Prisoners and Lovers

Author: Orrymain
Category: Slash, Drama, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Partial POV - Sam, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  2 - July 1998
Spoilers:  Serpent's Lair, Prisoners
Size:  66kb
Written:  September 15-17,21,25 2003  Revised:  January 13, February 17, March 25,29-30, April 4, May 15,31, June 25-26, 2005
Summary:  Jack and Daniel continue to make adjustments in their new romantic relationship, Sam wonders if she is seeing what she thinks she's seeing, and Teal'c worries about Daniel.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fics,  “Wish Upon a Star” and “Adjustments and Parameters”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Suzanna, Tina, Brynn, QuinGem, Sentarla, Robert, Tamara, Claudia, Allexandrya!


Prisoners and Lovers
by Orrymain

It was a picturesque scene in a quiet suburb of Colorado Springs.  The time was nine-thirty in the morning where, in a master bedroom two men, obviously well acquainted, were occupying the king-size bed.  There was no fighting over covers here as one man was draped over the other like a warm blanket while the other served as a comforting pillow.

Daniel Jackson was definitely a night owl, and usually, Jack O'Neill was a morning robin, but this was one of those lazy, overcast mornings, and both men felt the warm drowsiness cover them like sticky taffy, pulling them deeper into the mattress with every attempt, not that they'd made many, to get out of bed.  The sun played peekaboo behind the clouds as if it were as reluctant to begin the day as the two men who snuggled closer, wrapping themselves around each other.

SG-1 was on their last day of a seventy-two hour downtime after a nail-biting first contact mission that had everyone doubting their sanity. Fortunately, Daniel's calm and rational manner had convinced the locals that the strangers from Earth were peaceful.

Of course, Jack felt it had more to do with his archaeologist's baby blue eyes and the ~sweetest six ever created~ than anything else, especially since the daughter of the planet's head honcho seemed to have eyes for no one but Jack's archaeologist.

~Just keep those hands up high, Girlie~ Jack had thought more than once as the pretty and alluring twenty-two-year-old pawed his lover.

The last two days had been awesome in Jack's estimation.  He and Daniel had spent the entire time together at his house; more specifically, in their bedroom.  Daniel was still getting use to Jack's choice of words.  Words like “our,” “us,” and “we” seemed to either make him blush, lose his entire ability to speak, or turn them both into emotional saps.

--

“J'ck?”

“You were expecting to wake up on top of someone else with chest hair?”

Daniel snickered, rubbing his fingers on the aforementioned hair.  He loved doing that, playing with Jack's ~very sexy chest hairs.~

Jack placed a kiss on Daniel's long mop of hair.  How he loved running his fingers through those long voluptuous strands.  It was so soft and silky.  He could never get enough of doing that, but he also loved to tease his lover about the shaggy do.

“One of these days, Jackson, snip, snip!”

“Jaaaack!”  Daniel's head shot up and looked Jack straight in the eye.  “You wouldn't do that, would you, Jack?” Daniel asked, his own eyes wide with panic.

~There's a story there, Dannyboy, but now is not the time to drag it out of you.~

Jack O'Neill was capable of a lot of things.  He loved to tease, and he wasn't above doing some A-class practical jokes.  As a matter of fact, Daniel had been the recipient of plenty of Jack's pranks from the beginning of their friendship.  Still, not even Jack would cut Daniel's beautiful shaggy hair. Would he?

“Ah, Danny, never!  You're beautiful.  I love your rag mop hair.  I'd never do anything like that,” the older man assured, his smile a confirmation of that promise.

Jack kissed his soulmate soundly, after which Daniel returned to his preferred resting place on Jack's chest.  It was warm and surprisingly comfortable, and more than anything else, somehow, Daniel felt safe.  No, he always felt safe with Jack, but curled up like this beside him, half on top of Jack, felt like ...

~Home.~  Daniel shouted inside as he made the connection.  ~YES!  That's it!~  He felt like he was home.  ~Yeah, home is here with my ... 'Jack pillow',~ chuckled lightly.

“Hey, what's so funny?” Jack asked.

“I like my Jack pillow.  It's ... comfy,” Daniel shyly admitted.

“Glad to know I'm good for something,” Jack laughed.

“You're ... good for a lot of things,” Daniel said as he twisted some of Jack's chest hairs with his fingers.

“Care to make me a list?” Jack asked as his own fingers lightly tickled his lover's bare back in loving touches.

“Scaring Goa'ulds and airmen,” Daniel teased.  “You're very good at that.”

“Not sure the Goa'uld are scared of me, but the airmen had better be.”

“They wouldn't be if they could see you now,” Daniel said, his eyes bright with mischief.

Jack laughed at the thought and shook his head slightly just before saying, “If they could see me now, I'd be retiring.  We'd move to the cabin, and you could bring home the bacon and take care of your old man.”

“Jack, you are not old,” Daniel stated adamantly, a small frown coloring his face.  ~Gawd, I hate it when he says that.~

“Compared to you, I'm ancient, and I've got the bad knees and scars to prove it,” the Special Ops colonel responded seriously.

Daniel groaned, hating how Jack spoke about himself.

~Jack may hate cliches, but there is truth to being as old as you feel, and he's about the youngest person I know; he certainly acts like a kid.  Well, I mean when he's not ... when we're not ... oh, gawd,~ Daniel thought, his mental complaining about Jack's age-griping turning into an internal blush about their love affair.

The lovers quieted, and two minutes passed with the only language being expressed was the language of their hearts and bodies.  Daniel had grown still in Jack's arms, and the older man thought maybe he had fallen back to sleep.  That is, until Daniel shifted slightly, and Jack realized he was still awake.

“Danny, you okay?” Jack inquired.

Daniel did a profile type of nod against Jack's chest that made Jack laugh, but he also knew that meant his lover was deep in thought about something he was hesitant to bring up.  Jack sensed their pillow talk, so playful just a moment ago, had now turned pensive.

“Whatcha' thinkin' about, Danny?” asked Jack, lightly ruffling the long hair in a gesture of reassurance.

“You,” Daniel answered truthfully.

“What about me?”

“The scars and ... how you got them,” Daniel answered as his left hand gently ran over one of the old war wounds in question.

~Don't ask, Danny; you so do *not* want to know.~  Jack placed another kiss on his lover's shaggy hair and replied, “Most of those were from a long time ago, a long time ago.”

“Iraq?” Daniel guessed in a quiet voice.

“Some, and South America, Asia, and other places in the Middle East.  I've been around,” Jack tried to chuckle.  ~And not the fun way, either.~

~He's been through so much; I ... I just know he has.  They...they've hurt him.~  Daniel blinked as his fingers continued to trace over various scars on Jack's body.  “You mean you've been beaten and tortured all over the world?”

Daniel had asked his question so softly Jack almost didn't hear all of it.

“Long time ago, Love,” Jack said, not wanting to remember anymore than he wanted Daniel to know what those times were like.  ~Just as soon forget them all.~

“You never talk about it,” Daniel spoke, his hand now running up and down along Jack's side.  ~You need to, just like I ... never mind.~

“Can't.”  ~And don't want to, for a whole lot of reasons.~

“Can't as in that classified garbage, or can't as in ... can't go there?”

“Both I guess.  It's okay, Danny,” Jack promised.  “I'm here now with the most beautiful rag mop to wake up to every morning.  It's a great way to start the day.”

