Twilight's Jubilation

Author: Orrymain and special guest co-author, Claudia!
Category: Slash, Angst, H/C of the mental kind, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  2 - early
Spoilers:  None
Size:  66kb
Written:  April 30, May 1-4,7-8,14, 2004  Revised for consistency: January 16-17, 2007
Summary:  Daniel's drunk and thinks he's about to be fired.  Jack makes it all better and takes Daniel shopping!
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.**
3) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
4) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my past fics, “The Truth Within”
5) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  QuinGem, Drdjlover, Kalimyre, Sue!

Twilight's Jubilation
by Orrymain and Claudia

~Light.  Heat.  No.~

Daniel put the pillow over his head, trying to stop the early morning sunlight from filtering through the blinds -- blinds he'd forgotten to close the night before.  Well, not forgotten, but he had passed out on the bed before night had fallen.

~Head hurts.  Don't want to breathe.  Moving is bad.  Stay still, under ... what is this thing?  Oh, yeah -- pillow.~

Daniel grunted, desperately wanting to go back to sleep.

~WHAT THE CRAP IS THAT?  Oh, gawd.  Ringing.  Ears are ringing.  No, phone.~

Slowly, the young man inched his hand towards the annoying ringing.  He picked up the phone, banging it against the nightstand.  He swore for a moment in a language that he couldn't remember the name of.  Finally, he tucked the phone under the pillow where his head was.

“Lo?”  Silence was all the archaeologist heard.  “Allo?”  More silence filled the air.  ~Well, if you're going to intrude, you could at least ... oh, upside down.~  Daniel turned the phone around and finally spoke, “Hello,” into the mouthpiece.

“Doctor Jackson?  Is that you?” a familiar, authoritarian voice sounded out.

~Ut oh.  General?  Sounds like ...~  Daniel leaped up to a sitting position, the pillow bounding off the bed to the floor.  He grabbed a sheet and quickly put it around his body.  ~Oh, wait ... not naked.  Why aren't I naked?  Bed equals nakedness.~  He smiled.  ~Jack.  Naked.  Bed.  Oh, yes.  Yes.  Jack.  Want ...~

“Hello?  Doctor Jackson?” Hammond called out, full of concern and a bit of consternation.

The voice pulled Daniel out of his lusty thoughts, and he slurred out, “Um, yesssss, Sssir.”

“I need to speak with Colonel O'Neill immediately.”

“Colonel?”  Daniel giggled into the phone as he realized who the general was asking about.  “Oh, you mean Jackkkkk,” the young man deduced, drawing out the name for several seconds.  “Um ... Jack ...”

“Doctor, are you all right?”

~What the heck time is it?~  “Yes, Gen'r'l Ha...Ham...”  ~What is his name?  Oh, yeah.~  “Hammond.  Fine.  Thank you for calling, Sir.  Nighty night, Sssssssir.”  Daniel started to hang up the phone.

“DOCTOR JACKSON, DO NOT HANG UP ...”

General Hammond's warning went unheeded, the phone disconnecting the caller from the receiver.

Daniel looked around in a daze.  ~Pillow.  Where pillow?  Oh ... there be pillow.  Hi, Pillow!~  A sloppy smile on his face, Daniel picked up the pillow and collapsed back onto the bed, once again covering his head with the soft, white object.

====

General Hammond looked at the receiver in his hand in disbelief.  Doctor Daniel Jackson -- polite, considerate, always reliable Doctor Daniel Jackson -- had hung up on him.  ~That boy has definitely been hanging around Jack O'Neill too much. And was he drunk?  That's not like him.  Hope he's okay.  Yet another reason to talk to Jack.  Ah, speak of the devil.~

The general looked up at his 2IC and frowned.  Jack was not looking happy.  ~I wonder if he and Daniel had another disagreement.  Hope not; they need each other.  An unlikely duo they may be, but their friendship is good for both of them.~

“Heard you wanted to see me, Sir.”

Hammond nodded and waved Jack into the seat opposite him as he replied strongly, “You heard right, Colonel.  I just phoned Doctor Jackson.  I thought you might have spent the night on his couch after your night on the town.”

“We cancelled it, Sir.  Decided we weren't in the mood.”

Jack stuck to the half truth.  Their night on the town, code words for dinner in Daniel's apartment, had effectively been called off when Jack stormed out of the apartment in a huff.  He was a little disconcerted when the general's frown deepened.

“Is everything all right between the two of you, Jack?”

“Of course, Sir.”  Jack sighed.  ~It will be once I apologize to Danny.  I can be such an idiot sometimes.  And I need some coffee.~

“Then perhaps you can tell me why Doctor Jackson is as drunk as the proverbial skunk, or at least very hung over, and even more to the point, Colonel, why he is at home and not in his office?”

“What?”

Suddenly alert, Jack gazed at the general, seeing the older man's concern.  A feeling of dread began to settle over him.  The look on Daniel's face as Jack had walked out of the door suddenly flared in his mind.  Last night he'd been too caught up in his own feelings to even process his lover's expression.  Now he knew exactly what that expression meant.  He fought hard to suppress a groan.

“Uh, maybe I'd better go and see if he's all right.”  Jack stood without even waiting for the general to dismiss him.  “Oh, what did you want to see me about, Sir?”

General Hammond gazed at the tense posture of his 2IC.  Jack might not be admitting it, but something had happened between the two men, and he wanted the colonel to fix it.  SG-1 was the premier team of the SGC, and he needed them focused on the trials ahead, not petty differences.

“It can wait, Jack.  Go and see Doctor Jackson.”

The words had barely left the general's mouth before Jack was out of his office and making his way out of the SGC.

~Crap, Danny.  I should have known.  I'm sorry, Love.~

Jack was now all too aware that Daniel would have seen his leaving as a declaration that their love affair was over.  He remembered the time that Daniel had thought their friendship was over just because they had a fight over Teal'c being included on SG-1.

As their argument had progressed that day, Jack had called Daniel a whiny child, and Daniel had apologized sarcastically for having had an opinion, and then he had excused himself and gone upstairs.  Having given both of them a few minutes to calm down, Jack had gone upstairs to smooth things over, only to have found Daniel packing.

//Flashback//
“Danny, what are you doing?”

Daniel looked up, surprised at the shocked expression on Jack's face.  He stood silently for a moment, then hesitantly said, “I ... I assumed ... I mean ... You want me to go, don't you?”

“Go?  Why would I want that?”

“We ... fought.  I mean ...”

Jack stared at Daniel, and at that moment, he saw for the first time the abandoned, frightened eight-year old boy Daniel had once been, not the 31-year old scientist who had impressed Jack with his courage and compassion.

“Danny ... and don't say it ... DANNY,” Jack emphasized the nickname,  “we had a fight.  People ... fight.  It's not the end of the world, and it's a not a reason to leave unless ... unless that's what you want to do.”

