Remember this Warning

Author: Orrymain
Category: Slash, Drama, Angst, H/C, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:   7 - Fall 2003
Spoilers:  Need
Size:  44kb
Written:  September 7-8,11,13,15 2003  Revised October 27, November 6, December 18, 2004
Summary:  Daniel disappears, and Jack isn't sure who to trust or how to find him!
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 past fics, “For Better or Worse,” “Black and White”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Tina, MamaBeast, Brynn, QuinGem, StarShadow, Linda, Drdjlover, Claudia!

Remember this Warning
by Orrymain

“Hi, Girls,” Jack said eagerly as he opened the patio door to let Bijou and Katie in the house.  “Hey,” he chuckled as the two beagles butted at him.  “Frisky, aren't ya?”

Suddenly, Jack's smile left his face.  This wasn't the dogs' normal behavior.  Usually, whenever Jack or Daniel let their beagles into the house upon arriving home, they'd be inundated with a slew of kisses and wagging tails.  Instead, Bijou and Katie were pawing at Jack, practically pushing him, and in place of their friendly smiles, they wore expressions that Jack could only describe as “little anxious frowns.”

Bijou, the oldest of the two dogs, nipped at Jack's pants and tried to tug him towards the door.

“Hey, what's wrong, Bij?”

Two growls erupted from the dogs, not the normal “woof” conversation Jack was used to.

“Daniel?” Jack called out loudly, concerned about the dogs behavior and wondering if it had something to do with Daniel.

Hearing the name, the two dogs barked and ran towards the front door, their eyes begging Jack to follow.

His concern growing, Jack rose from his kneeling position and called out again, “DANIEL?”

Again, the dogs barked.  Bijou ran to Jack, nipped at his pants, and then ran back to the front door.

“Where's Danny?” Jack asked the dogs, and again they growled as they stood in the entranceway.

Jack yelled his lover's name as he climbed up the stairs, three at a time, practically leaping up them.  He searched every inch of the upstairs, and then combed the downstairs thoroughly.  He checked the roof and the backyard, and even the garage.

Bijou and Katie sat patiently by the front door, as if knowing Jack would get back there eventually.

**Danny?  Daniel, can you hear me?**  Jack grimaced as he realized there was no answer to his silent beckoning.  **Daniel, please answer me.**

He shook his head, fear filling his body.

“Okay, Girls, let's see if we can find him,” Jack said as calmly as he could, still trying to look for something rational to explain Daniel's absence from the house.  Maybe the archaeologist was helping out a neighbor with an emergency and hadn't had time to write a note.  He put on their harnesses and commanded, “Find Danny.”

The girls led Jack outside, eagerly sniffing the ground and “woofing” occasionally as they sniffed.  Daniel's car, which Bijou and Katie seemed uninterested in, sat undisturbed in the driveway.

The dogs quickly used their gift of scent to lead Jack to a spot on the sidewalk two houses up the street, but then they stopped, as if Daniel's scent had disappeared.  They looked at Jack with dejected looks on their young faces.  Whatever had happened to Daniel, the trail ended close to home.

Still, Jack took the girls around several of the nearby blocks, looking in the nooks and crannies of the neighborhood.

“We have to find him, Girls,” he pleaded, urging them on.

Jack's heart was racing, his pulse quickening, but on the outside, he looked calm, distant.  The longer he looked, the more he knew calm would be required.

With Bijou and Katie in tow, Jack stopped by Mrs. Valissi's home.  She was their most trusted neighbor and one of a handful who knew about the love Jack and Daniel shared.  Unfortunately, Mrs. Valissi had nothing revealing to offer.  She did say that she had seen Daniel headed down the street in his car earlier in the afternoon when she was outside watering her lawn.  Daniel had smiled and waved as he drove by.  That was three hours ago, at 3 p.m.

~Where could he be?  I don't like the sound of this at all.~

Jack stopped off at a few other neighbor's homes, always acting cool and collected, subtly finding a way to fit Daniel into the conversation, but no one had seen him that afternoon except for Mrs. Valissi, nor had they seen anyone else either.

Jack took the girls back to the house.  They reacted to Daniel's car, but calmly.  It was obviously a “cold” scent, the dogs seemingly knowing that nothing had happened to him there.  Again, they tried to lead Jack away from their home, and Jack let them, hoping this time, they'd sniff out something new, but again, the trail died.

~If someone took him, they probably brought him out here and put him in a car or another vehicle.  He would have caused trouble.  They would have ...~

Jack didn't want to finish his thought.  The idea of someone hurting his soulmate was one he didn't want to contemplate.

