Never a False Step

Author: Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Mini-Angst, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  6 - April 15, 2003 - (Flashback to season 2)
Spoilers:  One False Step, Maternal Instinct, Singularity
Size:  63kb
Written:  July 20,31, August 2-4, 2003  Revised:  October 11, 2003  Revised Again:  January 11, February 17, 2005, February 22, May 8,18-19, July 8-9, December 18, 2007
Summary:  Jack's flying high, teasing his lover endlessly about planes, Danny dances, and meaningful conversations with dogs!
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Used with the author's permission, references to Daniel's conversation with a dog is from the humorous “A Meaningful Conversation” by Kaz.  The brief section labeled as a “Daniel's Conversation” is taken from this story and was written by Kaz.  The entire story can be found at http://www.sg1hc.com/archive/5/ameaningful.html
2) Information about feeding dogs chocolate is accurate; giving a dog chocolate can be very harmful if not lethal.  More information can be found at my doggie's web page:  http://home.comcast.net/~Orrymain/dogs.htm
3) 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.**
4) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
5) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  QuinGem, Linda, Claudia, Sara!

Never a False Step
By Orrymain

~Where'd I put ... oh, there it is.~  In his study, Jack took a swig of beer, then reached for a pretzel.  ~Okay, let's see what the fuss is all about,~ he thought as he settled into his chair a bit more comfortably and began to read his lover's computer diary.

//Beginning of Daniel's Diary//
Not every mission has the intensity going into it that is often present when we know we'll be doing battle with the Goa'uld.  PJ2-445 was one of those.  The UAV had unexpectedly crashed, but was still able to relay images of an alien lifeform through its still-functioning camera lens.  We, SG-1, were sent to retrieve the damaged UAV so that Sam could determine the cause of the malfunction that prompted the device to crash land.

We weren't expecting to find anything spectacular, or even anything of miniscule significance.  It was obvious that the beings on 445 were primitive.  We weren't even sure we'd come into contact with them.

Jack had whined about the long walk from the Stargate to where telemetry had indicated the UAV was, but once we'd gone through the event horizon, he'd resigned himself to the mission.  To be honest, I think he was whining, in typical Jack fashion, just to stir things up a little.  That's how basic we all thought the mission would be, except for Sam, of course, who spent the pre-mission time prattling about the technical specs of the UAV and how she wanted to improve it.

Not long after our arrival on the planet, we came across one of the aliens.  At first glance, he appeared to be naked, something which made all of us a bit uncomfortable.  I said “Hi,” trying to do my peaceful explorer greeting, but the alien ran off.

“I guess that was the wrong thing to say,” I stated from my disappointment.

I'm really not sure how “Hi” could be a wrong thing to say, but I said it anyway.  Anytime something goes wrong, I tend to blame myself, but that's neither here nor there at the moment.

As we followed the alien, we realized the UAV wasn't where it was supposed to be.  It seemed unlikely that the shy beings on the planet would have taken it maliciously, but we had to assume they had the device.  Finally, we reached a settlement area where several hut-type homes stood.  They were simple structures, looking like barren caves on the inside.  In an effort to learn more about them and hopefully find the UAV as well, I ventured inside one of the alien homes to attempt to talk with the natives.  It was an adventure I'll never forget.

“You don't speak at all, do you,” I eventually asked as more of a statement than a question to the inquiring look of the aliens, who were as curious about us as we were about them.

It turned out that the aliens weren't nude, but their skin was layer after layer of dried paint.  They put some on my face, as a gesture of friendship, I assumed.

“Thank you,” I told them, wondering what Jack would think if he saw me trying to communicate with the aliens.

Since the alien's didn't speak English, I had to resort to miming to try and communicate what we were after.  So, praying that Jack would stay outside, knowing how the combination of my painted face and miming would look to our fearless leader, I demonstrated to our new friends what the UAV was like, running around the room, arms outstretched, making the sound of a flying airplane.  It was like a child playing, only I wasn't a child.  I wasn't too proud to attempt that kind of communication.  As a linguist and anthropologist, what Jack calls charades is a viable means of relaying information.  Still, it made me nervous just knowing how Jack would react if he'd seen me in that moment.

As I 'crashed' my body airplane, I thought, ~Oh, please let Jack stay outside.~

The teasing would never end if My Colonel had seen this exhibition.  I was so glad when it was over that he'd remained outside the living quarters.  He would never need to know, and I certainly wasn't going to tell him.
//End of Daniel's Diary//

Loud and boisterous laughter permeated the air from the study.

~He sounds like a laughing hyena,~ Daniel groaned as he shook his head.

The archaeologist was in the living room, repairing a bookshelf.  The night before, he and his lover had gotten a little carried away with the 'who alpha'd who' tug-of-war they sometimes played.  Not paying attention to their location in respect to the furniture, they had slammed against one of the bookshelves, causing two of the inner shelves to collapse from the force of their bodies.

A picture frame that encased a photo of Jack's parents had broken, and a candy dish had been chipped, but the main damage had been to the brackets that held the individual shelves, which were either bent or broken.

Jack had already replaced the broken picture frame, buying a new one when he had gone to the store to get new brackets to fix the shelves. The chip in the candy dish was small and on the bottom so they decided it was still usable.

“I can't believe we did this,” Daniel snorted as he worked to reconnect the shelves, thankful they hadn't done more damage.  He had remained focused on his task, until the laughter escaped from the study, causing him to hang his head and let out a deep sigh.  ~Why am I letting Jack read this diary?~

Daniel knew the answer to his silent inquiry.  Jack was his life partner, his soulmate, the love of his life.  They were a nation of two, and that meant they shared everything, even their most private thoughts.  It wasn't always easy, and sometimes the walls were there despite their best intentions, but Daniel could never keep anything from Jack, and Jack was the same with him.

~Two hyenas,~ the young man bemoaned.  The laughter hadn't stopped.  Putting down his screwdriver, Daniel sank to the floor, bringing his knees up to his chin and placing his arms out to tug them close.  It was a bit of a sitting self-hug as he reviewed why he was subjecting himself to this torment.  ~Why am I even writing this diary?~

The compassionate explorer knew the answer for that, too.  It was insane for someone as private as he was to even contemplate sharing his life story with others, but that's exactly what he hoped would happen some day.  He not only despised the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' mentality,but he also resented the outdated and terribly unfair laws that discriminated against anyone in a relationship that was not 'traditional'.  Most of all, he hated that he had to lie about his feelings for Jack whom he loved with every fiber of his being.

Jack and Daniel were always having to be careful, to watch what they did.  It hurt.  Why couldn't people understand that they were simply in love, and why should that amazing emotional miracle make them social outcasts simply because they were both the same gender?

This was why Daniel was keeping his computer diary: in the hope that one day their experiences would help others understand their love and know that it was a beautiful thing, not a sinful act that made them a pair of freaks.

Again, raucous laughter snapped Daniel out of his thoughts.  He got up and finished the last of the repairs, his mind still wondering if he had been crazy to write about the adventure Jack was now reading.

