|Slash:||Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.|
|Category:||Angst. Drama. Established Relationship. Hurt/Comfort.|
|Synopsis:||Jack realizes just how much he loves Daniel after nearly losing him.|
|Warnings:||None really, well, a little mushy.|
Colonel Jack O'Neill stretched in the hot sun, the sweat trickling down his neck causing an itch between his shoulder blades. Carter was still by the F.R.E.D. arranging her test tubes, and God knew what else, with painstaking precision in a padded case. He checked his watch, took off his baseball cap and scrubbed his sweaty hair with both hands.
"For crying out loud, Carter, how long is this gonna take?"
Astonished blue eyes met his after the outburst. "Excuse me, sir?"
Damn, she hadn't even noticed his impatience which meant that she wasn't going to be speeding up her packing anytime soon.
"Nothing, Carter," Jack replied. "I just think I'll go round up Daniel."
He swore he heard a mumbled, 'Thank God,' but when Jack turned back to face Carter once more, she just smiled sweetly at him.
"Could you send Teal'c back, sir? He's very familiar with the care needed to pack these samples."
Jack waved a hand in acknowledgment at her request. When the hell had he lost total control of his team? Carter bossing him around. Daniel batting those eyes at him to get Jack to agree to one more hour of looking at some crumbled down temple. At least Teal'c knew who was in charge. Yep, the man down on the beach standing barefoot at the water's edge.
"Hey, T," Jack called. "Carter decided she prefers your help to mine. Go figure." He gave a sigh. "I'll keep an eye on Daniel."
"O'Neill," Teal'c nodded. "DanielJackson has been acting very strangely."
"'Daniel' strange or 'strange' strange?"
Teal'c raised an eyebrow at the question.
"Never mind," Jack made a shooing motion. "Your concern is noted, Teal'c. I'll take care of him." He glanced at his watch. "I want to start heading back in thirty. Tell Carter to get a move on."
"A move on what, O'Neill?" Teal'c asked innocently.
He shook his head in despair. Jack had a sneaking suspicion that Teal'c understood many more idioms than he let on and secretly had a good laugh on his commanding officer in the privacy of his quarters.
Moving to the very edge of the grasses that lined the beach,not wanting to get in the sand, Jack fixed his eyes on Daniel at the water's edge. Daniel was still too thin, the weight loss that was the aftermath of his injuries from nearly six weeks ago more evident when Daniel was stripped down to his black T shirt and pants. Jack moved a few steps onto the beach and sank down on a small boulder.
He closed his eyes briefly, seeing Daniel as he'd been six weeks ago cradled and bleeding in Teal'c''s arms as they ran towards the Gate, the natives of the planet chasing them. And then, a storm hit that had them hiding for hours in the dense forest, Daniel's life slipping away drop by drop, rain soaking them all to the skin. It had been four hours of hell, Jack's fear for Daniel growing exponentially with each passing minute. Hope draining away with each thunder clap and lightning strike. Teal'c had held Daniel close, his bigger bulk providing more warmth for the shivering archaeologist, one dark hand resting on Daniel's forehead. Jack could still remember Carter's muttered curses as she applied yet another bandage, each one quickly soaking through with blood. It had been Carter's shaking hands that had drawn Jack's attention. He'd watched as Carter had removed the bandage over Daniel's shoulder and noticed her hands shaking so hard she could barely manage the task. She'd looked up at Jack when he'd placed a gentle hand over hers, trying to will his strength into her, give her the courage to continue. Her face had been smeared with blood, Daniel's blood, and it mingled with the rain and her tears, looking as if she'd been painted with some hideous makeup. She'd nodded her head, took a deep breath and continued with her efforts to save the man they all loved.
"Hold on," Daniel's voice had been faint, congested. "Don't let go."
Jack had grabbed his hand at that, slowly realizing that Daniel had no idea who he was. "I'm here, we're here," Jack had reassured in a low whisper.
"Dad?" Daniel's voice was fading, "Don't let go. They'll knock me over."
