Category: Slash, Angst, Drama, H/C of the mental kind, Missing Epilogue, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: 4 - after Absolute Power
Spoilers: Absolute Power
Size: 32kb, short story
Written: May 21-25,27-28, June 1, 2006
Summary: Daniel grows distant after Shifu leaves Earth. Can Jack discover the true reason why, and if he does, can he handle the truth he learns?
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically. Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: Jodi, Linda, QuinGem, Megan, Claudia!
The lovers were sound asleep at Daniel's apartment, the two in their
usual positions with Daniel's head resting on Jack's chest and one leg
hooked between his partner's. The younger man's hand had a few
chest hairs caught between his fingers since he had fallen asleep while
toying with them.
Jack's left arm was warming his soulmate's back as he had fallen asleep caressing the smooth skin there. His right hand rested on Daniel's lower left arm. Both were naked, the comforter and sheet bunched around their waists.
The night was incredibly black outside, the moon barely visible in the sky. Stars were difficult to see as 3 a.m. approached.
From the living room, the light tones of an opera could be heard from a local radio station. The lovers had been listening to it when they'd begun their foreplay. Their passion had led them to the bedroom without bothering to turn off the device, and then their ecstasy had sent both to dreamland soon thereafter. It was something that occurred rather frequently.
Daniel stirred restlessly, his voice harsh as he called out, “No ... my will ... *mine* ... do it now! NO!”
Waking abruptly, Jack's eyes flew open as he realized his lover was beating on his chest with his fisted left hand.
“Danny!” Jack called out.
“I said *now*!” Daniel ordered again from his sleep, thumping Jack's chest with even more force than before.
“DANIEL, WAKE UP!” Jack shouted, trying to fend off Daniel's now rapid and forceful hits. Having no choice, the older man flipped his lover onto his back, pinning his arms back beside his head. “DANIEL, WAKE UP! DANNY!”
“Wha....what ... what hap...pened?” Daniel asked, his breathing hard and his mind racing with panic. At first, he felt trapped, even afraid, and then, he felt more than a little lost. “Jack?”
“Hey, there,” Jack softly spoke. “You had a nightmare.”
“Night...mare?” Daniel stuttered, turning his head to look at his hands, which Jack was still holding forcefully to the bed.
“Sorry, Love, but you got a little physical,” Jack spoke, releasing his lover and leaning over for a kiss. “Danny?” he asked, when the younger man flinched.
Daniel shook his head, then scooted out of bed, pulling on a pair of pajama bottoms on the way, and ran into the living room. He unlocked the balcony door and hurried out onto the small terrace. He was breathing so hard that anyone nearby would be able to hear him. Small tremors racked his body. His hands were gripping the balcony railing so hard that his knuckles had turned white. Panicked by the nightmare, he looked down to the street below and tried to calm himself, not even realizing that his bare torso had begun to develop goose bumps from the cold night air.
“Danny?” Jack called out softly, moving out onto the balcony. Gently, he slid his arms around his lover's waist, relieved when Daniel didn't rebuff him, and yet concerned when he felt the muscles in the younger man's abdomen constrict. “Talk to me.”
“It's nothing,” Daniel spoke in a whisper, his voice trembling just like his body was.
“I don't believe that, Danny,” Jack replied.
Daniel stiffened, and his tone changed abruptly from vulnerable to angry as responded, “Too bad,” and then went back inside.
Jack followed, watching as the anxiety-ridden archaeologist paced the room, not saying a word nor even glancing at him for longer than a second at a time.
“It must have been some nightmare,” Jack spoke after a few agonizing minutes of silence had passed.
Daniel froze in his tracks and began to self-hug. He still refused to look his lover in the eye. Instead, he fixed his gaze on the carpet.
“Daniel?” Jack had a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. They'd had some good moments together over the past few days; yet, at the same time, the younger man had been more distant than usual. ~There's only one reason for this that I can think of,~ the older man thought. “Daniel, you've been in a funk ever since that kid left.”
“His name's Shifu,” Daniel replied almost without thinking.
~Quick response. Yep, that's it,~ Jack inwardly decided. “I know that was hard for you. By all rights, he should have been your son,” he added a bit hesitantly.