“Jack, I ... ”

Daniel stopped his thought mid-sentence.  Their relationship was new, and he still feared rejection, no matter how hard Jack tried to reassure him.  The archaeologist had a difficult time stating his personal needs and wants, and most of the time, he couldn't bring himself to say those magic three words unless Jack said them first.  He often wanted to, but he was waging an internal battle that, so far, he wasn't able to win except in moments when the words had just slipped out without any prior thought.

“I love you, Danny,” Jack whispered.  ~If I could just find a way to tell you how much ...~  Jack knew about Daniel's silent conflict and the battle Daniel was fighting with himself.  ~It's okay; I understand, but I promise you that the day will come when you're going to win that battle.~

Until then, Jack was more than happy to keep saying the words first.  After all, they were words he had never imagined saying again after his marriage to Sara had ended; and they were words that now gave Jack's life meaning.

“Love you so much, Jack,” Daniel responded, happy that his lover had spoken the words so he could say them, too.

“Hey, let's take a shower.  We're, uh, sticky, and then we can make some of those waffles you love so much,” Jack said lightheartedly.

“You don't like them very much, do you?” Daniel asked about his favorite breakfast food.

With a truthful smile, Jack replied, “I love them, because you love them.”

“But you'd rather have Froot Loops,” Daniel assumed calmly.

“I'd rather have you,” Jack said with a leer.

Daniel blushed, kissed his human pillow's chest, and smiled at the love Jack so freely gave him.  He felt so wanted, and that was still something Daniel was trying to get used to.

“You ... have me, Jack,” Daniel spoke hesitantly, but sincerely.  ~I ... I'm not sure that's saying much, but it's ... I mean, for what I'm worth, I am yours.~

====

“No way, Jack,” the evasive archaeologist said from the other side of the room, a challenging smile on his face.

“Ah, yes, Dannyboy.  You can run, but you can't hide,” Jack refuted in an Irish accent as he hunched over slightly, trying to decide which way to go to find his prey.

Daniel made a move behind the sofa that took him to his left as Jack tried to go to the right.  The chase had been on for five minutes.  The younger man had hijacked Jack's box of Froot Loops, threatening to use it for ransom.

“You have to catch me first, Jack, and you know I'm faster than you are,” Daniel said, his eyes shining from the game they were playing.

“Faster maybe, but ...” Jack replied, arching his eyebrows, “... speed isn't everything.”

Jack made a move towards the back of the sofa, but quickly darted back to thwart Daniel's movement to the front of the couch.

Daniel's only option was to retreat.  Unfortunately for him, his retreat was right into Jack's large armchair, and before he knew it, Daniel was pinned by a wily Special Ops colonel.

“Always know your surroundings, Daniel; memorize every detail,” Jack instructed as he leaned in for a kiss.

Jack nibbled on Daniel's upper lip for a moment, before slipping his tongue inside Daniel's mouth.  Then, going for the complete attack, Jack pulled up Daniel's brown plaid shirt, giving him access to his lover's smooth skin.  Jack snaked his fingers to that spot right above Daniel's belly button.  It was a place Jack had happily discovered where Daniel was extremely ticklish.  With his own laugher, Jack began his loving assault.

“J'ck, gawd, no, Jack,” Daniel laughed hysterically as he felt Jack's fingers knead against the sensitive area.

“Paybacks, Danny,” Jack laughed as he turned Daniel into a large body of squirming Jell-O, wriggling and slinking his way, lower and lower into the chair.

“Stop ... gee...zzzz ... J'ck ... oh ...  you ... win ... J'ck!”

Daniel thought he'd die, sure he'd never laughed so much in his life.  Jack ended his tickle attack, his fingers shifting to a gentle caress.

As Daniel's laughter dimmed, and his stomach's small convulsions lessened, he found his lover gazing into his eyes.  Daniel dropped the box of Froot Loops he'd somehow managed to keep hold of during the tickle attack, reached up with both his hands to cup Jack's face, and then stretched upwards to kiss Jack's succulent lips.

Jack leaned into Daniel's touch, and they sank further down into the chair as their kisses intensified.

“I love to hear you laugh, Danny.  You need to do that more,” Jack told his lover.

Daniel kept his arms around Jack's neck, his fingers gently kneading the back of Jack's neck, and then he ran his right hand through Jack's short hair.

“I ... I guess I never really had much reason to laugh before.”

“Well, that's all changed now,” Jack said firmly.  “I love you, Danny, even if you did kidnap my Froot Loops.”

“It's impossible to kidnap a cereal,” Daniel argued lightly, trying not to laugh at the entire conversation.

“Okay, hijacked it.”

“I was ... holding it for ransom,” Daniel teased, his eyes boring into Jack's seductively.

“And what were your demands?”

“Hmm ... let's see, Chinese for dinner,” Daniel said, nodding his head a couple of times.

“Chinese?  It's Friday -- pizza night,” Jack stated determinedly.

“Chinese,” the archaeologist insisted.

“Supreme ... extra cheese ... pepperoni ... lots of ... sauce,” Jack said in between several kisses.

With his hands massaging the back of his soulmate's neck, Daniel softly declared, “Chinese, hae sum tung, won ton soup, egg roll, shrimp chow mein.”

“How can you eat that stuff?” Jack asked as he did a mock shiver at the thought.

“Utensils and my tongue,” Daniel quipped, raising both eyebrows and slowly moving his tongue over his top lip and then rolling it over his lower lip.  ~Look at him; he's so easy,~ Daniel thought as he mesmerized the older man with his tongue movements.

“Oh, I like the tongue concept.”  Jack smiled, but he wasn't ready to admit defeat just yet.  “Pizza.”

“Chinese.”

“Geez, Danny, what you do to me.”  ~And what you *will* do to me if I give in.  Hmmm.~

“Chinese,” the younger man said with persistence.

“Chinese,” Jack conceded, quickly adding, “but dessert first.”

“Hmmm ... cake?” Daniel teased.

“Nope,” Jack answered, shaking his head.  “Try again.”

“Apple pie?  You love apple pie.”

“That I do, but it's not what I had in mind.”

“Ice cream?” Daniel asked, his eyes sparkling with wanton lust.

“Maybe after the Chinese,” Jack considered.  “C'mon, you, this is killing the old knees,” Jack said as he raised himself off the chair.

When Daniel stood up a moment after, Jack put his arm around his waist.  Both enjoyed this simple act.  Jack kissed Daniel's temple as they walked to the stairs.  It felt so perfect.  They fit in every way.

~We've come so far, Danny.  I know, we're only beginning, and I'm not dumb enough to think there won't be more rough patches in the future, but I sure am glad we got through the first one.~

Jack knew from having been married for a number of years that there would be more difficult times ahead: some they could wade through and leave behind, and some they would just have to come back to and clear up later.  It was all a part of life and love.

That first test, though, had seemed insurmountable for awhile.  Guilt came easily to Daniel, and he had gotten an acute case.  Jack had decided he couldn't let Daniel hurt because of him, but eventually, they agreed to take it one day at a time.  Each one of those days in the last couple of weeks had made them more and more comfortable with each other.

Daniel had spent eleven of the last fourteen days at Jack's house.  Jack had spent those other three nights at Daniel's apartment.  They hadn't wanted to be apart, and so they hadn't been.

SG-1 had been on three single day missions, recons that all turned out to be shorter than anticipated and even disappointments in many ways.

