New Rules

Author: Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Romance, Established Relationship  
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  7 - March 21, 2004
Spoilers:  None
Size:  20kb, ficlet
Written:  September 29, October 2-3,13,15-16, 2003  Revised for consistency:  March 1,7, 2007
Summary:  Jack and Daniel have a party and end up making some new rules for themselves and their guests.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
2) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s), “Delusions of Love”
3)  Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Suzanna, Mama Beast, Drdjlover, Tina, and Brynn!

New Rules
by Orrymain

“Great steaks, Jack,” Lou Ferretti commented as Jack took a seat next to Daniel on the long bench at the redwood picnic table in their backyard.

“Thanks, Lou.  You know me and steaks,” Jack replied proudly.

Sam barely managed to suppress a laugh, turning her down to off towards the fence.

“You have a problem, Major?” Jack queried.

“No, Sir.  I love char,” the blonde snickered.

“The steaks are perfect, Carter.  Get a grip.”

Sam laughed.  Teasing Jack O'Neill about burning steaks had been a tradition several years in the making.  He was actually an accomplished barbecue chef, but she'd never admit it.

Jack and Daniel didn't entertain often, but time and time again their friends had come through for them, and they wanted to say 'thank you' and enjoy some time with them away from Cheyenne Mountain.  The two teased privately that they were becoming overly sentimental since their November 2003 wedding, but they didn't care.  They had some special friends and having a friendly barbecue was a great way to say thanks in some small way.

Assembled in the backyard and scattered throughout their house were several friends and co-workers:  Lou and Carolyn Ferretti, Jeff and Margaret Cornell, Sam, Teal'c, Sgt. Siler, whose wife had planned to attend but had been called out of town on a business meeting, Mrs. Sophia Valissi, Evan Valissi and his partner Robert, who were again visiting from Europe, Ernest and Catherine Littlefield, Janet and Cassandra, Christa and Jacob Svenson, General Hammond, and Frances and Crystal, the two sisters that Jack and Daniel had met years ago at Disneyland.

“You should have seen Daniel reacting.  He was so cute,” Sam laughed, recalling some tale from their past, the story slightly altered for the benefit of the non-SGC guests.

“I was not cute, Sam,” Daniel said, rolling his eyes.

“Oh, yes, you were,” Jack said, sneaking up behind his lover and putting his arms around his waist.

Daniel tensed slightly and moved away, trying to recover by saying, “You're delusional, Jack.”

The conversation continued, but Jack's brown eyes stared into Daniel's blue eyes with a look of both confusion and hurt as to why he had moved out of his embrace.

====

A while later, Jack was discussing a more difficult time, and, by habit, he reached out to take Daniel's hand, but Daniel pulled his hand back, offering only a smile as he encouraged his husband to finish his story.

Suddenly not in the mood, Jack halted his story by explaining, “That's really all there was to it.”

As their guests visited, Jack went inside the house and grabbed a beer.  He watched Daniel and the others from a distance.  After a minute, he started to return, but realized his heart wasn't in it.  Instead, he went upstairs, going into his lover's den.  He picked up an artifact or two, careful to handle them properly, and then sat down on the recliner.  He wasn't able to relax, however.  He leaned forward, his elbows on his knees, his face in his palms.

“Jack,” Daniel spoke quietly having entered the den.  “What's wrong?”

“Nothing,” Jack answered as he rose and started to walk by Daniel to return to their guests.

Daniel reached out and grabbed Jack's arm, stopping him, and again asked, “What's wrong?”

“You.”

“Me?”

“Yes, you,” Jack spoke with a slight agitation in his voice.  “Now if you don't mind, I'd like to get back to our guests.”  He brushed past the younger man, who turned and grabbed his arm, anxious to know what was bothering his soulmate. “Don't,” he barked, unable to hide his frustration, adding, “If you're too ashamed to touch me in public, then don't touch me at all.”

“What?  What are you talking about?” Daniel inquired, not understanding his spouse's strange behavior.

“Why won't you let me touch you, Danny?”

“Jack, we have company.  We can't.”

“Danny, every one of those people knows about us.  Every single friggin' one of them.  Most of them were at the wedding.”

“But, Jack, the general and 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” Daniel reminded.

“He knows, Danny.  They all know,” Jack argued.  “If we haven't told them directly, they've been around enough to see.  They *knoooow*.”

“We don't know about Carolyn and Margaret, or even Siler ... and Teal'c.  Jack, we don't know for sure that they know,” the archaeologist refuted.

“Danny, they know, and this is our home.  I'm not talking about changing things at the SGC or even out in the Springs, but, yes, when we're here, in our own home, I don't want to think about whether or not I can hold you.”

“We can't just ignore common sense.”