“He's not my son,” Daniel droned in a monotone.
Jack sighed, moving a few steps closer to the obviously disturbed archaeologist.
“Don't,” Daniel said more forcefully than anything else he'd said in the last couple of minutes. “Jack, I've ... been thinking.”
“I don't think I like the sound of that,” Jack responded.
“It's ... not working,” Daniel whispered.
~You're lying, to yourself,~ Jack thought as he breathed a sigh of relief at the way Daniel had had to force the words out. “Try saying that with a little more conviction,” he stated as he moved closer in spite of Daniel's request to stay back.
“Jack, I need ...”
“You *need* me, us, together, just like I need you,” Jack interrupted, his tone soft and tender as he reached Daniel and put his hands on the archaeologist's upper arms. “I'm not letting you go, not over a nightmare.” ~Not over anything, not if I have a choice,~ Jack vowed silently.
Daniel was still trembling, and in spite of his resolve to break off the relationship, he was crumbling at Jack's touch, at his scent, at the look in the rich chocolate brown eyes that were gazing at him with such love and desire. He couldn't fight it, and if truth be told, he didn't want to. Soon, he found himself comforted in the older man's strong arms, arms that had always kept him safe. They stood like that for a long time, neither sure of exactly how long, but, eventually, the trembling stopped as the darkness of the night began to give way to the dawning of a new day.
~Maybe it *was* just a nightmare,~ Daniel resolved as he let Jack lead him back to the bedroom for more tender comforting as only Jack could give. ~Maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe ... don't think. I want him. I ... I love him. Nightmare ... just a ... nightmare.~
The next night, after a full day of work at the SGC, the lovers were again nestled together, though tonight they were at the country-style home that Jack owned. It was a little warmer than the previous night, and the stars were out in full force. After dinner and a game of chess, the two men had gone to bed, both tired from their active day at the Mountain.
As usual, Daniel's head was atop his soulmate's chest, secure in listening to the steady rhythm of Jack's beating heart. Jack's left hand was again warming Daniel's back, the two only wearing their pajama bottoms to bed. On this night, they'd fallen asleep while playing 'fingers', so their hands were intertwined, Daniel's hand having the dominant position.
A smile was on Jack's face as he dreamed about the younger man lying against him.
Daniel, however, was beginning to stir, his dreams not so pleasant. As the dream escalated, he tightened his grip on Jack’s hand, causing the older man to stir uncomfortably in his sleep.
“Who has the power now?” Daniel questioned, his face tight and contorted. “It's all so simple.”
“Danny?” Jack whispered as he woke. “Daniel, what are you doing?” Jack looked down at their hands, the pain growing from the younger man's tightening hold. “Hey, that hurts, you know.”
Suddenly, Daniel began to thrash their joined hands against Jack's side. They were powerful punches, the impacts definitely causing the older man's body to react.
“Crap!” Jack exclaimed as he again called on his Special Ops training, flipping Daniel over and trying to free his hand, which wasn't as easy as he'd thought it would be. ~I've taught you too well,~ he lamented as he pulled his hand away, having to fend off Daniel's grabbing fingers as he did so. “DANIEL, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, WAKE UP!”
Jack could feel his lover's breathing change, and he knew without looking that the younger man had finally rejoined the waking world.
“No,” Daniel cried, shaking his head, a tear threatening to fall. “Nooooooo!”
“Angel, it's all right. You just had another nightmare, that's all,” Jack soothed, wanting to shake his hand to fend off the ache from Daniel's strong hold, but instead raising his trembling hand to caress his lover's cheek. “All's well, Love.”
“No, it's not,” Daniel maintained, still shaking his head as tears flowed even harder than before.
“Danny ...” Jack began, but stopped, rolling over and pulling his lover onto him. He held the crying young man tightly as he whispered reassurances into his ear. “Shhhh, Angel. The nightmares will stop soon.”
Jack could hear Daniel's mumbled refusal, that the nightmares would never go away. The older man pledged to make sure he was right, and Daniel was wrong. He knew, though, that he couldn't do it in the darkness of the night. It would have to be done in the light of the day. About the only good thing about that was that the coming day was a day off for the two men.
