Strange Things Happen

Author: Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Humor, H/C, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  7 - June 30 - July 3, 2003
Spoilers:  None
Size:  69kb
Written:  July 24-28, 2003  Revised October 11, 2003  Revised Again:  January 25, August 31, November 30, 2005, July 2-4, 2006  Revised for consistency:  February 20-22, 2007
Summary:  Jack returns home and finds his pajama-clad and incoherent archaeologist is suddenly deathly afraid of both Janet and Teal'c.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
2) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s), “Anniversary”
3) Thanks to QuinGem for the photo manip of my Daniel boonie bear!
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  DebA, babs, Devra, Jo, Darcy, Gail, Claudia, Jodi, Linda, QuinGem!

Strange Things Happen
By Orrymain

“Thanks for the lift, Airman,” Jack acknowledged, after which he grabbed his duffel bag and headed for the sanctuary he shared with Daniel.  ~Home.~

Two more days, in addition to four days the week before, of playing nice with political yahoos had just about pushed the colonel over the edge, especially when the session yesterday had gone so long into the evening that Jack's return home had to be delayed until this morning.  He'd hated having to go back to Washington at all, but Senator Kinsey had insisted.

~Dang idiot.  He's the one who took off last week and ...~  Jack had paused his thought upon getting his new orders, remembering that if it hadn't been for Kinsey's sudden change in plans, he would have missed celebrating the fifth anniversary of being with Daniel.  ~There's that,~ he had smirked while packing his duffel bag for the second time in two weeks.

Now, though, all he wanted now was to find his lover and indulge in his latest fantasy, which involved honey, raspberry jelly, and his naked archaeologist.  They'd be doing their own special kind of exploration for quite a long while, if Jack had his way.

~Ah, Danny, if you only knew how much I've missed you,~ Jack thought as he walked up the long driveway, smiling at the visual his fantasy was placing in his mind.  ~Only a few feet to the front steps and ...~  “What the devil,” he barked, not caring who heard.  He eyed his precious Ford truck, ~my baby,~ now sporting an injury -- a very long scratch on its side.

“DANIEL?” Jack yelled.

The frustrated colonel stomped up the steps to the front porch, eager to find the love of his life and strangle his cute little neck, but once again, he stopped in shock.  The door knocker was broken.

~Now how did that happen?~  Although the main frame was still attached, the item now hung at a very odd angle, and, in addition, the flapper was missing.  Jack looked around, finally finding the missing part on the porch deck, almost completely hidden by a large potted plant.  ~What the heck is going on?~ he wondered.

The odd thing was that Jack wasn't sensing danger.  His internal 'Daniel alarm' wasn't blaring, and as strange as things looked, he just didn't feel like there was any kind of threat lurking inside.  His intuition in that regard was pretty spot on, so he proceeded accordingly.

Finally entering his home, Jack was determined to find Daniel as soon as possible.  He wanted answers, and he wanted them now.  As he walked a couple of paces towards the living room, he stopped short.

“Oh, for ...”

Jack couldn't even finish his trademark phrase, too stunned by the sight that met his eyes.

Daniel's jacket was lying haphazardly on the floor near the coffee table.  As he stepped into the living room, he looked over towards the kitchen nook and noticed that one of the dining table chairs seemed to be missing a leg.  He also observed something that appeared to be ...

~Cranberry sauce?~

The plum-colored substance was splattered against one of the walls.

“Popcorn?” Jack mused, shaking his head.  Even stranger than the 'cranberry sauce' was a trail of popcorn, leading from the patio door through the living room and then all the way up the stairs to the second story of the house.

~Had a party, Dannyboy?~

Jack stopped for a moment, centering himself.  He wondered if he had missed something, but still, his senses weren't crying out 'danger'.  What he saw strewn around the house didn't appear to him to look like the remnants of a struggle, either.

“Daniel?” Jack called out as he continued to survey the disaster area once known as their living room.

A quick glance through the patio doors to the backyard, and another towards the direction of the kitchen, failed to turn up his soulmate.

~What the heck happened while I was gone?~

Jack headed up the stairs to the master bedroom, the next logical place to check for his partner in life.  As he ventured into the bedroom, he immediately noticed the increase in temperature and the lack of light.  His attention, however, went straight to his archaeologist, who was sprawled across their king-sized bed, looking like that old cliché of death warmed over.

“Geez, Danny,” Jack spoke as he moved quickly to the bed, sitting with his back against the headboard.

The younger man was asleep, lying on his abdomen, mouth open, with little harsh gasps coming from him.

Jack took his pulse and sighed, ~A little fast, but not out of control.~  He then gently placed his hand to Daniel's forehead for a few moments.  It was obvious his lover had a fever, but it didn't feel unusually high.  ~So much for my fantasy,~ he lamented, though he was more concerned by Daniel's illness, whatever it was.

Jack's anger over the scratch on his truck and the Twilight Zone that was his house was forgotten.  His fantasy was no longer high on his list of priorities, either, so instead, he focused on Daniel and his physical condition.

“Daniel, wanna wake up now?” Jack asked as he looked over the body he so admired and began to caress his back.

His partner's only response was to move very slightly toward him, Daniel's left arm slowly moving forward, as if searching for the owner of the calling voice.

Jack couldn't help but let out with a slight chuckle.  Even after five years together in a loving, romantic relationship, he was still constantly being amazed at just how much the man beside him loved to touch, cuddle and snuggle.

~Okay, so I love to do all of those things myself, probably even more than Danny does.  Mushy, gushy saps we are,~ Jack sighed internally.

No one would believe these two extremely independent, strong men would be such marshmallows and total saps with each other.

“Angel, do you have one of those twenty-four hour bugs?” Jack asked, still trying to rouse the young man.  Again, there wasn't a response, except that this time, Daniel's outstretched arm found the older man's thigh and took a strong hold.  “Danny?”

As he sat trying to decide what course of action to take next, Jack's hand made its way to his lover's short hair.  He sometimes missed the long shag the linguist had sported when they first met; however, Daniel's hair was still soft and inviting, and he enjoyed the sensation of carding his fingers through the silky locks.

Jack was still admiring his lover's hair when he felt something strange.  He frowned as he bent down for a closer look.  Just behind Daniel's left ear, there seemed to be a jagged edge to his haircut.

~It looks like someone's cut a big chunk of hair off you, Danny.~

Although he was somewhat concerned at why someone would hack off a piece of his soulmate's hair, Jack decided not to think about it for the time being.  He just wanted to spend some time with his other half, even if said half was currently asleep.  Content to just sit where he was, he lovingly caressed his partner with gentle back and forth strokes.

Daniel responded to the touches with a soft moan, prompting the older man to smile once again.  No one could make Jack smile as much or as often as Doctor Daniel Jackson could.

“J'ck?” Daniel spoke groggily.

The sound of Daniel's voice was always welcome at the best of times, but now, it was especially sought after.  Maybe Jack could finally get some answers.

“Hey, you with me now?” Jack questioned.  “Looks like I missed some excitement.”

Daniel hadn't really moved.  The sensation of Jack's continuing touches felt good, and he wasn't really sure he could move anyway.  Besides, as long as Jack was there beside him, he didn't need to.