He returned to their house and took off the dogs' harnesses.

“You did good,” he said, trying to encourage them, giving each a biscuit.  ~Daniel would always want me to take care of the girls.  Where are you, Danny?~

The dogs took their treats, and Jack had a closed smile as he watched them, certain they'd scarf their rewards up, but Jack's tiny smile ceased when he saw both beagles put their biscuits down by their beanbag and then run back to the drawer where their harnesses were kept.  They wanted to continue the search for Daniel.  The biscuits were meaningless to them at the moment.

The Air Force Colonel had to look away.  Just as he did, Daniel loved their dogs so much.  He had gotten Bijou and Katie for Daniel's birthday after realizing his lover had never had a pet.  Daniel had been so touched by the gift, and in a strange but wonderful way, the addition of the two dogs made them a family.  They even referred to Bijou and Katie as their children, and somehow, it felt as if they were.

Taking a deep breath as a method of pulling his emotions together, Jack refocused his attention on the house.  This time, he looked for smaller signs, anything to indicate what might have happened to his absent lover.  There were no signs of struggle, and nothing was out of place.  The only real clue was the mail which was on the counter, just as it would have been had Daniel entered the home and put it down to let the dogs in.

The fact that the mail was still there was of concern.  Normally, after greeting the dogs, Daniel would have sorted through the mail and put it in the study.  He never left it out, and neither did Jack.  It was a routine they followed strictly, to avoid being placed in the position of having to explain why Daniel was receiving mail at Jack's house, if visitors dropped by unexpectedly.

Daniel still received some bills, primarily those related to rent and utilities, as well as some minor things at his 'official' residence which was the apartment, but most of his mail now came to the home he shared with Jack.

~You wouldn't have left this here.  I don't think you've ever done that, and neither have I.~

Upstairs in their bedroom, Jack inventoried Daniel's closet.  If he had gone running, he would have changed clothes, but all of Daniel's sweats were accounted for.  Plus, his navy blue shirt and khaki pants that he had worn to the SGC were not in the closet, the drawers, or the hamper.

Jack's instincts were telling him something was very wrong.  Daniel had left the SGC with the intention of coming home and relaxing for a while.  He had had a horrible headache earlier, and told Jack that he thought he'd try to relax for a while with the dogs.

As Jack headed downstairs, his anxiety increased.  Daniel should be home.

~Okay.  Review time.  Danny had a bad headache.  He specifically told me he was coming home to relax, take a nap, and then we were going to go out and have a light dinner somewhere so we didn't have to cook. He wouldn't have gone out.  Mrs. V saw him driving down the street, and he seemed fine.  His car is in the driveway with no signs of anything unusual.  So ... Daniel brought the mail in, and then ... what?  The girls are upset.  He would have put the mail down and moved towards the door to let them in, but he couldn't have actually opened the door.  Bij and Katie are fine; they would have fought any attackers.  Okay, so ...~

Running his hand through his hair, Jack blew out a breath of air, and then looked at the dogs who sat by the sofa, watching him.

“I wish you could speak English,” he snapped harshly.

The two beagles whimpered and lay down on the carpet.  Jack sighed, then moved to them, kneeling down in front of them.

“I'm sorry, Girls.  I'm worried.  Someone's ... it'll be okay,” he said as reassuringly as possible as he petted each dog for a couple of minutes.

Then, Jack picked up the phone, intending to call General Hammond, but as quickly as he had picked up the phone, he put it back down.

As he paced, he thought it out some more.

~I can't call the General.  Our phones could be tapped, and anything said would be monitored.  Until I know who is responsible for this, I can't take chances.  What if there is someone on the inside?  No, it's too risky to call Hammond.~  Jack let out a growl as he pondered his situation.  ~How could I explain why I know something's wrong?  The mail?  Geez, there's no way out of this; to get anyone to understand why I know something has happened, I'd have to reveal our relationship.~

Shaking his head as his body silently trembled with fear for his lover, Jack went out to the backyard, stopping dead center from the house to the fence.  He checked his watch.  It was 7:18 p.m.  Pulling out his cell phone that he hated but was now grateful to have, he dialed his 2IC.

“Hello.”

“Carter, Boonie Bear is lost.  We need to find a SALE at the CLEARance store ASAP.  Confirm in five.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Sam anxiously picked up her jacket and walked out of her house, going across the street to the park.  She found an area she felt was secure, and called her CO on his cell line.

“O'Neill.”

“Sir, what's happened to Daniel?”

“I don't know, Carter.  He's ... gone.  Call Ferretti, get the proper equipment, and meet me at my house.  You'll need to sweep your place, too.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Jack sighed as he looked around the yard.

