Time Out

Author: Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Humor, Romance, Established Relationship  
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  7 - April 5-10, 2004
Spoilers:  None
Size:  46kb, short story
Written:  September 24-26, October 2-3,13-14, 2003  Revised for consistency:  March 1-2, 2007
Summary:  Jack gives Daniel a puzzle to solve and then rewards him with an adventure in the sky!
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s), “For Better or Worse” and “Delusions of Love”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Suzanna, Mama Beast, Drdjlover, Brynn!

Time Out
by Orrymain

Daniel Jackson scurried through the halls of the SGC with an armload of books he had taken to a meeting with his staff as they tried to find the answers to a puzzle they were currently facing about PJ9-123.  During their last mission, SG-2 had discovered some ruins with strange writing all over them which neither Daniel nor anyone else in his department could recognize.

The puzzle wasn't a big priority at the moment, but Daniel was a curious man, and the nature of anthropology had him chomping at the bit to discover the history of the people who lived on the planet.  The inhabitants seemed friendly enough, but they hadn't yet found a method of communication beyond a rudimentary awareness that neither the Tau'ri nor the residents of the world were dangerous to the other.

Entering his office, Daniel dropped the books onto the edge of a lab table and was about to move on to his next task when he noticed a note near his phone.  The envelope had only the letter “D” on it.

Daniel smiled.  Jack and Daniel rarely signed their names to their notes, using only their initials.  Carefully, Daniel tore open the envelope as he walked over to the small sofa and sat down to read it.

D.

A reward awaits if you can find the elements that are required to make it happen. How hard can it be when it's from me?  

The first challenge is simple.  Just find the key to your heart and open wide.

L.Y.S.M.

J.

Daniel thought about the message and wondered what Jack was up to, but before he could work through the possibilities, Teal'c entered.

“DanielJackson, General Hammond wishes to see us in the Briefing Room.”

“Sure, Teal'c,” Daniel spoke distractedly as he got up and walked with Teal'c to the meeting room.

“Is anything wrong, DanielJackson?”

“No, just thinking.  Any idea what the General wants?”

“None.”

====

Thirty minutes later, four different SG teams, including SG-1, were in the middle of a brainstorming session trying to determine the best way to spend an unexpected appropriation that had just come their way.  The catch was that the money had to be spent within sixty days or it would revert to another program.  It was one of those strange Congressional things that happened from time to time, and Hammond was trying to get a consensus from his teams about the best use for the funds.

The individual members were throwing ideas back and forth.  Some had very definite preferences and were passionate about them.  Teal'c wanted it to go for training; Megan Williams thought at least part of the money should go for a civilian integration program, something that would ease the transition for unsuspecting “geeks” who suddenly found themselves tossed in with “jarheads”.

Sam wanted to splurge on some new computer programs and equipment.  Jack and Colonel Rappaport wanted more weaponry.  The possibilities seemed endless.

Daniel had been unusually quiet, but his nose was scrunched up tightly and Jack assumed he was trying to decide on which one of the many things needed for his department he would fight for.  Daniel had been nagging Jack about the need for better funding for the Archaeology Department for years.

“Open wide.  Hmmm.”

Everyone looked at Daniel, trying to understand his request.

“Open wide,” Daniel repeated in complete oblivion to his surroundings.

“Doctor Jackson?  Would you care to explain that?” General Hammond asked.

Daniel's eyes suddenly focused on his environment.  He glanced nervously around the room, finally seeing his grinning spouse.  He glared at his lover in silence, one of their telepathic-like conversations beginning to take place.  

~You are so dead, Jack.~

Jack continued his grin, replying, **You love me too much to murder me, Dannyboy.**

Daniel sighed, **Only because you are a warm pillow.**

“Doctor Jackson?” Hammond called out.

“Sorry, Sir.  What was the question?” Daniel asked, his head slightly bowed from embarrassment.

“Did you wish to make a request for your department for the appropriation?” the General asked.

Staring with the facial expression of a guppy, Daniel muttered something in Abydonian under his breath.

“Doctor Jackson?”

“No, Sir,” Daniel answered as he glared at Jack.  He had spent the entire time puzzling over Jack's clue.  He didn't even know what Hammond was talking about.  ~Paybacks, Jack.~

====

“You are sooooo dead, Jack,” Daniel stated as he walked into Jack's office, shutting the door behind him and locking it.

“You said that in the meeting.”

“No, I thought it.  You eavesdropped in my mind.”

“I love eavesdropping in your mind,” Jack smirked as he sat.

Daniel took his lover by surprise when he forcibly spun him around in his chair, leaned over, and planted a huge kiss on him, after which he whispered, “I sure hope your camera is off.”