“You home now?” the younger man asked, not yet fully awake.

Jack laughed yet again and then answered, “Yes, Daniel, I'm home.”

“Good.  Don't leave 'gain, J'ck,” Daniel pleaded, an urgency to his slurred words obvious.

“So, I take it you missed me?” Jack smirked.  ~Oh, yeah, life is good.~

“Scared, J'ck,” Daniel admitted, attempting to snuggle in a bit closer to his lover.

~The slayer of System Lords is afraid?~  Jack liked that his soulmate had missed him, but why would he be afraid?  Alarm bells finally rang through his body, and the smile left his face.  He continued his caresses, hoping to reassure the younger man.  “Danny, everything is okay.  Whatever happened is over.  I hope ...”

“Scared,” Daniel repeated anxiously.  “Teal'c.  V'ry scary, J'ck.”

~What is he talking about?~  Jack's confusion mounted as he inquired, “What about Teal'c?”

“Keep 'way from Teal'c, J'ck; curses; J'fa rit'al.  Scary.  Don't go 'way 'gain, J'ck,” the archaeologist begged vulnerably.

Daniel seemed almost panicky.  Even in his semi-conscious state, he'd managed to find Jack's thigh and was currently clinging to it as though it was a lifeline.

~Why would Daniel be afraid of Teal'c?  And what the heck do curses have to do with anything?~ Jack wondered.

Nothing was making sense.  Daniel and Teal'c were closer than they had ever been.

“Danny, have you taken any pills or anything?” Jack asked, thinking that some kind of drug induced hallucination would explain his lover's seeming irrationality.

“No pills, just J'fa rit'al stuff,” Daniel answered.  “Help me, J'ck. Teal'c, scary.”

Jack was still running his fingers through Daniel's hair, but decided he needed to do a more complete check on the condition of his soulmate and instructed, “Danny, I want you to roll over on your back.”

“Don't wanna move,” the archaeologist responded, feeling more secure than he had since Jack's departure for the nation's capitol.

“C'mon, Love, I need to see your baby blues and check you out.  No arguments.  Roll over,” the older man gently ordered, forcing the issue by helping to turn his reluctant lover turn over.

Jack began his examination, limb by limb, finally determining, ~Nothing feels broken; no outer injuries.  You're pale, though, and your skin is a bit clammy.  Temp time, Danny.  Don't argue.  Okay, good.~

Jack waited for the thermometer to do its job.  Even sick, he thought Daniel was the sexiest creation ever made.  He snorted with laughter, amazed at his train of thought.

~Geez, Danny, what you do to me!~  Withdrawing the medical instrument, Jack checked the results.  ~One-hundred point nine; could be worse.  Hmm, your breathing seems a bit strained, and your eyes are unfocused.  You're talking to me, answering questions, but still confused.~

Jack wasn't overly concerned, but knew he should call Doctor Janet Fraiser to see if she wanted to send over any medication for the fever.  With the examination complete, he was unable to resist a proper hello any longer, so he leaned over and kissed the object of his affections.

Daniel responded by bringing his arms up behind the older man's neck, holding him close with a very tight grip.

“I missed you, Danny,” Jack uttered as they kissed again, the lingering connection lasting until Daniel let out a gasp, needing air to breathe.  Jack attempted to pull himself upright so he could make the call to Janet, but Daniel refused to release him.  “Danny, how about letting go for a few minutes?” he cajoled lightly.

“Na-huh,” Daniel answered, shaking his head.

“Na-huh?” Jack echoed, surprised at the child-like quality in the response.

Daniel shook his head vehemently as he once again stated firmly, “Na'huh, not letting you go, J'ck.”

“I'm not going anywhere, Daniel, but I need to call Janet and ...” Jack began, only to be cut off mid-sentence.

“NO, J'CK.  Don't want Jan't.  She's mean!” Daniel exclaimed.  “Made Teal'c stay with me.  Scary.  No.  You, J'ck.  You stay, keep me safe from scary J'fa.”

“Daniel, you're not making sense,” Jack intoned as his frustration mounted.  “Teal'c's not here.”

“Promise J'ck; promise you'll keep him 'way from me.  V'ry scary.  Trying to kill me,” Daniel said informatively, letting out a fearful shiver which left Jack even more confused than before.

“Daniel, what in Netu are you talking about?  Teal'c's your friend.  He'd never hurt you, and in fact, he would probably be the second in line to kill anyone who hurt you.”

“Second?” the younger man questioned.

“I'd be the first, Babe.  No one hurts you and gets away with it while I'm around, and you know it,” the Special Ops colonel reminded.  “Now, I promise I'll keep you safe, but I need you to let go of me.  Okay?”

Daniel frowned, scrunching his face as he apparently thought ... and thought ... and thought.

“Daniel?” Jack prompted.  There was no response from the somewhat incoherent man except for a blinking of Daniel's eyes.  “Danny, you trust me?”

“Always,” the uncharacteristically frightened man answered.

“Well then?” Jack asked.

Daniel grinned.  In fact, his smile was like that of a little child who just received a gold star for doing something good.  He released his colonel and closed his eyes, falling quickly asleep.

~Oooookay.~  Jack was stunned, again.  He got up from the bed and removed his jacket.  “Man, it's hot,” he said aloud with no one to hear.  He placed his jacket on the coat rack and took a look at the room thermostat.  The heating was turned on, the temperature set to high.  ~No wonder if feels like a sauna in here.~

Turning the heat off, Jack took another look around the room. The room-darkening blinds were closed, and the drapes had been drawn.  The popcorn trail that had begun downstairs reached the edge of the bed, and Jack actually saw some kernels up on the nightstand and at the foot of their roomy bed.

Suddenly, Jack smelled something ... ~burning?  What on Earth?~

After a quick look to make sure Daniel was sleeping soundly, Jack hurried out of the room, following the odor to the kitchen, where he was surprised to discover that the oven was on.  Smoke was beginning to seep out the sides of the oven door as well.

Quickly turning the knobs to 'off', Jack opened the oven door.  Seeing something inside, he grabbed a couple of potholders from a drawer and pulled out the smoking item, placing it on the stovetop.  Fortunately, it wasn't actually on fire and had only just begun to smolder.  He was sure that a couple of minutes longer and the item would have been a victim of internal combustion.

~I was sure that was just an aspirin I took on the plane,~ Jack thought as he calmed himself down.  “I *have* to be seeing things.  This just can't be real,” he said aloud to the smoldering item.  He was beyond confused, and stunned couldn't even begin to describe how he felt.  “A stuffed bear?  I must be in an alternate reality; that's it,” Jack smirked.

The brown bear was about six-inches tall, wearing a green boonie and a pair of wire-rim glasses.  It had been placed in a sitting up position.  Amazingly, both items were relatively unaffected by the bear's near burning.  In fact, the bear itself looked to have survived remarkably well.  It was perhaps just a little browner than it had been originally, and some of its fur had singed ends.

