They Don't Understand

Author: Orrymain
Author Email: marciastudley1@comcast.net  (Feedback welcome)
Author Website:  http://orrymain.com
Category:  Slash, Angst, Drama, H/C, Humor, Missing Scene/Epilogue, predominantly but not all POV - Daniel, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Spoilers:  Virtually every episode up to episode 6 of season 7 in some form or another
Size:  149kb
Written:
--July 13, 2003 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (have to note this for my own red letter day celebration - can't believe I did it); my first totally complete fan fic (I did one rewrite on my webpage once for Fire and Water, but this is an out and out fan fic and I'm shocked at me!);
--Revised July 15, 2003 when I convinced Daniel that he needed to share even more of his story!
--Tweaked and Revised through July 19, 2003 when Danny decided to add just a tad more (the boy is such a talker!).
--Final Revision:  July 27, 2003.  Slightly revised for reposting October 7-13, 2003.
--Next Major Revision(s): March 17, 2004
--Major Overhaul(s) with betas:  April 17,27-28, June 5,8, July 10, 2004
--Revised for fanon change:  July 14, August 26, 2006
Summary:  Daniel guides us through his relationship with Jack, taking us through some of the highs and some of the lows in the hopes we'll come to understand more about why Jack and Daniel are who they are.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:
1) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Claudia, QuinGem, Drdjlover, Julie!
2) This was my first story, as I said.  Since then, many of the scenes written here have been expanded to fics of their own.  If interested, you can go to the web page listed above and find the stories of interest.  Also, at the end of the story, I'll include a cheat sheet, but I don't want to include it here in case some might perceive it as spoilers.

They Don't Understand
by Orrymain

People look in through the glass, through the window, and think they see, that they know what our lives are like, but they don't; they don't understand.  Sometimes, they see only what they expect to see, with preconceived notions of who we are and what we stand for, and sometimes they enter wanting to put their own agendas and feelings into our reality.

There have been times when they've seen exactly what we wanted them to, and then there were the times when they simply ignored 'us' and saw the empty half of the cup.  They don't understand.

We are one, My Jack and I, and no one truly understands, except for us.  You see, to us, our cup is always half full, even when we're at our worst.  Even when we fight, at the end of the day, what consumes us is what we have, not what we've lost or the differences in our jobs which so often finds us in very loud discourses of disagreement.  We openly and visually defy the 'norm' of our societies.

Sometimes, even we don't understand 'us' fully.  We are so outside the 'norm' that it's scary.  There was a time when even our friends believed we were enemies, that the arguments and distance of the day carried over to the night.  They don't understand.  They can't.

But some things are meant to be cherished, accepted, trusted, and appreciated simply because they are, because they exist.  Our love is one of those things.  We never looked for it, but when we found it, we embraced it, and each other, and never looked back, not really.

My Jack and I can both be accused of over thinking.  We've nearly done ourselves in more times than I care to remember.  Neither of us are strangers to running from ourselves, but several years ago, almost without being aware of it, we ran into each other, while running from ourselves, and somehow, we merged.

Every fabric of our being stopped being two separate entities, and instead became 'us'.  If you think that sounds weird, just imagine how it felt to us -- two grown men, secure in our established identities, suddenly thrown into the totality of another person, a person who became 'us'.

People don't understand this complexity, this uniqueness, this completion that carries us through the storms as well as the sunshine; that it is this oneness, this unity that makes our lives one very long, colorful, magnificent rainbow.

When they look through the mirror, they see the colonel, the Special Forces officer, trained to do, not to question; they see the military persona, the man with the P-90, the leader, the protector, the man doing the job given to him by the President of the United States.

Some know of his history -- the time of torture and worse in Iraq; the death of Charlie that led him to near-suicide; the divorce from Sara, a by-product of Charlie's death; the invasion of the Goa'uld that resulted in the death of his then best friend, Charles Kawalsky.  And yet, this is but the surface of the man who owns my heart.

My Jack is a doer, a man of action.  Most see that, but it amazes me how many only see the dense military brain.  I'm not sure how they think he earned his rank, but they fall for the image he presents.  He plays dumb, sometimes to the point of utter ridiculousness ... and they believe his act.  How dumb is that?

The truth is that the colonel who owns my heart is also one of the smartest people I know.  His training has taught him to be able to think swiftly, to come up with solutions in a matter of moments, to make decisions in the blink of an eye, because the choices he makes could mean his life, those of his teammates or others under his command, and so often, determine the fate of innocents placed in the way of battle.

My Jack, though, is the ultimate survivor who outlasts, outwits and outplays those who attempt to get in his, in our, way as we explore and protect not just Earth, but the planets we befriend.  Playing dumb is a skill, one he has finely honed over years.  It drives me crazy when he takes it to the extreme, but I have to admit that I also love to tease him about it.  So few realize the truth.

General Hammond knows, of course, which is why My Jack is the second-in-command of the SGC.  Even Harry Maybourne realizes the genius in Jack, but to most others, they accept what they see, what Jack lets them see.  It's part of the game that allows him to survive, and if that's what he believes he has to do, then it's all right by me!

And me?  Everyone knows the tragedy that has been so prevalent in my life -- watching my parents die when I was eight; being abandoned by Nick, a grandfather in name only who refused to allow me to be adopted, relegating me to years and years of being shuffled around the foster care system, feeling lost and totally alone; being considered a laughing stock by those in my profession.

I learned to protect myself from hurt during these years, to shut out everyone in most every way.  I perfected the self-hug and crossed arms methods of defense in those days, too.  I had to, in order to survive.  Both devices allowed me to stave off the world that seemed to shun me.  As a result, people only saw the facade I hid behind.

There was the failure of my admittedly brief relationship with Sarah (funny how My Jack and I both had our own Sara/Sarah in our pasts), and the aforementioned laughter that threw me out of the world of academia.  Then there was Sha're -- beautiful and mysterious Sha're.  I lost her, too, just like my parents, Nick, and Sarah.

There has been so much loss for both Jack and I, so much pain.  We both try to hide it, to bury it in our subconscious minds.  There was a time when Jack let his pain rule him.  That was the time when I met My Jack, before he was My Jack, when he was just Jack.

Somehow, he was never Colonel O'Neill to me.  I remember that first year on SG-1.  Sometimes I called him “Colonel,” but it never felt right.  Oddly enough, not even to him.

“Danny, cut out the colonel crap,” he told me one day.  Hard to believe Jack would say that, but he did.  Of course, I think we were arguing at the time.  I don't recall what the argument was over right now, but I remember later, while we were on the roof deck eating cold pizza (it was bad timing for the fight -- happened just after the pizza had arrived and we'd taken it to the roof), he told me to just be myself, and not worry about what the Marines and other SGC personnel thought.

“Go with your gut, Jackson,” the man said.  So “Colonel” disappeared, and I went with my gut, with Jack.  Of course, he'll always be the colonel of my heart, and when I use the title now, it's usually because we're either fighting or about to make love.

The instant we met at the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, when we shared our first look, something happened.  How can others comprehend the way in which, in a moment of time, two separate souls, two opposites, Jack and Daniel, began to merge into one when we don't understand it ourselves?  Neither of us were looking for it; we certainly didn't expect it; and we did our best to ignore it, to pretend, to try and make it go away, but in the end, we were still Jack and Daniel and, we were 'us'.

As was so well pointed out later, sometimes the only way to win is to deny the battle, and that's exactly what My Jack and I did.  We realized the only norm that mattered was the 'norm' of us, the fullness of our cup at the end of the day, despite the occasional draining of it during the day.

When they look through the clearness of the glass, people see two men who seemingly agree on very little.  He's Jack “show me the big-honkin' weapon now” O'Neill, the colonel ready to fire and kill in an instant.  I'm Daniel “we're peaceful explorers; don't mind the guns aimed at you” Jackson, the Doctor Of Archaeology, Anthropology, and Linguistics, who can now add diplomat, speech writer, and yes, even soldier to the resume.  This is what really confuses them; this is what they really don't understand ... the soldier in me.

I didn't want to be a soldier.  It's not my essence; it's My Colonel's; but as I said earlier, Jack is the ultimate survivor, and I won't let him be anything less, especially not now when we are one, when I know I could not survive in a world without him.

The truth is, I wouldn't want to survive in a world that was devoid of Jack O'Neill. I don't care what that quack McKenzie wants to make out of that.  My Jack is my heart, my lungs, my soul.  If he dies, I die, and for some reason, My Love feels the same way about me.  We've made a pact, sealing our decision.

It's scary how close we've come to carrying out that decision to live or die together, but there have been times, both in and out of the line of duty, when My Jack and I have believed, at least for a moment, that the other was dead.  Fortunately, we each knew we had to be absolutely sure, and then miracles happened, and we found each other.

Still, we both know that our lives on this Earth are tied to the other.  When one goes, the other will follow, and then we'll live together in whatever comes after life on Earth.  They don't understand that some love is not only truly eternal, but so entwined that lungs breathing and hearts beating rely on the survivor of the other ...  but I've gotten off the subject -- being a soldier.

My Jack was overprotective from the start.  He teased me constantly about my allergies and being clumsy.  It became something that bonded us, though, and later, it was more a gag, a private joke almost, just between us, because while we were playing the game, Jack was also insisting that I become an ultimate survivor.  He didn't want me to lose my wonder of the universe, but he was afraid of losing me to my own naivete, to my natural desire and need to trust people, so my private tutor made sure I learned as much as I could.  The training intensified after the NID mess, but I'll save that for later.

I guess you could say I'm Special Ops myself now, only no one knows it but Jack, My Jack, who showed me covert operations I couldn't even imagine, and I have quite an active imagination!

They don't understand that when Jack teased me about my military skills, that he was beaming with pride.  Every time I survive; every time I live through some military barrage on whatever planet we visit; every time we get to go home and drink in the cup that is always at least half full, he is proud.

He's even prouder when I don't have to be a soldier and can just be the peaceful explorer who makes that first contact a resounding success.  The man actually admires and respects me, and has said so, and if you know My Jack at all, you know that isn't something he does lightly.

There are few people he truly admires and respects.  People like George Hammond, his ex-wife Sara, and, as a race, the Nox.  Knowing that, that Jack's list of the admired and respected is so very short, makes me feel even more special.  I blush when he tells me how he feels.  Only that too-sexy-for-words, six-foot-two silver fox of mine can turn me into Jell-O in two seconds flat by saying he admires me.

People don't understand, when they glance through the window of our lives, how the hard-as-nails colonel can tell me to “shut up” one minute, and then tell me how much he respects me in the next.  They don't understand how I can call My Jack a stupid s.o.b. in one moment, and the next be wrapped up in his arms, content and at peace; and yet, both situations have happened.

They don't understand how we can be seemingly distant and almost cold with one another while saving any number of worlds, including our own, during the day, and then be satiated with our passionate unity during the night.  They don't understand that their 'norm' is not our 'norm'.

It isn't easy.  We aren't saints.  We bicker in our best of times, and we bicker with more of an edge, a snarkiness, in our worst, but after we bicker, we hold each other, we snuggle, and sometimes, we make love.  Okay, and sometimes we just have hot, sweaty, lustful, needy, and even possessive, “you're mine, mine, mine” sex.  (And if you ever see him, please don't tell Jack I used the word 'sex'. It's another game we play.  He thinks I'm innocent and hesitant to talk about ... you know.  Oh, gawd.  Okay, so I am.  Don't ask me why, just don't tell him I actually used the word -- “s-e-x.”)

We do whatever is necessary to remind ourselves that we are more than our jobs, more than who we are trained to be, that we are one heart, sustaining each other as much as we are our individual selves.  And again, this is what they don't understand.

My Colonel and I are more than our jobs, more than our philosophies of existence.  Yes, I approach things from a cultural point of view.  It's what I learned from my parents and my studies, and it's why I was hired to work at the SGC in the first place.

My Jack wasn't hired to be a peaceful explorer; he wasn't hired at all.  He was ordered to destroy a world, and at the time, he just didn't care about himself or anyone else to give his actions a moment of thought.  He was dead inside, and wanted to make that his permanent status as soon as possible.  His son had died, and Jack didn't think he could go on.  Truthfully, he didn't want to.

Everyone knows now that I had other ideas, and as I began the work that would transform “Jack” into “My Jack,” somehow, miraculously, he began to breathe again, to see beyond the shadows.

So, the once cold and empty Colonel O'Neill became the leader of SG-1, a leader in every possible way.  He's not the same man who went to Abydos that first time.  It's part of him, but it's not the dominant part, not anymore.

My Jack wants to question now, but he still has to follow orders; that's his job, and sometimes those orders are unpleasant; and sometimes, those orders put us on opposing sides of the fence.

I suppose what most people at the SGC remember is the incident on Euronda.  Jack telling me to “shut up” was far from his brightest moment, and don't believe for a minute that a little holding of my hand in public while offering an apology made everything hunky dory.  We battled through that one a lot that night, but then, that's why they don't understand.

They can't see through that glass all the time.  They couldn't see Jack that night -- his remorse at yelling at me and his pain as he lashed out at the injustice of our lives.  It made my lover both sad and angry to admit that sometimes, in following orders to acquire those big-honkin' weapons, that he had to ... well ... turn me off.

Jack told me years ago that I was his conscience, that I helped him to balance things in his own mind.  So on Euronda, when I, his conscience, openly questioned his decision, a decision based on very specific and direct orders to acquire those much-desired alien technologies, it left Jack having to go against what had been the essence of himself at one time.

The Jack of old didn't question the 'why' of his orders.  He just did them, especially when it meant the acquisition of weapons to help “the cause” being fought for, or the United States.  At this time, though, Jack was in transition.  As I said, he wasn't the same man who had gone to Abydos, nor was he the same man who blindly followed orders.  Still, it meant a battle deep inside, and he hadn't resolved that battle yet, when he and I faced off across the table on the planet of Euronda.

He knew deep inside there was something wrong.  To be truthful, he knew I was right, but he just couldn't admit that ... not yet.  Having a feeling or misgiving about the place just wasn't enough, and he couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was that had been disturbing him, too.

The big moment, when I continued to question, and Jack insisted on towing the line, became more than My Jack could handle, and so he said the words, “Daniel, shut up.”  A pin could be heard dropping at that moment, not to mention the sound of the anvils that tore through both of our hearts.

Yet, when we got home, I understood.  I was angry when he did it, when he spoke those words.  It was humiliating.  I couldn't believe he had spoken them, there in front of potential allies and my teammates.  I also knew, though, that his anger went beyond the surface words of hurt, that My Jack was hurting inside.  I couldn't wait for that day to be over so we could go home and make it right.  We did, too.

Did we argue?  Of course, we did, but we also came to a better understanding of ourselves, our jobs, and the boundaries we need to be so careful of in keeping our personal and professional lives separate.