~Be safe, Danny.  I love you.~

====

One hour later, both Sam and the recently promoted Lou Ferretti finished their sweep of Jack's home, turning up four listening devices, one hidden camera, and a phone tap.  Confident the house was secure again, Jack paced the living room like a tiger in a cage as Lou and Sam watched.

“What's going on, Jack?” his old teammate asked.

“I don't know, Lou.  I came home.  Everything was in place; nothing's missing, nothing's gone.  No signs of a struggle, but the girls were acting strangely, tugging me towards the front door from the moment I let them in.  I checked the house, every friggin' inch of it, walked the neighborhood, and talked to the neighbors.  The only one who has seen Daniel is Mrs. Valissi, and that was when he was coming home at 1500.”

Jack paced some more as he talked dispassionately, trying to give the facts without letting his emotions show too much.

“A while back, an old contact of mine sent me a message that someone, I don't know who, views me as some kind of threat.  It's all I know, except that whomever this maniac is, he was planning to use Daniel to get to me.”  Jack stopped, his eyes staring at the fish Daniel loved so much.  “They took him to get to me.  It couldn't be clearer.  There's nothing missing from the house, except for Danny.”

“Jack, the contact didn't say anything else?  He didn't give you any idea who was after you?” Lou asked.

“NO, I TOLD YOU EVERYTHING,” Jack shouted, his dispassionate facade falling, replaced by raw emotion.

He closed his eyes briefly, walked over to the armchair, and sank down into it for a brief moment.  He leaned forward, his elbows on his knees, his hands clenched together, his forehead bowed down, touching his knuckles.

“I'm sorry, but they took him to get to me.  Why Danny?  Why does all this ... crap... keep happening to him?”

“Sir, we need to focus on finding Daniel, on figuring out who took him.”

“I know, Carter, but I don't even know where to look.  I feel so ... helpless.  I think there's someone on the inside which is why I didn't call Hammond.”

“Who, Jack?  The SGC screens everyone.”

“I don't know, Lou.  It's just a hunch, but I think they're close.  How else would they know Daniel would be home this early?”

Suddenly, Jack realized he'd been talking about this being Daniel's home.  He looked at Lou who seemed to understand, not only the panic, but also the unspoken question in his friend's eyes.

Over the years. Lou had wondered about Jack's feelings for Daniel, and seeing the state his friend was in at the moment left with no doubts in his mind that the Colonel loved his archaeologist, more than anything, and certainly more than his career.

“Don't sweat it, Jack.  I'm not asking, and you're not telling, right?”

Jack smiled gratefully, and released an audible breath of relief.  He nodded gratefully, and then looked over at the two beagles as they lay quietly by the fireplace.  They looked so sad and alone.

“They saw it; whatever happened to Danny, our girls saw it. They're smart, Lou, darn smart.”

Jack didn't know why he was rambling about the intelligence of their beagles, except that he didn't know what else to do.

“Sir, maybe we should try and contact your friend, the one who sent you the message.”

“We can't do that, Carter.”

“But, Sir, he may be Daniel's only hope.”

Jack turned and stared angrily at his 2IC for offering that dark outlook, but he let the lump in his throat turn him away from her before lashing out in verbal anger.  Sam was there more as a friend than his second, and she was only trying to help.  He just felt so frustrated.

The Colonel was a man of action, a warrior, not the type to sit around, twiddling his thumbs, and yet that's exactly what he was relegated to doing in this situation.  His temper was short and his patience even shorter.  He wanted his lover back, safe, in his arms, and he wanted him NOW.

Jack calmed himself as much as he could before addressing Sam to try and make her understand the very unique nature of those trained as he was, to be invisible and stay that way, and that surfacing could easily lead to death, or worse.

“Carter, in Special Ops, when someone does what ... what he did, you take your life in your hands.  Contacting him may kill him.”

“Yes, Sir, but what about Daniel?”

Jack closed his eyes, stood up, and went to the patio door, staring out at the backyard.  He remembered making love to Daniel on his birthday, ~right here in the backyard, in the middle of the night, for all creation to see.~  He longed to feel Daniel's skin again, to hold him, to hear his voice.  His heart was beating much faster than normal, feeling the pain and nervousness of missing its better half.

Jack looked at Lou, their eyes meeting briefly.  Lou knew this was a tough call, and frankly, he was glad he wasn't the one making it.  He had a hunch he'd be ruled by his emotions.  Jack had always been a tougher cookie, though, cold like steel when they had first met.  Then again, he wasn't the same man anymore, and Lou knew that was because of the geeky archaeologist they'd taken with them to Abydos seven years ago.