“It is,” Jack sighed into Daniel's mouth.  

Jack had asked Sam to create another one of those remote control devices for his office as she had done for Daniel's.  Whenever his lover walked in, Jack automatically reached in his pocket and turned off the camera.  He had conveniently forgotten to tell Daniel about this, though.

Daniel suddenly left Jack and paced around his lover's office looking all around.

“What?” Jack asked.

“Okay, you are the key to my heart.  Actually, you are my heart.  What part of you is supposed to open?”  Seeing nothing but a grinning colonel, Daniel groaned, “Jaaaack.”

“You're the genius, Love,” Jack reminded as he leered at his soulmate.

“Grrrrrrr,” Daniel groaned again, walking out and leaving Jack laughing loudly.

====

Two hours later, Daniel was meeting with Sam in preparation for their next mission.  

“You know, Daniel, this device isn't unlike a transmission to a car.  If we can just figure out what makes it go, and it might open up a whole new dimension to the ...”

“That's it!” Daniel exclaimed.

“What's it?”

“Sam, you're beautiful,” the younger man said, planting a large kiss on her lips and running out of her office, leaving Sam wide eyed and stunned.  

~He just ... kissed me!~  Sam had once had a crush on Daniel, but when they first met on Abydos, but he was married to Sha're at the time.  “Holy Hannah,” she exclaimed, suddenly wishing her dear friend wasn't married to her CO.  ~Drats!~ she thought loudly while kicking her wastepaper basket.  “All the good ones are married,” she moaned into walls.

“Who's married?”

“Daniel,” Sam muttered before she realized what she'd said and who she had said it to.  The United States Air Force major turned crimson red and lost the ability to speak.  ~This is turning into a bad day.~

“Daniel, Carter?” Jack asked with a look that silently warned her to be careful with her response.

Sam smiled weakly as she really wished she could find a crack in the wall to hide in.

“Sorry, Sir.  I ... I mean ... Drats!” the blonde barked, kicking the trash receptacle again.

“Carter?”

“It's nothing, Sir.  You're married to a hunk.  You can't deny that,” Sam put forth.

Jack wanted to smile, and he did, for a moment.  Daniel was his, all his, but the problem was that he had a difficult time controlling his jealousy.  Male or female, it didn't matter the sex, Jack's green-eyed alter-ego raged the moment anyone looked at, or talked about, his husband with anything that could even remotely stretch into being non-platonic.  Mr. Jealousy had taken over for the moment, and Jack's smile retreated.

“Yes, Carter, Daniel is a hunk.  *My* hunk.  What I want to know is, why are you thinking about Daniel being a hunk?”

Sam fidgeted as she mumbled, “HekissedmeSirbutI'msureitdidn'tmeananything.”

“CARTER!  English!”

Sam cleared her throat, took a deep breath, and explained calmly, “He ... kissed me, Sir.  We were talking about something, and he just ... kissed me, and left ... walked out the door ... Sir.”

Jack's expression was blank, but his blood pressure was rising.  His old nemesis, Jealousy, was threatening to take hold of his emotions, but, remembering their recent experiences, he knew there was a logical and reasonable explanation.  He stood calmly, staring at Sam, and staring, and staring.  

“Sir,” the major finally dared to ask, but still Jack only stared.

The colonel was working very hard on trying to figure out what had happened and not jump to conclusions.  Jack knew Daniel loved him, wanted him, and was happy with him.  He hated that his own insecurities sometimes made him over-react to situations, situations just like this one.  He knew there was an explanation for the kiss.  He just had to find it.

Several minutes passed.

Sam was afraid to move.  Her CO had a jealous streak a mile wide, and she knew it.  She wasn't about to risk his wrath, so she quietly fidgeted, waiting for Jack to speak again.  

“Major, what exactly were you and Daniel discussing when he ... kissed you?” Jack asked, his voice steady and un-accusing.

“Jaaaack,” Daniel called out as he walked in and smartly closed the door.  “Sam, would you ...” he requested, nodding toward her security camera.

“Oh, right,” Sam said, turning off the camera.

“Jack.”  Daniel walked to his spouse, who was watching him intently, and shook his head.  “Geez, Jack,” he said as he devoured Jack's mouth.

“Oh, Boy,” Sam said, turning around.

“Jack, I love you.”

“I know,” Jack replied confidently, and he did know it.  Jealousy was still hovering, but, after the last time, Jack had been battling hard and was mostly winning his battle.  It was just taking some time.  ~It's okay.~

“Good.  Is that green-eyed monster of yours back in its hole?”