A new mission to P3X-775 was scheduled for the next day, and the entire team was looking forward to finding something to help with their war against the Goa'uld or to at least come in contact with potential new allies.

That mission would be tomorrow, but at the moment, Jack and Daniel still had the rest of the evening to revel in their love before worrying about the SGC and the battle with the Goa'uld.  The soulmates melded themselves into each other, renewing their still-new love until their bodies exploded and convulsed in an undescribable pleasure.

Afterwards, Jack ordered Chinese take-out, as per Daniel's request.  It's not that Jack hated Chinese, but it wasn't high on his list of favorites, either.  Daniel, however, was tops on his list of favorites, and so, once again, Jack was 'suffering' through hae sum tung, not regretting it for a moment, especially after Daniel's huge smile that resulted from the first taste of his favorite Chinese dish.

~Maybe we'll get this every night.  You keep smiling, Danny; you're so beautiful when you smile.  No, actually you're beautiful all the time, but when you smile, geez, you melt my heart.~

As he thought about Daniel, Jack chuckled, unable to keep it silent.

“What?” Daniel asked as he stuffed more food into his mouth.

With a grin, Jack answered, “I'd walk a mile for that smile!”  Jack noted his lover's frown.  ~No way he doesn't know that's a take-off on that Camel cigarette commercial.  No way!~  Jack stared at Daniel who looked positively clueless.  “C'mon, Danny, you know, the commercial -- walk a mile for a camel so ...”

“You'd walk a mile for a camel?” an apparently very confused Daniel asked.  “Uh, why?” he added before Jack could answer.

“Never mind, Daniel.”  Jack sighed and took a bite of his food, but when he looked up at the younger man, he saw a hint of a small.  ~That con artist!~  “You're playing games with me, Danny!” Jack accused.

“Who me?” Daniel asked, looking around innocently.  “I don't know what you're talking about, Babe.”

“Of course, you don't,” Jack said, not believing a word the younger man said. He chuckled again.  ~I'd walk a mile for you, Danny -- for any part of you.  Geez, I love you.~

====

“Hey there,” Jack said as he sat next to Daniel on the steps to the patio deck in his backyard.

Jack put his arm around Daniel's waist and let his fingers massage the area slightly.

“Hi,” Daniel said, leaning into Jack's embrace.

“Checked with Hammond.  Briefing is at 0800, and if it all goes on schedule, we head out at 1000 hours,” Jack stated informatively.

“Ten a.m.,” Daniel translated the military hours.

“Gotta learn military time, Love,” Jack said lightly.

“No, I don't, I'm a civilian,” Daniel denounced, using the lightest touch of 'The Danny Pout'.

“A civilian who works for the Air Force.”

“Technicality,” Daniel said dismissively.

“Beautiful technicality.”  ~Women would kill to be able to do that pout as well as you do, Danny.  Is there anything you can do that doesn't make me want to ravish you on the spot?~

“Jack, you're changing the subject.”

“It's a nice night, isn't it?” Jack sighed contently as he held his Love close.

“Peaceful,” Daniel agreed, loving the feel of Jack's arm around his waist.

“Do you like it here, Danny?”  Jack saw the approving nod.  “I thought it was the perfect place when I found it.  House isn't too big, but the yard is huge -- lots of tree cover and privacy.  There are neighbors, but not too close.  Typical suburbs I guess, but with a feel of country, and not too close to the base.  I thought it was a slice of heaven when I bought it.”

“Isn't it still?” Daniel asked curiously.

Jack nodded as he answered, “It's a beautiful place, but I've learned something, Danny.”  Jack paused to kiss his lover's temple.  “You're my slice of heaven, and when you're here, this place is paradise.”

“Jack,” Daniel said softly as buried his face in Jack's shoulder, trying to hide his reddening cheeks.

“It's the truth, Danny.  Love you.”

“I love you, too,” Daniel said, lifting his head to look at Jack.  His eyes were glistening as he put his left hand up to Jack's jaw, tracing it with his fingers. Then, he slid them gently to Jack's lips, lightly touching them.  He tingled when Jack kissed his fingers.  “I love this, Jack, being able to do this ... to ... touch.  I never ... I mean ...”

Daniel shook his head, unable to convey his thoughts, resting it on Jack's shoulder.

After a few moments, Jack commented, “It's late.  We should get some sleep.”

“Maybe I should go ... um, to my ...” Daniel began, but trailed off.

Daniel's linguistic skills had come to a grinding halt.  He couldn't seem to complete a sentence if his life depended on it.

“Stay here,” Jack suggested.

“No more clothes.  They're all ... dirty.  Can't wear this to the SGC,” Daniel chuckled, referring to his tattered gray sweats.

“Yeah, we really need to go shopping and get you some new sweats, Danny.”

“These are fine.”

“They are older than me,” Jack quipped.

“Are not.”

“Are!” the older man insisted.

“Not!”

“Maybe not in years, but definitely in deterioration,” Jack said ardently.

“Ooooooh, big word,” the younger man teased.

“It happens.”

“I should go, Jack,” Daniel reiterated, though he hadn't budged an inch from Jack's side.

Jack whispered, “I don't want you to.”

“Me, either, but I should and we both know it.  Mission tomorrow.”

“Geez, can't touch you,” Jack groaned.  “That's going to be murder.”

“I know the feeling,” Daniel sighed dejectedly.

“Stay, Danny.  You can go by the apartment in the morning.”

“I'm not a morning person,” Daniel said, stating the obvious.

“Now there's a news bulletin,” Jack teased, earning him a slight jab in his shoulder.  He chuckled for a moment, then made his lover an offer he knew Daniel couldn't refuse.  “I'll make you coffee.”

“Better make it three if the briefing is at ... 0800,” Daniel mocked.

“Deal.  Let's go to bed.”

Jack and Daniel stood, their bodies remaining close together.  Jack couldn't resist scooping up his lover and kissing him deeply, Daniel's arms automatically flying up around Jack's neck at the same time.

“Danny, we fit.  Have you noticed that?  I mean, how well we go together, like jigsaw puzzles that fit.”

“Perfect connection.  Slot A into Slot B,” Daniel said, slipping his tongue into Jack's mouth as proof.

Daniel gazed into Jack's eyes.  He wanted and needed to say the words.  Yes, he'd said them first a few times, usually during their lovemaking, but never consciously, in a well thought out declaration of his emotion that he was compelled to share, or even in a casual conversation.  Now, though, he couldn't not say it.  The words were planned, and yet were still spontaneous; they came from the very depth of Daniel's heart and soul.

“Gawd, I love you, Jack.”

Jack's heart melted on the spot.  He knew this statement of fact was different from the others.  In fact, it was the only time since their very first night together that Daniel had spoken those words so definitely without Jack having already said them.

“Words from the heart,” Jack said.

“From the very center of my heart.  I know you understand,” Daniel said hopefully.

“I do, Danny,” Jack assured with a smile.

“I ... I love you, Jack, so much,” Daniel heard himself say.

Jack's heart was singing as a huge grin broke out on his face.

~Definitely a good sign!~

“What?” Daniel asked, thinking he'd heard Jack's thoughts, but not certain.

“I love you, Danny, love you so friggin' much.”

====

“Don't be late, Daniel,” Jack stated as he walked into Daniel's office.

“Jack, we don't leave for thirty minutes, I have plenty of time.”

“Daniel, I know you, remember?  You're about to get up close and personal with that ... rock ...” Jack said, pointing at the item in question.