~We're going to get to the bottom of this, Daniel, if I have to sit on you to get the answers,~ Jack promised as he rubbed his lover's back and continued to comfort him.
The nightmares of the last two nights were followed by more nightmares over the next few nights, and those hadn't been the only ones Daniel had had recently. From the moment Shifu had left Earth, the younger man had been on edge, and his rest at night had been anything but peaceful. The first couple of nights, he'd tossed and turned and had several bad dreams, but with each successive night, the bad dreams had progressed to full out nightmares, and now, Daniel had gotten more and more physical with the older man, but not in the way Jack liked it.
~Make love, not mincemeat out of your lover,~ Jack thought as he pondered recent events on yet another morning at Daniel's apartment. Unfortunately, his plan to get to the bottom of things a few days earlier had collapsed in a shroud of archaeologist denial and evasiveness. ~Boy, you can be one stubborn geek, Daniel, but this *has* to stop. I'm beginning to look like one giant black eye. People are going to start confusing me for Teal'c.~
As he sipped his morning coffee in the kitchen, Jack watched the younger man. Daniel was supposedly reading a magazine, but his eyes gave him away, the cerulean blue pupils not focused on the words, but, rather, straight ahead, staring into the space just above the magazine he held.
Jack sighed, knowing that putting off ~the inquisition~ in getting to the truth behind Daniel's nightmares wasn't going to help, and that's what he desperately wanted to do -- help his lover. He walked over to the sofa and sat down, making sure he was close, but not actually in Daniel's space.
“We have to talk,” Jack began.
“About?” Daniel responded.
“You know what about, Danny,” Jack replied as he held his coffee cup waist level in his hands.
“No, I don't,” Daniel responded, letting his denial talk for him.
Jack glanced at the man next to him, wondering how best to proceed. He really didn't want to fight his lover, but he suspected that might be the only way to achieve his goal.
“Then I'll tell you,” Jack responded, leaning forward to put his mug on the coffee table. He clasped his hands together as he continued, “You're having nightmares, every night, and they're getting worse. Not so coincidentally, these nightmares began when Sha're's child paid us a visit and played some kind of mind trip with your head. Now, you've told me about your rise to power, putting Sam in jail, me trying to shoot you, and you blowing up Moscow.”
“Isn't that enough?” Daniel asked quietly.
Ignoring his lover's attempt to divert the conversation, Jack continued, “You've also told me what you said, about that being what you wanted, not pulverizing Moscow, but defeating the Goa'uld. There was a lot of revenge in that little dream the kid gave you, but ...”
“His name is Shifu,” Daniel interrupted. ~Argue with me.~
~More like Shhhhh...~ Jack leaned his head back for a split second as he bit his tongue to keep from responding with a wisecrack. Then he calmly continued, “You've also said that it was a good thing you had that little fantasy nightmare of a dream because when you boiled it down, it was about choosing paths. Okay, what does that mean?”
“Jack, since when is dream interpretation a hobby of yours?” the archaeologist asked in a last desperate attempt to stop the older man's train of thought.
~Not gonna work, Dannyboy,~ Jack thought. “Since now,” he answered. “Let's break this down. It's all about what road you walk down; what path you take. As it relates to the Goa'uld, that means you choose to deal with them as the enemy of Earth, and that you need to help protect the world against them, not that you have to go after them for revenge as Sha're's killers and slay them with your sword. As respects to you, personally, it means that the path you choose is, I hope, us, forever, without guilt. There's something more, though, and that's what you're going to have to tell me. Now would be the right time,” he requested, looking at Daniel for a moment and then sitting back and waiting for a response.
“Long speech for someone who doesn't like words,” Daniel replied.
“Sometimes a man has to do what a man has to do, Danny, and if takes words to reach you, then I'll find an unending supply,” Jack responded calmly.
Daniel stood and began to pace the room. He didn't want to think about this. Instead, he wanted it all to go away.