~Why did I write about that?  I could have ignored it, but, no, Jackson has to be complete; can't take a short cut.  Idiot!~

Daniel had no answer for this, much to his chagrin, except that as a scientist, he believed in detail, and he wasn't ashamed at his method of communication.  After all, his unofficial game of charades with the aliens had worked as only a few minutes later, the aliens had brought the broken UAV to SG-1.

The linguist just knew life with Jack O'Neill would never be the same.  Sure enough, the next thing he knew, a paper plane soared by his ear into the bookshelf.  Daniel heard a wicked chuckle directly behind him, but before he could react, he was engulfed by the arms of the man who held his heart.

“Ah, there's my little pilot,” Jack chuckled as he approached.  He tugged his lover close and nibbled seductively on an ear, causing a moan to escape from the younger man.  “Danny, did you really run around that hut doing an imitation of the UAV?” he asked as he feasted some more on his lover's soft earlobe.

Despite his rising blush, Daniel wanted to be sarcastic with his incorrigible partner; he wanted to say, 'And shouldn't you have read my final report on PJ2-445?' which he knew Jack hadn't done, but he could never concentrate when Jack was nibbling.

~... especially not ... right ... ah, there,~ Daniel sighed.

“Danny?”

“Jack, if you, uh ... I mean ... if you want an intelligent ... um, response, you have to ... stop ... that!”

After another chuckle and a final loving nibble, Jack pushed back, slapping his lover's firm buttocks as he walked away.

“*Jack!*”

“So, show me, Daniel.”

“Jack, I am *not* going to show you,” Daniel responded, crossing his arms in front of him as he faced his soulmate.

“Oh, yes, you will, Daniel.  Trust me, you will,” Jack smirked.

~I'm in big trouble.  Look at him, smirking.  I can see the gleam in his eye, and that smile, the way it crooks just so.  His voice -- taunting me.  Gawd, he's going to make me do it.  I won't have a choice.  I'm ... doomed,~ Daniel thought as he gulped.  ~Why, oh why, did I write in that diary?~ he pondered as he gripped himself a bit tighter and unconsciously took a step backwards so that he was only a foot or so in front of the newly-repaired bookshelf.

There really hadn't been anything dramatic about this mission.  He should have kept his big trap shut and his telling fingers doing something besides typing on a keyboard.  His fingers were very talented.  Daniel let loose with a beguiling smile, realizing what he should have been doing with those fingers, and it wasn't typing.

“Ah, Doctor Jackson,” Jack said in a low voice as he seductively swaggered back towards the smiling man.  “I see we may be on the same page here,” he noted as he embraced his Love.

The lovers kissed, devouring each other wantonly.  The fight from the night before for 'alpha'  position was back on, and they started to move furiously, almost violently through the living room.

“*No!*” Daniel suddenly shouted, pulling out of Jack's hold, effectively stopping their momentum.

Jack's heart stopped at the cry. That had not been a playful 'no', but had been a serious one, one that Daniel had meant.

~No?  Did Daniel just say 'no'?~  Jack's 'Daniel alarm' suddenly blared in his head.  He had no idea what would have caused the outburst from his alluring lover.  “Daniel, what's wrong?”

Daniel took a deep breath.  He returned to his lover, both hands rubbing gently against his lover's chest and then wrapping around and stroking Jack's back.

“I'm sorry, Babe, but I just fixed the shelves, and I could tell we were leaning that way.  You are *not* going to undo my hard work, Colonel O'Neill.”

~I'll buy that.~  Jack breathed again, not realizing he had been holding his breath from a panic he didn't realize he had.  His focus returned, he brushed his lips gently against Daniel's.  “No, definitely don't want to undo your work, but I do want to undo ... you, and as for hard ...”

“Jaaaack.”

Both men laughed, their passion temporarily on hold for an unexpected moment of a more tender embrace.  They leaned their foreheads together, placing their hands on each other's waists.  It was only for a moment, one of calm between the violent-like passion to lay claim onto the other in the living room, and the one that followed, a slow and gentle caressing and moving together of their bodies as they melded into each other, their love exploding into the air until they were too exhausted to do anything but hold on to each other in their bedroom.

“So, Danny, about showing me your airplane act ...”

“Jack.”

“Daniel.”

“No way, Babe,” Daniel insisted.

“Way!” Jack maintained.

“No in this lifetime,” the archaeologist argued and then yawned.

“Trust me, Doctor Jackson, I have only just begun to fight,” Jack threatened, cackling afterwards.

The younger man grunted and fell into the temporary safety of sleep, knowing he would one day lose the battle.  He only hoped he'd have the courage to give it up sooner rather than later; it would be less painful and less exhausting than trying to fight the Special Ops-trained colonel.

====

That afternoon, the lovers had showered and then returned to their tasks.  When the older man walked into the kitchen, he smiled at the sight of the younger man.

~Always beautiful,~ Jack thought.

Sensing his Love's presence, Daniel looked up from the table where he was seated and smiled as he asked, “Finished?”

“Yeah, got her all shined up.  Yours, too, while I was at it,” Jack spoke about having just cleaned their vehicles.

“Thank you, Babe,” Daniel acknowledged, happily kissing his soulmate when Jack walked over to the table, leaned over to give him a kiss, and then sat down.

Staring at the can opener, the older man asked, “What's wrong?”

“I'm not sure.  It stopped working,” Daniel said as he used a screwdriver to open up the inner workings of the small appliance.  “I think maybe something is just loose.”

“Well, good luck,” Jack said, standing back up.  “I'm off to read about my lover, the airplane.”

“Very funny, Jack,” Daniel responded dryly.

Jack chuckled and gave a small wave as he headed for the study.  Once there, he continued reading Daniel's account of the mission to PJ2-445.

//Beginning of Daniel's Diary//
Feeling like I had failed, I reported to Jack without revealing the basic communication tactics I had resorted to.  I finally admitted that he had been right when he said the aliens were a less evolved society.  I could have admitted it right away, but it's always so much fun to tease him in this way.  He gets such an annoyed look on his face.  Okay, we shouldn't do that when we're working, but it's no different than his 'annoyance' at my so-called rambling, which he calls prattling.  I mean, what works for him, works for me, right?  If you could see me, you'd realized I'd just sighed.  He's right; I ramble, or prattle.  Let me get back to the mission.

“I've had more successful conversations with dogs,” I admitted reluctantly.

Silently, I hoped that Jack would never ask me about that experience.  It's not like it's something I did everyday, having conversations with dogs.  It's just that one time, and it seemed okay.  It just happened, but that's another story, a good one, I hope, but another story regardless.

We were interrupted when the aliens surprised us by bringing out the damaged UAV.  Seeing it was exciting because it meant the aliens had actually understood my pantomime.  My elation was short-lived, however, when I sneezed, and one of the aliens collapsed.  I was afraid that I'd caused his illness; apparently, everyone else on the team had a reason to believe the same thing.  We must have sounded like paranoid hypochondriacs to Janet, but I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

As time passed, several of the other natives also lost consciousness, so Jack sent for Janet; that's Doctor Janet Frasier, the head of our medical staff at the SGC.