“It's our home, Daniel.  I trust those people.  Most of them made choices this year that said they trusted us, too.  Look, all I'm trying to say is, they wouldn't be here if they didn't accept us, including the general.  Now, if touching you bothers someone, then they know where the door is.”

“I want it, too, Jack.  You know that, but ...” Daniel began.

“Do I?” Jack challenged, staring his lover straight in the eye.  “Danny, you're the one always throwing up the walls.  I don't mind waiting to retire.  I understand that.  I even agree with it, to a point, but I'm not willing to sacrifice us anymore.  In the front of our house, in our backyard, and certainly in it, unless it's some Pentagon bigwig, I expect for us to be able to act like who we are, and, in case you've forgotten, that's a happily married couple, rings and all.”

Daniel sighed.  The twosome had agreed to wear their rings at home now, but he had insisted they take them off for the barbecue in consideration of their guests and for security.

“Jack, please.  You know how much I love you.  I'd do anything for you. I just don't think ...”

“Fine, Daniel.  You want to hide?  We'll hide.  No touching; no rings, but just don't pretend you're doing it for me, because you aren't.  I love you, I want you, and I want them to know it.  You don't.  It's as simple as that.”

Jack took a breath, turning to pace a few steps, and then facing Daniel once again as he continued.

“Just who are you protecting, Daniel, because it's not me?  I don't want or need that kind of protection at this stage of our relationship.  The reality is this hiding ... hurts.  Those people in our backyard are our friends; geez, Danny, they're our family when it comes down to it, and if they can't accept us for who we are, then we don't need them, and if that's the case, then there really wasn't any reason to have this little barbecue, was there?”

Jack shrugged and waved his hands in the air as if to rid himself of all responsibility, then turned and returned downstairs to their guests.

Daniel sighed as he looked over at the wedding present Jack had given him, the Jackson-O'Neill Tree of Love, with photos of their families and their life together.  He loved Jack more than life, and he was proud of that love.

Jack was right.  Everyone gathered in their home on this day were friends, even family.  He just wished he felt so free with jeopardizing their careers with the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” garbage.

Daniel sighed again at his dilemma.  His love for Jack made him ache at the hurt he had caused him by pulling back and insisting they remove their wedding bands, but his respect for the general and others present, and his concern for their professional livelihoods, especially the ethics of inflicting a personal choice onto them made Daniel feel like he didn't have a right to do and act as Jack wanted.

~They do know, or they're blinder than I was a couple of days ago,~ Daniel thought, thinking back to his temporary bout of blindness.  He was fine now, but in the heat of the crisis, he'd lost his sight, and he'd been in Jack arms.  ~Jeff was there, and Lou.~

The young man knew he needed to return downstairs.  Suddenly, he smiled in realization and walked slowly out of the den.

====

“So, Jack, catch any good fish lately?” Jeff asked.

“Caught one so big that ...”

“... so big that he had to put it back or risk ruining his reputation for having never actually caught a fish,” Daniel interjected with a smile as he rejoined the group.

Jack was seated on a green lawn chair, and Daniel moved behind him, putting his hands on his shoulders and slowly draping them around Jack's neck.

“Of course, the truth is, Jack doesn't have the heart to kill a fish.  He catches them and throws them back in, big or small.”

“Danny,” Jack said shyly, a combination of shock from Daniel's unexpected touch and the truth of his statement.

“It's the truth, Love, and you know it.”

Jack twisted his body around and, seeing a big grin on his Love's face, spoke, “I love you, Danny,” not caring who heard; in fact, wanting everyone to hear.

“I love you, too, Jack,” Daniel intoned without hesitation, prompting Jack to get up as quickly as he could and embrace him.  “I'm sorry, Jack. You were right.”

“Had to happen sometime,” Jack teased, giving Daniel a small kiss and then turning to face their guests.  “Listen, um, we need to make a little announcement, and we'll understand if any of you feel like you can't or don't want to be here, but starting today, right now, we have new rules for ...”

Jack stopped and looked at Daniel, silently asking permission to say something they hadn't ever said publicly before.  Daniel smiled and nodded, a joy filling his entire body from the pleasure he knew this was giving Jack.

“... We have new rules for the Jackson-O'Neill house.  I know most of you know this, and some of you may have guessed it, and some of you may know, but don't feel like you should be surrounded by it, but I just don't want to hide any more than we have to.

“Danny and I have been together for years, which again, I know most of you know, but some of you may not know that we got married last November.  We don't want to leave the Program, and we won't, unless forced to, but when it happens, we're both going to amend our names and be ... the Jackson-O'Neills.

“This is our home, and we aren't going to hide here anymore. It's just too hard.  We don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable or like they are being compromised.  We know the risks to some of your careers, so, please, if you need to go, or never come back, no harm, no foul.  We love you, and will respect the choices that you need to make, just as we hope you can respect the choice we just made.”

