|Slash:||Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.|
|Category:||Angst. Drama. Hurt/Comfort.|
|Synopsis:||A chance encounter with a woman from his past makes Jack remember some painful times.|
|Warnings:||Ummm, Jack and Daniel are in the shower together in one scene. And hey, get your minds out of the gutter. Remember who wrote this!|
Daniel leaned forward resting his elbows against the shopping cart handle. He watched Jack standing in front of the salad dressings carefully comparing the prices. He stifled the urge to just grab a bunch of bottles off the shelves and throw them in the cart. He absolutely hated going grocery shopping with Jack. He should have known what would happen when they were driving home from Sam's and Jack said in an offhand manner, "Hey, Danny, do you mind stopping by Anderson's? I need to get a few things." A few things in Jack's mind was one shopping cart full. Heaven help him when Jack actually went shopping for groceries for real which was why Daniel had developed a list of excuses of just why he couldn't go shopping with Jack. Working on a translation was always a good one. It wouldn't have been bad if Jack actually stuck to the lists he made with annoying regularity. But no, Jack had to make the list and then be distracted by every new product, every possible sale item. And if that wasn't bad enough, Jack comparison shopped. Daniel's philosophy was find the product he liked and keep buying it no matter what the price, even if it went up two or three cents in the last month. Of course, he knew he really couldn't say anything about it when Jack patiently followed him through bookstores. The only difference was between he and Jack was that Jack complained loudly about Daniel's meanderings through the shelves.
'Finally,' Daniel thought in relief as Jack pulled a bottle off the shelf. He quickly put a smile on his face as Jack looked back at him and grinned. Maybe if he was lucky, he could complain just a little and Jack would make it up to him later. That thought caused the smile to become genuine. He pushed the cart down the aisle following Jack and snagged his own favorite salad dressing from the shelf.
"Jack O'Neill," a voice with a southern drawl called as they rounded the corner. "It is you, isn't it?"
Daniel watched in amusement as a woman barely five feet tall came over and gave Jack a tight hug.
"Amanda Collins," Jack was saying. "It's been what? Four years?"
Daniel hung back not wanting to intrude on the impromptu reunion, but suddenly Jack was gesturing for him to come closer.
"Amanda, this is Daniel Jackson, my..." Jack stopped as Daniel interrupted smoothly.
"His friend and colleague." Daniel said and shook Amanda's outstretched hand. "Pleased to meet you."
"And you, Daniel." Amanda smiled.
"I can't believe it's been four years, Jack. I guess it was at that benefit dinner, wasn't it?" She continued at Jack's nod. "Did you know that Rich retired last year? So what have you been doing lately, Jack?" Daniel hid his smile as Jack opened his mouth to reply and closed it again as Amanda continued on full speed. "I heard Sara remarried. She and Ted are expecting, aren't they? Oh," Amanda looked at her watch and stood on tiptoe, "where is that boy? You know teenagers," she said apologetically.
"We can take you home if you need a ride," Daniel offered politely after a qu ick glance at Jack.
"No, that's quite all right," Amanda smiled back at him. " Ryan's here somewhere. He's been trying to get a date with Tara for weeks. Oh, there he is. Ryan! I'm over here." She waved in the air. "I hope Tara's finally said 'yes' otherwise he'll be impossible to live with for weeks."
Daniel looked over to Jack who was smiling with amusement at Amanda's ongoing monologue.
"This can't be Ryan?" Jack said as a boy who was at least two inches taller than Jack came over to them.
"Ryan, look who I found," Amanda said to her son.
"Colonel O'Neill," Ryan said with a fond tone.
"Ryan," Jack nodded. "You've grown a little since the last time I saw you. I guess you're even taller than your old man."
"Yeah," Ryan grinned with amusement. "I think he's jealous."
The conversation came to a dead stop, Daniel confused by the awkwardness and underlying tension he sensed. Amanda looked at her watch again and handed a set of car keys to Ryan.
"Go out and bring the car to the curb, Ryan. We've really got to run." She gave a quick glance to her son's retreating form as he went towards the exit.
"Well, Jack, it was nice seeing you again."
"I didn't realize Ryan was even old enough to drive," Jack said softly.
"He just got his license two weeks ago. I still remember him learning to walk. Next thing I know he'll be going away to college. Children grow up so fast, don't they? Amanda said and then stopped, her face turning red. "I'm sorry, Jack. That was thoughtless."
Daniel wished he could take Jack into his arms right in the middle of the paper towel aisle, the look on Jack's face was so lost and alone. But Jack had long ago schooled himself to handle situations like these, so Daniel watched Jack smile and tell Amanda that it was okay and that maybe he'd see her around.
"Tell Rich I said hi," Jack said as he gave Amanda a quick hug.