“But ... I meant what I said ...”

“So?”

Daniel looked down and then turned and sat at the edge of the bed.  He was used to being alone and people not caring about him unless there was something in it for them.  Jack was confusing him.

Jack walked over and sat next to him, closely.  In fact, Daniel flinched, realizing that Jack was intentionally brushing Daniel's shoulder with his.

“Daniel, listen to me.  I'm loud and abrasive.  I say what I think.  So do you.  We didn't agree the first time we met, so what on Earth makes you think we aren't going to disagree now and again?”

“I'm sorry, it's just ...”

“Do you hold grudges, Danny?”  Jack watched as Daniel shook his head.  “I didn't think so.  Do you want to leave?”

Daniel shyly shook his head again, causing Jack to smile.  “Good, because it's fun having you around to tease all day and night.”

“Nice to know I'm finally good for something.”

Jack made a mental note to find out more about why Daniel made so many self-deprecating remarks.  Daniel was a genius.  He had opened the Stargate.  Why was he always putting himself down?
//End of Flashback//

~You're an idiot, O'Neill.  You know Daniel's history.  You should have known how he'd take that fight.~

Jack berated himself all the way to Daniel's apartment.  Twenty minutes later, he used his key to enter the apartment and made his way to the bedroom.  He saw a lump on the bed, underneath sheets and pillows, so he assumed that lump was his lover.

From the wine bottles and ... ~Whoa, scotch?  bourbon?  gin?  Danny, what were you thinking?~  Jack's face scrunched at the mixture of alcoholic beverage bottles that lined Daniel's bedroom floor.

The blinds were already open, but Jack adjusted them slightly so that the sun wasn't beaming in on the bed as it had been.  Then, he sat down on the side of the bed and began to unearth his partner.

“Danny, I know you're in here somewhere.”

“Not here ... dead.”

Jack laughed, “You don't sound dead.  Where the heck are you?”  He wondered where all the sheets and blankets had come from.  “Danny?”  Looking all around, he laughed again, finally seeing the mop of shaggy hair that adorned his love.  “There you are.”

Regretfully, Daniel knew he had nowhere to escape to.  He rolled over and looked at Jack who smiled.

“I'm sorry, Danny.”

“Sorry?”  Daniel got a look of deep concentration, but came up empty.  So, he simply smiled.  “Bed, Jack.”  He reached out his arms and brought his lover down to him.  “Clothes.  No clothes allowed in bed.”

“I have news for you, Love.  You're dressed.”

Daniel looked down, a frown on his face, his eyes scrunched together.  “No good.  Bed.  Supposed to be naked.  With you!”  Daniel's frown was replaced with another sloppy smile.

“Danmmmmph.”  As Daniel devoured his mouth, Jack's mind processed the unusual taste of the kiss.  ~You really did drink all that stuff.  What a combination of taste.~  “Mmm.  I love you, Danny.”

“Love Jack.  My Jack,” Daniel expressed in a near gasp before kissing his lover again.

“Danny, we should talk.”

“Talk?  'Bout what, Jack?” the intoxicated man questioned.

“Last night.”

Daniel got that same look on his face, and then shook his head in refusal, insisting, “Love you.  Want you.  NOW.  Don't argUUUUUe, Jack.”

~Whoa.  Wha...what?  Wow.  Go, Danny, go!~

Jack was surprised.  Daniel had only said those magical three “I love you” words first a couple of times.  The one-two whammy of those words and Daniel's aggressiveness left Jack defenseless, and the two made love.

====

Jack looked down at the man sprawled across his chest.  Daniel was asleep again, and Jack had decided that it would be best if his drunken lover slept off the alcohol in his system.

~Hammond.  I should phone him.  Hmm, phone is over there.~

Jack tried to slide out from under Daniel, but found himself being growled at as the intoxicated archaeologist held onto his Jack pillow.

~Okay, new plan.  Cell phone.  Oh, oh.~  Jack spotted his jacket with his cell phone in his pocket on the other side of the room.  ~How'd it get way over there?~  He withheld his chuckle as he developed yet another plan.

He decided to try moving Daniel onto his legs so that he could reach the phone on the nightstand.  That plan began well.  Daniel didn't protest as Jack wriggled upwards, his head simply slid from Jack's chest to his stomach.  Jack leaned over and couldn't quite reach the phone so he wriggled out a little further.

“Whoa.”  That last maneuver had shifted Daniel's head from Jack's stomach to his groin and far from minding, Daniel simply burrowed his nose further into Jack which made the area in question sit up and take notice.

~Better get this call over with while I can.~

Grabbing the phone, Jack tried to wriggle back to his original spot on the bed.  Daniel, however, was clearly content with his current position as he wrapped his arms around Jack's legs, effectively immobilizing him.

“Danny, I need you to move a little now.”  There was no response from his comatose lover.  ~Crap.  Oh, well.  What Hammond doesn't know, won't hurt him.~  He dialed the number of his CO.

“Sir, Daniel is ... uh ...”  Jack struggled for words to politely describe his lover's condition.

“Under the weather, Colonel?”

“Yes, Sir.  I don't think he's up to coming in today, and I really feel like someone should stay with him until he's a little more ... coherent.  I think he and I need to have a little talk.”

“I couldn't agree more.  Stay with him, Colonel ... Jack.  This behavior isn't normal for Doctor Jackson.  Try and find out the cause.  We can't afford to lose him.”

~Neither can I.~

Jack caressed Daniel's cheek.  Unfortunately, this proved to be a mistake as Daniel roused himself enough to take notice of Jack's rather aroused state.  Caught by surprise, Jack failed to stifle his groan.

“Colonel?”  Jack leapt out of the bed and ignored the annoyed glare Daniel shot him.  “Sorry, Sir, but ... Daniel ... he just got sick.  Ugly.  Smelly stuff.  You get the idea, General.  Guess who gets to clean it up?”

An unmistakable chuckle came over the phone line, followed by, “I better not keep you then, Colonel.”

As he hung up, Jack's words proved to be prophetic.  He saw Daniel's eyes widen, and a minute later Daniel was retching into the wastepaper basket beside his bed.

====

“Here you are, Danny.”  Jack handed his lover a large glass of cold water and some aspirin.

“Gawd, I think I'm dying,” the ailing archaeologist expressed, his face grimacing from the pounding of his head.

“You've already done that.  Why don't we forego that this time?” the older man smirked.

Daniel glared at his lover as he sarcastically spoke, “Very funny, Jack.”  Then he thought, ~Don't glare; hurts to glare.~

Smugly, the older man responded, “I thought so.”

~Glare.  What's a little man.  Gawd, he's infuriating sometimes, but look at him.  Want ... no, head hurts.  I'm dying.~

Jack winced at the death glare Daniel continued to give him as he moved to sit down on the freshly remade bed, a move necessitated when Daniel awoke throwing up a bit earlier.