Jack laughed.  He had never been able to say such a thing before, to admit a feeling like that in public.  His expression of love and respect for his friends was a first, and it pleasantly surprised all of those present.

“See, Danny.  Look what you do to me.”

Facing the group again, Jack shrugged and said, “Ah, I guess that's it.  I, we, just wanted you to know the new rules for our home.”

“Actually,” Daniel interjected, “there is one more thing.”

Daniel pulled out his wallet and took out his ring and when he looked up, he thought he had died and gone to heaven.  The look of love, pride and happiness on Jack's face overwhelmed him.  The older man's entire body was beaming, and it caught Daniel by such surprise that he just barely managed to hold back a tear or two.  He swallowed hard a few times as he fought to stay in control in front of their friends.

Jack had gotten his ring out, too, and both stood staring at each other for a few moments.

Daniel finally broke the silence.  He looked at their guests and smiled shyly and then spoke softly.

“When we got married, it was perfect, except for one thing.  Not everyone we wanted to be there, was, and ... there were reasons for that, and I hope those of you here today that weren't with us then, understand why we couldn't ... I mean ... We wanted  you all there, but we didn't know how to make it happen.”  He looked specifically at Teal'c and General Hammond, and then at Lou and Carolyn as he added, “We're sorry we couldn't have all of you there, but if you had been, you would have heard how very much I love Jack, and how grateful I am that he loves me.”

Daniel turned to Jack and slipped the ring on his finger, and said tenderly, “Forever and always, I love you.”

Jack took Daniel's ring and placed it gently on his finger and repeated their words of love, “Forever and always, I love you, Danny.”

As the soulmates kissed, their guests applauded.  It felt like they had just witnessed a wedding ceremony.

“Aren't my uncles the coolest in the whole universe?” Cassandra sniffled as she moved towards them to hug them.  “Now, you've the got the idea,” she said, smiling at both of them.

The teenager had been their biggest advocate.  She hated the outdated military regulations almost more than they did.

“Thanks, Cass,” Jack acknowledged.

Before the party broke up, Jack and Daniel talked with Teal'c, wanting to be sure he understood, which he did.  They also made a point to talk with General Hammond.

The general immediately corrected his second-in-command by saying, “... that would be George to you ... Jack.”  Seeing Daniel was still concerned, the general assured, “Son, I couldn't be happier for the two of you.  Just keep it off my base,” he said sternly before reverting back to the calm of the day.

Of course, the lovers knew that Hammond was aware of their relationship.  What the two didn't know was that the general had carefully considered the situation and had made his choice after reviewing his options a year ago when he had first suspected that there was a more intimate relationship between the two men.  He thought of Daniel as a son and of Jack as a close friend.  He was sure the military would not interfere with his pension.  If necessary, he'd retire, but he would not interfere in Jack and Daniel's relationship.  

The party continued on, a rousing success.

====

Later that night, Jack and Daniel were snuggling in front of their fireplace, both lying on the carpet, their bodies keeping each other warm.  Of course, neither had to worry about their abdomens as Bijou, their oldest beagle, was lying atop Daniel, and Katie, the young puppy, was on Jack's belly.  Both were getting gentle massages.

Daniel was snuggled into Jack so they essentially made a nice sized bed for their dogs.

“This is heaven, Jack.”

“It sure is.  Danny, thank you, for doing what you did today.  I know you had doubts about it, but I just ...”

“I know, Babe.  I knew you were right when I started thinking about needing to get back downstairs to our guests.  *Our* guests, Jack.  We invited them jointly.  They all knew that.  I was the only one trying to pretend, but we still have to be careful.  Please don't take chances that could endanger you, because if you do that, you hurt me, too.  Remember that, okay?”

“I'll remember, Danny.  I love you.”

“I love you, too, and our new rules.  Gawd, Jack, that felt so good.  I mean, after it was out.  The next two hours, just ... being ourselves and not worrying about anything.  It was like ... like ...”

“Like heaven?”

Daniel smiled, agreeing, “Yeah, like heaven.  They seemed okay with our name, too.”

Jack questioned, “Why wouldn't they be?”

“I don't know.  I just ... I worry about stuff.”

“Stop worrying, Love.  Hey, why don't we put the children to bed and then go to bed, too?”

“Are you tired?” Daniel asked.

Jack smirked, “Actually, I was thinking of showing you another version of heaven.”

“Oh.  I think ... I think that's a wonderful idea.”

“Love you, Doctor Jackson-O'Neill,” Jack crooned happily.

Daniel chuckled, “Love you more, Colonel Jackson-O'Neill.”

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