"Jack?" Daniel asked when Amanda had gone safely out of earshot. He placed a hand on Jack's arm. "Come on. Let's go home, we've got what you came for."
"Nah, I'm okay, Danny," Jack said and tugged on the front of the cart. He took a deep breath. "I just want to get some laundry detergent and some light bulbs and then we'll be done."
Daniel watched Jack's ramrod straight back with concern then followed Jack, his mind working to figure out his next step.
Daniel risked taking his eyes off the heavy traffic for a second to look at Jack who was staring out the passenger side window as they drove home.
"Jack," Daniel said quietly, "do you..."
"No, Daniel. I do not," Jack said wearily and rubbed a hand across his face. "I don't want to talk about it."
"Okay," Daniel turned his eyes back to the traffic and swallowed hard. Jack hurt, he hurt--the equation was that simple. It was obviously tied to Charlie. Daniel had figured that out from the moment Jack had seen Ryan. He reached down and turned on his radio, hit the number four preset, music from the local classical music station, Jack's favorite, filling the silence. Daniel moved his hand to the volume control to turn it up just a little and felt Jack's hand cover his.
"I'm not angry, Danny." Jack whispered.
"I know that, Jack," Daniel gave the hand a quick squeeze before returning it to the steering wheel. "I just thought that maybe you wanted to tell me about it."
Jack let out a long breath and Daniel heard the slight catch in his breath. "Ryan was Charlie's best friend."
"Oh, God, Jack," Daniel replied. He glanced over at Jack to find him looking back with naked pain. "I'm so sorry."
Jack turned his face to the window again and Daniel could hear the little catches in Jack's breathing as he turned into Jack's driveway.
Jack undid his seat belt and was in his house within seconds of Daniel turning off the ignition.
"Jack?" Daniel called following Jack into the house at a near run.
Jack emerged from the bedroom stripped down to a T-shirt and a pair of shorts. "I need to go for a run," he said just a little too breathlessly.
Daniel nodded and moved closer. "Let me change and I'll go with you."
Jack shook his head, backing away slightly. "No, please, Danny. I need to be alone for awhile."
Daniel paused, seeing the pleading in Jack's familiar brown eyes. "You sure?" he asked worriedly, still unsure.
Jack gave a weak smile. "Yes, Danny. I'm sure." He took Daniel's face between his hands and gave a quick kiss to Daniel's lips. "I'm sure."
Daniel nodded and followed Jack back outside watching Jack as he began to run down the street. Daniel fought the temptation to throw on his own shorts and follow after Jack. But he knew Jack, sometimes better than he knew himself. Jack needed the time alone the same way Daniel needed time alone when things got too rough. Daniel sighed and started unloading the groceries. Jack would be home in a little while and Daniel would make sure that those haunted eyes lost their pain before the night was over.
Daniel looked up from the book he was reading at the first sound of the rain hitting the kitchen window. He hadn't known it was getting dark, caught up as he was in researching the information for their next mission. Daniel glanced at the clock on the microwave and grabbed a jacket and his car keys as he suddenly realized that Jack's short run had now lasted more than two hours.
Daniel forced himself to remain calm as he finished the third circuit of the route he usually ran with Jack. There was no sign of the man. Daniel fought down images of Jack lying dead of a heart attack somewhere, of Jack lying unconscious in a hospital, the victim of a hit and run driver. Had Jack taken ID? Daniel couldn't remember. He pulled over to the curb on a nearly deserted side street and put his head against the steering wheel. Think, he told himself sternly. Where else could Jack go? A tree branch bounced off the hood of his car, and Daniel pulled away from the curb, driving slowly in the nearly torrential downpour, praying that his idea of Jack's destination was the right one.
Daniel couldn't stop his hands from shaking now that he actually saw Jack kneeling by the grave. All the fear he'd felt as he'd driven towards the cemetery left him a rush. Daniel left his car running as he ran towards Jack in the muddy ground.
"Jack! Jack!" he called, only to have the fear come back with a vengeance when there was no response. Daniel fell to his knees alongside Jack who was shivering in the cool wind that was blowing the last of the rain away. "Jack, thank God, you're okay." Daniel reached out to place a hand on Jack's cold cheek.
Jack turned to him, his face mud streaked and lost. "Danny?"
Daniel just nodded. "Come on, Jack. Let's get home and get you warmed up." He helped Jack to unsteady feet, holding tightly as they made their way back over the grass.
Daniel turned his heater on full blast and covered Jack with his own jacket wishing that he'd actually listened to Jack and kept a blanket in his car for emergencies.
"Jack, how long have you been here?" Daniel asked, hoping to get some response from Jack. He'd decided that if Jack didn't soon show some recognition of his surroundings he was heading for the closest emergency room, worries of hypothermia starting to crowd his mind now.
