Category: Slash, Humor, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: 7 - May 5, 2004
Spoilers: Children of the Gods (minor)
Written: October 21,25,29, November 1, 2003 Revised: May 11, September 7,11-12, December 28,31, 2006, January 1, February 26, March 7, 2007
Summary: Daniel has a special surprise for Jack, but he's worried the surprise may backfire.
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), “New Rules,” “Murphy's Law,” and “In Puris Naturalibus”
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: Drdjlover, Suzanna, Linda, Claudia, QuinGem!
“Okay, okay, focus, Jackson. You've got lots of time. Don't
panic,” Daniel told himself in an effort to calm his nerves. It
was a special day, and he had big plans for his lover. He closed
his eyes and took a big breath. ~Candles. Fireplace.
Jack. Me. Kiss. Love.~
They were simple words, but the images they evoked eased the anxious young man's butterflies enough for him to continue with his plans.
“Perfect. It has to be perfect,” Daniel said aloud again. ~I want it to be absolutely perfect.~
“Honey, I'm home,” Jack chirped, happily walking in the door of the country-style house he shared with his husband, Daniel. ~He hates it when I call him that; should lead to a good fight and then some great make-up sex.~
“Oh, shibatwray,” Daniel cursed, using one of the forty-plus languages he spoke. He looked at the food spread over the kitchen counter and gave an inward groan. “Why is he doing this to me?”
The linguist licked his fingers and quickly tossed all the ingredients and materials into bowls. Looking over at the kitchen entrance nervously, Daniel worked speedily, placing the items into the still-cold oven and immediately turning off the appliance that he'd turned on only a few minutes earlier.
“Danny, Sweetums?” Jack called out, surprised by the lack of an irate archaeologist in response to his greeting and still wanting some of that make-up sex that had him envisioning all kinds of erotic fun under the covers, and not. The silver-haired man checked the study and then headed for the kitchen. ~He has to be here somewhere.~
Meanwhile, Daniel glanced over the kitchen making sure he'd covered his tracks as much as was possible. Then he headed into the living room, literally bumping into Jack as he rounded the corner. Both laughed as their arms automatically wrapped around each other.
“Hey,” Daniel greeted, smiling.
“Hey, Beautiful,” Jack greeted in return, grinning at the sight of his husband. “Why didn't you answer me?”
“Oh, you know me -- distracted, thinking, stuff like that. I love you, Jack,” the younger man spoke and then kissed his Love again, wanting to distract the older man as much as possible. ~I'll get him later for using those names.~ He smiled. ~Yeah, that'll be some great, uh, yeah!~
“Love you, too,” Jack responded happily.
“You're back early,” Daniel commented, forcing himself to refocus on the day's goals and not his wanton desire for his sexy soulmate. ~Too early.~
“Complaining?” Jack asked teasingly.
“No, never ... just thought you'd be gone longer, that's all.”
“You don't have Paul Davis hidden away in there, do you?” Jack joked, looking all around for the Pentagon liaison officer.
Daniel started to panic, fearing that his husband's jealousy was surfacing, but then he saw Jack's teasing smile and twinkling eyes and relaxed, deciding to play along with the game.
Laughing, Daniel answered, “No ... no Paul, never Paul, just Jack, only Jack, forever Jack.”
After another passionate kiss, the older man possessively intoned, “That's more like it.”
“Good,” Daniel said, pulling away from his partner and walking towards the sofa, wanting to get Jack away from the kitchen area. “I'll introduce you to Captain Hampton tomorrow.”
“Captain Hampton?” the older man quizzed. ~Who the blazes is that?~
“Hmm-mmm,” Daniel acknowledged. “Captain Jack Hampton. He's new, and he's a great guy. You'll like him.”
Jack began to chase the younger man around the living room, threatening, “You are *so* going to get it, Love.”
“Threats, threats, threats. Can't you fly boys ever do anything without making a threat?” the archaeologist jested.
“No threat,” Jack insisted, lunging to his left after Daniel, but Daniel had faked him out, going to his own left, putting the couch between them, “just a promise.”
“You have to catch me first, and we both know, that's near impossible.”
“I don't think so, Dannyboy. You're mine, and I have your number,” Jack claimed as his hands brushed against the arm of the sofa as he tried to anticipate his soulmate's next move.
Since Daniel didn't move, Jack decided to go on the attack, faking a move to his left, but dodging to his right.
The younger man ran around the sofa, over to the fireplace, around another chair, and then grabbed the sofa cushions, tossing them at his lover.
Jack knocked the cushions out of the way with his arm and then followed his laughing lover up the stairs, lunging forward and tackling him just as he reached the top stair.
Daniel crashed to the floor, still laughing loudly, as Jack let him roll over on his back and then climbed on top of him. Both continued to laugh at their antics. Daniel's hands went to Jack's face, his fingers gently caressing the skin, his eyes gazing into Jack's. The two were breathing hard, their laughter turning into smiles and then lustful want and need.
“I love you so much,” both men said at the exact same time and even in the same beat, causing them to laugh again.
“Gawd, I love you. I'm so happy,” Daniel crooned just before the lovers kissed.
“What you do to me,” Jack intoned softly, feeling Daniel's fingers caressing the hair at the base of his neck. “I'm happy, too, Love, ridiculously, crazy happy.”
“So,” Daniel began as he got up from the floor, “shall I give your regards to Captain Hampton?” He quickly began to head downstairs. ~Can't afford to get distracted *that* much,~ he thought, knowing that had they stayed in that position much longer, the two would begin a much desired round of lovemaking.
“Very funny, Daniel,” Jack mused as he chased his lover back down the stairs to the patio door.
The archaeologist opened the door, but was stopped by his lover before he was able to escape outside. He laughed as he turned to face the colonel of his heart.
“Yeah, I thought so. I love you, Jack O'Neill. You know that.”
“Oh, yeah,” Jack cheerfully acknowledged as he gazed into the blue eyes that set his heart to fluttering.
The two kissed and fondled each other for several minutes before Bijou and Katie, their beagles, finally demanded their attention, letting out a string of “woofs” from the backyard.
“They are so demanding,” Jack chuckled, opening the patio door.
“And jealous,” Daniel added as the two walked outside to spend some quality time with the two canines.