Jack took a deep breath, responding, “Oh, for crying out loud, Daniel.  I walk in here, and Carter's ranting about all the good ones being married.  I ask her who she is talking about, and she says you.  Then she admits you kissed her.  What am I supposed to think?”

“What did you think?”

“Actually, came up with about fifteen ways to kill her right here and covertly dispose of the body,” Jack answered sarcastically, though he added a small grin at the end of his comments.

Sam flinched, and Daniel cringed, but decided not to lose faith in his lover, especially after seeing the Irish smile he loved so much.

“And, then you thought ...?”

Jack smiled again and spoke softly, “And then I decided there must be a logical reason and decided if I stood here long enough, I'd figure out what it was.”

“I love you, Jack.”

“I love you, too, Danny.”

The couple kissed again, Jack's arms wrapping around his soulmate, pulling him into him.  Daniel moaned from the kiss.

“Oh, Boy,” Sam sighed again from the other corner of the room, wishing over and over there was another way out.

Jack and Daniel both laughed at their friend, knowing she wasn't used to seeing them this passionate with each other.

“Sam, I'm ... sorry.  It's just I've spent all day trying to figure out the answer to a puzzle, and when you talked about the transmission to the car and it opening up something, the answer came to me.  I was so relieved that I kissed you.  I'm really sorry because I shouldn't have done that.  It was ... out of line.  I hope you can forgive me.”

“Forgive you?  Wow, Daniel, you can kiss.  I understand, but you've just made it more difficult for the few guys out there who are brave enough to try and date me.  I'll never be able to kiss again without thinking about that whopper.”

“Carter, let's not go overboard,” Jack stated with a warning in his voice.

Daniel rolled his eyes and sighed as he turned back to Jack.  He was determined to get his spouse over this jealousy thing, even if he killed him.

~And sometimes I think it just might.~  Seriously, the archaeologist spoke, “And, I'm sorry, Jack, because the kiss was definitely inappropriate.  As much as I owe Sam the apology, I owe it to you, too.  I love you so much.  I just got excited about the ... puzzle.”

Daniel's eyes were shining, sparkling even, and Jack saw nothing but love for him in them


“I'm such a jerk to be jealous of Carter,” Jack uttered as he again scooped Daniel into his arms, kissing him soundly.

“Do you forgive me, Jack?”

“Oh, Boy,” Sam whispered again.  She really wished she were an ant so she could crawl under the door.  ~Shapeshifting would work.  I could be an ant.~

“Yes, Love, if you forgive me for letting that old monster out, even for a second.”

“I do, and I'm proud of you.  You caught yourself.  I know that's not easy, Jack.”

“I love you so friggin' much, Daniel,” Jack spoke from his heart.

More kissing ensued, and, as a result, Sam was in the farthest corner of the room, studying the dingy gray paint on the wall as if were a naquadah bomb.

“Let's go home, Danny.”

“Good idea, Jack.”

“Night, Sam,” Daniel said as Jack opened the door.

“Get a life, Carter,” Jack ordered, closing the door behind him.

“Whew,” Sam said after the two left.

Before the blonde could regroup, she had another visitor.  

“MajorCarter, have you seen DanielJackson?” Teal'c inquired.

“He just left, Teal'c.”

Sensing something odd in his friend, Teal'c inquired, “Are you not well, Samantha?”

“I'm fine, Teal'c.  Why?”

“You are ... red.”

“Oh,” Sam laughed.  “Yes, I'm fine, but I think I'm going to go home, too.  This has been one heck of a day.”

====

“You're incredible, Danny,” Jack panted, holding his sweaty lover in his arms.  They'd just finished another session of mind-blowing sex that rattled their bones and sent shivers through their convulsing bodies.

“Jack, I really was proud of you in Sam's office.  I know that wasn't easy.”

“I'm not going there again, Danny.  I just had to ... take a step back.  I love you, and you love me, and we're forever.”

“Yes, we are,” Daniel said kissing Jack's chest.  Then, he looked up and gazed into his husband's eyes.  “I am sorry, Babe.  I just got so excited.  I wanted my reward, and I hadn't been able to figure out the clue.  Sam handed it over to me on a silver platter.  I was thinking of you the whole time, and being with you, and getting my reward.”

“I know, Love.”

“Do you?  Do you really, Jack?”

Jack grinned, acknowledging, “Oh yeah, really.”  As Daniel snuggled in close to his chin, he asked, “So, did you find what you were looking for?'

Daniel answered, “Yes.  You are the key to my heart, My Silver Fox, just like my car, and there it was, the key and the next clue, just waiting for me to find it when I opened the glove compartment.”

