Lying to Daniel is not something I’m in the habit of doing.
Actually, I can’t remember intentionally lying to him since we’ve been
together. I told him I had a mission. And I did... technically. So I
guess technically I could tell myself I’m not lying. Except, I’m not a
kid and I know what the word means... to mislead, to deceive. It’s all
about intent. There’s no technically about it, I’m lying through my
teeth to the one person in the world who trusts me implicitly and
values honesty above all else.
The house is dark when I pull into the drive and for that I’m
truly grateful. It’s 2:00 AM and I’m feeling old and battered. The dim
light over the kitchen sink is left on for my benefit and there’s a
note stuck to the fridge. Daniel’s writing is precise and so
Daniel-like I can hear his voice when I read the words. The note not
only tells me there’s a plate of food made up for my dinner, but also
goes into a fairly detailed description of what exactly that dinner is
and how he prepared it. The last sentence reads, ‘Just try it Jack,
PLEASE!’ I can’t help but smile at his continuing efforts to expand my
horizons. Although eating is out of the question tonight, my stomach is
a little too queasy for that.
Sneaking back to Edora for Laira’s funeral was surreal. I'd
been back only once since being stranded and that was strained and
awkward. The only purpose of that visit had been to keep my word to
Laira. The purpose of this visit was far heavier... to pay my respects
and to see the truth for myself. Every villager, including Paynan,
turned out to mourn Laira’s passing and to wish her ‘fair day’ in
sending her off to join the ancestors.
Garan and his new bride, Naytha, were heartbroken beyond the
comfort of my hollow words. The need to have Daniel beside me was so
strong I almost wished I had told him the truth and brought him with
me. Almost. Then Garan showed me the child, Jarack. The four year old
had fidgeted and tugged on his too large, newly sewn mourning shirt
throughout the burial ritual. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. One
look into the boy’s confused, bright, shining brown eyes removed any
hope or doubts I’ve had about the validity of Garan’s claim. The boy is
What to do about that fact is what’s eating away at my soul.
Why now? Daniel is home from the higher planes or whatever the hell you
want to call it and we have an unspoken pact not to waste any more time
on the petty, meaningless crap that has weighed us down in the past.
It’s working, I’ve never been happier. It appeared fate was giving this
old, undeserving soldier a second chance at life and love and I had
latched on to it without reservation, foolishly thinking I’d atoned for
past sins. But it appears my petty, meaningless past is catching up
with me and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.
Daniel is not in the bedroom. I find him in the last place I
check... the spare room turned office. He’s sleeping in front of the
computer. His forehead is resting on the desk just below the keyboard,
his face slightly turned to the left, pushing his glasses up one side
of his face. I’ve found him like this before and it always irritates
me. Why can’t the man go to bed before he crashes at the computer?
Tonight there's no irritation, only resignation at what the morning
will bring. Careful not to wake him, I gently run my fingers through
his soft hair in silent apology for the lie I've brought between us. I
save his work before turning the computer off and gently removing his
glasses. Then I give his shoulder a shake, and wait for the sleepy blue
eyes to fix on me.
“Jack?” His expression is so innocent in that dream-like state
that I don’t have the heart to trample his trust to dust. Not yet.
“Yeah, it’s me, time for bed,” I whisper in his ear, leading
him clumsily down the hall toward our room. Once he’s a little more
alert he stops off at the bathroom. I hear him peeing and then brushing
his teeth before joining me in our bed. He snuggles in beside me and I
squeeze him for all I’m worth, wondering if this will be the last time
I’ll get to hold him so close without the past wedged heavily between
“Jack, you okay?” His voice is filled with concern at the
neediness of my hug. He pulls away and turns a scrutinizing eye on me.
“How’d the mission go?”
“Fine.” I’m such a fucking coward. A selfish, fucking coward.
I need one more night with him without the burden I’m about to thrust
upon our relationship. One more night of just Daniel and me, safe and
secure in our love.
Instead of answering, I kiss his parted lips and he succumbs
immediately. When I finish with his mouth I move on to his hair and
then work my way down, planting gentle kisses on his neck and chest,
pausing only briefly to taste each nipple. He’s aroused in seconds and
lets out an uncharacteristic grunt. By the time my tongue makes its way
down to Daniel’s belly, his body is practically humming with
anticipation. It still thrills me that I have this effect on him. After
placing another light kiss on the solid, muscled stomach I continue
down to Daniel’s excited cock, place my hands firmly on his hips and
then lick and kiss gently before taking him in. I need him to remember
tonight in case this is the last time. My hands and my tongue
desperately attempt to prove my love. My ministrations overwhelm him
and Daniel’s entire body jerks forward as he comes, shouting my name,
“JackJackJack!” Like he can’t get enough of me. Like I’m some sort of
prize. Oh, Danny, please forgive me.