“Rittenhouse,” Jack said as he put his hands in his pockets.  He didn't look at anyone as he twisted his body around and began to pace once again.  “Michael Rittenhouse.  Last time I saw him was in Pakistan in '94.  I don't know where he is, or how to get in touch with him.”

“Yes, Sir,” Sam said hesitantly, knowing the internal struggle her CO had waged over this decision to release the name of his Special Ops colleague.  “Can I use the computer in the study?”

“Sure, Carter, go ahead.”

Sam nodded and went to the study to link into the SGC and Pentagon files.

“I know that was hard for you, Jack.”

“He's the only lead we have, Lou.  I don't know where else to start.  I don't even know who to trust.  If we bring Hammond in, it's done.  Daniel and I decided a long time ago we didn't want to risk the General's retirement. We couldn't live with ourselves if we cost him his pension.”

Lou nodded, his head going up and down a few times as he again surveyed the living room.

“No signs of any kind of struggle.  They must have done one helluva surprise job on the Doc.  He'd never go without a fight.”

“That's what worries me.  What did they do to him that wouldn't let him fight back at all?” Jack paused as the answers raced through his mind.  “They hurt him, Lou.  They either,” Jack swallowed hard, looking down at the carpet, “... they had to get him fast, and there's only a few ways to do that.  I'm guessing drugs.”

Lou let out a sigh.

“I remember what happened after that sarc thing with that dame.  It wasn't pretty, was it, Jack?”

Jack shuddered at the memory of the time when Shyla, or the witch as he referred to her, had gotten Daniel addicted to the sarcophagus.  Daniel's withdrawal had been painful and ugly, not to mention that he had almost killed Jack and himself in the process.

In the aftermath, while Daniel had survived the withdrawal itself, he had suffered greatly knowing he had almost killed his lover.   He had had nightmares about it for years, and sometimes, when Daniel was particularly stressed or tired, he would still wake up in a cold sweat from the memory of what had happened in that SGC storeroom.

“No.  Daniel hates drugs.  He takes what Fraiser orders him to, or what I nag him about, but that's it.  He's afraid of going through that withdrawal again and not making it.”

“He's tough, Jack.  The Doc ... he can make it through anything.  We'll find him.”

Jack smiled in gratitude for Lou's encouragement and support.  There were so few people he liked, respected, and trusted.  Lou was one of those few.

====

“Sir,” Sam said, returning to the living room, “No luck yet, but I'm trying.  It's going to take a while.  I'm not going to be able to do anything more until I can access some other information from the SGC computers.”

“What do you want us to do now, Jack?”

Jack breathed a sarcastic laugh, and he rose to pace frantically some more.

“I don't know. There's nothing we can do except wait, and that's what's driving me crazy.  I keep trying to think of options, but I don't know where to look.  I don't want to bring the General in unless we absolutely have to, and if it gets to that point, we'll do it in person, away from the SGC.”  Jack's pacing picked up speed, and his voice rose, anger and frustration seething out.  “This is insane. I'm supposed to protect him.  How can I do that when I don't even know who the enemy is?”

Jack picked up a beer bottle from the night before that still sat on the counter and started to throw it towards the fireplace, stopping his motion just in time when he saw Bijou and Katie looking at him with big frowns on his faces, both of them inches away from the bottle's intended target.

“Oh, for crying out loud,” Jack said with a cracking voice as the bottle dropped from his hand to the floor, his eyes still glued to the beagles. “I'm sorry, Girls.”

The apology was soft and resigned, and both Bijou and Katie whimpered slightly in response.

Jack returned to his armchair and sat down, each arm outstretched on one side of the chair.  He looked straight ahead but saw nothing as he spoke, “I'm not sure why I even called you in the first place, except to come and ... I don't know.”

As Jack looked away,  unsure what to say, Sam and Lou exchanged a look.  They weren't used to Jack being so vulnerable.

“We're going to find him, Sir.  When I get back to the base ...”

“Forget it, Carter.  You'll never find Rittenhouse.  He's good, very good, and unless he wants to be found, you won't find the scent.”

====

It was 11:13 p.m.  Sam had followed a couple of other ideas using Jack and Daniel's desktop computer, but had come up empty.  The only thing she found on Rittenhouse was a sketchy profile: Six-feet, one-inch tall, brown hair, brown eyes, one-hundred, eighty-two pounds, an only child born in Sandy, Utah sometime between 1949 and 1959.