I'm not crazy, either, so I did make him grovel for a bit.  Let's just say I had my way for quite a while after that, everything from my favorite Chinese food and historical documentaries which Jack watched with me in lieu of his usual sporting events.  And, uh, yes, there were other benefits I'm a bit too shy to talk about publicly, but having my way was ... well, er, lots of fun!

They also don't understand the incident with the Enkarans.  If we are so close, they ask, how could My Jack press the button?  They don't understand his job.  I do.  They don't understand why I went back to the ship with Lotan, and why I stayed, to look for that precious alternative solution.

They don't always understand my job.  Jack does.  He may not like it, but he does understand.  All they see is that I went on the ship, and that Jack pressed the button.  They don't understand that my death is Jack's death, and vice versa.  Remember, we have a pact, one we take very seriously.

What they didn't see were the oceans of tears shed that night, and for days afterwards, as we cuddled and loved.  You see, we understand our 'norm' of opposition.  I don't like that my precious love would kill one civilization in order to protect another.  I'm not sure I could do that, but then, I don't have to ... because I'm not Jack.

I don't want to be Jack, but I do want My Jack to be the man he is, because that is the man I fell in love with, the one who drives me crazy, who I argue with during the day, and sometimes at night.  I don't blame him for pressing the button.  He had to do it.  I didn't have a death wish.  I was only doing what I had to.  I was doing my job, and My Jack knows that.  Sometimes adhering to my true function isn't easy for either one of us.

Poor Jack!  When he first saw me after the bomb exploded in the sky, he so wanted to take me in his arms and kiss me, and then kill me himself.  I saw it in his eyes -- the anger that I had gone with Lotan, the love that flowed through him for me, the confusion created by his job and mine, the big question of “Why do we have to keep doing this?”

Standing there, though, in front of our allies, all he could do was ask me what I was doing, and while I wanted to devour his mouth and show him how glad I was that we were both still alive, all I could do was smile and tell him “we” had found a solution.  Oh, and Jack was unhappy with me for that, too -- my use of “we.”

He's proud of what I did, even if it makes him scream and get grayer by the minute just remembering what went down ... though he's pretty much as gray as he's going to get at this point.  Gawd, he's sexy.  I love his silver-gray hair, and those dress blues ... but that's neither here nor there at the moment.

I told Hammond that “we” had found the answer -- SG-1 to the rescue. My Jack wanted me to take all the credit, said I had earned it, but we're a team, not just he and I, but Sam and Teal'c ... we're SG-1, and everything that happens out there is a team event.  We actually argued about that.  It's a bit of a peeve for My Jack.

Jack knows how difficult it is for me that I don't get the recognition in my profession that others do for things that are ... wrong.  Everything we do at the SGC is classified, so all my theories and efforts end up bound up in files at Area 51, or in the secured area of the Pentagon.

It bothers him, too, that it's easier for Sam to get credit for scientific breakthroughs than it is for me to gain an iota of respect for ideas and things that I first theorized or discovered, understood or translated, or whatever.  Yet, for some reason, Sam can use the cover of deep space telemetry to somehow explain her theories.  She can publish papers and be rewarded, while I watch from the background, even if it's something I had a hand in from the beginning.

Okay, I admit that it still bothers me just a little that I'm an outcast in my chosen profession, that I'm laughed at and dismissed as a nut case, but amazingly, it bothers my lover even more.  That's why when the Enkaran situation occurred, and the issue of explaining exactly how things happened in our reports came up, he was not a happy camper.

The love of my life wants to tell the world that I'm right.  Actually, to put it in his terms, he wants to say “neener neener” to the society of scientists that has hurt me.  Yes, My Jack can sometimes be a five-year-old, but I treasure the fact that he cares so much, that he wants justice for me.  He makes me happy, and at the end of the day, what I realize is that what matters most is not what strangers around the globe think, but what he thinks of me.

I matter to Jack, something I didn't really believe for a very long time.  Pushing that button almost destroyed him.  True function of my job or not, it was my turn to cater to him for quite a while -- pizza with extra cheese, hockey games, and being used as a tasting ... oops, better not go there, but let's just say, I made My Jack a very happy camper as I indulged him for quite a while.

People don't understand as they reflect on what is visible through the particles of the windowpane that we are two men who are so thoroughly a part of each other that we need each other in order to breathe.  Oh no, a cliche!  My Jack loves cliches, or at least, he loves to tease me about them.

They think about the women of our lives.  Most dismiss Shyla as the misguided soul she was, Hathor as the demon the universe knew her to be, and Kynthia and her marriage cake as the innocent, a victim in her own right.  Few understand Ke'ra, and I guess that even includes me.  Jack was jealous from the beginning, and I don't blame him.  Chalk it up to grief, guilt, and stupidity.  Even a genius is entitled to be stupid sometimes, isn't he? ... uh, aren't I?  Good, because I was.

There wasn't any logic as to why I let myself be distracted by this blonde reformed destroyer of worlds.  It was just fear, and I ran fast.

I wanted to say my brief infatuation with Ke'ra was grief from losing Sha're.  After all, shouldn't I have wanted to die when she died, when the staff blast finally freed her from the clutches of Amaunet?  I loved her ... right?  So why did I want to live?

I once thought my dire loneliness would end because of the love Sha're gave me, and the joy I, too, felt for her.  Why, then, didn't I want to die?  I couldn't escape the question, so I continued to run from the man who had been so much a part of me for the last few years, and before I knew it, I was kissing someone we once deemed a monster.

Was it my grief for the death of Sha're, my questioning of why life still felt like it was worth living, or was it simply guilt, guilt that my love for her wasn't strong enough to save her?  Or, maybe it was guilt over that internal struggle that I had been spared.  I couldn't help but wonder what would have happened had I actually been able to bring her home.  I wanted to run from that question, from that predicament that never happened, but for a while, it festered inside, so much so that I did run.

I ran as fast as I could from My Jack because he was My Jack, and because inside I knew ... I knew the truth.  It was a harsh truth for me because I never wanted to hurt Sha're, but it was the reality.  When I finally allowed myself to look inside, to answer those questions, I knew that even if I had saved Sha're, I would have left her behind, and it would have been my choice, my decision.

Gawd, that was hard, but you see, that bond that began years before on that very first day at the SGC, that thunderous yet silent bolt of electricity that had surged through pieces of Jack and I that we never even knew existed, had become unbreakable.  It was an eternal charging and merging of the batteries that were our hearts and minds, and nothing could ever drain that love -- not even Sha're.

I could never leave him, not now, and that scared me, to realize that as much as I loved Sha're (and I did love her) I had chosen that once cold and empty colonel to be my partner, chosen him before I even knew what that meant.  How could anyone understand the guilt I felt as I came to grips with myself and the depth of my emotions for this warrior whose job is so fundamentally different from my own?

Not only that, but I had chosen Jack from the beginning.  I lied to myself, and to Sha're, for almost two years.  She died with the lie, and that haunts me.  It will also disturb me that it ended the way it did, but then, to have told her the truth would have hurt us both greatly.  I would have, though.  My Jack ... he's everything to me, but after Sha're's death, as I struggled to discover the truth I had buried deep within me, I fled the happiness I had known.  Who was I to be happy when Sha're was dead?

So, I ran from him, to Ke'ra.  We kissed, and kissed again, and then I knew, knew in all my soul that kissing was all it was ... a few brief touches of our lips that meant nothing, that filled me with nothing.  Ke'ra, no Linea, left that day as I told her that we never really knew each other.  After all, we didn't.  The one who knows me was waiting for me with open arms and a wreath of understanding that warmed my heart when I went home that night.

I apologized for being a jerk, for running.  My Jack apologized for being jealous, for using Sha're to try and get through to me.  He was going to say more, but I stopped him with a kiss, a slow, lingering capturing of his lips that soon become a hungered, desperate quest to try and make My Jack realize how much I love him.

We went to the cabin and there, though it wasn't easy, I revealed the full extent of my pain to him.  He didn't understand exactly what I was saying at first, but finally, I got him to understand that I had chosen him before I ever realized there was a decision to be made, that even if Sha're had come back, I would still be there, with him.

My Love was speechless.  He cried again.  My Jack.  It seemed he had always assumed there was no choice, that if we had rescued Sha're, I would have left him behind without so much as even a thought.  He was so wrong.

They who don't understand can't see this.  They never see these tears of joy and happiness, and sometimes of pain and sorrow, that My Love shows only to me, in our best times, and our worst times.

Those on the outside who spy in through the glass only get to see the colonel, sometimes glib and snarky, but I see my soulmate who feels things as deeply and surely as anyone.  We aren't so different, My Jack and I, in what we want; it's only how we get there that sometimes divides us.

I'm rambling.  If Jack were hearing this, he'd probably be tuning me out, concentrating on, well, me, but not listening.  He's a daydreamer, My Jack, but I'm not complaining.  I simply give him his own personal briefing as he debriefs me on his daydreams, his very creative and often times ... kinky ... daydreams, I might add.  It works ... for us!

Back to the point, which was what?  Oh yes, the women in our lives.  No debate on Sara.  Jack loved her, as I loved Sha're, but that was over when Charlie died.  They tried for a while, but they couldn't get beyond it.  Jack was too bitter and guilt-ridden.

When he came back from Abydos, Jack wanted to try and piece it back together, but Sara had gone, and my man of action couldn't get himself to go after her and fight for her.  He closed that chapter of his life.

He told me later that as much as he loved Sara, he had realized there was something greater out there for both of them.  He wasn't sure how or why he knew that, because he still loved her and thought about her, and then I died, the first time, and Jack said that's when he knew that maybe there really was something greater, and as much as it surprised him, maybe that something was me.  As for Sara, she had remarried, and Jack hoped she was as happy with her new husband as he was with me.

By the time I died the second time, I couldn't deny it either, and with the utterance of “Space Monkey,” we entered the all-consuming reality that became Jack and Daniel, powerful, intense, confusing, and totally blissful.  We gave up running from ourselves that night, tired of hiding our various hurts and pains, of burying the feeling parts of our beings to the darkest recesses of our souls.

We gave it up, and ran instead right dab inside each other's skin.  We melded, joined, fused.  Like the Grinch's heart that suddenly grew in size, our hearts suddenly became entwined, just as our fingers had been doing.  It was scary, almost overwhelming.

My Jack was inside me, in more ways than one, and I was inside him, in the physical bond of our union, and in the mental nerve centers that make us who we are.  We became Jack and Daniel; we were, we are, us, in a world where us has to be kept hidden behind closed doors and locked spaces.  And that brings me to Sam, Samantha, Major or Captain Doctor Carter as she was introduced to me that sand stormy day on Abydos so many years ago.

Rumors abound about Jack and Sam, but the reality is, they are only rumors.  I should know; I've helped spread them, with Sam's blessing, of course.  She's one of a handful who know the truth about My Love and I.  She admits she had a crush on her CO once upon a time, but she had one on me, too, only as I was married, she pushed it quickly out of her mind.

I was surprised when she told me, but Jack says I'm always oblivious to what people think of me.  He says I'm lusted after by both men and women.  I think he's crazy, but he's insistent, and very jealous and protective, and did I mention jealous?  I've had to reassure him on more than one occasion that the only one I want lusting after me is him.

Reassuring my soulmate can be very stimulating, so while I still don't see why he gets in such a state about people like Major Davis, I honestly don't mind because it leads to the most wonderful moments of passion.  Maybe I should send Paul a thank you note?

The Replicator incident and Paul's close proximity to me through that adventure was somehow relayed to My Jack.  I'm not sure who told him, but somehow, he seemed to know all the details, and he was none too pleased with Paul, er Major Davis, placing his hand on my back.

He was just being supportive, but my obsessive colonel was quite disgruntled, not with me, but let's just say Major Davis had some unpleasant surprises unleashed at him over the next few weeks.  I don't think he knows to this day what hit him, or why he was suddenly reassigned to Elmendorf for a few months.

I'm afraid Paul was left out in the cold until I managed to reassure a certain Air Force colonel that he was my one and only love, and that Major Whats-his-name was needed at the Pentagon where he could do his job, which really didn't involve being a liaison with Inuit, uh Eskimos, and unfortunately for Paul, that was more or less his assignment at Elmendorf.  Poor Paul.  He was essentially chilling out while chilling.

My Jack is full of surprises. I had no idea that he had the connections he did until Paul received his orders.  Paul had mentioned the transfer during a phone call about a recent mission.  When I told Jack, he seemed a bit too smug.

With a bit of bedtime finesse, I managed to get the truth out of him, hearing about one of his former Special Ops CO's who was now a general.  Seems he owed Jack a favor or two for saving his life once, and my green-eyed love decided that was a good time to cash in the receipt, and hence, Paul's communing in igloo-land.  I should explain that while Paul was assigned to Elmendorf, his actual location was a tiny outpost several miles away.  He really was on his own and out in the cold in more ways than one.

I felt very guilty.  It's just who I am, so I was finally able to convince My Colonel to let Captain, er Major Whose-its (the more I seem to forget about Pa...er, Major Davis, the easier it is to get my way) back into the continental US which is also why I made sure I was on that rescue ship when Jack and Teal'c were lost in space in a death glider.  Paul would have been shipped off to Siberia next had he spent much more time with me at the SGC, but that's neither here nor there.  I was talking about Sam.

They don't understand.  Why would sexy, apparently straight Colonel O'Neill not be in love with his beautiful and very smart 2IC?  As I said, Sam admitted she had a crush on him for a while, but that was all it was.  She overcompensated later, trying very hard to please her CO, even ignoring her own doubts about some things.

The point is that she was much more interested in Martouf and Narim, and even Orlin, than she ever was in My Jack, and once she knew he was My Jack, she made sure I understood her feelings.

We're so close, Sam and I, and she didn't want any misunderstandings. I didn't either.  She knew that there was something more between Jack and I after Hadante and the sarcophagus addiction.  She told me later that when Jack took off my glasses and I hadn't even bothered to act like it was any type of  invasion into my personal space, that she knew there was something more between us.

Then, when I was going through withdrawal from the sarcophagus, she was the first one, after Jack, of course, to come into the storeroom after I had escaped from the infirmary, only to find me was sobbing into My Jack's loving arms.  She saw it all clearly then, especially when Jack's “screw the regs and I don't care who sees or thinks what” attitude took over.

He insisted on holding my hand almost non-stop to ground me into our reality, and then he got me through that nightmare practically single handedly by sticking to my side throughout the withdrawal and recovery to the point of not even allowing others to assist him in getting me whole and healthy again.

It was difficult, too.  I felt so guilty.  I let Jack, the man of my dreams, and Sam and Teal'c, my two closest friends, live in a hellhole while I feasted on the best the planet had to offer. (I really need to breathe here; My Jack must be right.  Maybe I do talk to much.  Breathe, Jackson, breathe!).