“Jack?”

“Yes, Love?”

Squinting as he struggled to recall life before the misery he now felt, the Daniel inquired, “Didn't we fight last night?”

“Yeah, we did.”

“And didn't we ... you know this morning?” Daniel questioned.  ~I'm sure I remember that.  It was ... gawd, it was good.  How can I remember that and not what day it is?~

Nodding, Jack confirmed, “Yeah, we did.”

“Oh,” Daniel expressed in his confusion.  He blinked, his eyes seeming to circle the room in front of him.  “How'd we ... do that?  I can barely see.  The room is spinning.”

“Ah, Danny.”  Jack sat next to his lover, leaning against the headboard.  “Did you really drink all of that?”

Jack looked over at the empty bottles he had picked up, placing them on Daniel's dresser for the time being.

“I don't know.  I guess so.  I don't remember.  I ... didn't want to remember.  Coffee.  I want coffee,” the archaeologist requested, his body beginning to demand his liquid vice.

“No can do, Love, not yet.  All that liquor is going to make you miserable for a while.  You're lucky you didn't land yourself in Doc Napoleon's hospital.”

“Oh, gawd.  Makes my head hurt more just thinking about it,” the younger man admitted.

Jack kissed his lover's temple, his arm around the young man's shoulder.

Leaning into his partner, Daniel sighed, “So, if we ... you know, then I guess the fight's over.”

Jack ran his left hand through his lover's hair and affirmed, “Fight's over, but I need to say one thing.”  After a pause, he said, “Danny, I'm sorry.  I shouldn't have walked out.”

Daniel put down the empty glass on the night stand and stood up, wishing he hadn't moved as quickly.  He hesitated a moment.

~Stop spinning.  Room is ... moving.~

The apartment renter walked to his closet for no real reason except that he wanted off the bed.  He began to self-hug.

Inwardly, Jack sighed, ~Can't let you go there.~  He stood and walked up behind his lover, kissing his nape as he put his hands around his very tense lover.  “It was my fault.”

“You're entitled to your opinion.”

“Okay,” Jack accepted.  “It was my fault, but that's not just my opinion, that's a fact.”

Daniel turned out of Jack's embrace, saying, “That's not what I meant.  I ... I meant what we were fighting about.  You're entitled to your opinion.”

“So are you.”

“Our opinions were ... different.”

“Yes, they were, but I was wrong to walk out.  I just got lost in the heat of the battle, in trying to be right,” Jack explained.  ~It's the colonel in me.~

“You're weren't right,” Daniel noted forcefully.

“Fight's over, Danny,” Jack reminded.  He didn't care about right or wrong at the moment.  If Daniel still felt Jack was in the wrong, that was okay.  ~Not going to do this again.~

Cautiously, but needing to say it, Daniel pointed out, “We didn't resolve anything.”

“Maybe not,” Jack acknowledged.  “But sometimes, Danny, fights don't have tidy little endings.  Who said they had to?”

“But ... if we don't resolve it, then it'll just ... fester,” the archaeologist supposed.  With regret, he added, “We'll argue about it again.”

“Maybe.  Maybe not.”

“Jack, you're looking to put a ... a band-aid on this.  That won't fix it.”

“We don't have to over analyze everything either, Danny.  Sometimes we just have to agree to disagree.”  Jack hoped that they weren't going to start arguing again.  ~We're not.  It takes two to argue, and I'm not going to argue.~

“You think that's what I'm doing?  Agreeing to disagree is fine, Jack, if the issue isn't going to keep cropping up, but this is.  We need to work it out.”

“It'll work itself out,” Jack stated.

“It didn't last night!” Daniel exclaimed.

~Stubborn geek,~ Jack thought.  “That was my fault.  I should have let it go.”

“No you shouldn't, Jack.  You can't help how you feel, and if you think you're not entitled to feelings in this relationship, then we have a problem.”

Daniel walked out into his living room and stared at his fish, his arms wrapped tightly around himself.  Jack followed him and tried once again to take his lover into his arms.  Although Daniel didn't move away, he remained stiff.

~Geez, Danny.  It's like hugging a tree.~  Jack leaned down and buried his face in Daniel's neck, inhaling the scent of the man he loved.  ~I love you so much.  Okay, you need to talk about this.  Let's see if we can do it without arguing.~  He took a breath as he processed his thoughts, then admitted, “Danny, I wasn't being reasonable last night.  I can see that now.”

“You're just saying that because you want to brush this whole thing under the carpet -- admit you were wrong, and the whole thing goes away, but ... but it doesn't, Jack.  Right or wrong doesn't matter.  It's how you felt.”

This time Jack moved away.  He stared out the window and sighed in frustration.

“Danny, what do you want from me?”

“I don't know.  Why do you seem to think I have all the answers?”

Daniel continued to gaze at his fish.  ~Fish are easy.  No matter what I do, they don't leave me.~

Jack watched Daniel reach out with one hand, the other remaining firmly wrapped around his waist, and place his fingers on the wall of the aquarium.  One of the tropical fish swam over, as if to say hello.  The sight was like a punch in the gut.  Daniel looked so alone, and so resigned to being alone.  Suddenly, Jack realized how unfair, or rather how unrealistic he had been, in his wishes the previous night.

“I'm so sorry, Danny.  So sorry.”

Once again, he took Daniel into his arms, and this time, he refused to let Daniel's stiff posture bother him.  He knew the key was to hold on, to let Daniel know that he wasn't going anywhere.

~I'm sorry, Danny.  I didn't think about what your work has meant to you.  Work has never been the only thing I've had in my life, but it has for you.  It's like a lifeline.~

Jack thought back to the key moment of their fight the night before, the moment that arrived after twenty minutes of fighting, when both were at the height of their anger, yelling violently at each other.

//Flashback//
“Daniel, we're supposed to be enjoying an evening together, not thinking about what some squiggly line means on a tablet in your office.”

“It's not in my office.”  Daniel stopped, a realization hitting him.  “Maybe it's ... maybe ...”  With lightning speed, he walked to the sofa where he had left his backpack that he had brought home with him.  Opening it, he pulled out the tablet.  “Yes!” he exclaimed excitedly.  “Jack, if this means north, then it could be a direction, maybe like a ... a compass.  It could lead ...”

“DANIEL, I DON'T FRIGGIN' CARE WHERE IT LEADS.  WE'RE AT HOME, NOT AT THE SGC,” an angry Jack barked.

“But don't you see what this means?” Daniel questioned passionately as he thought about his epiphany.