Janet made a 'planet call' and ran some tests, but then she wanted to take one of the aliens back to the SGC for further testing.  I wanted to stay on the planet, though, and see if I could learn anything more; plus, I just felt so darn guilty that I didn't want to leave these aliens alone.  They seemed so helpless and vulnerable.  There had to be something I could learn by remaining.

Luckily, Jack agreed.  I don't think he really wanted to leave, either.  My Colonel takes our impact on other worlds very seriously, especially innocent ones like this, so I think he wanted to stick around, too.  So, while the rest of us stayed, Sam and Janet returned to Earth with the first alien who had collapsed at our feet after showing us the UAV.

Then life on PJ2-445 really got exciting, though exciting is probably the wrong word, but it certainly heated up, and not in the way I would have preferred.

As I emerged from one of the huts, I saw a plant that had been at least six-feet tall suddenly shrink down into the ground.  It was a curiosity, and it intrigued me. Jack and Teal'c had just returned from a short recon, but hadn't witnessed the plant's strange withdrawal.  I'm afraid My Colonel doubted me, again.

We bickered, but there was an anger and harshness in our tones that was unusual, and the reason for that was unknown to both of us.  It was like there was a prickling beneath my skin, and I just had to argue with him.

“Okay, what are we gonna do?” I asked.

My head hurt, and I had reached my hands up to try and squish away the pain.  I know.  It didn't make sense, but at the time, it seemed the logical thing to do.

“How should I know?” Jack replied in a very frustrated tone.

“Well, we need to do something,” I insisted.

“I agree with you, but I haven't had the brilliant revelations you seem to have had.”

Whoa!  Where had that come from?  Well, it didn't matter.  I was even more upset now, and I didn't hesitate to unload on my lover.

“Well, maybe you could try coming up with something a little bit better than inappropriate sarcasm.”

Jack didn't hesitate to meet my challenge as he came right back with, “You want sarcasm?  Nice to meet ya.”

I wanted to scream, or maybe just hit him.  Sometimes, Jack can be so infuriating, and this was one of those times.  However, before things could escalate more that second, one of the aliens walked up to us, followed closely by Teal'c.  Jack and I stood there, not sure what to say or do.  Neither of us understood why we had just fought anymore than we knew what to say now that the 'fight' had ended.

Then insult was added to injury when Jack told Teal'c, “I'm gonna stick around and work on this quarantine thing with Plant Boy here.”

Plant Boy?  He was *so* going to regret that.  I glared at the man I loved, wondering why I loved him.  Plant Boy?  Oh, yeah, he was going to pay for that one!

Teal'c left, and I turned to gather some equipment to continue my studies.

“Daniel.”

Jack reached out to grab my arm, but I moved quickly out of his reach.  I guess he felt bad, but I really didn't care.

“Don't touch me, Jack.”

“Danny, you know I ...”

He stumbled.  He couldn't even say it, that he was sorry for his inappropriate sarcasm.  Any chance he had to make me care had been blown to bits.  I was tired of having to prove myself all the time, and that's exactly what I told him.

“Jack, why is it you never believe me?  We've seen so many strange things in this universe.  A plant that ... that ... that ...”

“... shoots up out of nowhere, like what, Daniel, a beanstalk?” Jack asked, his sarcasm at an all-time high.

There was no doubt about it: I wanted to strangle him, right there on the spot.

“Go away, Jack.  I have work to do,” I said, trying to focus my attention on the plant and what it had done a few minutes earlier.

Jack reached out for me again, but he wasn't someone I wanted to be around at the moment, so I pulled away from him and said, “Leave me alone, Jack.”

I gave Jack a look that told him he'd better cut his loses and leave me alone, and then I took a walk, needing to distance myself from him.  Being around my supposed soulmate was not wanted or advisable at that point in time.

What amazed me is that I wasn't really angry at him, but I felt aggravated, agitated, and even flustered.  In a way, I felt out of control.  None of it made any sense.  Jack and I bickered frequently, but never without reason, not out of the blue over nothing, and never to the point of not wanting the other around at all.  Well, not like we just had, not with this prickling sensation that was making my skin crawl.

The feelings about Jack not believing me were real.  No one ever believed me back then.  I never understood what it was about me that made people doubt rather than support.

It's better today.  Jack, he's fixed that, but when we went to PJ2-445, I still had to prove my worth, that I could be trusted.  He claims I'm wrong about that, but just like the cliché that My Love dislikes so much, actions speak louder than words.

Why was it so hard to believe that a plant grew out of the ground and then retracted itself when we'd seen symbiotes living in human beings, invisible cities, and little gray men from outer space?  But no, Doctor Jackson saying a plant sprang forth from the ground and then returned to it was too much to be believed.

I loved Jack, believed in him, and trusted him with my entire soul and being.  Why couldn't he do the same for me?  Oh, he did at home.  He was always different when it was just the two of us, but on a mission, the colonel took root.  I wondered if My Jack understood that while I loved him, I didn't always like the colonel.
//End of Daniel's Diary//

Jack sat back, slumping down slightly in the leather chair Daniel had purchased when they redecorated the study.  It was the most comfortable chair Jack had ever sat in.

“Crazy extravagance,” Jack moaned as he turned on the built in massager, letting soothing pulses knead his tense back and shoulders.  ~Crazy geek,~ he thought as he closed his eyes and remembered the discussion about buying the chair.

//Flashback//
“Danny, we don't need something this expensive,” Jack opined, tossing the brochure onto the desk.

Daniel looked at the brochure, the item of his desire marked by a large 'X', and replied, “I want to buy it for you, Jack.  What you do, what *we* do, is so stressful.  This will be great to help you relax.”

“There are lots of ways to relax, Daniel, without spending seventeen-hundred dollars on a chair.”

“I know it's a bit over the top, but ...” Daniel began.

“Over the top?” Jack interjected, totally confused by his lover's desire to buy such an elaborate chair.  “Daniel ... seventeen-hundred dollars!  I can go get a chair at Office Depot that'll work just fine for forty-five dollars.”

The younger man looked deflated, but he didn't back down.  He was determined to fight for the chair, so, instead, he stood firmly in place and hunkered down with folded arms across his chest to do battle with his lover.  This was very important to Daniel, and he would not be deterred.  Gathering his resolve, he took a deep breath and battled forth.

“But your forty-five dollar chair isn't genuine leather, and it doesn't come with a button control that you can adjust to hit your back just right, nor does it tilt to fit what you are working on, *and* it doesn't have a massager.”  Then Daniel smiled and spoke more softly, “*And* it comes in blue, Jack.”

Jack swore Daniel batted his long eyelashes intentionally, knowing that the old marshmallow better known as Jack O'Neill had a thing about the color blue since Daniel was his own blue-eyed wonder.