Sam finally told us she knew the truth about us after the incident with the orb that almost killed Jack.  I was so distraught.  I tried so hard to hide it, to pretend that seeing that thing through the chest of the  man who makes my heart flutter and my spirit soar wasn't puncturing my heart and lungs, too.  Sam did what she would continue to do later on, to help us, to protect us.  She volunteered to take some of the heat, to serve as a distraction.

She talked quietly and softly to her CO, touching his hand gently as she prepared him for what was to come.  She was worried and scared, too, but this was SG-1 and she knew that somehow we'd get through this, and when we did, she didn't want the rumor mills running amok with things that could destroy our lives, so she began the game, a game of misleading and deception, that My Love and I both agreed to later, when it was over, and she told us she knew the truth, and how she wanted to help protect us.  (Gawd, I do need to learn to breathe, or maybe to just not talk so much.)

We didn't want Sam to risk her career, but she simply said as much as asked, “We're a family, and families help and protect each other.”

We couldn't argue with that, so we went along with it, and when the dark came, Sam tried her best to use her true fears and caring to keep people looking at her, and not at me.

It worked because they don't understand and probably never will.  It helps that we have turned out to be great actors.  I abhor the game and its lies and untruths, especially where our family and friends are concerned.  Playing the game, however, is necessary in that all of the deceptions and rumors the game generates help to protect my soulmate.

At first, I didn't think I could do it, but when My Jack's life is on the line, I can lie, er, act, with the best of 'em.  I will not lose My Jack, my life, my soul, so if I have to use my dark side to get us through to the other side, I will ... and I have.  Those who don't understand, who tend to underestimate me, or who make assumptions about me and what I'm capable of are often in for a big surprise.

All those military training games and exercises my sexy Irish lover has put me through, all of our covert private games that we've hatched to make it a fun and pleasant experience, have worked to our advantage.  People usually see what we want them to, and when the NID started snooping around, we found out just how important our ability to hide in plain sight was.

The most difficult part of that particular undercover operation that threatened our relationship was its timing.  Jack had just come back from Edora.  Notice I said Jack.  I was angry, and he knew it.  No, I wasn't angry about Laira.  She meant nothing to him, was nothing but a momentary escape, and just like people assumed there had been more to Ke'ra and I, they do the same about Jack and Laira.

He kissed her, and that's the extent of it.  The gossips who want to insinuate more don't care about decency or truth, but that's their problem.  My Love and I are secure in our universe.

Laira tried to mislead everyone, too.  I realized, watching her, that she wasn't all that different from Shyla.  Maybe we should introduce them; they could be best friends, and instruct each other in the fine art of manipulation and how to get someone to stop living their own lives to be with you.

I wonder what she would have done had she known that before the great meteor disaster on Edora, that after watching the falling stars, that My Jack and I had found a secluded place and made love?  Poor Laira.  She was so sure Jack was thinking about her during the fire rain. She was practically drooling over my lover.  Sorry, Laira.  His thoughts were on me, and boy, did he show me just how much that night ... right there on the cool grass of Edora.

As I said, I wasn't angry at Jack for kissing her or spending time with her, but I was furious with him for giving up.  He gave up on me, didn't believe I would search the universe forever to find him.  My Jack, and yes, he is My Jack, even when I want to shake common sense into him, has a horrible self-image.

People think I'm bad on that score, and okay, I have been, but my soulmate is equal to the task.  He hides it better, but when it comes to reality checks, he thinks he's old, battered and bruised, and he wonders why I could love him so darn much that I can't think straight most of the time whenever he's around.

When he believed the Stargate was buried and lost to him, he thought that was it; no future; no more Jack and Daniel, and he didn't care what happened to him.  He was just going through the motions.  I was so pissed off at him.

I knew when I saw him for the first time when we went to bring him home that he was empty.  His eyes had no shine, no light, not even for me.  Sam was chattering on about how we finally got through, and he just walked away, from her, and from me, and went to say goodbye to Laira, spouting platitudes he didn't mean and would never honor.

Empty as he was, My Jack is a good man and has a loving heart.  Even in that state, he didn't want Laira feeling abandoned without some kind of olive branch.  He knew she wouldn't come to Earth, just like he knew he'd never return to Edora, at least not for her.

Sam didn't understand why he walked away like he did.  She looked at me for answers, and I gave her one, “He's fine. I just don't think he was expecting to go home again.”

I had to turn away.  My hurt and anger at Jack's empty, but haunting eyes, was too much to see for the moment.

That night, Jack was full of his own guilt.  He thought I would leave him, not understand about Laira, not believe that nothing happened, even if My Jack had given up like he had.  I took him in my arms and held him, and that's pretty much what we did all night.

“You aren't leaving me?” he had asked.

“Jack, we're forever, remember?  No, I'm not leaving you.  I could never do that,” I had responded.

His eyes were questioning, unsure.  His guilt at giving up was great.  He needed time to heal, and then I knew we'd argue, but it wouldn't be his first night home.  We had other, more important things to do.  We sat on the couch, clinging to each other, a few kisses, a lot of soulful and longing looks, but what we needed most was just the touch, of knowing we were together, of being grounded, our bodies connected as one.

Hours later, as I nuzzled further into My Jack's shoulder, he softly called my name -- “Danny?”

When I looked up, I saw my sweet love was back.  No, he wasn't totally home yet, but he knew we were real, and that I wasn't going to leave him.  We'd probably argue tomorrow and the next day about what happened, but we'd get through it, just like we had with everything else that had been thrown in our path.

“Bed,” I had said, taking his hand and leading my life partner up the stairs to our king-size bed.

We made love, slow and tender, grounding each other even more, reminding ourselves that Jack and Daniel were always and forever, no matter what the Stargate threw at us.

We did argue the next day, and violently.

“You gave up on us, Jack ... on me!  How could you do that?”

He couldn't answer the question, not really.  Somehow, a part of My Jack died when he saw the Stargate had been buried.  His logic escaped him.  He got so lost in being lost that he forgot I would find a way to bring him home.  So it took a while, but we got through it, like always.

You see where this is going?  Good, because I've forgotten!  Oh yes, the NID.  My Jack and I were still healing from Edora when the general approached him about the undercover operation.  My Colonel was in quite a quandary then.  He couldn't say “no” to the general; the stakes were too high.

He also knew without a doubt that SG-1 and specifically me would be put in great danger as a result of anything he did.  He was totally lost on what to do.

Geez, we were living together 24/7, hiding in plain sight, but no one on base knew it for sure except for Sam, and while we suspected Teal'c knew, there were only a handful of people outside of the SGC that had become family to us who knew the truth.

People like Catherine Langford, who did marry Ernest Littlefield after being reunited with him, Christa and Jacob Svenson, an elderly couple who had moved in across the street, Mark Kingston, first Jack's, and now our, lawyer, Frances and Crystal, the lovely sisters we had met on our first trip to Disneyland, and others, some of who found out almost from the beginning, and others only within the past year.  Still, it was a short list.

So considering all of that, how was Jack supposed to protect me and play the undercover game without exposing us?  He had to tell me; he had no choice, orders or no orders.  He had to lie to the general, and he didn't like doing that.  In fact, it still bothers him, that he lied to this man who was one of the few people on Jack's very short “I trust him completely” list.

My Jack thought about telling General Hammond about us, to try and explain, but with the general being so close to retirement himself, he thought better of it.  “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” was a courtmartialable offense, and knowing about it and not acting on it was dangerous.  Jack didn't feel like he had a right to impose that on the general, and afterwards, when he told me about all the debating he had done, I agreed.

One of the options, I learned later, was to break up with me, using Laira and Edora as a sword of hurt that would cut out my heart.  My Jack couldn't do it.  As much as he wanted to protect me, to keep me safe, he knew that letting me go with that lie, making me believe it, would literally cut out my heart.  He might as well have handed me the same gun Charlie had found that miserable afternoon years before.

Jack knew he couldn't protect me by hurting me enough to make me go away, and honestly, I'm not sure he could have convinced me anyway.  I'm a smart guy, and still healing or not, Jack and Daniel are forever and always, and as the “Daniel” of that statement, there's no way in Netu I could ever leave him or believe that he wanted Laira over me.

So, my courageous colonel finally reached the conclusion, thankfully so, that to protect me, he had to be honest with me, and get me to play the game with him.  It was an undercover, undercover operation, which I might add was thought up and honed while we were appropriately under the covers!

My Jack was never as serious as he was with me that night, that night before the madness began.  I wanted to do more, but he was really scared for me, kept telling me I didn't understand the threat.  Looking back, he was right, but I'm as stubborn as he is, and he's my life.

“Danny, please, you have to let me do this my way, and no matter what happens, you have to remember that I love you more than life itself.  We'll get through this, but I need you to be safe, so ... just this once, don't argue with me, okay?  Please, Angel.”

My lover had tears in his eyes as he cupped my cheeks in his hands, and then he pulled me in for the sweetest and gentlest kiss he'd ever given me.  He pulled me even closer, wrapping his arms around me, holding me like there was no tomorrow, and soon I realized, he was genuinely afraid there might not be a tomorrow.

“Please, Danny,” he whispered again, and I knew I couldn't refuse him. This one time, I would go along and do it his way.

We covertly made sure that our house, er Jack's house, was back to looking like Jack's house where I sometimes crashed in the spare room. No major changes that would get people wondering, but little things that would mean something if someone was looking for blackmail material and the like.

My almost vacant apartment was reborn, suddenly full of life, fish and all.  I had almost forgotten what it felt like to live there, to sleep in that bedroom, alone.  We spent one last, covert night together, knowing that things were about to change for us for a while.  The plan had to be set up, prepared to perfection, so our separation had to be longer than just the actual execution of the operation.

I had to work like a dog to come up with some argument for the Tollans as to why they should agree to an exchange of knowledge, fully aware that it was all for naught.  So, our one very passionate last night, with mind-blowing sex to stop us from thinking, and then snuggling and cuddling to remind us how much comfort we get from each other, was everything we could make it.

And then we discussed the hardest part of the plan about to be carried out.

“Danny, we need to talk about a few things.”

“I thought we had the plan set up?”

“We do, but ... I need to make sure you understand.  When this plan takes off and everything breaks loose about me being one of the bad guys, the natural thing will be for one of my team to try and find out what's wrong, and ...”

“And that has to be me.”

“For a lot of reasons.  Our friendship, of course.  Everyone knows we're best friends.  Plus, you're just so ... stubborn that it'll have to be you.”

“Stubborn?”

“You know what I mean.  You'd dog me until you got to the truth.  It's our history, Danny.  We have to be true to what we've done in the past.”

“I know.  You're right, Jack.  I'd never let you get away with doing the things this plan calls for without a lot of arguing and ... and nagging you to get to truth.  Jack?”

“Mmm?”

“I wouldn't believe you.  I know you.  I ... I love you, and I'd just know there was more to it.  I'd never let you lie to me like that.”

There had been a bit of a love fest between us after that.  This plan would be difficult for us.  But after a while, Jack talked more about it, trying to prepare me about what to expect.

“The house will be bugged.  I imagine they'll bug your place, too, and maybe even Carter's.  I'm going to have to say things designed to ... geez, to hurt you.  I don't want to do this.”

“I know, but you have to.”

“Danny, you don't understand.  I'm going to have to hurt you, and it's going to be the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life, but it's the only thing that will keep you safe.”

“Jack, I know that.”

“Do you?  Do you know that I'm going to have speak words that will cut away at everything we are?”

“Jack ...”

“You have to promise me, Angel, that you'll remember it's a game, a game I have to play in order to keep you safe.  I won't mean a word of it.  Promise me, Danny.  Promise me you'll know the truth.”

My Jack.  He was so frightened for me, and he really was afraid I'd forget, but I never could.  He is my universe.  I was determined not to let him down.  I made a suggestion he agreed to.

“Jack, I don't want you to tell me what you're going to say, okay?”

“Why?  If we go over it ...”

“No.  Jack, it's not just my life, it's both of our lives, and I think I need to make sure that my reactions are as true as possible.  What we say needs to be as ... gawd, honest, as it can for that moment.  Do you know what I mean?”

“Yeah, I do.  You're right ... as usual.”

“I promise, Jack, that I'll remember it's a game, and I'll do my part to keep you safe, too.”

Of course, he was more worried about me than himself.  It's par for the course.  I guess it's like most couples.  He worries about me, and I worry about him.  Somehow, it balances out.

Oh, and you may have noticed the nickname, “Angel.”  My Jack has a thousand nicknames for me.  Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but in all the years of our togetherness, he never ceases to surprise me with all the various terms of endearments that he comes up with.

Most know about Dannyboy, Plant Boy, and names like that, but ... after our first Christmas together, he started to call me “Angel.”  It was sparse at first, but then I almost died ... again, and since then, it's pretty much a regular thing.  He says I'm his angel.  Gawd, me .. an angel, but ... go ahead, shoot me, after all these years, it makes me feel warm inside every time he says it, and I'd miss it if he suddenly stopped calling me his angel.

Oh, geez.  I'm blushing.  It's a good thing no one can see me as I write this.  Those who don't understand would be even more confused if they knew how easily just thinking about how My Jack fusses over me makes me turn to Jell-O, my knees weakening, and my heart just singing with love for him.

But we weren't talking about that, were we?  Oh yes, the undercover operation.  We were a rousing success, even if I do say so myself.  I played my part worthy of an Oscar.  Ask my Jack.

He almost cried in the middle of our debate, which would ruined the “scene.”  I was appropriately outraged at Jack's supposed theft on Tollana, and hurt by his disregard for the SGC and all it stood for during the post-mission briefing and everything that followed it.

Then we played out the scene at the house, the big moment when Jack would have to utter the words that would wound us both.  My Jack was right.  He said some things that were hard to hear, even knowing it was a game.

“Not much of a foundation?”

Wrong, Love, there is such a strong foundation that we're both going to survive this.  His eyes.  I'll never forget those chocolate brown eyes when he had to say those words.

He was full of sadness, on the edge of shedding a mountain of tears, so I tried to end it as quickly as I could.  Without another word, I stood,  grabbed my coat, and walked out, afraid to look back, fearing that if I did, we'd lose our resolve and end the game before it had really begun.  To those who don't understand Jack and Daniel, it looked like My Jack had become Colonel O'Neill to me.

I raced to my car, shed a few tears, and then defiantly pulled out of our, er Jack's driveway to make my way to what I now had to call home, but as much as I love the apartment, it could never be more than just an apartment, because home to me is in Jack's arms, in My Jack's arms, no matter where we are.

So, the game played out.  I stood in the control room watching Jack leave for Edora, scared to be any closer to this man who so owns my heart that I had to stay as hidden as possible to not mess up the game by suddenly throwing myself in his arms.