~It can't be,~ Jack thought as he observed a lock of hair attached to the boonie.  Dumbfounded, he just stared at the bear.  ~That's Danny's hair; I'd know it anywhere.  Okay, who would cut that beautiful hair?~  He knew without a doubt that it had to be the missing lock of Daniel's hair.  Nothing else would make sense, not that anything he'd witnessed since getting out of the Air Force vehicle in front of the house had been even a bit rational.  ~I'm losing my mind; maybe that's the answer.~  ~No, not losing my mind,~ he sarcastically thought as he stood transfixed on the furry stuffed creature.  “I'm drunk.  This is all a crazy dream,” he spoke aloud.



“O'Neill, you are home,” a deep voice announced, startling Jack so much that he nearly jumped out of his skin.

“Teal'c, *don't* do that!” Jack bellowed.  “You almost gave me another gray hair, and what are you doing here anyway, not that I'm not glad to see you, of course.”

“DanielJackson needed me, O'Neill,” Teal'c stated.  “You were not here, and I thought it would be your wish for me to look after him while you were gone.”

“I've been home for awhile; didn't see you,” Jack informed the Jaffa.

“I have been meditating on your deck,” Teal'c explained.  “It is very peaceful there, O'Neill.”

“Yes, it is.  Teal'c, what the devil has been going on around here?  Daniel is sick, and what the heck happened to the house?” Jack inquired, hoping to get some answers at last.  “And, do you know why there was a bear in my oven?”

“DanielJackson is cursed, and I have been curing him through the Rite of the Red Moon,” the alien spoke confidently.

“Red Moon?  Cursed?” Jack echoed incredulously.  He shook his head, then emphatically stated, “Teal'c, Daniel is not cursed.”

“You are wrong, O'Neill.  DanielJackson said so himself.  It would have been dishonorable for me to not have assisted him in removing the darkness from his body,” the Jaffa stated, his hands clasped behind his back as he spoke with his friend.

“What the ...” an exasperated Jack began.  Teal'c wasn't making any more sense than Daniel had.  Running his fingers through his hair, he took a deep breath and then requested, “Look, Teal'c, can you just start at the beginning, and tell me what happened ... please?”

“As you wish,” Teal'c responded, bowing his head slightly.

====

Several minutes later, Jack was still listening as Teal'c relayed what had happened.

Monday afternoon, Daniel had developed a headache, not unusual for the overworked man, but this one lingered and didn't go away.  He had lost his appetite, also not unusual, considering that Jack wasn't around to nag him to eat.

Jack also knew that his trip would have just compounded his lover's lack of desire to eat.

~Lost in your artifacts probably,~ Jack thought as Teal'c's tale unfolded.  ~I need a robot I can program to remind you to eat when I'm not around.~

Teal'c had insisted Daniel see Janet after the young man made the mistake of complaining about a crick in his neck, which the Jaffa had misinterpreted to be the result of malign forces.  Try as he might, Daniel had not been able to make his friend understand that his malady was only from too much work and bad ergonomics.

~Even after all these years on Earth, we still have trouble communicating sometimes,~ Jack pondered as his friend continued to explain the recent events.

Janet had examined Daniel, found that his temperature was slightly elevated, and insisted he go home.  Although Daniel had objected, the doctor would not be swayed, and, in fact, requested that Teal'c stay with him to 'babysit'.  It had been her way of ensuring that the stubborn archaeologist would actually eat and get some rest.

~Can't argue with your thinking, Doc, but something's still screwy here.~

Teal'c continued, “As I took DanielJackson to his office to prepare for our departure, he said he was cursed.  I then realized the depth of his sickness and excused myself to get the Chunic.”

“Chunic?” Jack questioned.

“It is part of the Rite, O'Neill,” the Jaffa explained.

“Of course, it is,” Jack mumbled.  “Sorry, go on.”

Jack gave up further questioning for the moment and listened as Teal'c continued with his narration.

Teal'c elaborated that he had brought Daniel home and began to mother-hen him, something that never went over well with the linguist, even when Jack did it.

~Although he lets me.  He really likes it.  He just won't admit it.  Stubborn geek,~ Jack silently smirked.  “Teal'c, that explains why Daniel is home, but what's this mumbo jumbo about curses, and why does my house look like something out of an episode of 'The Twilight Zone'?”

“DanielJackson would not accept the medication Doctor Fraiser prescribed,” Teal'c said informatively.  “He expressed a desire to take a bath and soak, and then he said something indistinguishable, something about a duck and you rubbing his back.”

Jack attempted to hide his instant blush, quickly ducking his head and covering his mouth as he gave a mock cough.

~Why are you smiling?~  Teal'c's smile ebbed as he continued, “I told DanielJackson I would take your place and perform as required.”

~Over my dead body!~  Jack almost fainted on the spot from the thought of the Jaffa with his lover.  His eyes widened voice cracked as he asked, “Ah, what did Daniel say?”

“He screamed and tried to run out of the room.  I prevented his departure and instructed him to continue his preparations.  It was then that he repeated he was cursed,” Teal'c intoned.

“Teal'c, it was just an expression.  I'm sure that ...”

“No, O'Neill.  You do not understand.  On Chulak, this is the time of the Mishita.”

“But Daniel hasn't been to Chulak recently.”

“You are wrong, O'Neill,” Teal'c stated flatly.

“I am?” Jack asked in surprise.  “Teal'c!” he barked, waiting for details.

“Monday morning, DanielJackson accompanied me to Chulak to make contact with Master Bra'tac.  Though we were there only a few hours, he must have been affected.  The curse reacts quickly and can only be purged by the Rite of the Red Moon and the Chunic,” the Jaffa expounded.

Jack stood speechless for a few moments, thinking that perhaps Daniel had a point, and Teal'c had gone a little crazy.  Surely the Jaffa had been on Earth long enough to recognize a simple case of the flu?

“Daniel is not cursed, Teal'c, he's just sick,” Jack spoke as calmly and evenly as possible.  “Which reminds me, I need to call Fraiser and see if she wants me to bring Daniel to the infirmary.”

“That would not be wise, O'Neill.”

“Why not?” the colonel asked, this time his tone sounding a bit edgy from his frustration.

Before the Jaffa could respond, a loud noise drew Jack's attention up to the bedroom.  Taking the stairs three at a time, Jack found his lover on the floor of the master bedroom, conscious, but, apparently, not totally coherent as yet.

“Daniel, what happened?” Jack asked as he leaned over to check on the linguist.

“J'ck?  Home now?” Daniel asked with pleading eyes, his speech doing little to honor his philology degree.

“Yes, Danny, I'm home.  We covered that already, remember?” Jack answered.

“Stay 'way from Teal'c, J'ck,” Daniel warned.  “Scary.  J'fa stuff.  J'ck, when did you grow another head?”

“Ah, Angel,” Jack softly spoke.  “You probably have a concussion now, too.  C'mon, let's get you back in bed.  What were you trying to do anyway?”

“Do you require assistance, O'Neill?” Teal'c asked, suddenly appearing in the doorway.

Hearing the Jaffa, Daniel tensed beneath Jack's touch, and Jack decided he should put some distance between the confused man and potentially crazy Chulakian, especially considering that Teal'c didn't know about their relationship. At the moment, he just wasn't sure what Daniel might say next.

“No, we're fine,” Jack replied.  “You can go back downstairs, Teal'c.  Thanks.  I'll be down in a while.”  Once the alien disappeared from sight, he smiled and soothed, “You can relax now, Danny; he's gone.”

