it looks that way.”

Daniel started to say something.  This was one of the few times Jack had opened up so completely, and it always made the older man uncomfortable, but Jack shook his head, silencing Daniel, and kept on talking.

“I wish I could say I'll stop, but I don't think I can.  I care too much, need you too much, Danny, to risk you.  I have to ... protect you.  It's who I am; it's what I was trained to do, and I can't betray that heritage simply to ... ”  Jack sighed.  He was talking too much, but he wanted Daniel to understand.  “I have to protect you, Danny, if I can, and I hope you can understand that.”

Daniel placed a kiss on Jack's cheek and didn't say anything for a moment.

~Maybe a mother hen isn't so bad to have around after all.~  He smiled reassuringly.  “Being a mother hen doesn't mean you have to go out and buy me a car, and not just any car, but wow, Jack.  I thought you said I was a cheap date?”

Jack laughed and squeezed his lover's waist.

“Nothing about you is cheap, Angel, and you deserve only the best, and that's all I'm ever going to give you ... the best.  By the way, we're installing a GPS system as soon as possible.”

“Jack!”

Jack laughed, but then turned solemn again.

“I love you, Danny, and what we do puts us both at risk, even here, where we shouldn't have to worry about anything but ... keeping each other happy.  Humor me, please.”

“You're a marshmallow, Jack.  What would your old Air Force buddies think if they saw you now?”

Jack roared with laughter.

“They'd never believe it.  Jack O'Neill in love with a friggin' scientist who rocks his world and means more to him than flying ... or big honkin' weapons.  I love you so friggin' much, Daniel.”

Jack and Daniel leaned into each other and kissed, their tongues dancing with one another, soft moans escaping from both their throats. They were carried back to their lovemaking and how good it felt.

“It was pretty amazing, wasn't it Jack?”

“You're amazing, Danny.”

“I'm going to pay you for the car, Jack.  I meant that.”

“Okay, if that's what you want.”

“Even without the car, you spent a lot of money this weekend because of me; I ... I want to pay for half, Jack.”

“For us, Daniel.  Look, when I bought this place, it came with the appliances.  They were old, but I didn't care.  We should have been replacing them for months, when they first started acting up.”

“We,” Daniel said quietly looking out at the yard.

“We,” Jack stated firmly.  “Oh, Danny,” Jack said to himself, “one of these days, you are going to be a believer in us.  It may take years, but I'm going to get rid of that abandoned little boy, if it's the last thing I do.”

“So ... if it's, uh, 'we', then, you'll let me pay for half of everything?”

“You can, or, better yet, the next time we need something, you buy. This is *your* home, too, Danny, for as long as you want it to be.”

Jack hated that qualifier, but he felt he had to say it.  Sha're never left Jack's thoughts.  She was beautiful, and Daniel loved her.  Jack was an old, run-down colonel with bad knees and an even badder attitude, not to mention, Jack was a man.  His heart was always confused when he thought about Daniel's wife. He was determined to keep his promise that they'd find her and bring her home, and at the same time, that day terrified Jack because he was afraid he would lose his heart forever.

“What are you thinking about?” the younger man inquired.

Jack considered lying, but it's something he and Daniel never did, so he responded, “Sha're.”

Now, it was Jack watching the scampering squirrels with fascination.

Daniel took Jack's hand, and spoke softly, “I ... love her.”

“I know.”

Daniel squeezed Jack's hand, brought it to his mouth, kissed Jack's palm, and then raised it to lean against his cheek.  A tear dropped, and Jack's hand moved to dry it.

“I love you, too, Jack.”

“I know.”

“Jack, let's go somewhere,” Daniel requested.

“Okay.  Where?”

“The cabin.”

Jack chuckled, “You want me to take you fishing, Love?”

“Yes.  You fish; I'll read.  We'll eat, drink, and make love.”

“And watch the sunrises and the sunsets,” Jack suggested romantically.

“And ... hold each other ... lots.”

“Lots of snuggling and touching.”

“Kissing, have to kiss, Jack, at least once in between each chapter.”

“No.”

“No?”

“Too long.  Each page.”

“Deal.”

“When do you want to go?  We have vacation in a few weeks.”

“Now.”