~Not fair, my little archaeologist!~  Jack took a deep breath, not ready to concede just yet.  “Why, Danny?”

“Because I want you ... I want both of us to be comfortable, Jack.  I know it's a luxury, but it's a luxury I can afford.  I know it's ridiculously priced, and, yes, I know you'd be 'happy' with some standard desk chair, but I ... I want to do this.  You deserve to be,” Daniel blushed slightly before continuing, “pam...pampered.  It'll be good for you, Jack.  Think of it this way,  it'll help you calm down when you want to strangle me.”
//End of Flashback//

Jack laughed for a moment, remembering Daniel's comment about strangling him and his insistence on buying the chair.

~As usual, Love, you were right.~

How many times had Jack been grateful to sit in that comfortable chair and turn on the pulsar action as he read some report or worked on paperwork after a strenuous mission; or, he had to concede, when he was ready to thwap his loveable, but sometimes annoying lover?

~Too many to count.~

It was a crazy way for his lover to spend the salary he had earned through years of blood, sweat, and tears, but Jack had run out of arguments.  He gave in.  After all, it's not like Daniel couldn't afford it.  His SGC salary was high up on the civilian consultant pay scale.  Jack reflected back on his acquiescence.

//Flashback//
Approaching his soulmate and then cupping his face, Jack caressed the soft cheeks as he spoke, “You're a crazy man, Jackson, but you win.  Just make sure that the blue brings out your eyes like you promised.”

“I didn't say that.”

“Yes, you did, Daniel, when you batted those lashes.  Ah! Ah!  You know perfectly well what you did, so I expect you to pay up in full, and that means your body with those cerulean blue eyes in a matching blue chair.”

“But Ja...”

Whatever Daniel was going to say was lost forever.  Jack had engaged the man in some high-intensity kissing, followed by a heavy fondling session on the stairs, and climaxed by, well, by a series of climaxes throughout the night in their bedroom.

====

A few weeks later, Jack walked into the study and saw his soulmate,  sitting handsomely gift wrapped in a cerulean blue leather chair that made Daniel's eyes incredibly bluer than Jack had ever seen.

“Your present is here, Jack,” the archaeologist spoke with a voice that was low and inviting.

Jack's eyes widened, and he licked his lips.  Daniel was buck naked in the chair except for a large blue ribbon wrapped around his arms and torso, tied with a bow no less.  He swooped in and unwrapped his present from the gods for another night of mind-blowing sex.

Just as Daniel was about to drift off to sleep, the older man asked, “Um, Danny, has the chair for the study arrived yet?”

Daniel's response was a tight squeeze of Jack's most sensitive private part, and he didn't let go as he asked, “What did you say, Jack?”

Jack swallowed and responded, “I said, the chair in the study looks great, Love.  Tha...Thank you.”

With a Cheshire grin, Daniel released his grip, and said softly as he once again closed his eyes, “That's what I thought you said, and you're welcome.”
//End of Flashback//

Jack's heart was full of happiness at the thought of Daniel, the chair, and their night of passion.

~I never did ask you how you managed to wrap yourself in that bow,~ the colonel chuckled.  His smile faded, however, as a glance at the computer screen brought him back to the present, reminding him of why he had slumped back into the chair a few minutes before.  A frown pierced Jack's face.  ~For someone who is usually right, how did you get to be so wrong about this?~

Apparently, Daniel thought that Jack hadn't believed him, that he had to prove himself, over and over again.  Jack clasped his hands together and threw his head back into the chair, grunting from frustration.

~No, Danny.  When you say something, I know the odds are that you're right.  Heck, I learned that on Abydos the first time.~  Jack let out a tiny sneer as he thought, ~You know, sometimes it's actually annoying to be in love with someone who is almost always right about almost everything.~  Then, though, he broke out into laughter.  He loved his annoying geek to the ends of the Earth, and he would never want him to change.  ~Not one thing.  He's perfect, even when he drives me crazy.  He's not annoying, he's everything. ~  With a sigh, Jack spoke softly, “I let you down, Angel.  I'm sorry.”

====

Jack wasn't sure Daniel would still be there, but he figured he'd start his search in the kitchen.  Sure enough, the younger man was still in there, standing by the cabinets.

“Hey,” Jack called out.

“Hey, yourself,” Daniel replied with a smile.

“Can opener?”

“It's going to live to see another day,” Daniel chuckled, reaching over, pressing the lever, and then smiling at the sound of the opener operating.  More seriously, he stated, “We need to go shopping, Jack.  We've been gone so much lately that we're low on just about everything.  We'll have to eat Froot Loops for dinner if we don't drop by the supermarket this afternoon.”

“I noticed that,” Jack responded as he leaned against the counter, his hands in his pockets while he looked down at the kitchen floor.

“What's wrong, Jack?” Daniel asked, putting down the pad and paper he had been using to prepare a shopping list and then facing his soulmate.

“I'm sorry, Danny.  I never realized how much what I said, or did ...”  Jack's voice trailed off.  He knew what he felt in his heart; he just didn't know how to express himself to his lover.  He temporarily solved his dilemma by closing the gap between Daniel and himself and pulling the man who was his life into a warm embrace.  “I love you, Danny, and in case I haven't said it lately, I respect you, and even though it still annoys me, you're almost always right about things.”  He continued to hold his lover and said softly against his neck, “I have always believed in you, even when I didn't show it.  I'm just stubborn.”

Daniel had tried to back away slightly, but Jack wouldn't let him, choosing to continue his admission.

“It was me, Daniel.  I was the leader, the CO, and it was my job not to make mistakes.  I was responsible for you, and Carter, and Teal'c, and anyone we came into contact with who were affected by us.  Daniel, your mind, it operates on hyper speed.  You're faster than all of us put together.  You get to Point C before the rest of us have gotten to Point B.”

The colonel paused, searching for the right words.  This was important, and though he hated speaking in paragraphs, Daniel needed to know the truth.  The time for truth, he realized, was long overdue.

“Danny, I remember when we found the kid, the baby Shifu, and you told us to put down our weapons; afterwards, you were upset because I didn't give the order until Bra'tac and the others had weighed in on the issue, but that's just my point.  You were already there, at that third point when we were still standing in the middle.”

Jack finally pulled back, not releasing his lover, but making it so they could look at each other.  He kept one hand on Daniel's back, caressing, and moved his right hand to stroke the younger man's smooth cheek.

“You're smart, way smarter than me, and you have to remember I need more time to process, to catch up with you.  I'm so sorry, Love, that sometimes it looked like I didn't believe you, because I almost always did, and even when I wasn't sure what to think about the words you spoke, I always believed in you.  I just needed time.”

Jack kissed Daniel tenderly, then leaned his forehead so he was touching Daniel's, mirroring their pose by the bookshelf earlier that day.

“It's okay, Jack; I understand,” Daniel assured quietly.

“It's important, Daniel.”

Daniel graced his soulmate with that special smile reserved only for him and responded, “I know, and I mean it, Jack.  Sometimes I forget, too, because I know that you are way smarter than the dumb colonel role you play so well, but I do ... understand ... now.”