After a few minutes, Daniel reaches out and attempts to
reciprocate. I feel his hands on me and instantly relax. He works his
magic and within moments, guilty or not, my body responds to his touch.
Amid groans and complaints I pry him out of bed for the few
seconds it takes to clean us both up before we collapse back into it.
Daniel falls asleep before his head hits the pillow, sated, and happily
unaware of my deceptions.
Sleep doesn’t come easy for me. I guess lying to a person can
do that, robbing them of the ability to obtain a peaceful night’s rest.
I lie awake memorizing Daniel. Memorizing his face, every feature,
right down to the slight indentation on the side of his nose where his
glasses must have pinched. I memorize the feel of him in my arms, the
scent of him and the rhythmic sounds of his light, steady breathing
before finally dozing just before the dawn. Memories that may have to
last a lifetime.
I’m brought to semi awareness by the sudden movement of the
mattress. Under slitted lids, I see Daniel awake and squinting at the
bedside clock. “Jack, Jack, wake up. You overslept,” he says in
amusement. I never oversleep. “Hey, Jack, wake up,” he orders again,
sleepily giving my shoulder a shake. “I’m going to jump in the shower.”
With that he’s gone, disappeared into the bathroom.
It’s time. I take a minute to throw on some sweats and a
t-shirt and sit on the edge of the bed to wait. Scared. Damn it, my
hands are shaking. What would possess me to cut Daniel out of such an
important piece of my past? Avoidance? Stupidity? Fear? All of the
When I hear the water shut off I clasp my hands together to
control their trembling. Daniel strolls back into the bedroom naked,
toweling his hair. “Hey, Jack...” He stops short when he sees me and
rushes to my side. “What’s wrong?”
I brush off his undeserved concern. “I want to talk to you
about something. Why don’t you get dressed first?” He hurriedly throws
on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt and sits beside me on the bed. He’s
too close and I have to back away from him. I can see that worries him.
I’m not one to back away.
Maintaining eye contact as best I can, I tell him about my
encounter with Laira. Daniel and I weren’t together at the time and I
can sense his relief. Not yet, Daniel. Not yet. After laying out the
background I finally get to the main event. He’s surprised and hurt
when I tell him about Laira’s funeral.
“I would have gone with you,” he whispers, confused at his
“Shh, wait.” Then I tell him about the child. My child. The
son I saw for the first time at his mother’s funeral less than
twenty-four hours ago. Daniel is trying to stay calm and hold back the
shock. He waits until I’m finished before asking all the relevant
“When did you know you had a child?” The feigned casualness
doesn’t fool me, I know Daniel, and I can see the effort he’s expending
to appear composed and rational.
My gaze falters and I resort to studying my hands. I’m
determined to tell the truth even though it may be too late to redeem
myself. “I suspected for a long time. SG-9 told me Laira had given
birth while they were in negotiations.” When I look up, his expression
has hardened considerably.
“And you never went back to check on him?” His quiet voice is
filled with accusation. Daniel’s own childhood feelings of abandonment
aren’t going to make this any easier and for the first time I face the
very real possibility that our relationship might not survive my
“No. I never did. I knew from SG-9 the child was happy and
healthy and safe with Laira.” I finally glance up at him. “I guess I
thought if I didn’t confirm the truth I could hide from it.”
His shoulders slouch at my misguided logic. “And like so many
other things, you decided you couldn’t trust me with your secret.” And
there it is... the real issue. Daniel puts his elbows on his knees and
rests his head in the palms of his hands, rubbing at his eyes. “And
last night... what was that, Jack? Our last good fuck?”
The denial dies on my lips. He knows me too well. Seeing him
hunched over and hurting causes my heart to throb and my hand to
automatically reach for the nape of his neck, seeking to soothe. He
straightens immediately and shrugs off my touch. I’m the last thing he
wants or needs.
“What else, Jack? What else is there I don’t know about you?
There must be more.” His voice is angry and demanding, filled with the
distinct pain of betrayal.
It’s on the tip of my tongue to tell him, ‘no, nothing else.
That’s it.’ Something in his eyes stops me. His intense gaze is boring
into me, reflecting all the disappointment I put there. I realize he’s
challenging me, waiting, wondering if I’ll lie to him again. If I do,
it'll be for the last time. I have little doubt about that. It’s not a
risk I’m willing to take. I decide to bring all the darkness into the
light, lay it all out in the open and leave myself more vulnerable to
him than I’ve ever been.