"I d...don't k..know." Jack's teeth were chattering. "Awhile, I g..guess."
"God, Jack, I was scared," Daniel said in a burst. He looked over at Jack who was holding Daniel's jacket close to his nose and breathing deeply. "I'm going to the emergency room." he stated.
"No!" Jack nearly shouted. "No," he said again in a calmer voice. "I'll be f..fine. I'm just cold."
Daniel bit his lip and headed toward Jack's house once again.
Daniel kicked Jack's sodden shorts, shirt and running shoes into the corner of the bathroom and steered Jack into the hot shower.
"I'll be back," he promised, and smiled at Jack's slow nod. "I'm going to start some coffee and get the fireplace going. You'll be okay?" he asked.
"Danny, I was taking showers on my own before you were even born." Jack managed a brief smile at his lover's worried question.
Daniel nodded and left the bathroom, Jack's returning sense of humor relieving some of the intense emotion he'd been feeling.
He heard the sob before he was halfway down the hall and ran back into the bathroom, yanking open the curtain. Daniel stepped in the shower with Jack, forgetting all about the fact that he was still dressed in his chinos and sweater,caring only that Jack was in pain. Jack leaned into him, huge sobs wracking his body. Daniel stood there, arms around Jack, whispering reassurances that only served to cause Jack to hang on tighter. Jack's hands moved from Daniel's shoulders to his face, pulling Daniel closer for a long, hard kiss.
"Oh God, oh God, oh God," Jack said in a fervent litany between desperate kisses. His hands moved lower, pulling at Daniel's sweater, at the waistband of Daniel's pants. "I need, I need."
"I know, Jack. I know," Daniel said in that same desperate tone, his own hands fumbling on the sodden fabric. "I'm here, I'm here, Jack. I'm here for you. I love you."
"Thank you, Danny," Jack said in a drowsy voice as Daniel handed him a mug of coffee. He smiled as Daniel sat down beside him on the couch. Jack placed the mug on the table and pulled Daniel close.
Daniel traced a finger over Jack's forehead, smoothing out the lines that always appeared when Jack was tired or worried. "You warm enough? I can get a blanket."
"I'm fine, Danny," Jack reassured him. He sat staring into the flames.
"I'd forgotten what a whirlwind Amanda Collins could be."
"She was..umm..talkative," Daniel agreed with a grin, then a stray thought occurred to him. "Please tell me I don't sound like that when I'm giving a presentation." He prodded at Jack when no answer was forthcoming.
Jack glanced at him and frowned. "Well, actually..." He stopped at Daniel's groan and smiled fondly at Daniel. "Nah."
Jack pulled Daniel's head to his shoulder. "When Charlie died, it was as if he suddenly hadn't ever existed. Amanda was one of Sara's best friends, Rich was one of mine, and suddenly any conversation we had ended with Amanda or Rich apologizing for mentioning his name. As if somehow their mentioning his name made it hurt worse. As if it didn't hurt every hour, every minute."
"And seeing her and Ryan..." Daniel murmured.
"God, Danny. I'd forgotten," Jack said, his voice catching. "I'd forgotten that he'd be old enough to drive. I would have been teaching Charlie to drive this year and worrying every time he'd ask to borrow the car." Daniel felt hot tears falling onto his temple and sat up to pull Jack's head down onto his shoulder. "They do grow up too fast, Danny. I would have kept him a toddler forever, but they always have to leave us."
"I know, Jack. I know." Daniel whispered. "And I wish Charlie hadn't left you so soon."
"Sometimes, I miss him so goddamned much, Danny," Jack breathed, closing his eyes. "All the dreams just died that day."
Daniel caught one of Jack's tears on his thumb, ignoring his own that were beginning to fall with Jack's. "I know, Jack, and I'm so very, very sorry that they did." He kissed Jack's silver hair.
"Danny?" Jack said in a voice that was drifting closer to sleep.
"Yeah, Jack?" Daniel whispered back.
"You know the difference between you and Amanda?" Jack asked.
"Umm...I'm a man, she's a woman?" Daniel guessed and smiled at Jack's snort.
"Besides that and the fact that you're a terrific lover." Jack sat up and looked into those blue, blue eyes he adored. He grew serious, although the smile remained. "No, the difference is you know how to listen as well as talk. And for that, I thank you. And I love you."
Daniel smiled back and brushed another stray tear away from Jack's face. "So, I'm listening, Jack."
Jack grinned before settling himself with his head on Daniel's lap. "Did I ever tell you that Charlie wanted to be a garbage man when he grew up?" Jack looked up into Daniel's smile and loving gaze and let himself remember.
Daniel twined his fingers in Jack's hair and imagined Jack with a small boy watching his father adoringly, Jack playing catch, Jack tucking an exhausted toddler in bed. He was willing to listen from now until the end of time.