Jack had reached his limit, argumentatively answering, “Yes, I do.  It means you'd rather spend the night with some thousand-year-old piece of rock than with me.  Goodnight, Daniel.”
//End of Flashback//

This hadn't been their first fight over Daniel's inability to leave the office at the office.  No matter where they were or what they were doing, somehow, Daniel seemed to revert to some translation or some research he was doing.  It felt to Jack like they were never truly alone.  He remembered thinking during the argument, ~We're not a couple, we're a trio - you, me, and the artifact of the day.~

Now, the day after, Jack held his lover in his arms, something he treasured more than most things.

~I forgot, Danny, but I won't forget again.~

Daniel finally raised his arms, letting his hands glide a bit against Jack's back.  Then he sighed and whispered Jack's name.

“I'm not going anywhere.  Danny, this doesn't have to be a big deal unless we make it one.  Okay, I let it get to me last night.  I forgot for a while what really matters to me, and I let my temper rule me.  In case you hadn't notice, I sometimes have a nasty temper.”

“I hadn't noticed,” Daniel said softy, a light timber in his voice as the two pulled back to look into each other's eyes.

“Well, I do.  I can't promise it won't happen again, but all you have to do is give me a swift kick, and then we'll be okay.”

“Not if you are just going on.  Not if it bothers you so much that you'd ... you'd ...”

“Walk out?  Like I did last night?”  Daniel nodded.  “Not going to happen, not again.  Look, we approach the Stargate differently, how we handle people and situations.  This isn't that different.  Tolerance and understanding.  A little compromise.”

“Compromise?”

“Can't we both give a little, or is this a no-win situation for one of us?”

Daniel looked down for a moment, but Jack quickly put his hand under his chin and gently nudged his lover.

“I don't know, Jack.”

“Okay, then I give.”

Daniel suddenly looked petrified.  He was positive that in the next five seconds his lover would be out the door, and their love affair would be over.  He wasn't ready for that.  He didn't think he'd ever be ready for that to happen.

“Oh, Danny, stop.  I'm not leaving you.”

“You're ... not?”

“No.  What I meant was that ... I need you more than I need to be right, and more than I need compromise.  Maybe later you'll feel safer, and things will change on their own.  Maybe not, but that's okay, because like I said, I know what matters most to me.”  ~I won't like sharing you with work 24/7, but if that's what it takes, then I'll do it.~

Jack couldn't believe that Daniel looked so blank.  He just didn't have a clue, no matter what Jack said.

“Danny, you ... you are what matters most to me,” the older man professed as strongly as he could.

“Mmm...me?”

“You, so I give, and we'll do what you need to do.  I love you,” the older man declared.

“I ... I love you, too, but ...”

“Danny, never add a 'but' to the end of those words -- not ever.  It's bad news.”

Daniel smiled.  “I ... it's just.  Jack, it's not right for you to just ... give up like that.”

“What matters most -- Daniel Jackson.”

Daniel looked up at Jack.  ~He really means it.~  “I'm sorry, Jack.  I know I get too involved with work, but it's never bothered anyone before.”  Daniel buried his face in Jack's shoulder.  “There's never been anyone to get upset about ... how I spend my time.”

Jack tightened his hold on Daniel, reassuring him with gentle, soothing movements of his hands and tiny kisses to his neck.

“I know, and that's why I'm sorry.  I didn't try and see it from your point of view.  Danny, listen.  This isn't a fight.  I just want you to think about it.  For me, what I see is my lover working day in and day out, even when we're supposed to be alone.  I mean, Danny sometimes it's cute the way you think of something while we're making love, but ... when is it just us?  When you bring everything home with you every single day, when we can't get through just one meal without you starting to work on something, then I start to wonder.  And that's what I saw ... you ... working all the time, putting that work ahead me, ahead of us.  Right or wrong, that's how it felt.”

Jack had worked hard to speak calmly, to be honest, to just state the facts as his heart saw it.  When Daniel spoke, Jack was relieved to know he had succeeded.  They wouldn't fight again, at least not today.

“I don't mean to, Jack.  It's just, I can't ...”  Daniel sighed.  “I don't want to lose my job.”

Daniel was looking down, embarrassed at his revelation.  Jack looked at his lover in total shock.  He hadn't seen this coming.

“Why would you think that is even a possibility?”

“I'm not a soldier.  I'm only on SG-1 because of Sha're.  I was naive enough to get addicted to the sarcophagus.  Do I really need to go on?  It's a long list.”

Jack shook his head, still stunned.  He cupped Daniels' face as he spoke firmly.

“Daniel.  Listen to me.  We've been through this before.  First, your job isn't about being a soldier.  You're our cultural expert, our linguistics master.  You have the patience of a saint in first contact situations.  No one else can do that like you.”

Jack slid his hands down to take Daniel's in his, tenderly caressing them.  He smiled for a moment, and then continued.

“Second, you're on SG-1 for all the reasons I just said, and because you opened the Stargate.  And I'll give you this much, there may be an element of truth about Sha're, but Danny, you know Hammond.  Do you really believe he'd let anyone walk through that Gate, ESPECIALLY on SG-1, if they weren't fully qualified?”

“I ...”  Daniel looked down nervously, unable to fully respond.

“Lastly, the business with the sarc and the she-devil.  It wasn't your fault.  Nobody but you thinks it was even avoidable.  And everyone except you thinks you're incredible for bouncing back the way you did, and just for the record, Danny, you are the most valuable member of the SGC.  General Hammond knows that.”

Flashes of memory began to flutter through Daniel's mind as he spoke next.  He panicked, his eyes widening, his body beginning to fidget.

“I didn't even ... Jack, he called me ... I think.  Oh gawd, I hung up on him.  I'm so fired.”

“You're aren't listening.  You will not be fired.  Even if you only did one translation a week, you wouldn't be fired.  General Hammond isn't angry with you, Danny, he's worried about you.”

“Really?”

The disbelief and amazement in Daniel's eyes nearly broke Jack's heart.

“Daniel, is this why you've buried yourself in your work for the last week?”

“I wanted to be with you, Jack, really I did, but I had to work.  Then last night after you left, I couldn't work anyway.  It took me six hours to translate a single line, and I got it wrong anyway so then I...”

“Got drunk?”

Daniel responded with barely a breath between phrases, the words tumbling out of his mouth in rapid fire anxiety.  Jack could feel his lover's hands shaking as the young man spoke.

“I'd lost you, and it was all for nothing because I couldn't work, so I didn't have you, and I didn't have the SGC.  It was all gone, and I'd be homeless 'cause I'll never get a job anywhere else because I'm a failure at everything, a laughing stock in my profession.  My fish would die, and I'd be alone.  I don't want to be alone, Jack.”

“Geez, Danny.”  Jack pulled his lover in close to him.  ~All that expectation.  Too much pressure.  Who taught you that you have to be perfect?~  He felt Daniel practically collapse into his hold.  ~I'll brace you up, Love.~  “Let's go sit down on the sofa.”

Daniel nodded, content for the moment to let Jack lead him in whatever direction he desired.