Several minutes later, Daniel walked over to the patio steps and sat down to watch Jack interact with the dogs. He enjoyed doing this, just sitting and watching the love of his life playing with their precious children. It meant home to the younger man, and he cherished every second of it.
Remembering his plans for the day, however, and subsequently checking his watch, the archaeologist took action, saying, “Jack, we're almost out of dog food. Would you mind going to the store and picking up a couple of bags?”
“Me? Why not you?” Jack whined as he rubbed Bijou's ears.
Daniel batted his eyelashes purposely, with a very slight quiver of the bottom lip, not a pout, but still the setup for his patented 'Puppy Dog' look.
“Because you love me.”
~He's got me there,~ Jack groaned. “Okay, okay, but that is *so* not fair.”
“Oh, and we need some groceries. I've made a list,” Daniel said, getting up and going inside to the counter where the list sat.
Jack gave the dogs one more playful hug, then stood up, brushed himself off, and followed his spouse inside.
“Thanks, Babe,” Daniel crooned, handing Jack the list. “Oh, and there are a few other things I need you to pick up at the hardware store, and I need my suit back from the cleaners.”
“Daniel, I hate going to the cleaners. Pick up your own suit.”
“But, Babe,” Daniel spoke softly, almost seductively, “it's my navy blue suit -- blue, Jack. You know how you feel about that suit, and, uh, if you don't pick it up for me, I won't be able to wear it to that meeting with the brass we're going to.”
“You think you have my number, don't you, Jackson?”
Daniel grinned, but dismissed the comment, saying, “No, you're right. It's not fair of me to ask you to pick up my suit. Don't worry about it, Love. I'll wear my gray suit.”
Jack sighed, an acknowledgement that he was silly putty in his lover's hands. Daniel in gray was a far cry from Daniel in blue, and both men knew it.
A few kisses later, Jack left the house to run the errands, having received even more instructions from his husband on things he should not “conveniently forget” to buy at the store.
As soon as Jack had started his truck and begun to back out of the driveway, Daniel moved to the phone, setting up a conference call between himself, Sam, Teal'c, and Lou Ferretti.
“Lou, you have a 'go'. I mean, go now. I mean ...”
“Got it, Doc,” Lou chuckled.
“Sam?” Daniel asked.
“Everything's set,” the blonde confirmed.
“Big Guy? I mean, Teal'c. Gawd, I'm sorry,” Daniel apologized, his mind turning into mush as he strove to make sure all the pieces of the very large puzzle that were needed to pull off his surprise were in place.
“I am ready, DanielJackson,” the Jaffa confirmed.
“Thanks,” Daniel said with relief before moving on with the conversation.
Ten minutes later, the scheming lover returned to the kitchen, retrieved the hidden items from the oven, and went about completing his task.
“Hey, Jack, running errands for the significant other?” Lou Ferretti chuckled as he accidentally on purpose ran into his friend at the local market. ~Local for Jack; not so local for me.~
Jack laughed, “Yeah, well, Danny's a slave driver these days; made me a list, even told me the order I had to do it in -- something about efficiency and saving gas.”
Shaking his head in amusement, Lou chuckled, “I never thought I'd see you so domesticated, Jack.”
“Hey, even colonels have to eat, and I see you have your own shopping list there ... Colonel.”
Lou crinkled the list he held slightly and admitted, “So, you got me, but mine includes beer and chips. Yours?”
“No,” Jack replied dejectedly. “Danny wants me to cut back on the beer, and I promised I would, if he cut back on the coffee. Personally, I don't think he'll be able to go much longer without his usual coffee intake, so I'm not too worried.” ~That's for image; Danny needs to lay off the coffee. Right, and I need to lay off the beer. Am I getting old?~
“Hey, it's only beer. I can buy beer if I want to,” Jack claimed. ~Of course, I'll be sleeping with Bij and Katie, if I do.~
“It's right over there. Your favorite brand is even on sale,” Lou goaded with an evil cackle, pointing at the beverages. ~Nice and cold there, Jack.~
Jack sighed. He and Daniel had agreed. No, not even to save face would he go against an honest-to-goodness pact made with his soulmate, not even for beer and his tough-guy image.
Lou laughed loudly as he watched his friend debate the issue.
“Don't look at me like that,” Jack scowled, seeing his friend's smug expression.
Chuckling, Lou responded, “Yep, Jack. Give it up. You are so far gone on the Doc that I think he could convert you to vegetarianism if he wanted to; make you give up all those barbecue steaks.”
“Never!” After a few seconds of an intense staring challenge with his Italian buddy, Jack grunted and fidgeted with his shopping cart. ~Crap, he's right.~ With a sigh, he admitted his defeat. “Just between us, you're probably right.”
All of a sudden, Jack beamed. It actually felt good to be joking and bantering out in the open about his relationship with Daniel. It was new, this freedom that he loved so dearly. Though the lovers were still hiding in plain sight, and the majority of people still didn't know the truth, their closest circle of teammates, family, and friends did know about their relationship, especially since the couple had decided not to hide their feelings whenever they were at home, not even while entertaining their friends.
~This feels good; right,~ Jack thought as the conversation continued.
“Hey, actually, it's a good thing I ran into you,” Lou said enthusiastically. “I'm having some trouble with the MonsterMobile, and I could use your input. Maybe you can figure out what's wrong with the beast.”
Lou was referring to the truck he had been rebuilding, with Jack's help, for the past several years. It was huge, like one of the types seen in monster truck shows. He and Jack had taken to calling the large vehicle the MonsterMobile years ago.
“Sure, how 'bout I drop by tomorrow?” Jack inquired.
“How 'bout now? Carolyn has plans for tomorrow. She'll skin my hide if I do anything to interfere with them.”
Jack teased, “And you're accusing *me* of being domesticated?”
“Domesticated? Did I say that, Jack?” Lou sneered good-naturedly.
Jack frowned, but let it go, replying, “Let me call Danny. He'll worry if ...” He trailed off as Lou burst into hysterics right in the middle of the canned food aisle. His friend's raucous laughter was drawing attention, making Jack one very nervous man. “What's so funny, Ferretti?”
“Nothing, squawk, Jack ... nothing, squawk, at all!”
“I am *not* domesticated*, Jack fumed, though he knew the merriment was all in good fun. “Are you actually accusing me of being a ... of being ...”
