Turnabout Danny

Author: Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Angst, Drama, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  7 - February 25-28, 2004
Spoilers:  None
Size:  79kb
Written:  September 26-27, October 2-3,13-14, 2003  Tweaked:  February 4, 2005, March 1-4,19,21,25, 2007
Summary:  When Daniel catches Jack with another man, he goes off the deep end.  Will the marriage survive?
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) This story was inspired by Suzanna, who wanted a drunken Daniel and an angry Jack.  This is what she got.
2) 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.**
3) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Suzanna, Mama Beast, Drdjlover, Brynn, Linda, Sara, Claudia!

Turnabout Danny
by Orrymain

“How much longer, Jack?” Daniel asked over the phone, eager to be reunited with his husband.

“Shouldn't be long, Daniel.  Another day or two,” Jack answered curtly.  **Danny, can you hear me?**

“I miss you.”

~Crap,~ Jack thought, wishing their special non-verbal communication worked over the long distance telephone lines.  Unfortunately, while their unique link continued to grow, it had never been an exact 'science', especially when the lovers were separated by distance, as they were now.  “Ditto.  Gotta go.  I'll talk to you soon.”

“I'd like you to do more ...”

Daniel's words were cut off by the sound of the dial tone.  He blinked in surprise.  Throughout their brief discussion, Jack had sounded distracted, and he'd been very formal.  He also hadn't spoken one tender word to Daniel.  To top it off, he had just cut him off without a decent goodbye.

The young man sighed as he hung up the phone.  Jack had been gone for two days and was apparently going to be away for two more.  It wasn't a top secret deal since Jack was able to call him from time to time, but Daniel wasn't allowed to contact Jack, which was a tad unusual for the non-secret stuff.

Daniel hated it whenever Jack had to go on these assignments.  His lover could be anywhere, doing anything.  The only good news in Daniel's mind was that Jack had called him.  Many times in the past, Jack hadn't been able to do even that, so that was at least something in his mind.  Hopefully, it meant the assignment wasn't dangerous, which was always Daniel's biggest fear.

Still, the coldness and haste of the conversation was disconcerting, but Daniel shrugged it off and contributed his uneasiness to missing his spouse and went about his business for the night.

====

Daniel busied himself at the SGC with research and translations, and, yet, he couldn't stop thinking about Jack.  It wouldn't have been unusual, except instead of the thoughts being ones of lust and misery at him being gone, he couldn't get Jack's tone and strange actions out of his mind.  They had been very odd, and it made Daniel feel uncomfortable.

The trip had come up so suddenly that the lovers hadn't even been able to say goodbye, which is why Daniel had expected Jack to be even more 'mushy' on the phone the previous night, not less.

~You were just so ... so ... distant,~ Daniel thought, wishing he could stop thinking about how his husband had hung up on him last night.

“Doctor Jackson,” General Hammond called out as he entered the archaeologist's office.

Seeing the general immediately made Daniel's hair stand up on the back of his neck and forget about his own problems.

~Wow, why is he coming up here?~  The general rarely came to Daniel's office, and when he did, it was usually because there was a crisis, like the Mountain was about to blow up.  “General Hammond?”

“Where is Colonel O'Neill, Doctor Jackson?”

“Jack?  Where is Jack?”

Daniel was alarmed.  His husband was on some Air Force shindig, and though it wasn't top secret, the general always knew the details of Jack's whereabouts.  Even if it had been a Pentagon operation with a certain amount of secrecy, Hammond would have been notified that the Special Ops colonel was needed.

“Yes, Colonel O'Neill.  His assignment was over a day-and-a-half ago.  Why hasn't he reported in?”

“A ... a day and a half?”

“Son, I realize you and Jack like to buck the rules, so to speak, but this isn't the time.  Tell the colonel I expect to see him in my office first thing tomorrow morning.”

“But, Sir ...”

“No buts, Doctor,” the general spoke forcibly as he exited.  ~This is not the day for Jack to be pulling a fast one.  Doesn't he have enough reprimands in his jacket?~

~I don't understand,~ Daniel muttered silently.

====

Daniel sipped his glass of wine.  It wasn't the fancy stuff Jack normally bought for him, just something Daniel had picked up at the store feeling a desire for some red wine.  For some reason, for the first time in years, Jack hadn't replaced the last empty bottle of the archaeologist's favorite St. Julien's wine.  The best vintages were very expensive, but even the more common years were better than many other wines.

As he tasted the store bought liquor, Daniel scrunched his nose in disdain, expressing an unhappy, “Yuck,” as he put the glass down.  He stood and took the entire bottle and poured it down the kitchen drain.  “Never again.”  Then he opened the liquor cabinet and grabbed the bottle of Jack Daniel's whiskey.  “Perfect,” he said.

Daniel was just finishing off his glass when the phone rang.  He lunged to quickly pick it up.

“Jack?”

“That would be me,” Jack spoke as amicably as he could, considering the circumstances.

“Where are you?”

“Told you.  I can't tell you.  Daniel, listen ...”

“Jack,” the younger man said sadly, but his husband was too focused on other things to hear the lament and continued on with what he had to say.

“... I have to stay another night.  I know; I don't want to, but I don't have a choice here.  I don't even have more time to talk now.”

“Jack, General Hammond wants ...”

“Don't worry about the general, Daniel.  He knows everything.  Gotta go.  Bye.”

“Jack?”

Daniel again stood in stunned silence, hearing the dial tone on the other end of the phone.  He didn't understand what was going on.  Jack was calling him “Daniel”, a sure sign something was wrong, and he had lied about General Hammond knowing what was going on.

“It doesn't make sense,” the confused man spoke to the walls as he sank onto the sofa and downed another shot of whiskey.

Bijou trotted over to Daniel and sat beside him, her head resting in his lap.  Daniel blinked back tears as he patted the mama beagle, grateful for her silent comfort.

====

“Daniel, it's been a long day.  Let's go get a drink somewhere,” Sam suggested in the locker room.

The major had already changed and had waited for Daniel to change, wanting to make the invitation.

“Sure, Sam,” Daniel agreed, sliding on his coat and grabbing his keys.

“No arguments?”

“Are you crazy?  Do you know what kind of day I had today?  Jack's been gone for days.  Hammond swears he knows nothing about it, but Jack claims he does.”

“Maybe it's something he can't talk about,” Sam responded.

“Sam, the general has been on me all day like I'm lying for Jack, and he's off ... fishing somewhere.”

“Daniel ...”

“And I haven't a clue about the translation I've been working on, and the truth is I'm tired because I can't sleep.  I get ... cold whenever Jack isn't there.”

“Daniel, I'm sorry,” Sam said as she hugged her dear friend.

“No, I'm sorry, Sam,” the archaeologist sighed, taking a deep breath.  “I shouldn't have vented like that, especially that last part.”

“Why not?  It's the truth, isn't it?” Sam asked, a smile gracing her face.

Sam was feeling better about discussing the relationship between Jack and Daniel with them now.  It's not that she had any particular desire to discuss it, but when it happened, she didn't panic like she had used to.

“We're still on base, for one,” Daniel responded.  With a slight smile, he said, “Let's go blow off some steam.”

“Okay.”

====

An hour later, Sam and Daniel had danced a few times and had a couple of drinks to unwind.  They chatted for another twenty minutes before Sam gave Daniel a chaste kiss and said she had to go home to get her beauty sleep.  Daniel had stayed to finish the drink in his hand.  Then, he paid the tip and got into his Silver Fox, the 1999 Shelby-American sports car Jack had bought for him a few years ago.

~I don't understand, Jack,~ Daniel moaned inwardly as he lay his head back against the head rest.

Two minutes later, the confused man began the drive home.  Suddenly, he found himself skipping his exit from the freeway and heading for Denver.

====

Ninety minutes later, Daniel was in one of the intimate “for guys only” supper clubs in Denver that he and Jack sometimes went to.  He just wanted to vent a little more, even if it was to a bottle of booze, and he wanted to do it away from their watchful beagles.

Two hours later, Daniel was three sheets to the wind, having downed three Long Island Iced Teas, two vodkas, one scotch, and one Alabama Slammer.  He was amazed he was still conscious.

~Just my luck,~ Daniel thought to himself.  ~I've finally learned how to drink.  How about that?~

“I think we need to get you a ride when you leave,” the bartender said, interrupting Daniel's silent amusement at himself.

The archaeologist just smiled and motioned for a refill on his latest drink, a brandy.  He was smiling very contentedly when he heard a familiar voice.  He blinked several times, and rolled around twice on the barstool.  He had actually only meant to go around once, but he missed his stop the first time, so had to keep turning.  He got up quickly and then grabbed onto the stool with a tight grip.

“Whoa, stop moving,” Daniel told the barstool.

Daniel wobbled over towards the voice, still wearing a smile.  He was feeling dizzy and stumbled a bit, but the voice drew him nearer.  Finally, he caught sight of the body that went with that familiar voice.