Despite Jack's reassurance, Daniel remained anxious as he spoke, “Escape.  Have to 'scape.  I'm cursed, J'ck.  J'fa cursed now.  Head h'rts.  You home, J'ck?”

Daniel's muttering wasn't easy to understand.  He had said he didn't remember taking any pills, but something was clearly causing him to be dopey.

Jack managed to get his lover back to the bed, placing the covers protectively over him.  He grabbed a couple of Tylenol and some water, making sure Daniel took them.

For a moment, Daniel seemed to settle, but then, all of a sudden, he became antsy and began thrashing about, desperately calling out, “'Scape, J'ck.  Scared.  Don't leave me 'gain.”

Jack's heart ached to hear the anguished tone of his lover's voice.  He may have felt like he was living in the funnier side of 'The Twilight Zone', but whatever twisted humor had caused the events, he never wanted to hear his partner sound so bleak and afraid.

“Shhh, Danny,” Jack comforted.  “I'm right here, and no one is going to hurt you.  Sleep, Love.  I'm home now.”

“Don't wanna sleep.”

~Oh, oh, that explains it.~  A light bulb went off in Jack's head, and he queried, “Did you have a nightmare, Danny?”

Since silence was the younger man's answer, Jack knew he was right.

“Don't wanna sleep, J'ck,” Daniel repeated, lifting his head slightly to look at his Love.  ~No leave me,~ he inwardly prayed.

There was a plea there that Jack recognized.  Not being able to, nor really wanting to, deny his lover anything, Jack lay down on the bed and pulled his lover to him.  Daniel gifted him with a smile and a happy sigh as he nuzzled into Jack's shoulder and placed an arm over his chest.

Within a couple of minutes, the younger man was sound asleep.

Jack kissed the top of Daniel's head and smiled again, consciously noting for the first time that Daniel was wearing the pajamas he had given him for Christmas last year.  This particular shade brought out Daniel's eyes beautifully, and Jack liked the way the flannel looked on his lover's body.  He chuckled as he thought about the pj's.  Giving his archaeologist a different patterned set of the flannel nightwear had become an annual holiday event, one that always challenged him.

Silently, Jack reviewed his accomplishments:  a brown pair of pajamas that pictured little pyramids, a black pair with white Egyptian hieroglyphs, a gorgeous pair of burgundy pj's with a bunch of camels on them which Jack especially liked because it made Daniel look ~*extra hot*,~ a pair of gold pj's showing spaceships; an emerald green outfit that had mummies on them, and finally, the alluring blue pair of flannels with rocks on them which the accomplished archaeologist was wearing now.

The gift-giver laughed remembering Daniel's reaction to the gift.

“They're rocks, Jack,” the younger man had said with surprise.  

“Rocks to me, Danny, but artifacts to you,” Jack had replied to that beautiful, yet impish grin that graced his lover's face.

This year, Jack had already secured a red pair with Pharaohs on them.

~O'Neill scores!~

The older man kept his arms wrapped around the sexy body they held.  He had only been home an hour, and he was tired, exhausted, and still as confused as when he had first walked in the door.  In the here and now, though, the only thing that mattered was bringing a smile and feeling of safety to the man he loved.  Jack cared so much for his soulmate that sometimes it actually hurt.  If Daniel needed him there, holding him, then that was exactly where he was going to be, for as long as necessary.

====

Sometime later, Jack opened his eyes, having awakened from an unplanned nap.  Doing a quick assessment of his situation, he realized Daniel hadn't moved and still had a tight hold on him.  A quick glance at the clock, and Jack figured he'd slept for about two hours.

~I hate to disturb you, Love, but I really need to get some answers,~ Jack lamented as he placed a tender kiss on Daniel's head.  ~You may not like it, but I should call the Doc, too.  Let's see if you still have a temp,~ he decided as he felt Daniel's forehead.  ~Still warm.~

Gently, Jack disentangled himself from the younger man, who groaned slightly and snaffled Jack's pillow, though he didn't wake.  He paused at the doorway, looking back at the man who not only owned his heart, but was his heart.

“It'll be okay, Angel.  Whatever's going on around here, I'm going to fix it.  I promise.”

====

In the living room, Jack picked up one of the sofa pillows and threw it back down onto the sofa.  He was a bit frustrated at the moment, having been on hold with the SGC's infirmary for several minutes.

~I could read 'War and Peace' before they'd answer this thing,~ Jack inwardly whined.  About to hang up and try again with a little more 'I'm a colonel' attitude, he was relieved to hear Janet Fraiser's voice as she thanked the attendant who handed her the phone.  ~It's about time.~

“Doctor Fraiser, how can I help you?” the physician asked.

~Hmm.  You sound a bit tired, Doc.~  Not wanting to think about the implications of a busy day for the SGC and which of his friends and colleagues might be injured, hurt, or worse, Jack greeted, “Doc, this is Colonel O'Neill.”

Janet stared at a chart she held in her hands as she replied, “Oh, yes, Colonel.  Are you still in Washington?”

“No, got back from the Bore Wars a few hours ago,” Jack explained.  “Listen, Doc, Daniel is sick and ...”

“Is his temperature up?” Janet questioned, putting the chart down on the table and picking up another one in its place.

The concerned colonel answered, “When I got home, it was one-hundred-point-nine.  He seems a bit out of it, too.”

“It's the medication, Colonel, and you know Daniel,” Janet reminded.  “I had to kick him out of the SGC a couple of days ago.  I doubt he had slept much at all since SG-1 returned from your last mission.  He's naturally exhausted.”

“That's Daniel, but maybe I should bring him in,” the worried lover suggested.

“Colonel ... Jack ... Are there any other symptoms?  Nausea?  Vomiting?  Headaches?  Anything?” Janet queried.

“No, Doc, just the temperature and his being dopey.”

“Okay, then just make sure he gets some rest.  I'll have the pharmacy send over a stronger prescription that should make Daniel a bit less ...” Janet began.

“Dopey, and you want to give him more pills?  Doc ...” Jack interrupted, only to have his own words cut off by the fiery redhead.

“Sir, the infirmary is full; even the private rooms, and, frankly, I've had to convert OR and office space to accommodate everyone,” Janet hurriedly spoke, clearly worn out by the current situation, but having a lot more to do before her shift would end.  “There's a virus going around that is hitting everyone, and the base has been quarantined for at least another twenty-four hours.  Even Doctor Warner is a patient, which means I'm short handed, so if it's an emergency, Colonel, than I recommend taking Daniel to the local hospital, but otherwise, he's better off at home.”

“Virus?  Is that what Daniel is suffering from?” Jack asked.

“The outbreak happened after Daniel left the base, Colonel, and I doubt there is a connection.  In Daniel's case, I sincerely believe all he has is a slight case of the flu.”

Jack reluctantly sighed, “Okay, Doc.  If you think it's best, I'll keep Daniel home.”

“Sir, I know you're concerned, but I checked Daniel out thoroughly before releasing him to bedrest at home.  He didn't show any signs of the virus that has quarantined the base.  I sent Teal'c home with him.  I assume Teal'c did as I asked?” the physician questioned.