“Don't, squawk, say it, Jack. It'll make it more real, but the Doc ... holy moly, he must be doing something right to have you so ...” Lou couldn't continue, his laughter consuming him as he actually doubled over for a moment, accidentally hitting some canned corn. “Here, Jack, have some ... corn,” he suggested, laughing even louder as he handed Jack the cans that had fallen onto the floor.
“Cut it out, Lou,” Jack pleaded. “Geez, Danny would kill me if he heard us talking like this.”
“Carolyn would, too,” Lou managed to squeak out as he stood up straight, replacing the last fallen can back onto the shelf. He took a calming breath and continued, “She hates it when I talk about her nagging.”
“Daniel doesn't nag.”
“What does he do, Jack?” Lou asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Trust me, Lou, you don't want to know,” Jack responded as he grinned, memories of all kinds of domestic bliss flowing contently through his mind.
Lou noticed the look and shook his head, “You're gone, Pal, totally gone.”
“Ya think?” Jack asked, smiling brightly in confirmation.
“Call the Doc, Jack. I'm sure he'll give you permission to check on the MonsterMobile. Go ahead; all hen-pecked husbands do it.”
Jack shook his head, in disbelief at the crazy conversation, “I am *not* a hen-pecked husband!”
“Of course, you're not, Jack. Never. Sorry. It was an outrageous thing for me to say,” Lou said mockingly, trying to suppress a snicker.
“Lou, let's just go look at the truck.”
“You got everything? You wouldn't want to show up without Daniel's favorite chocolate would you?”
“Yes, I've got ... oh crap, almost forgot his Chinese whatchamacallit. He'd never let me live it down if I forgot it again. Meet you at the check out,” Jack said as he darted off to complete his shopping excursion.
~Jack, Jack, Jack,~ Lou said to himself as he let out another laugh while watching his friend head down the aisle. He might never understand it, but “Darn, if you aren't a happy man, O'Neill” and, to Lou, that made whatever Jack and Daniel were doing okay with him.
“Sam, just thought I'd check in,” Daniel spoke over the phone.
“Everything's ready to go, Daniel,” Sam confirmed. “He hasn't a clue, has he?”
“I hope not. I've never tried to do anything like this before. Gawd, I hope he likes it,” Daniel sighed.
“Daniel, the colonel will be ecstatic just because it's *you* doing it,” Sam pointed out.
Daniel blushed, not saying anything in response.
“Daniel?” Sam chuckled, “Daniel, stop blushing. We still need to go over a few things,” she reminded.
“Sorry, Sam,” the young man chuckled. “Okay, so ...”
“Okay, Lou, start 'er up,” Jack said, rolling out from under the MonsterMobile.
Lou switched on the motor and grinned. He hummed in beat to the finely tuned sound.
“Beautiful, Jack,” Lou finally praised. “You haven't lost your touch! Listen to that engine!”
Jack checked his watch, exclaiming, “Oh, crap! Lou, I gotta go. Daniel's suit is in at the cleaners, and I promised ...” He stopped himself from saying anymore and, instead, just shrugged. ~Hen-pecked. Crap!~
Lou went into another laughing fit, barely getting out, “It's okay, Jack. It happens to the best of us, if we're lucky.”
“Yeah,” Jack agreed. “You and Carolyn are doing good these days, right?”
“Oh, yeah, now that I'm using my brain to think with, and she knows who she is. I love her Jack, and she doesn't nag any more than the Doc does, but you say that to anyone on the base, and I'll get ya good,” Lou threatened lightheartedly.
“Your secret is safe with me, tough guy,” Jack promised, heading into the garage to clean up.
“Jack, it's good for you, too, right?” Lou asked a bit more seriously as he washed his hands.
Jack glanced over at Lou and answered, “Way better than good. I know that might be hard for you to understand.”
“What's to understand?” Lou quickly retaliated. “I'm talking happy.”
“Happy's good,” Jack agreed, smiling at his friend.
“I'll help ya with the groceries,” Lou stated as they dried their hands and went inside the house.
Jack had put the dairy and frozen items in the Ferretti's refrigerator upon arriving at their home to help Lou with the monster truck.
“Carolyn, Lass, it's always good to see ya,” Jack spoke in his best Irish brogue. “You get prettier and prettier every day.”
“And you, Jack O'Neill, are full of blarney,” Carolyn responded, exchanging a hug and kiss with their visitor.
With a smile on his face, Jack bid farewell to the Ferrettis and headed out to finish his errands.
As soon as he disappeared down the street, Lou picked up the cordless phone and dialed.
“Doc, he just left for the cleaners ... <pause> ... Yeah, we'll be there in a jiff ... <laughter> ... Not a devil of a hint, Doc; not a one ... <pause> ... No problem. It's been interesting. Ciao!”
“Sam, maybe this wasn't a good idea,” Daniel stated insecurely. He was self-hugging, suddenly very nervous knowing Jack would be home soon. “He'll probably hate it.”
“Daniel, it's fun and festive, and he's going to have a great time. Why wouldn't he love it?” Sam asked.
Daniel shrugged, answering, “I don't know. It's just ... he's always doing stuff for me, surprising me with ... well, everything, and I ... I never know what he's going to do next. Think about it ... the car and the den, and that's just ... it's not even half of what he does ... all the time.” Suddenly, Daniel tensed. He looked at his friend and said, “Sam, the car. You didn't know ... I mean ...”
Sam put her hand on Daniel's left arm and rubbed gently as she said, “Daniel, I always figured that somehow or another the colonel was involved in you buying, or getting, the Shelby.”
“My old beat up car drove him out of his mind, and one day, he just ... he surprised me with it,” Daniel confided. Quickly, though, he added, “But I paid him back. It was way too expensive to let him buy that for me.”
“Daniel, if he could, and you wanted it, I think the colonel would buy you the moon,” Sam stated softly.
The archaeologist smiled and shyly replied, “And now I ... Sam, I want to do something really special for him, to surprise him the way he does me, but it's hard to know ... oh, shibatwray!”
Daniel looked at Sam wide-eyed, his cheeks turning red from embarrassment as he stated, “Oh, Sam, I'm sorry. Don't ... say that; it's not exactly a ...”
