Category: Slash, Angst, Drama, H/C, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: 7 - September 17-20, 2003 - (Flashback to Season 1)
Spoilers: Solitudes; minor ones for Hathor and Singularity
Written: July 21, 2003 Revised: October 11, 2003 Revised Again: January 10-11, February 18, 2005, May 5, September 9, 2006 Revised for consistency: February 21,25,27, 2007
Summary: Jack leads SG-1 on a rescue mission, but Daniel is on the sick list so has to stay behind. As he waits and worries, he recalls the time when he first found out that Jack was in love with him.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically. Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: QuinGem, Linda, Jodi!
Be safe, My Love. Come home to me.
Jack smiled, staring at the small piece of paper he unexpectedly found inside his pack as he dug in to get one of his MREs. Memories of his lover danced in his head, and Daniel's scent filled his mind.
Two days ago, the Special Ops trained colonel had been called to lead SG-1 on a search and rescue mission on P3X-413. SG-4, had been ambushed, and two members of their team were still missing and unaccounted for.
Jack glanced over at the rest of the rescue team, making sure no one was watching his sappy grin. He folded the note, putting it in his pocket. He had to concentrate on the mission, and then he could return to Earth, to his life in Colorado Springs, and, more importantly, to the man he loved with every fiber of his being.
~I'll be home soon, Danny.~
Jack got the call about the rescue mission at home, just as he and Daniel were getting to the 'main event' of their lovemaking. He cursed at the sound of the phone and his pager, both blaring at the same time.
“It must be bad if they are calling at this time of night,” Daniel stated in a low monotone as Jack reluctantly shifted off his lover and reached over to answer the phone.
Daniel wanted to go, but he was still on light duty from an accident he'd suffered off-world the month before. Though he would be returned to active duty in just another day or two, Janet was refusing to clear him, not even with the emergency. To no avail, he had begged and pleaded, batted his eyelashes, given her the dreaded puppy face, and ended with the quivering bottom lip pout which he would deny knowing he did for as long as he lived. The archaeologist wanted to go on this search and rescue operation *that* desperately.
As he stood in his office, mindlessly twirling a pen in his hand, Daniel wondered if he should try Janet one more time. Yet, he knew she wouldn't allow him to go. He'd had a close call with a severe head injury, and the SGC's Chief of Medicine had held firm throughout his recovery that he follow all the rules. It had been one of the few times she'd really put her foot down.
~I ... guess I was really lucky,~ Daniel opined about his accident. Still, he sighed as reality set in: he wasn't going off-world until Janet said he was, and that wouldn't be for a few more days.
Daniel couldn't explain it, but he had a bad feeling about the mission, or more specifically, about Jack going on it. Something inside screamed at him not to let his soulmate walk through the Stargate. It was a feeling that made his stomach twist into knots.
~Yeah, right~ Daniel sighed. ~Jack, you can't go because I have a feeling. He grunted. ~Feelings. Great; just great.~
Shaking his head with both a sarcastic nod at himself and a feeling of helplessness, the archaeologist set out to find the light of his life. The team was scheduled to depart in under an hour, and he was getting more and more nervous as he waited for the departure hour to come.
Jack was in the locker room, about to walk out when his lover entered.
“Hey,” they both spoke in unison, flashing sedate but telling smiles of adoration and affection.
Jack immediately sensed something was wrong, but knew he had no time to talk with Daniel like he normally would.
“Danny, I know you want to come with us. I wish you could, too, but we'll head in, save the day, bring SG-4's missing teammates back home, and then you and I will finish what we were doing earlier.”
“I can't wait,” Daniel replied slowly and dejectedly.
Jack smiled, but he was full of regret. He didn't want to leave his soulmate, especially not when something was so obviously bothering the younger man.
“Daniel, I wish I had more time, but I have to go.”
“I'll be fine, Jack. You ... you just make sure someone covers your six as well as I would if I were going.”
Knowing that there weren't any security cameras in the locker rooms, but not really caring if there were,Jack couldn't restrain himself. He took a quick step towards the man who was his heart and kissed him. It wasn't the passionate motion he would normally do when enveloping his lover, but they were on base, and anyone could walk in at any moment.
Still, Jack felt the need to reassure Daniel, so he gave him another quick kiss and whispered, “No one covers my six like you do, Danny, and if they try, they'll find themselves with a fist sandwich. I love you, you geek of mine. Don't touch anything while I'm gone!”
“Jack, you're incorrigible!” Daniel exclaimed in exasperation. ~And I wouldn't have it any other way.~ “I love you, too, so much.”
“Take care of the girls,” Jack said with a smile, referring to Bijou and Katie, their beagles who had only recently joined their family.
“Our girls,” Daniel spoke with a soft smile as he thought about the two canines. “I will, but they need you. I, uh ... still don't know much about dogs.”
Jack chuckled, “You're doing great. Danny ...”
“I know,” Daniel acknowledged, well aware they were out of time.
“Off to see the wizard, Daniel,” Jack almost sang as he grabbed his gear and walked out the door, leaving his Love standing there, with an air of foreboding that Daniel just couldn't shake.
Suddenly, moving on sheer impulse, Daniel jotted something down on a piece of paper he pulled from his locker and practically ran to the gate room.
Jack was waiting patiently for the Gate to engage when he heard the sound of footsteps. He looked up, surprised to see his lover sprinting in.
“Just came to see you off. I ... I haven't had a chance to say anything to Sam or Teal'c yet.”
“Oh,” Jack expressed casually, though he realized his partner was holding out on him. **Danny, what's going on?** he asked, wondering why Daniel had jogged his way to the gate room. ~I hate this, leaving you.~
**Nothing, Jack. I just wanted to be here.**
Just then, General Hammond entered and spoke with Jack and the rescue team for a couple of minutes. This gave Daniel the chance he needed, and he covertly slipped his message into Jack's pack.
A minute later, Jack was gone, having disappeared through the event horizon, leaving Daniel apprehensive and longing to be at Jack's side instead of staring at the circular ring that his lover had just stepped through.
The archaeologist was knocked out of his silent meditations by the sound of General Hammond's voice.
“Doctor Jackson, I know you are unhappy with Doctor Fraiser's decision to keep you on light duty, but I'm confident SG-1's mission will be a success, and they'll be home soon.”
