Daniel nervously dug into the lone gift remaining on the coffee table. The gift from Jack. With General Hammond, Janet and the rest of his teammates gathered around he couldn’t help but feel a little anxious opening it. He and Jack had secretly been together for six months now and Daniel had happily discovered that the colonel had a hidden romantic streak a mile wide. His Jack had a tendency to get carried away, hence his nervousness with an audience.
This morning, Jack had gotten up early and served him a wonderful breakfast in bed that consisted of pancakes and bacon along with an endless supply of coffee. Jack claimed it was an unwritten rule that the birthday boy, he actually used the term, ‘birthday boy’, be served this luxury whenever possible. Daniel assumed Jack was heightening birthday awareness protocols for when the Colonel’s birthday rolled around in October. Daniel had little experience in being on the receiving end of birthday indulgences so he smiled patiently and accepted all of Jack’s rules and suggestions on proper birthday etiquette.
A wrapped gift had been found beside his plate on the breakfast tray in what Jack had called a PRE birthday gift, ‘to start the day off on the right foot,’ Jack had explained. Apparently, PRE birthday gifts were another rule Daniel was supposed to remember. It was a ‘Greatest Hits of the Sixties’ CD that Jack had been threatening to buy ever since they had returned from 1969. “Don’t worry,” Jack had whispered in his ear, “I saved the best for last!”
Now, staring down at the final gift, Daniel couldn’t help but worry. He wasn’t sure what was going to be inside the medium sized box and he didn’t want to get emotional over it. Why hadn’t Jack just given him the CD at this very public gathering?
Steeling his emotions, Daniel slowly tore at the Wizard of OZ wrapping paper, and then furrowed his brow in confusion before realizing what the gift was.
“What is it, Daniel, let’s see.” Sam said impatiently.
“It’s an... an electric vegetable steamer.” Daniel pulled it out of the box and tried not to look disappointed. No need to worry about runaway emotions.
“Oh, nice.” Sam picked it up to take a better look. “You do know that now you’re going to have to have us all over for dinner, right?”
“Sure,” Daniel said slowly, still recovering from opening the last thing in the world he would have expected from Jack. He had no idea what he had been expecting, only that it wasn’t a vegetable steamer. He plastered on a happy smile and thanked Jack.
“That’s the one you wanted, right?” Jack asked with a grin.
“Yep, that’s the one, Jack.” Daniel recalled the recent trip to the mall when he saw the steamer and absently pointed it out to Jack. Who would have thought the man was actually listening? For the first time ever, Daniel wished Jack had ignored him.
“Good, I was a little nervous for a second there. Now you can make us that steamed Chinese goo goo mush mush you’re so hot to try.”
Daniel nodded, wearing the same smile. He tried not to feel ungrateful. For most of his thirty-eight years no one had been very interested in celebrating the day of his birth, much less throwing him a get together and plying him with gifts. Any gifts. This small group of close-knit friends cared about him. That much was obvious. They spent the rest of the evening eating cake and enjoying each other’s company until the pleasant evening came to an end.
The last of the guests said their goodbyes and Daniel started to help Jack with the clean up. “Hey, I’ll get that, you sit, birthday boy,” Jack ordered, snatching the dish out of Daniel’s hand and placing it in the dishwasher.
“Jack...” Daniel tried.
“No arguments, Daniel, it’s another rule. No doing dishes on your birthday.” Jack made quick work of the clean up while Daniel followed the rules and obediently sat down in a chair to watch Jack work.
“Did you have fun?” Jack asked, as he finished wiping down the countertop.
“Yes, I did. Thank you.” And he did. Although slightly embarrassed by all the attention, it was fun to be recognized and fussed over by his closest friends turned family.
When the house was back in order, Daniel felt the warmth of Jack’s hand on his shoulder as they headed up the stairs.
“So you had a good birthday?” Jack paused on the stairs to turn abruptly and kiss Daniel’s lips before the linguist had a chance to confirm or deny. “I have a feeling it’s going to get even better,” Jack teased in Daniel’s ear as they stepped into the bedroom.
“For me?” Daniel was surprised to find another box resting on his pillow.
Jack smiled and shook his head at Daniel’s uncertainty. “Yes, for you. The best for last, Danny.”
This box wasn’t wrapped and Daniel hesitantly sat down on the edge of the bed to slowly lift off the cover. The object inside was heavily wrapped in tissue paper and it took Daniel a few seconds to unravel it all and carefully reveal what the layers of paper were safeguarding.