“But you didn't back on 445 with those naked aliens, right?”

“No,” Daniel shyly admitted.  “But I know now, and that does count, Jack.”  The two lovers kissed passionately before separating.  Daniel returned to his shopping list as he asked, “So, did you finish the diary?”

“No, I stopped when I read about the plant thing.  I needed to talk to you, and I didn't want it to wait.”

Daniel's heart warmed knowing Jack finally understood how hard it had been for him in those days.  It also meant more than he could say that his lover had made it a point to make sure he understood that everything wasn't how it seemed.

~I should have known that's how he felt,~ Daniel opined.  Sometimes, for a genius, he didn't always pick up on the little things.  Of course, his history and self-doubts often impacted his ability to pick up on those little signs, too.  “I love you, Jack.”

“Love you, too!” Jack exclaimed happily.

Deciding he'd prefer to be with his lover rather than finish the grocery list, Daniel walked over and grabbed Jack's arm, tugging on it gently as he suggested, “C'mon, let's go back to the study, and you can finish the entry while I read a book.”

Jack put his left arm around Daniel's waist as they walked and, recalling what he'd already read in the computer diary, decided to seize the moment.

“Daniel, about those conversations you had with dogs.”

“Jaaaaaack!”

“Seriously, Danny, I want to know all about it,” Jack said.

“Sure you do,” Daniel replied sarcastically.  ~I am in such trouble.~

Jack halted as they neared the door to the study and turned his lover to face him, holding him in his arms as he stated, “I want to know everything about you, and that includes your dogs.”

“I ... I never had a dog, Jack,” the younger man admitted quietly.

“Never?” Jack asked, feeling both horrified and shocked at the revelation.

Daniel tried to push back from the embrace and turned his head towards the study, but Jack held on, saying, “Ah, Danny, every kid should have a dog.  It's a rule, you know.”

Daniel laughed and looked into Jack's eyes, recalling, “That's what you said to Cassie that day at the park.  I thought Sam was going to burst when she saw you walk over with the dog.”

“Carter thinks that all a kid needs is a Major Matt Mason doll,” Jack quipped.  The his look became serious and full of regret as he thought about his lover's life as a child.  He brought his right hand up and traced his lover's jaw and then his lips.  Then he placed a short, sweet kiss on those lips.  Afterwards, he sighed, “You should have had a dog, Danny.”

There was so much said in those seven words.  Daniel was misty-eyed,  but didn't cry.  Jack continued his loving touches as the two stood, silently melancholy over a history they couldn't change, a history of an orphaned genius, abandoned by his grandfather, passed from home to home, always being on the outside, never fitting in.  The regret of Charlie Brown Christmases and uncelebrated birthdays, the little boy giving but rarely receiving, flooded their minds.

Jack pictured the boy in his mind, his Daniel alone and scared, building layers and layers of walls that would shield him from pain as an adult.  It had taken Jack years to tear down those walls.  Even now, some still remained.

~He should have had a dog.  Right, O'Neill; to have a dog would mean he would have had a home, and he never had one of those until ...~  Jack's inward conversation with himself was interrupted when he found himself being kissed.  ~How'd I miss that coming?~

**Because you were feeling sorry for me,** Daniel answered via their special non-verbal communication while the kissed continued.

**Multi-tasking, Love?  Reading my mind and kissing me?**

**And working on the grocery list.  I have a lot of talents, remember?** Daniel smirked, the kiss still continuing and growing deeper by the second.

When the long kiss finally ended, Jack laughed that he hadn't sensed the oncoming kiss until it was already happening.

“We're supposed to be reading, not ... not ...”

“... thinking about things we can't change, no matter how much we wish we could *and would* in a heartbeat, for you, Angel.”

“I know, but I ... I wouldn't change anything, Jack, be...because if I did, then maybe we ... we might not even have met, and I can't imagine not being here with you, and I ... I would never do anything to jeopardize our lives together, even if I could magically ... have had a dog.”

~... and your parents, Love.~

Jack would hate it, but he'd walk away from Daniel this second if he could give Daniel's parents back to that lost little boy.  His lover's life would have been changed completely.  Daniel deserved a home, a place to be loved by his mother and father, and he should have had a dog.  Jack wanted his lover to have all the wonderful things he had -- a happy childhood with friends and happy memories, not nightmares such as those that haunted the younger man.

“Jack?”

“I'm sorry, Daniel, just lost in my thoughts, and, just to be clear, I wasn't feeling sorry for you, just for the situation,” the older man clarified.  “There's a difference.”

Thoughtfully, Daniel nodded and replied, “Yes, there is.  We can't change the past, Jack, and I don't want to.”

“So, tell me about this dog,” Jack cajoled as he motioned for the them to enter the study, knowing it was time to move forward in their conversation.

“Forget about the dog, Jack.”

“Nope,” Jack refused.  “Tell me, Doctor Jackson; you know you will, so why wait?”

As Daniel perused the bookshelves, trying to decide what to read while Jack finished reading about their experiences on PJ2-445, Jack leaned against his desk 'Daniel watching'.

“Jack, I'm not going to tell you so just sit down, and finish reading the diary,” Daniel instructed as he pulled his novel of choice from the shelf and plopped down on to the sofa.  He arranged the powder blue cushion behind his head and wiggled his butt as he got his supine body comfortable.  He could still feel his lover's chocolate brown eyes staring at him.  “No, Jack.  Read.”

Unfortunately for the linguist, Jack was still 'Daniel watching', which made him very nervous.  Daniel did his best to ignore the older man, sticking the book in front of his face and starting to read.

The archaeologist actually made it through three paragraphs before his silver-gray fox pounced on his prey, straddling his victim and saying, “I'm warning you, Daniel.  Start talking.  Did the dog actually speak to you?”

“Jack, go read so we can get the shopping done,” Daniel stated firmly, lowering the book to look at his silly lover.

“Tell me, Danny, or the Tickle Monster *will* get you,” Jack threatened enthusiastically, wiggling all his fingers over Daniel's abdomen.

“Tickle Monster, O’Neill?  You've been eating too many Froot Loops. They've made you loopy,” Daniel chirped just before Jack began his tickle attack.

One of Jack O'Neill's most pleasant discoveries in his exploration of Daniel Jackson's body during their first night together was that his Space Monkey was ticklish, certifiably ticklish.

“Nooooo, Jaaa...ck.  Don...Ja...” Daniel tried to object, but he didn't stand a chance.

Pushing Daniel's burgundy shirt up so that his abdomen was exposed, Jack began his attack just above the belly button, which he knew was especially sensitive.  Then he worked his way upward.

“C'mon, Babe, out with it.  I can do this all afternoon,” Jack laughed, his fingers kneading, scratching, and running over Daniel's torso.

The younger man was howling in a mixture of unabashed hysteria and tears, squirming and thrashing as he attempted to fight off his soulmate.  His book fell to the floor in the process.