“Yes, Sir. I'm sure you're right.” ~I just wish I could shake this bad feeling. Be careful, My Love.~
//End of Flashback//
On the planet, Jack continued to enjoy vivid recollections of Daniel and sneaked another quick glance at the note when he was certain no one was looking.
Be safe, My Love. Come home to me.
~I'm such a sap, done in by eight little worlds on a piece of paper.~ Jack couldn't wait to get home, safe and sound. ~I'm working on it, Danny. I'll be home soon.~
With a quick check of his watch, the colonel rousted the rest of the team.
“Time to move out, Campers. Teal'c, take point. Grogan, watch our ...” Jack paused, allowing himself one final moment of thinking about Daniel. Seeing the others staring, he sucked it up. “Let's go,” and with that, the search continued.
“I'll be back soon. I promise,” Daniel told Bijou and Katie as he knelt down to talk with the dogs. He hadn't come home that first night, but he had today, needing to check on the girls and explain to them. “It's just ... Jack's on this ... mission, and, uh, I'm ... scared. I have this feeling. I know it's silly, but I can't shake it. Forgive me, okay, but I have to go back to the Mountain. The feeder is full, and you have the Lix-it. I ... I just wanted to make sure you understood why we weren't here. You've never been alone here without us. We love you. I have to go.”
Bijou let out a sympathetic whimper, then let out a bunch of loving licks all over Daniel's face, causing Daniel to laugh, in spite of his bad feeling. Katie joined in, jumping up several times in a playful manner.
“Woooof!” Bijou encouraged.
“Okay, I won't give up. I'll be back,” Daniel promised, patting both dogs a few more times before standing up and heading for Cheyenne Mountain.
Over twenty-four hours later, as midnight approached, Little Napoleon, known professionally as Doctor Janet Fraiser, caught sight of Daniel sitting quietly in the control room, staring at the Stargate. He had no reason to be there, so he had placed some makeshift notes and books in front of him to try and explain his presence there in case anyone walked in, like Janet just had. The problem was that he was about to fall off his chair.
“Daniel, home ... now,” Janet spoke forcefully.
The linguist tried to argue with the petite physician, but it was no use.
~Janet, I have to stay here. I wish I could make you understand,~ Daniel opined. “Janet ...”
“No, Daniel.” Janet walked to the phone and summoned an airman. When he arrived, she ordered, “You are to drive ...”
“Janet, I can drive myself ...”
“Daniel, you've been up since SG-1 left on the mission, correct?”
“That's all I need to know,” Janet replied sternly. “Airman, you are to drive Doctor Jackson to his apartment. Is that understood?”
“Yes, Ma'am,” the airman responded, well aware of Janet's position and rank of major.
Personally walking the two to the elevator, Janet instructed, “Get some sleep, Daniel. SG-1 will be fine. Now, go home.”
Daniel simply nodded and let the airman drive him to the apartment, thinking, ~Home ... is currently on P3X-413.~
“Thank you, Airman,” Daniel said and then watched the man drive away. Slowly, the weary archaeologist walked inside the tall building. He felt uneasy; even his stomach was churning. This wasn't home; it was a building. ~Our girls!~
Stopping at the elevator, the young man suddenly turned around, hailed a cab, and went to the closest place to home he could get, to the house he shared while hiding in plain sight with his Jack, to the place where two small dogs now relied on him for love.
“I'm pathetic,” Daniel mused softly as he entered the house. ~He's fine. It's a search and rescue mission like we've done many times before. Stop being so negative, Jackson.~
Daniel resolved to eat, sleep, and deal with later, later. Seeing two eager beagles at the patio door, he smiled, greeting the dogs as he let them inside.
Six hours later, at three in the morning, Daniel was still tossing and turning. He hadn't had a moment's rest, nor had he been able to digest a morsel of food. His mind raced with one thought -- Jack, his Jack. He hated this waiting. He needed to think about something else.
~Please. Think about ... rocks; anything but this.~
Daniel hadn't brought home any work to do, not that he could focus on that kind of thing anyway. He paced, fretted, and pouted his way through the house, finally coming to a standstill in the study when he noticed he had two little shadows, trailing protectively behind him.
~Okay, I'm upsetting them. Maybe if I thought about something else for a while,~ Daniel wondered, figuring that if he couldn't stop thinking, he'd put his mind to work on something constructive. Plopping down on the leather chair in front of Jack's desk, Daniel powered on the computer and opened his diary folder. He looked down at the beagles, who were curling up at his feet, and sighed. “Waiting. I hate waiting,” he mumbled. ~Well, if I can't stop thinking about waiting, I'll write about it.~
//Beginning of Daniel's Diary//
I flew through the Gate, landing hard on the metal ramp. When I awoke in the infirmary, with Teal'c standing watch, I realized I neither remembered coming through the Stargate nor landing solidly on the ramp. My head hurt.
I hate waiting. Jack and Sam were out there, somewhere, and I knew I had to find them.
“Come on, think,” I mentally chided myself.
Sleep and food were the last things I had on my mind, but Teal'c tried hard to mother hen me in Jack's stead. It was no use. First, my parents, then Nick and Sha're ... and now, now it was Jack. I couldn't lose him, not with Sha're still lost out there, too. My brain ached from the nightmare. No, I wouldn't lose Jack, too.
The general called off the rescue mission to P4A-771 when the MALP was destroyed by some kind of energy weapons.
“General,” I cried out, but General Hammond was already gone.
This was a nightmare, and I wanted to wake up now!
I went to the star map, trying to force my mind to find the solution. I'm a genius, so why couldn't I figure this out? Teal'c joined me, and I pointed to the map and asked the question he didn't have the answer for either.
“If they are not here, and if they are not there ...”
The remainder of the question was silent, and then Teal'c said the unthinkable, that perhaps they were dead. I gave him a look befitting one given previously to Apophis, and then admitted, “Yeah, I've thought of that” before ignoring the possibility of loss, choosing instead to focus on finding my teammates.
Finally, I managed to give Hammond something to work with, that perhaps Jack and Sam were the victims of a power overload that directed the energy stream of the Stargate to another location. The search was finally on. We had to find them. I had to find them. Failure was not an option.