“Artifact,” Daniel corrected, his eyes peering over at his lover.

“Whatever; and you know what happens when you do.  Mission first, then you can come and play with your rocks.  I'll even help,” Jack said smugly.

“Jaaaack!” Daniel whined, but then he grew more serious.  “Jack, are you ... worried about us?”

“Us?” Jack repeated quietly, turning to close and lock the door for the shift in conversation.

“I just meant us on missions together.  I mean, you've always ... you know ... anyway.  Are you going to get worse now?  I mean, what about Sam and Teal'c?”

“You know, it's a good thing I'm good at another language,” Jack commented with a smile.

Daniel paused in confusion, then asked, “Another language?”

“Very unique one --  the language of Doctor Daniel Jackson.”

“Oh,” Daniel said, crossing his arms in front of him while still holding the alien artifact, looking down to hide his embarrassed smile.

~Geez, you're beautiful.  Whoa -- business, O'Neill!~  Jack regrouped, then spoke, “Danny, when we walk out of here, the colonel's in charge, and the team comes first.  We can't let that change.  If we do, then we have something to worry about.”

“Oh,” Daniel responded, walking over to a shelf to place the artifact in its temporary home.

Jack followed and daringly slid his arms around Daniel's waist as he whispered, “I'll retire, Danny.  I'm not giving you up.”

“Retire?  Jack, you can't do that,” Daniel said, glancing over his shoulder at Jack and then turning around to face him.

“Not planning on it.  As long as we can keep it the same out there, there isn't a need to, but if I start putting you before the team, I'll have to.”  Jack paused for a moment.  “Time to gear up.  Love you, Danny,” he said, placing a kiss on Daniel's lips.

“Jack, security cameras?” Daniel asked with alarm.

“I took care of that before I walked in.  Special Ops, Daniel -- always stay ahead of the game,” Jack said, winking.

“Oh,” Daniel laughed, not at all sure what Jack had done, but having all the confidence in the world that his lover had taken care of the potential problem.

====

//Captain Samantha Carter's Personal Notes//
This has been the strangest day, so strange that I need to put my thoughts down on paper, so I can read them; see if they make sense.  It started out normal enough, but now I'm wondering if I'm imagining things, and if I'm not, then, well, I just don't know.

We started out exploring a new planet, P3X-775.  It's pretty much a big rain forest, but by now, we've learned not to judge a planet by its cover, as the colonel would say.

The colonel is why I'm writing down my thoughts.  Actually, it's the colonel and Daniel.  They seem different somehow.  I sense a change in both of them, but I can't explain what it is.  Maybe it's the planet affecting them somehow, or is that just me wanting to create a reason for their change in behavior?  Wait, has there really been a change?

Okay, I need to back up a bit because things have actually been a little different since we thought Daniel died aboard the mother ship when Apophis was trying to attack Earth.  We were all so happy to see him, but the colonel, wow!  He had a big smile on his face, and he hugged Daniel right there in the gate room.  I'm not just talking about a run-of-the-mill hug, but a great, big, lingering hug.  It was definitely not just one of those guy 'hi, how are ya' type of hugs.

Daniel was stunned, I think.  He had this huge, sloppy smile on his face, and the hug left him speechless.  I didn't think too much about it at the time.  After all, we thought he had been killed by the Jaffa, and then, like magic, there he was in the gate room.

Since then, there's been something in the air, and yes, Samantha, that's a cliche.  The colonel is watching Daniel more than usual, and Daniel doesn't seem to be upset about it.  Normally, he'd argue about it, or they'd bicker, but they seem to be smiling at each other a lot.  I'd swear the colonel is trying not to let on that he is watching Daniel more than usual, and Daniel is pretending not to notice.  It's odd because there is no tension between them, and there should be with the colonel watching Daniel so carefully.  It's not that he is watching me and Teal'c less, but Colonel O'Neill is watching Daniel differently.  Gee, I sound like a rambling female, don't I?

Anyway, the tests on the planet were coming up empty.  We'd been there a few hours when the colonel suggested we leave.  Daniel argued, but their exchange was, I don't know, playful.

I expected one of their 'Scientist Daniel vs. Soldier Jack' arguments, and I got it, but it was, gee, there is no way to say it other than to say it was cute! The two stood there, playing dueling fingers for a moment, like play Swordfighting.

I was really curious to see if this change in moods would help Daniel talk the colonel out of leaving, but then we were interrupted, to put it mildly.  The point though isn't the interruption but the conversation.

The colonel had said we were leaving.  His exact words were, “... unless you can tell me you've discovered something Earth-shattering, I’m ready to bag this one,” which is when Daniel interjected, “We practically just got here.  We have no idea what this planet has to offer.”

The colonel didn't miss a beat with his retort.  “Trees and moss,” he had said dryly, and I have to admit he was right.

Daniel tried to argue that we were only a few miles from the Stargate, but the colonel asked for my opinion, specifically asking about radio traffic and chemical traces that would indicate signs of life.

“None, Sir.”

I had to reply honestly, and that's when Daniel and the colonel both put up their fingers and starting dueling, but it was our CO who got the upper hand.

“Ack!  Ack!  We’ll, ah, flag it for an aerial survey,” the colonel had said.

That's when the Taldor imprisoned us and literally threw us through the Stargate to Hadante.

I wanted to think about what those two fingers doing battle meant, but thoughts of our survival too precedence once we arrived on Hadante, an underground penal colony.

We quickly met Linea, who seemed to be the leader of this unpleasant little 'notel motel' as Colonel O'Neill called it.  It's amazing that a woman like her controlled the prison populous.  Score one for woman power.

As we searched Hadante, the interplay between the colonel and Daniel heightened.  First, Daniel had been explaining that the place reminded him of Botany Bay, only he said this place had to be “more than that.”  He seemed unable to explain exactly what he meant, and I caught the colonel doing one of those supportive pat on the arm things, telling him it was okay.

I didn't think much of that by itself.  The colonel has always touched Daniel a lot, which I've never understood because Daniel usually doesn't like to be touched.  He lets me hug and touch him; key word there is 'lets'.  While he doesn't flinch like he used to, I still see him focus on not pulling back, like he's tolerating my need to touch him; but when it's the colonel, he doesn't flinch or hesitate, he accepts it, almost encourages it, and that is part of what's puzzling me.

Then, only a minute or two later, I knew I hadn't been imagining things.  The colonel and I were going to talk to Linea, and Daniel and Teal'c were to keep searching the prison.  As Daniel started to walk off, the colonel stopped him.

“Oh, Daniel,” my CO began.  “You gotta trust me on this.”  The colonel reached up and removed Daniel's glasses, placing them in the pocket of Daniel's jacket.  As he did so, he said, “Signs of weakness are not a good thing in prison.”

He patted Daniel's arm when he was done, and I couldn't help but notice the tone of his words, getting softer as he finished his statement; and Daniel just let him do it.  I couldn't see the colonel's face, but I saw Daniel's clearly. He was fascinated, almost engulfed by what the colonel was saying.  With anyone else, Daniel would have been nervous and uncomfortable; in fact, he never would have allowed that kind of closeness with anyone else but Colonel O'Neill.

It was a look I can only describe as tender that passed over Daniel's face; it must have been a reflection of a similar look from the colonel.