Lou had tried to engage Jack in some old Special Ops memories to keep his mind off of Daniel, but mostly, they sat quietly in the living room.

A few times Jack had wanted to get up and scream, or maybe throw a few things, but every time the tension got to be too much, and he had started to follow through, he'd see his and Daniel's two beloved beagles.  They were their children in so many ways, and Jack had to be calm.  Bijou and Katie were watching him like a hawk.

~Danny will be angry when he gets home if I upset you two.~

He sighed and fended off the urge to tear one of the sofa cushions into pieces.  Instead, Jack played with a rubber band in his hand, twirling and twisting the tension out of it until it snapped.  He kept trying to convince himself that Daniel would be home soon, and safe.

While Sam felt she could do more at the SGC, she hesitated in leaving her CO.  Still, she was extremely worried about Daniel and not being able to do much was grating on her nerves.

“Look at them,” Jack suddenly said, nodding at Bijou and Katie, still lying by the fireplace.  “They saw.  They know what happened.  They tried to tell me.”  Just then, Bijou's ears went up, and Katie's right behind.  They both jumped up and ran to the patio door.  “Bij?” Jack called out.

“Woof, woof, woof, woof,” came the series of answers from the two dogs, their tails wagging ferociously, and their paws clashing against the patio door.

Jack, Sam, and Lou exchanged questioning looks.

“Woof, woof, woof, woof,” the dogs continued, now jumping against the door.

“Danny,” Jack said with hope in his heart as he hurried to the door and opened it.

Bijou and Katie immediately ran over to a spot over by the northwest corner of the lawn.

“Daniel!” Jack shouted as he ran to his lover.  Daniel was lying prone on the ground, his arms moving only slightly.  Jack kneeled down by his heart's side, rolled Daniel onto his back, and put his hand on his face.  “Daniel, can you hear me?  Are you hurt?  Danny?”

Sam kneeled down, opposite Jack, with Daniel on the ground between them.  She checked for injuries or wounds.  Gratefully, she found none.  Lou searched the yard, and then went to canvas the area in front of the house.

As he lay in Jack's arms, Daniel's head thrashed back and forth, his arms moving restlessly on the cool lawn.  He still hadn't spoken, and his eyes were unfocused.

Bijou and Katie were perched by Daniel's head, trying to lick and kiss him, but Daniel was unaware they were there.  With Daniel still thrashing around some, Jack became concerned Daniel might accidentally hit the beagles.

The dogs gave an argumentative “woof” to Jack's orders to go inside the house and reluctantly pawed their way inside only to sit anxiously by the patio door, tails wagging and tongues hanging out as both panted and waited.

“Sir, what's that?”

Sam pointed to a piece of paper pinned to Daniel's blue shirt pocket.  Jack pulled the note off and read it.  Wordlessly, he crumpled it up into a tiny ball, and tossed it on the ground just as Lou returned from his swift recon of the backyard and street.

“There's nothing, Jack.  Quiet as a mouse out there, and no trace of anyone.”

“J'ck?”

“It's okay, Danny.  You're safe now.”  Jack looked up at his friend.  “Help me get him inside, Lou.”

Jack and Lou pulled Daniel up and took him inside, laying him on the sofa.  Again, Jack sat at his side, his hand touching his lover's face once more.

“Jack?”

“I'm here, Danny.  Everything's okay.”

“Jack?  Jack?” Daniel called out, over and over again.

“Danny, do you know where you are?”

“Jack?”

Jack held his hand in front of Daniel, and said firmly, “Daniel, take my hand.  I want you to hold my hand.”  Daniel blinked, and his head moved as if he were uncomfortable, but finally, he reached up with his right hand and took Jack's hand.  “Squeeze my hand, Danny.”

Daniel blinked a few more times and eventually squeezed Jack's hand as requested.

Jack smiled, squeezing Daniel's hand in return. Daniel might not be up to answering questions, but he was there, and able to respond to commands, albeit slowly.  Jack released his lover's hand, and put his hands on Daniel's face to make sure Daniel looked at him.

He checked his pupils and noted they were equal in size and reactive to light, meaning there probably wasn't any head injury.  Jack checked Daniel's pulse; it was slow but strong.  He also looked for any bruising or cuts, but there were no marks or signs of bleeding.  His lover's face was as smooth and unharmed as it had been the last time Jack had seen him.

Jack had traced every inch of Daniel's skull and face, looking and feeling for evidence that Daniel had been harmed in any way, but thankfully, there was nothing except for what was becoming more and more obvious - Daniel had been drugged.  Noticing Daniel's disorientation and his sluggish reactions to Jack's testing, Sam reached the same conclusion.