My best friend was lost or trapped or ... or I didn't know what, but he was out there, somewhere in the universe, and it was up to me to find him. I knew this as I stood alone at the star map, as I placed another post-it on the spot of one more unsuccessful search where Jack wasn't. Jack, always Jack, never Colonel O'Neill, not to me, not ever.
My feelings for Jack O'Neill were growing in ways I was so unsure of and didn't want to dwell on. I couldn't wrap my mind around my own emotions. He was my best friend, my only confidante, and a buddy to hang with. I hadn't had many of those. In Academia, buddy nights were spent in libraries searching through frail volumes or in lecture halls debating points of view. The concept of simply kicking back, watching sports on TV and drinking beer, while bantering through differences was very new, and already I missed it.
I hadn't been back on Earth a year yet, but already I was sacrificing museums and lectures for hockey arenas and ESPN, giving up wine for beer, and spending nights stargazing on Jack's roof deck instead of working on translations or researching some ancient culture. It sounds hard to believe, but it's easy to become accustomed to.
Our Friday night ritual of sports, pizza, and beer had been expanding to three or four nights a week, just hanging out, sometimes getting drunk, trying to forget missions that served to add more nightmares to our slumber, and sometimes sharing, to be able to move on and be ready for tomorrow's promise. It was a routine that seamlessly melded two teammates into more.
Recently, Jack and I had begun spending entire weekends together. I didn't realize it at the time, but we had developed a need and dependence on each other, and spending time together seemed to help us get through the bad stuff. Neither one of us had any other truly close friends, but we had each other.
It was odd at first, and the really funny thing is that it didn't begin on a Friday. Instead, it was a Monday night that began our two days off. Unfortunately for Jack, his team lost. The skies were clear outside, so he vented his frustration up towards the heavens, and after a minute or two of swearing and promising covert ops revenge on the 'dufus who missed the shot that lost the game', he started to laugh. Then he turned to face me.
“It's late, Danny. Why don't you stay here tonight? Your room is still the way you left it. We can have breakfast in the morning. I'll even make waffles.”
“Sounds good, Jack, but I really should go. There's an exhibit at the gallery that I've been wanting to see, and tomorrow's the last day. I want to get there early.”
“Daniel Jackson intentionally getting up early on his day off? I don't believe it.”
“Yeah, well, like I said, I've been reading about it, and I really want to go. I was planning to get there early.”
“Okay, we'll go together. What time do you want to be there?”
“To...gether? You ... you want to go, Jack?”
“Close your mouth, Daniel. You'll draw flies. Yes, I'd like to go, assuming you're okay with me going. I'll understand if you'd rather I not ...”
“No, no ... no ... I mean, sure, Jack. I'd ... I'd like you to come, but you'll be bored stiff; it's not exactly hockey.”
“Hockey? I love hockey, Daniel, but I lo... I like a lot of things, things that might surprise you, and I've been thinking, hoping that maybe ... well, that maybe we could do some other things together, besides hockey, things you like to do. How would you feel about that?”
“I'm, uh, st...stunned, Jack. Look, you don't have to do this. I know how you feel about ...”
“No, Danny, you don't know how I feel, at least not about everything, but maybe we'll both learn something about each other. What do you say -- waffles and then the exhibit?”
“Okay, Jack, but no swearing at the displays!”
I smiled, remembering the growing closeness we shared that evening, and the next morning, Jack did make waffles, ones that had smiley faces, too.
“Smiley faces, Jack?”
I had been floored to see them, but apparently Jack used to make them for Charlie, and he still had the mold.
We had chatted for awhile, and then headed to the gallery where the exhibit was. Jack never acted bored, not for a second. He had actually listened to me as I explained various displays and their histories or meanings to him, until finally we had seen everything there was to see, and a couple of them more than once.
“Thanks, Jack. I'm glad you came.”
“Me, too. Hey, I'm hungry. Let's grab lunch somewhere.”
So we did, and then Jack had dragged me along to do his grocery shopping.
“It's miserable shopping for one. C'mon, Danny, I want to shop for two today; it's more fun.”
“Yeah, I've missed arguing with you over what brand of coffee to get since you moved into the argument.”
Even then Jack called it “the apartment.” He had looked so desperate that I went along without arguing.
“Jack, are you going to eat all of this? With SG-1's schedule, half of it will rot.”
He had just smiled, and replied, “I told ya, Danny, I'm shopping for two today.”
It turned out that I was totally clueless. We arrived back at Jack's house, and the next thing I knew, he had me pulling weeds and pruning his bushes in the backyard, as he mowed the lawn.
~How did I let myself get talked into this,~ I had wondered, but actually, I was glad to be there. The truth was that I missed living with Jack. ~Why did I ever move out?~ I asked myself more than once that day as we did the gardening chores. If I had gone home, I would have been alone, probably working. This was much better. When I finished my assigned chores, I noticed Jack had slipped into the house, so I went inside, and found him preparing what looked like a chicken salad in the kitchen.
“All done, Jack. I'm gonna clean up and head home.”
I didn't want to outstay my welcome.
“Nah, dinner's almost done. You do need to clean up, though. I put some old sweats of mine on the bed. You can change into them, if you like.”
“Um ... I'm staying for dinner?”
“How many times do I have to tell you, I shopped for two. If you don't stay all that food will go to waste, and you wouldn't want that, would you?”
I laughed, “No, I wouldn't want that.”
So I showered and changed into the sweats that Jack had out for me, and then we ate. Afterwards, we played chess and gin before listening to Jack's favorite opera, having settled on separate ends of the couch.
Then, I turned to look at Jack, but he was already looking at me. He smiled, and I smiled.
If I had only recognized it at the time, I would have realized, as far as first dates went, it was great. Wonderful, even, never boring, and just what we were both looking for, without knowing it.
“Let's hit the hay, Danny. Tomorrow, I'm taking you fishing.”
“You'll love it. Trust me. Now, get up. Scoot. We need to make an early start of it.”
“Jack, I got up early today. I want to sleep in.”
Sleep in? What was I saying! I wanted to be with Jack, so why make excuses?
“No arguments, Daniel. We did your exhibit today; tomorrow, we do my thing.”
Jack suddenly stopped, and seemed to blush, though I was sure I must have been mistaken.