“Danny, the dream didn't end with Moscow, did it?” Jack asked. “I know that's what you said in your report. It's what you told Hammond.” He stood and walked closer, blocking his lover's path and forcing him to stop and face him. “It was a nice, neat spot to stop, but that wasn't when you woke up, was it?”
Fearful blue eyes tried desperately to evade Jack's probing, but it wasn't working. Jack was holding his ground, determined to get a response.
“No, it wasn't,” Daniel finally admitted.
~Progress,~ Jack thought. He reached out to touch his Love, but Daniel backed away. “Danny?”
Having made his way into the way to kitchen, Daniel stood in its center, needing space to breathe. His heart was beating so fast that he thought he might pass out. He felt like the blood in his veins was about to explode, covering him in a red liquid that symbolized death.
“Danny, talk to me. What happened after Moscow?” Jack asked, moving to the counter, but not going inside the kitchen. His self-hugging lover was fidgeting on his feet, moving in a very tight circle, glancing at the cabinets, at the appliances, and sometimes towards the way out. Jack knew Daniel was plotting a potential escape. ~No way. Don't even try it.~
Sure enough, seconds later, Daniel made a dash for the front door, but Jack was immediately on his heels, and since the Special Ops colonel had locked and latched the door the night before, he had the advantage.
“You're not going anywhere, Daniel,” Jack said, spinning the younger man around to look at him.
“LET ME GO, JACK!” Daniel shouted, his back against the door.
“Negative,” Jack responded. “What happened after Moscow?”
Daniel sagged in Jack’s hold, his strength abandoning him, and, yet, he couldn't speak the words. He couldn't even stand the memory of the dream himself. He had to stay strong.
“It's none of your business,” Daniel spat, trying to get away from Jack.
Jack's hold was firm, though, and he wasn't about to let go.
“LET ME GO!” Daniel again demanded.
“Never,” Jack responded calmly. “I'm never letting you go.”
“You don't understand,” Daniel spoke, his voice going from strong and commanding to small and trembling.
“No, I don't, but you're going to help me understand,” Jack responded.
“Please, Jack,” Daniel begged, his eyes filling with tears that threatened to spill over as his strength began to drain again.
“Tell me,” Jack requested, his hold still tight on his soulmate.
“I ... I can't,” Daniel responded.
“Sure, you can. Here, I'll start,” Jack said. “After Moscow, I ...” He smiled and said, “Just fill in the blank.”
“Gawd, you're irritating,” Daniel replied a bit snarkily.
“That's why you love me,” Jack teased lightly.
“I do, Jack, and that's why we ... we have to ... to stop,” Daniel spoke. “I couldn't ... I can't ... I ...”
“Danny, whatever you dreamed was nothing more than a nightmare,” Jack insisted.
“NOOOO!” Daniel shouted, picking that moment to put into practice the covert training Jack had been teaching him for quite some time.
The once slender and occasionally awkward young man knew Jack wouldn't expect it, so at that moment, he had the advantage. With his toned muscles and bulked-up body working for him, Daniel forced his lover back against the opposite wall, the impact forcing the colonel to slide to the floor. He turned and unlocked the door, nearly ripping off the latch as well, and then Daniel ran as fast as he could out of his apartment building. He avoided the elevator, using the stairs instead. He didn't want anyone to see him. He just wanted to escape, to get as far away from the man he loved as he could. He had to. It was the only way to save his Love.
Jack swore several times as he rose to his feet and then began to track his lover.
**You can't run from me, Danny,** Jack communicated with their special link, though he really wasn't sure if the bond was strong enough to reach Daniel at this point in time. ~I'll find you, wherever you go.~
It took the colonel longer than he had thought it would to find his wayward archaeologist, but sixty-five minutes later, he'd done it. There, sitting amid the bushes in the corner of a nearby park, was Daniel. His knees were drawn up to his chest with his elbows on them. His head was shaking back and forth as his forehead leaned against his closed fist.
In Colorado Springs, it had begun to rain. Inside Daniel Jackson, it had begun to storm, the chaos of his thoughts and visions thundering inside him and disturbing his soul.
Jack sighed as he glanced around the emptying park, the few visitors rushing for cover in their cars and heading away, presumably to their homes.