“Well done, my little genius.  What's the answer to the next one?”

“Haven't figured it out yet, but I will,” Daniel intoned strongly.

“I have every confidence.  I love you, Danny.”

“I love you, Jack.”

====

“Here you go, Bij,” Daniel said as he tossed the green ball across the lawn.  

The mama beagle gave chase, her pup right behind.  It was 7 a.m., way too early to be up in Daniel's opinion, but the SGC was beckoning.  Daniel was spending a few minutes with the dogs while he waited for Jack, and then they'd drive in together.  

While he waited, Daniel pulled out the note he had found in his Silver Fox car and studied it again:

D.

Good, you've found the key.  Now you must locate the next element and it's easy, really.  Just suck on your phallic nourishment, but don't bite or swallow or we might have to pump out your stomach to get the clue.  And you must find the one with balls on it.  Only that one will have the map to your soul.

L.Y.S.M.

J.

Daniel traced his fingers over the initials on the note and spoke softly, “Love you so much, too, Jack.”

“Now, that's good to know,” Jack said, smiling as he joined his husband on the patio steps, placing a kiss on his temple, his left arm going around Daniel's waist and pulling his lover towards him.

“Phallic nourishment, Jack?”

Jack looked over at the note and responded, “That's ... what the note says, Daniel.”

“Jack, you couldn't possibly mean ... you know?  I mean, geez, Jack.”

Jack laughed loudly, his hand caressing Daniel's abdomen, and said, “No, Danny, trust me ... I don't mean ... you know.”

“Phallic nourishment?  I think maybe you've gone over the edge.  Where am I supposed to find phallic nourishment if it's not ... you know?” Daniel asked shyly.

“You're the genius, Love.”

“Yeah, right, so you keep telling me.”

====

“Well, that mission was a bust,” Jack sarcastically groaned as SG-1 returned through the Stargate.

“Not every planet can have big honkin' weapons, Jack,” Daniel responded.

“I would have settled for a little honker,” Jack mused as the others silently groaned.  He cocked his head in that 'Hey, what's wrong with that?' expression and headed for the locker room.

“I'm starved,” Sam remarked as she walked off, eager for nourishment.  “Daniel, why don't you meet me in the commissary?  We can get something to eat before the briefing?”

“I'm not hungry, Sam.”

The major laughed, “I'm not surprised. Power bars and junk food, Daniel.  Sometimes, I think that's all you live on. Oh, and coffee, of course.  See you later.”

“Bye, Sam.”

====

After he showered and changed, Daniel returned to his office and worked on his report.  He had a few more minutes and got up to get another cup of coffee.  As he took the first sip, a light bulb when off and he spit out the coffee, having forgotten to breathe.

“Oh, crap.”  The archaeologist exhaled, seeing coffee all over the place.  “Great, just great,” he muttered.

Daniel tore through a stash he kept on the shelves below his coffee pot.  He wasn't finding what he wanted.  He continued to search, throwing incorrect items all over the place, when he heard a thud-like noise that caused him to look up.

“Oh, sorry, Teal'c,” Daniel commented softly, realizing one of his discarded items had hit the Jaffa in the face.

“What are you looking for, DanielJackson?”

“Balls.”

Teal'c gave him a questioning look, but Daniel ignored him, continuing his task.

“It is time for the briefing, DanielJackson.  General Hammond is most upset that you are once again ... late.”

Daniel looked at the Jaffa and replied, “The briefing doesn't start for twenty minutes.”

“You are incorrect, DanielJackson.  It began fifteen minutes ago.”

Glancing at the clock, Daniel closed his eyes.  He'd been searching for thirty-five minutes without success.  He smiled, grabbed his notes, and accompanied Teal'c to the meeting.

====

Having gone over the 'bust' mission, General Hammond was now reviewing several potential future missions for his flagship team.  At the moment, they were discussing PJ5-100.

“Doctor Jackson, any idea what kind of culture we might find on this planet?”

The general waited patiently as Daniel sat pensively.

Jack loved the look of his lover, engrossed in thought, wishing he could kiss that ~sweet little scrunched up nose~ of his.

“Doctor Jackson?”

“Wha...what?”

Seeing all the eyes staring at him, Daniel knew he had once again missed something.  He sank back in his chair trying to disappear.

General Hammond saw his discomfort and inquired, “Son, are you all right?  You've been a little distracted lately.”