“Alllll...right ... Jack ... stttttttop,” Daniel stuttered, taking a deep breath as Jack finally relaxed his motions.

The older man didn't move, choosing to keep his place to make sure Daniel followed through.  Of course, Daniel's well-built physique couldn't go to waste so Jack switched to a light massaging to help calm the still-settling convulsions from Daniel's laughing spell.

“So, tell me all about it,” Jack prompted as he rubbed the smooth skin of his partner.

“It was right before I met Catherine, actually.  I was feeling down and unsure.  I was about at my lowest point ... well, one of them anyway.  I was lost in my thoughts, sitting on the library steps when this ... mutt walked by.  She was scruffy and looked lost, like ...”

“You?”

Daniel smiled weakly for a minute, then answered, “Yeah, I guess so.  I called out, and she came over.  We ...”

“Talked?” Jack surmised with a crooked smile.

Daniel laughed, “Yes, in a manner of speaking.  I laughed at myself, sitting there, talking out loud to this dog, but, at the time, it seemed ... normal enough.  She didn't have a collar and looked hungry.  I ... I gave her part of a candy bar I had in my pocket; actually, she ate the entire thing except ...”

“Daniel, you fed chocolate to a dog?” Jack asked with alarm.

“What's wrong with that?”

The older man released a sad sigh and explained, “Danny, chocolate can be poisonous to a dog.  Never feed chocolate to a dog, no matter how much they beg for it.  It may be okay for you to be addicted to it, but chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine.  For canines, that's often deadly.”

“I ... I didn't know that, Jack,” Daniel responded sadly.  Suddenly, he gasped, “Jack, you don't think ...”

“No, Danny, I'm sure she's fine.  Normally, there isn't enough caffeine or theobromine in a candy bar to be lethal, and she probably vomited later.  Most do. It's just not a good idea to feed chocolate, any kind, to a dog.  Even if it doesn't kill the dog, it might cause dehydration or kidney failure.”

“I had no idea, Jack, or I never would have.  Jack, are you sure she's all right?” Daniel asked, concern in his eyes and tone.

Jack leaned in and kissed his worrying lover before changing positions so that he was lying against the back of the sofa, scooping Daniel into him.

As Daniel nuzzled into him contently, needing the comfort from his woes, he questioned, “How big was she?”

Daniel answered, “Average size ... you know, a mutt.”

“And how long were you with her?” Jack inquired.

“Quite a while.  She ... we talked a lot and ... played in a field for a while ... and talked some more.”

Jack smiled and stated, “Then I'm sure she was fine.  So, tell me, Daniel, what did you two say to each other?”

“She was worried about me.  We were friends, after the candy bar, and I ... we went on a dig together.”

“A dig?” Jack laughed.

“Well, yeah, I helped her unbury a stick,” Daniel answered, chuckling lightly as he recalled the incident.

Jack laughed, and began stroking Daniel's silky fine hair.  

“So you were pals -- ate, dug, and played together?”

Daniel laughed heartily, saying, “Something like that.  I remember her ... support ...”

//Daniel's Conversation//
“Thank you for listening.  You're the best audience I've ever had ... at least you stayed.”  He climbed to his feet and lifted up his belongings.  “I hope you find someone to take care of you.”

“Woof, woof,” the dog replied, but then started to whine.

“Oh, I'll be okay.  It'll be good just to be somewhere that doesn't rain so much ... and if L.A. doesn't work out, I'm gonna go back to Egypt ... somehow.  I miss the desert.”

“Woof?” the animal seemed to ask.

“No.” Daniel laughed.  “You can't come there with me either ... and thanks for the vote of confidence by the way.”

The dog grumbled deep in its throat.

“Yeah, you're probably right ... but I've got to try one more time.”
//End of Daniel's Conversation//

“I'm glad you didn't give up, Danny,” Jack expressed sincerely before placing a kiss on his lover's forehead.

“Well, what could I do ... abandon my last chance to be with ... a mutt?”

“After all, look where you ended up,” Jack teased.

“Yeah, with a bigger mutt,” Daniel snickered into Jack's shoulder.

“Watch it, Jackson.  He who laughs last, and all of that.”

Daniel transitioned from laughter to quiet, then stated, “Y'know, Jack, part of me hated to leave her.  She was still alone.  It felt a little like I had abandoned her, and I had just met her, but ... you can laugh at me if you want, but it felt like we ... connected.”

~Dogs: man's best friend.  You should have had a dog.~  Jack kissed the top of Daniel's head and spoke seriously, “I'd never laugh at you, Angel, and you know how I feel about dogs.  Some of my best friends have been dogs.”

“Man's best friend,” Daniel stated, causing Jack to smile that they'd both just had the same thought.

“Next to you, Love,” Jack affirmed.  “Okay, I'd better finish reading this diary thing, or we'll be eating dinner at midnight.”

Planting a parting kiss on Daniel's lips, Jack gently disentangled himself from Daniel and took his seat in front of the computer.  At the same time, Daniel picked up his book and readjusted his position on the sofa to be comfortable, but he missed Jack's warmth.

“Jack?”

“Hmm?” Jack asked as he stared at the computer monitor, finding the place where he'd left off.

“I feel like such a sap.”

“A sap?” Jack questioned, looking over at his lover.  “Why?”

“Because you've been sitting over there not more than sixty seconds and ... I miss you.  It's ... cold ... and, uh, lonely ... way over here ... and ... I love you, that's why.”

Jack's heart was singing, but his stomach was growling, and if he succumbed to his body's desire to warm up his lover, he'd probably starve.

“I love you, Sappy Boy, and I'll get you plenty warm tonight, after dinner,” Jack promised.

“Promises, promises,” Daniel responded dejectedly, finally opening his book.

Jack decided it was best to ignore Daniel and refocus on the  mission diary, for the sake of his food-deprived stomach.

//Beginning of Daniel's Diary//
A while later, I decided to videotape the plant, hoping to catch it growing.  Jack was in one of the huts trying to communicate with the aliens.  He wasn't having any luck, though, which made him crankier than he had already been.
//End of Daniel's Diary//

“Cranky, Daniel?”

“Yes, Jack, cranky.  Now read, or warm me up,” Daniel offered, smiling widely.

“Soon, Angel,” Jack said, frowning when his stomach grumbled again.

Daniel sighed, “Read.”

“But I wasn't cranky!” Jack insisted.

“READ!”

“Talk about being cranky -- geez,” Jack grumbled as he returned to the diary.

//Beginning of Daniel's Diary//
“Why aren't you helping me?” Jack snapped, before turning his venom on my videotaping project.

“Ah, it's no use.  They don't understand.  They wanna … be with each other,” I said while getting my video camera ready to film the white plant.

“Well, we're not gonna stand around doing nothing,” Jack said, totally dismissing what I was trying to do.

“We're not doing nothing.”

“You're videotaping a plant,” Jack spoke sarcastically, as if I were committing some kind of crime, or worse, should be locked up in some mental hospital somewhere.

