Slash: Story portraying the strong friendship between Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson
Rating: G
Category: Gen, Humor
Season/Spoilers: None
Synopsis: A glimpse into Jack's morning routine
Warnings: None
Length: 26 Kb

“Ouch. Shit.” Jack moaned at the throbbing ache in his left shoulder as he cracked an eyelid at the illuminated digital clock on the nightstand. 4:55. Same as every morning. His hand shot out from under the covers to slide the switch into the off position before the annoying buzzer had a chance to beep. The alarm was strictly a backup plan that he rarely needed. After twenty-five years in the military, the Colonel’s internal timekeeper proved much more effective.

Jack sat up cautiously and grabbed at the shoulder. His neck was shouting ‘good morning’ as well. When exactly did sleep start causing pain? Must have been a day when that happened, but it was too gradual a change to spark a specific memory. He forced himself to sit up, legs dangling over the bed, getting his mind and body in tuned for the effort it would take to get his stiff, worn out knees up and moving. The first few tentative steps were always excruciating. He wobbled back and forth on his way to the bathroom, evenly distributing his weight like an old lady coming home from a trip to the market. Damn. The knees, the shoulders, the back, and now the neck. When the hell did he get this old?

SG-1 was going off world today at 1100 hours. Jack’s off world routine never varied. He'd get to the mountain early and carefully go over all the reports, then review video data from the MALP and UAV readings before meeting with his teammates.

“Shit.” He cursed at his uncooperative body. Some mornings, a few minutes was all it took to work out the kinks. Days like today he needed a more aggressive plan of attack. Maybe a walk would help. It used to be a morning run, then a jog, now it was a brisk walk. His knees could no longer take the incessant pounding.

Jack grimaced as he pulled on the sweats and knit hat. He was out the door by 5:15. The neighborhood was dark and peaceful as he rounded the corner and struggled to pick up the pace.

Thoughts of retirement always danced in his head during these rare, pain-motivated, crack of dawn, exercise sessions. Retirement definitely had its ‘pros’. It would be a joy to ease into the day instead of declaring full-scale war on it.

Fishing was another positive. And reading. Top ten, garden-variety espionage novels instead of evaluations, assessments, scientific findings, and tedious mission reports.

The numbing stiffness started working its way out of the worn knees while the pain clung stubbornly.

He’d have more time for sports... hockey, football, baseball and basketball, the four main staples. The military and sports were a cliché... your basic macho image of tough, manly men cracking beers on a Sunday afternoon. In reality, macho had little to do with it. For Jack, sports mirrored his line of work. He loved the concept of the team placed above any one individual. In the military, as in sports, heart, discipline, preparation, and teamwork were the keys to success. Granted, professional sports lost most of that with free agency, million dollar contracts and players changing teams quicker than most people changed underwear. Despite all that, Jack followed the games out of habit. Yes, retirement had its perks... fishing, reading, sports and not jumping out of bed at the crack of dawn.

“Shut up,” he ordered his screaming ACL as he picked up the pace and headed for home.

Would he know when it was time to walk away? Jack feared becoming a kin to one of those famous athletes who plays too long past his prime... the last to know he's outlived his usefulness and, in the process, lost the respect of former friends and colleagues. He cringed at the thought of those tired old jocks enduring the humiliation of being cut or traded in search of one last adrenaline rush. Retiring, only to come out of retirement in a vain attempt to relive past glories.

It’s a short fall from hero to laughing stock.

Jack shuddered. He’d never let it come to that. He understood it though, the ‘cons’ of retirement still outweighing the ‘pros’. The action was an addiction and he was a junkie. The sweet high of being counted among a handful of people in the world capable of doing what he did. And the added thrill of doing it the best. His drug of choice was the unknown adventure calling to him from beyond the 'gate.

It wasn’t time for retirement. Jack knew it with certainty because his body never betrayed him on the other side of the event horizon. His knees ran and jumped and squatted without much conscious thought. His back bent, stretched and stooped like a man half his age. When he slept outside in bitter cold, or extreme heat, his body bounced back every morning, as if he were ten years younger. A few hours after they’d return, reality would sink in, along with the need for ice packs and heat pads, and draining and massage therapy. For him, the Stargate was the veritable Fountain of Youth.

0545. Much better. Jack jogged the last half block to his house. The walking was exactly what he needed. The pain and stiffness had worked their way out, albeit under protest.

A hot shower and his daily dose of Ibuprofen should finish the job.

It did.

Jack whistled happily as he made the routine drive to the Mountain, the pain and his retirement fixation now a distant memory. He even had time to stop and treat the kids to coffee and bagels. Jack snapped on the radio and joined the Righteous Brothers in robustly belting out a stirring rendition of Unchained Melody.

The Colonel flicked on the lights in his office and found Daniel’s report thrown on top of Carter’s. The MALP and UAV data were there as well. He reached underneath the pile to read Carter’s report first. It generally took longer. Carter wrote in a scientific gibberish that had taken Jack months to master. Although he was now fluent in Carter-ese, he was still in the habit of giving himself plenty of time to figure it all out.