How well does he know me? How well does he think he knows me?
I’m terrified he won’t like what he hears, won’t like who I am and
he’ll walk away. I want to trust him, trust our love, but I’ve royally
fucked up every good thing I’ve ever had and I can’t help but think
it’s inevitable I’ll fuck this up too. Eventually, every good thing in
Jack O’Neill’s life turns to shit.
I tell him about the special ops mission in Iraq, the one I’ve
never shared with another living soul. “An assassination mission,” I
explain. “I shot a man in front of his two young sons.” Daniel’s eyes
go wide; he’s having a hard time connecting Jack, his friend and lover,
to Jack, the special ops military man. Stay with me, Daniel, I silently
He’s quiet as I explain how I laid in my own filth for three
days waiting to get a clear shot. By the time the opportunity came I
was exhausted, and longing to get home to my own son, so I took the
shot. Another couple of hours and the target would have been alone. I
knew that from the previous days of observation. I didn’t wait the few
hours... I took the shot. Mission accomplished. Got a medal for that
To his credit, Daniel hasn’t so much as flinched at my
There have been other things. He holds my gaze, his eyes
unreadable as he nods for me to continue. If this is an honesty test,
I’m determined to pass.
“Alar.” Surprise flickers across his face at the name and for
the first time I’m sure he’s completely unaware of what I did. I’ve
always wondered if he knew, but I was too chicken to ask him outright.
Today I have my answer. Daniel is innocent of any knowledge of my crime.
“Alar?” He says the name slowly, trying to figure out where
this is heading.
“Alar, the Nazi from Euronda.” He shakes his head impatiently.
Of course he knows who Alar is. I can see the slight crease in his brow
as he attempts to work this out. I’m sure right about now he’s
rehashing the humiliation of me ordering him to ‘shut up’ in a roomful
of people. I want to tell him not to give that a second thought; the
only one humiliated that day was me.
I remind him how flat and detached my voice was as I ordered
the iris closed. His eyes close for a second as he remembers and I
divulge my secret. I gave that command knowing with absolute certainty
Alar had followed us through the wormhole. I admit I heard the splat
against the closed barrier and still said nothing. Carter knows. She
never said a word, out of... loyalty, I guess.
Daniel remains silent. From there I move on to lesser, yet no
less heinous crimes... my failure to be there for my wife in the hour
of our greatest need. My inability to cry for the loss of my son. The
taste of the cold metal in my mouth as I came within a whisper of
pulling the trigger and taking my own life in what would have been a
final act of cowardice, leaving Sara to mourn and clean up my mess.
The words flow in an endless stream of guilt-laden
confessions. Some of the stories I had long since forgotten. Daniel is
my priest and all I can do is pray there is enough penance in the
universe to procure absolution.
I can’t look Daniel in the eye, terrified to see disgust or
worse yet, rejection in those deep blue pools that, until today, have
been my safest haven.
His thumb reaches out to swipe gently at my cheek and for the
first time I realize I’m crying. Soundlessly.
Daniel gathers me into his arms, forces my head to his chest
and utters one syllable, “Jack.” I break at the sound of my name, it
tells me everything I need to know. It always has. One word is all it
takes and I know the truth, the relief coursing through every nerve in
my trembling body. Daniel still loves me. And I’m an ass for having
God bless General George Hammond. Daniel thought it best I
confide in the General in order to obtain extended leave time to Edora.
It was against my better judgment but I’ve decided to trust my
archaeologist in all matters concerning the heart, the soul and the
mind. So confide I did. George was more understanding than I could have
dared hoped. He considers the matter ‘none of the Air Force’s business’
since I was stranded with little hope of rescue for over three months.
The matter is confidential and closed as far as the good General is
Before I could ask, he suggested I take Dr. Jackson with me.
He gave us seven days to check on the welfare of the Edorans to see if
they are having difficulties with any aspects of the treaty in the wake
of Laira’s death. A PR mission as it were. I can’t emphasize it enough;
General George Hammond is a saint.
It’s difficult to reconcile my Colonel O’Neill with the
special ops, Captain O’Neill of the past, but that was no reason for
Jack to run and hide from me. Jack is the man he is because of his
past, not in spite of it.