The linguist instantly sobered as he stared.  Sitting at the very back booth, practically hidden by a plant, was his lover, his husband, his Jack, and he had his hand on top of another man's hand, a smile on his face.  He saw the stranger try to pull his hand back, but Jack grabbed a hold of it and held it visibly on the table.
 
Daniel didn't move.  He stood there for ten minutes watching, watching Jack holding that stranger's hand; his Jack, * his Jack *, who was supposed to be out of town.  Maybe that's why General Hammond was so angry, though.  

The anguished man started to make his way over to the table, thinking, ~There must be an explanation.~  He stopped after just a couple of steps, frozen in place as he saw that irresistible Irish grin he loved so much directed at someone else.  He felt like he'd been punched in the gut, and he visibly stumbled as he felt his legs protest against holding him up.  ~That smile's for me; it's only supposed to be for me.~

“Want me to call you a cab now?” the bartender asked, having seen Daniel stand in the middle of the floor for several minutes.

Daniel felt numb, his mind saying, ~This can't be happening.  I'm dreaming.  No, it's a nightmare.  Wake me up now, Jack.  Please.~

“Pal?” the bartender called again when he received no response from Daniel. “Do you want a cab, or not?”

“No, thank you,” Daniel replied, walking straight to the bartender and leaving a generous tip.  “I'm fine.  Thank you for listening and for the drinks.  Goodnight.”

The bartender hesitated, but decided to let the big tipper leave.  Twenty minutes ago, he'd been sure that said customer was plastered.  All of a sudden, though, the man had seemed solemnly sober.  Since he'd seen Daniel at the club before, he trusted his judgment and decided to let him leave, keys in hand.  He hoped it was the right decision.

====

As Daniel walked out into the cold night air, still wishing Jack would wake him up and tell him this wasn't real, he felt dizzy and sick, a painful knot having formed low in his stomach.  He got into his car and noticed for the first time that Jack's truck was two rows back, discreetly parked near the big dumpster.  He closed his eyes, hoping that when he opened them, the truck would be gone; just a figment of his delusion.

As he thought about it now, though, Daniel realized that his lover had taken his truck when he had left on his Air Force project.  He had never done that before.  Normally, a driver would have picked him up and delivered him home when the assignment was over.

At that moment, Doctor Daniel Jackson took over from Danny Jackson-O'Neill, protecting him from the pain threatening to overwhelm him.  He started the car and began to drive home.  Less than a minute later, he changed his mind.  He had drunk far too much, and whether he felt sober now or not, he realized the alcohol was in his system.  More than that, however, tonight, he had no desire to be anywhere near the bed that he and Jack usually shared.

Daniel's only regret was not being with Bijou and Katie, but with their automatic food and water dispensers and a deluxe doghouse to stay warm in, he knew they were okay.

====

Jack entered his house at 11:30 p.m.  It had already been a long week, but right now, he had one thing on his mind -- his lover.  Daniel's car wasn't in the driveway, however, and that concerned him.

~Wonder if something's up at the Mountain.~  The colonel did a quick phone check, discovering that all operations were normal.  He also learned that his husband had left the base with Sam at 4:30 p.m.  ~Must be a note here somewhere.~

Jack looked for a note from his lover, but didn't find any.  Not yet worried, he played with Bijou and Katie for quite a while, happy to see them again.  By 12:30 a.m., though, his concern got the best of him, and he made another phone call.

“H'lo?” Sam answered groggily.

“Carter, where in Netu is Daniel?”

“Sir?” the major asked, unable to stifle her yawn.

Gruffly, Jack ordered, “Carter, wake up.  Where is Daniel?”

“Daniel, Sir?”

“Carter!”

Sam recognized the 'You'll be knitting blouses in Ohio if you don't answer me' tone and answered, “We had drinks at O'Malley's, but that was hours ago, maybe seven or seven-thirty.  Is anything wrong, Colonel?”

“No, go back to the sleep.  I'm sorry I woke you.”

“Thank you, Sir,” Sam said with a yawn and a smile, happy she hadn't been yanked out of her warm bed and into whatever nonsense had her commanding officer acting like a mama bear who had just lost her baby cub.

Jack paced, unsure what to think.  The beagles were calm, indicating that there hadn't been any kind of disruption at the house, which gave him some piece of mind.  Still, he was desperate to know where Daniel was.

====

“General, have you heard from Daniel?” Jack asked, walking through the open doorway of Hammond's office.

“Colonel, decided to join us again?” Hammond questioned with a displeased look.

“Yes, Sir, and I can explain, General, but have you seen Daniel?” Jack asked again.

“He called in sick about an hour ago,” Hammond answered.

“An hour ago?” Jack repeated, grimacing as he took in the words.

“Colonel, we're stacked up in reports and missions.  I want to know what you've been up to, but we have a situation we need to handle first. Sit down.”  When Jack twisted his body around, looking at the door in anticipation of leaving, the major general barked, “Colonel O'Neill, *now*!”

“Yes, Sir,” Jack acknowledged, reluctantly taking a seat.  ~Where could he be, and why didn't he come home last night?~

====

After barely surviving the general's wrath and spending hour after hour trying to find his missing lover by phoning everyone they both knew, Jack gave up, leaving his mounds of paperwork behind and going home, arriving there at roughly 6 p.m.  Much to his dismay, there was still no sign of Daniel.

“I wish you could talk, Bij, Katie,” Jack said to the two beagles, who were curled up together in their beanbag.

A short time later, Jack heard his cell phone ringing.  He leaped out of his arm chair and retrieved the small phone from the pocket of his jacket, which he had thrown on the couch after arriving home.  He sighed, wishing it had been the house phone that had rung with his lover on the other end.

“O'Neill,” Jack answered.  “Sure, why not.  Give me an hour,” he told the caller.  Jack put on his jacket and bent down to pet the beagles.  “Sorry, Girls, but I have to go.  Stay warm in your doghouse, and take care of Danny when he gets home.  I love the geek; where the heck is he, anyway?”

Katie cocked her head to the side, then jumped up to give Jack a kiss.

“Thanks,” Jack said, standing.

After making sure the beagles were secure outside, he locked up and left the house.

====

An hour later, Jack was back in Denver, at a different supper club for same-sex couples.  This one was new to him.  He parked and chose a booth in the rear, waiting for the caller to arrive.

Meanwhile, Daniel had spent the entire day being hung over in a cheap hotel room.  His best friend during the day had been the hotel room toilet.  He had tried to call Jack at home a couple of times, knowing that upon returning from his assignment Jack was unlikely to head straight into the Mountain, but only the answering machine had picked up, and he hadn't felt like leaving a message for himself.  It was now 7:30 p.m., and the phone still rang at the house.

Not wanting to go home to an empty house, Daniel opened the yellow pages and picked out a bar.  He didn't care which one.  He just wanted to go somewhere, get drunk again, and not think about his wayward husband.

====

Thirty minutes later, Daniel took a seat at the bar and ordered a brandy.  An hour later, he had finished off two more and was in the process of gulping down a Long Island Iced Tea.

~Boy, those are good,~ the archaeologist thought as he finished the last drop.  Daniel was flying high until, just like the night before, he suddenly heard a familiar voice filtering through the air.  He dropped his head to the bar.  ~It can't be,~ he begged the Fates quietly.

Drawing from his last reserves of energy, Daniel stood and walked around the strange environment towards the voice.  His heart stopped when he beheld his soulmate laughing and dancing with the same man from the night before.  It was a fast dance, and they weren't touching, but they were close.

The young man's heart shattered.  He couldn't breathe, literally, and he sank to the floor.  The bartender and two others came running to help him, taking him to a back room.

“I'm fine, really.  I'm ... sorry.  I just ... I couldn't breathe.  The ... the ... air,” Daniel claimed, getting up and sprinting out of the bar and into his car.

Daniel sped away, driving out of Denver and into the mountains somewhere.  He didn't even know where he was going, but he drove until his eyes were so full of tears that he couldn't see.  He veered right, then left through the twisting turns, not caring where he ended up.  Finally, he skidded the car to a stop at what turned out to be the edge of a turnout.  Ten more feet and the archaeologist would have driven over it with disastrous results.

Half wishing he hadn't stopped, Daniel exited the car and walked to the edge of the cliff.  He sank down to his knees and wept.

“How could you Jack?  How could you do that to us?  I don't understand.  I love you.  You promised me, Jack.  You swore ... to make me laugh and smile.  I'm not smiling, Jack.  Why?  *WHY, WHY, WHY*?” he yelled at the top of his lungs into the night sky.

====

Two hours later, Jack and the stranger had relocated to another bar.  This was one Jack especially liked, and he and Daniel had visited there regularly, but never alone.  Actually, until this week, neither of them had gone to the same-sex bars or clubs alone, but had always gone together.

Jack and the stranger were in the furthest corner of the bar.  Jack was good at picking out the most secluded spots.  He excused himself once, to visit the men's room, and had tried to call Daniel.  Again, the phone only rang.