“Yes, Sir, I'm fine.  I apologize.”  Daniel darted a death glare at his spouse.  **This is all your fault, O'Neill.**

Jack acted liked he was as confused as the general, but his mind exclaimed a silent, ~Yeah!~

Daniel's glare continued, with a threat visible in his eyes, and the non-verbal warning of, **Paybacks, Jack!**

Jack raised his eyebrows up and down real quick and winked at Daniel before turning his attention back to the briefing, leaving Daniel frustrated.

====

Late in the afternoon, Janet's face was full of cheer she spoke, “Sam, you have to tell me about your boyfriend.  Look at these flowers!”

“Holy Hannah!” Sam exclaimed, seeing her best friend walk in with a gigantic bouquet of colorful flowers, a lovely assortment of red, white and pink carnations, lilies, alstroemeria, lavender and yellow daisies, red and yellow roses, an chrysanthemums.

“You've been keeping this guy under wraps for way too long, Sam.  Come on, Girlfriend, spiel,” the physician requested.

Sam blushed as she pulled out the card and smiled.

“So?” Janet asked anxiously.

“Private, Janet.”

A pager alert grabbed Janet's attention, prompting to her to respond, “You will talk sooner or later, Sam.”

“Later than sooner, Janet,” Sam teased as Janet disappeared out the door.  Then the blonde picked up the phone as she dialed the number of the sender, getting only his voice mail.  “Sir, just wanted to say thank you for the ... you know.  You really didn't have to, but I appreciate it.”

Sam looked at the card one more time:

Sam,

Just a little apology for that caveman act yesterday.  You know how I can get. D brings out the best in me, and I bring out my worst.  Thanks for always being there.  You're the best second in the business, and, no, D didn't tell me to say that, though, yes, D did suggest the 'apology', but it's on my credit card, for crying out loud, and it's not cheap!  You know how I am with words, Sam.  Thanks!

Jack

Sam laughed.  Her CO had started to write “Carter” twice, but crossed it out and inserted “Sam” both times.  She tucked the card into her purse and sniffed the aroma of the fresh cut flowers one more time.

~Maybe the colonel isn't the only lucky one; Daniel caught himself a good fish, too,~ Sam thought as she went back to work.

====

“It's not at home?”

“No, Daniel.  All the clues are here, and that's all I'm saying.”

“But, Jack, I checked every inch of my office, and it's *not* there.”  Seeing his Love's smirk, Daniel stammered, “Jack, you are ... you're ... you are sooooo ...”

“Lovable?” Jack interjected.

“Aggravating!” Daniel answered.

“Charming?”

“Frustrating!”

“Adorable?”

“An ego-maniac!”

“I'm hurt, crushed, that you'd think that,” Jack said, turning his back on his spouse in mock anger.

Daniel fidgeted, leaned against Jack's office desk, and sighed, “Okay, maybe not an ego-maniac, but definitely a maniac.”

Smiling, Jack turned and agreed, “Much better.”  He approached his Love and snatched Daniel up to him, kissing him with all the love he held inside.

“Hmm ... wow, Jack,” Daniel sighed.

“I'm crazy about you, Danny.”

“Isn't it time to ...” the archaeologist began with raised eyebrows.

“Go home?” Jack concluded with a suggestive smile.

“Yeah.”

“Oh, yeah,” Jack said.  “But, I have to finish this, or Hammond will have my hide.”

“Oh, uh, how long?” the archaeologist inquired.

“Probably an hour,” Jack sighed with regret as he looked at the project he was in the middle of.

“That's okay, Babe,” Daniel spoke.  “I have some notes to go over, anyway.”

“But later.”

“Definitely later,” the younger man said with an anticipatory leer.

====

A bit later, wanting to review mission notes, Daniel walked into the control center hoping to find Sam.

“She's working on the star map, Doctor Jackson -- something about recalculating gate address distances,” Sergeant Siler informed the archaeologist.

“Star map,” Daniel said quietly.  “THAT'S IT!” he exclaimed excitedly as he bolted out of the room and dashed into the briefing room.

“Daniel, what's wrong?” Sam asked, seeing Daniel out of breath from his run.

The archaeologist looked all around, mumbling, “It has to be here.  It has to be. He said it was the map to my ...  map ... it has to be here.”

“What?”

“A ... a ... ” Daniel twisted around, scanning the room, examining the floor, looking all around the star map.  “It just has to be here.”

Sam watched Daniel with curiosity and then a bit of sadness. Her friend looked so disappointed for some reason.

“I really thought it would be here,” Daniel lamented when his search came up with nothing.

“Daniel, what were you looking for?”

Daniel hated to admit it, but he already looked liked a ridiculous nut for running in the way he did, so he figured he had nothing to lose.

“I was looking for a ... a ... a Twinkie.”

“Oh, it *is* yours.  It's right here.  I thought it might belong to you.”