Daniel’s reports could be annoying for the opposite reason. The brilliant archaeologist tended to over explain, assuming certain military types wouldn’t understand if he didn’t ‘talk slow.’ Jack couldn’t really disagree based on some of the questions the reports generated from off base officials.

When he was finished reading, he made a few notes and stuffed them into his pocket, then gathered up the paperwork and headed for the conference room. On the surface, P7J-822 looked easy. On the surface, they all did.

Jack paused with a hand on the doorknob, listening to the quiet voices of his teammates. He put his game face on and burst into the room with his usual zeal. “Good morning, campers!”

Sam nodded through sleepy eyes. Daniel moaned and rested his head on the table. Teal’c was the only one coherent enough for a verbal response. “Good morning, O’Neill.”

“Could you dial it down a few notches, Jack?” Daniel asked hopefully.

“Didn’t get enough sleep did we?”

“Daniel and I slept here, Sir, working on the particulars for P7J-822,” Sam explained.

“And whose fault is that, Carter?”

“Not every one can doze off on the sofa watching hockey, sleep for eight hours and then bounce out of bed in the morning all...” Daniel waved his hand, searching for a word to describe the Colonel in the morning.

“Bright eyed and bushy tailed?” Jack filled in cheerfully.

“Whatever.” Apparently not the exact phrase the linguist was searching for.

Jack set the bag of treats on the table. “I brought bagels, cream cheese and... Starbucks coffee, kids.”

That perked them up considerably. Daniel grabbed the bag, pilfered what was his and passed the rest around the table. “Did you at least read my report?” he asked, happily gulping his French Roast. Jack knew everyone’s favorites.

“I skimmed it this morning.”

“You skimmed it?” Daniel repeated suspiciously. “Any questions?”

“Actually, yes,” Jack replied, pleased at Daniel’s shocked expression. “Why is it printed in blue ink?”

Daniel let out a groan. “I finished it at 1:00 am. I was tired and I didn’t feel like changing the cartridge. Is it a problem?”

“No. No problem,” Jack said slowly. “A little... disconcerting maybe.”

“No other questions I take it?” Daniel asked cautiously.

“You’ll be the first to know, Sunshine.” Jack did have a few questions, but he decided he'd work them in later.

Daniel didn’t flinch.

Hmm, did he need to add to his repertoire or work on his delivery? Jack glanced around the room. Sam was flipping pages of the initial scans of P7J-822, happily sipping away at her Tazo tea. Daniel was savoring his dark, rich roast, both hands cradling the warmth of the extra large cup. Teal’c was making subtle Jaffa faces at his latte while reading the security measures the Colonel had discreetly slipped him.

“O’Neill, I do not believe this is a latte.” Teal’c popped the lid of his drink to peer inside.

“Oh, it’s a latte, Teal’c. It’s vanilla. Just the way you like it.”

“It is not, O’Neill. It is white. Do you wish to see it?”

“I don’t need to see it, T, I ordered you a Vanilla Crème. I’m sure of it.” Jack prided himself on getting the orders straight. He could successfully order coffee for half the personnel on the base.

“He’s right, Sir. It’s white,” Sam confirmed after taking a peek into Teal’c’s cup.

Daniel asked them to pass it over. He was the unofficial coffee guru of the SGC. “It’s a steamer, Teal’c,” he announced after a quick sip.

Jack sighed his displeasure. “Teal’c, what do I always order you?”

“A vanilla latte, but this...”

“Thank you, thank you very much,” Jack said smugly in Daniel’s direction.

“Well, that’s it then.” Daniel took another sip of his own brew.

“You’re agreeing with me?” Jack asked cautiously.

“No, not exactly. You said you ordered a vanilla crème. A vanilla crème is a steamer, a vanilla latte is a... latte.”

“It is most agreeable, O’Neill.” Teal’c bowed slightly in appreciation.

“Aha! See that, Java Boy. Teal’c wanted the, the...the white latte.”

“Steamer, Jack. It’s called a steamer.” Daniel smiled, apparently content to let the ‘Java Boy’ comment slide for now.

“Whatever. Got yours right, didn’t’ I?”

. “Yes. Yes, you did,” he agreed pleasantly, going back to his reading.

Jack sat back with his plain old, regular brew and smiled contently. It wasn’t the action and adventure he was addicted to after all. It was this. Everything he loved was right here in this room... the trust, the teasing, the camaraderie, the unbreakable bond the four of them shared. This was the reason old men played too hard for too long.

A comfortable silence filled the room. Jack sipped his coffee and took another quick look around the table. Retirement would have to wait. It had nothing to offer compared to life at the SGC. Fishing, reading, sports...none of that mattered. Nothing would ever come close to what he had right here, right now. Jack decided to ignore his body. Let his body voice the occasional protest.

His heart hoped it would never end.



Biblio, PhoenixE, babs, Brionhet, Darcy, Devra, Fabrisse, JoaG, Kalimyre, Marcia, Rowan and Sideburns, 2001-2008.
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