~Where are you, Daniel?~ Jack lamented in his mind.  He took a deep breath and went back to the stranger, a false smile on his face as he reached out and touched the man's hand.  ~I can't believe I'm doing this.~

Meanwhile, Daniel had gone from despair to anger.  He wanted nothing to do with the older man.  His current plan was to get even more drunk and to forget that Jack O'Neill had ever existed.  Being without a phone book, he drove to the first place that he could find that he knew was 'exclusive'.  As he parked, he failed to see Jack's truck parked off to the side.

Daniel sat at the bar and ordered a whiskey, telling the bartender, “but not a Jack Daniel's, not a Jack anything.  I don't want anything that has anything to do with Jacks.  You got that?” he ordered.

“Having a rough night?” a tall good-looking blond man asked.

The man was around six-feet, two-inches tall, had wavy hair that was definitely not military, and blue eyes.

“Good, don't want brown eyes,” Daniel said as he downed a whiskey and demanded another.

The blond man took a seat very close to Daniel and took a long, lingering look at the drunken linguist, studying him from his toes to his head.

“No, I sure don't have brown eyes.  Mine are blue, like yours, only yours are bluer than the oceans.”

Daniel laughed, “Not another poet.”

“Not me.  It's my worst subject,” the blond man spoke.

“What's your best?”

“Anatomy and biology.  I have a ... talent that I'd be happy to show you.”

Daniel nodded as he was poured another whiskey.  The blond assumed Daniel was accepting the invitation, but, in reality, Daniel had been looking at the bartender, who had motioned with the whiskey bottle wondering if he was ready for a refill.

The blond slipped his hand inside Daniel's thigh.

Daniel tensed, but then thought, ~Hey, I'm a free agent.  He left me.~

The blond spoke, “This place is crowded.  I know a place near here.  I can show you my specialty there.”

Daniel started to move, but then stopped and sighed, “No, I can't.”

“Sure, you can,” the blond urged as he moved his hand up against Daniel's groin.

Daniel tensed again, but didn't say anything, opting to take another slug of whiskey.  He was drunk again, and glad of it.

The bartender watched from a distance, but seeing no resistance from the customer at the bar, ignored the aggressive behavior of the newcomer.  This place allowed a lot of freedom, freedom that was hard to come by for those who patronized the club, so unless attentions were unwanted or visibly went beyond groping, the guests were left to themselves.

The blond stood, and massaged Daniel's shoulders, causing the archaeologist to moan a bit from the touch.  His thoughts took him back to Jack massaging him on their honeymoon and how loved he had felt then.  Daniel's eyes were closed, and his mind was back in November of 2003.  He smiled and lost himself in the memory.  It was because of this that he never saw the figure approaching from behind.

The blond had one hand on Daniel's chest, massaging and trying to unbutton Daniel's shirt.  His other hand was rubbing against the jeans that separated the stranger's hand from Daniel's groin.  He figured another couple of minutes, and Daniel would go with him anywhere.

Daniel let out another small moan, still lost in his thoughts of Jack and their love.

Out of nowhere, the blond felt a tap on his shoulder.  He turned and was greeted by a right hook that knocked him on his back.

“Stay down, or you're dead,” Jack growled, his body taut and posed in a clear warning that he was prepared to back up his words.  His eyes raged with a fierce anger, fueled by both jealousy and protectiveness for his spouse.  As onlookers gathered, he took out his wallet and placed three-hundred dollars on the counter in front of the bartender and witnesses.  “For the damages,” Jack spoke, even though nothing had actually been broken, but taking the precaution of preventing any kind of possible lawsuit.

Daniel stared and blinked.  He was long gone from reality.

“Out, Daniel, *now*!”  Jack grabbed Daniel's arm and started to pull him out of the bar, but halfway through, the younger man suddenly realized what was happening and pulled back.  He pulled so hard, that, being drunk, he ended up falling on his butt to the hard floor.  “Danny,” Jack said as he leaned over to help his partner up.

Daniel went to swat Jack away and fell over on his side from the force of his swing, shouting out, “What the heck do you think you're doing?  Get your double-crossing hands off me.”

“Daniel?” Jack asked, surprised by the harsh words.

“I don't need you,” Daniel spat.  “I'm a free agent, and I can do what I want, when I want, where I want, *and with who I want,*” he continued, getting progressively louder.

“Oh, no,” Jack refuted.  “You are so *not* a free agent, Daniel, and even if you were, are you seriously telling me you'd want that blond bimbo?”

“If he doesn't cheat, then maybe I do.”

“Cheat?  What the devil are you talking about?” Jack barked.

“Nothing, and nothing is exactly what we have,” Daniel said loudly as he finally managed to stand up.  “Leave me alone, Jack.  Go back to ... to ... to whomever he is, and get the ... the ... get out of my life,” he cried out , unable to keep the consuming agony he felt inside from showing in his expression.

Shaking his head, Jack ordered, “You're coming with me.”  As Daniel stood his ground, not budging an inch, he stated, “This isn't a request Daniel, it's an order.  Now move before I make you move!”

Jack grabbed at Daniel, who responded by trying to take a swing at him, but the drunken linguist only spun around, falling into Jack's arms, and passing out, softening the older man's anger at what was happening, at least towards his lover.

“Oh, Danny,” Jack said softly, picking up his husband to questioning looks of the bar's patrons.  He glared and barked, “No one touches him, or you deal with me.”

Still enraged, Jack turned his attention to the man on the floor.  Though angry, his voice was firm, low, and forceful; it was beyond the intimidating colonel voice; it was a voice that spoke of an absolute truth.

“If I ever see you anywhere near him again, I'll kill you!” Jack threatened.

The onlookers quickly went back to their business, and Jack carried his passed out lover to the truck and headed for home.

====

Unable to rouse Daniel when they arrived home, Jack carried him inside and placed him on the sofa.  Jack let their precious beagles inside, noticing that they immediately ran to the sofa, taking a protective and concerned stance, although Jack had the funniest feeling that Bijou was glaring at him.

“What, Bij?  It's not my fault!  I didn't pour the alcohol down his throat,” Jack spoke in his defense.

Bijou just continued to glare at him before turning around and ushering Katie towards the door, where she demanded to be let out.

“You just came in, and it's cold out!” Jack argued.

“Woofffff!” Bijou argued in reply.

Jack opened the door, watching as the mama beagle coaxed her daughter into their doghouse.  He was taken aback when she turned and glared at him again.

~Why's she angry with me?  I'm not the one that got drunk and let some guy drool all over me.~  Escaping from Bijou's killer glare, Jack returned to the sofa to see if he could rouse Daniel.  “Come on, Dannyboy, wake up.”

“J'ck?”

With a sigh, Jack questioned, “Danny, just exactly what in Hades did you think you were doing in that bar?  That guy was trying to pick you up.”

“What guy?”  Daniel questioned.  Then the memories came flooding back, along with his hurt and anger.  “And just who are you to care what I do, anyway?” he asked quietly, looking coldly into Jack's eyes.

“I'm your husband, in case you've forgotten,” Jack answered, his voice raised and his anger resurfacing.

Bringing his hand to his throbbing head, Daniel replied, “You have a funny way of showing it.”  He would have shouted, but, at the moment, he wasn't sure he was alive.  ~He's destroyed us; he's ... killed me.~

“Me?  *You* were the one getting picked up in the bar.  That guy had his hands all over you.  He unbuttoned your shirt, Daniel, right there in the bar, and his hands were on your pants and working their way inside.  You weren't exactly discouraging him, Dannyboy, sitting there moaning all over the place.  Now just who is being unfaithful here?” Jack challenged.

Dryly, Daniel responded, “I didn't know it was a contest, Jack, but it really doesn't matter anymore.”

“What the ... Daniel, use your brain.  You were drunk, in Denver, and about to do ... what ... with that jerk?”

“What do you care, Jack?” Daniel questioned, his voice raised as he sat up for the first time.  ~Can't argue lying down.~

Confused, Jack answered, “I love you, you idiot, so I care plenty, but I never thought you'd cheat on me.  I thought we were better than that.  Obviously, I was wrong.”

“I DID NOT CHEAT ON YOU!,” Daniel shouted, infuriated at the unjust accusation when Jack had been the one cheating on him.  He stood up, intending to leave, but he was still drunk and had stood up too fast.  He began to fall to the floor, but Jack caught him.  ~Shibatwray,~ he thought, using an alien expletive right before his world went black once again.

“Ah, Danny,” Jack sighed as he picked up his passed-out spouse and carried him up the stairs to their bed, grunting and grumbling about his knees as he did so.  “Over the threshold is one thing, Danny, but up the stairs, is another thing entirely.  What I do for love,” he gasped as he finally laid his spouse on their bed.

Jack pulled back the covers and gently undressed his soulmate.  He considered dressing him in pajamas, but that was just going to be more work, and he was too tired.  He undressed himself so he was in his matching birthday suit, slid under the covers, and spooned up next to his warm lover.