Jack sat nestled into the corner of the sofa.  Daniel snuggled into his lover who put his arms around the younger man.

“Danny, you need to give yourself a break here.  You work a ridiculous amount of hours as it is.  Ever heard of the forty hour work week?”

Daniel was quiet, but Jack could tell he was listening, so he kept on talking.

“You think you have to prove yourself over and over again, but you don't, and that's what you need to start believing.  You can take a time out.  We can enjoy a night together without the world falling apart.”

“But ... the translation needed to be done, and I ... I had two-thirds of it, but I wasn't sure about one section.  The general wanted a report, and I needed to make sure I knew ... I mean, that it was ...”

Daniel stopped talking, and Jack had a thought that disturbed him.

“Daniel, you're allowed to make mistakes.  You're also allowed to change your mind.  It's also normal to go back and revise work based on things learned further down the road.  I know you do that in your work, test theories and proofs.  You're allowed to do that with your research and reports to Hammond, too.”

Jack rubbed his cheek against the softness of Daniel's hair.  His lover was still a bit tense in his hold, but he was listening, something Jack was grateful for.

“Danny, you're not perfect, and there's not a person at the SGC who thinks you should be.”

Jack felt the young man relax just a tad.  ~Good.  Listening and believing, if only a little.~  “Now, if you ever really wanted to leave the SGC, you'd have lots of options.  You're not a quitter, so you'd find a way.  You're a genius, Danny, and the most capable person I know.”

“Jack, the military likes facts.  When we're in briefings, that's the predominant factor.”

“And you mention this because ...?” the older man prodded.

Daniel answered, “Because I feel like I have to walk in there with as much factual information as I can, with all the I's dotted and T's crossed.”

“That's not your job.”  After his lover turned a bit, a disbelieving expression on his face, Jack asked, “Why are you so surprised, Danny?”

“Because ... gawd, I don't know.”

“I do,” the colonel stated confidently.

“You do?”

“Yeah, I just figured it out.”

“Are you going to tell me?”

Daniel's eyes were so focused on Jack's as he looked over at him.  He was like a little boy, desperately waiting for the answer to a puzzle, and Jack knew that his lover was praying that Jack did indeed have the solution to this dilemma.

“Danny, we've been going through the Gate just over a year now.  The military personnel know their jobs in detail, and I'm willing to guess that you have things organized for your department.  Am I right?”

“Of course,” Daniel acknowledged.  “Civilian job reviews are structured so that everyone knows what is expected of them and in what areas improvement is needed.  You know -- the usual things.”

“Danny, who reviews you?”

“What?”

Jack answered his own query with, “Hammond, right?  Actually, I know that because we discuss personnel performance, and it just dawned on me that your job description is basically 'Daniel Jackson, Head of Archaeology, Anthropology and Linguistics, translator, negotiator, and peacemaker' and that's about it.”

“I don't understand.”

“Hammond's never told you that you don't have to be perfect.  That's what I mean.  Your performance appraisal outline is sketchy, at best.”

Daniel looked around a little, then relaxed onto Jack's shoulder, his forehead leaning into Jack's neck as he sighed, “I guess you're right.”

“You guess?  Danny what happens when Hammond reviews you?”

“He ... He thanks me for being prepared all the time, and then asks me if there's anything I need.  We usually end up talking about the needs of the department.”

Jack smiled knowingly.  “Don't you see?  Hammond has no complaints.  It hasn't even occurred to him that you are putting all this pressure on yourself because you think you have to.”

“It's my job.”

“No.”  Jack was a bit frustrated.  “Daniel, it's not your job to be five people.  It's your job to be one very special Daniel Jackson, human being doing his best to be his best ... but like the rest of us, not perfect and with limits.”

“I guess so.”

“Daniel, listen to me, will ya?  I know what I'm talking about.”  ~And I need to talk to Hammond.  Slight oversight here.~

Daniel simply nodded, and Jack knew he wasn't convinced.  He was about to say something further when Daniel's stomach growled.  The archaeologist looked down in surprise, and Jack couldn't help laughing at the expression on his lover's face.

“You haven't eaten all day.  How can you be surprised that you're hungry?”

Daniel shrugged.  “I didn't think about it.”

“Come on.  It's time to get hungry archaeologists some sustenance, and that does not mean coffee.”

Jack stood and held out his hand to help Daniel up.  With one arm around Daniel's waist he walked his lover into the kitchen and sat him up on one of the barstools.

“You stay there and relax while the maestro makes you a sandwich to end all sandwiches.”

Jack rolled up his sleeves as if he was about to engage in really hard work.  He opened the fridge and changed his mind.

“On second thought, I think pancakes are what you need.”

Daniel watched as Jack got out various ingredients, surprised he even had the needed items in the refrigerator and cupboards.

“You're going to make a complete mess of my kitchen, aren't you, Jack?”

Jack grinned wickedly at Daniel.  That was exactly what he planned on doing.  He'd decided that Daniel needed to release some of his tension, and Jack was just the one to make sure he did so.

Ten minutes later, the kitchen, including Jack, was covered in flour, the counter strewn with eggs, milk and butter.  The only part of the room that had escaped hurricane Jack was the corner where Daniel had positioned himself.  Even though Daniel knew that Jack was being a clown on purpose, he couldn't help but laugh at the older man's antics.  He still couldn't believe that anyone would go to this much trouble, just to cheer him up.

“Oh, Danny,” Jack sang as he advanced on his lover.

Daniel got off the barstool and backed away, holding his hand in warning.

“Don't you dare, Jack.  I'm warning you.”

As soon as the words were out of Daniel's mouth, Jack pounced, flinging a bag of flour over Daniel.  He laughed as the flour ran down Daniel's face, a little stubble sticking up on the end of Daniel's nose, and the young man's hair arcing in white-colored layers, or points.

Daniel tried to yell, but all he got out was, “Jaaa...” before he sneezed, flour surrounding him like a rain of tiny snowflakes.

Jack burst into hysterics, but seeing Daniel's eyes lighting up with the fire of revenge, Jack held up his hands, and before Daniel could make a  move towards the older man, Jack had extended his fingers and begun tickling his lover.

Daniel began to laugh loudly, his body squirming as Jack kept up his assault.  They slid down to the floor, rolling in the flour, until Daniel's laughter was as hysterical as Jack's.

“Stop ... stop,” Daniel finally begged, his body aching from the belly laughing he was doing.

Grinning at the state of his lover, Jack ceased his torment.  He felt an overwhelming abundance of love flow through him for his partner.

“Geez, what you do to me.  I love you, Danny.”

“Love you, too, Jack, even if you are crazy.”

Their laughter turned into passion, and they kissed.  Their kisses quickly became more and more amorous until they ended up making love on the flour-covered floor.

====

After a long shower, where they made love once again, the two were sitting back on Daniel's sofa.