“Let me rephrase that: tomorrow we go fishing.”
We did go fishing, and it wasn't bad at all. Actually Jack fished, and I read a book Jack had bought me about the building of the pyramids.
“Think of it as a comic book,” Jack told me, “and have a good laugh at the so-called experts!”
I did laugh, a lot, which surprised me. I don't really laugh that much, but the combination of that book, and Jack losing the one fish he had caught during the entire day when he fell out of his small boat was too much to hold in. It was a great day, the end to a great weekend.
We had to work through the next weekend, but the one after it, at the end of the month, was the last calm before the storms. We didn't know it yet, of course, but just on the horizon was our first encounter with Hathor and then we had to deal with the devastation of Hanka, where we found Cassandra. Jack and I had some major miscommunication after Cassie joined our world, but that's a story for another time.
On this weekend before the Hathor nightmare, we had three days off. I hadn't decided exactly what I was going to do yet, when the potential problem was solved for me. I had just finished changing in the locker room, when Jack showed up.
“Daniel, just who I was looking for.”
“Well, you found me.”
“So I see. Dinner's at six; game starts at six-thirty, and we want to have time to get you settled first, so don't be late.”
“Late? Settled? Dinner?”
“Yes, Daniel, don't be late. Dinner's at six; settled, as in making sure you are comfy in your room, and your books or whatever aren't laying all over my floor.”
“Daniel, are you okay?”
“Um, yeah, sure, Jack. What books? ... and am I staying over?”
“I figured you might want to do whatever it is you do with all those ... books and things while I do some paperwork I have to bring home. I wouldn't want you to get bored.”
“Bbbbored? If dinner's at six, and the game ... Whe...when would I get bored?”
“Tomorrow. I promised the general I'd do the paperwork and bring it by his house before 1400, so you can do whatever, then we can relax for a bit, and tomorrow night we'll be at the arena ...”
Jack went on and on. He had our entire three days planned. Something for him, and something for me, back and forth. He was like an irresistible force of nature. There was no way I could say 'no', not that I wanted to.
We dropped by the apartment when I insisted I had to do laundry or I'd be going back to the SGC wearing his clothes, and I didn't think he'd want that. He had a smile on his face when I said that which I didn't quite want to understand at the time, but he agreed, and we actually ended up staying at my place one night.
I don't have a spare room that's accessible, though, so Jack slept on the couch. I felt guilty, but he insisted, and the next morning I awoke to freshly brewed coffee, waffles (sans the smiley faces), and a happy colonel.
With our downtime over, we went back to the SGC, our ritual forever changed. After those four days together, we never discussed it, it just became a fact, an occurrence, something that was, for weekends or downtimes of more than a day or two.
Now, I was waiting, at the SGC, trying desperately to engage my brain to come up with answers, or at least possibilities that would keep General Hammond looking for the missing half of SG-1. Pressing the latest post-it note reject on the star map, I heard General Hammond call my name. I turned around to sadly tell him that the latest report of no news was not good news.
Then, the general told me he was reporting Jack and Sam as missing in action.
“Why?” I droned out, wanting to hit something, knowing my question came out with the stubborn whine of a child, but the general assured me that missing didn't mean giving up.
I was frustrated; I was ready to crash.
“I'm missing something,” I actually said out loud to no one, but whatever it was I was missing, I couldn't pinpoint it.
More missions; more failures; we were running out of time. Days had passed, and when Teal'c returned with injured rescuers, General Hammond decided to call off the search and rescue operation. I argued; I pleaded; and like Teal'c had earlier, the major general found himself on the receiving end of that same glare befitting that of one given to the System Lords. Still, Hammond wouldn't listen, and he left me standing in the gate room.
~You don't understand,~ I screamed silently. “Jack is out there, and we have to find him.”
Jack. I missed him so much, and I wasn't sure why, but it actually frightened me when I realized how great a loss I was feeling. Once again, sleep eluded me. They were out there, somewhere, Jack and Sam. We had to find them. I had to keep trying.
I gave up on sleep and returned to the control room, soaking up as much caffeine as I could. I stood, staring at the Stargate and closed my eyes briefly. When I did, I saw Jack. I could hear him calling to me, “Find me, Danny.”
The quiet of the solitude was deafening as I stood there, alone, in the middle of the night. Then I felt something shake and saw the liquid inside a cup on the briefing room table move. I turned and saw the chevrons briefly light up on the Stargate. My mind exploded, turning over ideas and possibilities of what that could mean. Teal'c entered to play mother hen again, something I'm sure would make Jack proud, and that's when it hit me like a ton of bricks.
With a determination that would not be put off, I located the general and offered up my discovery.
“What if there's a second Stargate ... here?”
The general didn't need to hear it again. We worked together, and I willed the commander of the SGC to follow my energy and help fill in the pieces. A check of radio signals and seismic activity ensued, and finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we found Jack and Sam, about fifty miles outside of McMurdo in the Antarctic.
Teal'c and I practically bounced to the air transport plane, and as the flight commenced, my mind tried to reach out to my best friend telepathically.
**I'm coming, Jack. We've found you. Just a while longer. Hang on!**
None too soon, I found myself sitting by Jack's bed in the McMurdo infirmary. His injuries were severe, but he'd be fine. Sam was much better off. We had spent time together earlier. She was so surprised to find out they had been in Antarctica the entire time; she was sure they had been on some kind of ice planet.
We sat together for quite a while when Jack was in surgery.
“He kept calling for Sara, Daniel. It was so sad. I didn't know what to do, so I pretended to be her, and told him to sleep. What if he gets angry at me?”
Sam was worried Jack would remember holding on to her, as he grew closer and closer to death, all the while believing she was his ex-wife lying next to him.
“Don't worry, Sam. He probably won't remember, and if he does, he won't blame you for anything. You were just being a good friend.”
“But he's my CO, Daniel.”
“You thought you were going to die, Sam, and you might have if you hadn't huddled together like that at the end. Jack knows that.”
“I hope so.”
I gave her a kiss on the cheek, before she drifted back to sleep, still exhausted from their ordeal.
I continued my waiting, agonizing waiting, for Jack to get out of surgery. Finally it was over, and I took my place in a chair by his bedside, pondering all the “what if's” had we not found them in time.