~I'll fix this in the morning, whatever this is,~ Jack thought to himself as he squeezed his husband possessively tighter, burying his face in Daniel's nape.  He tried to sleep, but each time he closed his eyes, he was confronted with the memory of the expression in Daniel's eyes and the a vision look of utter distress and outright pain etched on his face.  ~I don't think I've ever seen that look before.  Please tell me I didn't put it there. What's happening, Angel?~

Jack finally succumbed to sleep, his grip on Daniel remaining firm even in slumber.

====

When Jack woke up briefly, just a few hours later, Daniel had turned into his usual position, one leg in between his, his hand atop Jack's chest, and his head nuzzled into Jack's chin.  It felt good.  It felt right.

Before he went back to sleep, Jack smiled at how much he had missed this the last week.  He placed a kiss on Daniel's hair, and once again wrapped his arms securely around him.

“Love you, Danny,” the contented lover whispered.  ~I promise I'll fix whatever put that look in your eyes tomorrow.~

====

At 11 a.m. the next morning, Daniel finally woke up.  He looked around and realized he was home.  A quick review of his situation brought him to the realization that he was also naked.  He also smelled something, but his senses were a little off.  His hair was totally mussed, and he desperately needed a shave.

Despite the ache in his soul, the archaeologist couldn't help but feel touched by the sight and feel of Bijou, who was curled up beside him.  He sat up against the headboard, his knees drawn up to his chin, but still under the covers, and his face buried in his hands as they sat atop his knees.  He tried and tried to remember how he got home, but his memory was completely blank.  He could still feel a knot of fear in the pit of his stomach, though.  Not even the warm weight of Bijou's head resting on his foot could alleviate that.

“I knew the smell of coffee would wake you,” Jack spoke, sounding disgustingly chipper in Daniel's view.  He frowned as Bijou lifted her head, glared at him again, and, after giving Daniel a wet doggy kiss, marched from the room.  He shook off the beagle's weird behavior and looked back at his lover as he carried the tray of fruits, breads, cereal, and plenty of coffee over to Daniel's side of the bed.  “Hey, unscrunch,” he requested, motioning to his lover to lower his legs.

Once Daniel had done as asked, Jack placed the tray over his lap and leaned down for a kiss, but Daniel flinched backwards, not wanting the contact.

~Okay,~ Jack questioned silently, sitting at Daniel's side, his hand touching Daniel's left leg, caressing it under the covers.

Daniel blinked at Jack, his expression blank, and he wasn't saying anything.

Jack's internal alarm blared, but remaining calm, he said, “Food's going to get cold.  You have to be hungry.”

“I don't want any,” Daniel said dryly, still not remembering how he got home, but clearly recalling seeing his lover in both clubs with another man.

Jack's internal alarms blared even louder.  Daniel wasn't just angry, he was empty of emotion for him.

“Danny, what's wrong?”

“Daniel,” the linguist corrected, sending Jack's heartbeat soaring, and his pulse racing with fear.

It was never a good sign when the younger man insisted on being called “Daniel.”

“Danny, talk to me.”

“I have nothing to say to you, Jack, except ... I don't want this,” motioning toward the breakfast tray, “... or anything from you ... ever!”

“What's wrong?  Tell me what's wrong.”

“Get this away from me,” Daniel stated frantically, suddenly feeling like the breakfast tray was Jack raping him.

“Danny ...”

“Daniel,” the young man shouted as he lifted up the tray, tossing it at Jack, and jumping over Jack's side of the bed to get off.

Daniel picked up the first pieces of clothing he could find and ran down the stairs, Jack chasing after him.  He flew out the door and stopped.

“Danny,” Jack spoke, once he had caught up with the younger man.

“DANIEL, AND WHERE IS MY CAR?” the archaeologist shouted angrily.

“In Denver.  I couldn't drive my truck and your car, too.”

Daniel put one hand on his head and spun around, stopping as he faced Jack's truck.

“Fine.  Keep the car.  I don't want it anymore anyway,” Daniel yelled, running to the truck and desperately trying to open it.

Unfortunately for him, Daniel didn't have the keys, and the vehicle was locked.  What he did do was set off the alarm.

Jack ran to his lover and pulled him off the truck kicking and screaming.  His arms held Daniel tightly against him as Daniel's shouts turned to tears.  The older man was so confused.  What the heck had happened while he was gone?  He turned off the car alarm and tried to get his anguished lover back in the house.

“Don't touch me,” Daniel ordered.

“Then go in the house.”

“I don't want it anymore, either.  I don't want anything that has to do with you.  Why, Jack?  Why?”

Daniel broke down into tears, and Jack's heart dissolved.  He didn't understand why Daniel felt like he did, but he sure the heck was going to find out.  With tears flowing down from his own eyes simply from witnessing Daniel's pain, Jack forced his Love to lean against him and go back into the house.

Once inside, Jack walked his soulmate to the sofa and managed to get the squirming man to sit.  Daniel was crying, and Jack was clueless.  He held Daniel to him, though Daniel tried to get free more than once.

Jack refused to let go as they sat, and Daniel's emotional reserves were so low, he couldn't break free.

“Danny, talk to me, please.  Tell me what's wrong,” the colonel begged.

Somehow mustering all the strength he could, Daniel pushed free, stood up, and faced Jack down, stopping his tears.

“You said we were forever.  You wanted me.  You promised, Jack.  You made me believe, not just in you, but in us, and our home, our family, our kids.  You promised, Jack.  You swore.  Our wedding -- it was perfect, but it was all a lie, wasn't it?”

Jack watched in disbelief, but decided to let Daniel get it out of his system.  Maybe in the process he would finally get some clue as to what was going on.

“You loved me.  You said you did.  How could you do that to me?  To us?  Why, Jack?  Why?  I *hate* you, Jack.  Just leave me alone.  Please.  I can't take it anymore.  I'm ... I'm leaving, Jack,” Daniel said as he turned and stumbled towards the stairs.

“Leaving?  To go where, Danny?”  Jack paused, hoping Daniel would stop.  “Daniel!  DANIEL!”

“LEAVE ME ALONE, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD,” Daniel yelled in a sobbing gasp, flinching when he realized he had used his lover's trademark phrase.  It sent a painful chill through him.  He backed away a few more steps and added, “... And it doesn't matter where I go.  I just want out of here, away from you.”

“Danny.”

“DANIEL ... CAN'T YOU GET THAT THROUGH YOUR FRIGGIN' DUMB MIND?  MY NAME IS DANIEL.  Danny is dead.  YOU KILLED HIM, Jack.  YOU!”

Daniel turned and ran up the stairs to the master bedroom, slamming the door shut.

Jack sank to the sofa, trying to sort through things.  He decided to give Daniel a few minutes to calm down before starting the next round, but, suddenly, Daniel reappeared on the stairs, having changed into a blue shirt and jeans.

“I don't want anything, Jack.  Not one thing.  It's over.  We're over, and anything that is in this house would remind me of you and the lies.  Do what you want with it.  I don't want anything,” Daniel repeated, tossing his ring against Jack's torso, surprising the older man, who missed it and stared as the ring landed on the floor.  “But I'm taking the girls with me.  I won't leave them here with someone who would ... who would do ... do what you've ... done.”

~What's going on?~  Jack was beyond stunned.  He couldn't move.  “Danny.”

“HE'S DEAD.  YOU KILLED HIM.  LEAVE ME ALONE!”

Daniel raced for the door, determined to leave Jack and his miseries behind.

Jack felt as if he were drifting at sea during a storm, the waves pushing and shoving him, beating him senseless.  Daniel had walked out the door, and out of his life, for good.

====

It took Jack a few minutes to regroup.  He picked up Daniel's ring and traced it gently with his fingers, caressing the engraved words 'Jack and Daniel, always and forever', before putting it in his pocket and running out the door.  He felt a mixture of emotions -- anger, despair, confusion.  He knew he had to find Daniel, and he had to find him now.

“DANNY?” Jack shouted in the front yard of their house, not caring who heard.

“I'm over here.”

Jack spun around.  Daniel had sat down in the middle of the bushes that separated their front yard from the neighbors.  It was as if he was trying to hide in them, to get lost among the greenery.  His head was hung low, his knees drawn up and again, his head leaning against his hands.  Jack didn't need to see his eyes to know he was crying.

The older man approached slowly and kneeled down.  He reached out both of his hands to cup Daniel's face and raised his lover's head to look up at him.  He smiled sadly and moved his hands to clasp his husband's.

“I don't have anywhere to go and no way to get there if I did.  I don't have anything anymore,” the young man whispered, the tears still falling.

“Home,” Jack replied softly.  He pulled Daniel up and said equally softly, “Let's go back in the house.  The neighbors have already had their show for the morning.”

Defeated, Daniel didn't resist.  He let Jack hold his hand and guide him back to the house and again to the sofa.  He sat, his knees pulled up to his chest, and self-hugged, looking down.  He felt defeated and numb.  He didn't care about anything.  He wanted to die.