“They must have drugged him, Sir.  We should take him to the infirmary, and let Janet examine him.”

“No, Carter.”

“But, Sir, Janet will ...”

“Janet will call MacKenzie.  Repeat performance, Major.  We're not doing that.”

“Colonel, Daniel needs help.”

“He'll be fine.”

“Jack, are you sure you're thinking clearly?”

“It was a warning, Lou.  They weren't out for permanent damage ... this time.  The note -- read it.”

Sam uncrumpled the note she had picked up in the backyard and read it aloud:

“Returned him pretty much as we found him - this time.  Next time, his fun little holiday with us won't be so painless or easily remedied.  Remember this warning.  It's the only one you'll receive.”

“We should have the note analyzed, Sir.”

“Whatever,” Jack said flippantly, sarcastically adding, “You won't find anything.”

Jack shook his head.  He didn't intend to sound so defeatist, but Sam didn't understand the Special Ops mentality or those who worked in a similar vein, and while she was a skilled 2IC, Jack hoped she never did have to know that world he had tried to leave behind him.

“Sorry, Carter.  Take it, and see if you can learn anything, but ... you won't.”

“Jack?”

“I'm here, Danny.  You're home now, safe,” Jack said caressing his cheek gently.

Then, ignoring the fact that Sam and Lou were in the room, he placed his lips over Daniel's and gave his soulmate a quick kiss.

“Jack?  Canada?  Going soon?”

Jack smiled warmly and answered softly, “Yes, Danny, we're going to go soon.  I promise.  It's okay now; I'm here.”

Lou was intrigued.

“Canada, Jack?”

Jack looked up at his long-time friend and answered, “I'll ... tell you about it later, Lou.  Don't mention that to anyone, though.”

“Sure thing, Jack.”

“Listen, you two might as well go home.  I can take care of Daniel.”

“Jack ...”

“Sir ...”

Lou and Sam had spoken one after the other, both hesitant to leave their friends.

“They won't be back.  They had a message to deliver.   It was ... received.  We're okay ... for now.”

Reluctantly, both Sam and Lou let Jack walk them to the door, and said goodnight, both vowing to check in with them early the next morning.

Jack smiled at what he saw as he headed back to the couch.  Bijou was seated on the far end of the sofa by Daniel's feet, keeping watch.  Katie had jumped onto Daniel's stomach, lying down, also watching the groggy archaeologist.

Jack moved to the couch and raised Daniel slightly so that he could sit, Daniel's head lying on his lap.  He ran his fingers through his lover's silky hair, sliding his other hand across Daniel's chest, next to Katie.

“We'll keep him safe, Girls,” Jack said as he looked down at Daniel, and thanked the heavens for his safe return.

“I love you, Danny,” Jack whispered.

“Jack?”

“I'm here, so are the girls.  Everything's okay, Love.”

====

Daniel's night was restless.  He thrashed about frequently, and continued to call Jack's name, though he said little else that was coherent except for repeating the question about Canada and asking if their dogs were okay.

Jack didn't sleep much, his mind turning over the possibilities of who might be after him and why.  After hours of going through various scenarios, he had come up empty.  He'd debated trying to move Daniel upstairs to their bed, but decided to let the young man sleep instead.  As the sun rose, he called in sick and then continued to watch his soulmate sleep.

“Jack?”

Jack looked down at Daniel and finally saw recognition in his eyes.

“Hey there.  Went on a field trip without me?” Jack tried to tease.

“What happened, Jack?” Daniel asked weakly.

“You tell me.  What's the last thing you remember?”

“I ... came home.  The girls ... Jack, the dogs?” Daniel asked with alarm and panic in his voice and eyes, his head bolting up as he instinctively went to look for them.

“Danny, they're right here.  See?”

Jack pointed to Katie, lying next to him, apparently sound asleep although her ears were twitching, while Bijou, whose eyes were still on Daniel, was lying down at Daniel's feet.

“They're fine, Danny, except they're exhausted.  They've been standing watch most of the night.”  Daniel's head relaxed back onto Jack's lap in relief that their precious beagles were safe.  “Go on, Danny.  Tell me what you remember,” Jack requested, his hand caressing Daniel's forehead gently.

“Sting.  I, uh, was going to let the girls in, and I felt a sting, sharp.  Jack, I don't remember anything after that.”

“You're okay now.”

“Jack?”

“Someone took you, apparently when you got home about 3 p.m.  I guess they must have been in the house waiting and injected you with something before you could let Bijou and Katie inside, and whoever it was, they kept you until after 11 p.m. last night, but you're safe now, Danny.   Everything's fine.”