“You know Teal'c, Doc,” Jack responded.  ~And I don't even want to think about it anymore.~

Janet advised, “Well, Colonel, make sure someone stays with Daniel, either you or Teal'c, in case there's a change, and call me if there is.  I'll have that prescription sent over to Daniel's place right away.”

“Janet?” Jack hesitantly intoned, sitting down on the sofa.

“Colonel?”

“Daniel is here ... at ... our ... I mean, at my place,” Jack told her, suddenly wondering what had happened to his ability to be covert.  ~An airman could have done a better job just now.  You're losing it, O'Neill.~

“You took him over to your house, Colonel, even though he was sick?” Janet asked in a chastising tone.  “That wasn't a very smart thing to do, Sir.”

“No, I didn't.  He ... Look, Janet, I assume Teal'c brought him here in the first place knowing that Daniel's more comfortable here.  He's ... used to being here ... and the spare room in his apartment is full of boxes and books and junk, so most likely they came here from the get go.  I really haven't had a chance to talk to Teal'c and get the whole story, but when I got home, they were both here, and ...”

Jack felt himself rambling, having totally lost his covert 'lying' abilities for the moment.  He hated fibbing to someone he considered a friend, but the only person from the SGC who knew the truth about Jack and Daniel was Sam.  They sometimes wondered if Teal'c and General Hammond knew about their romance as well, but it was just conjecture that they might.

It was in Janet's best interest not to know.  She may be a doctor, but she was also an Air Force major.  Regrouping, Jack took a deep breath and continued on as calmly as possible.

“Doctor Fraiser, just send the medication and whatever instructions are necessary here to my house.  If there's any change in Daniel's condition, I'll call.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Jack hung up, shook his head at his deception and how close he came to telling the SGC doctor the truth, and then resolved to find Teal'c and get to the bottom of his personal Twilight Zone.

====

Jack's search for the Jaffa commenced and ended on the roof deck, where the lovers often spent time stargazing and engaging in more intimate activities.

“Teal'c,” Jack called out as he climbed over the top of the ladder.

“O'Neill, how is DanielJackson?” the Jaffa asked from his seated position in the middle of the small deck.

Jack answered, “He's sleeping; still has a slight fever and is scared to death of you.  Wanna try to tell me what has been happening here, and this time, Teal'c, just tell it straight.”

Teal'c stood up and stoically responded, “DanielJackson is cursed, and I have been purging the demon from his body.”

~Not the curse thing again,~ Jack bemoaned silently as shook his head in disbelief.

“When we arrived here from the SGC, DanielJackson wished to take a bath.  The cleansing of the body is crucial in the removal of the curse, so I encouraged him to continue his task.  When I said I would take your place, he seemed to get upset and tried to run out of the room.  He did not get far,” Teal'c stated with a hint of pride on his face.

Jack closed his eyes, wanting to shake some sense into someone; he just wasn't sure who yet.

Teal'c continued his explanation, saying, “I caught DanielJackson and insisted he begin the Rite of the Red Moon to purge the Mishita from him.  If we were to succeed in vanquishing the demon, it was important to begin the cleansing as soon as possible.  I gave him Chunic, which is necessary to shock the body.  I then attempted to help him prepare for the bath, but he became more agitated.  At his insistence, I left him alone to begin the cleansing in private.  When I returned, he appeared to be asleep.”

~Faking it.  That's my Danny,~ Jack thought deviously.

“It is vital, O'Neill, that the cleansing be done vigorously and in steaming hot water,” Teal'c expounded.  “I checked the water and felt it had cooled, so I reached in to release some of the cool water and turned on the hot tap.  When I did so, DanielJackson woke and screamed again.  He tried to hit me, O'Neill,” he added, as if amazed Daniel would have even considered it.  “I told him that was not wise and made sure he remained in the tub as the water drained and the hot water entered.”

~Made sure?  Oh, Angel,~ Jack thought as he felt a pang of pity for his lover.

Sitting naked in a tub with Teal'c hovering over him wasn't high on Jack's or Daniel's list of things to experience.  He pictured Daniel's long legs stretched out, and his ...

“O'Neill, are you paying attention?” Teal'c asked sharply.

~What?  Geez.~  Jack smiled and responded, “Sorry, Teal'c, I was distracted for a moment.  Okay, so you gave Daniel this Chu...juice stuff and made him take a hot bath.  Then what?”

“Chunic,” Teal'c corrected.  “Once he was cleansed, the Rite could proceed.  To purge the curse, it was necessary for certain events to take place.  It was required that DanielJackson drink the cup of purification.”

“Cup of purification?  What the heck is that?  More of that Chu stuff?” Jack inquired, his sympathy for his lover growing by the second.

“Chunic is a mixture of special ingredients designed to rid the body of the evil that dwells inside.  I went to the kitchen to secure the needed items and prepare. DanielJackson followed and watched,” Teal'c stated.

“Okay, Teal'c, just get to the point.  What exactly was involved in this rite of yours?” the colonel asked.

Answering, the Jaffa elaborated, “The cleansing of the body to rid the evil inside is difficult, O'Neill.  One must clear the mind and focus on the evil to drive it away, first mentally and then with the body.  Once DanielJackson's body was clean, the next step was to force the bad spirit out in kelno'reem.  Since I can no longer kelno'reem, I decided to use the trance-like powers of meditation.  I took DanielJackson up to your deck after collecting the symbols of the darkness.”

“Symbols?” Jack questioned with widened eyes.

Teal'c answered, “The color of the night, the darkness, the evil of the soul ...”

“Which was ... what?” an exasperated Jack inquired.

“I regret, O'Neill, I had to damage your vehicle,” the Jaffa confided.  “It was the only image dark and strong enough to represent the darkness of the night.”

“My truck, Teal'c?  Why not, I don't know, a black sweater or black beans -- black anything?  *Why* my truck?” Jack inquired agitatedly.

“I did not have a lot of time to search.  Would you prefer me to jeopardize DanielJackson's soul for the sake of your truck?” Teal'c asked pointedly.

Jack had no answer, except, “No, of course not, but Teal'c, Daniel was not, is not, cursed.”  ~Man, this is so totally twilight zone that's it beyond the outer limits.~

The Jaffa just stared, his silent insistence that he was right almost intimidating the hard-nosed Air Force colonel.

“Go on, Teal'c,” an even more exasperated Jack finally urged.

“The night is purged by the rising sun,” Teal'c explained.

“And the rising sun was ...?” Jack prodded.

“You call it cranberry sauce,” Teal'c clarified.

Jack winced, not yet ready to ask how cranberry sauce ended up on the living room wall.

“The rising sun must be virtuous, and those who dwell in it must stand tall, proud and free,” Teal'c stated.

“Let me guess, the leg from the dining room chair?” Jack surmised in disbelief.

Teal'c nodded and affirmed, “You are correct.  To be free, one must be as the clouds, pure in heart.”

“The popcorn?” Jack deduced based on its color.

“Yes, O'Neill, it is white.  Is white not a symbol of purity and virtue in your world?” the alien asked.

Sighing, Jack nodded his head in the affirmative, and then asked, “What about the flapper thingy of my doorknob?  What does it symbolize?”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing?  Then why is it broken?” the curious colonel questioned.