He knew I was there; I could feel him thinking about me, sensing me.  I wanted to sound confident, upbeat.  He was about to set out on the most dangerous part of his mission.  He needed me to be strong.

“Don't worry, Babe, I'm playing the game.  It's going to be okay,” I spoke silently.

In telepathic-like reply, I heard, “Remember, Danny.  Don't forget.  I love you, forever and always.”

Then, he was gone, and the days passed until finally, he was back.  We had one final moment to play out for our audience.

“We drew straws; I lost.”

I wish I had a camera to capture the look on My Jack's face forever in view.  He was stunned, couldn't believe I would say such a thing, and then run off, out of the SGC and back to the apartment.  It was over, almost.

We still had to wait a few days, for the aftermath to play out.  Finally, Jack entered my office, where I was working late, again, trying to catch up on things I had let slide while playing out the game and worrying too much to actually translate anything more than my name.  He slid his arms around me from behind, and I leaned into him.

“Home,” was all he said.  I looked up and saw the sweetest smile.

“Home?” I asked, and he pulled me up and led me out, back to our home for the first time since the nightmare had begun.

Who would have thought that a hardened colonel like My Jack would be a romantic, but he is.  They don't understand that part of him.  I do.  The truth is that both Jack and I romantic saps, full of loving fluff when it comes to each other.  Anyway, when we got home, there was a fire blazing in the fireplace, the table set with candlelight, and even flowers with a card that said simply, “Thanks for remembering.”  My Jack!  He had to work to plan that one!

I proceeded to show him just how much I remembered for the rest of the night, and the next day.  Screw the SGC, we both called in sick.  If they wanted to make something of it, let them!  We took the day off, and stayed in bed, all day, loving, caressing, soothing, comforting.  We were Jack and Daniel, forever and always.  They don't understand.  Personally, even though it may ruin my reputation, I don't care what they think or what they do or don't understand.

The aftermath of the NID plagued us for a long time.  We had found bugs not just at home, but at the apartment, as anticipated.  Every now and then, we'd find more.  We realized we had to keep playing the game.  Hiding in plain sight became a bit more difficult, and a lot more frustrating.

My Jack, my overprotective, possessive light of my life, told me one day we were going to have to pull back on our friendship.  Intel said things were happening that we didn't know the half of.  He was worried for me, again; almost as worried as at the beginning of the NID nightmare.

Jack had actually received threats, not on his life, but on mine, from people wanting things, suggesting things, that the time would come that if he didn't comply with their demands, I was going to become a victim, a dead victim, or maybe not dead, but wishing I were dead.  My lover was scared, as scared as I had ever seen him, so again, we played the game.

As things developed, we thought we could keep it simple.  We needed a diversion from the two of us, and although we hesitated, we decided to call in Sam for a favor.  Actually, the decoy game had never stopped, but every now and then, we needed to escalate it.  This was one of those times -- just like with the orb and while Jack was on Edora.  That had been increasingly hard on me -- to pretend things were even close to normal while my lover was stranded off-world.

We spent three months trying to get him back, three months of caffeine and no sleep, at least for me, and I have to admit, even I heard the talk about the geek with the obsession for the colonel.

It was just like when Sam and Jack had been trapped in Antarctica with the second Stargate when everyone knew I rarely slept and basically lived at the Mountain until they were home, only this time it was even longer, ninety days more so, and it was just my lover who was missing -- just ... my life.

I couldn't function much, didn't perform my job very well.  My mind was on Jack, My Jack.  I couldn't stop, though, no matter how many times General Hammond told me to go home or get some rest.  I wouldn't leave, couldn't cease my efforts to find a way, not even after Sam came up with her own plan.  That was well and good, but I wanted back up.  Besides, doing nothing was killing me.

I was a mess.  I looked tired and thin, and for good reason.  I was.  Janet Fraiser, the Chief Medical Officer of the SGC, really gave me a tough time.

“Daniel, if you don't go home and take care of yourself, I'm going to sedate you and feed you intravenously.  Is that what you want?”

“Just a while longer, Janet.  I think I'm on to something.”

I always thought I was on to something.  Little Napoleon, as we call Janet, was doing her best to mimic Jack, hounding me in my office, Sam's lab, the briefing room where I stood for hours staring at the starmap, and sometimes just at the Stargate.

“Daniel, you're losing weight.  I'm going to have to take you off of active duty.”

I didn't care.  My only duty was to find Jack.  I ignored her ... until that day I collapsed.

“I told you, Daniel.  Why you never listen to me, I don't know.”

Janet checked the IV's that hooked into me, pumping in nourishment of some kind.

“Janet, how is Sam doing?”

I could see the look of exasperation on her face at the question, but she answered.  “She's on schedule, Daniel.  I'm sorry about this, but I don't have a choice.”

“What?”

That was the last word I was able to speak for three days.  Little Napoleon kept me sedated while she pumped food into my system, and when she finally woke me up, she threatened to keep me there if I didn't promise to eat and sleep.

So I promised.  I had to.  But the reality was that if Sam hadn't started to mother hen me in Jack's stead, I probably would have been in the infirmary for the rest of Jack's stay on Edora.

Anyway, my physical condition and the reason for it was pretty obvious, so Sam knew she had to do something.  She shed some tears and played the worried girlfriend, unofficially, of course.  It was all a game to draw as much attention away from me as possible.

Once things settled down after Jack's return, we thanked her, for Edora, for understanding about the undercover operation, and just for being a great friend.  She was totally surprised when we sent her on a seven-day vacation to the Caribbean, our treat.  No one knew, of course, that we paid for it.  They just thought she was on a regular holiday.

We were glad we did it because Sam had done so much for us.  She tried to tell us it wasn't necessary, but we insisted, and it wasn't long before we were grateful that we had.  As things turned out, we soon reached a time when we needed her and the decoy game big time, and this time, it could hurt.

“We can't explain fully, Sam, but we need people to think there's something going on between us, or that we want something to happen, but aren't doing it because of the regs.  I wish we could say more, but this is really all we can right now.”

“What is it you want me to do, Sir?”

“Just play along, Sam, if you can.  I ... we don't want you to do anything you are uncomfortable with, but just do like you did when Jack was on Edora, or maybe flirt a little.”

“You want me to flirt ... with the colonel?”

“Come on, Carter.  I'm not that bad, am I?”

“No, of course not, Sir, it's just ... it's just ... Daniel, he's yours.”

Sam blushed realizing what she had said, and I did too.  Actually, so did Jack.

“I hope so, and I'd like him to stay that way, and that's why we need you, Sam.  The threat is real.  If you don't want to, it's okay; we'll think of something else.”

“Are you sure about this, Sir? I mean, couldn't the rules, the regulations, be thrown at us if we do this, and where would that leave you?”

“Oh, for crying out loud, we're not actually going to do anything, Carter.  We just need you to cover our sixes with a little girlie action.  Flirt.  Bat your eyelashes.  Something.  If you need lessons, ask Daniel. He's an expert on eyelashes.”

“Jaaaack!”

“You can't deny it, Daniel.  You know that's one of your best seduction techniques.”

“Jack, stop it,” I squealed, slapping him gently but firmly in the arm.

“Let's get back to the subject, shall we?”

“Sir, Daniel, I'll do what I can, but Daniel, I want you to tell me if we, if I cross the line.  Your friendship is too important to me to risk on nonsensical flirting that means nothing.”

“Don't worry, Sam.  Hopefully, we won't need it for much longer, but Jack thinks ...”

“Daniel,” My Jack said sharply and with a warning.

He wanted to protect Sam, too, and the less she knew the better.  We needed her to help us get through this, and she would be safe enough as long as we didn't involve her in the details, which was pretty funny since at that stage we didn't know much more than she did.

Little did we know we'd need her help so soon, but it wasn't much later that the zatarc thing came up.  My “I'm not ready to retire yet” colonel was never so relieved in his life than during that time, having realized what it would have meant for us had he and I been the ones together when the force field separated him from Sam.

The base ran wild with the rumors about those “feelings” they purported to have.  Sam had hoped it would stay in the room, because she knew it would mean more teasing, and she'd been on the receiving end of quite a few anonymous jokes and pranks about her and the colonel, but at the SGC, nothing stays silent, at least, nothing like that.  It was absolutely the best cover we could have asked for.

“Love, had that been you on the other side of the force field, I'd be retired or in Leavenworth right now.  You realize that, don't you?”

I simply kissed him hard in reply.

“Feelings,” I crooned, “nothing more than feelings.”

“Shut up, Daniel,” My Jack growled, as we began a night to outdo all nights, pushing away all remembrances of zatarc's  and their associated ... shudder ... snakes and hosts.

They don't understand that through all of the next year, we had to keep playing the deception game and all the while, we were still hiding in plain sight, only more covertly, if that makes any sense, and it probably doesn't, and if I don't stop this I'll be rambling again.  Colonel Simmons turned out to be quite a threat, as were others, their identity still undetermined.

At work, Jack and I were like grizzly bears much of the time.  We put on a show of snarkiness for outsiders, not knowing or trusting who they really were or they might be working for.  At home, we were Jack and Daniel, together forever, untouched by those who sought to hurt or separate us.

I wondered at one point if being with My Love was worth putting his life in danger.  If I left, he'd be safe; there'd be no reason for anyone to search for a hidden life, and no one could use me to bait him.  I still felt like the weak link of SG-1.

I wasn't a weakling, and since My Jack had convinced me to start working out, I had bulked up considerably.  He had begun hinting that it might be a fun thing to do after the NID incident.  He tried to keep it light; later, I realized, he wanted me to become stronger because the threat to me was greater in his eyes.  I got with the plan.

“My little archaeologist isn't so little anymore,” he says now, his voice full of laughter, approval, and even pride.

Still, I wondered if maybe we should have rethought our relationship.  Maybe I was just getting scared.  Full of insecurities and growing fear for my true love's life, I became anxious and uncertain until it finally bubbled over into a fight, just after Professor Jordan died.

Jack had wanted to come with me to the funeral, but I told him no, that it would look suspicious if he did.  It's not like the Professor and I were that close.  I was going out of respect and to say goodbye.  He was a mentor.  He had placed his faith in me, though, and I felt like I had let him down.  The least I could do was attend his funeral.

There was no reason for Jack to go, and his doing so would have raised all those questions we were so anxious to avoid.  We didn't need that.

I also suspected that Steven and Sarah would be there.  Steven was, and still is, a total jerk, and Sarah and I didn't end on the best of terms. My Jack is ... well, as I've said, he's overprotective and possessive.  He might have let Steven get away with one insult, maybe two, but before long, I'm afraid Steven would have been dealing with some unforeseen accident that would have had him cleaning toilets in Duluth.

As for Sarah, I'm not sure how he would have reacted to her.  He knows I love him and would never be interested in an old flame, especially one of only a couple of months, but I didn't want him to have to deal with her.  She would have probably questioned him to death about why he was there, and why we worked together, especially since I more or less dropped out of sight.

Sarah liked to achieve; she liked power.  She would want to know why an Air Force colonel was constantly at my side and why my work was “classified.”

If My Jack stayed home, I wouldn't have to deal with that.  I could go, pay my respects, and make a graceful exit.  My overly sensitive partner in life didn't understand that, though.

My Jack was angry with me, and worried, too, pacing about as I packed for my flight.  We were arguing.  We'd been arguing since I had decided to go Chicago.  But then I said something horribly stupid and silly, “Maybe we should just break up, Jack, so you won't have to worry so much.”

I couldn't believe I had said such a thing.  How could I have said those words, even lightly?  My Love was stunned, looking as unsteady and unsure as I'd ever seen him.  Even at our worst, we've never joked, teased, or made light of our being together.  Our lives, our relationship, are too outside the norm to argue falsely about breaking up, as if we could ever really do it.

So he stood there, My Jack, wondering if he'd missed something, if maybe that half full cup was really half empty.

“Is that what you want, Daniel?” he finally asked in an eerie, quiet voice.  He had found that mask that I hadn't seen in years, the one that said, “No pain allowed inside because I refuse to feel.”  He was beginning to shut out the world.

What I wanted?  I wanted a lot of things -- for this trip to be over, for Jack to be safe, for the game of decoy and deception to end, for the universe to be at peace.

I was already exhausted, and I hadn't even left the house yet.  I didn't say anything, just lowered my head, when my cell phone rang, distracting me.  It was someone in my department asking for direction on how to proceed on a translation.  I tried to help as best I could, giving the staff member some advice, and then I hung up.

“I'm sorry, Jack, that was ...” but as I turned around, My Jack ... was he still My Jack? ... had gone.

My plane was leaving in an hour, and we had spent the entire day arguing about this, ending with my ridiculous break up line and his quiet deflated departure.  I had messed up big time, and I felt sadder and more alone than I had in years.  I felt thoroughly undeserving of  Jack's love.

Then the world really went crazy.  It seems the Goa'uld had found Chicago.  Early on in the nightmare, I had called Jack (too unsure to say My Jack at the moment), wanting and needing his help, but ... pride and insecurity got in the way.  I quickly diverted my anxiety by asking for Teal'c.  I knew they had gone fishing after checking in with General Hammond.

I needed Jack.  I wanted Jack.  I had been so wrong.  I had to tell him. But first, I needed to get my nerves under control, so I asked for Teal'c. I didn't even say anything more than, “Hi Jack, I'd like to talk to Teal'c, please.”  Cold and quick, devoid of emotion and caring.  Why did I sound like that?  It was so far from how I felt.

After I talked to Teal'c, and got what I needed, I asked for Jack.  I was going to apologize, ask him to come to Chicago, tell him I needed him, in more ways than one, but then there was only silence as the phone disconnected.  I redialed, only to get Jack's voice mail.  I left a message for him to call me back as soon as possible, positive he'd hear the urgency in my voice and do so.

Then, I became angry that he had hung up on me, but I didn't have time for that, either.  As I said, the world had gone crazy, and it kept getting worse until finally Sarah was a Goa'uld and Steven was still a jerk, but at least he knew I was right about my theories, for a brief time anyway.  The craziness didn't end until Sam, Janet and I were on the other side of the world, in Egypt.

When it was done, we had created a cover story that would totally confuse Steven and have him once again questioning my research.  It was okay.  We just wanted to get out of Egypt by that point, all of us happy to be alive.

Back in Colorado, it was time to go home, and for the first time since the NID undercover sting, I wondered where home was.  No, I knew where home was.  I just wondered if he still wanted me there.  My anger over the cell phone incident had long gone.  I had started it, after all.  Yes, he was wrong, too, but I knew Jack would be feeling guilty about his actions.

I knew My Jack, even if he was only Jack again, and even only Jack would have a major guilt trip over throwing the cell phone battery away once he found out what had happened.  This was probably the biggest mess of our relationship, and I wondered at the time if our forever was no longer.