“You have it?” Daniel asked enthusiastically, hope shining in his eyes.

“Well, when I walked in, it was taped to the top of the star map.  I was curious.  Daniel, why did you tape a Twinkie to the star map?”

“I didn't.  Jack did,” Daniel answered as he took the junk food item from his friend.

“The colonel?  Why?”

“I'll ... I'll explain later.  I have to go.  Thanks, Sam.”

====

Back in his office, the eager young man opened the package of Twinkies which Jack had affixed a photo of two red balls to.  Deviating slightly on the instructions he'd been given, he carefully tore the Twinkie apart, finding a small rolled up piece of paper inside.  Inside it was yet another piece of paper.  He pulled it out and used his finger to get all the white cream filling off of the paper, licking the sticky goo off his fingers.

Daniel then ate the Twinkie, wiped his hands, and opened the first piece of paper, which seemed to be a map to someplace near Aspen, Colorado.  Then, he rolled opened the other piece of paper, which was a note.

D.

You ate the Twinkie first, didn't you?  I know you did!  I bet you didn't even follow the rules.  You will be punished for this!  Don't bother to deny it.  I know you.  Okay, you've found the key and now the map to the secret location.  Next, you must determine the method of our adventure.  I have faith in you, my little genius.

Here's your clue:  Oma and her groupies have nothing on this, and the best part is, to feel the joy, you don't have to change existences.  Find it, and you'll be one step closer to solving the puzzle.

L.Y.S.M.

J.

“Oma?  Geez, Jack,” Daniel said aloud.  ~What on Earth could Jack be thinking of,~ he wondered silently.

Daniel started to put aside the notes and return to work, but finally, his genius paid off.  A huge grin appeared on his face.  He hurried to Jack's office.

====

“Hey,” Daniel greeted as he walked inside his Love's office, closing and locking the door.  “Busy?”

Jack chuckled, “Just finishing up the report that's gonna save my carcass.  “And I'm never to busy for you.  You know that.”  As Daniel blushed, Jack observed, “Geez, Danny, you still blush, even after all these years.”

Daniel reddened even more, and Jack couldn't stay back.  He got up from his desk chair, made his way to the man he loved with all his heart, and put his arms around him.

“I love it when you get all embarrassed and blush.  It's so cute and adorable.”

“Jaaaack,” Daniel said in that shy quiet voice of his, as his hands slid up Jack's lower back, pulling the colonel of his heart into him.

“I love you so much, Jack.”

“We are sappy, aren't we?”

“Very, and I kinda like it, even if it's ... fluffy and ... well ... not exactly ... macho,” Daniel admitted with a tad of flippancy in his voice.

“Macho is good, but macho without love is sad and lonely, and I'm not interested in that life anymore,” Jack spoke, placing a sappy kiss on his lover's nose.  “So, you look awfully mischievous, Daniel.”

“I've been making valuable use of this past hour, Jack.”

“I thought you'd be lost in your rocks,” the colonel mused.

“More like lost in a Twinkie,” Daniel replied, choosing to let the 'rock' label go by unchallenged this time.

Jack grinned, asking, “Found it?”

“Mmmm,” Daniel answered as a moan as he kissed his spouse and then sighed quietly.  “This next one, though, was very easy.”

“Oh?  Good for you.”

After another kiss, Daniel reluctantly pulled away and, with a smug smile, went to a shelf in Jack's office that housed various reproductions of airplanes.  He looked at his lover for a moment and then gave all his attention to the shelves.  He looked over the planes and finally found the one he wanted.

It was a model airplane Jack had built several years before, and it was the only one where the cockpit opened up.  It was also the one that Daniel had given to Jack for their first anniversary when he'd rented a plane for them to go flying together, ultimately, picnicking in Utah.  It had been a wonderful romantic weekend getaway that neither had ever forgotten.

Daniel smugly smirked at Jack as he reached for the plane.

“Why, Doctor Jackson, I had no clue you were paying attention when I showed you my toys,” Jack teased, sure Daniel would have forgotten all about the model plane he had used as a vessel for his surprise years ago.

“I always pay attention, Jack, just like you do when I show you my rocks.”

“Artifacts.”

“Thank you, Jack,” Daniel noted smugly.

“You tricked me, Daniel,” Jack said, his voice slightly raised at his lover's successful tactic of getting him to call relics 'artifacts' instead of his usual 'rocks'.

Daniel chuckled as Jack moved in behind him and put his arms around Daniel's waist as the younger man opened the cockpit, pulled out the object that had been hidden in it, and returned the plane carefully to the shelf.

“A balloon?”