“Not sure Hammond would like that.  Of course, we could just go for a couple of days and ...”

“Jack?”

Jack sensed something he couldn't define in Daniel's voice.

“What, Love?”

“Let's just go -- get in the silver fox and go.  You and me, to the cabin, for at least a week.  I ... I have a feeling, and I can't explain it, but I just ... let's just go, Jack.  Please.”

Jack could never say no to those cerulean blue eyes.

“You still have a fever.”

“You'll take care of me.”

Jack loved that trust.

“Yes, I will.  Okay, let's go.”

Daniel's smile was huge, bigger and brighter than the sun Jack thought.  It made Jack warm all over to see that smile.

“You pack a few things.  I'll call Hammond.”

“Jack.”

“I promise, Love.  Nothing will stop us from going.”

====

“Colonel, you and Doctor Jackson do both have leave coming up, and as it is, you're going to be on light duty for a while with your injury.  I'd prefer it if ...”

“General, Sir, this is ... important.  We'll pass on that leave, both of us.”  Taking a breath, Jack intoned seriously, “Daniel's had a difficult time lately, and he wants to get away from here for awhile.”

“So this isn't just you wanting to go fishing, Jack?” the bald-headed man inquired as he quietly checked the upcoming schedules.

“No, Sir, this is for Daniel,” Jack answered.  ~Magic words.~

“I see,” Hammond responded.  “All right, Colonel.  I'll expect to see you and Doctor Jackson back in eight days.”

“Thank you, General.”

“Jack?” the man on the other end of the phone called out.

“Yes, Sir?”

“Take care of our boy.”

With a firm smile, Jack replied, “That's my intention, Sir.”  ~And my promise.~  He hung up the phone and went upstairs where he found his lover still packing their bags.  “Need help?”

Shaking his head, Daniel answered, “No, I think I've got just about everything.  You want to take any of your magazines?”

“Nah, I'll just read my favorite book.”

“You're taking a book?” the surprised scholar questioned.

“Sure am.”

“Now that's a first,” Daniel mused.  “Which one?”

“Oh, it's a first edition, rare, very delicate, and I intend to read every word of it over and over again.”

Jack was leering at Daniel who blushed.

“I'm not a ... book, Jack.”

Jack scooped up his soulmate, causing him to drop a pair of boxers onto the carpet, and expressed lovingly, “You are the finest book ever created, Daniel Jackson, with a strong binding, and perfect raised lettering.  Every page is a new discovery, every chapter an awakening; and the best thing is that there's no ending.  Love you, Danny.”

Jack kissed his life, absorbing every word of the touch.

Amazed, Daniel responded, “Jack, you're poetic.”

“It happens,” Jack spoke lightheartedly.  “Let's get out of here.  I'm anxious to ... read the next chapter.”

“What did Hammond say?”

“He told me to take care of you.”

“Jack, what did you tell him?”

“That we wanted to go on vacation.”

“You said more than that.”

“Yep, I told him you were my heart and my life, and you needed to get away from here, and so did I, and we were going, so he might as well say yes.”

“You didn't say that, Jack.”

“In words?  No, I didn't.  In tone, I did.  Let's go, Danny.”

The couple packed up Daniel's new little car, and fastened their seatbelts.  Then the younger man leaned over and kissed the older before starting the engine.

“I love my Silver Fox, Jack, both of them; and, by the way, we're getting a GPS put into the truck, too, and that's, uh, non-negotiable, Colonel.”

Jack didn't argue.  He would always protect Daniel; he'd die for him without question, and it scared him as much as warmed his soul, that he knew Daniel would do the same for him.

Jack wasn't used to being protected either; it was a strange sensation to see Daniel give him that look that said, “I love you, too, Jack, and I need to keep you safe, so you can keep me safe,” but Jack had to admit, it felt good to be loved and wanted so much.

Daniel backed out of the driveway, and the two lovers drove off toward a week of paradise at Jack's cabin.  They didn't know what exactly their futures would bring.  They couldn't anticipate what would happen on their very next mission that would change their lives forever, but it didn't matter.

Jack and Daniel loved each other, and, somehow, in their souls, they knew they'd always be together, forever, in a nation of two that defied anyone, or anything, that tried to destroy it.

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
Feedback Welcome - click here to email the author