“Well, I think this might be important,” I defended.

Jack mocked, “Well, I think you might be losing what's left of your mind.”

I was so angry, but I was also confused, not just by my soulmate's attitude, but by my own.  I was engaged in battle, and nothing was going to stop it, but I still didn't really understand why any of it was happening.

“What's that suppose to mean?” I asked.

“It means that on a good day, you can be a little flaky,” Jack answered in an accusing tone.

Now that statement really irked me, and I wasn't going to take it calmly, so I struck back with, “And on a good day you can be a little ignorant and condescending,” which is true, but he doesn't mean it that way, not really, since it's all part of his dumb colonel act.

“Not condescending.  You're obviously misreading a basic philosophical difference of opinion on how to handle a ... crisis,” Jack snapped back.

“Oh, please, we have a ... a difference of opinion on just about everything.”

“Give me an example,” my lover challenged.

“I don't know.  Pick something.  How about ... how about mythology?” I asked.

“Rumors.  Lies.  Fairytales,” Jack responded, his antagonism coming through loud and clear.

“Ya See!  See!  See!  See!  See!  See!”

I was so aggravated by this man I loved who could frustrate me like no other living creature in the entire universe that I actually hopped up and down in a circle from the absurdity of his behavior.  I felt like I was six-years-old or something.

Finally, I blurted out, “Mythology is one of the primary motivations for cultural development.”

“Maybe it is.  What's that got to do with *filming* a plant?” Jack barked loudly.

I proved once again that I was a linguistic genius with my stellar reply, shouted with conviction -- “Exactly.”

Maybe it was more like five years old that I felt like and not six.

“What does that mean?” Jack yelled.

I gave him another response that was equally in sync with my level of intelligence at the moment -- “I don't know!”

We weren't acting normally, and we both knew it.  The question was why, when there was no motivation for it.  Why were the smallest of things causing us to be at each other's throats, and not in our normal tongue wrestling way?

We both stared at each other for a few moments, and then Jack asked, “Okay … what was that?”

“I don't know.  I don't feel so good,” I confided, feeling nauseous and having a slight headache.

In fact, my head was spinning trying to figure out why Jack and I were biting each other's head off.

“I've got a headache,” Jack admitted, reaching up with his left hand and touching the back of his neck.

“Maybe we're getting whatever they have,” I suggested.
//End of Daniel's Diary//

Jack had been able to hold back his laughter for a while, but finally chuckled, “Ah, Danny, you were so cute.”

Daniel sat up, dismayed at the guffawing coming from his lover.  He knew he should never have written about PJ2-445.  Putting aside the believability issue, he concentrated on the ridiculous.  First, there was the stuff about the plane, and then the dog, and now this, the cute factor.

The archaeologist was in no mood for more teasing, so when he responded, his tone was sharp, focused, and as serious-sounding as he could make it.  He was, after all, not cute, and he was not going to let Jack claim otherwise.  Besides, why was Jack reading that darn diary when Daniel wanted Jack to keep him warm?

~... and other things,~ the younger man lamented.  “Cute?  Jack, you're reading one of my computer entries about a mission, and you start laughing and say I was ... cute?  That's not very professional of you, Colonel O'Neill.”

Jack ignored the younger man's challenging tone.  Daniel was no match for him today.  He was feeling young and invincible, both the result of the love and affection given to him by the man he now teased relentlessly.

“Sorry, Babe, but truth is truth,” the older man teased.  “Videotaping a plant?  C'mon, it was kinda funny.”

“It was *not* funny, Jack, and what does funny have to do with me being cute ... or not?”

“Daniel, you should have seen yourself doing that little ... um, dance.  You were so wound up, frazzled, and you went dancing around that planet like a spinning top.  I wish I had *that* on tape,” Jack laughed.  “Do it now.  I love it when you do it.”

“I was *not* dancing, Jack, nor was I ... frazzled, and I am not some children's toy.”  With a glare, Daniel added, “And you'd better thank your lucky stars you don't have that on tape, or you'd be permanently on the sofa.”  He grew more intense, his face tightening as he added, “And if you want to ... dance, you can dance by yourself.  I am *not*, repeat *not* going to ... to ... to do that ... again.”

Jack's laughter changed in a flash to one of the proverbial dirty old man.  He just loved it when Daniel threatened him with sleeping on the sofa.

~Correction.  I love it when it's playful like this, not when we're actually fighting.  This isn't fighting.  This is looooove!~  Ignoring his grumbling stomach, Jack rose from his chair and went to the sofa, sitting down next to his pouting linguist.  He placed his left arm around the archaeologist's shoulders and used his right hand to turn Daniel's head so that they were looking at each other.  “You were cute, Danny, and you're cute right now.  You're also beautiful, more beautiful than anything I've ever seen.”  He paused to place a kiss on his lover's nape, then concluded, “And while you're definitely not a children's toy, what you do to me ...”

“Jack ...” Daniel began as he let out a shy chuckle, turning a deep shade of red as he blushed.

Somehow, intimate talk still embarrassed him, especially when he was the subject.  He still marveled at his luck that Jack loved him and with such lust.  Daniel was feeling warm again and that meant it was difficult to keep up his act of being miffed by Jack's teasing.

“I love you, Danny.”

~Why fight it?  Gawd, who *wants* to fight it?~ Daniel asked himself, knowing the answer from the depths of his soul.  “I love you, too, Jack,” he sighed contently.  “We're such saps, sickeningly sweet sometimes.”

“Is that a complaint?”

“No, just an observation.  I am a scientist, you know.”

Jack drew his love closer and kissed him, sending shivers down both of them.  The love they felt in their hearts, equaled by the longing and passion of their bodies, was pressing them to each other like magnets to metal.  Their passion was interrupted when Jack's stomach spoke up again, causing Daniel to laugh.

“We really do need to go shopping, Jack, or your stomach is going to rebel, and, personally, I don't want to be present when it does,” Daniel quipped.

“Sometimes you lack a sense of true adventure, Dannyboy,” Jack retorted, saying the name in his best Irish accent, causing the younger man's body to tingle.

“I think we've both had our share of adventure,” Daniel remarked as the lovebirds continued their quest to slither inside the other.  Realizing if they didn't stop now, they wouldn't, he pulled back, placing the palm of his hand over his colonel's heart.  “You're supposed to be reading, Jack, so get back to it so we can get the freakin' groceries, fix your supper so your grumbling stomach will shut up, and then,” he paused as he seductively glided his hand down to Jack's 'private area' and pressed gently, “you can keep your promise.”

“You're a slave driver, Daniel,” Jack moaned, the contact doing all kinds of things to his body.

“Just as long as you are my slave.  Now go back where you were and continue reading about ...”

“... about how cute and adorable you were when you did that little dance?”

“Jack, mention the word 'cute' to me again, and you'll be sleeping on the couch tonight ... alone,” Daniel threatened.

“But you'd be cold,” Jack teased, winking at his lover.

“I'll ... I'll get a dog.”