“So ... you'll help me without nagging?” Daniel asked.

“I do not nag.”

“Jack!” the younger man admonished lovingly.

“I ... mother hen.”  Jack's smile was big.  “And I'll always do that.  What I'll try to do for a while is let you know when I think you're going overboard, and I'll try my best, Danny, to be objective about it.”

“And ... I'll try to hear you.  I mean, really hear you.”

“Remember, perfection is for machines, not people.”

Daniel smirked, “I thought you said I was perfect.”

“Like Mary Poppins,” Jack chuckled as the two leaned their heads together.

Growing serious again, Daniel apologized, “Jack, I don't mean to doubt all of this.  It's just ... hard ... sometimes.”

“I know, Love, but we have forever to make you believe it,” Jack replied as he ran his hands along his soulmate's back.

“I hope so.”

“I know so.”  Jack ran the fingers of his left hand through Daniel's hair, smiling.

“Jack ...” Daniel spoke with a more leading tone than before.

“Hmm?”

“We never did eat.  I'm starved!” the archaeologist confessed.

Jack laughed, “Geez, you're right.  Let's go shopping.”

“I have food.”

“Daniel, I looked in your refrigerator.  The things in there are not classified as food unless you are one of Carter's guinea pigs.”

“Gross, Jack.”

“Exactly.  Actually, Love, your food supply is low, and I'm afraid I used up what basic ingredients you had on my Danny pancake.”

Daniel chuckled, “You're exaggerating.”

Jack ran his fingers through Daniel's long brown hair, admitting, “Maybe, but you don't have much in there, and I want to make sure you have some decent food, so no arguments.”

“Mother hen.”

“I'll take the fifth,” Jack laughed as he got up and went to the kitchen, returning with a banana and glass of orange juice.  “Here, eat this, and then we'll go to the grocery store.

“You just want to stuff my refrigerator with steak so you won't have to have Chinese again.”

“Whatever works.  Eat.”

“Tyrant.”

Jack glared at Daniel, who quickly devoured the banana and downed the glass of juice.  His mouth upturned into a little smile, and his expression said, 'All done, Mom'.

“Let's not go overboard,” Jack laughed as he pulled his lover up to face him.  He spoke tenderly, “I love you.”

“Don't stop.  Please don't stop,” the younger man pleaded.

The vulnerability in Daniel's tone almost caused Jack to collapse, but he remained strong as he promised, “Never, Danny.  Not ever.”

====

“Jack, don't you think you're overdoing it a little?”

Daniel stared into the cart that already held several packages of various meats -- steaks, ground beef, pork chops, chicken breasts -- and answered, “No.  It'll take me a year to eat all of this.”

“Remember, you're thinking of two now,” Jack quipped with an amused expression.

Daniel rolled his eyes as he refuted, “That cliché doesn't work, Jack.  It's eating for two, and I'm not pregnant.”

“You sure?  Maybe we should get a home pregnancy test.”

“You're nuts, O'Neill.”

Jack retorted, “The point is I'm a growing boy, and you need to be prepared to feed me.”

“Growing boy?  Oh pul-eeeeeeez.”

Jack leaned over and whispered into his lover's ear, “You keep wetting those lips like that and looking so delicious, and I'll grow right here for you.”

Jack shocked his lover by placing a quick kiss on his cheek before walking towards the deli.

~Goa'ulds ... being made fun of ... lack of funding ... Maybourne.~  Daniel was glad when he was able to calm the fire burning within him.  He breathed a sigh of relief as he moved over to the deli and stood beside his lover.  ~That was close.~

“And six slices of the brown roasted turkey.  Oh, and five slices of ...” Jack continued.

Daniel stood by silently as he watched Jack order a variety of deli foods.  Considering how often they went off-world, he couldn't believe the volume of food his lover was buying.

~Talk about turkeys, but I do love him.  He's doing all of this for me -- distracting me.  My Jack.~

Jack's voice drew Daniel from his thoughts.  “Daniel, how thick do you want this cut?”

“Thin.  I like deli meats paper thin.”

“And you say I'm finicky.”

“When did I say that?”

“I don't know, but I'm sure you have.”

“Whatever you say, Jack.”

Their next stop was the produce section, and then they hit the dry foods aisle to get some Froot Loops for Jack, but when the older man turned around, he sighed.

“Danny, Danny, Danny,” Jack sing-songed as he shook his head at the items his lover had just placed in the shopping cart.

“What?  They're quick and easy.”

“There's a reason for that, Daniel.  They lack nutritional value.”  Jack handed them back to his lover.  “And don't pout, I'm not giving in.”

Daniel looked sadly at Jack through his eyelashes.

“Oh for crying out loud.”  Jack took one of the packets of instant noodles off the shelf, putting it back in the cart.  “You can have one in the cupboard for emergencies.”

“But, Jack ...”

“Fine, two packets, but that's it.  And now I'm going to get you some fresh milk before you browbeat me into letting you have them all,” Jack stated and then marched off down the aisle.

Daniel watched the colonel of his heart, full of lust and desire, and communicated, **Gawd, I love watching that six of yours.**

Jack looked back at Daniel and grinned, replying, **Thanks.  Love you, Danny.**

**Love you too, Mother Hen.**

Daniel laughed as Jack glared at him and went to return the eight packets of instant noodles that he still held.

Having added milk and cheese to the cart, Jack turned down what he called Daniel's Heaven aisle.  On the right, chocolate candies of all kinds, and on the left, coffee!  He stopped and smiled at the sight of his lover who was facing the coffee shelves, his eyes closed, just inhaling the aroma like it was a spiritual experience.

“Are you actually going to get any of those?”

Daniel jumped.  He hadn't heard Jack's approach.  He'd just been enjoying the scent of freshly ground coffee beans.  He blushed at having been caught in his euphoric state.

**You are so gorgeous -- geez, love that tight little six of yours, and those eyes that  turn me into jelly, and ... well, all of you.**

Daniel blushed even more, and Jack decided he'd better look elsewhere before a certain part of his anatomy embarrassed him.

The younger man returned to their shopping task, reminding, “You know I don't like this cheap coffee, Jack.”

“Yes, I know.  Starbuck's all the way,” Jack intoned, taking his right arm and sliding it out in front of him in a gesture indicating distance.

Daniel's grin confirmed Jack's comment.  Unless in dire straits, the archaeologist stuck with his premium coffee of choice, and happily, he had plenty at his apartment.

The archaeologist added, “I do need to replenish my chocolate bar stash in my office, though.”

Turning around, Daniel stared at his choices.  Jack watched his lover walk closer to the candies.  His eyes again closed, he took in the smell of the tasty treats he loved.

“Let's see.  A few of these, and some of these, and oh gawd, can't forget these.  Hmm.  These are new.  I think I'll try a couple ... and ...” Daniel suddenly felt Jack's arm tugging him.