That's when I realized the truth, or at least I think it's the truth.  Holy Hannah!  Daniel and Colonel O'Neill are involved.  It's way more than friendship, way more.  I'm not sure how far it's gone, not even sure I really want to know, but it's obvious there's much more there than, well, than simple friendship.

I'm so confused by it, but it's there, clear as day.
//End of Personal Notes//

~Now *that* makes a lot of sense, Samantha.  You're confused by something that's as clear as day?~  She sighed as she paused in her therapeutic writing.  ~Okay, Samantha Carter, out with it.  What are you really thinking?  C'mon, spit it out.~

She really didn't want to think it, but the evidence was overwhelming.

~Well, for openers, I've admired them both from afar.~  With a light chuckle that was part humorous and part frustration, she thought, ~And they chose each other instead of me?  Now that's a real boost to a girl's ego.~  She stared at her notes, battling with herself about writing down the words.

~That's honest enough.  After all, I like both of the guys.  Move on, Samantha.  What else is it you want to say, but can't?~  She sighed again.  ~I could almost believe Daniel is ... is ... say it, you're a big girl, say it ... gay! I could almost believe Daniel is gay, but then, he's married, and I have no doubt in my mind that he does love Sha're.~

A realization hit her that was almost like a slap.

~And Colonel O'Neill wasn't?  He was married for years.  Get a grip, Samantha!  Do you honestly believe Daniel could be gay because he is smart, neat, and doesn't care for sports, and that the colonel couldn't be because he's a rough and tumble soldier boy?~

She shook her head at an internal war, finally putting her thoughts to paper again, hoping that seeing them written would help her sort through the confusion.

//Captain Samantha Carter's Personal Notes//
A big part of my job description is practicing tolerance and non-judgment towards alien societies and their values, and right now, I feel like I'm failing my teammates.  They aren't just teammates; they are my dearest friends, and both of them have saved my six a time or two.  Don't they deserve better from me than stereotypical thinking and labeling?  You know they do, or is the truth that I'm jealous, too jealous to see clearly?

Just look at them.  Daniel and the colonel are more at ease, more relaxed, and definitely happier than the day I met either one of them.  Who am I to judge what their happiness should be?  None of us know if we will step through the Stargate one more time at the end of a day, and why should anyone care if they go home to each other?  Isn't that what we all want, someone there waiting for us when we step across the threshold?  I wish I had someone waiting for me.

Yeahsureyoubetcha.  It's just your average job, right?  Commute across the galaxy, find a piece of alien technology, save the world, blow up a Goa'uld ship or two, practice a little interplanetary diplomacy, and, “Whoa, another day another dollar, look at the time,” and home again.

Home.  Now that could be interesting -- “Honey I'm home, survived another mission.  What's for dinner?  Where are the kids?  Oh, and are we 'doing it' tonight?”

Holy Hannah, where did that all come from?  I'm giggling inside as I write this.  I'm definitely hanging around the colonel too much.  I really need to get a life of my own instead of watching my commanding officer and Daniel.  Okay, I'm glad I got all of that out of my system.  Now that I have this figured out, what next?

Let's review.  The colonel and Daniel are obviously involved in a romantic relationship.  Their eyes betray their secret.  Does that mean I should start thinking they are homosexuals and gay?  Tolerance, girl.  Sure, they are gay. Gay means happy, and I think they are; much more than they used to be anyway.  Labels: who needs them?

Am I positive they are involved?  I think so.  I might even bet money on it, but, of course, I can't ask them.  The colonel's career would be ruined if I put him in that position, so I have to keep their secret, a secret they don't know I have and must never know I have.  In fact, when we get back to Earth, I am destroying these notes.  I won't take a chance of having someone find them, but I had to write down my thoughts, to see if it had made sense.

In the process, I've learned something about myself.  The colonel and Daniel are my friends, but you know, I am a little jealous, and of both of them.  When I use my imagination, I can see myself living happily with both the colonel and Daniel.  Oh well, my day will come.  I hope.

No more time for reflection.  We have work to do.
//End of Personal Notes//

Returning from a conversation with Linea, Jack and Sam found Teal'c threatening one of the inmates while Daniel stood, self-hugging, next to him. Jack's pulse quickened, knowing what must have happened, but he played it cool and discussed their current options for getting out of Hadante with the team.

The Stargate activated, and food was poured through the Gate as SG-1 watched.  When Jack saw Daniel was still self-hugging, his concern grew, along with his anger, though he had to mask it.

SG-1 had already been told they would be last to eat.  They waited for the other inmates to disperse and then filled their bowls with the so-called food.

~I wouldn't feed this to a cat, and I hate cats,~ Jack thought.

~It's better than orphanage food ... I think,~ Daniel debated silently.

~What I wouldn't give for a chocolate bar,~ Sam's mind wandered.

~I do not need sustenance yet; that is a good thing,~ Teal'c told himself as he ignored the material some entity referred to as food.

====

A bit later, while Sam went to talk to Linea and Teal'c continued to survey the inmates, Jack found the most secluded spot he could and pulled Daniel with him to the area.

“Jack, what are you doing?” Daniel asked, looking behind and around them to see if anyone was watching.

“What happened, Danny?” Jack asked, his eyes focused with intensity.

“Wha...what do you mean?” Daniel stammered nervously, tightening his self-hug and staring down at the cold ground.

“You know what I mean.  Why was Teal'c about to snap that man's neck?”

“Jack, it's ... nothing,” Daniel denied, his eyes wandering around the floor as his head remained bowed to evade Jack's invasive stare.

“And that's why you're still hugging yourself, afraid to let go; and for that matter, why you can't look me in the eye?”

Daniel's head snapped up, and Jack captured the gaze, his brown eyes holding Daniel's blue ones captive, refusing to let them look down again.

~Why won't he let this go?~ Daniel asked himself, feeling extremely uncomfortable.

Daniel silently admitted he was glad Teal'c had been there to save him from what would have otherwise been one more nightmare in his personal gallery of horrors.  A tall, muscular Jaffa warrior was definitely a good thing to have covering your six.  On the downside, Daniel was not only embarrassed about the entire situation but was also feeling like a huge liability to the team.

~Everybody's got to protect the geek scholar.  'We need him, but what a pain in the butt.'  Leave it alone, Jack.~

Jack, however, would never allow Daniel to hurt, mentally or physically, in silence.  He knew Daniel was insecure in spite of his genius, and the archaeologist had a reason for being that way.  Determined, Jack continued to chip away at all the protective layers of his lover's personality.

Undaunted by Daniel's silence and refusal to answer, Jack strongly urged,  “C'mon, Danny, tell me.”

~Gawd, Jack, it wasn't the first time, and it probably won't be the last, and I really don't want to think about it, but ... look at you.  You're as stubborn as a goat, and you won't let it go.  I know you well enough to know that.  I might as well get it over it.~  With a sigh, Daniel confided, “Teal'c and I, we separated for a while, and that ... inmate ... he ...”

Softly, Jack asked, “Did he hurt you, Danny?”  He watched with discerning eyes as Daniel shook his head.  ~No, not convinced.~  “Danny?” Jack challenged, looking over his shoulder to make sure no one was approaching.

“No, Jack, he ... he tried, but ... Teal'c was there before he could do more than just ... push me against the wall,” the archaeologist admitted as he bowed his head and stared at the hard floor once again.

Daniel felt so embarrassed.