Jack chuckled, gave his lover one more kiss, and then headed for his desk.  About halfway, sensing Daniel was watching him, he mimicked his lover's motion during their fight on the planet.

“Look at me.  I'm doing the Danny Dance,” Jack teased.

“Sofa -- alone -- two nights,” Daniel stated coldly.

Laughing, Jack sat down at his desk and refocused his attention to the computer diary Daniel had written during the past week.

//Beginning of Daniel's Diary//
Jack decided we should return to the SGC and have Janet check us over since we both had headaches and were easily agitated.  Teal'c remained on the planet as his symbiote seemed to be protecting him from whatever was affecting Jack and I.

It was a long grueling walk to the Stargate, about ten miles, in a sweltering sun.  The longer we walked, the more nauseous I felt.

Jack and I sniped and bellowed at each other the entire way.  It was childish banter that made no sense and achieved nothing except to make us sound like those spoiled kids in that Willy Wonka movie Jack made me watch once.

Then, I stunned us both by doing the unexpected.

In his most condescending tone yet, my lover spat, “Daniel, I wish you would be a little more tolerant like we grown ups are.”

“And I wish you'd be a little more open-minded like we adults are.”

“I am, Daniel, when presented with rational, intelligent opinions and not flaky misconceptions,” Jack came back at me with.

I'd had enough, so in a flash, I decked him.  I actually turned and hit My Jack squarely on the jaw, causing him to fall back onto the ground with a thud.  I've never seen Jack O'Neill look as shocked as he did in that moment.  I was pretty stunned myself.  In an unreasonable, illogical moment of emotion, I slugged my lover, and it felt good.

Just as fast as Jack hit the ground and my moment of “that was great” flashed through my mind, I was consumed with guilt, not from hitting Jack, but because I enjoyed it.

I was in a no-win situation.  I wanted to run, but I couldn't.  In the first place, there was nowhere to run to.  In the second place, my headache was worse, and I thought I was going to throw up at any moment.

Jack quietly stood up, stared blankly into my eyes, and said only, “Let's get back to the Stargate, Daniel.”

He set a quick pace, and I had to hurry to follow, which wasn't easy to do considering how I felt physically.  My Colonel still loved me, but at that moment, I was not his favorite person.

Back at the SGC, Janet gave us a thorough checkup.  We had to be ill; it was the only explanation.  Jack and I both spoke at the same time, jumbled words of apology, half in unison, our brains united just as our hearts are -- “It's obvious there's something wrong with us ... physically.”

We were confident.  We were also wrong.  Janet gave us a clean bill of health, and my lover and I were left sitting on the infirmary bed, astonished at Janet's diagnosis, or rather, lack of diagnosis.

The amazement gave way to a solemnness, however.  If we weren't sick, then why were we arguing?

“Danny, there's an explanation.  We'll figure it out,” Jack said, trying to make me feel better.

“What if there isn't, Jack?  What if ... what if it's just ... us?” I asked.

I was afraid it was a sign, that our relationship was wrong.

“No, something made this happen.  Nothing's changed for me.  I feel the same way about us now that I did yesterday,” Jack stated, full of confidence.

“Me, too,” I responded, realizing that I no longer felt the irritation and annoyance that we'd experienced on the planet.

“Okay, then we find the reason,” Jack said, giving me his beautiful Irish smile that launches the butterflies in my stomach.

With My Love's words and expression, I was reassured that, as always, Jack and Daniel are forever.

Eventually, we realized that the sounds of the plants on 445 were vital to the health of the inhabitants.  During our stay, we had been convinced that we were at fault for the sickness afflicting the aliens.  I had sneezed, lubricant from the UAV made contact with one of them -- our list of ways we could have infected them went on and on.

Jack had followed me to my office, and I started being snippy at him again, yelling that we were responsible for what was happening on the planet and that we had to do something.  When I realized my headache was back, that's what finally led us to make the connection.  The sounds from the plants were inaudible to normal hearing but were present on the videotape I had brought back from the planet.

The noise agitated us, and with this, we finally deduced that when the UAV had crashed, it injured the plants, distorting the naturally transmitted sound, causing the aliens to become sick.  Fortunately, Sam was able to devise a system to restore the plant's sounds to their normal frequency by leaving a set of emitters on the planet.

It was another happy ending for SG-1, at least for the aliens and the record keepers.

Back on Earth, I took refuge in my office.  I didn't really want to be there, but I still felt guilty.  It's not every day I go around hitting people, especially the man who holds the key to my heart.  We had been reminded by our experience on PJ2-445 that life is often held in a fragile balance and oftentimes by forces we can't see.

I felt vulnerable that I had lost control, had allowed myself to become a victim, giving in to petty annoyances and nonsensical bickering that was usually a source of amusement for Jack and me.  I was getting more frustrated by the minute at my failure when Jack entered, without knocking, as usual.

“Danny, it's time to go home.”

“Actually, Jack, I thought I'd stay and work on these translations from ...”

My lover didn't let me finish.  Before I could react, he had me in his arms, devouring my mouth.  It was a good thing the security camera in my office wasn't working.  It had begun to malfunction the day before and hadn't yet been fixed.

“Home, Doctor Jackson.  Now.”

Who was I to argue?  I still felt guilty.  Even as I write this diary entry, years later, I realize I still do.  I can fight when I have to, but I'm not military, and I don't believe in violence for the sake of violence.  Hitting Jack was something I've never been able to put out of my mind for long.  He's probably forgotten all about it by now, but I can't.

My reason for writing about PJ2-445 is not the bickering or my guilt, but the reminder that as human beings we have a responsibility to be compassionate, to care, and to remember that we touch and affect the people and places we come into contact with.  Sometimes that connection is tangible and obvious from the start.  At other times, such as when we were on PJ2-445, the tie that bound them, and us, was something we couldn't see or hear and was underneath the surface.

We need to walk with care through the galaxy, and through our daily lives, to make sure we keep focused and in harmony with our true functions.  After all, it would only take one false step to destroy a love, a life, or a world.
//End of Daniel's Diary//

“One false step:  that's what you said that day, in your office,” Jack stated softly as he sat he back in his chair.

“It's true, Jack.”

Jack rose and once again went over to sit by his lover on the sofa, saying, “We've taken a few of those false steps in our relationship.”

“Tiny ones, sometimes,” Daniel agreed.

The two men held hands as they sat, momentarily lost in individual thoughts.

“Danny,” Jack began with a grin, “if you really still feel guilty about hitting me that day, we could level the playing field.  You know, tit for tat.  I get satisfaction, and you get rid of your guilt.  It's a great idea.  You hit me, so now it's my turn to play, to even the score.”

“Jaaa...”

Daniel was silenced as Jack's lips took his, Jack's tongue battled his, and Jack's body fused into his.  His last coherent thought was that if this was Jack's idea of evening the score, he'd be happy to play every night.

~Oh, and tomorrow, we really are going to have to go grocery shopping.  Yes, oooooh, yes!~

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