Not caring about the wet dirt that was about to muddy his khaki pants, Jack sat down in front of his lover.
“What happened after Moscow?” Jack asked, skipping all the pleasantries.
Daniel looked up, his eyes red and swelling from the tears that he'd been crying steadily for an hour.
“I ...” Daniel began, but then bowed his head, finding the words too unbearable to speak.
Jack reached out and unclenched Daniel's fists. He leaned forward and kissed each hand. He didn't care if someone saw; he'd retire in a heartbeat, if he had to. His soulmate was in anguish, and that was the only thing that mattered to Jack O'Neill at the moment.
As he had searched for his lover, Daniel’s words and actions during his dreams had been running through Jack’s head, and he had a feeling that he knew what Daniel was so afraid of. He decided to play his hunch and see where it took them.
“I'm a little domineering sometimes, aren't I?” Jack asked.
Surprised, Daniel looked up and answered, “What?”
“My training makes me a bit overbearing sometimes,” the colonel answered.
“I'm not exactly ... easy to live with,” Daniel replied in kind.
“Okay, we're both pains in the butt occasionally. Daniel, sometimes, when I'm jealous or really angry, I think things,” Jack confided softly.
The younger man swallowed, asking, “What kinds of things?”
“I imagine wringing your neck,” Jack answered. “Of course, then I remember that I much prefer kissing it,” he added with a smile, his hands caressing Daniel's. “What happened after Moscow?”
Jack was becoming more confident in his assumption about what was so frightening to his lover. If Daniel could so easily admit to destroying an entire city, full of millions of people; if he could admit wanting to take over the world to get his way; if he could actually write those things in his report and speak them out loud to General Hammond and his teammates, doing so because of a belief that Shifu's gift was for a purpose, then what could be so terrible that he wouldn't admit to his lover now? There was only one answer in Jack's opinion.
“Tell me, Danny. Just ... say the words,” Jack cajoled lovingly.
“You tried to kill me,” Daniel said.
“With the gun, and then you blew up Moscow,” Jack replied.
“Yes,” Daniel said.
“And then?” Jack inquired.
“I was angry at you. I wanted you to help me, to be at my side, but all you did was keep telling me how wrong I was,” Daniel softly related.
“Sounds like me,” Jack affirmed. “So, I gave you grief,” he surmised.
“I couldn't get you to understand, and you ...” Daniel began, but then he blinked, the words feeling frozen in his throat from the ice in his soul.
“What did I do?” Jack prompted.
“You tried to walk away from me. You ... you said you'd do whatever you had to do to save the world, from me,” Daniel spoke. “I ... I told you to come back, but you wouldn't. I was angry. I ... I wanted to give the orders now.”
“Knowing me, I didn't like that,” Jack confessed, still holding Daniel's hands, though the hands had occasionally tried to slip away.
Daniel shook his head, admitting, “No, you didn't.”
“So, you had to make me,” Jack surmised, his words causing Daniel to flinch. “It's okay, Danny. It was only a crazy nightmare. Say the words.”
“I ... I made you, Jack. I locked you in a room and kept giving you orders. You wouldn't follow them, so every time you didn't, I ... I ... gawd,” Daniel cried, hunching over in despair.
Jack shifted, letting go of his lover's hands to reach over and pull Daniel in as much as he could.
“It's okay, Angel,” Jack assured. “Just a nightmare. It wasn't real, but you need to tell me.”
For a moment, it seemed as if Daniel would fold, but then his body tensed. Again, the younger man surprised Jack with his agility, pushing Jack back and beginning to flee. This time, Jack knew he was the one fighting the uphill battle. His lover was a fast runner when he put his mind to it. Still, the colonel gave chase, calling upon every ounce of unspent energy he had to keep up with Daniel as he ran through the park.
Fortunately for Jack, Daniel had to zigzag at one point to avoid a cat that was investigating something on the ground. The action was enough to slow Daniel down, giving Jack what he was sure would be his only shot. Urging himself on, Jack leaped forward, tackling his lover. They rolled on the ground, wrestling as Daniel continued to fight for what he believed was Jack's life.
