Author: Orrymain
Category:  Pre-Slash, Smarm
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  1 - May 21, 1997
Spoilers:  Children of the Gods, The Enemy Within (minor)
Size:  14kb, ficlet
Written:  April 20,23, 2004  Revised:  April 7-9,27, May 3, 2007
Summary:  As Jack and Daniel do a bit of cleaning, Daniel finds something that surprises him.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
2) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s), “Welcome Back - Daniel” and “Welcome Back - Jack”
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Claudia, QuinGem, Drdjlover, Linda, Sara!

by Orrymain

“Put some elbow grease into that, you geek,” Jack teased as Daniel cleaned a window in the backyard.

“Listen, if you aren't happy with how I'm doing this, you can always do it yourself, you know,” Daniel replied, his eyes daring his friend to come to his position and take over.

Jack grinned as he retorted, “And miss watching my favorite bookworm actually work up a sweat?  Nope, I don't think so.”

“Right, Jack.”

Daniel went back to his chore of window washing while Jack headed for the garbage can, carrying a large bag of weeds and foliage he'd been gathering.

~Favorite bookworm?  Work up a sweat?  Sometimes, O'Neill, you worry me,~ Jack mused inwardly about what he'd just said to the archaeologist.

The colonel couldn't believe how much had changed in the last few months.  Less than four months ago, he'd been retired, living alone, and pretty much letting life pass him by.  That had all changed with a single visit from the Air Force who had received some unpleasant visitors through the Stargate.

Jack grinned at the memory of his first communication with Daniel.  He was sure General Hammond had thought him completely insane when he had tossed a box of Kleenex through the Gate to Abydos.  He gained a little more credibility when it came flying back with the words -- “THANKS - SEND MORE” -- written on the side of it.

That had started it all.  The Stargate Command had begun to come to life, and the next day, Jack led a team through the Stargate to Abydos, where he had reunited with his friend, Daniel Jackson, the geek who had saved his life, in more ways than one.

The days that followed had been a rollercoaster of blessings and tragedies.  Daniel's wife Sha're, along with her brother, Skaara, had been kidnapped by the Goa'uld and forced to become hosts.  What was worse, Sha're's symbiote was Amaunet, the mate of Apophis, the most powerful of the Goa'uld System Lords at that time.

On the bright side, Apophis' First Prime, Teal'c, had defected to Earth, seeking freedom for all of his kind, the Jaffa.  They were essentially slaves of the Goa'uld, brainwashed into believing the malevolent aliens were their gods.  It turned out that the Jaffa not only formed the army of the Goa'uld, but were more or less used as incubators, raising the infant snake-like creatures in pouches in their stomachs until they were mature enough to take humans or other acceptable races as hosts.  The larval Goa’uld replaced the Jaffa’s immune system.  Without their presence, the Jaffa would die, thereby ensuring their continued allegiance to these parasitic creatures.

SG-1 had been set up as the flagship team, led by Jack O'Neill with Captain Samantha Carter as his second-in-command.  Daniel had puppy-dog-eyed his way onto the team, the general unable to deny him despite still being angry over the deception of Daniel's faked death on Abydos.  Teal'c completed the team, having proved his loyalty during the sad situation in which Charles Kawalsky had been killed after having been taken over by a young Goa'uld.

Until the Pentagon had caught up with Daniel's back pay, and while Daniel himself had readjusted to life on Earth, the young man had been residing at the home of his unlikely friend, Jack O'Neill, staying in the spare room.  However, he had recently found an apartment.  In just a few days, he'd be moving.  Now, though, he was helping Jack with some cleaning around the country-style home that he was rather sad to be leaving.


A while later, Daniel spotted a few boxes sitting against the house and questioned, “Jack, what are these?”

Glancing over to see what the younger man was referring to, Jack answered, “Oh, those are things I need to put in the garage.  Just haven't gotten around to it.”

“I don't remember seeing them out here before,” Daniel stated.