“Enough already.”

“I love chocolate, Jack.”

“I know,” Jack said with a slight nod.  “Put them in the cart.”

“I need power bars, too,” Daniel said with a smile.

Jack rolled his eyes and asked, “How can you eat those things?”

“They are great!  You should try them.  Good for energy and pick me ups.”

Jack covertly looked up and down the aisle, then he swiftly moved in next to Daniel, pinched his butt, and said, “You're all the pick-me-up I need.”

“Jaaaack!”

The older man, turned the corner to head for the checkout. Daniel walked across the aisle, grabbing a couple of boxes of his favorite bars, silently thinking. ~I'm in love with a man who is mentally one-third my age.  Gawd ... wouldn't change him at all, either!~

Daniel caught up with Jack, depositing the boxes into the cart.

“You're hopeless,” Jack opined in defeat.

Daniel pulled out his wallet, but Jack pushed his lover's hand away as he insisted, “I've got it.”

“It's my food.”

“And I'm buying it,” the older man maintained sternly.

“No, you're not.”

“Yes, I am.”

“Not,” Daniel argued.

“Am.”

“Excuse me, Gentlemen.  I don't mean to interrupt, but ... who is paying?” the teller asked as she pointed to the register displaying the total.

Daniel took a look at the total, then glanced at his wallet, and answered, “He's paying.  I'll meet you outside, Jack.  Thanks.”

“Daniel!  DANNY!”  Jack smiled hesitantly at the girl as he leafed through his wallet, finally pulling out his debit card to pay for the groceries.  ~Ouch!~

====

Jack glanced covertly at his lover.  Daniel was trying to hide it, but his busy mind had thought of something that had dampened his mood.

~When we get back, Dannyboy, you are so going to spill.~

“I can't believe you made me get all this stuff, Jack.  We're going to have to take some of this to your house.  I'll never get through it all.”

Daniel dumped the bags he was carrying on the floor of the kitchen and began opening bags and putting things away.  Jack added the bags he'd been carrying to the pile and waited for Daniel to empty his arms.

Before the younger man could load himself up again, Jack caught him, pulling him in for a kiss.

“What were you thinking, Danny?”

“When?” Daniel questioned in return.

“When I came out of the store, you'd thought of something, and it's been bothering you ever since.”

Daniel sighed, ~It's dumb, Jack.  I know it is.  It'll just frustrate you, and you'll think I'm a whining idiot not worth the trouble, and I wish my brain would just shut up.~

After Daniel bumped his head against Jack's head in frustration, the older man slid his hand under his soulmate's chin and tilted his head upwards so he could look into the blue eyes he loved so much.

“Tell me, Danny.”

Daniel gazed at Jack and gave him a crooked grin as he confided, “I thought ... maybe I should be saving so if I get fired from the SGC, I won't be destitute immediately.  I know, it's dumb, Jack.  I don't know why I thought it, I just did.  I mean, I've never had much anyway.  Certainly, not all that I do now.  But you were right before, and I know its a dumb thought, but it just wouldn't go away and ...”

Jack knew the best way to stop Daniel's brain when it went into overdrive was to kiss the man senseless.  ~Fortunately, that is not a difficult task.  Memo to self:  Talk with Hammond.~

Several minutes later, Daniel's eyes had a glazed look, and Jack was reasonably certain that his lover's overactive brain had been temporarily shut down.  He couldn't help feeling smug that he was able to do that to Daniel.

“Now, it's time we got you fed.”

“You make me sound like a child.”  Daniel saw the older man open his mouth and jumped in before he could say anything.  “Don't say it, Jack.”

Jack closed his mouth and grinned as he agreed, “Okay, but we do need some food.  Let's put these on the Smokey Joe on the balcony.”  Grabbing a few supplies, he asked, “Want to pass me those steaks?”

Daniel tossed the package of steaks to the older man, and then both walked to the balcony.  Daniel made sure his Smokey Joe griller was ready to go while Jack arranged the cooking items he had carried with him.

As Jack began to cook, Daniel continued to put away the groceries.  When he walked back to his lover, he saw Jack had placed three huge steaks on the grill.

“Feeling hungry?”

Jack grinned, patting his abdomen as he answered, “Yep, but two of these are for you, Dannyboy.”

“Forget it, O'Neill.  No way can I eat two of those monsters.”

“Now, now, Danny.  You wouldn't want to hurt my feelings by turning down my fine cooking, would you?”

As he rolled his eyes, the younger man intoned incredulously, “Geez, I know it's bad when you go for the 'poor me' sympathy routine.”

Jack just grinned as he took the rest of the steaks back to the kitchen and placed them in the freezer.

====

An hour later the two men were sprawled out on the couch, their hungry stomachs satisfied.

“I can't believe I ate all that steak!”

Jack grinned at his lover and smirked happily, “Told ya could eat it all.”

“Know it all.”  Daniel looked at his lover from under his eyelashes grinning as he heard Jack's breathing hitch.  “Now that we're all charged up on steak, with all that energy to burn, don't you think we should get some exercise?”

After pulling the younger man onto his lap, Jack answered, “Definitely.  Why do you think I cooked so much?”

Jack wriggled his eyebrows and pulled his lover in for a kiss.  They kissed for a long time, and then returned to the bedroom where they snuggled for quite a while.  They had an extended foreplay session, kissing, caressing, and just loving each other.  They loved these times.  It wasn't just about the sexual act for these two men.  They were in love and more romantic than either wanted to admit.

Jack loved holding Daniel's hand.  As they lay, he took his lover's right hand and kissed its palm.  He held it up and studied it, and then he traced the long life line with one of his fingers.

“Long life,” the more-than-content colonel whispered.  He ran his tongue all along the line, and then just held the hand to his mouth.  He closed his eyes for a moment as he took in the totality of the hand, its strength and character.  Then, he entwined his fingers into Daniel's hand, each finger stroking its counterpart.  ~Love his fingers; what they do to me.~

Finally, Jack brought the hand down to his chest, tightening the hold as he held it over his heart.  He looked at Daniel and smiled just before instigating a move that put Daniel on his back.  They kissed for a long time, their hands still laced together.

A while later, they had reverted back to their usual positions when Daniel began to trace a scar he had noticed for a long time, but never asked about.  It was at the side of Jack's chest, about mid-way from his shoulder to his waist.  It looked to be about two inches long.  Daniel kissed it, then looked at his Love expectantly.

“Panama,” Jack said in response to the unasked question.  “Hurt like sin at the time.”

“So many scars,” Daniel observed softly.

“We both have scars, Love.  Mine are just more visible, but both are real.”

Daniel thought for a moment, then began, “And ...”  He paused, looking at Jack for strength to say what he wanted.  Seeing the love and support, he ventured on, saying, “And together, we help each other to make those scars go away.”