Teal'c explained, “DanielJackson tried to leave prematurely before the Rite was completed.  I had to detain him or risk his body and soul being lost to evil forever.  He would not comply and grabbed a hold of the handle as I returned him to the safety of the Rite.  I'm afraid his hold on the handle could not be freed without doing harm to the device itself.”

“JACK!”

Even from the roof, Daniel's yell was clear.  Instantly, Jack practically flew down the ladder and ran through the house and up the stairs to their bedroom.

“Danny?” Jack asked anxiously.

As Jack quickly discovered, the younger man was still asleep, but in the throes of another violent nightmare, screaming Jack's name over and over, sometimes at loud, blood-curdling levels.  He raced to his lover's side and carefully tried to restrain him without getting slugged.  Both he and Daniel had nightmares, and when they were moving about so violently, they had to be careful with their wake-up attempts or else find themselves with a black eye, knocked out, or worse.

“Danny, it's me, Jack.  I'm here.  Wake up, Danny.  Daniel!” Jack called out to his soulmate.

“Jack?” Daniel asked as he gasped for breath.

“Hey, you were having a nightmare, a pretty bad one,” the older man spoke gently, a reassuring smile on his face.

~Jack?~  Daniel blinked his eyes a few times, trying to focus on the older man.  “You're not a dream are you?”

“No, Danny, I'm real,” Jack promised.

With that acknowledgement, Daniel sat up, threw his arms around his lover, and held on for dear life.

“I think I've lost my mind, Jack, or had the worst nightmare ever,” Daniel stated emotionally.  Unfortunately, as he blinked, he caught sight of Teal'c, once again standing at the doorway.  In a flash, the reality of his personal days of torture returned with a vengeance.  ~No.  Don't want him here.~

Jack felt Daniel tense, and pulling back, saw Daniel's stare at Teal'c.  It alarmed him greatly.  He hadn't seen that kind of look on the younger man's face even after Teal'c had been forced to kill Sha're in order to save Daniel's life.

**Danny, you aren't really afraid of Teal'c, are you?** Jack asked via their special non-verbal communication.

Daniel hadn't released his grip on Jack, nor had he stopped staring at Teal'c.  He also didn't answer Jack's question, nonverbally or otherwise.

Jack placed a hand on Daniel's left cheek and whispered, “It's okay.  I'm home now.”

Daniel finally looked back at Jack, only now he didn't seem as focused or coherent as he had a few minutes earlier.

“J'ck?”

“Don't worry.  I'm going to take care of everything.  Janet is sending over some new meds, and I'm sure that will help,” Jack explained.

“J'net, Teal'c, both mean, J'ck,” a still-confused Daniel mumbled, having regressed back to his slurred speech of earlier in the day.

Suddenly, Daniel collapsed back into sleep, falling onto his lover's shoulder, and causing Jack a great deal of alarm.

“Danny?  DANIEL?” the stunned soulmate called out.  He checked his lover's vitals, relieved to find that everything seemed in line.  Daniel was breathing easier than he had earlier, but Jack didn't understand why he sounded normal for a couple of minutes before regressing to a state of dopiness.  ~This just gets crazier by the minute.~

“He will be fine, O'Neill.  The evil is being driven out.  I must complete the Rite,” Teal'c stated, then turned and headed towards the stairs to go back to the lower level.

“TEAL'C!”  The stern warning shout halted the Jaffa from further movement.  Jack moved to the doorway, saying, “Listen to me, I don't know anything about a curse, but I am telling you that Daniel is *not*, repeat *not*, cursed.  I want to know what this Chunic stuff is and exactly what you did to him, and I want to know it *now*.”

Teal'c stood giving Jack O'Neill a glare that made the colonel wonder how Apophis could ever have controlled the one-hundred-plus-year-old alien.  Finally, he spoke firmly and in a tone that told Jack not to interrupt.  He explained that to purge the darkness, it was necessary for both he and Daniel to kelno'reem or meditate together.  The black paint from Jack's truck symbolized the night, and its scraps of paint were placed in a small bowl.  The cranberry sauce, which was the rising sun, was placed in yet another bowl.  Still another bowl contained popcorn, which served as symbols for the clouds.

As Teal'c and the archaeologist mentally focused on Daniel's goodness, Teal'c eventually had taken the three ingredients and mixed them together, using the leg from the chair.  Only the virtue, the goodness, could successfully purge the bad.

Jack couldn't contain himself, sarcastically spouting, “Wouldn't a spoon or fork have been easier?”  Seeing Teal'c's reaction, he opted to remain silent until the tale was completed.  ~Sometimes he has no sense of humor whatsoever.~

The alien warrior continued, explaining that once the black paint, cranberry sauce, and popcorn had been mixed together with the virtue of the chair leg, the next portion of this part of the ritual would begin.  Teal'c had taken the mixed items downstairs, telling Daniel to follow him.

To the mixture, the large man had added several spices and more Chunic, a liquid that originated on Chulak and was known for its healing powers.  Daniel had asked what it was made from, but the Jaffa didn't know, saying only that he knew it had been used in the Rite of the Red Moon for millennia.

Teal'c had opened the patio doors to let as much light in as possible, the light being clarity and goodness.  At the edge of the goodness, Daniel was required to drink, or eat actually, three bites of the mixture, the three bites being the light of goodness, the sun of renewal, and the clouds of purity.  Together, the bites were known as the cup of purification.

Jack looked back into the bedroom, feeling more sympathy than ever as he thought, ~My poor Angel; no wonder you think Teal'c is scary.”

“DanielJackson did not wish to eat from the cup of purification and resisted,” Teal'c informed the colonel.  “It was my duty to act as you would have, O'Neill, to do what was best for DanielJackson even if he did not agree, so I insisted he consume the cup.  Regrettably, before finishing, he grabbed the container and threw it against the wall.”

~Ah, the cranberry sauce on the wall finally explained,~ Jack surmised, nodding slightly.

“However, I was able to restrain him and make sure he completed this part of the Rite,” Teal'c intoned.

“Teal'c, how many parts of this Rite are there?” Jack asked, wondering if the story would ever end.

“Four,” Teal'c answered.  He then elaborated, “The cleansing of the body making it easier to remove the evil; the meditation to drive away the curse from the mind; the cup of purification to prepare the body for battle; and the battle itself during which the cup of purification must lead the way for the goodness to enter and the evil burned from the body.”

“Burned?  Oh, the bear,” Jack deduced.  ~Cute little bear.~

“It was the closest representation to DanielJackson I could find, O'Neill,” Teal'c admitted.

“You went shopping?” a surprised Jack asked.

“It was necessary,” Teal'c stated succinctly.

~I still don't believe this.~  Jack cocked his head slightly and asked, “And where was Daniel while you shopped?”

“He was suffering from the curse.  He could not accompany me, so I had to take steps to ensure DanielJackson would be safe,” Teal'c answered.

“And you did this *how*?” the colonel inquired.

Unphased by the tone of his commander's question, Teal'c replied, “I returned DanielJackson to the safety of the tub, ensured he could not flee, and suggested he continue to cleanse his body.”

“You locked Daniel in the bathroom?” a stunned Jack questioned.

“I protected DanielJackson from harm because of the Mishita,” the Jaffa clarified. “Is it not your wish, O'Neill, for me to protect DanielJackson from harm when you are not here?”