It was a clay pot, the exact size, shape and color of the one Daniel had brought back from Abydos. But it couldn’t be that one. That prized possession had shattered into a hundred pieces one night shortly after he and Jack had confessed their mutual love and attraction. The memory of that disaster was still clear in Daniel’s mind. He and Jack had been getting romantic and frisky on the couch, the newness of their relationship igniting sparks. With all the maneuvering, they bumped the edge of an end table so hard that the pot sitting there rattled.
“Wait, Jack, just wait,” Daniel had gasped out, bouncing out from under Jack’s grip to move the precious piece of clay to a more secure location. Jack let him up and patiently leered from the couch. Daniel never understood what happened next, he was normally very careful with things he held dear. He decided he must have been too focused on Jack’s leering. Whatever the distraction, he misjudged the shelf and the fragile pot fell to its doom with a crash. It was irreplaceable. Sha’re had made him meals in that pot and many times they had eaten together out of that same bowl.
A look of horror must have crossed his face because Jack had been suddenly beside him. He remembered mumbling, ‘it’s okay’ over and over, more to comfort himself than anything else, as Jack swept up the pieces and dropped them into the trash.
“How?” Daniel gapped up at Jack in amazement, all his emotions close to the surface. The piece was an odd shape and unique to Abydos. “Where could you possibly find something like this?”
“I, um, I made it, Daniel.” Jack’s face flushed slightly.
Daniel kept his eyes on Jack, to see if the tough as nails, scourge of the SGC Colonel was pulling his leg.
Jack came over to sit beside him on the bed, critically studying his creation. His voice was soft and vulnerable as he spoke. “I used to mess around with pottery years ago and I thought I’d try to recreate that for you. I know it doesn’t hold the same memories as the original. See, see here, I couldn’t get that right,” Jack’s voice trailed off.
Daniel ran his finger along the edge where Jack pointed out the imperfection and wondered how many attempts Jack had made before deciding this one was the best he could do.
Jack rested his hand on Daniel’s thigh and used the other to continue his critique by pointing out another blemish. “It’s not perfect, see here I...”
Daniel swatted Jack’s hand away as a few tears managed to escape and roll down his cheeks. “You’re wrong, Jack. It is perfect.”
Jack’s face lit up as his thumb brushed away Daniel’s stray tears.
A few minutes later, Daniel became more coherent and turned his head to passionately lock his mouth over Jack’s to show his gratitude. After a few minutes, Daniel reluctantly pulled away. “Quick bathroom run, Jack,” he explained, as he picked up his newest treasure from the nightstand and protectively moved it to a safer spot on the dresser.
Jack nodded his agreement and started to undress.
Daniel made his way to the bathroom to wash his face and brush his teeth, marveling at the gift Jack had made for him. He blushed slightly remembering his earlier disappointment. He should have had a little more faith in Jack’s ability to get it right. In the six months they’d been together, Jack’s abilities amazed Daniel on a continual basis.
He was almost to the door when he heard Jack call out his name in that playful, sarcastic, questioning tone that he was so familiar with. Daniel knew exactly what was coming. He returned to the bedroom and stood in the doorway, toweling his face. “Yes, Jack?” he asked sweetly.
“Tell me the truth... did you really think I’d give you a vegetable steamer for your birthday?” Jack was sitting up in bed, only a sheet covering his naked body, his eyes twinkling their amusement.
Daniel’s slightly pink cheeks answered the question for him.
Jack’s warm, brown eyes danced in delight. “I was married for cryin’ out loud. I gave Sara a toaster one year and she didn’t speak to me for a week. Granted, that was the year after the battery charger, it took me a few years to catch on, but give me a little credit here.”
“Jack,” Daniel interrupted, climbing into bed and snuggling up beside his favorite Colonel. “You DID give me a vegetable steamer.”
“Secondary, Daniel.” Daniel heard Jack’s patient sigh at having to once again explain the rules to his naïve, birthday challenged lover. “It’s a perfectly acceptable gift if, and I stress the word if, if it’s secondary.”
“Uh huh,” Daniel agreed, filing the information away for Jack’s birthday. Daniel was certain he would never be able to top the gift Jack had given him, but he couldn’t wait to try his hand at annoying Jack with the pre, post and secondary gifts.
“Last rule.” Jack broke Daniel’s thoughts as he gently rolled him onto his back and began nipping at his neck and shoulder. “No sleeping until the birthday is officially over.”
Daniel glanced at the clock on the nightstand and smiled contently...11:17. “Now that’s a rule I can live with.”
“Happy birthday, Daniel Jackson,” Jack whispered into the ear of the one he loved.
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