The querulous mutterings died away, Daniel's eyes losing focus, and a peaceful look coming over his face. Jack's whole gut had tightened then. Dammit, he wasn't ready to lose Danny, wasn't ready to lose someone he loved again. He'd huddled with the rest of them under the shelter of a low hanging tree, rain dripping from his poncho and mingling with Daniel's blood on the forest floor, impotent to do more than tightly clutch Daniel's hand as it grew colder.
Mercifully, the storm had stopped as suddenly as it had begun, and they'd run to the Gate, surrendering Daniel to Janet and her staff as soon as they hit the ramp in the SGC. Jack had followed the gurney without thought, heard Janet's, 'Damn you, Dr. Jackson, you do not have my permission to die,' as Daniel's heart stopped. His own nearly did as well in that instant. Small wonder then that the first mission he'd picked for SG-1 when Janet deemed Daniel fit again was a planet that allowed Carter to do scientific stuff to her heart's content and allowed Daniel to help her but not overtax himself.
Jack opened his eyes just in time to see Daniel take a few steps into the sea and then run backwards as the small waves lapped at his toes. As Jack watched, Daniel repeated the same little ritual and the sound of Daniel's laughter floated back to him. Jack grinned broadly at the sound. It had been way too long since he'd seen Daniel this relaxed, this happy. And he had to admit, he loved to hear Daniel laugh. The laughter had been so rare the past few weeks that it was all the more precious to him when it made its appearance.
"God, Danny," Jack muttered. He wasn't even sure how or when it had happened. When he'd realized he was in love with one Dr. Daniel Jackson. It had kind of crept up on him and taken him totally by surprise. Falling in love with Daniel had been nothing like the whirlwind courtship he'd had with Sara. He'd fallen hard and fast for Sara and they'd been married before either of them had much time to think it through. Maybe that had been what ultimately failed them, not the death of Charlie. Outside of the bedroom, they weren't even really friends. God knew, he still loved her, although not in the way that provided the foundation of a solid marriage. No matter what, Sara had given him Charlie. She had been a good mother, a good wife when it came down to it. They just weren't best friends, and when Charlie was gone there was no point in pretending anymore.
But Daniel, Daniel had been Jack's best friend before there was an inkling of anything more to come. When he'd been recruited to find the traitors in their midst, it was only because of that very friendship that Jack knew exactly how to wound Daniel most, to keep him away from all the unpleasantness, to somehow, in a misguided fashion, protect him. He'd known he loved Daniel then, that Daniel was his best friend, that his life would be painted forever in shades of gray if Daniel wasn't a part of it anymore.
There were probably a couple thousand little moments Jack could point to as moments when he knew he loved Daniel. A small smile from Daniel when Jack caught on to what the archaeologist was explaining, a laugh as Daniel watched an old screwball comedy from the thirties, watching as Daniel's hands brushed away the dust of centuries on some artifact or another, the total look of awe as Daniel stood in the event horizon and reached out a finger to touch, Daniel arguing for what was right, not for what made the most sense. Little moments all of them. Jack remembered a science teacher once telling him the oceans had been formed from nothing more than raindrops, billions and billions of them to be sure, but raindrops nonetheless. Surely, love filled a heart the same way.
Jack pulled himself out of his reverie and glanced at his watch. Fifteen minutes gone. He watched as Daniel ran those few steps backwards again. He sighed, hating to put a halt to Daniel's pleasure. So many people at the SGC only saw Daniel as a serious academic, wanted him for nothing more than his knowledge. Jack wondered what General Hammond would say if he saw the head of archaeology, the man responsible for opening the Stargate, playing tag with the waves of an alien sea.
Quickly untying his boots, Jack put them, along with his socks, safely on the grass. He hated the feel of sand, especially wet sand, between his toes, on his feet, but he hated the feeling of sand in his boots even more. Jack shook his head at his own behavior. Wasn't like he couldn't just call Daniel's name. He knew exactly why he was doing this, walking on wet squishy sand to retrieve his errant archaeologist, simply to see Daniel relaxed and enjoying himself for a few more minutes.
"Hey, Daniel," Jack called out as he approached, "time to quit playing in the sand."