Not sure where to go, and not wanting to make the wrong choice, I went nowhere except to my office where I slumped into the bunk and finally fell asleep.  I awoke the next morning, sad to realize I was still alone and that I had no clue as to the whereabouts of my “home.”

Then, I saw it.  It was there on my jacket, a long stemmed chocolate heart, covered in red foil.  Attached was a little piece of paper with only one word written on it ... “Home.”

I almost flew out of the office, getting out of the SGC, and off the Mountain in record breaking time.  I went home, into the warm, tender embrace of my lover, my soulmate, and again, in record breaking time, we were up the stairs, to our bedroom, grounding ourselves to each other.

This time, we both spent the next couple of weeks indulging each other.  This time, we had both been wrong, and this time, we had almost gone too far.  It was a reminder of how fragile any relationship is, even Jack and Daniel who pledged again that they, that we, were together for forever and always.

They don't understand how we can love so much, two men, one military, one a geek, in a world where same-sex relationships are still frowned upon by so many, where prejudices reign in spite of democracy and proud, loud words of freedom.  They don't understand how hard it is to hide in plain sight, to deny each other through acts of omission.  We hate it.

People don't understand our love, our need, our desire, or our hatred of their prejudice.  They don't understand us at all.  We've saved the world, over and over, and still they don't understand.

It took My Jack and I some time to heal this rift we had carelessly caused in just a single day.  Then, another one of those Goa'uld contraptions did a number on us at the pleasure palace, and life became difficult again.

The freakin' light reached down deep inside me to dredge up every insecurity I had tried so hard to throw away.  Years worth of progress had been tossed to the winds.  It had just been too close to the time when My Jack and I almost lost each other.  I had no idea that those fears were still lurking beneath the surface.

“You don't even know what I'm talking about,” I had said.

“We can't get it back,” I had whined.

My poor love was so frightened as I stood on the outside ledge, with eight floors of space between me and the earth below.  It's almost a blur to me now, a surreal event that I see from the outside, as if I hadn't really been there.

He didn't know what to say to me.  We had dealt with our fears and the near-miss of self-destructing our relationship already.  He couldn't understand what he had missed or why I was dredging it up, now, on the outside of my balcony.

When I finally came back to reality, he held on to me, so very securely, and pulled me back over the rails and into his arms.  He held me so tightly that I could barely breathe.  I felt his heart racing.

“Danny, Love, what's the matter?”

I could do nothing but shiver in his arms.

“Danny, I love you.  You're my life.  I need you.  You know that, don't you?”

I managed to gaze up into the worried face of my lover, and I saw only love from him.  What was I doing out on that ledge?  I have no fears, here in his arms.

“I love you, Jack,” was all I got out before collapsing into unconsciousness.

The next thing I knew, I was back at the pleasure palace, and My Jack was cradling me in his arms, rocking me back and forth, running his right hand up and down my back, and holding his left hand at my nape.  He whispered sweet nothings to me over and over, so I knew we were alone.  We must have been alone.

“Jack, what happened?  Why ... why are we back here?”

My Love explained that another fifty hairs on his head had just turned gray.  Apparently, I had used up another of my nine lives.  Then he made sure I was okay before getting on with business.

“We'll talk later, Love.  Right now, I need to find Sam and Teal'c, okay?”  I nodded my agreement.  “Danny ... I love you.”

I nodded again, which was about the only thing I was able to do, the effects of coming back to life a bit taxing on my system.

Then, Jack talked with Loran who had apparently come into the room. The teenager knew a lot more than he had let on, but it was hard to be angry with him.  He was just scared.  Finally, we figured out the secret about the light that had affected us all, and after making the necessary adjustments to it, My Jack and I spent the next three weeks reassuring each other that nothing goes away if we don't let it; that we had nothing to get back because we hadn't lost a thing; and that the only way we'd never know what we were talking about was if we shut each other out of our hearts, and that was never going to happen.

We enjoyed our free vacation, having to worry only about staying out of Loran's sight during ... well, you know!  Sam had a great time.  She didn't have to flirt with her CO and got to work on her book some more! And Teal'c, of course, was completely unaffected being a Jaffa so he stayed on Earth most of the time.

Watching us through the expanse of the window, people don't understand that we are forever.  In that next year or so when we had to pretend to be distant with each other, it looked to some like we weren't even friends anymore.  We had done such a good job that Sam didn't have to keep up the flirtatious stuff, she was grateful for that.  So was I.  It might have been necessary, but it was still hard to watch.

We still did some of our patented bantering, but somehow, even those closest to us thought we weren't so much friends as allies working together.  My Jack and I wondered how people could miss our love for each other.  It was always there.

People don't understand because they don't want to see.  We played on the peltak after rescuing Teal'c.  We sat side by side helping our comrade rediscover himself, bantering back and forth about velour and my being a called a woman.  We were side by side on K'tau, working together, and when we disagreed on a course of action, My Colonel caved in to my desires to try and save the people.  He caved in again when we went to save Chaka and again when I left my weapon with the Unas.

Jack doesn't relent easily, but that was three times that he'd done so publicly in a short period, and no one understood what that meant.  We did, though.  Why others didn't see our love was almost amusing, except that during that time, it was best for them not to.  My Love was still afraid for me.

Looking in through the windowpane, they missed the fear in My Jack's voice when we were inside the ziggurat, when for a moment, he was worried I had become a victim, or maybe a Goa'uld; they missed our easy communication, when we tried to figure out why the Tollan suddenly wanted to share their weaponry, how we sat together, but had to make sure we were on separate sides of the stone column, and how I had to keep my hands busy because all I really wanted to do was follow through on promises whispered earlier about what we'd be doing that night after dinner (Jack likes to wind me up, and he was doing a good job that day).

We were doing a wonderful job of covering up.  Amicable enough as co-workers, but no one thought we were more that, and no one but Sam knew we were lovers.  She was the only one who understood what no one else could, that need we had to be as one, to honor the norm that applied only to us.

Then things got to be a bit dicey again, and it set us on a new path.  My Jack was almost killed by that back-shooting Simmons, and then we almost lost Teal'c in the event horizon.  Two near losses in a short period of time.  When Jacob came and requested my help at the summit of the System Lords, it was a real crisis.

Jack was livid.  I wasn't happy either.  We both knew if he insisted on going along, or stopped me from going, that the game was up.  Everyone would know why.  My Jack, bless him, didn't care.

“Maybe it's time for me to retire.  I'm getting tired of this playing, anyway.”

“Jack, this is important.”

“I love you, Daniel.  What good will it do us if the game protects us but you die in the process?”

“I'm not going to die, Jack.  It has to be done.  We can take out all the System Lords.  Think about it.”

“It's not you, Daniel.  You're a good soldier, but that's not your true function, and you know that.  I don't like this.  I don't like this at all.”

He drew me into a hug, his arms surrounding me with love and warmth.

“I don't like it either, Love, but what else can we do?  It's not time for us to leave yet, Jack.”

“Us?”

“Yes, us.  When you retire, Jack, I'm out, too.  This is all or nothing, for both of us.  I won't go through the Gate without you, not once you've retired and aren't there to drag me away to eat ... or ... something.”

“I'll always be there for you, Danny, to drag you away ... to eat ... or something.”

And then we did a bunch of the “or something” for the rest of the night, having realized we still had to save the world and play the game for a while longer.

The summit didn't go as planned, but we learned what we could and moved on.  Time passed, and then My Jack and I faced our biggest test.

In the six years since we first gazed upon one another, Jack and I had endured much.  The first year, we were apart, separated by a galaxy, me on Abydos living with Sha're, befriending a new world and discovering the Cartouche, and he on a lonely Colorado rooftop, silently gazing up at the stars, wondering which one might be Abydos.

We were technically separated by a distance almost unimaginable, and yet something had been planted in our hearts, a seed that would grow and suddenly begin to blossom with the tossing of a box of Kleenex through the Stargate.

“They don't know what to do with me, and I don't know what to do with myself,” I told Jack upon returning to Earth.

He told me later, that standing in the long gray empty halls of the SGC, I looked like a lost puppy he couldn't abandon, so My-soon-to-be-Jack, took me home, and we began the second year of our friendship, only this time, we were actually on the same planet.

Jack told me I was a “cheap date” that first night back on Earth.  I guess we were already dating; we just didn't know it yet.

They certainly didn't understand us then, and neither did we to be honest, but during that year, our understanding and awareness of one another grew.  With every mission and every buddy night spent watching hockey and eating pizza, our bond strengthened.  We were Jack and Daniel, best friends for life.

We persevered through so much before the challenges of Edora and the NID, and what would become our biggest quest to stay Jack and Daniel. My best friend worried about losing me to the Touched that second year; I worried about him when the Unity Crystal became a clone who then turned into Charlie.

He tested us both by handing me the staff weapon on Cimmeria, gambling I'd understand why I had to be the one to destroy Thor's Hammer.  I did, and odd as it seems, that was when we both admitted we were not just friends, but best friends.

We began to feel the steaming heat for the first time on Ernest's Planet. My-soon-to-be-Jack literally pulled me away from the sanctuary of knowledge, knowing it was about to crash down on us.

“I'm staying,” I had insisted, until I realized, that if I was staying, so was the man who would one day be my lover, and that risking his life was not something I was prepared to do.  So, with a last look at the wonders reflecting off the ceiling, we ran to our escape, still too afraid to admit what had been exchanged in that look, when my best friend, or was he something more, held on to my jacket, grounding me to him.

“Thank you for saving my life,” I stated that night as Jack and I gazed up at the stars in the Colorado night sky.  We were sitting as we often do, side by side, shoulders touching.

“I wasn't leaving you,” the truth of those words evident in his eyes as he spoke.

“I know.  That's why I left.”

Jack had just nodded.  He handed me a new bottle of beer which I opened.  He held his beer towards me, a gleam in his eye.

“To ... friendship.”

I smiled and echoed his toast, “To friendship,” and then we drank our beers, getting very, very drunk.  I'm not sure why, or maybe I do.  Sometimes the undercurrent of our love that first year was tough to overlook, but back then, we were best friends.  I was married, and at that point, so was Jack.

Miraculously, as time passed, we both survived the rape by Hathor, the arrogance of Senator Kinsey, and the shock discovery of our existence in an alternate reality.

After seven-hundred thirty days of being as close as we had ever imagined as friends and best buddies, the third year of our relationship was the first official year of Jack and Daniel, lovers, soulmates, partners for eternity, and it, too, gave us moments when we questioned ourselves and our “norm.”

We dealt with the loss of Skaara to Klorel yet again, and the sadness that consumed My Colonel for having to shoot Skaara in order to save me.  It tore at him.  He loves Skaara like a little brother, but Klorel had been too strong in that instant, and My Jack didn't have a choice.  He fired, assuming he had delivered a death blow, which he had, but neither of us had counted on Bra'tac putting Skaara in a sarcophagus, thus reviving him.

We gritted our teeth to get through the ordeal of the Gamekeeper playing so callously with our minds, bringing old wounds, bloody battles and falling coverstones to the forefront of our daily lives.  That one had a lot of repercussions for me.

I had realized how much I had forgotten about my parents, and that scared me.  I had also challenged Jack about his calling me “Danny,” something only he could do, and he knew it.  Gawd, he wouldn't let me push him away, but I tried.  My Jack -- he never let me run.  I'll never forget his words, the understanding of my inner psyche that he showed.

“Danny is you, the little boy who loves and gives more to others than anyone I know.  He's kind and selfless.  He's also loving and a romantic son of a gun.  He's your spirit.  He soars like an eagle, unafraid, unaware that people out there want and would hurt him.  Danny sees innocence everywhere, because Danny is innocent.”

He continued on.  “Danny isn't afraid of the pain because he trusts people.  He never thinks he'll be hurt because he can't imagine cruelty.  All Danny wants is to love and be loved.  He takes risks and opens himself up to the wonders of the world.  Sometimes, Danny gets the door slammed in his face, and that's where Daniel takes over, the intellect trying to protect the heart and the spirit.”

It was Daniel who developed the self-hug and the crossed arms defense mechanisms, and it was Daniel who got me through life until My Jack found me and finally made it safe enough for Danny to come out again.  It sounds very split-personality-ish, but it's not.  I just had a painful childhood, a childhood that ended at the age of eight, and when I met Jack, he decided that even in my thirties, I could be a child.

The things he's talked me into doing still stun me, and yet I always agree.  My Jack -- he gives me life in so many ways.

But we were talking about some of the difficult times.  Nightmares ... there were more nightmares for both My Jack and I back during those days.  We almost lost Teal'c, not just once, but twice as we explored worlds that seemed to belong more on the pages of some gothic novel rather than actually exist on a planet somewhere in the universe.

Then My Love was hit hard by the sudden reappearance of Sha're on Abydos.  I had comforted her and wanted to bring her back to Earth.  Yet, I didn't do any of the things I could have, even should have done, and even Thor's Hammer was pushed to some unrecallable part of my brain.

Maybe I didn't want to remember; maybe my dark side was lurking; maybe ... so many maybes.

Still, as she gave birth to the child of my enemy, I loved her, held her, told her that no one could take away what we had.   My Jack watched me watching Sha're leave through the Stargate.  He asked me if I was okay.

“No, but I will be,” I had responded.

My Jack wasn't so sure, of me, or himself, and he wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible.

That night, my lover was quiet and cautious, watching me, trying to see some sign that things would be different.  He didn't tell me about the death of the reporter in Washington, D.C. for several days, keeping his torment to himself, unsure if I still wanted to share the unity of Jack and Daniel.  He told me he saw the love I had for Sha're in my eyes as she went through the Gate with Apophis.  I didn't know what to tell him then.

I didn't figure it out for a long time, but I didn't leave.  This time, I didn't try to run away, and somehow, we worked out way through it, more by not talking about it, than by talking.  We touched a lot, just being together, a simple, calming companionship that was never really simple.  Day by day, we moved onward, aware that some things are handled in time, by time, and not necessarily now just because someone says “whoa.”  So on we went, together.

We met the Tok'ra which was complicated by the fact I wasn't feeling well, something I tried unsuccessfully to hide from my life partner.  It's just that at the time, I was convinced Jack wouldn't be partner for another week, let alone life, if he knew I was sick.  I know.  It sounds very silly, but back then, it was the world I knew.

Jack never hated the phrase “I'm fine” more than he did during that mission.  Anyway, My Love nursed me back to health, and we went on with our life, and our missions.

SG-1 paid an eerie visit to Area 51, full of reminders of our own mortality, and for Jack and I in particular, it was a joyful reminder of an event, that while unpleasant, had ignited the fires that could no longer be extinguished between us.

Then, we took a brief holiday in each other's bodies.  It was only a few minutes, but I learned a lot, especially about the ache a bad knee can cause.  I didn't say anything then, but not long thereafter, it was clear My Jack was taking bravado a little too far.  I had to step in, and that's when he had the first of his knee surgeries.