“Yep, looks like a balloon to me.”

“No more clues?” Daniel questioned.

“I thought you were a genius?”

After Daniel groaned, Jack instructed, “Look inside.”

Daniel poked his finger inside the blue balloon and pulled out a small piece of paper that said simply, “Come fly with Me.”

Jack whispered in Daniel's ear the same words --
“Come fly with me, Love.  I want to show you something magnificent.”

Daniel leaned back into Jack's embrace, his head resting against Jack's left shoulder, as he asked, “Are we renting another plane?”

“Nah, we'll do the commuter thing.”

“Map is to Aspen.  Why are we going to Aspen, and what does that have to do with a balloon, and what's the key for?”

“So many questions,” Jack chuckled, kissing Daniel's nape.

“And you have the answers, so how about sharing?”

“Do you trust me, Danny?” the older man asked.

“You know I do,” Daniel answered without reservation.

“Then, come fly with me, and let me show you something wonderful.”

Daniel turned, placing his arms around Jack's neck, and replied, “I'd go anywhere in the world ... no, anywhere in the universe with you, Jack.”

After he kissed his lover tenderly, Jack said, “The last couple of months have been a bit nasty.  That Duncan idiot, Osiris, the Super Soldier -- we need a time out, a little time away from here, just for us.  I talked to Cass, and she's willing to take care of the girls.  Hammond's already cleared our calendars for a few days.”

“When do we leave?” the archaeologist asked, totally with the game plan.

With a contented smile, the older man answered, “Thursday morning after breakfast, and don't lose the key.  It's very important.”

“Thursday morning?” Daniel echoed, surprised that they'd be leaving the day after tomorrow.  “Good thing I solved the puzzle quickly,” he mused, his dimples showing from his all-too-cute smile.

“I had confidence in you,” Jack replied.

Smiling, Daniel queried, “What about the map?”

“Nah, I know where we're going,” Jack mused.

“Aspen.”

“Aspen,” Jack confirmed as he kissed Daniel again.

====

It was Thursday afternoon as Jack and Daniel drove up to the rental cabin near Aspen in their rented Jeep.

“This is great, Jack.”

Jack grabbed some of his luggage, as did Daniel, and walked to the cabin door.

“The key, Love?”

Daniel smiled, and pulled out the key that Jack had used in the first clue, which had been hidden in the glove compartment of Daniel's car.  He kissed his lover, and then unlocked the cabin door.

The two went inside and looked around.  It wasn't anything overly elegant, but it was a nice country and spice two-room cabin on the edge of Aspen that gave the two lovebirds what they wanted most -- privacy.

They had a simple dinner and spent the night snuggling and cuddling next to a warm fire.  After the trauma of Daniel's torture and the nightmare stalking by Paul Duncan, it felt good to just get away and revel in each other without fear of the phone ringing.

They made love in front of the fireplace, and when Jack woke up in their small bed at 2 a.m., he couldn't help himself.  Daniel's left ear was just right there -- right in front of his lips.

~That ear is taunting me,~ Jack had said silently to himself.  “I'm weak,” he spoke out loud as he nibbled the ear which caused Daniel to moan, and thus began their wee hours of the morning romp in the sack.

====

“Jack, it's still dark out.  Why are we up this early?”

“You'll see.”

“This had better be good, Jack,” Daniel grumbled, still half asleep and wondering why they were going out in the middle of the night.

Daniel was fumbling with his buttons, and yawned deeply.

Jack chuckled and walked over to his lover, observing, “You are so not a morning person, Love,” as he moved his spouse's hands out of the way and buttoned up this emerald green shirt for him.

Daniel glared in response, thinking, ~You're just figuring out I'm not a morning person? Grrrrr!~

“I love you, too,” Jack laughed loudly.

“Stop eavesdropping in my mind,” Daniel whined.

“I love your mind, Danny.”  Jack put on his jacket and called out, “Let's go.”

As Daniel followed, Jack laughed, then teased, “Geez, Danny.  What would you do without me?” as he grabbed his Love's jacket and put it on him.

“Oh,” Daniel acknowledged, knowing he would have been frozen if he'd gone outside without a jacket.  Then he snapped his head back, having replayed the older man's question in his mind.  “Don't ask me that at ... at ... I don't even want to know what time it is, Jack,” he said as he leaned against Jack, closing his eyes and feeling so safe and warm leaning against the older man.

Jack kissed Daniel's forehead, his hands wrapping around him, and promised, “It'll be worth it, Danny.  I promise.  I love you.”

Daniel sighed, “Okay, lead on, Colonel.”

====

“Jack?”