“Daniel!” Sam laughed. “How naughty,” she teased coyly.
Joking in reply, Daniel stated, “All those languages have to be good for something.”
Sam gave Daniel a kiss on the cheek and held his right arm in hers as she promised, “He's going to love it.”
“Because he loves me or because it's ...” Daniel stopped, blushing again.
Daniel was grateful that he was able to talk to Sam every now and then about life with Jack. She'd become more and more comfortable with their relationship since the wedding, and sharing just a piece of their daily living helped to make Jack's and Daniel's life together more normal.
“Because it's perfect for the colonel, and he's going to have a great time, and,” Sam chuckled, leaning closer against Daniel's arm, “because he loves you.”
Daniel smiled appreciatively as he said, “Thanks, Sam.”
“Anytime. We've come a long way, haven't we?” the female inquired.
“I guess so,” Daniel replied. “I remember when we met ... Captain Doctor.”
“Oh, gawd, don't remind me. You should have seen me at the briefing before the Abydos mission. I told the colonel that just because my reproductive organs are on the inside instead of the outside, it didn't mean I couldn't handle anything he could.”
Daniel laughed as he bowed his head for a moment and acknowledged, “Yeah, he, uh, mentioned that.”
“That's definitely at the top of my all-time most embarrassing moments,” Sam confided. “What's one of yours?”
“One of my ... oh, embarrassing moments,” Daniel stated. “Um, gawd, I have so many.” Bashfully, he said, “I'm not sure I can say them in mixed company.”
“Daniel!” Sam teased, gently nudging his elbow as the two laughed.
As the two sauntered over towards the kitchen to check on a few things, Daniel shyly said, “Well, there was that time on Laksma One. We had to be naked and ...”
Driving down the street towards his house, Jack mentally reviewed the list his lover had given him, making sure he hadn't forgotten anything. He laughed, realizing he loved every part of his relationship with Daniel, even the boring chores and errands. They were a part of their life together, of their family, and that made even the most trivial act wonderful in Jack's eyes.
~Someone must be having a party,~ the colonel thought, noticing an abundance of cars on their street. Fortunately for Daniel, Jack was too busy wallowing in happy thoughts of their life together to really think too much about the cars, or examine them closely. After parking the truck, he grabbed some of the groceries and headed for the front door. Since his hands were loaded with bags, he knocked on the door with his foot and bellowed, “DANIEL, OPEN THE DOOR.”
“Hi, Colonel,” Sam greeted a few moments later as she pulled open the door.
With his attention split between his 2IC and balancing the bags in his arms, Jack didn't notice the decorations adorning the living room.
“SURPRISE!” a chorus of voices rang out, causing Jack to come to an abrupt halt before he'd gotten more than a foot inside the living area.
Meekly handing over the groceries to Sam and Teal'c, who carried them into the kitchen, Jack stared at the crowd of people in his living room. He was totally stunned at their presence and the decorations he saw throughout.
The house had been totally decorated with party favors, mostly those that would be typical for a little boy. There were airplanes, stars, and mini-hockey sticks hanging strategically from the ceiling, along with a sign papered across the room that said, “Happy Birthday, Jack!” Balloons were floating everywhere. Even the backyard had streamers hung around it, as well as a buffet spread out on the picnic tables.
The living room was full of friends and family, even more than had been at Jack and Daniel's wedding. The most important people to the couple were gathered there, no one having been able to refuse Daniel's invitation.
Speechless, Jack panned the room, observing their guests, beginning with Sam and Teal'c ,who was going by his Murray pseudonym and wearing one of his disguising hats since not all the attendees were aware of the Stargate and his true identity. The two were standing by the kitchen counter, his 2IC grinning like she'd just won a million dollars. Then there was General George Hammond, sitting in Jack's favorite chair, a proud smile on his face that said “Gotcha, Colonel.” On the sofa was a smug-looking Lou Ferretti, who had his arm around his smiling wife. Seeing Jack focusing on him, Lou broke out into a hearty laugh at having pulled one over on his friend.
Jack raised his left hand, one finger extended, towards his friend, shaking it and his head as he said, “Your turn will come, Ferretti!”
“Anything you say, Jack,” Lou laughed.
Next to the Ferrettis were Jeff and Margaret Cornell, the original owners of Bijou and Katie. Behind the sofa and near the bookshelves were Daniel's foster sibling, Suzanna Simpson, and her boyfriend, Craig. When Jack had arrived home, they'd been chatting with Frances and Crystal, the adventuresome sisters Jack and Daniel had met at Disneyland during their first trip there several years earlier.
In front of the fireplace, Christa and Jacob Svenson, the couple's endearing neighbors from across the street, were holding drinks, laughing it up with their neighbor from down the street, Mrs. Sophia Valissi, who had virtually adopted both Jack and Daniel years ago.
Also chatting with the three were Ernest and Catherine Littlefield, Catherine beaming with happiness that these two men she had welcomed into the Stargate program prior to the first trip to Abydos had found joy in their lives. The sophisticated, white-haired woman thought about them often, remembering how unhappy and lonely both had been when she had first met them. Now, the two seemed like two completely different men.
Near the fish tank stood Evan Valissi and his partner, Robert, who had flown in from Europe just for the occasion. They were busy talking with Jack's best friend from his childhood, Erik Wilcox. Lisa Cassidy, the marriage counselor who had performed Jack's and Daniel's ceremony in Canada, and her husband, Carl, were in front of them chatting with another couple, a twosome that surprised Jack more than anyone else in being there.
Jack grinned as he saw his very pregnant ex-wife Sara and her husband Mark. He shook his head in total disbelief as she gave him a warm and loving smile.
~You're amazing,~ Jack thought about the good-looking blonde, still aware of her beauty in both body and spirit. He nodded and quietly spoke, “Sara,” the name itself conveying so much of the emotion flowing through him at the moment.
A camera flash drew the surprised man's attention to his extreme left, where he saw Doctor Janet Fraiser and her daughter, Cassandra. He smiled broadly.
“Holy Cow, Cass, you're growing into a beautiful woman,” Jack said.
“Oh, Uncle Jack,” Cassandra shyly grinned.
~I need to talk to the Doc about Cass and Dominic; I didn't realize she was quite this ... grown,~ Jack silently noted.