I also found myself thinking about what Sam had said. Jack was still in love with Sara. It was obvious, but my conscience kept asking question after question, and I had no answers. What was this feeling of discomfort, that I couldn't escape from, inside me?
Somehow, I began to wish Sam hadn't told me about Sara, and that disturbed me. Why should it bother me? Why should I have felt invaded? Why was I disappointed he hadn't asked for me?
“Whoa, Jackson, what the heck are you thinking about? Settle down.”
I willed myself to stop thinking about it, concentrating instead on the rise and fall of my best friend's chest, finding a strange comfort in watching him breathe, knowing he was safe.
Time passed. Teal'c continued to mother hen me, so I finally did eat half of the sandwich he had brought me as I kept my vigil. Eventually, I felt something warm tugging at my hand. Oh, I had fallen asleep, and it took me a moment to realize that the tugging had come from Jack. It seemed I was holding his hand, rather firmly, and he was trying to get my attention.
“This is sweet, Danny,” he said softly, “but not here.”
I blushed what I was sure must have been a thousand shades of red, and released him.
“How are you feeling, Jack?”
He gave a weak laugh and answered, “Peachy.”
Suddenly, I realized I was about to cry, with emotions bottled up inside me, things I didn't understand and shouldn't have been feeling, on the brink of overflowing. This man, my best friend was alive, and I was so full of happiness at that revelation that my heart was swelling.
I looked at him, the strong warrior now only able to speak in whispers, movements coming slow and tenderly to him, and realized I missed that sensation of being connected ... of holding his hand.
He must have discerned some of what I was feeling, my eyes pouring out my emotions for him to see, and my facial expressions broadcasting loud and clear to him. The experiences of the recent past catching up to me finally, ready to spill over.
He looked at me, and briefly put his hand on mine as he spoke, “It's okay, Danny. We'll be okay.”
I wasn't sure what he meant, but I trusted Jack in a way I had never trusted anyone else, so I believed his words. I nodded and gave him a small smile as my throat clogged, too overcome with emotion to speak.
Jack returned to sleep. The general and Teal'c had gone back to the SGC, and that left me alone to watch over Jack and Sam. Sam would be transferred back to the Springs the next day, but Jack wouldn't be fit for that kind of travel for a few more days, and I refused to leave him alone at McMurdo. Fortunately, the general didn't argue with me on this point.
I couldn't sleep. Big surprise. So I returned to my bedside vigil, needing, for reasons I couldn't determine, to watch Jack's chest move up and down with the signs of life, and hear the soft murmur of his breaths. I was deep into my thoughts when Jack began to thrash about, first lightly and then with more vigor. I placed my hand on his forehead, rubbing slightly to try and calm him.
“Jack? Jack, wake up. You're having a nightmare.”
“Cold. So cold.”
“Jack, it's okay. You're safe. Jack?”
I froze. Jack was calling for Sara, which was perfectly natural. They were divorced now, but he still loved her, and I always had a suspicion that someday they'd get back together, so why was I frozen, standing there like a Popsicle, suddenly chilled to the bone, unable to move or react? Why did my heart feel as if it were being squeezed, and ripped from my chest?
“Sara? I'm sorry, Sara. Never meant to fall in love with him.”
What had Jack said?
“Him?” Who him? What “him?”
I was still frozen, afraid to move, clueless what to say, or if I should wake my friend or not. I must have misunderstood, but if I hadn't, who could Jack have been talking about?
Jack had calmed, and I decided to make a quick exit to the room they assigned for me. I hoped to sleep, but it didn't come. Over the next couple of days, I couldn't stop thinking about what Jack had said during his nightmare, but he, of course, remembered nothing when he woke up again. So, I kept quiet, and we didn't discuss what he had said.
He seemed to sense I was distracted, but I was able to derail him with news of the SGC or Sam until we returned back to the Springs. Janet insisted on keeping Jack in the infirmary for a few more days, and I made good use of the time catching up on the backlog of work that had accumulated during the Antarctic situation.
Eventually, Jack was released under “babysitting” care, which meant I had been given a few days off to serve as the babysitter, giving Jack time to get acclimated to the crutches he'd have to use for a while due to his broken leg.
Jack had never been the best patient, but he was remarkably quiet, not even arguing about the bed rest Janet had ordered him to have. I stayed in 'my room'. Actually, Jack had taken to calling it my room and had always made sure that everything I needed to be comfortable was there, including all the daily hygiene essentials.
Jack continued to improve, and my babysitting duty was coming to an end. On the last night I was to stay over, I became restless and got up to find a book to read.
When I went downstairs, I saw the open door, and I felt the panic set in as I wondered if Jack had been crazy enough to climb the ladder to the roof with his injured appendage. I held my breath as I walked outside, and then let out a relieved sigh as I spotted my friend sitting on the stairs of the patio deck.
“Jack, are you okay?” I asked as I took a few steps towards him.
He was leaning against one of the deck posts, his crutches splayed out in front of him, as he held a beer in his right hand.
“Yeah, Danny, I'm fine.”
“No, you're not. You've been quiet ever since I brought you back here to your house.”
Even though I had lived with Jack for several months after I returned from Abydos, I still couldn't call Jack’s house 'home'. At that point, I still didn't really know what a home even was.
Jack laughed and motioned for me to come sit beside him, so I did, subconsciously taking the spot immediately to his right, our shoulders touching, something we had done from the beginning of our friendship. I usually ran from the act of touch, but with Jack, it felt good to be so close. It was something that had surprised me initially, but by the time of this backyard chat, it was normal and expected.
“Danny, I know I've been quiet, but something's bothering you. You've been ... distant.”
“Jack, I haven't ...”
“Daniel, you have, and you know it. It started when we were still at McMurdo. Everything was fine, and then you ... you disappeared. I mean, you were there, but you weren't. Where'd you go, Danny? Where has that mind of yours taken you, and why is it away from me?”
“Jack, everything's okay. You said so yourself. We're fine.”
“No, we're not, and we won't be if you don't tell me what's wrong. Did I say something, do something to push you away?”
I wasn't sure answering Jack's question was the smart thing to do, but one thing Jack and I had first and always in our friendship was trust, and we didn't lie to each other. So Jack was involved with someone, a male someone. Why should that upset me? Why did I still feel so cold? ... And heartbroken?