Jack's throat went dry as his lover turned to him. Daniel's eyes, not hidden by his usual sunglasses, were alight with joy, and Daniel's mouth was curved into a sweet smile that took Jack's breath away.
"Hey, Jack." Daniel sloshed out of the water to walk towards Jack. "Is it time to leave?"
Jack nodded and took a few cautious steps closer. He so did not want to get his feet wet. Daniel laughed as a bigger wave rolled in and crept farther up the beach, just enough to wet Jack to his ankles.
"Shit!" Jack yelped. "Damn, that water's cold."
Daniel grinned and headed back towards their boots at a slow jog. He was already pulling on socks by the time a still grumbling Jack reached him.
"Did I ever tell you how much I hate sand, Daniel?"
Daniel sighed dramatically and said with exaggerated patience, "A time or two, Jack."
"This is exactly why I hate it, Daniel." Jack vainly tried to brush the wet sand off his feet, winding up with wet sand on his hands. He threw a glance to a smugly smiling Daniel. "It'll never come off."
"I can take care of it later, Jack," Daniel leaned close to whisper, pulling back as Jack's radio came to life.
"Sir," Carter's voice rang cheerfully, "we're all packed up."
"Coming, Carter," Jack responded and pulled on his boots. He stood up beside Daniel who was looking at the sea.
"Thank you, Jack." Daniel let his fingers brush over Jack's, one of the only displays of affection they ever allowed themselves offworld or on base. "Thank you for this mission."
"C'mon," Jack found his voice strangely rough. "Time to go."
They walked side by side back to Carter and Teal'c, the sound of waves fading to a hush.
Jack tangled his fingers in Daniel's hair, short as it was. Daniel was giving little sighs of pleasure as Jack began a slow massage of his scalp.
"I remember the first time I saw an ocean, Jack," Daniel murmured. "I was afraid."
"It was so big, and I was so little. I must have only been about four or five. Dad was setting up a museum display in Florida, and one day Mom and Dad came home and said we were going on a surprise trip." Daniel closed his eyes. " At first I was disappointed because all I noticed was the sand, and then I saw the ocean. I just stood there, staring at it, and next thing I knew Dad had me by the hand and we were going down to the water's edge. I remember being afraid, but Dad was there, holding my hand. He told me he was going to teach me something, and we walked out into the water. Every time a wave would come, we'd stop and let them pass and then walk farther out. 'Face them, Daniel, ' he said, 'face the waves, let them break around you, and they can't hurt you.'
Daniel shrugged his shoulders and looked up at Jack. "Funny, I'd forgotten all about that until today when I was walking on the beach."
Jack shook his head gently. "You didn't forget that lesson, Danny. You didn't remember the words maybe, but you didn't forget the lesson. You've faced the waves better than anyone I've ever known."
Daniel moved closer, his lips meeting Jack's in a tender kiss. "There was something else Dad told me that day, Jack," he murmured against Jack's lips.
"Yeah, Danny?" Jack breathed softly, pulling Daniel's head closer. "What was that?"
"That I had never had to be afraid of the waves as long as I had someone's hand to hold. It's hard to get lost in the waves when you're together." Daniel moved his hand down between their bodies to tangle his fingers with Jack's. "Good lesson, don't you think?"
"Excellent lesson, Dr. Jackson," Jack whispered, feeling Daniel's calloused fingertips lightly brushing the tips of his own hand. "I think your father was a very smart man." He felt Daniel's smile against his cheek. "Now how about you show me some of your other smarts, Danny?"
Jack woke up suddenly, the pressure on his bladder overwhelming. Daniel lay sprawled beside him, a small smile on his face as he dreamed. Jack rolled over to leave the warmth of the bed and stopped short, as he felt the tug on his left hand. He squinted in the murky predawn light and smiled himself. During the night, Daniel had claimed Jack's hand and held it clutched tightly over his heart.
"Hey, buddy," Jack leaned close to whisper in Daniel's ear, " it's okay. Let go." He gently slipped his hand out of Daniel's loosening grasp.
"Don't worry. I'll be back." Jack continued whispering even as he crept from the bed, "I need you with me to face the waves too. You're never alone, Danny, remember that. I promise, you'll never have to face the waves alone again."