Jack put his arms around Daniel as the younger man stood and looked at the large wicker basket and the huge red, white and blue nylon balloon which was currently laid out along the ground in a long line.

Daniel watched as the burners were attached to the upright posts of the basket.  The workers attached some cables to the basket, the rim of which was covered in leather.

“Wow, Jack!”

Jack was watching Daniel following the activity of the crew.  He just loved it when Daniel's eyes were huge with wonder.

A fan started, inflating the large balloon with cold air, raising it so that it stood about seventy-five feet high.

“Gentlemen, we're ready,” a man announced.

“Jack?”

“Time to go, Danny.  Our chariot awaits.”

“Wow, Jack.”

Jack laughed.  His linguist was definitely surprised and apparently was down to a vocabulary of two words.

The two were helped into their places in the wicker basket that sat under the balloon that was about sixty-thousand cubic feet in size.  They were introduced to a local musician, who would be more or less serenading the two lovers during their journey through the air.

After some pre-flight instruction, the burners heated the balloon with hot air, and then began it's ascent into the Colorado skies.

Daniel laughed at the feeling, and Jack kissed his temple as he held him close and looked out at the skies.

“Awesome,” Daniel remarked.

“Just wait,” Jack said teasingly.

Soon, the balloon was traveling over the Rocky Mountains with splendid views of the wildlife below.  The musician played softly on his guitar which echoed through the mountains, with sounds of the bull elk from below.

“This is the land of the eagles, Danny,” Jack whispered.

“It's incredible, Jack.”

The lovers were treated to a dream of a breakfast while in flight:  fresh fruit dipped in chocolate, caviar & crackers, locks and bagels, champagne, and orange juice.

“Your kind of fruit, Danny,” Jack teased as he took a bite of the chocolate strawberry.

“Mmmmm, definitely,” Daniel agreed as he savored his own treat.

For ninety minutes, Jack and Daniel enjoyed their ride through the skies, going as high as 2,800 feet, and at others, just skimming above the tree tops.  They had seen the most incredible sunrise, watched the animals at play in their natural habitat, and enjoyed a delightful breakfast.

When they landed, they participated in a champagne toast with the crew and received a certificate commemorating their flight and the videotape of their journey.

Normally, tapes were edited and mailed to participants, but being who they were, Jack had privately arranged to get the unedited tape from the Captain.  It cost a little extra, but they couldn't afford to take chances.  Jack had wrapped himself around Daniel most of the flight, and they had kissed more than once.  The crew didn't seem to care, fortunately.

They had traveled roughly twenty-four miles during their flight, and Daniel had been in awe the entire time.  Stargate travel was one thing, but balloon flight was an incredibly breathtaking experience.

A chase car had followed the balloon's path and once the balloon had landed and the festivities were concluded, the driver drove Jack and Daniel back to the launch site.  They held hands quietly in the back seat of the car during the forty-five minute drive back to their Jeep.

“Did you like it, Danny?” Jack asked sincerely as they walked to the Jeep, still holding hands.

“I loved it, Jack.  It was a perfect surprise.  How do you do that?  Come up with all these wonderful surprises?”

Jack shrugged.

“Jack,” Daniel stated, coming to a halt, which caused his lover to stop as well.  When they were facing each other, he continued, “Listen to me.  You do the most wonderful and incredible things.  I mean it.  I don't know how you keep turning me into Jell-O with ... gawd, Jack, I love you.”

“It's easy, Angel.  I love you, too, and all I want in the world, is for you to be happy.  I promised you during our wedding that I was devoting myself to making you laugh and smile.  I've failed at that a little bit this year, but no more, Love. So now, I'm just following through on my promise, that's all.  C'mon, let's go back to the cabin.”

====

“Hey Bijou!  Where's Katie?  Oh, there she is!” Daniel laughed as their two beagles greeted him enthusiastically.

Jack was a few feet behind as the greetings began.

“Woof!” Bijou said as she saw Jack and ran up to him, leaving Katie to wash Daniel's face some more.

Katie ran back outside and grabbed a throw stick and brought it to Daniel.

“I get the hint,” Jack said as he threw the toy.

Bijou and Katie both gave chase, and then got into a tug of war over the toy.

Jack walked up to his soulmate and put his arm around his waist as they watched their dogs.

As Daniel's arm wrapped around Jack, he spoke, “The balloon ride was perfect, Jack, and being with you at the cabin, and making love, was perfect, but ...”

“... there's no place like home,” both men spoke in unison before sharing a chuckle and a passionate kiss.

As they watched their children play, the couple held on securely to each other, truly content and at peace in their worlds.  For Jack and Daniel, there really was no place like home.

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