“You had a nightmare, and you asked for Sara.”
“That's not unusual, is it? We were married for years, and ...” He paused, then shook his head. More pointedly he asked, “Daniel, there's more to it, isn't there? It's not Sara, can't be. There's no reason for that to upset you, and something has. What did I say, Daniel?”
“You told her, Sara, that you were sorry.”
“I am sorry. We were good together for a long time. We just couldn't deal with Char... with the grief.”
“Okay, I told Sara I was sorry. And?”
“And ... and you said ...”
“Daniel, what did I say?”
“... that you never meant to fall ... to, uh, fall in love ... with him.”
“Look, Jack, it's okay. It was just a ... surprise. I mean, I never imagined ... I didn't expect ... I ... I've spent so much time here. I must be in your way, in his ... I should ... go.”
I bolted up, suddenly full of anxiety and fear and still more feelings I didn't quite understand. Nor did I want to examine those feelings too closely. I hurried back into the house and up to the spare room that had become 'my room'. Was it still my room? I was having a hard time breathing, with no idea as to the cause. My head was swimming for reasons I couldn't comprehend.
I collapsed on the bed, suddenly unable to move, and then he was there, standing in the doorway, two crutches supporting his slender frame.
“You're 'him', Danny. Its' you I was talking about. I'm sorry you found out this way, and I'll understand if you want off the team or don't want to do the buddy thing anymore, but you're not in the way; you never have been. I meant what I said, even though I don't remember it.
“I never meant ... I didn't intend to fall ... to feel this way. It just sorta happened. One day life was normal, the next I thought you were dead, and I had an epiphany, Daniel. It felt like ... I was alone again, and I didn't like it. I had left you behind in that watery death hole, and I didn't want to go on, and then I knew there was more to what I was feeling than friendship.
“I'm sorry for overstepping and making you feel uncomfortable. If I had known, I would have had Teal'c or someone else stay with me. I ... I'm sorry.”
And then he was gone, and I heard his bedroom door close, leaving me to digest what had been for Jack O'Neill probably the longest speech he'd ever given. I was dumbfounded; I was frozen, but, in a strange turn of events, I wasn't cold anymore. A warmth flowed through me as I absorbed his words.
I was ... relieved? In fact, I was ... happy? “NO!” I wanted to scream, but the more I processed what was said, the more I realized that it seemed ... normal, reassuring, comforting ... right.
Jack loved me. I didn't know what to do with that piece of information, didn't know how to respond, but I knew I had to. If I let this go until morning, Jack would put up that mask of his that protects him from hurt, and I didn't want that, anymore than I wanted my best friend to hurt, and he was my best friend, even if what we felt was ... Wait a minute ... we?
Did I feel the same? Could I feel that way, too?
I found myself downstairs opening a bottle of something. I hadn't even looked to see what it was, I only knew I needed a drink of something stronger than coffee. I poured myself a glass, bringing the bottle with me to the couch as I sagged down, feeling like I must have lost my mind.
I drank up, emptying the glass with one swig, and reached for the bottle when I saw the label -- Jack Daniels.
Once again I was frozen. There it was in black and white. Jack and Daniel, together, side by side, looking totally ... normal. I laughed. I actually laughed realizing where I was, why I was there, and what I was doing.
It made perfect sense, for something that made no sense. I loved Sha're. I'd find her. I had to. I wanted her, didn't I?
I decided I needed to stop thinking about this, but first, I had to make sure Jack was okay. He had almost died in Antarctica, and I wasn't about to let him go now that I had just got him back, so I gathered my courage, my glass plus another, and the bottle of Jack Daniels, and went to Jack's bedroom.
Taking a deep breath, I knocked on the door. A light was on, but there was no answer from the other side of the door.
“Oh well, when did closed doors ever stop me anyway?” I thought silently as I resolved to barge in on my host.
I opened the door. Jack was sitting up against the headboard of the bed, just staring.
“Jack? I brought us something.”
“Daniel, I told you ...”
“I know what you said, Jack, and I listened. I listened to every word you said, without interruption, and now, you are going to do the same thing for me. You are going to sit there, and let me talk, and, Jack, you are going to listen.”
I approached the bed, and sat down, not enough to be in Jack's personal space, but not completely at the other end of the bed either.
“Jack Daniels,” I said calmly, showing my best friend the bottle, and then handing a glass to him. He took it, and gave a small smile. “How long have you had this, Jack? I didn't know you drank whiskey.”
“To be honest, I didn't, until after Abydos, the first time.”
“I was feeling a little, melancholy I guess you'd call it one day, and saw it at the liquor store. I couldn't leave it there. I thought of you, of us, and that funny creature that dragged you half-way across the desert.”
We both laughed at the memory.
“Don't remind me, Jack. It's one experience I'd just as soon forget.”
“That whatever it was liked you, Danny. So do I.”
“I like you, too, Jack, which is why I'm here.”
“Here, as in here on Earth, or here in Colorado, or here in my house, or ...”
“... Or here on your bed?”
“Yeah, that, too. So here where?”
“All of the above, Jack. Look, I'm not sure exactly what to say, or what I feel about what you said earlier, but one thing I do know is that you *are* my best friend. I ... I hope that no matter what happens tomorrow or the next day that we, that we're ... together. Y'know, best friends. I ... I still love Sha're, Jack. She's my wife, and I promised Kasuf I'd find her.”
“We will, Danny. I told you we would, and we're going to. I just wish it could be now. I know how you feel about her, and I didn't mean to, nor do I want to interfere with that.”
“I miss her.”
We lapsed into silence, sipping on our drinks, sometimes looking at each other, and sometimes looking off into far corners of the room. It wasn't forced or uncomfortable, it was just silence shared by two friends -- two best friends.
“So, Jack, I was thinking that on Friday I'd come by early, about five-ish, and we could have dinner at O'Malleys before going to the game.”
“You still want to go? You don't have to. I really ...”
“And then Saturday we need to put in the new sprinkler system you bought last month. The weather is warming up now, so I think we should make that a priority. Of course, you'll have to mostly supervise with your leg and all, but I figure you'll like having an excuse to order me around. I might even do what you say, or not.”