Jack took a deep breath as he studied Daniel.  He had never seen his lover like this, and he had never felt so confused in his life.

“Danny, why did you let that creep paw you last night?”

“What creep?”

“The blue-eyed blond bimbo who was trying to unzip your pants right there in the bar.”

“I don't remember,” Daniel spoke honestly.

“Okay, what's the last thing you do remember?” Jack asked.

“Almost driving off the cliff.”

“*What*?” Jack asked angrily, the cold sick feeling in the pit of his stomach growing as he realized his husband was serious.

“What would it matter, Jack?  It's all been a lie,” Daniel asserted quietly.

Letting out a sound of annoyance, Jack then asked, “Danny, what are you talking about?”

“Us, except there is no us, is there?”

“Danny,” Jack said kneeling down in front of the younger man at the sofa.  “I love you.  I don't know why you're acting like this, but as far as I'm concerned, life's pretty darn good.”

“I guess you must love him, too, then,” Daniel spoke without emotion, staring at his feet.

“Him?  Who him?”

In a rush of words, Daniel clarified, “I saw you, Jack.  I saw you last night, and I saw you the night before, and General Hammond had no clue where you were, and you had the truck, and you called me Daniel, which is okay because Danny's dead.”

Jack's soul was following his heart, melting away to nothingness.  His heart pounded as the pieces of the puzzle began to fit together, and he became furious as he realized what had happened.

“I'm going to kill them,” Jack suddenly spat, his eyes becoming cold with anger. “I told them this would happen.  They swore to me.”

Daniel looked up, hearing anger from Jack.  He blinked a few times, not sure what to make of the unexpected response.

Jack turned and looked at Daniel, giving him a long intense stare before stating, “I'm not losing you, Danny.  I told you, I will never give you up and never let you go.  So, you can just forget about leaving.  It's so *not* gonna happen.  We took vows, and I meant every word, always have, always will.”

“Right,” Daniel sniffled.

Jack sighed, aware now of what his lover must have witnessed and the conclusions he'd rightfully leaped to.  Being the jealous type himself, he couldn't blame his spouse one iota for thinking the worst.  He also knew Daniel wouldn't believe him now.  He became more determined than ever to prove himself.  He would not lose Daniel over the insanity of the past week.

“Don't move.  I *mean* it, Daniel.  You move *one inch* from this couch, and I will personally strap you to me for the duration.  *Stay*!”

Daniel watched Jack pick up the cordless phone and make a call, saying, “This is O'Neill.  You get your miserable butt over to my house *now* ... I DON'T CARE WHAT THE FRIGGIN' DEVIL YOU ARE DOING, I SAID NOW, and when you do, you are going to tell someone I care about the TRUTH ... ALL OF IT ... and NOW!  YOU PROMISED ME, YOU WORM.”

Daniel blinked as he listened, but he didn't move.

Jack made a second phone call, this one to the Mountain, stating, “General Hammond, this is Jack O'Neill.  I know this is sudden, but I need you at my house immediately ... Yes, Sir, it's most definitely an emergency ... No, General, it can't wait.  It has to be now, and, would you bring that *idiot* Davis with you? ... Thank you, Sir.”

Daniel's confusion intensified.  He knew the only person Jack could have been talking about was Paul Davis.

~What does Paul have to do with this?~ Daniel wondered.  He had talked to the major just two days ago.  At that time, Paul had told him that he was in Washington, but had a security concern that would be taking him out of the country for the next several days.  ~Paul lied to me, too?~

Jack placed one final phone call, using a direct line, saying more gently than the others, “Carter, Boonie Bear hates my guts at the moment and just in case I can't clear this up, he's going to need you.  I'm not letting him go, Carter, but he might ... Carter,” his voice cracked, and he hung up the phone, bringing his hand to wipe away a couple of tears that fell.  He couldn't afford tears, but he'd hoped his second had heard enough to come.  ~I won't let him go, but I have to make sure he has someone.~

Jack loved Daniel to the ends of the Earth, and just in case it took more time than anticipated, he wanted his lover to have a friend and confidant nearby.  When in need, he knew they could always count on Sam.  She had never let them down, and he was very grateful for her friendship over the years.

Daniel studied Jack carefully.  He didn't know what he'd expected to happen, but, somehow, this wasn't it.

Jack went back to Daniel and kneeled in front of him again.  He took Daniel's unresisting hands and spoke softly.

“Okay, Danny.  You heard exactly what I said to those people on the phone.  Now I need you to listen to me, and I know you aren't going to just take my word for it, so when those people arrive, I'm not going to say a word except to make sure they tell you the truth about what's been happening.  I love you, Danny.  Gawd, I love you.  Please listen to me.  Please, Love.”

Jack kissed Daniel's hands and looked into his beautiful blue eyes as he told his story.

====

“Sir, is Daniel okay?” Sam asked, running into the house.  She was the first to arrive.  Jack didn't respond.  She could see for herself that Daniel was by no means okay.  Sam sat next to Daniel on the sofa, placing one hand on his.  “Daniel, what's wrong?”

Daniel shook his head, and Sam looked questioningly at her CO.

“Idiot Davis,” Jack mumbled.

Sam still hadn't managed to work out what was happening when Major Paul Davis arrived, apparently as confused as she was as to what was happening.  He had been surprised by the abrupt order to appear at the house, Daniel's presence, and the archaeologist's reddened and puffy eyes, indicating that he'd been crying.

Then the next guest arrived, accompanied by two black-suited personnel, whom Jack ordered to remain outside.

“Colonel Maybourne?” Sam gasped.

Daniel's eyes looked up wide, totally dumbstruck.

“Miss me, Major?” the conniving ex-Air Force officer asked.

“Sit down, Harry,” Jack ordered.

“I thought the Tok'ra dropped you off on ...” Sam began.

“They did, but I ...”

“He wormed his way off that planet and back here,” Jack interrupted.  Glaring at Harry, he said, “But he's headed for a new world, and, this time, Harry, you aren't going to weasel your way back to Earth.”

“You'll miss me,” Harry advised with a lighthearted smirk.

Jack grunted, then shook his head and moved in front of the gathered group, and spoke, “Okay, listen up.  General Hammond is on his way here, and I'd prefer not to risk his pension, but if I have to, I will.”

“Colonel ...” Paul began, more confused than ever.

“Davis, shut up,” Jack spoke harshly.  “Your job was to follow orders.  I don't care squat whether or not you understood why the orders were given, but they *were* given, and you fouled up big time.  If your career sinks, I couldn't care less, but I do care about Hammond.  I'm warning you, and you, too, Harry, that if he goes down the drink, neither one of you will be able to hide.”  He looked at Sam, hoping she'd get his private message, one that said, 'I'm saying this for their benefit', and then he spoke, “Carter, that goes for you, too.  One word, and you won't be able to do anything, but stare at those doohickeys you love so much.”

“Uh, yes, Sir,” Sam responded, giving him a covert nod that said she did understand.

“Now,” Jack continued, standing in front of his waiting audience, “ultimately, I don't care who knows and who doesn't.  Screw 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'.  I'm in love with that man on the sofa.”  He pointed to Daniel, ensuring he made eye contact with everyone in the room.  ~Yeah, I mean it, you snakes,~ he thought. Turning his full attention to Daniel, he reiterated, “Yes, you, Daniel Patrick Jackson.  I LOVE YOU!  You should know that because the last thing I heard, we got married last year.”

Paul's mouth opened slightly in shock as he looked over at Daniel, and Harry blinked in surprise and then smirked at Jack.  He was about to say something, but Jack continued, stopping him from making any response.

“Now, thanks to you, Major Davis, and you, Harry, the love of my life thinks I've cheated on him.  He's hurt, and I DON'T FRIGGIN' BLAME HIM.  You two 'gentlemen', and I use that word lightly, are going to explain *in detail* what exactly has been happening for the last week.”

Just then, there was another knock at the door.  Again, Jack glared at Davis and Maybourne.

“I want to get through this without Hammond hearing anything that could ...”

“Jack, let's get on with it,” Harry interrupted.

“Not a problem, Colonel,” Davis assured.

Jack went to the door and led Hammond into the living room, inviting him to take a seat in his favorite armchair.

“Thank you for coming, Sir.”

“Jack, what's this all about?” Hammond asked as he settled into his seat.

“Truth, General.  You know that Daniel and I are best friends,” Jack began.  He looked over at the other three guests and stated, “You all know that.”  He sighed, “There's been a little misunderstanding, and I want to have it cleared up.”

Hammond looked over at his Head of Archaeology.  He, too, saw the evidence of a tearful night.  He also knew he needed to ignore that evidence and its implications.

“Very well,” the major general spoke.

At that point, Jack walked into Paul Davis' personal space and, with his best colonel stare, ordered, “Listen to me, Major.  I don't care about your friggin' orders.  Daniel needs to know the truth.  You hold back one miserable detail, and I will rip your head off.  That, Major, is a promise.”