Everyone was smiling, calling out birthday wishes and happy greetings. Jack was totally floored by it all. He searched the faces, looking for just one more, the most important one, the one face he wanted to see more than any other face in the universe. He worked his way through the room, greeting and hugging the birthday well wishers, seeking out that face he was desperate to see.
“He's nervous, Jack; afraid you'll think it's silly, or too overt,” Sara whispered in her ex-husband's ear.
“That's ridiculous,” Jack responded.
“I know that, and you know that, but he doesn't,” Sara gently intoned. “He's over there, hiding in the corner.”
Jack's head turned to the edge of the kitchen. He could barely make out his lover's grinning, but hesitant face, but the archaeologist was definitely there.
“Thanks, Sara,” Jack said gratefully, giving her a gentle hug, amazed that even now, his ex-wife could read him so well. “Uh, you must be due to pop anytime now.”
Laughing, Sara replied, “And it can't be soon enough. Oh, the baby just kicked.”
“Don't worry, Jack. I won't have the baby today,” Sara promised. “I don't think.”
Jack just stared at the woman for a few seconds, memories of their son, Charlie, about to overwhelm him.
“Why don't you go talk to Daniel. He needs to know you're okay with all of this,” Sara suggested.
Nodding, Jack gave the woman another smile before continuing to work his way through the guests on his way to his husband.
Several minutes later, Jack finally made his way through the rest of his family of friends to his shy spouse, who was trying to be one with the wall near the kitchen.
“Hey,” Jack said softly.
“Hey,” Daniel responded mildly.
Jack scooped his lover into his arms and kissed him soundly, a long, deep kiss that took Daniel's breath away.
Daniel's arms draped around his husband's neck, caressing Jack's upper back as the kiss continued. He moaned audibly when the kiss finally ended. That's when he heard their guests' cheering and whooping, most of them having witnessed Jack's effect on the younger man.
“Gawd,” Daniel spoke, shyly hiding his face against Jack's shoulder as the older man chuckled, their family and friends still lovingly teasing the two. “I'm so embarrassed,” he confessed, not wanting to move from Jack's tight and reassuring hold.
“Get used to it, Love. This is our family. Not hiding in front of them anymore,” Jack replied as he grinned over at the well-wishers. He kissed his soulmate's temple and asked, “You did this for me?” After Daniel nodded in silent affirmation, he softly spoke, “Thank you, Angel. I love you so much.”
Their family and friends had begun to scatter, giving the couple a moment of privacy now that the 'fun' was over.
The couple were content to hold each other for a minute, until Daniel said reluctantly, “Jack, we have company. We can't stay secluded in here. It's a party, and you have to ... mingle.”
“I like mingling with you.”
“We'll ... mingle ... later, I promise, and, uh, trust me, you'll like it.”
“Oh?” Jack said, raising an eyebrow. “Now that sounds promising.” He looked over towards the living room and commented, “This is great, Danny. I had no clue. I don't know why you did it, but thank you.”
“You're always doing things for me, Jack. Every time I walk in the door, I don't know what to expect. I just wanted to do something for you for a change.”
“Daniel, listen to me,” the older man requested, taking Daniel's hands in his. “All you ever have to do is be happy. Your happiness, seeing you smile, hearing you laugh -- geez, Danny, that gives me life. It's all I need -- you, being happy.”
“But you do so much, and I wanted to show you how much I love you, how much you mean to me,” Daniel lightly argued, wanting to make sure his lover understood the sentiments he was trying to express by throwing this party. “You're a part of me, Jack. When you're not with me, my soul aches for you. I don't think you realize how much you've affected my life, how much you've changed me, and showed me how to live.”
“Geez, Danny. If it's even half of what I feel for you, it's enough. I was dying inside after Charlie's death. I couldn't feel anything, not grief, not anger, not hope -- nothing. I wasn't living, I was existing ... existing in a world that no longer wanted me and that I no longer wanted to live in.” The colonel paused, letting out a sigh. Then he smiled, raising his right hand to caress Daniel's right cheek as he spoke. “Then you came along, and you touched me deep inside my soul. You brought me back, Angel. You gave me a reason to go on.”
“I love you so freakin' much, Jack.”
“Ditto,” Jack said, kissing his heart one more time.
“You've got to stop watching 'Ghost', Babe,” Daniel teased.
“It's a romantic movie, one of the best,” Jack replied. “Besides, I thought you liked it.”
“I do,” Daniel agreed. “I especially like it when we ... I mean, when ... oh, gawd.”
Jack chuckled at his shy soulmate and replied, “We'll have to do some pottery later.”
“Jack, don't talk about that now,” Daniel admonished, his Love's seductions causing his body to act in an inappropriate manner, considering all the people that were currently assembled in their living room.
“Danny, what was your complaint about 'Ghost', anyway?” Jack asked, wondering why his lover had brought up the movie.
“Ditto,” Daniel answered.
“Ditto what?” Jack asked.
“You said, 'ditto',” the younger man reminded.
“Yeah, I know. What's wrong with 'ditto'?”
“The same thing that was wrong with it in the movie,” Daniel answered.
“Daniel, you know I love you,” Jack responded. “I tell you that a lot.”
Shyly, Daniel corrected, “You tell me that every second of every day, Jack. It's just ... well, 'ditto' isn't very romantic.”
Jack nodded, pulling Daniel close once again, and stated, “Angel, I love you with all my heart and soul, forever and always. How's that?”
“Much better,” Daniel answered, kissing his Heart again. “We'd better ...” he nodded towards the living room when the kiss ended.
“Yeah,” Jack agreed, kissing Daniel one more time before the twosome headed towards the living room to rejoin their guests.
Several hours later the party was still going strong, everyone chatting and catching up with one another. Almost continuously, laughter could be heard from every direction as the group enjoyed socializing together.
Jack took a moment to take in all of the decorations and was truly amazed by them. While there was a bit of a mix to the type of decor, Daniel had gone largely with a jet fighter theme. The paper plates, napkins, and cups all had pictures of flying jets amid a blue sky background.
Even the tablecloth for the picnic table and other card tables Daniel had assembled for the buffet had a jet fighter motif, with a red, white, and blue border, the same colors as the balloons and streamers. There was even a jet plane centerpiece for the picnic table, a model plane affixed to a paper-mâché mountain that Cassandra had made just for the occasion.