~You don't have to say it, Jack.  You think I'm a ... a wimp who prattles on and on about things you don't care about.  I hate it, being thought of like some ... some pretty boy.  Gawd, the price I've paid for that.~

Daniel had taken his share of lumps growing up because of his smart but cute and good looking image.

--

Time slowed, and Hadante dissolved around Daniel, transporting him to another time and place.  He was nine-years-old, in the supposed care of responsible foster parents, but there was nothing responsible about what was happening.

Daniel was in a dark closet with his older foster brother.  He didn't want to be there, and he had tried to run away from the in-name-only brother, but the older boy was stronger, and he had forced Daniel inside the darkened place at knife point.  His jeans and briefs were around his ankles while his foster brother, who had seemed so nice at first, fondled and groped him.  Daniel continued to struggle, trying to push the invasive hands away.  Hot stinging tears of shame flowed down Daniel's cheeks as he fought.

The little boy Daniel knew better than to cry out, and he knew better than to tell anyone.

~No one would believe me.  No...no one cares.  I'm nothing but trouble.  I...I'm noth...nothing,~ he silently sobbed.

The young Daniel felt worthless.  Even his body had betrayed him by responding ever-so-slightly to the touch.

~No, don't want to be here.  Mommy?  Daddy?  Why did you die?  Why did you leave me all alone?~

The child Daniel felt so alone and ... and what?  Embarrassed?

No, embarrassment came from being the last one chosen for most everything by classmates; embarrassment was what was felt when being called on by the teacher and not knowing the answer, or in Daniel's case, knowing the answer and being made fun of because of being smart; and sometimes embarrassment came from being clumsy and dropping everything onto the floor, resulting in an abundance of cruel laughter and taunting names being unleashed.

What was happening now to a young and innocent nine-year-old Daniel went far beyond a word like embarrassed.  He was humiliated and violated, though at his young age, Daniel wasn't totally sure just how deep those feelings went, or the impact they would ultimately have on his life as he matured.  What he was learning, and quickly, was that from now on, no one in the world would protect him but himself.  His parents were dead, and he had been abandoned by his grandfather.

~Never again; I'll ... I'll protect myself,~ the little boy vowed as he tried to fend off the older boy.

Daniel's determination had saved him as the older boy became annoyed with Daniel's struggling and concentrated on tending to his own need instead.  He was about to try again to force the issue with Daniel, to take the touching to a new level, but young Daniel felt so sick that he actually threw up all over the older boy.

“You little twerp.  You clean this up before Mom and Dad get home.  I should skin you alive for ruining this shirt,” the boy had said.  With his knife lurking near Daniel's groin, he threatened the nine-year-old.  “Say one word, and I'll make you a girl, for real.”

The child Daniel was relieved when the older boy walked out of the closest, but he also felt victorious.

~See -- you don't have to be stronger to win.  Da...Daddy taught me that,~ Daniel cried as he began to clean up the closest.  ~I will protect myself.  I don't ... I don't need anyone.  Just ... me.~

Other incidents still haunted Daniel, but this was one of the very worst, at least that he could remember.  His heart ached with guilt and shame that was not of his making.  He wondered if maybe he shouldn't have survived all the nightmares of his youth; he also pondered what Sha're would have thought had she had known of his troubled past.  Most of all, he thought about Jack, his best friend and lover.

~If he knew all of this, he'd never touch me.  He'd hate me for being weak.  Jack is so strong and sure of himself.~

Still, deep down in his soul, even at this earliest stage of their relationship, Daniel felt secure with Jack.  Things were different with the older man.  Life was good.  Daniel felt comforted, safe, and loved.  Jack's presence had finally dulled some of the pain from Daniel's past.

--

Time was speeding up, and Daniel was beginning to breathe again, becoming cognizant of his surroundings.  There were no closets, only a dingy, dirty, hellhole called Hadante; and now, Jack was standing next to him, calling his name.

“Daniel.  Daniel, snap out of it!” Jack said, waving his right hand in front of his lover and snapping his fingers several times.

“Wha...what?” Daniel stuttered, blinking numerous times until his eyes focused on his significant other.

“Danny, are you okay, and I don't mean physically.  Are *you* okay?”

Daniel forced a small smile and nodded while he silently thought, ~As long as you're here, I'll be okay.~

~I don't think so, Danny,~ Jack thought.  He sensed all was not well with the man standing in front of him, and Jack was frustrated that he couldn't even take Daniel into his arms.  ~Being caught here in Hadante, grrr, especially by another inmate, would mean bad, bad, *bad* news, Danny, and, uh, not for me, but for you.  Nope, can't risk it.~  Looking Daniel in the eye, Jack stated, “The O'Neill School of Self-Defense opens with an exclusive class of one when we get home.”

“Jack, I know how to take of myself,” Daniel insisted.

Jack frowned, his eyes relaying a message to Daniel that was essentially an unspoken question -- 'And Teal'c was breaking that's man's neck then because he was violating the dress code?'

~Give me a break, Danny.  I'm not buying the act.~  Jack considered his options at the moment.  ~Okay, it's time to step it up a notch.~  Jack looked around to verify they were still alone and then took one step closer to Daniel. He spoke forcibly into his soulmate's ear, “You know the basics, but what I'm going to teach you, you didn't learn in your SGC training.  We'll have fun with it, okay?” Jack asked, hoping the fun part would lure Daniel into acceptance.

Daniel sighed and looked off, still feeling ashamed at his near-miss and rescue.

~Gawd, at least Teal'c didn't say anything to me.  I don't know what I would have said back.~

“Do it for me, Danny.  I know you're strong, and you can fight when you have to, but in our line of work, you need to take advantage of every possible skill you can to survive.  Look, nothing fancy, just a few moves, if not for you, for me, because you know if anyone hurts you, I'll kill them.”  Jack waited a moment, then added, “And I know you don't want that.”

Daniel looked at Jack, blue eyes staring deeply into brown ones, exchanging feelings and desires, and deep rooted realities.  The archaeologist was searching for a truth, the one that wondered if Jack would do what he had just said.  He blinked, having found his answer.

“You ... you would, wouldn't you?”

“No one hurts you, Danny.  No one,” Jack answered, not batting an eyelash.

Jack's chocolate brown eyes were intense, and there hadn't been the least hesitation or flinch in his tone or demeanor as he had spoken.  Daniel now knew the truth.

“Okay, Jack.  I'll do it,” Daniel agreed, a bit uncomfortably.

“You're hesitating.”

Daniel shook his head, explaining, “I ... have to protect you, Jack, from ... yourself, so ... if I have to ... do this, I will, because it'll keep you from ...”

“... from killing someone.”  Jack saw his lover's nod of agreement.  “Danny, I would have done that months ago, before we ... you know.  You do know that?”

“I think so, but now it's ... it's ...”

“Yes, now it's ... that, so first session begins our first downtime.  We'd better get back and start working on those gate addresses so we can get out of here.”

Jack started to walk away, but Daniel reached out and grabbed his hand to stop him, and then let it go quickly, knowing they couldn't touch in Hadante.

“Thank you, Jack.”

“For what?”

“Caring so much,” Daniel admitted.  ~No one's cared for me like you do.  It feels so good.~

Jack had to say it, so he did, the words tender, but firm -- “I love you, Daniel.  Come on.”

As gentle as Daniel was, he found it strangely comforting that Jack would kill for him.  Right then, Daniel vowed to be a good pupil in the O'Neill School of Self-Defense so that would never be necessary.  He knew Jack didn't believe it, but Daniel would fight for Jack just as strongly as Jack would fight for Daniel.