Shaking his head, Jack explained, “They haven't been.  I had a couple of them in the truck until I finally took them out yesterday; a couple of the others were in the shed.  I stacked them there earlier when I got the lawn mower out.”

“Oh, well, do you ... do you want me to put them in the garage?” Daniel asked.  He looked up, observing, “It's supposed to rain this afternoon.”

“Yeah, thanks,” Jack spoke appreciatively while he continued pruning the trees.  Some of the branches were leaning over the house, and he wanted to get those cut before they became more of a danger, especially with the predicted thunderstorms that were on the horizon.  ~Privacy is one thing, but this is a bit too much.~

Daniel carried the boxes into the garage and looked around for a place to put them.  He finally settled on a spot against the back wall.  He had three in place and was carrying the last two when he tripped over an electrical cord that was sticking out slightly.

~Whaaaa...~  The scientist crashed to the ground, the top box opening, and its contents tumbling out all around.  ~Gawd, I hate it when that happens.~

Daniel did a mental check of his body:  ~Toes -- squiggling just fine, thank you.  Feet and ankles -- flexing okay.  Legs -- moving nicely.  Arms, hands, shoulders -- all intact, no pain, moving on command.  Now for the tough part -- my hard head.  Still there.  Glasses not broken, thank goodness.  Cuts?  Nope, no blood.  Handkerchief is clean.  Whew!  Okay, now about Jack's things.  Please don't be broken.  He'll yell.  It's not that I'm afraid of him.  He just gets so loud.~

Thinking about his friend, Daniel chuckled, ~He's like a ... hmm ... grizzly bear, growling just to growl.  Maybe I'll tell him that sometime.~

Fortunately, the contents of the box didn't appear to be breakable.  Daniel noticed that the contents were mostly papers, a couple of baseball hats, and trinkets he didn't even want to know how Jack acquired; but then one thing captured the archaeologist's full attention.

The item had fallen a few feet away.  Slowly, Daniel walked to it and picked it up, staring at it in disbelief.  It looked familiar.

~You're getting paranoid, Jackson.  There are a million of these ...~

Daniel's silent thoughts were quieted when he saw the big black letters -- “THANKS - SEND MORE” on the side of the box.  It was the same Kleenex box, the one Jack had sent through the Stargate.  Daniel remembered when it had come through on Abydos.  Tossing through nothing but a box of tissues had been such a Jack thing to do, and until that tissue box had come sailing through the Stargate, he hadn't fully realized just how much he had missed the crusty colonel.

~I did, though, and I really was happy to see you again.~  Daniel smiled, then, snapping out of his memories, pondered aloud, “He kept this?”

“He who, and what was it that he kept?”

Daniel jumped at the unexpected sound of Jack's voice.  He turned around, his face reddening and his chest heaving in and out at having been startled.

“Whoa, Danny, I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to scare you.  Whatcha' got?”  Jack noticed Daniel had something in his hands behind his back.  He also saw a bit of panic on his young friend's face.  “You okay?”

Daniel closed his eyes, stammering, “I ... I, uh, tripped, and the top box fell open.”

“It happens,” Jack responded as he shrugged, totally unconcerned.  “Did you hurt yourself?” he asked, more concerned about Daniel than the box.
“Uh, no,” Daniel answered tentatively.  “I'm still in one piece,” he said, smiling.

“Good.”  Jack walked over to the top box, asking, “Anything break?”

“No,” the younger man replied, uncertainty evident in his quiet answer and evasive demeanor.

“Okay, what's wrong?”

“I ... I just meant ... I mean, I ... it fell and ...”

“DANIEL!  What?”

The archaeologist brought the item out from behind his back, extending his arm towards Jack.

“Mmmph, yeah, I ... remember that,” Jack said a bit hesitantly, reaching out to take the box.  He tried to avoid Daniel's gaze.  ~I remember every detail.~

“I, uh, I was just surprised, that's all.”

“Yeah, me, too,” Jack agreed.

“What?” Daniel asked.