The backyard also featured a second banner that said “Happy Birthday” and this one was in a cloudy blue color, the words surrounded by more planes.
“At least you didn't get those cone hat things,” Jack chuckled to himself, not realizing anyone was listening.
“Uh, actually, Colonel, he did,” Sam revealed, pointing to the kitchen. “He was just too afraid you'd kill him.”
Jack automatically twisted around to look towards the kitchen, realizing he had earlier caught a glimpse of something on the edge of the countertop that could have been hats.
“He really bought those?” Jack asked. ~I can't believe it. He went all out.~
“Well, he wanted to go all out,” Sam stated, not realizing her CO had just thought the exact same thing. “Pardon me, Sir, but Daniel says that since you act like a kid, you should have a party befitting a kid ... Sir.”
“Makes sense. He's a genius, you know,” Jack smirked.
“Yes, he is.”
Jack looked into his second-in-command's blue eyes and observed, “You're serious, aren't you, Carter? You're not joking.”
“About Daniel being afraid to bring the hats out?” Sam asked. Seeing Jack's nod, she answered, “Yes, Sir. In all seriousness, I know this, the decorations and things, are a bit juvenile, but it's really important to Daniel. He ...”
“I know, Carter. It wasn't easy for him, and growing up without the childhood he should have had, he did pretty good, dontcha' think?”
Jack smiled, realizing that one of the things Daniel was showing him by hosting the birthday bash was that he really had changed the younger man. He had taught Daniel to embrace his inner child, and the fact that Daniel was able to organize a party like this showed more than anything the progress the younger man had made in doing that.
At that point, the two were interrupted by Cassandra, who eagerly asked, “Isn't it time for the gifts yet?”
“Presents! Presents! Presents,” the chant went up by various party-goers who had overheard the question.
“I get gifts? Cool!” Jack exclaimed, his own inner child having no problem emerging to enjoy the moment.
“Lots of gifts, Love,” Daniel remarked, taking his husband's hand and leading him back into the house, where suddenly there was a coffee table full of presents.
“Where were they hiding when I walked in?”
“Camouflage!” Jeff answered.
“Good job!” Jack praised.
Jack rubbed his hands together as he sat in his favorite chair to begin the best part of any birthday party -- opening the presents. However, before he began, he noticed the general looking for a place to sit down. He quickly realized he was in “his” chair; at least, whenever the general was at the house, he always sat in Jack's chair.
“Excuse me, General,” Jack said, standing and motioning for him to take his spot.
Hammond threw up his hands and shook his head, saying, “No, Jack, tonight it's yours.”
Daniel chuckled while Jack sat down and began opening the presents, acting every bit the little boy that he was expected to be.
“Thanks, Carter, just what I always wanted -- a Major Matt Mason doll and a Malibu Barbie to keep him company,” Jack spoke as he opened the final gift.
“Well, I considered buying a Ken doll, but GI Joe wouldn't let me.” Sam chuckled, “He said Ken was all his.”
The room burst into laughter at the comment.
Jack gave his 2IC a chastising look and said, “That's bad, Major, very, very bad.”
“I know,” Sam snickered, completely pleased with herself.
“This was great, people. Thank you for all the gifts. You really shouldn't have ... but I'm glad you did.”
“Cake! I want cake,” Frances called out.
“And ice cream,” Crystal added excitedly.
“Sounds like dessert time to me, Bro,” Suzanna chimed, moving towards the kitchen to help get the dessert ready.
“Let's move back outside, Jack,” Lou said as he motioned towards the patio door.
It was still pleasant out, but was getting dark, so they turned on the outdoor lighting before going outside.
Bijou and Katie were having a ball with all the company, each making the rounds with the guests. At the moment, Bijou had Christa's attention, the elderly woman continuing to pet her soft fur as she sat next to her husband. Katie, meanwhile, was cozying up to Teal'c, giving him her best “Pouty Puppy” look.
“Give it up, Murray. No one can resist the little pup,” Jeff said.
“Indeed,” Teal'c said as he eyed the puppy warily.
“Come on, Murray. She's our baby,” Jack urged.
“She is not my baby, O'Neill,” the Jaffa pointed out.
Everyone laughed, including Jack who added dryly, “That's not what I meant.”
Teal'c laughed, which was somewhat of a rarity, prompting Jack to realize that he'd just been had. He then watched with gratitude as the Jaffa gently picked up the puppy and petted her, reminding him of Mr. Spock petting a tribble in the famous “Star Trek” episode, “The Trouble with Tribbles.”
A minute later, Jack laughed wildly when he saw the cake his lover brought out from the kitchen.
“Danny, it's perfect,” the older man said, seeing the cake decorated with Jay Jay the Jet Plane items. He placed a kiss on his lover's cheek as thanks and then blew out the candles. “You know, you didn't have to be accurate, Daniel,” he joked about the number of candles adorning the top of the cake.
“I wasn't, Jack. I left ten off,” Daniel teased, ducking out of the way.
“You are so dead, Daniel,” Jack stated menacingly, starting to chase Daniel around the backyard, through the clustering of their friends and family.
All-too-aware that they did have company, Daniel let his lover catch him quickly. The 'capture' led to another long, passionate kiss, once again turning Daniel's knees to Jell-O.
“Yep, way to kill him there, Pal,” Lou teased.
“I have to concur,” the general added, surprising everyone when had added, “that's one way to shut him up, Jack.”
“Yeah, bet he uses that weapon of his often as well,” Evan joked.
“Oh, gawd,” Daniel replied, once again blushing from embarrassment, his head shaking sideways in disbelief, again buried in Jack's neck.
Jack loved it, his hands gently caressing his husband's back as he kissed his hair.
“This feels so good, Danny, doing this, not worrying about it. I love you so much,” Jack whispered so only Daniel could hear.
“I love you, too, Jack, and even though I am embarrassed, I love how this feels,” Daniel whispered, moving so that he could look into Jack's eyes as he spoke.
Jack raised his left hand and lovingly caressed Daniel's cheek. They were saying so many unspoken words, blue eyes locked onto brown ones. For a moment, they did forget that they were surrounded by people.