Jack laughed, and so did I before continuing my oration before Jack could interrupt.
“Oh, and we both need to get presents for Lieutenant Wilson's wedding, so we should make sure we have time to drop by the mall before doing whatever it is we'll be doing after that. Maybe we could rent a movie or ...”
Jack flashed what I could only describe as a beautiful smile at me, and suddenly I felt as if I was melting.
~Beautiful?~ Had I really thought that? I still hadn't made sense of it, but I didn't really care. Jack and I would be okay, and that is what was important.
Neither of us got any sleep that night. We finished the bottle of Jack Daniels, which left both of us feeling pretty good by the time morning came around, and we talked, about Sara and Sha're, about love and loss, and about friendship.
I never thought Jack could talk so much and so openly about such things, but he was on open throttle that night, and I realized it was all so right, so normal.
Jack loved me, and apparently that was becoming more okay by the second. I had been cold since Antarctica, since thinking Jack was in love with someone else, and that is what turned out to be the truth of the matter.
I wouldn't realize it for a long time, not until we saved the world on Apophis' ship, but the plain truth is that it wasn't that Jack was in love with another man that had thrown me, it was that I thought it wasn't me.
It actually hurt to hear him call for his ex-wife, but to hear him reveal his love for another man wasn't something I could deal with. I was ... jealous ... before I knew I was in love, in love with ... My Jack.
It occurs to me now as I write this diary entry that Jack waited for me, no pressure, no jokes, no seductions. He waited until I was ready, wanting it as much as he did. He remained my best friend, with hockey games and lectures, shopping trips and dinners, and all the stuff best friends do.
Truth is, he is still my best friend, but he kept his word, a silent promise offered and accepted as we shared our first bottle of Jack Daniels that night, a promise that our friendship would be forever.
Little did I know, forever would be brighter and happier than I ever could have imagined. The world may not understand or accept us, but what we feel is real, and just as Jack waited for me to realize that love should be treasured and cherished wherever you can find it, we now wait for society to do the same. We'll wait forever if we have to, because we are forever.
//End of Daniel's Diary//
Waiting. Daniel was tired of waiting. He hadn't intended to share this particular story in his computer diary. It was far too personal, too intimate. He had never even told Jack the truth about his reaction to his words at the McMurdo facility, nor did he fully realize how his soulmate had waited months for him to realize the truth of their union until he started to write about it. Daniel knew that Jack would have waited as long as he had to. Jack had given Daniel a great gift, the gift of time.
Daniel was tired, and longed for the man he loved to come home, home to him and the safety of the home they shared. Somehow, writing about Antarctica and the discoveries made as a result of that event seemed necessary. It was never easy for him to give his hidden words to others, to let himself be open, but the more he wrote, the more he realized that keeping the truth to himself was as bad as denying their love.
“Why is it taking so long, Jack?” Daniel spoke out loud, realizing there wasn't anyone there to hear, except for the dogs and the fish.
With a sudden panic, Daniel leaped up from his chair and hurried into the living room, where the fish tank was located.
“Sorry, Guys, I didn't mean to forget you. I just miss Jack. I'm worried about him. This mission ... it's ... something's not right.”
Daniel startled, shaking his head. He had just given his fish twice as much food as was necessary, and, on top of that, he was talking to them, verbally, and on the verge of waiting for a reply.
“You're losing it, Jackson. Get a grip!”
“Woof!” Bijou barked, heading for the door.
“Okay,” Daniel acknowledged, opening the patio door for the two dogs.
With the beagles outside, Daniel plopped down on the couch and pulled the afghan over him. It was early morning now, and he was exhausted. He wanted to sleep and then wake up and find his lover lying beside him. Still, he couldn't rest. Determined to put aside his fears, he tried once again to enter the realm of sleep, only now the sounds of chirping birds, squirrels running about through the trees, and the sprinkler system going on and off as it went from station to station kept his mind too alert to give in to the sleep he so desperately wanted.
The young man wondered if he was being irrational, worrying so much about his colonel. He tried using logic, making a list of all the reasons Jack would be safe: Teal'c was with him, as was Sam and SG-8; and his replacement, Lieutenant Grogan, was qualified enough. They had superior firepower, good intel, and, unfortunately, that's where the list stopped.
On the down side, Daniel wasn't there to cover Jack's six, to make sure that while Jack protected those under his command, that he, too, was kept free from harm. Then there was Jack himself. Daniel knew the colonel would be worried about Grogan. This was the new lieutenant's first assignment with SG-1, and Jack would feel especially protective. Plus, SG-4 had been ambushed. It didn't count that they had the better weapons; in the end, they had been surprised and overtaken.
Daniel's list wasn't helping his state of mind. Visions of Jack shot, beaten, hung, stabbed, and thrown limply through the Stargate filled his mind. The speaker of some forty languages, having found no words to comfort himself, was close to despair.
Not able to control himself any longer, Daniel sobbed, crying out softly, “Be safe, My Love. Come home to me.”
At long last, the kindness of sleep finally took the young man out of his misery.
The next thing Daniel knew, he was being kissed. He was sure it was a dream, because those were Jack's lips on his, Jack's tongue in his mouth. It was Jack's hand gently caressing his cheek; it was Jack's scent he smelled. It was his lover's everything.
Daniel opened his eyes and managed to get out a muffled, “Jack?” before being silenced by another kiss.
“Miss me?” Jack asked as his Love still tried to focus his eyes, and that's when Jack noticed.
Daniel's eyes were red and drawn. He'd been crying. Jack looked closer and saw the dried tears on his lover's cheeks.
Pulling the younger man up into a tender embrace, the tough-as-nails colonel ran soothing circles on Daniel's back with one hand and rubbed his nape lovingly with the other.
“I love you, you geek.”
Jack heard a chuckle that made his heart sing. Daniel crying was not a good thing. Daniel laughing, however, was to be encouraged. Kissing the cheek of the man he'd been holding, Jack pulled back to once again look into the eyes of his lover. Daniel had new tears, but these weren't sad, they were happy.
“You getting sappy on me, Danny?” the older man asked.
“I'm sorry, Jack. I can't explain it. I just ...”
“... missed me?”
“Yeah. Are you okay? Anything broken or out of order?” Daniel asked as he began to take stock of his lover.