Paul Davis stared at the colonel.  Of course, now his previous orders made perfect sense, but until the revelation of a few minutes before, he hadn't a clue.  Of course, he had known how close Jack and Daniel were, friendship wise, but he had suspected that, perhaps, there was another reason why the orders had been given.  Maybe one of them was dating someone close to the other, or maybe it was just the idea of one of them being gay that was too shocking to handle.  He didn't know, and he had only been able to speculate.

~So much for speculation,~ Paul thought, feeling strangely unsurprised by the announcement Jack had made before Hammond's arrival.

“And as for you, Harry,” Jack said as he approached the man of questionable honor, looking down at him with a look of superiority.  “Tok'ra hideaway or no Tok'ra hideaway, I will hunt you down and personally stick a snake in your head, if you don't own up to every sordid detail, without hesitation, Harry, with no embellishment; or maybe I'll just kill you, if you don't.”

Jack then looked at the general and intoned, “Sir, you're only here in case Daniel has questions and to back up what Idiot Davis and Moron Maybourne have to say.”  He turned to the major and stated, “Davis, you're on!”

====

“Daniel?” Sam asked quietly.

It had been a long afternoon.  Although the group gathered at Jack and Daniel's home had only stayed about ninety minutes, the details they'd put forth had been difficult to speak and to hear.  Harry, with his government security guards, had been the first to leave.  He had one more meeting to attend, and then the Tok'ra would be taking him to another world, dropping him off for, what everyone hoped would be, the final time.  Then Paul Davis and General Hammond left, both regretting having unwittingly contributed to the pain they had just witnessed.

Daniel was pale, drained from the turnaround in his life.  One minute he had everything; the next, he had nothing and thought a part of him had died.  Now, he was supposed to be back to where he began, explanations given, apologies expressed.  He was expected to move on and “suck it up” for the proverbial “better good.”

Jack hadn't cheated.  It had all been a big plot, a plot with a lot of holes in it.

Sam was as upset as Daniel.  She was used to the games the military played.  It didn't matter what branch of the service a person served in, the military was often a cold, unfeeling piece of Americana, not unlike the government as a whole.  They talked 'game', but had very little personal compassion unless they had a reason to give it.

Right now, Sam regretted having any part of the Air Force.  She loved her career, but not when her dearest friends suffered from bad plans that should never have happened in the first place.  She wanted to comfort Daniel, as she had called out his name, thought she really had no idea what to say.

“You can go home, Sam,” the weary archaeologist replied.

She didn't want to, but Sam knew Jack and Daniel needed time to repair their broken family.  She gave her friend a kiss on the cheek, and she couldn't help herself when she said something they didn't often say to each other.  Still, if there ever had been a moment when it needed to be said, she was sure this was it.

“I'm sorry, Daniel.  I'm sorry our government is so unfeeling that it ends up hurting innocent people like you.  He loves you, Daniel.  So do I.  Call me if you need to talk.”  Sam kissed Daniel one more time,and stood up.  She did something else that wasn't often done either, but just like telling Daniel she loved him, she figured there was never a greater need than now, so she walked up to her CO, no, to her friend, Jack, and hugged him.  “It'll be okay, Sir.  He just needs a little time.”

“He can have all the time in the world, Carter, just as long as he ...”

Jack's words trailed off as he looked at Daniel, still seated on the sofa, shell shocked from the last two hours and the last few days.

“He loves you, Sir.  You two will be just fine.”

After Sam left, Jack walked over to the sofa and sat down.  He took Daniel's left hand in his, tracing his ring finger gently.  Then he pulled out Daniel's ring and slipped it onto his finger.  He kissed it lovingly.

“I believe this belongs to you,” the silver- gray haired man whispered, hope in his voice.

Daniel nodded and leaned against Jack's shoulder.  Jack opened himself up and put his arm around his Heart, tenderly kissing the top of his head.

“I love you, Danny, and I'm so sorry.  I will never do that again, and I don't care what they threaten me with.  Nothing is worth putting you through this.  They promised me that they'd keep you busy, that they'd make sure you didn't have a chance to ... well, for what happened to happen.  It was the only way I would agree to it.  They lied to me.”

~Gawd.~  Daniel sat in silence, still trying to process all he had heard.  He finally spoke, so quietly that Jack only just caught the words, “I hate the military, Jack.”

Jack sighed as he held his husband and replied, “I don't blame you, Danny.  I'm sorry, Angel,” he said, brushing his lips against Daniel's hair once again.  “Danny ...”

“Jack.  I know it's the afternoon, but I'm wiped out.  Can we just go to bed?” Daniel requested, too weary to do anything else.

“Sure, Danny.  We can do whatever you want.”

====

Daniel had gone up to their bedroom and was lying on his left side, away from Jack's side of the bed.  Jack was just grateful his spouse was still here and that he was wearing his wedding band.  Jack wasn't wearing his.  He'd hoped Daniel would ask him to put it on, but he hadn't.

Jack undressed and climbed into the bed.  He wasn't sure what Daniel needed, but he certainly knew what he needed.  He spooned up against his lover and put his hands around him.  He kissed his back and caressed his abdomen.

“I'm so sorry, Danny.  I love you,” Jack said, kissing Daniel's nape.

Jack closed his eyes and began to cry.  In his lifetime, Jack O'Neill had cried for two people -- his son, Charlie, and his husband, Daniel.  Right now, he'd give his life to take away the pain that he knew Daniel felt in his heart that he had intentionally put there, and he couldn't stop the tears that began to flow.

Daniel felt the tears against his back, and he heard the quiet sniffles.  He rolled over onto his right side and slowly moved his left hand to wipe away Jack's tears.

“I'm so sorry, Danny,”  Jack repeated in a whisper.

After a short pause, Daniel gazed into the brown eyes he adored so much and quietly declared, “I love you, Jack.”

Jack closed his eyes in relief.  He had feared he would never hear those words again.  He finally let go of his remaining strength and broke down.  His face twisted as he cried silent tears of grief for what he had so nearly lost.  His breathing hitched, his sobs now audible.  With his eyes squeezed shut, his hands reached out blindly for the only person who could help him.

Instinctively, Daniel pulled his Love close and held him tight against his chest, feeling his own tears threatening to fall and sweep away what remained of his fragile self control.  He felt and shared Jack's despair and relief.  Eventually, he loosened his grip.

~I can't let go.  I never want to let go,~ the younger man thought as he moved his hand to caress Jack's face, trying to dry the ocean of tears that were being shed.

Daniel kissed Jack's forehead.  The comforted had become the comforter.

“I love you, Jack,” Daniel repeated.  “Everything will be okay because ... because we're together, and we're forever, and when ...” He could no longer hold back and began to cry, too, his tears mingling with his husband's, beginning the healing of their souls and washing away the pain from their hearts, “... and when we're together, we're unbeatable, Jack.  No one breaks us up.  No one, not even the freakin' United States Air Force,” he finished with conviction.

Jack's arms held on even tighter to his husband, and Daniel returned the embrace with equal devotion.

~Never letting go,~ Daniel determined.

The lovers wept and cried until they had no more to give.  Emotional exhaustion and the comfort they could only get from each other soothed them both to sleep.  They never let go of the other, their heads leaning together in unity.

====

“Jack?”

“Hey,” Jack said calmly from his seated position on the floor of the roof deck.

The sun was just beginning to rise, and the older man had awakened an hour or so ago.  He had watched Daniel sleep for a while, the love he felt for his spouse acting as a calming balm for the emotional roller coaster of the last few days.  Unable to go back to sleep, he went in search of peace among the stars.

Jack reached out his hand in hopeful longing towards the man who was his heart and soul.  When Daniel shook his head, Jack thought his lover was refusing to sit with him.  He felt his heart break in two.  He dropped his hand back down to the deck.

~Please, Angel~.

Without a word, Daniel walked forward, dropped down in front of Jack, and scooted himself backward, leaning against Jack's chest.  Wrapping his strong arms around Daniel, Jack gently kissed his soulmate's back, shoulder, and nape, his hands caressing Daniel's abdomen.  They sat there quietly, watching the sun come up over the horizon.

“Gawd, Danny, I love you so friggin' much.”

“I love you, too, Jack.”  Daniel sighed, leaning his head back into the crook of Jack's neck.  He exhaled long and slow, then requested, “Jack, explain it to me again, the, uh, summary version.”

“Harry brokered a deal.”

“Jack, the Tok'ra dropped Maybourne off on a planet.”

“The wrong planet, Danny,” Jack reminded.  “It seemed it wasn't far enough off the beaten path.  He found a way back here and has been trying to get back into the business,” Jack explained.

“What business?”

“The 'doing whatever is best to keep Harry happy' business.”

“Oh.”