“Jack,” Daniel's voice was tired.

“Sleep a little longer, Angel.  I'll tell you everything later.”

Jack leaned over and placed a kiss on Daniel's forehead as Daniel closed his eyes, and peacefully went back to sleep.

====

Hours later, as night fell and the stars shone brightly in the sky, Jack and Daniel sat on the roof deck.  Jack leaned against the house, his legs fully outstretched in front of him and his arms wrapped securely around his lover.  Daniel sat in front of Jack, between his legs, his head resting against Jack's shoulder, and his hands atop Jack's, caressing them.

When Daniel had awakened earlier in the day, Jack had taken him upstairs where they showered, Jack occasionally having to hold up his weakened lover.  They had eaten a small lunch and a slightly bigger dinner, and Jack had filled Daniel in on everything he knew that had happened.

Both Sam and Lou had dropped by to check on them, each staying for a brief visit.  The two lovers had talked with Lou for the first time about their relationship and explained they would be going to Canada soon to be officially married there.

They were happy Lou was okay with it.  As Jack had walked his friend to the door, Lou had a farewell jab to impart to reassure Jack that he was fine with the relationship:  “Hey, who am I to say who you can love, Jack?  The Doc's a good guy.  You could do a lot worse.  Of course, Daniel could do a ton better!”

The barb had warmed Jack's heart.  Lou Ferretti was a good and trusted friend, and Jack was proud to call the Lieutenant Colonel a friend.

--

Up on the roof, Daniel's head leaned against Jack's.  They couldn't get close enough.  They hadn't said much since they'd sat down to watch the stars, at least not in words.

“I love you, Danny,” Jack whispered in a voice that spoke not just of love, but of guilt and sorrow for what his lover had suffered because of him.

“It's not your fault, Jack, and we can't change anything about how we live our lives, or they win.  We can't let them win.”

“Danny, next time ...”

“Jack, next time ... we deal with next time.  What else can we do?  I don't want to live in a bubble any more than we already do.  Please, Jack.”

Jack swallowed hard, his eyes misting.  He loved Daniel so much, and the thought of anyone hurting him to get to Jack made him sick to his stomach.

Daniel sensed Jack's distress and moved slightly, raising his hand to Jack's cheek, turning Jack's face to look at his own.

“I love you, Jack, but we're not going to change our lives because of this.  We're ... going to Canada, and we *are* getting married, and then we're going to live happily ever after: you, me, the girls, and  ... the fish ... and I don't care how corny it sounds.  You've said it before, together, we can beat anything.  We can, Jack.”

Jack smiled, and they kissed tenderly.

“Ah, Danny.  I just wish we knew ... something ... anything.  I just don't know who could have done this.  Who am I such a threat to?”

“I don't know, Love.”

Daniel returned his head to Jack's shoulder and again placed his hands on top of Jack's.

“I can't stand to watch you hurt, Danny.  Gonna have to do a refresher on self-defense and home security.”

“Jack, I've learned from the best.  You've taught me everything you know.  No one at the base even knows I know this stuff.  They ... drugged me, Jack.  I didn't hear a thing, nothing, and neither did the girls.  They were stealthy.  You can't fight that with a ... karate chop.”

“Danny,” Jack said softly, his head gently leaning against Daniel's and rubbing against it slightly.

“I know, Jack.  I swear I do, and I promise you, I'm not ... I wasn't being careless or ... Jack, I won't let anyone hurt you, and I know that they are trying to get to you through me, so don't you know that I'm going to do everything I can to make sure I don't get ... hurt ... so that I can protect you?”

Jack took a deep breath.

“Yeah, just keep reminding me you're doing that, okay?  I'm a little used to ...”

“I'm not that sneezy, clumsy, geek you love to remember anymore.  I could take you down if I wanted to, and you know it.”

“Let's not go overboard, Daniel,” Jack laughed.  It was the first real laugh of the night, short as it was.  Jack knew Daniel was right about his abilities, though not about taking Jack down.  ~A little too sure of yourself, Dannyboy!~

Back in the days when the NID terrorized their lives by using the Tollan and other allies, Jack had trained Daniel extensively on self-defense, and in covert operations.  They had actually done it off and on from the beginning of their relationship, but they'd escalated the lessons during the undercover operation.  No one at the SGC knew Jack had secretly trained Daniel.

They used to make a game out of it, sometimes for sport, sometimes as a romantic interlude, sometimes for their sexual fantasies, and sometimes, it was deadly serious.  The result was that Daniel was stronger than anyone else realized in both his physical skills and his knowledge of covert operations.