As the struggle continued, the two got to their feet and were battling with each other like wrestlers seeking to make the take-down.
“DANIEL, FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, JUST TELL ME!” Jack demanded as he fought to keep his lover near.
“WHY WON'T YOU LEAVE ME ALONE?” Daniel shouted in reply.
“BECAUSE I LOVE YOU, DANG IT. NOW TELL ME WHAT YOU DID!” Jack demanded.
“I TORTURED YOU, OKAY?” Daniel screamed. “FOR EVERY 'NO', I HIT YOU OR CUT YOU OR DID SOMETHING TO CAUSE YOU PAIN. I ... I *KILLED* YOU!” he finally confessed, dropping to his knees as the dam broke and another flood of tears fell.
“Danny,” Jack spoke gently, his left hand caressing the top of his life partner's head. “It wasn't real.”
“It felt real,” Daniel cried. “That's why we have to break up, Jack. It seemed so real. I might ... I mean I ...”
Jack knelt down and, with his right hand, raised Daniel's chin so their eyes could meet.
“It felt so real,” Daniel sobbed again.
“Shifu messed with your head; that's all this was. Paths, Danny. You and the wonder kid say dreams teach. Okay, we'll learn. I need to not be so demanding when we're at home, and you need to *be* more demanding. Paths,” Jack echoed. “Our path is together. Danny, if blowing up Moscow was supposed to teach you that was the wrong path, well, then killing me was the wrong path, too. Dreams teach. We belong together,” Jack intoned, trying to decipher the nightmare.
“I killed you,” Daniel cried, but this time, it was less painful.
“And, I've wringed your sweet neck on more than one occasion, in my mind,” Jack responded. “It doesn't mean I'd ever really do it. Danny, we are who we are. Neither one of us is perfect.”
“Then, you're a liar,” Daniel spoke.
“What?” Jack asked, taken aback by the comment.
“You always say I'm perfect,” the younger man intoned, sniffling as he tried to smile.
“That's my Danny,” Jack softly spoke, pulling Daniel into a hug.
“We're ... in the park,” Daniel reminded, suddenly very aware of their surroundings and how very visible they were.
“I don't friggin' care,” Jack sighed, burying his chin against Daniel's shoulder for a moment and then kissing the side of his neck. “I love you, Danny, and no crazy dream and no number of nightmares is ever going to change that. We're forever, you and me. That's our path.”
Daniel was worried about being seen, but he needed Jack's strength. He felt very vulnerable at the moment, in spite of his brief attempt at levity. Giving in, he leaned his head against Jack's shoulder. Then he closed his eyes, letting the calm and love of the older man nourish him.
For five minutes, they stood, embracing in the public park. Cars whizzed by, as did a couple of bicycles, their riders caught out in the rain. Anyone could see them. After all, they were only a half-hour's driving time away from Cheyenne Mountain.
“Jack, we can't do this here,” Daniel finally said, reluctantly pulling away.
“Like hell, we can't,” Jack maintained, pulling Daniel in for a passionate, long-lasting kiss. When they pulled apart, he added, “You remember that kiss, Danny. That's us; that's real; that's forever.”
“I want to go home,” Daniel requested, his eyes speaking so many unspoken words of love, need, and desire.
Jack nodded, sneaking in one more very quick kiss, and then he held Daniel's hand as they walked through the park. Daniel wanted to pull back, to remove his hand from Jack's hold, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. It felt too good and too right.
When they reached the street, Jack sighed. He looked at his lover and smiled.
“Someday, Daniel, we're going to come to this park, and we're going to romp and play in it. Then we're going to leave, walking away with our arms around each other. It's going to happen,” Jack proclaimed firmly.
“Someday, Jack,” Daniel agreed, smiling.
The lovers looked into each other's eyes, their smiles bright with love as they did so. Neither were deceiving themselves that the nightmares were a thing of the past, but now that Daniel had admitted the truth about his dream, the worst was over. Soon, the nightmares about Moscow and Jack's tortuous death would fade into the deep recesses of their brains, replaced by happy dreams and hopeful promises of their future together. The nightmares faded, but Jack and Daniel's nation of two grew a little bit stronger because of them.
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