“Don't worry.  He's headed for somewhere further out tomorrow.  This time, he won't be able to hitch a ride back here,” Jack stated.  ~Darn Tok'ra; they can't do anything right.~

“I thought he didn't want to come back here,” Daniel spoke.

“Temptation, Daniel,” Jack answered.  “He just had to try one more time, but I think maybe he'll stay put, wherever he ends up this time.”  ~He'd better if he knows what's good for him.~

“Okay, so he came back to Earth and ...” the younger man prodded.

“And,” Jack sighed.  “Harry made contact with someone who claimed to have access to sensitive information.  Supposedly, it had something to do with Al Qaeda.  Geez, Danny, it's not even connected to the Stargate.  The guy was skittish.  He didn't trust Harry, and who could blame him?  He wanted another go between.  He's gay, so he wanted someone willing to party.”

“How willing, Jack?” Daniel questioned more forcefully than anything he'd said up until now.

“Nothing more than a bit of hand holding.  I swear, Danny.  I didn't even do that well, just sort of ... tapped his hand.”  Jack grimaced, adding, “I did have to take his hand one time, though; made my skin crawl, but he was slipping away.  I had to add a little extra to keep him on the deal.  I couldn't let go quick enough.”

Daniel covered Jack's hands with his own as they caressed his abdomen.  He remembered seeing Jack do the tapping thing, and only that, most of the time.  He knew, too, that he had seen the one moment his lover had mentioned.  Now that he really played it back in his mind, he could tell it had been forced, and that Irish smile really wasn't the one that made him melt.

~I shouldn't have been drinking so much,~ the archaeologist bemoaned.  He realized now that it was the alcohol and the shock that combined to make the scene he had witnessed seem far more than it had actually been.  “Why you, Jack?  Maybourne didn't know about us ... until you told him today ... did he?”

“No, no, he didn't.  Danny, I've done a lot of things.  I can't recall ever saying no.  If they asked, I performed.  I followed orders.  Danny, until Abydos, I never questioned anything.  I was a robot for the government, regardless of whether or not it made sense to me personally, and, most of the time, I didn't even think about it.  So, they needed someone.  Harry wanted me. They knew I'd go along.  It had nothing to do with my chosen lifestyle.”

“So, they chose you, and you ... dated ... that guy,” Daniel struggled to speak.  “Then what?”

Jack tensed at Daniel's tone and the term 'dated', but at least Daniel was talking and letting him stay close.

“After the initial go-around, Hammond was kept out of the loop at Harry's insistence; that's why he was looking for me and didn't know where I was, but that idiot Davis promised me that he'd tell him, anyway.”

“You asked Paul to go against orders?”

“Daniel, it was part of the deal.  In this game, you make a lot of deals in order to make other things happen.  He knew I wanted Hammond informed.  It was that, or I was done.  He said he'd handled it.  More importantly, I had made him promise to keep you busy with something.  With all those doo-dads from Area 51 and all the stuff Davis has access to, you'd think he'd have come up with something, but, oh, no, he lets himself get sidetracked by Kinsey, and then he dropped the ball.  I may kill him yet.”

Trying to prevent a murder, Daniel responded, “It wasn't his fault, Jack.  He said he had things lined up, and Kinsey butted in.”

“Daniel, Davis was part of the game, and the game comes first.  If he doesn't understand that, he shouldn't be playing.  He should be ... peeling potatoes or washing the fighters.”

“Jack ...”

“I don't care, Daniel.  *Nothing* makes up for what you've been through, and I don't need you defending that ... major.”

“He probably didn't understand why it was so important,” Daniel excused.

Jack barked, “It wasn't his job to understand, Daniel.  It was his job to do as ordered, and he was ordered to keep you so busy that you wouldn't have time to get caught up in this mess.  I wanted to tell you myself what was going down, and when that became an impossibility, I had to go to Plan B until I could come home and tell you myself.”

Intuitively, the younger man asked, “Are you mad at him, Jack, or at yourself?”

“Both,” Jack admitted with a slightly amused smile.  “I should have known better.  I should have told you, but they ambushed me at the SGC that day.  You were in some meeting, and every time I called you, they were there.  I didn't have a moment of privacy.  I was so angry.”

“Did you try ...”

“Yes, but you didn't respond,” Jack said, referring to their special communication.

“We never really know,” the younger man acknowledged about their non-verbal ability to talk.

**I love you,** Jack said.

Daniel smiled, saying, “I love you, too.  Tell me more.”

Jack continued, “They were supposed to keep you busy at the SGC, so that you wouldn't bump into us anywhere.  Geez, I sound like a broken record, but I'm angry.  They promised me, Danny,” he repeated as his chin rested against Daniel's shoulder.

Daniel moved his head slightly to rub against Jack's chin.  He could feel the pain in his husband's voice and knew his body was aching from the nightmare.  The young man knew exactly what Jack was feeling because he was feeling the same way.

“Then, I came home, and you were gone,” Jack spoke.  “I couldn't find you, and those idiots called again.  It was supposed to be over, all the information exchanged, but, oh, no, they wanted more; wanted to try and pump the man for more information.  Harry was being greedy.  The sad thing is that it all blew up in their faces.  That's the irony, Danny.  In the end, they got nothing.  The guy was playing Harry and all of them.”

“The government got nothing?”

“No, nothing, and they almost gave up the name of a key informant.  It was close, Danny.  I almost lost you.”  Jack sighed, “Danny, I haven't lost you, have I?” he asked hesitantly, a part of him fearing the answer.

“Where's your ring, Jack?”

Jack reached into his shirt pocket and held it in his palm.

Surprised to see where the ring had been kept, Daniel questioned, “Your shirt pocket?”

“I was looking at it a lot, wondering why you ...  I mean last night.  Danny ...” Jack began emotionally.

“I love you.”  Daniel took the band, put it on Jack's ring finger, and kissed it.  “The circle of our love goes forever.  Lisa said to remember the good and the bad, and that there would be both.  I guess she was right,” he spoke. “Jack?”

“Yes, Love?”

“I still want to find the Lost City, but when the time is right for us, we're getting out.  I used to think we owed them something, that we had a responsibility there, to Hammond, and just to the principles of the Program, peaceful exploration and all of that,” Daniel intoned.

Jack was taking in the words, and he knew that his lover was sincere.  He rarely said just 'Hammond', if only out of the huge respect they both shared for the major general.

“But Jack, the Nox were right,” Daniel continued.  “We're so young.  We're not ready to be out there, doing what we do, so when we know it's time, we're gone.  We don't owe them anything, not Hammond, not the program, no one.”

“You say the word, Danny, and we start adopting those kids,” Jack agreed without hesitation.

Daniel smiled, saying, “A boy and a girl.”

“Whatever you want, Angel.”

Jack was finding it hard to breathe.  Somehow, miraculously, Daniel still loved him.

“Jack, I don't remember the bar.  I mean, I saw you dancing with him, but I don't remember anything after that,” Daniel admitted.

“You don't remember the blond, blue-eyed bimbo who was pawing you?” Jack queried.

“A girl?”

“Geez, Danny, you were in a guys-only bar.  No, some pretty-boy 'stallion' who thought he was Adonis, and his hands were all over you, and I do mean all over. He was undressing you, Daniel, and you just sat there.  I wanted to kill you both, except I love you, Danny, and I could never hurt you, not really.  But I couldn't believe you'd do that, just sit there and let that, let him touch like you that.  I didn't understand what you'd been through.”

“Did he want me to leave with him?”

“Oh, yeah, big time,” Jack groaned.

“Did I, Jack?” Daniel asked.

“No, Love, you were turning him down, but he was still pawing you, and you were still letting him,” the older man answered.

“Jack, what happened to the bimbo?”

Jack grinned, saying, “I decked him.”

“Knocked him out in one shot?” Daniel asked, a tiny smile on his face.

“Just one,” Jack acknowledged proudly.

“And then you threatened him, and ... everyone else,” the younger man surmised.

“That's right, and if you ever go in there again without me, I'm going to do more than threaten you.”

Jack's caressing suddenly stopped, and he asked, “Hey, I thought you said you didn't remember anything?”

“It came back to me,” Daniel revealed.

“When?”

“When you got jealous a minute ago,” Daniel chuckled.

“I did not get jealous.”

“Did, too.”

“Did not,” Jack refuted.

“Did, too,” Daniel maintained.

“I did not.”

“Green with jealousy,” the younger man teased.

“Blue in total calm.”

“Bimbo?  Adonis?  Pretty Boy?”

Jack grunted, then said, “Okay, I backslid.  I was jealous, and I decked him, and, no, I'm not sorry, and if he touches you ever again, I will kill him, and if you let him, I'll ... I'll ...”

“You'll what?”

“I'll do this,” Jack said, using his right hand to turn Daniel's face to look at his.

For the first time in nearly a week, the couple kissed ... and kissed ...  and kissed.

When they both came up for air, Jack asked, “Danny, you wouldn't have gone with him, would you?”

“I started to, but what would have been the point, Jack?  You hurt me, so I hurt you, and then we're both hurt?  Who wins?”