“Danny, maybe a few refreshers, just for me.  Okay?”

Daniel brought Jack's right hand to his mouth and kissed the palm.  It was time to move on from the nightmare of the past twenty-four hours.

“Okay, Jack.  We can do that, and maybe we should get a security system for the house, though we both know if they want to get in, they will, but I don't want to talk about this anymore tonight.  Let's just ... I love you, Jack.”  Daniel paused for a moment, and then moved their conversation to something more pleasant.  “Jack, when are we getting married?  I'm tired of waiting for the right time, aren't you?”

“Yeah, I am.  Let's pick a date.”

“Hmmm ... we've been trying to do that for weeks.”

“Well, what do you suggest, Doctor Jackson?  You're the genius, after all.”  Daniel laughed, as did Jack's heart at the sound.  “We could ... throw a dart at a calendar,” Jack suggested.

“Very scientific.”

“Or ... put all the dates in a hat and pick one,” the older man suggested.

“Random selection,” Daniel responded thoughtfully.

“Then there's the psychic connection.  We could find a medium and have him or her suggest the most favorable date to get married on.”

“The utterly insane approach,” Daniel mused with a smile.

“Or ... we could just go.”

“Spontaneous.”

“Totally,” Jack agreed, adding “What about all the plans?”

“All I need is you, Jack.”

“Ditto, Love.”

“The girls like Lou,” Daniel commented.

“Another dog sitter?  Good idea.”

“We can't go yet.”

“I know.  They don't even like us being up here.  I bet they're still laying down by the ladder,” Jack said, looking over at the ladder.

“People would think we're crazy, Jack.”

“I don't care what people think, Daniel.  I love those dogs.”

“New York City?”

“Too many people.  Sedona?” Jack suggested.

“Hmmm, pretty; maybe, but I thought you didn't want to go anywhere near rocks?”

“Good point.”

“Hawaii?” Daniel asked.

“Possibility, but very cliché.”

“Also, very romantic.  Ocean, beach.”

“And lots and lots of people.  Germany?”

“You'd go crazy not understanding how to order anything but frankfurters.”

“Very funny, Daniel, but also true.  Venice?”

Daniel laughed as he replied, “We could ride down the canal on a gondola.  Bet you'd get pinched.”

“Ouch.  Forget Italy; forgot about the pinchers.”

“Jack, you could survive a bit of pinching.”

“Not me, Love, I'd have to shoot half the population for touching you.”

“Jack!”

“Love you, Danny.”

“Your answer for everything.”

“Works doesn't it?”

“Hmmm.   Guess I'm too easy.”

“Nah, you just love me, too.”

“That I do.”

They sat quietly for a few minutes, content just to touch and be touched, wedding dates and honeymoon places circling their minds, and then Daniel spoke again.

“Have you written your vows?”

“Don't need to.”

“You don't?” Daniel asked, a little confused and concerned.

“Nope, all I have to do is look at you, and my heart will take over.  You're my heart, Angel, and my soul, for better or worse, forever and always.”

Jack kissed Daniel softly on his temple.

“Sounds like ... vows,” Daniel said softly, feeling so much love inside of him that he wasn't sure if he could ever express it to his soulmate.

“Have you written yours?”

“You know me and words, Jack.  They have to be ... right.”

“How about 'I do'?”

“You're too easy, Jack.”

“Yeah, well, I'll be wanting the honeymoon to start real soon after the pronouncing of us as  ... Danny, what do they pronounce us as?”

Jack laughed, as did Daniel.

“Married,” Daniel answered.

“That works.”

“November 16.”

“I'll check my calendar,” the older man teased.

“Yeah, you do that, Jack.  Let me know if you're free.”

“Well, you know, I might have that hot date with Sam.”

“Jack!”

“Danny!” Jack said mockingly, tickling his lover slightly above his belly button.

“Jack, stop that.”

“Never, never, never!” Jack laughed, squeezing Daniel tightly.

It had been a very long twenty-four hours, one filled with fear and anger, and then with hope and love.  Both knew all they could do was to go forward and live their lives the only way they knew how.  Whomever was trying to get to Jack had successfully made their point.  If need be, they'd go through Daniel to get what they wanted, and they were good, very good at what they do.  Yet, Jack and Daniel couldn't and wouldn't live in fear.

They had each other, and would always hold on to each other, comforting, loving, and touching.  It was really all they needed or wanted in their nation of two, and finally, they had a wedding date.  Now, if they could just decide on where to take that honeymoon!

“I love you, Jack.”

“I love you, too, Danny.”

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