“Gee,” Sara sniffled, a smile on her face. “Didn't we cry enough at the wedding?”
Mark put his arm around his wife, and tugged her to him in support. He looked at her belly, anxious for their baby to be born. He couldn't wait for the blessed event.
Catherine added her agreement, saying, “I have to second that. What happened to our cake?”
“Sorry,” Daniel said softly.
After one more kiss, the two walked hand in hand back to the table with the cake.
“I want one of the cloud pieces,” Cassandra chimed.
“Me, too,” Sam interjected.
“Me, three,” Erik requested, adding, “Well ... everyone always says my head is up in the clouds so I might as well prove them right.”
“Hey, wait, where are the party hats?” Jack asked as he looked at the table expectantly. “Danny, a real kid's party has to have hats, no matter how ridiculous it makes you look. Please don't tell me you didn't buy any.”
Daniel beamed with joy and excitedly stated, “Be right back. I ... I just forgot to put them out.”
“Sweet,” Jack said as he grinned, knowing he'd just done something that would please his love.
“Nicely done, Sir,” Sam whispered so no one else could hear.
Jack looked at his grinning teammate, knowing he'd just scored big points with her; still, the only thing he had needed to see was the smile on Daniel's face when he'd mentioned the hats. Wearing the silly thing for a few minutes was a small price to pay for that grin and a moment of happiness for his soulmate.
“Here, they match the cake,” Daniel stated, passing out the colorful cone-shaped hats.
Jack eagerly put his hat on, as did all of the guests, including the general.
“Where's my camera when I need it?” Lou teased.
“With your court-martial papers, Colonel,” the general admonished, appearing to be serious before converting his grizzly bear stare into a smile.
“I've got one! Smile everyone!” Cassandra ordered, proceeding to take more photographs of the guests.
The teenager had become Jack and Daniel's unofficial family photographer. Her wedding photos were absolutely beautiful. She had captured every key moment with care and love.
Janet had managed to get them developed by a trustworthy friend, and, as a post wedding gift, she and Cassandra had made a special wedding album for the couple, which they kept in Daniel's den in their special keepsake treasure chest box.
More laughter and banter continued as Jack and Daniel cut and passed out the cake.
“Thanks for coming, Jeff,” Jack shouted as the last of their guests drove away.
Jack locked the door and went to the backyard, where Daniel was still picking up the party remains from their buffet. He smiled at the sight of Daniel's two 'helpers.' Bijou and Katie were wandering around the yard, sniffing out and eating the various food crumbs that had been dropped. He grinned as Katie hit the jackpot, coming up with an entire sausage and running off with a pleased expression to devour it. Shaking his head, he walked up behind Daniel, putting his arms around his Love. He pulled up Daniel's shirt, his fingers massaging his lover's abdomen.
“That feels good,” Daniel sighed, leaning back into Jack.
“Danny, how'd you do all this, get everyone here at one time?”
Daniel turned around and asked, “You really want to know?”
“Tell me,” Jack requested as he nodded.
“Well, I did ... this,” Daniel answered, drooping his eyes, making them look their saddest, while his bottom lip quivered. It was a full scale Daniel Jackson begging pout. “Ah, that's it.” he stated, returning to his normal look.
“Yes, I did, but I'll deny it if you ever remind me of it, or say anything about it at the SGC or ...” Daniel threatened.
“I get the idea,” Jack interrupted. “It's just nice to know that after all these years, you admit to using the pout.”
“I do *not* pout, and I don't have a clue what you're talking about, Jack Jackson-O'Neill.”
“Geez, that sounds good,” Jack sighed, pulling Daniel in for an embrace.
“Jack, let's get this cleaned up so we don't have to worry about it tomorrow,” Daniel suggested.
“Good idea, Danny, though it looks like the ladies did a pretty good job of it,” Jack replied, referring to several of the female guests who had done quite a bit of cleaning up before leaving the party.
When the house and backyard were back in order, the happy couple sat down on the sofa, Jack's arm around Daniel as they listened to a Celine Dion CD that included their wedding song, “Because You Loved Me.”
“Danny, it's May,” Jack intoned.
“I know,” Daniel replied.
“The month of May is a far cry from the month of October,” the older man reminded.
“I know that, too,” the younger man replied.
“Uh, and you do know today wasn't my birthday?” Jack questioned.
“Mmm-hmm,” Daniel acknowledged. “I've known when your birthday is for a long time now, Babe.”
After a slight chuckle, Jack cautioned, “And I think most everyone who was here knows it wasn't my birthday.”
“Probably,” Daniel admitted.
“Then why did we have a birthday party for me in the merry ole month of May?” Jack sing-songed curiously.
Smugly, Daniel answered, “Because if I had tried to do this anywhere close to your birthday in October, you would have figured it out. You'd have been suspicious of everything we set up, and I probably wouldn't have been able to pull it off.”
“You had it all planned?” Jack asked, truly impressed.
“The whole thing, from the meeting with the general to working on Lou's MonsterMobile,” Daniel proudly confirmed.
“You never cease to amaze me with your talents, Love. I'll have to add Surprise Party Planner to the list.”
Daniel chuckled as he shifted slightly, wanting to snuggle closer, which was just fine with Jack.
“What'd they say when you invited them to my birthday party in the wrong month?” Jack asked curiously.
The archaeologist laughed, “Actually, Babe, very few of them questioned it. They, uh, know you, too.”
“I've heard we're famous,” Jack asserted.
“So intergalactic beings keep telling us,” Daniel mused. “I think everyone was just happy to have an excuse to get together again. They don't really get to see each other much.”
“How'd you get them together on a weekday, anyway?” Jack queried curiously.
“Cinco de Mayo,” Daniel answered. Then he shrugged lightly, saying, “It was a good excuse for some of them. I guess it's a good thing I wasn't in the middle of some trauma. This has been planned for months.”
“Months? Danny, with our schedule?”
“The general, Babe. He was in on it, remember? He made sure SG-1 and SG-2 were clear and ...”
Daniel chuckled, “I guess it's taking advantage, but today's duty roster was done to make sure our closest friends could be here.”
“I can't believe you called Sara,” Jack commented, shaking his head in wonder.
“It was okay, wasn't it?” Daniel asked in response, doubting himself for a brief moment.