====

“What does he think he's doing?” Jack loudly asked himself as Daniel pushed through the inmates to talk to them.

The Stargate was activating.  If Daniel didn't move soon, he'd be killed.

Jack's heart pounded as he yelled at Daniel to get away.  Daniel didn't move though, standing his ground, trying to convince the men they were committing suicide.

~Danny, you're worth more than the lot of them, but you can never value yourself above anyone, can you?  Geez, get out of there!~  Jack was angry that Daniel would be so free with his life.  ~Don't you know what it would do to me, if you get killed?~  Jack was frozen with his anger.  **Daniel, blast it, get out of there!**

**No, Jack.  I have to try!**

Jack was floored by this silent communication of theirs that was growing in strength, but right now, it was the Special Ops colonel who was controlling him, and that colonel had no compunctions about letting a few of the inmates be vaporized by the formation of the wormhole, at least the ones that had been eyeing Daniel.

~Shift the odds in our favor a bit.  If they don't know what happens to anything in front of the kawoosh, they soon will: fortunes of war.~  Jack sighed.  ~Danny, you wouldn't want anything to do with me if you knew I could do more than think such things, would you?  It's just part of me, Love: too many years, too many missions, too much dirty work in the name of patriotism.~ Jack shook his head at his past.  ~Need you; love you more than I have words to tell you.  Don't get yourself killed, Danny.  All I'm asking is that you don't push the issue, like you're doing right now.  Just give me a little help, would ya, please?~  **Danny, MOVE!**

**They'll listen; they have to!**

Daniel was wrong; no one listened, but fortunately, one of the inmates pushed him out of the way just as the Stargate whooshed.  It was Daniel's misfortune, however, that Vishner, the leader of the inmates, accused Daniel of challenging him.  From behind, Vishner grabbed Daniel and attacked him.

~Oh, crap,~ Jack thought as he moved forward to help, but quickly, Jack was held back by at least three other inmates.  He struggled to get free, but was almost strangled in his attempt to get to his lover.  **Hang on, Danny!**

When it was over, Daniel was unconscious on the cold floor with Sam at his side.  Jack was stunned, almost in shock.  He wanted to take hold of Daniel and rock him in his arms, but he couldn't, not here in this cesspool of a place.  Jack was so frustrated; he wanted to kill someone, and right now, it wouldn't take much to make that happen.

~Not now, Jack; let the colonel do what needs to be done.~

Jack had to kick himself in gear.  He had to be the colonel while in Hadante.  As much as it ached his heart to do so, Jack, the lover, had to take a back seat to Colonel O'Neill, the team leader of SG-1.

“Take him to my chamber,” Linea instructed.  “I make no promises, but I will do my best.”

====

As Teal'c carried Daniel, his impassive Jaffa face revealed nothing.  Inside, however, plenty was going through his warrior's mind.

~The Tau'ri are a strange people.  They seem to get pleasure from hurt.  I do not understand this.  I do not understand why they fight over things of no consequence.  DanielJackson is strong and trustworthy.  Why did that inmate seek to harm him?  Surely if DanielJackson wished to have sexual relations with him, he would have, but he did not.  I heard him refuse, several times.  I could not stand by and watch him be hurt because of his choice.~

“This way, Teal'c,” Jack said anxiously as he led the way to Linea's quarters.

Teal'c nodded as he remained silent and deep into his ponderings.

~Strange place, this Earth.  I have been living there for over a year now, and the more I learn, the more confused I am.  Why do they not love as they wish?  Why do they have rules that serve only to restrict their happiness?  Family is the center of our lives on Chulak, but we mate as we choose.  It is always choice, never forced.  I fail to see why one human being would seek out another to harm when surely there is one willing to mate with them.~

--

As Teal'c put Daniel down, Sam looked over and saw her CO's blank expression.  His game face may have been on, but Sam could hear his rapid breathing and his throbbing heart.

“He'll ... be okay, Sir,” Sam dared to say as they watched Linea examine the archaeologist.

Jack looked at her in surprise.  Sam gave him a little smile, one that Jack dismissed as just some woman's comforting mechanism.

“Of course, he will, Carter,” Jack tried to say with confidence, only to find he hadn't sounded nearly as confident as he had hoped.

--

Teal'c looked at Daniel's unconscious form as Linea began to mix together a potion of sorts.

~In some ways, DanielJackson, you are like my son, Rya'c, still unspoiled by the trials of life and war; but it cannot be so forever.  As you will awaken from your slumber, DanielJackson, so must the warrior who sleeps within you awaken and arise.  It is your time.  No one without such a warrior within himself could have survived what you have since the time we have met.  You are brave and strong, but there is more you must learn.  I would teach you, but I think you would be more receptive of these things from O'Neill.  I sense a deep caring, a bond of two brothers, between the two of you.  I will speak to O'Neill.  If he cares for you as I believe he does, then he must begin your training.~

SG-1 watched carefully as Linea tried to help their teammate.

====

When Daniel finally woke, Jack walked quickly to his side and sat down, placing a supporting pat on his arm.  He desperately wanted to do more.

~I have to sit here being the concerned CO when what I really want is to wrap my arms around him and never let him go.  Crap, Carter, stop holding his hand; that's my job.~

Sometimes, Jack hated being a colonel in the United States Air Force, still, seeing his lover coming to and beginning to speak warmed Jack's heart.

When Daniel began to ramble on about what planet they could gate to,  Jack felt a tremendous weight lift from him.  His lover was alive and healthy, or would be soon.  Daniel had survived worse, much worse; they all had.

Suddenly, Jack became aware that his chest wasn't hollow anymore.  It was as if his heart had just popped out for a quick stroll around the block and then nonchalantly slid back into place, resuming its regular rhythm without a care in the world, like nothing at all had happened.  After a few surreptitious gulps of air, Jack was able to breathe normally again.

**I love you, Danny.**

**I love you, too, Jack.**

“It's time to get out of here,” Jack ordered, knowing they now had all they needed to return to Earth.

Their eventual escape from Hadante had been successful.  While the inmates had been gulping down their food, Linea provided the power source that allowed Sam and Teal'c to manually dial the Gate.  The team gated to P2A-509 where SG-3 was carrying out a mission.  They then used SG-3's GDOs to safely return to Earth.  In return for Linea's help, she had accompanied them home.

====

After Janet Fraiser completed their routine physicals, Jack checked to make sure the hallways were empty and raised a lone index finger to his pursed lips. Tugging on Daniel's elbow, Jack gave a sideways jerk with his head and pulled him into a darkened storage room.

“Jack, we're supposed to report to the general.”

“We can do that after you report to me,” Jack said with hopeful eyes.

“Report?” Daniel questioned.

“Hmm-mmm.  You need to convince me that you're in full working order,” Jack said with a low voice.

“Oh,” Daniel said as a smile emerged on his face.  “I'm not sure a storage room is exactly the best place for convin...mmmmph.”

Jack cut off Daniel's words with a moist kiss.  He had needed to do this since seeing Teal'c holding that inmate against the wall.  Daniel moaned, as their tongues mingled and played with each other's.  Their hands wrapped around each other, and, although it wasn't smart considering they were at the Mountain, Jack pulled up Daniel's tee, slipping his hands underneath to feel the soft, smooth skin of the man he loved.