He was grateful afterwards, especially since I pampered him for days after the surgery, much longer than was necessary.

After that, we argued over videotaping plants, and then met Charlie, a homegrown Charlie, and My Jack cried again in my arms for all the losses and near misses of the past year, and of our lives.  He felt drained having had to say goodbye to yet another small boy.

A quick trip through time, and then we wished we had stayed in 1969 when once again, Hathor reared her ugly head, cutting my hair and shoving a symbiote into the face of my lover, and thus began our fourth year of friendship, and our second of being 'us'.

On Hathor's Planet, I went deep inside myself to try and hide, to forget, but My Jack saw, and from the moment we were reunited, he ruffled my hair, my now short hair, and put his hand on my back, and whispered so no one else would hear, “You're beautiful, Danny.”

How's a guy supposed to respond to that when he's surrounded by a bunch of Marines, some Jaffa, and a major general?

I smiled and whispered back, “I love you,” and My Jack gave the smile that makes me melt like butter on a hot stove.

We renewed ourselves as we gave our bodies to each other that night, and then we faced the universe again, more secure in the fullness of our cup, knowing they don't understand, and that it's their loss.

We dealt with Nirrti, yet another alternate reality, Aris Boch (and no, I was not flirting with him and I wish everyone would stop badgering Jack about it because every time someone mentions this bounty hunter, my life grows insufferable due to the ongoing growling of My Colonel), an attempted takeover of the SGC by alien lifeforms, being tortured and kept in electrified cages on Bedrosia, and yet again, Apophis who apparently has as many lives as I do.

Bedrosia was a very difficult time, just after Edora and the NID sting.  Watching my lover being burnt to a crisp was not my idea of fun.  Just as I had done on Hathor's Planet, I zoned out, spoke in monotone.  Actually, the training Jack had been putting me through helped a lot.  I had been forced to make some tough decisions during that tortuous incarceration, and I'm not sure I could have done it without Jack's private training earlier.

Then, too, it made me feel even more love for the colonel of my heart, who has had to make decisions like the one that faced me on Bedrosia for years.  No wonder he uses humor and wit now to cover up the pain of pitting life against life.

My Jack wasn't happy with what I went through on that arrogant little planet.  Neither was I.  The only good that came out of it was Nyan who returned with us to Earth.

This was the year we went to Netu, and it felt like the entire year was spent in Netu.  My mind raced with “what if's,” but somehow, My Love and I retreated to the safety of our embrace, and held on for dear life, and by clinging to each other, we again made it through this year of loss, when game playing became a necessary evil.

I've avoided talking about two incidents which seemed oddly enough, too personal, too close to our souls, but I suppose their lessons are too important not to share before we go on to that last agonizing test I mentioned earlier.

They don't understand us, glimpsing only isolated fragments of our lives, when they peek through the crystal-like glass.  They don't understand My Jack, and they don't know what I know.  Another of Ma'chello's inventions to fight the Goa'uld resulted in my being committed to a padded cell of four very snowy white walls.

Jack is used to dealing with what he can see, what he can strategize against.  He's not good with the abstract foe, with fighting something he can't see.  He felt helpless and useless for the first time in our union when Janet and MacKenzie locked me up.  He didn't know how to derail the experts.  Even Janet, our doctor, our friend, was telling him I was beyond hope, and should be locked away.

I only knew that My Jack was standing as far away from me as he could, watching me with a cold detachment as I huddled in the corner of my cell, talking of “footsteps” that made me shake in fear.

“Get me out of here, Jack,” I tried to plead with my eyes, but my voice talked only of “footsteps” and my lover couldn't hear me, couldn't see my desperation.

When my mind became clear after Ma'chello's little invention left me to enter Teal'c, I called for Jack, and he came running.  He stood there, staring at me, wanting to believe the words I had spoken about Ma'chello.

“Well, he does have a Goa'uld” I had spoken aloud, trying to warn of the danger to Teal'c, but once again, my eyes were saying “Get me out of here, Jack.”

This time, My Love walked slowly to me, never losing contact with my eyes.  He put his hand on my cheek, caressing it gently with his thumb, still looking in my eyes.

“Get me out of here, Jack,” I finally said out loud, adding “We have to get to Teal'c.”

Jack was frozen, lost in thoughts of how he had left me behind, again, by his way of thinking.  I wanted to comfort him, but there wasn't time.

We went back to the SGC.  Janet was stunned at my mental state, my completely normal as in “I'm not insane” mental state.  I was already so much back to myself that Janet didn't even know what to say.  She couldn't even have imagined that I could be thinking so clearly within an hour of being released, er, better correct that to within an hour of having left the facility.  I was still fighting to rid my system of the drugs that both she and the quack MacKenzie had given me.

It took me a while to forgive Janet, and to move on.  The same for Jack. The stakes had been too high for her to have written me off so quickly and easily.  Still, she has been a good friend, and I think she learned something about herself from that nasty experience.  So, yes, it took some time, but we've all moved forward together.  We love her, and yes, we trust her.  We have complete faith that Janet would never make a similar mistake like that today.

Anyway, everything ended up okay, though while trying to learn more about the bugs that Ma'chello had invented to kill the Goa'uld, I almost lost My Jack to the same thing that had briefly taken me away from him.  The little guys escaped their containment, but fortunately, Janet and Sam figured out a solution.  They were all saved, and then we were able to treat Teal'c so that he would be okay, too.

When the day was done, everyone was alive and well.  Well, maybe we weren't really “well” or maybe ... the point is, we were exhausted and mentally drained.  No one felt like doing reports, reliving the torture that had nearly cost us all so much.  The general decided reports could wait and gave us a week off.

I stood at Teal'c's bedside later, just watching, thinking, remembering, trying to feel myself again, when I felt him, My Heart, standing in the doorway, watching, thinking, remembering, wondering what he could possibly say or do to make us “right” again.

I turned and met his gaze head on, and again I said with my eyes, “Get me out of here, Jack.”  He did, though he was still riddled with the belief that he could and should have done more.  Maybe he could have, maybe he should have, but our cup is always half full, and I reminded him of that on the drive home.

At a stop light, he turned and looked at me, and I placed my hand atop his.

“We're okay, Jack.”

We were, but I had a hard time convincing Jack of that. I kept trying to make him believe, but he wouldn't listen.

We had been home for a few days, but still, the man I love was silent and withdrawn, taking care of me but refusing to let me take care of him, until finally I pushed him, as he had done so often with me, and I made him talk, revealing his pain and regret.

“You never left me alone, Danny.  I remember how you wouldn't leave me when Thor's buddies downloaded all that ... whatever ... into my brain.  You stood up to Hammond, followed me around everywhere.  Why'd I leave you, Danny?  How could I ever leave you in a place like that, even for a day, even for an hour?”

“It's not the same thing, Jack.”

“Yes, it is, Daniel.  You stuck to me like glue.  I ... I ...”

“Jack, it's over, and when it mattered, you were there, and you fought MacKenzie and ...”

“Daniel, for crying out loud, stop defending me.  I let you down.  I left you behind, again.”

We went on like that for a bit, Jack so sure he was wrong, and me trying to get him to understand that he had done his best and had nothing to feel sorry about.  My Jack.  He didn't know that Sam had told me all about his plans to take care of me.  She had stunned me with her comments at first.

“Daniel, I think you need to know what the colonel was about to do before we got the call from the hospital.”

I had sat quietly, wondering what Sam was so nervous about, but truthfully, Sam's always been a bit ill at ease talking about the love between Jack and I.  She's gotten progressively better about it over the years, but back when this happened, it was still strange to her.

“He was going to tell the general about the two of you; I mean ... you know what I mean.  They had told us that there wasn't much hope for you, but Colonel O'Neill said he just couldn't let you stay there in that padded room all alone.  He was going to take you out of the hospital whether MacKenzie liked it or not and do whatever he had to in order to take care of you at home, no matter what the cost.”

Then she said Jack quoted me, which again, amazed me.

“Remember the Depository of the Ancients when Colonel O'Neill had their knowledge downloaded into his brain?  You were the only one who could communicate with him, and when General Hammond wanted you to go on a mission, you refused.  You told him, 'I can't leave him like this, and I won't'.  That's what the colonel said to me, Daniel, and it's what he said he was going to tell General Hammond.

Apparently, that visit I remember of Jack being cold and detached, he was anything but.  Sam said it was haunting him.

“His mind was made up.  We were going to the infirmary to check on Teal'c, and then Colonel O'Neill said he was going to talk to the general and tell him everything, that he loved you, and that no one was going to keep you locked up and drugged.  He had already typed up his letter of resignation; I think it's still in his pocket.  We sat with Teal'c awhile, then McKenzie called, and ... well, you know what happened next.”

My Jack.  He's full of surprises.  Oh, how I love him, my not-so-tough  marshmallow of a soulmate.

I was smiling, a big huge grin of a smile, looking pretty goofy, I'm sure, but I was remembering Sam's words, and my insides were on fire thinking about just how much I love this man that so many don't understand, and while I stood there looking like the Cheshire cat, My Jack stared in confusion.

Then I laughed, a laughter full of joy and the knowledge that the marshmallow in question is mine, mine, mine, and I'm going to keep him, not ever going to let him go, and certainly not because of some full-of-himself shrink or some invention-fighting overachiever.

I guess what I'm saying is that we can only do our best in this twilight zone of a life that My Love and I share.  Neither of us are perfect.  If I let myself dwell on the negative, I have to admit to open hostility towards Quack MacKenzie, to feelings of letdown and disappointment in Janet for being so quick to ship me off to the nuthouse, and with an even deeper regret, I can't repress the old abandonment issue.

Jack left me there, in that place, alone, scared, cold.  If I let that be my focus, my cup is half empty; but my toasty marshmallow, My Jack, he came back.  He believed me, comforted me, and he gave me space to sort through the nightmare, and that was perhaps the hardest thing for him to do in the aftermath of the padded cell, to let me be, to find me again.

And when I did rediscover myself, I found my soulmate, the person I trusted more than any other being in the universe, the one who makes me feel safe and treasured, the man who was still torturing himself silently for not being all knowing and all powerful, for not standing up to Quack MacKenzie, to Janet, for not demanding that they look harder to find the answer.  My Jack.

I pinned him to the wall, still laughing as I started to taste him, as he momentarily wondered if maybe I wasn't as okay as he thought, but then I explained.

“Jack, Sam told me what you were going to do.  Gawd, I can't tell you how special that makes me feel.  I love you so much.”

Poor Jack.  He was torn between wanting to kill Sam or give in to the ravishing that was taking over our very motivated bodies.  I didn't give him much time to debate, either.  We ignored any attempt to get to the bedroom, unable to contain ourselves and the sensations of our bodies. It was definitely time to dwell on the positive, not the negative.

Remember that Carribbean trip we sent Sam on?  Once the drugs were completely out of my system, and I was officially certified as “whole,” I surprised My Jack with a holiday of our own, two weeks alone, where we left Ma'chello's inventions, head doctors, and military regs far behind, focusing only on making sure that Jack and Daniel were also certified as “whole.”

Two weeks of intense lovemaking and the study of biology, our biologies, and then we returned to the SGC, sporting big grins, which probably wasn't the smartest way to be, but we couldn't help it.

We smiled so much that Sam had to work overtime in the rumors department, when she wasn't giggling behind our backs.

“Holy Hannah, Daniel, what on Earth did you two do on vacation to be so, so, so ...”

I just smiled some more, and Sam did it again -- she blushed.

Okay, so sometimes, we weren't such great actors; sometimes, it just didn't seem important enough to deny how happy we were, even if Kinsey was spying on us.  Our rainbow was radiating, and our love had blossomed beyond imagination.  We were Jack and Daniel, in love, in want, in need of each other.  We were us.  There was no such thing in our reality as a cup that wasn't at least half full.

Incredibly, as if separation, the NID, and white walls wasn't enough for one year, we still had one final challenge.  I became invisible, and this time, I did get mad at Jack.

“Goodnight, Sir?” I repeated, in total disbelief at the words I'd just heard spoken.

“Wha...That's it?  What happened to working through the night.  I'd do it for you.”

I had done it for him, many times, Antarctica and Edora immediately popping into my mind.  If I hadn't been invisible, I might really have strangled him.  I went from total shock to intense anger to complete compassion and loving empathy.  My Jack.  My Love.  He was in agony.  People don't understand what they can't see, and they couldn't see what I witnessed next.

Hunched in a corner of his office, in a position that had mirrored mine in the padded room, speaking in barely a whisper, I heard my soulmate say, “Footsteps, Danny.  I need to hear your footsteps, need to see your blue eyes, need to feel your hands.  Footsteps.”

I had to communicate with him.  I had to let him know I was there -- somehow, and I did, merging our bodies together for a few moments.  It was an incredible experience, and it worked, though for a while, Jack wondered if he was losing his mind.

I did my best while I was there, but I knew the answer was elsewhere.  I hated to, but I had to leave Jack alone for awhile.  It was difficult, but I had to.

“I'll be back, Jack.  I need to see Nick.  It's going to be okay.”

With a new desperation, I did go to see Nick, not sure why I thought he could help me, but more determined than ever to find a way home, to my home that is My Jack's arms. I had no idea why I believed Nick held the key, but I did, and before I knew what was happening, we were engaged in a conversation.  Wait, wasn't I invisible?

“You can see me?” I exclaimed with amusement, shock, and energy that came from some place I couldn't identify within myself.

Finally, My Love knew I was back, and soon, we were home.  Nick was gone again, but Nick had always been gone.  I had called him “Grandpa” for the first time, but I wasn't sure why.  Even when I spoke the word, it felt strange.  It sounded forced, even though I hadn't intended it to be that way.

I can't blame Nick for abandoning me to chase his dream, but ... sometimes my inner child still cries, still hungers for what I missed out on - a home.  And then it hit me, like a meteor blazing through the sky.

My Jack was here, holding on to me, kissing me, loving me.  Why was I feeling abandoned when here, before me, was My Jack, my human pillow, waking up my senses, reminding me what “home” meant, and home meant My Jack.

Hours earlier after witnessing Jack's breakdown in his office, I had thought my heart would crumble into a thousand pieces seeing my lover so desolate, with no one there to help, but that was then, and now I was back.

“Can you hear me now, Jack?  Can you see me, Love?”

Oh yeah, he could see me.  We'd both be seeing stars soon, but in the here and now, we heard and saw nothing but each other, nothing but love, as once again, we grounded ourselves to eternity.

Much of our fifth year together has already been discussed, but like some of my PowerPoint presentations, there's always more (just don't tell Jack I made fun of my own briefings; they are some of my best “get even” maneuvers).

So, as I was saying, we began our anniversary celebration in the infirmary.  It had been three years since General Hammond spoke the words that made Jack believe in miracles, “SG-1, there's someone who'd like to see you.”