“Sure, it was,” Jack quickly answered. “It was great to see her here, but I have to admit I was surprised, especially since the baby is due any day. She must have been, too, when you phoned.”
“Not really. Jack, you keep forgetting something very important where Sara is concerned.”
“She loves you,” Daniel reminded gently.
“No, Jack. I'm serious,” the younger man said, scooting around to look Jack in the eye. “A part of her will always love you, just like you still love her, and I love Sha're. There's nothing wrong with that, Jack. It's normal. You don't just cut someone out of your life because you aren't together anymore. There's not an on/off switch to emotion.”
“You are so incredibly amazing,” Jack softly spoke, running his fingers through Daniel's hair.
“No, I just love you which means I ... I understand Sara, and vice versa,” Daniel remarked intuitively.
“She likes you,” Jack stated quietly.
“She looooooves me,” Daniel chuckled.
“Oh, pardon me for my oversight,” Jack teased, choosing that moment to nibble on Daniel's right ear.
“Jack, don't start anything you can't finish.”
“I plan on finishing ... a lot,” Jack claimed.
“Let's go to bed, Love.” The two locked up the house and turned off the lights. They walked arm in arm up the stairs and had only gone halfway when Daniel suddenly stopped. “Jack, I ... I got you something for your ... unbirthday.”
“I have you; you're the best present I ever got or could get.” Jack saw his husband smile, but he also sensed a nervousness in him. “You want to give it to me, or keep me guessing?”
Daniel tugged on Jack slightly, motioning for him to turn and follow him back downstairs.
Jack watched as Daniel opened a drawer in the server and pulled out a moderately-sized package wrapped in Jay Jay the Jet Plane birthday paper.
Slowly, the archaeologist approached his colonel, though he was mostly staring at the floor as he walked, thinking, ~I hope this wasn't a big mistake. I'd hate to ruin this day. It's been so ... so perfect.~
~Why is he acting like this?~ Jack wondered. ~He's so nervous and unsure about himself.~ “Danny,” Jack said as he raised his lover's face with his right hand by placing it under his lover's chin. “Whatever it is, you know I'll love it.”
“Open it, Jack.”
Jack ripped off the paper to discover a framed sketch, roughly ten-by-twelve inches. It was a charcoal black and white sketch rendering framed against a black mat and black frame. He was totally stunned as he viewed the picture. The image was of their backyard, Daniel kneeling on the ground, Bijou and Katie playing with him.
The mama beagle had her front paws on Daniel's left knee, her tail outstretched as she stood facing him. Daniel held Katie in his hands, preparing to kiss her nose, his face smiling and full of laughter.
A few months earlier Jack had taken a photo of a similar scene on their lawn, Daniel kneeling and playing with their beagles, much like the sketch depicted, but he must have moved the camera when taking it because the picture had been blurred. He'd been extremely disappointed. He had talked about the warm feelings that scene, of his lover and their children playing, had given him. He had sulked for days upon realizing the photograph hadn't turned out.
“Danny, it's beautiful. Did you do this?” Jack asked, smiling even brighter at Daniel's hesitant nod of affirmation. “Angel, it's ...” Jack leaned over and placed a kiss on his husband's lips. “This is incredible. I didn't know you could sketch like this. Why didn't you tell me?”
“I ... didn't know. I've never tried to do anything like it before. I mean, you know, I've had to sketch things in my work, but, well, I've never tried to do people before, or dogs, not like this, not where it ... where it mattered.”
“Danny,” Jack intoned. He didn't say anything else, just his lover's name. He ambled over to the sofa and sat down, both of his hands still holding the framed piece of artwork carefully. He couldn't take his eyes off it. The shading, the depth, the contrast -- it was all perfect. Daniel's smile, his sparkling eyes, Bijou's trying to butt in, Katie's contentment -- everything was exactly the way Jack remembered. It was the photo he had wanted so desperately. “Danny,” he said again.
Daniel watched, mesmerized by Jack's intensity and reverence as he studied every facet of the work. His heart was beating fast from the exhilaration of his lover's response. Jack liked it, and that was what was important to the younger man.
“It's what I remember, Danny,” Jack stated. “You and the kids, all of it. It's absolutely perfect.” He looked up at his Heart and smiled, gently placing the artwork on the coffee table and then standing to embrace Daniel. “Thank you so much for doing that for me.”
“You really like it?” Daniel asked.
“No.” Jack felt Daniel tense as he kissed his nape. “You silly geek. It's the best present I've ever received, except for you. I adore it. In fact,” Jack began, looking around the room for a second. ~No, not in here.~ He looked into his lover's eyes and stated, “I'm going to hang it in the study so I can see it every day.”
'It's not that good,” Daniel whispered.
“Angel, it's wonderful, and I want to put it in the study, okay?”
“Okay,” Daniel agreed, nodded, a smile finally beginning to shine on his face. “Uh, weren't we ... going to bed?”
“Yeahsureyabetcha, right after I hang this,” an enthusiastic Jack responded.
Jack kissed Daniel and then went to the garage, returning with a nail and hammer. The two went to study with the sketch. Jack stood at his desk and looked around for the best spot to hang his latest prized possession.
Daniel watched, a bit surprised that Jack seemed to love it so much. He really didn't think it was worth the attention, but Jack was treating it like a masterpiece.
“Sweet,” Jack remarked a couple of minutes later as he reviewed his handiwork, having placed the photo in the center of the wall where he could admire it from any part of the study. He looked over at Daniel and stated, “Perfection.”
“It's not perfect, Jack.”
“You are,” Jack opined softly and then walked to his soulmate, taking him in his arms, kissing him. “You are perfection to me. Thank you, Danny.”
After another kiss, the two again walked arm-in-arm up to their bedroom, and upon entering, Jack turned Daniel toward him, and said with a low voice, “Time for me to unwrap the greatest gift ever given to me.”
“You already unwrapped your presents downstairs.”
“No, those were things, but like I've told you before, you are the most precious gift I've ever received. Thank you for this day, for that sketch, and for loving me,” Jack sincerely stated, his chocolate brown eyes sparkling with happiness.
“Unwrap me, Jack,” Daniel requested.
“With pleasure, Love,” Jack agreed as he and Daniel began to ravish each other, ending the perfect day, in the perfect way, in their perfect nation of two.
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