Their kisses went on and on as they devoured the other, until they needed more air than they were able to get as they kissed.  They leaned their foreheads together.

“Ah, Danny.  You scared me back there.  Three times,” Jack gasped.

“Three?”

“When the goon attacked you, when you had to play hero, and when you won the fight by losing.”

“I had to try and save them, Jack,” Daniel explained quietly.

“By standing in front of the Stargate?  Danny, if he hadn't pushed you out of the way, you ... geez, Danny, please don't do that again.”

“I ... I can't promise that, Jack.  Please don't ask me to.”

~What am I going to do with you?  Part of me wants to treat you like a naughty child: turn you over my knee, paddle your butt, give you a stern lecture, and send you to bed without supper; but you're not a child.  Boy, are you *not* a child.  You're an adult, and the problem is that you don't understand your worth to me, the SGC, or the world.  We're going to work on that, and on accepting the reality that sometimes making command decisions means that someone besides a Goa'uld doesn't finish the day with his six in one piece.  Tonight, though, we're going to make love like it was the last night of the world.~

Jack kissed his lover again.  He was barely able to see his face because of the darkness of the room they were in, but he traced Daniel's eyes, his nose, and then his mouth.  With tenderness, he kissed his lover's soft lips lightly.

“I love you, Danny.  I thought I knew what those words meant before, but I didn't.”  Jack took a breath, accidentally but delightfully blowing air in Daniel's ear.  It made the younger man chuckle slightly.  It felt good to share the lighthearted moment, but then Jack grew serious again.  “I want you to think about something.  On Apophis' ship, I nearly died when I left you for dead.  I was numb, and I knew that no matter how much longer I would have lived, there wouldn't have been much joy or meaning in my life, not without you in it.”

“You're exaggerating, Jack,” Daniel said, certain he was right.

“No, I'm not, and I'll tell you something else.  There wouldn't have been much comfort for me, knowing you'd given your life to save the world, but maybe, just maybe, it would have been enough to get through a day; but Love, if you give your life to save someone who wouldn't give one minute's regret or thought to the price of saving his miserable hide, someone who would spit on you and everything that matters to you, now that I couldn't handle because it would make your death meaningless.  Do you understand that?”

“I can't change who I am, Jack,” Daniel responded a bit defensively, though he was warmed by Jack's emotions.

“Will you at least think about what I've said?  Your life is valuable, Danny, and I need you to realize that.”

“I, um, I'll ... try,” Daniel promised, not yet knowing how to handle Jack's total devotion to him and need for him.  ~Gawd, does he really ... need me? ... I mean ... that much?~

“I love you, Danny.”

“I love you, too.”

“Then stay alive,” Jack stated as if it was the most simplest of requests.

Jack took a deep breath, still needing to hold on to Daniel, but knowing it wasn't the time or the place.

“I'll try, Jack, for you.”

“For us, Danny; stay alive for *us*.”  After one more kiss, Jack said, “We'd better go before Hammond calls out SG-3 to search for us.”

“SG-3 is still on P2A-509,” Daniel responded without thinking.

Jack shook his head.  He loved this man, but sometimes, he could strangle him.

“Let's go, my little genius!”

“Jaaaack!”

====

In his quarters, Teal'c opened his eyes as he finished the ritual meditation of kelno'reem.

~This was a particularly good meditation.  I feel strong once again.  Hadante was not a good place.  I was not pleased with all of DanielJackson's actions.  He put himself in harm's way unnecessarily.  I must make sure DanielJackson does not risk himself like that again.  He is a warrior of character and vision.  He must learn to treasure his gift.~

====

In her house, Sam read her notes over one last time, then shredded them into confetti, and emptied the bits into a paper bag.  Then she started a fire and watched as the notes burned into nothingness.

~I still can't believe it, but all the signs are there.  Don't worry, Guys; I'm not going to ask, and I'm certainly not going to tell.  I wonder if anyone else suspects?  I need to keep an eye on that.  Okay, Captain Samantha Carter reporting for, uh, spy duty.~  She chuckled.  ~You're my friends; it's the least I can do.~

Sam stoked the fire, turning over a few of the papers.  She didn't want a single piece left unburned, even if they were shredded.

~I'll keep my eyes and ears open.  Funny thing is, I'm not sure what I'll do if I do think others know.  Of course, there's been gossip from the beginning, but that has never bothered either of you, and it doesn't bother me, either.  It just needs to stay status quo.  This isn't going to be easy.  If I'm honest, I'm a little uncomfortable with it, but what is comes down to is that SG-1 is a team, and we stick together.~

====

SG-1 had been given another seventy-two hours downtime after the trials of their imprisonment on Hadante, and now Jack and Daniel were walking through the SGC parking lot, occasionally bumping their shoulders together lightly.

“Your place or mine tonight?” Jack asked.

“I need to do the laundry,” Daniel informed him.

“Okay, your place.”

“What about tomorrow?” Daniel asked.

“Tomorrow?” Jack asked, a bit surprised at the inquiry.

Since Daniel's guilt trip after their first week together, the couple hadn't talked about anything more than 'today' or 'tonight'.  'Tomorrow' was discussed only at the very end of a day, when parting or preparing for work.

“Yeah, tomorrow and ... the day after.  We do, uh, have three days,” Daniel said, fumbling with his keys as they stood by his car.

“Well, I guess ... ”

Staring at Daniel and wondering what the younger man was thinking about, Jack let his thought trail off.

“Jack, uh, you know that ... that one day at a time thing we agreed to?” Daniel asked a bit tentatively.

Jack nodded, a small lump forming in his throat from the anticipation of what he hoped Daniel was about to say.

~This is either gonna be really good news, or it's gonna kill me; I don't think there's anything in between.~

“Can we ... forget that?  I mean, I'll probably always feel ... guilty, but I made a choice, Jack, and I don't regret that choice, and ... I want us to ... to think beyond the moment, I guess, if you do,” Daniel rambled, uncertainty threatening to creep in and derail his comments.

“You know I do, Danny.”

Jack beamed inside.  Daniel was full of surprises, and this one was definitely one of his better surprises in Jack's opinion.  Jack knew it wasn't easy for his lover to have said what he just did, to say what he wanted, and that made it even more special.

The two desperately wanted to hold each other, but the comings and goings of the Marines and SGC personnel around them prohibited anything more than their passing smiles.

“Your place tonight for laundry, and then the next two days at ... our place,” Jack decided.  He saw Daniel's eyes light up, the blue eyes full of questions, but also of love.  “It is our place, Danny.  That's how I think of it now.  I hope you do, too.”

“We'd better go, Jack, before we ... ”

“I know.”

“Jack, do you need to go to your house ...”

“Daniel!”  Jack's eyes raised as Daniel shied even more than usual.  “Say it, Danny.”

“... home.  You know, clothes?”

“Like a Boy Scout, I'm always prepared.”  He saw Daniel's odd look.  With a smirky expression, Jack added, “What?  You think that 'be prepared' stuff is just words?”  He chuckled.  “I packed a bag the other morning.  I figured your laundry might come into play.”

“That's my colonel, always thinking,” Daniel teased.

“Yeah, well, right now I'm thinking let's get out of here and get to some of that stuff we can't do here.”

“Okay.”

Jack turned to walk to his truck when Daniel called to him.

“Jack?”

“Yeah?”

“You know,” Daniel said softly, his eyes sparkling.

Jack smiled brightly, and he tenderly replied, “You know, too.”

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