“Yes, of course, Teal'c; it's just Daniel is *not* cursed,” Jack insisted, raising his voice slightly at the end of his sentence.

Teal'c scowled, “But he is, O'Neill,” and completed the tale.

The trail of popcorn from the patio door to Daniel's bed was intended to be a path for the goodness to use.  The heat had been turned on to help burn the evil from the body, and the drapes drawn until the light could safely find its way and take over from the darkness of the night and evil.  This would happen once the boonie bear had been burned to a crisp.

“I must complete the Rite, O'Neill,” the alien insisted.  “I will return to the kitchen and continue to burn the representation of DanielJackson so that the goodness can return to his body.”

“Teal'c, you are not going to burn the bear,” Jack stated firmly.

“I must, O'Neill.”

“Teal'c, this is an order,” Jack said as he assumed a more colonel-like stance. “You are *not* to burn that bear.  Daniel is not cursed, only sick from a case of the flu and probably from that concoction you gave him.  Besides, the bear is cute; looks like Danny.  I have plans for that bear.”

“Very well, but it is on your head, O'Neill,” Teal'c seemingly threatened.

Jack sighed and let out a, “Fine,” that was a mixture of exasperation and frustration.

At the sound of a knock at the door, Jack sent Teal'c to answer it, sure that it was the pharmacy with Daniel's prescription.  He went back to the bed and sat, shaking his head.  He brought his hands to his face for a few minutes, then leaned back against the headboard, looking up at the ceiling.

~What a day!~  Jack looked over at his sleeping lover and couldn't help but smile.  “Cursed by a Jaffa,” he said aloud.  

====

“O'Neill,” Teal'c called out, holding the package of medicines in his hand.

“Thank you, T,” Jack spoke, getting up from the bed and taking the package. “Ah, Daniel seems to feel safe here, so I'm gonna let him stay here,” he commented about the master bedroom.  ~Like I'd let him stay anywhere else.~  Glancing back at his lover, he added, “I've got it from here.  Why don't you head back to the Mountain.”

“I am not certain I should go,” the concerned Jaffa replied.  “The Rite is not yet completed.”

“Forget the blasted rite,” Jack barked.  More calmly, he continued, “Teal'c, Daniel will be fine.  Just go back to the base, and I'll take care of him. I want you to take that Chunic stuff with you and give it to Janet.  We'll see you in a couple of days.  Okay?”

“As you wish,” Teal'c responded, bowing his head and then departing the premises, leaving Jack to try and get his partner back to sanity and good health.

====

The colonel finally changed clothes, shedding his Air Force blues for some jeans and an old tee-shirt.  It felt like he'd been home for days, yet it had only been about four hours.  Feeling more comfortable in his casual attire, he read Janet's instructions and prepared the medication.  Before waking Daniel, however, he decided he needed to speak with the physician one more time.  Not wanting to wake his love by accident, he headed downstairs to make the call from the living room.

~Must be a zoo there,~ Jack surmised after being on hold for five minutes.

Finally, Janet answered, apologizing, “Sorry, Colonel, as I told you earlier, things are a bit crazy around here.”

“I'm sorry to interrupt, but, Doc, Teal'c gave Daniel this Jaffa concoction to drink, and he passed out a few minutes ago after seeming to be alert.  I think you should have a look at it,” Jack opined as he sat on the side of the bed with the phone in his hand.

“What exactly did Teal'c give him, Sir?” Janet inquired.

“No idea, but I sent Teal'c back to the base.  Ah, he can get back in?” Jack sought to verify.

“Yes, Sir.  His system is immune to this virus,” Janet answered.

“Good.  He claims he keeps this stuff he gave Daniel there.  Can you get it analyzed and make sure there's nothing ...”

“I'm on it, Colonel.  I'll check it out and let you know.  How is Daniel now?” the doctor asked curiously.

Jack sighed, “He seems okay.  I was concerned when he passed out like that, but his pulse is strong.  He's sleeping right now.”

“I wouldn't worry.  As I said, he was exhausted.  Did the prescription arrive?” Janet asked as she checked her watch for the time.

“Yes,” Jack answered simply, adding, “I'm about to wake him.  He probably needs to eat something about now, too.  Oh, and Doc, Teal'c had some paint in that mixture.”

“Paint?” Janet echoed, shaking her head in amazement.

“I'm not sure if Daniel actually swallowed any of it, but ...”

“Keep a close eye on him, Colonel,” Janet warned.  “You said he hasn't vomited or had any convulsions of any kind, right?”

“Right.  He's been sleeping mostly.  He's responsive, but he's just a little on the spaced-out side of things,” Jack observed.

“Jack, I know how worried you are, but bringing Daniel to the base would only subject him to more germs, even if I could convince the General to allow him inside.  Watch him.  If there is any change at all, call me, or take him to the hospital.  I'll talk to Teal'c and have the lab do a rush on the liquid you mentioned,” Janet stated as firmly and compassionately as she could.

Jack nodded as he gripped the receiver and then requested, “Get back to me, Doc, either way.  I need to know there's nothing to worry about here.”

“Sure thing, Colonel.”

~Crazy Jaffa rituals,~ Jack groaned as he hung up the phone.

====

Having paused only long enough to take a calming breath and shake off the oddities of the day, Jack returned to the master bedroom.  Seeing his sleeping lover, he smiled, just happy that Daniel was part of his life.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, on Daniel's side, Jack rubbed gently against the younger man's arm and called out, “Rise and shine, Beautiful.”

“J'ck?” a weary Daniel asked as his eyelids fluttered open.

“That's my boy.  Wake up, Daniel.  Time to eat and take your meds,” Jack advised.

“Teal'c?”

“He's gone.  It's just you and me,” Jack promised.

Daniel looked around, then sat up and looked at Jack, gracing the older man with another big smile.

Jack couldn't resist that smile, immediately reaching out and pulling his lover towards him.  The couple kissed, each hungering for more.  They let their physical reunion go on for several minutes, their hands roaming the other's body, and their tongues vying to see who could go the deepest inside the other.  Their passion was on the verge of flaring, until Jack remembered that his partner needed his nourishment in the form of food and medication.

“Jack,” Daniel moaned as his lover reluctantly pulled away.

“Sorry, Love.  Rain check until you're feeling better,” Jack said with a reassuring smile.

“I feel better *now*,” the younger man insisted, wanting to make love with the older man.

“First things first,” Jack maintained, using every ounce of his will power.  “You need to eat this,” he instructed as he placed a sandwich in front of the 'cursed' man.  “Eat up, Dannyboy,” he said, surprised when Daniel obediently did as he was told.

When he was done, Daniel took care of a call from nature and returned to the bed.  Jack took the man's temperature and was pleased it had gone down slightly, to one-hundred-point-three.  He then handed Daniel the pills Janet had sent over and some water.

After downing the pills, Daniel and Jack lay on the bed, snuggling.  It felt so right for them to be there like that, just holding and caressing each other, and though each longed for more, Daniel fell asleep after a few minutes.  Assured his love was resting comfortably, Jack soon followed.

====

A few hours later, a ringing phone woke Jack.