Every year, on the date of my return from that particular presumed death, my romantic fisherman makes sure we have downtime so we can spend a couple of days drinking in nothing but the sweet smells and tastes of our union.

This particular year, we had planned a trip to the cabin for recreation that did not include fishing.  Most people thought I was going to New York to visit the museum where my parents had died and do some soul-searching and remembering.

The entire facility knew Jack was going fishing; he had been asking everyone in sight to go with him for days.  Fortunately, after Teal'c's experience fishing with Jack, no one ever wanted to go near the cabin, to fish or otherwise.

We were packed and doing some spontaneous recreation, when it happened.  My poor love!  He had such plans for us, had me where he wanted me, and then, instead of seeing stars, I saw blackness, nothing but the dark.

My Jack was paler than I was; he thought he had killed me, but as it turned out, it was only my appendix, which Janet removed quickly enough.  Maybe this is when we really forgave Janet.  I'm not sure.  Things were back on track long before this, and yet, this would have been her chance to blow us both out of the water.

She had a hard time understanding why My Colonel and I had different versions of how and when the pain made itself known, and it's easy to see why.

“I was in the shower, Janet, when the pain overtook me.  I stumbled out, and managed to get dressed and yelled for Jack.”  That was my story.  Hit by the pain in the shower.  It would explain my damp body -- at least to my illogical mind of the moment.

“Daniel was outside doing some yard work for me.  You know, he does that sometimes, Doc.  I saw him fall to the ground, so I brought him inside.”  That was Jack's story.  It simply explained me being all sweaty at the house.

It was a slight problem.  In the urgency of the moment, Jack and I just didn't have time to compare, er, create a reasonable story for exactly what we were doing, where we were doing it, and why.  Frankly, it was embarrassing, and thankfully, Janet finally gave up.

We had outbantered Napoleon, using the best shots we could come up with, and totally ignoring anything that came anywhere near to the realm of reason or logic.  She withdrew, with a frustrated and very knowing look that said, “You two have been up to something, and I will find out what eventually.”

We were still quaking from the unspoken threat of our next post-mission exams when My Jack suddenly calmed himself with a final shudder of the shoulders, and then, after a quick look around, he leaned over and kissed me, hard and possessively, and then again, softly and lovingly.

“You scared me, Danny.  Don't do that again.”

“Sorry, Jack, I'll try not to,” I responded as my lover backed away slightly in case someone walked in.

“So much for our trip to the cabin”  He sighed, a sad look on his face.

“You should go, Jack, especially since I have to stay in the infirmary anyway.”

“I don't think so.”

“I want you to go, Love.”

“Trying to get rid of me, Space Monkey?”

“Never, but it'll be good for you, and since we've been so bold lately, it might help alleviate some of the gossip.  Everyone knows you've been planning this trip.  Jack, it'll make Kinsey and his pack suspicious if you suddenly cancel just because I'm laid up with this.”

“Danny, you're more important ...”

“I know that.  I do.  But go, Jack.  Just for a few days, and then you can come back and bore me for weeks with fish stories.”

“Daniel?”

“Jack?”

“Bore you?  When do I ever bore you?  Am I boring you now?  Geez, you really do want me to go.”

Oops, my sulking love was being a tad oversensitive, and I wondered whatever would I do with him?  Well, actually, I knew what I was going to do with him, but at the time, I was in no condition to do much more than try to soothe his worried brow.  I had forgotten.  I'd almost died ... again ... and My Jack doesn't handle it well when I die, er, almost die.

A quick check of the perimeter indicated we were still very much alone, Napoleon long gone, so I reached out and pulled My Jack to me, massaging his neck as I placed my lips on his and demanded entry into his mouth.  I tried to deliver my answer to his question as best I could, considering I could barely move.  As I was about to suffocate, I released him.

“Does that answer your question?”

“No,” he feigned coldly as he continued to sulk, before showing me that favorite grin of mine.  “I don't know, Danny.  I don't want to leave you.  It feels wrong.”

“Why don't you think about it tonight?  Maybe you can even ask Sam to go.”

“Daniel!”

“Jack, the game, remember.”

“The game.  Yes, I remember, but I'd rather stay here with you and kiss your scar.”

“Ow!  Don't even think about it, Jack.  Now, it's late.  Go home, get some rest, and think about going to the cabin, at least for a few days.”

“You have a one-track mind, Jackson.  Okay, you win, but I won't like it.”

Then, My Love and I said goodbye, stealing another kiss, not realizing it was to be our last touch for weeks.  The Replicators were jeopardizing our world, and the survival of our friend, Thor.  We thought we had finally won, but then it got worse.

Finally, it came down to “blow it.”  My Jack had just ordered me to kill him.  It was more than I could bear, but I couldn't let the Replicators eat him alive.  My head was telling me that I could at least give him a quick death, but my heart had other ideas.

“Davis, give the order.”

My head was throbbing.  I actually cried, right there in front of everyone.  “Okay.  Okay,” I finally said.

It seemed that somehow an archaeologist suddenly ranked higher than a major in the Air Force.  No one, not a single one of the military personnel present in the facility dared give the order to destroy the submarine My Jack was on, unless I said it was okay.  It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, and then, My Love disappeared before my eyes, beamed up to Thor's ship, and again, I cried.

So much for squashing the rumors.  Sam would have to work overtime from now on, but he was a split second away from being killed, and I had to not only watch it happen, but give the freakin' order that made it happen.  It was a nightmare.

When it was over, I felt like I had let Jack down, being so emotional in front of everyone, but he wasn't angry.  He just smiled and held me, his fingers carding through my hair, light kisses on my head as I nuzzled into him.

“I'm proud of you, Danny, and by the way, just how close WAS Major Davis sitting to you?”

“Jack!”  Gawd, he didn't care about the order or my open tears, but he sure wanted to know all the details about Paul Davis and his proximity to me.

“Just asking, Daniel, and wondering where the good major would be most effectively used.  He apparently has some talents I wasn't aware of until now, and ...”

“JACK!”

“Shhh, Danny.  I was only saying that he is a man of many skills, and I think I should make sure he gets to use those skills where it will be safe.”

“Safe for who, Jack?”

“Safe for Major Davis, Daniel.”

My Jack had that look, and as I said earlier, much earlier (I really do talk too much), that's the how and why of Paul's reassignment to Elmendorf where he would be safe ... not from the Goa'uld, but from My Jack.

Back to work.  I've already mentioned Euronda and the zatarc mess, but then there was the time loop business.  The kiss Jack planted on Sam landed me breakfast in bed and control of the television for a month.  That meant documentaries, cultural shows, antique programs, and absolutely no hockey or any other sport or even anything remotely close to what airs on ESPN.  To quote my lover -- Sweet!

As for Sam, Jack had to actually listen to her explain whatever needed explaining, without interruption for the same period of time.  Needless to say, SG-1's fearless leader learned his lesson, though he was pretty much a grizzly bear for several weeks, until he began making a habit of eating his breakfast in bed, too, only I was his breakfast, making it very difficult for me to eat my waffles.  I was too ... distracted.  Next time, I will have to come up with something less tempting as his punishment.

One more thing about the endless time loops.  While it may have seemed like a magical fantasy for some to be able to live a period of time over and over again, for My Jack, it was a nightmare.  Aside from the translating he had to help me with, he had spent little time with me.  I asked him why.  After all, we could have had a lot of fun during those loops.

“I didn't want the memories alone, Danny.  I felt like it would be taking something from you that I didn't have a right to take.”

“Jack, I love you.  I wouldn't have done anything I didn't want to.”

“I know, but you wouldn't remember any of those loops, either, would you?”

“No, I guess not.”

“Angel, I want all of our memories to be OUR memories.  It was so hard not to touch you, but I couldn't, not after the first time.  It felt wrong.”

“Jack, did we ...”

“No, but we spent a wonderful day doing all kinds of ... silly things.”

“Show me.”

Jack smiled, and then he did.  We recreated that day.  It was wonderful, but at the end of it, Jack repeated his earlier feelings.  “See what I mean?  Tomorrow, Danny, we'll wake up, and we can talk about what we did today.  For those three months in the loop, we couldn't do that. It just felt cold.  Do you understand?”

Oh yeah.  I understood.  My Jack is much more sensitive than most realize.  He wasn't just thinking of himself, but of me.  Gawd, I love him.

Where was I?  Oh yes, then we jumped out of a plane, which landed me another month of TV control during which my parachuting lover had to pay attention and pass the nightly quiz of what we had learned on my channels of choice, be it the Discovery, Learning, or History channels, or even CourtTV, before he was allowed to play with his archaeologist.

No passing grade, no archaeologist.  The funny part was that I teased Jack into control of the remote and the quizzes.  I wasn't really angry, but he didn't know that until I decided to tell him, but still, I insisted on remote control ... control.  Jack was highly motivated to indulge in his archaeologist (that would be me, in case you've forgotten), and you'll be pleased to know my “dumb” colonel had a perfect score, which proves you can't judge a colonel by his yadda yaddas!

Somehow, I talked My Jack into letting me go on a dig with SG-11.  It turned out to be a costly excavation.  Robert died, and it was hard to lose another friend.  And My Love was none too happy about my almost being Chaka's dinner, but after some more reassurances, we were ready to face the next foe, most of which I've already discussed so I won't repeat myself now.  Kinsey, however, was still out there, and the policies that govern the SGC had been changing.

It wasn't good, but My Jack and I were determined to continue on, making sure we remembered who we were at night, just Jack and Daniel, for always and forever.  We didn't think anything could ever threaten our cohesiveness again.

Surely, after having survived these trials, these tests of our five years together, three of which were spent as partners, as lovers, as “us,” My Jack and I would be prepared for anything, or so we thought.

They don't understand how two people so different can be so happy and so together for so long.  This time, we didn't understand either, didn't understand how great the risk was, the risk of loving and losing, of not granting ourselves our individuality, or maybe that's because we forgot we were individuals, as well as 'us'.

When Reese entered our world, we came the closest we had ever come to losing it.  Our differences collided in the gate room.  I needed two more minutes.  I didn't get it.  I was angry.  No, I was furious, and I was furious at that stupid s.o.b. whom I had snuggled with just hours before the Replicators became a threat again.

He didn't understand, and I couldn't make him understand.  Reese was important; the key to understanding the Replicators.  Why couldn't he see that, and why couldn't he give me just a couple more minutes?

He stood there, quiet and confident of his actions, apologizing for something he viewed as only a machine, totally unaware of the concept of different lifeforms.

“Why, Jack?  Why can't I get you to understand?” I had wanted to ask him, but what would have been the point, so the question remained in my mind.

All I could do was swear and call him a stupid s.o.b.  He left to attend to his duties, and I sat and sulked in my righteous anger.

It was quite a while later when I finally allowed myself to hear and admit the truth.  We didn't have more time.  The countdown was on.  Why hadn't Jack told me that?  Why couldn't he explain we were down to fifty-five seconds?  I wasn't listening, that's why.  I was too busy being self-involved in the moral right of the universe.

We didn't even have a minute.  If Jack hadn't succeeded, My Love would be dead, and so would I ... and everyone else at the SGC we cared about.  Fifty-five seconds.

“Oh ,Jack, how can I say I'm sorry?” I wondered.

My Jack says I'm always right.  He's wrong.  That day, I was wrong, so very wrong, and I unleashed my fury, unjustly, on him, on My Jack, on the one person who loves me unconditionally.  How could I be his conscience if I couldn't be understanding and tolerant of his place in our universe?

I preach and cling to my true function, my moral right, and here was my lover, fulfilling his true function, protecting not just me, but the SGC and the planet, and what did I do?  I called him a name and pushed him away.  Oh yes, I was wrong, big time wrong.

He had told me he'd given me all the time he could, but I doubted him, assuming he just wanted to use his firepower to save the day.  The irony was that I had always said he doubted me, not giving me the respect I was due, and there we were, the tables turned.  Fifty-five  seconds.  Fifty-five seconds.  I had messed up again.

It was a long, tedious day.  It took hours to make sure the base was clear, and a bit reluctantly, I let Janet tend to my wrist.  Then, finally, came the debriefing.  Jack gaped openly when he saw my bandaged wrist from across the table.  He'd had no clue I was hurt.  I managed to get him to look at me, tried to say, “I'm sorry,” but I couldn't read him right then.

I had no idea if he understood, so I tried to say it during my part of the report.

“I thought I had more time, but I was wrong.  Jack gave me as much time as he could, and while I do believe Reese was shutting the Replicators down, I don't think she would have been able to do so before the self-destruct.  We needed a couple more minutes.  We ... we just didn't have them.”

I looked at Jack and said with my eyes, “Let's go home, Jack.  Please take me home.”

I got a nod back, unnoticeable to anyone else.  The general wrapped up the meeting.  We got two days downtime to regroup, and I had plans, plans for one Air Force colonel being spoiled rotten by one very apologetic linguist.

We rode home in silence, but once inside, My Love took my hand, held it up, and placed it over his heart.  “Why didn't you tell me you were hurt, Danny?”

“I was too angry, Jack.  I'm sorry.”

“Daniel ...”

“No, Jack.  I meant what I said at the debriefing to General Hammond.  I thought I had more time.”

“I should have told you.”

“I wasn't listening, Jack.”  I paused, needing to say more.  “I know what you think about Reese, but she was shutting them down.  She would have done it, Jack.  I'm totally convinced of that, but we didn't have the time.  I ... I understand that now.  I'm ... I'm sorry I didn't realize that sooner.”

He was still holding my hand to his heart, and we were almost inside each other the way we stood so closely together.  He smiled and kissed me tenderly.

“Bed,” he stated, not asking.

“Bed,” I answered, with my own smile, stating, not asking.

True to my inner promise, I spent the next forty-eight hours making a king of My Jack.  He felt horrible about leaving me in the gate room without checking to see if I was injured or not, but I wouldn't let him have that guilt.

I hadn't let him see I was hurt, shielding my injury from him.  At the time, I hadn't wanted his compassion.  I only wanted to hurt him because he had hurt me, or so I let myself think.  It's not a moment I'm proud of at all.  Sometimes, I can be very stupid for a genius!  

The episode with Reese scared us back to another reality.  We were hiding in plain sight, but playing a dangerous game, and why?  The situation was left unchanged, and there was undiscussed tension about it.  We didn't understand it, so we knew no one else could either.

The strangest thing happened next.  We had a dream, and when I say “we,” that's what I mean, “we.”  The Reese thing was over and done with.  My Jack and I knew we'd always have differences on how we look at things and how we should get from Point A to Point B, and we're okay with that.  But we still had the old NID stuff haunting us.  Did we want to go on like this?

“Dreams teach,” Shifu had said.

