|Slash:||Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.|
|Category:||Angst. Drama. Established Relationship. Hurt/Comfort.|
|Synopsis:||Jack finds out about Daniel’s first Valentine.|
|Warnings:||This is shamelessly sentimental and for lack of a better word, sappy. Depending on your mood, you may need a tissue or two. But rest assured it does have a happy ending.|
Jack rubbed a hand lazily across Daniel's back. "Danny, you awake?"
"Hmmm," was the drowsy reply. Jack smiled as Daniel settled deeper into his side. The first light of dawn was sneaking into the bedroom, giving just enough light for Jack to see the framed Valentine Daniel had given him last night. He smiled once again as he looked at it, Charlie's love for his father preserved safely for ages. Then he let out a small laugh as another memory overtook him.
"Jack?" Daniel asked, looking up at him through half open eyes. "What.."
"I was just remembering my first true love." Jack smiled down at him.
"I thought I was your first true love," Daniel smiled back, taking Jack's hand in his and gently rubbing a finger over the knuckles.
"Sorry, Danny, I hate to break it to you, but it was Katie Murphy." Jack pulled Daniel into the circle of his arms and felt the younger man relax with a sigh.
"Katie Murphy?" Daniel murmured, encouraging Jack to continue.
"Yeah," Jack sighed dramatically. "She was an older woman, all of ten. I was in third grade. She was in fourth. Red pigtails, green eyes. I saved my allowance for three weeks to buy her a bracelet for Valentine's Day."
"And?" Daniel jabbed an elbow in the ribs when Jack stopped.
"And she thought it was really nice until Pete Reilly gave her a ring later that day and asked her to marry him," Jack said. "She told him yes. I thought my heart would break, until Pete's little sister gave me a Valentine and asked me to marry her. So I told her yes and then I told Katie I wanted the bracelet back and gave it to Eileen."
Daniel burst out laughing. " You didn't." Jack's serious nod made him laugh again. "Yeah, I guess you would have."
"Hey, I gave up going to the movies for three weeks to get that bracelet." Jack laughed. "So, Danny boy, who was your first Valentine?"
Daniel went very still, the laughter fading from his eyes.
"Danny?" Jack tightened his embrace. "Hey, it's okay. I was just joking." He thought Daniel wasn't going to speak and was prepared to change the subject when he felt Daniel take a deep breath.
"Mrs. Corelli," Daniel said. "Mrs. Corelli was my first Valentine."
Daniel pushed against him and Jack released his arms, letting Daniel pull away, sensing the need Daniel had for space. Daniel scooted up against the headboard, pulling his knees close to his chest.
"She was my fourth grade teacher, well not for all of fourth grade, but... My mom and dad never really did anything for Valentine's Day. I mean, we were usually on a dig somewhere and they showed their love for each other every day. But when we were coming to the States, they told me about all the holidays there were to celebrate, and then.."
Jack put his hand over Daniel's hand and was rewarded with a grateful glance.
Daniel looked away, clearing his throat before continuing. "Anyway, my first Valentine's Day in the States, I was moved from one foster home to another, so there weren't any valentines that year. But when I was in fourth grade, I went to my new family and my new school three days before Valentine's Day. My foster mom helped me make Valentines for every one in the class and for Mrs. Corelli. I was so excited that day. We'd made little boxes to hold our Valentines, and that morning we went around the room and put our Valentines in the boxes. Mrs. Corelli made us wait until afternoon recess was over before she let us open our boxes. I could hardly wait."
Daniel's voice faded away. Jack could see the distant look in his eyes, and he knew before Daniel even spoke what had happened. His heart broke for the little boy Daniel had been.
"It was empty."Daniel said quietly. "My box was empty. I didn't understand why." Daniel's voice echoed the child's confusion. "Mrs. Corelli called me up to her desk. I thought I was in trouble, that I'd done something wrong." Daniel finally met Jack's eyes again. "Mrs. Corelli opened her desk drawer and brought out this beautiful paper heart, decorated with lace, and she said that every year she saved a Valentine for someone special and that this year, I was her special Valentine." Daniel smiled in remembrance.
'God bless you, Mrs. Corelli,' Jack thought. 'There's a special place in Heaven for people like you.' He pulled Daniel close once again, unable to speak.