“Colonel, I have the lab results on the Chunic,” Janet reported.

“And?” Jack prodded.

Janet replied, “Nothing serious, except there is one protein that when mixed with Daniel's antihistamines cause drowsiness.  I suspect that probably also explains his incoherent and emotional state.”

“He was pretty dopey,” Jack reminded.

“Don't worry, Sir.  Teal'c, bless him,” Janet chuckled.  “He explained what he had done and exactly what was mixed in that stuff he gave Daniel.  Daniel should be fine in twenty-four hours.  In fact, it should be wearing off by the morning.”

“You're sure?” a still-concerned Jack asked.

“Yes, Colonel.  I had the lab run it through twice as a precaution.  Again, if Daniel shows any other symptoms let me know.  Did he eat?” Janet inquired hopefully.

“Without arguing, and an *entire* sandwich to boot,” Jack said in a tone of amazement.

Janet laughed, “He was probably starved for regular food after what Teal'c did.”

“Yeah, I guess.  Thanks, Doc,” the silver-gray-haired man spoke appreciatively.

“No problem.  Call me if anything changes,” Janet stated and then disconnected the call.

Jack took a sigh of relief, then resumed his snuggling position with his lover, content to stay there until Daniel, too, awoke.  Soon, though, he returned to the land of slumber.

====

The next morning, Jack was awakened by a kiss.

“Hi, there!” Jack greeted, smiling when the kiss concluded.

“Hey, Jack, you're home!” Daniel exclaimed enthusiastically.

~Geez, how I love him!~  Jack couldn't help it.  He laughed loudly at Daniel's comment, feeling like he was in a time loop.  “Yes, Danny, I'm home.  Miss me?” he chuckled.

“Yeah.  I had a really weird dream, Jack.  Teal'c was trying to kill me, making me drink this really awful ...”  Daniel stopped, watching Jack's face closely.  His brain cells were coming onto active status.  “Oh, no.  It wasn't a dream, was it?”

“No, Love, I'm afraid it was very real,” Jack confirmed as he rubbed his lover's upper arms.

Daniel shivered from the memory of his nightmare that wasn't and snuggled into Jack's embrace once again.

“It was awful, Jack.  All I said was that I was cursed ...” Daniel began.

“Just a little cliché, eh, Daniel?” Jack mused.

“Yeah, and Teal'c took it seriously.  Jack, do you know what he was going to do in the bathtub?” Daniel inquired, shuddering yet again and moving even closer to his lover.

The two men were so close that Daniel was practically inside the older man's skin.  Daniel needed to be held tightly and securely, and he was grateful when Jack complied.

Kissing the top of Daniel's head, Jack whispered, “It's okay now, Love.  He meant well.”

“I know, Jack, but I was tired anyway.  I knew I couldn't fight him.  I guess I scared myself, thinking ... I was being ridiculous,” Daniel decided.

“You were sick, Danny, and Teal'c was trying to help.  We forget sometimes that even after all these years, he still comes from another culture.  You told me that once, remember?” Jack reminded.

“Yes, I do, and apparently Chulak has its own version of old wives tales like this Rite of the Red Moon.  Actually, Jack, it's fascinating.  It began early in their history, about ...”

“Daniel!” Jack chastised, not caring about the origins of the crazy ritual that had done so much damage in the past day or so.

“Sorry,” the younger man lightly chuckled.

“Did you know he scratched my truck?” Jack asked.

“He what?” Daniel replied, looking up for a moment.

Jack explained, “He needed the paint to represent the night or something.”

“Ewwww.  Jack?” Daniel asked.

“Yes?”

“I know I've said this before, but this time I mean it.  The next time you go to Washington, D.C., I'm going with you, even if I have to resign to do it,” the archaeologist announced.

Jack laughed, kissed his soulmate, and responded, “Whatever you say, Danny.”

“I'm not kidding, Jack,” Daniel advised strongly.

“And I'm not arguing,” Jack replied, always willing to have his lover accompany him anywhere and everywhere.  “You can come with me anytime and anywhere you want.”

“I'll let you tell General Hammond,” the younger man smirked.

Jack laughed, “Coward!”

“You're the commanding officer,” Daniel rationalized.

“Oh, so you *have* noticed!” Jack jested about his rank.

“Jaaaack!”

Jack kissed his lover on the nose and got up, saying, “Time for your pills again, and we should check your temperature.  You don't feel warm anymore, but ...”

“I'm fine now, Jack,” Daniel assured.

“Well, I want to make sure, so humor me.”

“I always do, Jack,” the younger man mumbled.  ~And I always will, Babe!~

====

After lounging around most of the day, the two men were sitting on the living room couch, watching some documentary on the Discovery Channel.  Jack was indulging his lover, considering the trying time he had gone through over the past few days.  Daniel's temperature was back to normal, and he seemed as rational as ever.

“I'm going to have to apologize to Teal'c for saying he was trying to kill me, even if that is how it felt,” Daniel intoned.  “I'm sorry about your truck, Babe.  If I hadn't been so out of it ...”

“Daniel, it's just a scratch,” Jack replied, dismissing the damage.  “A few hard earned dollars and I can get that fixed, bought and paid for.  Not a big deal.  It's only a truck.”

~This is Jack O'Neill ... isn't it?~  The younger man stared at his lover, wondering if he'd been replaced by an alien or something.  Finally, he commented, “I can't believe you just said that, not with the way you hover over it.”

Ruffling Daniel's hair, Jack laughed, “Don't you get it, Danny?  Yeah, I love my truck, and, no, I wasn't happy to find it scratched, but it's a truck -- a thing, a possession that I can trade in or replace any time I want.  But you?  There's only one you, thank goodness.  Ya wanna know why?  Because that means I'm the luckiest person in the galaxy.  You, Daniel, are worth everything.”

“Who says you're not great with words?” Daniel asked with a smile and then shared a kiss with his soulmate.

Jack continued, “Teal'c asked me if the truck were worth your soul. That's not even a contest, Angel. Nothing in the universe is worth sacrificing you for. You're everything to me.”

“And now who's being sappy?” the archaeologist asked tenderly, his cheeks now a pale pink as he blushed from his lover's emotional declaration of love.

“Button it, Love,” Jack ordered, kissing his life partner.  “You know, when I came home, I had this fantasy.”

“Hmm, about what?”

“You ... <kiss> ... me ...” Jack answered as he continued to kiss the young man with growing arousal, “... raspberry jelly ...”

“Raspberry jelly?” Daniel managed to squeak out in between his mouth being devoured by his soulmate.

“... and honey ... <kiss> ... and ...”

“Jack, sometimes you ...” Daniel began.

Jack looked at his partner in mock anger and challenged, “Daniel, what did I say a minute ago?”

“Uh, 'button it, Love'?”

“Excellent recall,” Jack praised with a smile.

Daniel also smiled in response, saying, “Thank you, but I'd rather unbutton things.  Okay, now, what else??”

Jack eagerly replied, “Now we take this upstairs, and I'll show you what I had in mind.”

The two worked their way to their bed.  Suddenly, Jack returned to the kitchen, grabbed something, and ran back up to the bedroom.

“JACK!  Gawd, Jack, what are you going to do with that ... bear?  Jaaaaack!”

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