He's right.  I've chosen lots of paths in my life, including the one that led me to the Stargate, to Sha're, and to Jack ... My Jack, who loves me like no one else ever has.  I don't know where he gets his barrel of understanding from, but somehow, where I'm concerned, the barrel is always full of patience or whatever else Jack needs in order to be with me, or help me.

Okay, so he isn't easy, either.  We both have these hidden pieces of our souls that have been covered with hurt or loneliness or fears.  We've done a good job of keeping them in check, of sending as many of them on their merry way as we could.  Every time we survived a test, another piece went floating away, leaving us more in tune, more at peace, more together in the foreverness of our love.

Still, it's hard to get rid of something that has haunted you from the time you were eight-years-old, of wanting, needing, and believing that someone loves you, cares for you, needs you, wants you, believes in you.

My Jack told me once, “I don't always sound like I believe you, but I do believe in you.”

I almost cried right then and there.  I had once told Shyla that I never felt like I belonged anywhere, never fit in.

It was still true, except that I had Jack, and I knew I belonged with him, but still, I wondered why he loved me.  I hadn't really done that much -- the geek who had become a soldier for the man he loved.

On this night, we had gone to bed, too tired to do anything but cuddle up and kiss for a bit, and then we were out for the count.  Mister Sandman had come and done his thing.  I must have drifted into a dream, but it seemed so real.

We were on a planet, Kelowna.  There was this kid, well not really a kid, just someone even younger than me who smiled a lot.  He smiled at everything.  I bet he was smiling ... no, I'm being facetious and I shouldn't be.

There was an accident, and I was exposed to radiation.  It was a severe, make that a fatal, dose.  I guess you could say I was the hero, saving the planet and all that, and yet, the Kelownans weren't really very grateful. In fact, they tried to blame the accident on me, and where was I?

Dying, slowly, from radiation with My Jack looking older and more withdrawn than I'd ever seen him.  Our forever was going to end, until suddenly, it didn't.  Well, it did, but it didn't.

Talk about not understanding, I was stunned.  I was dying but suddenly I was talking to the glowing essence that was Oma DeSala, the one and the same Oma who was caring for Shifu, as in “Dreams teach” Shifu.

She was offering me a choice, luring me with this stuff about another plane of existence where we could continue our journey.  What I didn't understand is ... why would I want to continue my journey without Jack?

I was obviously more out of it than I realized, though, as suddenly I was focusing on my issues of abandonment, belonging, and making a difference.  I had decided I didn't belong anywhere and that becoming an Ascended was “the thing” to do.

It makes no sense to me, but as this dream progressed, I was actually able to convince the love of my life to stop Jacob from healing me with the Goa'uld healing device.

I'll never forget his face, but Jack, he can't deny me anything, so he didn't deny me this, either.  He didn't realize that all he had to do was say, “Don't go, Danny,” and I wouldn't have ... not ever, but he thought this was what I wanted, and I let him think that.  I still don't know why.  Why would I do that?  I didn't understand.  Gawd, what a terrible dream it was turning out to be.

Time passed, but every second was painful emotionally.  I knew it was wrong, but I couldn't wake up from the dream.  I wanted Jack with me, and I wanted to be with Jack.

One time, Jack was in a cell, being held prisoner.  I defied Oma and went to him, refusing to let him be tortured.  The weird thing was that later, something like this really happened, not with me ascending, of course, but Jack was being held captive by Ba'al.  That wasn't a dream, but rather, it was a freakin' nightmare, but that's neither here nor there at the moment.

In this dream, I begged Jack to come with me, but he didn't believe he was good enough to ascend.  Now that was a joke, even for a dream.

I was only an ascended being because I didn't think I was good enough for the living, and there he was saying that he wasn't good enough for me, not good enough to be ascended like me.  Whoa, Jack, where had we taken such a wrong turn?

Somehow, I silently communicated an 'inspiration' to Sam and Teal'c, and even to the smiling kid whom My Jack barely tolerated as a “member” of SG-1 in my place.  Their plan born of my 'inspiration' gave my love the chance he needed to escape, and finally, he was safe.

Other things happened, and eventually we were back on Abydos which was in trouble, being on the verge of attack by Anubis.  Again, I defied the glowing one (why had I ever thought this Oma was so great anyway?) and went to Jack who was being a little snarky with me.

I couldn't blame him.  I couldn't even die right so he could get on with his life.  I was like ... well ... I guess I was haunting him, never letting him forget me.  It didn't seem to me that I was very happy as an ascended being.

I convinced My Colonel to go to Abydos, and then he did what I wished he would have done when Oma first punched her way into my weakness.

“Cross it,” he said.

It was so simple, so clear.  I simply sighed, took a breath, and said “Okay.”  And there you have it.  I was crossing that line so swiftly and defiantly that Oma had to kick me out (please please please please please ... I had never wanted to be a failure so badly in my life as I did at that moment ... let me fail at being a glowy thingy, please!).

I wanted to save Skaara and the others, but I couldn't.  I crossed the line, and Oma stopped me from destroying Anubis.

Time passed, and the next thing I knew I was naked on some planet, and I didn't even know who I was.  When Jack finally found me, I called him “Jim” and couldn't even remember his birthday.  But then I did remember.  I looked in his eyes, and I remembered everything.

I realized that my journey was really our journey, that I have always belonged here, with Jack because as much as he is My Jack, I am His Daniel.  Why did I keep forgetting that?

Why didn't I realize that as precious as he is to me, that is what I am to him?  I do belong, here, with SG-1, with My Jack.  I am important.

With my team, I've saved more worlds and more people than could ever be imagined.  I am respected, loved, and admired.  I do have a wonderful life, just as much as Jimmy Stewart ever did!  He is My Jack, and I am His Daniel.

In a flash, I awakened from this nightmare disguised as a dream, and Jack did, too.  We looked at each other, trying to focus, to find clarity of mind.

“What ... what was that?” we both asked in unison, neither one of us sure if it was real or a dream.

We questioned each other over and over, and discovered we had indeed had the same dream, from different points of view.  It seemed crazy, but everything matched and fell into place.

“Danny, you wouldn't really ever leave me like that, would you?”

“You wouldn't let me, would you?”

“Geez, Angel, I'd be so lost without you, nothing more than a zombie going through the motions, existing, but not living.  You know how much I love you, and how much we all need and respect you.”

“Ask me to stay, Jack. Just ask me to stay.”  I smiled, my eyes telling him that's all he ever had to do -- ask me to stay.

He grinned.  “Stay, Danny.  Stay for forever and always.”

“I'll stay.  I love you so freakin' much.  I belong here.  I know that now. I'll never leave you, not ever.  I promise.”

We kissed and that led to other things that took us to a world of pleasure that filled us over and over again until we couldn't move an inch, except to hold each other close.

When we finally did wake for the day, we talked again about everything that had happened during the course of our relationship.  All the miscommunications, the pressures, the fears, the joys, the pleasures.  There was no arguing, only a review of who we are, where we are, and what we want.  We are Jack and Daniel, together forever, and that's what mattered.

We decided we still needed to continue our work with the SGC, and since “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” continued to rule the roost with the military, we still couldn't share our love with the outside world, but we wouldn't play the game anymore, either, at least not to the extent we had been.

If the NID, or worse, wanted us, fine, bring it on, but no more.  We had love and respect, and we weren't going to hide it.  Let the world think what it wanted to.  No more hiding our friendship, not ever again.  The light-hearted banter returned to the hallways of the SGC, not that it had ever really been lost.  We just didn't emphasize the negative.  We did whatever came naturally for us, with the knowledge that we'd let the chips fall where they may as a result.

Jack's imprisonment by Ba'al wasn't the only thing that turned out to really happen, but an amazing thing happened when we did actually end up visiting a world called Kelowna.  Sure enough, there was that smiling kid.  My Jack, though, hauled me off for downtime almost as soon as he'd seen Jonas, telling the general that we were going on vacation and that he and I would have nothing to do with Kelowna at the moment and that if he didn't like it, we'd retire.

Personally, I thought he overreacted, but My Love had me back through the Stargate, changed from BDU's into civvies, and out of the meeting with the general in about twenty minutes, and that has to be a record. General Hammond just stood there, stunned.

He never had a chance with My Jack ... my very overprotective “No, Daniel, you aren't setting foot on the planet ever again” Jack.  To be honest, I didn't want to.  Let someone else save Kelowna.  I was choosing another path.  Maybe the smiling kid who tried to take my place in our dream could be the hero this time.

“Dreams teach,” and this time, Jack and I were listening.

The other amazing thing is that from time to time things have popped up that were in this dream, and somehow, it gives us an advantage.  My Jack and I just look at each other when it happens, an almost telepathic “This is weird, but let's go with it” occurs, and this time around, we do whatever it is that makes it right.  As for that respect thing, I'm getting it, from all over the place now.

I think My Jack had a private talk with some people and said enough with the jokes and such.  He won't admit it, though.  Maybe he set Teal'c on them?  Still, he has that glint in his eye, that one of pride ... in me.  Imagine that.  In me!

How could I ever think of being a glowy thingy?  I made sure I talked to Sam and Teal'c not long after the dream.  I wanted them to hear it first-hand, that I love them, that I know they are my family, and that what we are doing is important.  After all these years, I wanted them to know that I finally believed that I did belong at the SGC and on SG-1.

“I guess I ... I should be thanking you,” I told each of them individually.

Just this week, on our most recent mission, My Love and I almost lost each other again.  Sam said I was like a lifeboat with some twelve different beings made a home in my brain.  I struggled to break through, to get free, to be heard.  There were so many voices in my head - an aristocrat, a worker, even a child.  I was desperate, though, because nowhere could I hear the one voice I wanted to hear more than life itself -- My Jack.  But I felt him.

As I struggled to keep myself together, to keep my mind separate from my “guests,” I knew he was there, and when I was finally able to break through, to let Janet know I was still present and accounted for, I saw him, watching, looking at me with longing, searching my eyes for reassurance I would keep my promise, and not leave him.

Sam figured out a way, and finally I awoke, hearing my lover's mocking voice at last, along with the rest of SG-1 and Janet.

“Daniel?”

He was scared, again.

“Jack.”

It's okay, Love, I'm back.  I had to say it with my eyes, had to let him know.  He came so close to me, wanting, needing to touch, and not being able to.  Eyes were watching.

My eyes said, “Take me home, Jack.  I have plans for us tonight.”

I saw the gleam in his eyes, knowing that soon we'd once again ground ourselves to our reality of 'us' and give thanks to whomever should be thanked for our being together.  We are stronger than ever now, more sure and confident of our place with one another.  He is My Jack.  I am His Daniel.

They don't understand, but finally, in totality, My Jack and I do.  My journey is our journey, the one joined of two hearts and two minds, and even two souls, that have incorporated themselves into one entity.  My Jack and I are a nation of two.  As long as we have each other, we have all our nation needs.

We are each other's air and water, the sky and the earth.  We are our rainbows that shine after our tears and during the brightest moments of our love.  I belong here.  I matter here.  I am important here.

My Jack belongs here.  He matters here.  He is important here.  In the end, we still bicker and annoy.  We always will.  We still argue and disagree, but as always, our cup will be half full, and never half empty.

We will continue with the SGC until the time is right for us to leave, together.  We are getting some of the wonder back that we had lost through having to play the game, and it feels good, for both of us.

So, for now, we will keep on exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations, boldly going where no one has gone before.  Oh geez, I have been hanging around Jack O'Neill too much.  No, I take that back.  There's no such thing as too much of My Jack.

No, they don't see clearly through the glass pane.  If they did, they'd see that My Jack and I made some important decisions this year.  We never planned it, but it just ... happened.  I guess you could say it was a transition ... from a family of two very independent men to a family that had room for more.

It began with a trip back to childhood.  Long story, but it really helped me to finally begin to truly let go of the past.  I learned how to play and was reminded how joyous laughter and smiles are, but as valuable as that lesson was for me, nothing has meant more than what happened next.

My Love surprised me on my birthday with Bijou and Katie, the two most beautiful beagles in the world.  They are our children, our girls.

With this simple gift, My Love made me whole, finally, completely, totally whole, crushing entirely whatever was left of that old feeling of abandonment.  As we sat on our lawn in the back of our house, and yes, it was now our house, legally even, I realized that not only was Jack my home, but I was home, in every sense of the word.

The amazing thing to me was that on that day, I also realized something else.  I wanted ... more!  Imagine that!  I had everything, and yet I knew it could be even better, and I longed for it.  It took me a while to get up my courage, but on a romantic getaway to Denver, I proposed.  Yes, proposed, as in marriage.  It's scary, but it's the right thing for us.  We haven't figured out the details yet, but sometime soon, Jack and I are going to get married.

It'll have to be a secret until we retire from the SGC, but we'll know that we've made the biggest step of our lives, and we'll remember the vows we speak to each other on that special day.  We carry our rings, rings I had engraved for us, in our wallets, in velvet pouches.  Someday, we'll wear them on our fingers ... someday.

They don't understand as they look through the fragility of the window, but I do, because in the end, I love him with all my heart and soul, and My Jack loves me the same way, and it's really as simple as that.  We love.  If you can't see it, that's okay.  We know it's there.

It's been there from the beginning when I lied and said that I could bring us home from Abydos, and it's there, burning brightly today, almost eight years later -- the Air Force colonel and the geek.  Jack and Daniel, 'us', together, forever and always.  Who would have thought it?

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

Here's a cheat sheet of fics based on what happened in this core story of “They Don't Understand” ... Potential Spoilers Below ... For more on ...

-- Jack and Daniel's pact, see “Out of the Fire, Into Our Souls”
-- Sha're's Death, see “Forever and Always”
-- Sara's reaction to Jack and Daniel, see “Being Ourselves”
--Jack and Daniel's “first time” together, see “Wish Upon a Star”
-- Sam's game of deception, see “Messages of a Friendship”
-- Jack and Daniel's “A Hundred Days” rendezvous, see “Tal Pat Ryn”
-- Daniel's Special Ops training, see “Black and White”
-- The events from Legacy, see “Calming Influences”
-- The events from Crystal Skull, see “Footsteps”
-- The arrival of Bijou and Katie, see “Home, At Last”
-- Daniel's proposal, see “The Circle of Our Love”
-- The wedding, see “Heart and Soul”
-- Daniel's illness during “The Tok'ra,” see “I'm Fine”
-- The “Angel” nickname, see “Out of the Fire, Into Our Souls”
-- Jack and Daniel's first trip to Disneyland, see “Goofy and the Boys”
-- The death of Robert Rothman, see “Because You're Mine”
-- Jack's and Daniel's childhood adventure, see “Brothers”
-- The events from “Window of Opportunity,” see “Opportunity's Agony”
-- The events from “The Fifth Race,” see “Download”
-- Daniel's appendicitis, see “Ouch!”

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