Daniel snuggled against his chest. "I was going to save it forever, the heart, I mean. But when I was walking home from school that day, Tommy Sanders grabbed it out of my hands. He said that Mrs. Corelli only gave it to me because I was a retard and anyway, she loved him not me."
"A retard?" Jack asked in amazement.
"I stuttered, Jack. I had no trouble with the school work, but I could hardly talk to anyone.The other kids didn't understand and I was usually the outsider. I was used to getting called names."
"Nobody should be used to being called a name, Danny," Jack said fiercely.
"So what happened?" Jack asked softly, willing to let the other subject go for the time being.
"He tore it up," Daniel said simply. "I tried to get all the pieces. I thought I could tape it back together, but it was windy. Most of them blew away." Daniel sighed and closed his eyes again. "Anyway, it was a long time ago. Doesn't matter."
Jack sat very still, listening to Daniel's breath slow. 'Like hell it doesn't matter. That's why you still can't talk about it without sounding like that little lost boy.' Jack smiled as he settled lower in the bed. You couldn't change the past, but you sure as hell could make things right in the present.
Daniel leaned against his apartment door as he closed it behind him after putting the package from his mail on the floor. SG-1's mission to P2W-115 was over, thank God. He'd been right about the underground system of caverns. But spending two days underground in a damp, dark, cold cave was not Daniel's idea of fun even if there was plenty of information to be gathered. He didn't think he'd ever get warm again. Well, maybe he would, if Jack was able to get away from the meetings that he'd been pulled into as soon as SG-1 had walked through the Gate. Daniel sighed and pushed himself away from the door. He and Sam had gone for dinner, so at least, he didn't have to think about cooking.
He looked at the box he'd brought up from the mail room. He hadn't ordered anything, and besides the label was handwritten. Daniel looked at the writing more closely as he carried it to the coffee table by his couch. It looked suspiciously like Jack's, a 'trying to disguise it' Jack's handwriting. Daniel went to the kitchen to grab the scissors. He smiled as he started to cut the tape. Jack always had a fit when Daniel opened boxes because Daniel always pulled the scissors toward himself. 'Someday,' Jack would say, 'I'm gonna find you bleeding to death because you can't open a package right. Don't expect me to take you to the hospital.'
Daniel looked in the box curiously. It appeared to be filled with small pieces of paper. He pulled one out and saw it was a small envelope. Daniel shrugged as he opened it, probably a practical joke, although why he couldn't imagine. He froze as he looked at what he held and pulled out another envelope, opening it quickly. Daniel dumped the box on the couch and sat down in the middle of the pile of Valentines. He had to stop for a few minutes as he realized his hands were shaking. 'Stupid,' he told himself, 'they're just a bunch of paper.' But even as he thought it, he knew the truth. They weren't just pieces of paper with cartoon characters and cute furry animals, each one was a wish of love from someone who understood him. Someone who knew his heart and soul better than he did sometimes.
Jack let himself in to Daniel's apartment and smiled as he saw Daniel asleep on the couch. Daniel had gotten the box, Jack saw. Valentines lay scattered across Daniel's legs, his chest, a few had fallen to the floor. Jack put the big envelope he held in his hand on the table and leaned down to give Daniel a kiss. After a moment, blue eyes were gazing into his.
"Thank you," Daniel whispered. He sat up, pulling Jack down beside him. Daniel held one of the Valentines in his hand, staring at it. "I didn't know I needed them." Daniel shook his head in wonder.
"Everybody needs Valentines, Danny. Even brilliant archaeologists." Jack took the Valentine out of Daniel's hand and handed him the bigger envelope. Jack was beginning to understand how Daniel had felt a week ago when he had handed Jack Charlie's framed Valentine. Daniel opened the envelope and pulled out a heart made out of red construction paper and a paper doily. He looked at Jack, his finger rubbing the torn edges, the rough spot where a piece was missing and smiled in understanding. Jack let go breath he didn't realize he was holding. It was Daniel's special smile, the slow one that lit his eyes and made Jack's heart go into a tailspin.
Daniel nodded, "You can, Jack. You already do, you know. You filled the empty places in my heart a long time ago."
"I heart you, Danny," Jack whispered.
"I heart you, too, Jack," Daniel whispered back and lay back on the couch, pulling Jack down with him. "My true love, my heart."
Back to part one