“That's the goal.”

Daniel's finger slowly ran along another scar on Jack's shoulder as he spoke softly, “They might never fully go away.”

“Maybe not, but they don't have to be painful anymore, either.”

“It's ... how we look at it.”

“How we remember.”

“And how we choose to look at the future, too.”

“That's my genius.”

Jack reached up to caress his lover's face as he smiled.  His fingers twirled around the silky strands of Daniel's hair that lay over his earlobes, and then Jack brushed it back as he brought his lover forward for a kiss.

Then their passion flared, and their bodies joined together as one.

====

Jack woke up the next morning to feel the weight of Daniel's head on his chest.

~Nothing better than waking up like this, Danny.~  Jack ran his finger's through his partner's hair, then eased himself out from under his sleeping lover to put the coffee pot on.  ~Have to see Hammond today.  No way am I going to let Danny work himself ragged unnecessarily.~

Jack smiled as he saw Daniel reach out for his pillow.  He loved the way Daniel did that, wanting to retain that connection with Jack even when he was asleep.

Three cups of coffee later, Daniel was staring at his bowl of cereal.  Jack reached over and picked up Daniel's spoon.  Scooping up some cereal, he made flying motions with it.

“Open up, Danny, here comes the plane.”

Obediently, Daniel opened his mouth.

Jack sighed, thinking, ~You're at it again, aren't you, Danny.~  He stood and pulled Daniel into a hug.  “Danny, Hammond isn't mad at you.”

“How do you know?  Gawd, how'd you even know I was thinking about that?”  Daniel asked.  “I skipped out on a whole day of work, Jack.  Do you know how much I was supposed to get done yesterday?  And not only that, but ... you weren't there, either.”

Jack smiled as he professed, “I was exactly where I was supposed to be, here with you, and I knew because I know you, Danny.  I love you, and I promise you that General Hammond is not mad at you, concerned maybe, but not mad.”  He paused for a moment before continuing, “Hammond told me to come here yesterday.  He was worried about you; wanted me to make sure you were okay, and told me to take as much time as I needed to make sure that you were.”

“He ... he did?”

“Yes, Daniel, he did.”

Jack became more determined than ever to help his lover overcome his insecurities.  He knew Hammond had a real soft spot for the archaeologist, and the only one who didn't know that was Daniel.

“Love you, Jack,” Daniel stated, after which the two kissed for several minutes, the older man excited by those magic words spoken by his young lover.

“Can we go to the SGC now?  I'll get something to eat from the commissary after I've seen the general,” the archaeologist promised.

“Okay, Love. but I'm going to check up on you.”

Daniel rolled his eyes, but grinned at the same time.  They put on their jackets and walked towards Daniel's front door.

“Jack,” Daniel spoke just as they reached the door.  “You're going to talk to General Hammond about me, aren't you?”

Jack turned to face Daniel and spoke firmly, “I am your CO.  You're part of my team.  I have a responsibility to make sure everyone knows their job, and how they're performing in said job.  You get an 'A Plus' but since I know you don't believe me, then I have to make sure you hear it from someone I know you'll believe, and that someone is Hammond.”

Daniel considered the words and, staring into Jack's eyes, asked, “But ... is it because you're my CO or my lover?”

Jack didn't say a word, but his eyes spoke for him, letting the love that flowed through him for the younger man shine through.  Daniel felt the emotion.  He raised his right hand to the back of Jack's head, pulling the older man to him.  His fingers stroking the fine strands of Jack's hair, Daniel nuzzled into Jack's shoulder.

“Jack, it's going to take me some time to get used to this.  I mean ... I'm not used to ... to anyone caring.”  Daniel pulled back, his hand remaining just at the base of Jack's left cheek.  “It's ... I've always had to protect myself.  I ...”  Emotions were running high for the archaeologist.  “I'm not used to someone wanting to take care of me.  I've always had to take care of myself.”

“And now you have me, and I have you.  Works out great, don't ya think?” Jack asked with a happy grin.

At that moment, Daniel realized a truth, one that made him almost weak in the knees and, at the same time, filled him with something he hadn't felt in years -- peace.

“I'm ... I'm not alone anymore, am I?”

Jack shook his head, assuring, “No.  You'll never be alone again.  Not ever.  I love you, Danny.”

“I love you, too.”

The two kissed for several minutes, affirming physically what they had just shared emotionally, and then they headed for the SGC.

//Epilogue//
As soon as he could, Jack spoke with the general about the performance reviews, taking the bald-headed man into his confidence about his lover's insecurities.

“You probably won't believe me, Sir, but what I'm about to tell you is the truth,” Jack began as the two sat in the major general's office.

Hammond was astonished that the young man would worry when he was singularly the most valuable member of the SGC.  He shook his head in total dismay and shock upon learning about his feeling of uncertainty.

“You're right, Jack.  I don't believe you,” Hammond sighed in response to hearing what his second-in-command had to say.

The general's response didn't surprise Jack at all, and he quipped, “Told you!”

“His job is more secure than yours or mine, Colonel.  He really thinks he could get fired?”  Seeing Jack's affirmative nod, he sighed, Amazing, but I'll take of it.”

Within the week, Daniel had a proper job evaluation outline.

The irony was that Daniel's performance reviews didn't change much.  The general would pull out the goals and objectives, and, while smiling, let his Head of Archaeology know that he exceeded all requirements and, as usual, worked way too hard.  With that one 'complaint', the conversation would revert to the needs of the department and even personal things such as their common love of classical music, or Hammond's grandchildren.  Still, the structure seemed to give Daniel what he needed.

Even though work would continue to be an issue from time to time, the stress Daniel placed on himself changed, with a handful of exceptions.  Overall, the crisis had passed, thanks to Jack.

After his first quarterly job review under the new performance guidelines, Daniel walked into Jack's office, turning off the security camera and locking the door.  Jack happened to be standing, retrieving some papers from his filing cabinet.

“Hey, Daniel.”  Jack raised his eyebrows, realizing something was up.  Seconds later, he was kissed soundly.  “Now that's what I call a greeting!”

“Hey to you, too,” Daniel chuckled.

“How'd the review go?”

“Good, but you know that,” the archaeologist surmised.

“Daniel, you're the best,” Jack pointed out.  “You're the only one who doesn't know that.”

Daniel played with Jack's green BDU collar, straightening it slightly, and commented, “You fixed it.  It's setting a ... a pattern.”

“Pattern?”

“I mess up, or something happens, and ... you fix it.  How do you always do that?”

“That's easy.  I love you.”

Jack drew Daniel in for another kiss, and then they headed home for a “night on the town,” only this time, as they enjoyed the twilight of the day, there wouldn't be any arguments, and, this time, when Daniel drank his wine, his soulmate was snuggling by his side.

Jack's and Daniel's nation of two was blossoming with each and every day.

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