The older man let out with a chuckle, “Yeah, Love, everything still works, and how about I let you check it out for yourself first hand?”
“Sounds like a plan, Colonel.”
Daniel decided Jack's lips and tongue needed another going over, so he pulled his partner in for a round of intensive mouth-on-mouth and tongue wrestling until they both needed to come up for air.
“I have a feeling you didn't get much rest while I was gone,” Jack spoke, full of suspicion.
“I tried, Love,” Daniel admitted. “Did you say 'hello' to the girls?”
Looking over towards the door, Jack chuckled, saying, “Sure did. That's how I know you haven't slept. We already exchanged slobbers.”
“What can I say, Danny? You were asleep, and they wanted lovin',” Jack teased, then kissed his Heart again. “You're still not totally up to par. I'm going to have to keep you in bed to make sure you don't have a relapse.”
“Relapse from a head injury?” Daniel questioned. Seeing Jack's playful expression, he suddenly caught on and replied, “Oh, yeah, definitely. I don't want to relapse, Babe, so, uh, yea, I think you should. In fact, I think that's a wonderful idea!”
Another round of serious kissing ensued, growing more and more passionate with each second that passed, as the two men reassured themselves the other was really there. Then, they just held each other close for a few minutes, touching, caressing, fingers stroking and gliding over each other.
Soon, though, Daniel's concern about the mission surfaced.
“Jack, what happened on the planet? Did you find the rest of SG-4? What about Sam and Teal'c, are they okay? And ...”
“Whoa, Danny,” Jack blurted out, putting a halt to what he knew was the start of a long line of questions. He pulled Daniel into him, the younger man nuzzling his head against Jack's shoulder. With a quick kiss on Daniel's hair, Jack told the tale as quickly as possible. “Long story short. It was nasty.”
“Too short, Babe. Talk more,” Daniel advised.
“Picky,” Jack teased. He continued, “The natives were definitely not friendly. They may not have our weapons, but they are sharp and know about tactics. It took some doing to get around their booby traps, but we finally found SG-4, bound and gagged at some tribal rite. I swear, Danny, it looked like a bad B-movie: the natives preparing to stew their victims to death.”
“You can't be serious -- stew?”
“I'm totally serious,” Jack spoke flatly. “They had this giant pot, full of some liquid that was making all kinds of noises. The two members of SG-4 were on a ledge atop the pot, and we had the feeling if we didn't move quickly, they were going to be part of some crazy sacrifice, or else dinner.”
“You have an overactive imagination, Jack. It wouldn't make sense for ...”
“Danny, do you really want to debate this now, or would you rather I tell you what happened and then go back to you checking out my body to make sure it's still in working order?”
“Shutting up now. Continue on. Report,” Daniel requested with a slight smirk on his face.
“Yes, Sir,” Jack laughed.
“So once we decided we needed to act, it wasn't much of a battle. Their weapons were pretty basic, so Carter and Grogan went around the back, and Teal'c and I took the front door with SG-8 covering our sixes, and it was over in about a minute. SG-4 is fine, and so is everyone else.”
“I'm glad, Jack.”
Daniel looked pensive. He still had that feeling of doom when he thought about his soulmate being on that mixed up world.
“Oh, I should thank you for your note,” the colonel spoke gratefully.
Daniel blushed, admitting, “I probably shouldn't have hidden it in your pack, but I couldn't stop myself. I'm not sure why.”
“I know why, Daniel. That note -- it saved my life.”
“I didn't find your message until the end of the second day. When I did, I couldn't stop thinking about it, that you'd do that, write me a love note. I had this need to pull it out and look at it off and on; it made me feel closer to you somehow. I missed you not being with us, Babe, missed you a lot.”
Jack had turned to look into Daniel's eyes, counting his blessings that those beautiful baby blues looked like they did just now, full of love and lust, only for him. He had to pause and kiss his misty-eyed lover on the nose, before continuing on with his explanation.
“About half a day out of the city, they tried to ambush us. We had stopped to take a quick break, and I couldn't fight the urge to pull out the note. I didn't want to chance anyone seeing what it said, so I went off by myself, to the edge of the perimeter, and ...
“Jack, you shouldn't have done that. What if they had ...”
“They did, Daniel. There was a small band of the natives. It was like stealth. No one heard them coming, not even Teal'c. I was leaning up against a tree, reading the note, for the fifteenth time, grinning when I had no business grinning, and I got lost in daydreams of coming home to you. Then I dropped it, and I bent over to pick it up.
“I swear, Daniel, this whole thing was like a bad movie. As soon as I went down and grabbed the paper, not one, but two big-honkin', very sharp arrows hit the tree. They would have gone straight through my chest, Love, straight through my heart if I hadn't bent over the very second I did. So, even though you may not have been there to cover my six physically, you still saved my butt.”
“Your butt is mine, Colonel, and have I told you yet how much I love you and that I'm glad you're home and that I love you?”
Daniel didn't wait for an answer, choosing instead to begin some serious foreplay. He had plans, and he was ready for them to take root.
“Let's go to bed, Danny. I'm ready for my exam now.”
Jack had plans, too. Fortunately, they were the same as Daniel's. It was a full course menu of love, sweet love for the two men.
Several hours later, after verifying inch by inch, part by part, that his colonel was indeed in perfect working order, and after having spent some time together with their beagles, Daniel took Jack by the hand and lead him into the study, sitting him down in front of the computer.
“Okay, it's a computer. Now what?” Jack asked, having no idea why he had been steered into this position.
“I want you to read the computer diary I wrote while you were on P3X-413, while I was waiting and wondering if you'd make it home to me; and then we're going to sit on the roof deck and finish this bottle.” Daniel showed his lover the Jack Daniels he had taken off the shelf. “Then, Jack, we're going back to bed, and I'm going to spend the next twenty-four hours thanking you for waiting for me.”
“Waiting for you? You're the one who spent the last four days here waiting for me to get back. Daniel, what are you talking about?”
Giving his lover a gentle kiss, Daniel took his place on the sofa and urged the older man on with a low and seductive tone.
“Read the diary, Love, and then I'm going to thank you.”
With the promise of more naked archaeologist on the horizon, Jack hastened to do as ordered. They'd survived yet another crisis, and life was good once again.
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