“What?” Jack echoed, getting a stare in return.  “Oh, well, when it came through, I handed it to that imbecile Samuels and, well, later, when I went to the general's office, it was just sitting there, and ...”

“You *stole* it ... from the general's office?” Daniel asked in disbelief.  ~Why would he do that?  It's just a ... just a ... a box.~

Jack shrugged, answering, “He was just going to throw it away.”

“Jack, it's a box of Kleenex, an *empty* box of Kleenex.”

“So it is,” Jack sighed, still playing with the box.  Yet, as he looked at the block lettering, he couldn't help but smile.  “I was glad you responded.  I wasn't really sure if you would or not.”

“Like I wouldn't?” Daniel snorted.

“You had to know there was a risk,” Jack stated.

Daniel looked down, suddenly consumed with guilt.  If he had left the Stargate buried, maybe Sha're and Skaara would be safe, ~and we'd be happy on Abydos, and none of this would have happened.  Everything would be ... gawd, I wouldn't be here, wouldn't be on SG-1, wouldn't be with ... Jack.~

“Danny, I'm sorry.  I didn't mean that the way it sounded.  It's possible, even probable the Goa'uld would have found their way back to Abydos some other way eventually.  None of what has happened was your fault.”

“Maybe.”  Daniel wasn't convinced, but he didn't want to think about it anymore, either.  “So, why'd you ... steal it?”

“Because ...” Jack turned away sheepishly, “... because ...”  ~Just say it, O’Neill!~ Swinging back around to face Daniel, he continued, “Crap, , Danny, you wrote on it, and I'm a sentimental fool sometimes, and I didn't really know if you were alive or dead, or if we'd survive the next mission, so I just wanted something ... tangible, that's all.”

“You ... you ... you kept it because I, uh, wrote on the box?” the younger man questioned hesitantly, his blue eyes on the verge of becoming moist from the emotion he was feeling.

“Daniel, if you tell one soul, I will personally break your neck,” Jack threatened.

~That's so Jack.~  Daniel smiled.  His friend threatening to kill him was becoming routine, but he was beginning to realize that it was just Jack's way of letting him know he cared enough about what Daniel thought and said.  In fact, it was almost a sign of affection.  He grinned at the thought.  ~The growl of the grizzly bear.~

“Hey, why are you smiling?”

“Just thinking.  No one's ever done that before.  It's just ... kinda nice, in a weird, crazy, strange sort of way.”

Jack laughed at Daniel's words as he moved towards the storage box.  It was crazy, but he couldn't help himself.

~This could have been worse.  He could have found ... Nope, don't even want to think about that,~ Jack thought as he put the Kleenex box back in the larger box.  “Still keeping it, and I don't want to hear another word about it, Doctor Jackson.  You got that?”

Daniel nodded, somehow feeling warm inside.  He was still adjusting to Jack being his friend, and not just a friend, but a good friend, maybe even his best friend, and that was a foreign concept to the archaeologist.  He never thought he'd be witnessing that tough-as-nails colonel keeping some old tissue box simply because Daniel had written on it.

~It shouldn't, but it makes me feel good.  Gawd, how crazy is that?~ the young man wondered.

“Danny, let's have Chinese tonight.  Okay?”

Daniel grinned.  They'd had Chinese last night, too, and it really wasn't Jack's favorite food.  He tolerated it because Daniel loved it.

“Sounds good, Jack.”

“But we're placing a double order so you don't hog the ...” Jack began.

“Jack, I never hog anything,” Daniel denied adamantly.

“Sure, you do,” Jack maintained as he motioned for them to head inside the house.  “You get that gooey gop pan stuff and ...”

Daniel rolled his eyes as he listened to Jack rant about Chinese food, knowing full well his friend was a teddy bear in a grizzly bear disguise.

~Go on, O'Neill, and rant away.  You're just a sentimental slob anyway.  And ... thank you, Jack.  Thank you for ... keeping that old box of Kleenex.  Maybe someday I'll tell you that I still have that handkerchief you gave me on Abydos.  I never used it.  I just ... maybe some day I'll tell you.~

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