“My genius,” Jack said kissing Daniel again.  Whispering in his ear, he added, “Gawd, I missed you.”

“I missed you, too, so freakin' much, Jack.”

The couple kissed again and then Daniel felt the need to confess something to Jack.

“Jack, I need you to know something.  When that guy was ... pawing me, as you say, I wasn't exactly there,” Daniel began.  Seeing the confusion on his husband's face, he quickly explained, “I was back on our honeymoon, and it was your hands that I was feeling.”

“Then the moans were for me, not the bimbo?” Jack asked, hoping for confirmation that his husband's groans of pleasure were not induced by some stranger.

“Every one of them,” Daniel confirmed.

The couple kissed again, Daniel moaning from the touch of their lips.

“I'm making you a promise, Danny.  I don't care what anyone or anything wants me to do, covert, or not covert, if there is any way in the realm of possibility that you, or us, could be hurt by it, I'm not doing it without you knowing every last detail first and agreeing to it.”

“They won't like that,” Daniel commented.

“Then they can take my rank and stuff it, because I promise you, Danny, and it's a solemn promise, like my vows.  I won't break it.  I've done way too much, given up too much, for this country and for this planet.  I don't mind fighting a while longer.  I believe in what we're doing, but I will *not* sacrifice you or our life together ever again.  I love you.”  When Daniel stood up suddenly, he asked, “Hey, where you going?”

Daniel reached out his hand, and, after Jack took it, he pulled his lover up, saying, “Come with me.”

Daniel led Jack into their bedroom.  He kissed him and then walked to the stereo.  Finding the CD he wanted, he put it on and started it.

“May I have this dance,” the younger man asked of Jack as their love song played.  It was “Because You Loved Me,” the song they had danced to at their wedding.  They held each other close, silently renewing their commitment, their unity, and their desire.  “Jack, do you realize you told Maybourne and Paul that we're married?”

“I did, didn't I?” Jack chuckled.

“That's when I forgave you,” the younger man revealed with a soft smile.

“What?  That was before anyone else said a word,” Jack asked, surprised.

“I still needed to know what happened, but you wouldn't have done that Jack if you didn't mean it.  You wouldn't have threatened Paul, a major in the Air Force. They could court-martial you for that alone.

“I don't care, Danny, but you could have told me.  Do you have any idea how miserable I've been, the worry, scared out of my mind?  I thought you'd leave me, never forgive me, maybe even hate me, and ... and you made up your mind before the others said a word?”

“Hmmm-mmmm.”

“I'm going to get you, Danny,” Jack threatened lightly.

“You know what they say, Jack?”

“No, what?” Jack questioned.

Daniel answered snarkily, “Don't get mad, get even!”

“Why you ... ”

Daniel burst into laughter and tried to escape Jack's clutches, but he didn't get far, nor did he want to.  Jack tossed him onto the bed where their passion ignited. They grounded themselves into each other, thundering their insides with each other's desire and love.  Their nation of two had been dented a little, but in the end, their armor had been strong, and their nation was better than ever.  Jack and Daniel's love for each other would long outlast the United States Air Force.

====

Shortly before noon, Daniel's face brightened when a special package arrived by Federal Express.  It was two new bottles of 1959 St. Julien's, his favorite wine.  He looked at the invoice and saw Jack had ordered it a month ago, but the supplier had had a delay due to demand.  As compensation, since Jack was a regular buyer of the wine, they had given him a ten-percent refund.

Another tear fell down Daniel's cheek as he carefully put the wine in its place.

“I love you, Jack,” Daniel spoke to the bottles, tracing the name of the wine with his fingers.

“Me or the wine?” Jack asked as he entered the living room and scooped his lover into his arms and kissed him.

“I thought ... I mean ... Jack, I ... I love you, Jack.”

Daniel attempted to reach Jack's tonsils in the kiss they shared.

“Gotta ask again, me or the wine.”  Suddenly, the light dawned for the older man.  “I forgot to tell you.  They sent me an email a couple weeks ago.  You know me and email, Danny, in one finger and out the other.  You thought I hadn't ordered any more of the wine, right?”

Daniel nodded, sighing, “It's not like you have to, Jack. I mean I certainly don't expect you to.”

“Yes, you do, and so do I.  I happen to love you, and this is something I do ... because I love you.”

Daniel felt warm on the inside.  He and Jack still had work to do on their communication skills, even after all these years.  Both had tempers, and jealousies, to battle, too.  However, nothing was worth losing their love, home, and family over.  They just needed to make sure they remained focused on their priorities and their nation of two.

Jack saw his jacket on the sofa, having forgotten that he'd left it there.  He reached for it, groaning when he felt something inside.  He removed the object for just a moment, letting out a grunt at its presence.

“Whose cell is that?” Daniel asked, seeing his lover holding a cell phone he had never seen before.

“They gave this to me for the mission; I forgot to turn it in.”  Putting the item back inside the pocket, Jack explained, “I told them there was no way I was going to give that guy our home phone number or my personal cell number, so they gave me this one.  As soon as we get to the SGC, I'm giving it back to Hammond.  He'll see it gets returned to the right people.”

Daniel nodded in understanding, then questioned, “What did the general say when you called him this morning?”

“He said he was sorry he had been too busy to come over when I asked him to, and if I still needed him, he was available now,” Jack reported, appreciative that the major general had given him the covert message that meant as far as he was concerned, officially, there had never been a problem; in fact, there had never been a meeting.

“Oh, but he wasn't here when you said we were married,” Daniel pointed out.

“I'm not sure he needed to hear the words, Danny, and the entire operation was supposed to be secret, anyway.  No one can know about it, or even that Harry was back on Earth.  That'll be buried,” Jack stated.  He cocked his head slightly, then said, “I think Hammond knows; I think he's known a long time, but I don't know for sure, and he can't ask and ...”

“You're not going to tell,” Daniel acknowledged with a nod.  “Paul?”

“He's quaking in his boots, Danny, and, if he's smart, he'll keep right on quaking.  I'm sorry, Daniel, I know you like the guy, but I'm not sure I can forgive him for his part in what you went through.  I'll break his neck if he talks, or if he ever fouls up like this again.  I think he knows it, too.  Are you mad at me for saying that?”

“No, because you're being honest, and I know you wouldn't really do it.”

“Don't fool yourself, Danny.  I would, in a friggin' heartbeat.  You almost drove yourself off a cliff because of this mess.  Angel ... Angel,” Jack began, pulling his soulmate close and leaning their foreheads together.  He closed his eyes, suddenly finding himself speechless and trying to swallow past a lump in his throat from visualizing Daniel in his Silver Fox car driving over the edge of a mountain, drunk, because he thought he'd cheated on him.  It was an image Jack wasn't sure he'd ever be able to get out of his mind.  ~Too close; way too close.~

“What about Maybourne?” Daniel inquired.

“He definitely knows I'll kill him,” Jack stated confidently.  “He won't say a word.”

“Are you sure?”

“Positive.  Harry values his life above all else, and you may not believe I'd snake him, but he does.  Besides, I checked with Hammond.  The Tok'ra did a double check of this new planet they want to put Harry on.  Primitive society.  There's a Stargate, but Harry's in such hot water because of this last attempt that he knows he's better off there than here.”

“Jack, is Bij glaring at you?” Daniel asked, spotting the beagle staring at Jack from her beanbag.

Jack groaned, nodding and answering, “She's been giving me the evil eye ever since I brought you home yesterday.”

Daniel chuckled, “We'd better fix that.”

The two men walked over to the mama beagle to pat and reassure her.

“It was just a mistake, Bij.  Everything's okay; our family is secure.  I promise,” Daniel said quietly.

“It always was, Bij,” Jack promised, looking at his soulmate tenderly.

It took a few more minutes of reassurance, but Bijou was eventually convinced, giving Jack a kiss before putting her nose back down and closing her eyes.  She rolled over slightly, her back rubbing against the still-sleeping Katie's back.

“I think I'm forgiven,” Jack stated as he straightened up.

Daniel nodded and said, “I love you, Jack.”

“I love you, too, Danny.”

“Jack, I'm in the mood for ice cream,” the younger man stated.

“Didn't you just have some?”

“Yes, but ... I was thinking of a special use.”

“Oh, chocolate or vanilla?” Jack asked, a smile in his eyes.

“Coffee!”

“As if you don't get enough,” Jack teased.

“What's wrong with coffee?”

Jack chuckled, “Absolutely nothing, Love.  Keeps you functioning.”

“You really shouldn't be so judgmental,” the linguist advised.

“Danny,” Jack said, holding a pint of coffee ice cream -- “Coffee, Bickering, or Me?

“Number one and three, please,” Daniel answered in a half-chuckle.

“Deal.”

Soon, Daniel was indulging himself in a huge helping of his favorite everything -- a coffee'd Jack.

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
Feedback Welcome - click here to email the author


Web Page Tracking
Meet People Online