His actions didn’t bother me as much as his need to conceal
them from me. It shocked me to realize how fragile Jack really is when
he finally broke down and told me the truths of his life. Fragile is
not a word any of us associate with the smart mouthed, heroic, savior
of the world, blood and guts Colonel. But fragile is what I see. After
seven years of friendship the man was still afraid I wouldn’t be able
to handle the real Colonel Jonathan O’Neill. He’s always had an
overwhelming desire to protect me, apparently even from himself.
Tomorrow we leave for seven days on Edora. I’m surprised to be
accompanying Jack. He swears it was General Hammond’s idea but I’m not
convinced. It’s making me a little nervous. I don’t know how to say
this to Jack without sounding whiny but I’m just not very good with
kids. He must have noticed. Kids don’t like me very much. They never
did, not even when I was one of them. Jack’s great with kids. Kids love
I’ve always wanted to be a father, to love and be loved
unconditionally, to pass on my love of words and of archaeology, the
same as my parents did to me, and my grandfather before them. Sha’re
and I tried. Of course, at the time we didn’t think it was a big hurry.
We were both so naïve back then, we thought we had all the time in
Maybe it’s just as well. Jack always tells me I’m too serious,
that I don’t know how to relax and have fun. What kid wants a father
who doesn’t know how to have fun? Doesn’t matter, it’s not going to
happen now. That dream died in the desert heat with a single blast from
Teal’c’s staff weapon. Life is a series of trade off’s and fate has
compensated me... I have Jack.
It’s okay. I’ll bring lots of books and stay out of their way,
just be there on the sidelines for moral support. I get the feeling
Jack needs me close by.
The front door slams. He’s home. I stash the two small photo
albums into my pack along with the digital camera before he can get up
here and tell me they’re not necessary. He’s up the stairs and beside
me in seconds.
I love the sound of that ‘hey'. “Hey, yourself.” Jack rests
his hands on my shoulders and turns me around to face him and pulls me
close, our faces inches apart.
He ignores my weak protest and leans in to lick in the
vicinity of my ear before whispering in it. “Pack later.”
“Later,” I confirm dumbly, as I allow him to push me down on
the bed and have his wicked way with me.
Once Garan and Naytha realize that we haven’t come to steal
Jarack away through the stone ring they visibly relax and seem
genuinely pleased to see us. The truth is Jack has no idea what he
should do about the boy. We’re hoping to figure it all out after
spending some time with him. Garan and Naytha, and the whole village
for that matter, are still in mourning for Laira. Both of them feel it
would be good for little Jarack to get away from the traditional
silence and grief associated with their mourning rituals. Garan offers
us the use of a house that sits empty just a few miles north of the
Jarack is staring at us with keen interest but playing shy,
the light brown tufts of hair and bright, mischievous eyes occasionally
popping out from behind Naytha’s skirt. Jack gets down on one knee and
invites Jarack to come over to our temporary home for a visit. The kid
is not talking.
“You can go, Jarack,” Garan encourages. “Jack was a friend of
our mothers.” That piques his interest.
“My mother went to visit the ancestors,” Jarack explains
solemnly. I suppose that explanation is more palpable than some of the
explanations that were fed to an orphaned eight year old.
The boy pokes his head out from behind the skirt once again.
“Did you see her in the stone ring?”
“Jarack, what did I tell you about that?” The little guy hangs
his head and shrugs at Garan’s warning.
“We didn’t see her,” Jack says quietly, still eye level with
his son. The three of them have already decided not to tell Jarack that
Jack is his father. Jack felt it might be too confusing to a four year
old, especially so soon after his mother’s death. I didn’t disagree,
maybe when he’s a little older.
Jack tries again. “Would you like to come to our house for a
A nervous shrug of the shoulders is the only response.
“How about coming for just a little while? You can show us
where the house is.” That catches Jarack’s interest, he seems pleased
at the thought of having such an important, grown up task.
“We’ll bring you home whenever you want to come back,” Jack
Jarack studies the tall, gray stranger intently before
agreeing. “Okay,” he finally answers with a slow, deliberate nod of his
head. Jack straightens up and a soft hesitant hand reaches for Jack’s
larger calloused one. Surprise flickers across Jack’s face along with a
range of heartfelt emotions as he wraps the child sized hand in his
own. The sensation no doubt reminding him of another hand from years
Garan takes a few minutes to give us directions while Naytha
shyly tells us she took the liberty of changing the bed coverings and
has left us some baked goods. It seems they both made the house ready
for our visit in the short twenty-four hour notice they had of our
We have no problem finding the house as Jarack runs
enthusiastically ahead of us, thrilled to be able to show us the way.
The cabin is a pleasant surprise, furnished and clean with an abundant
supply of home made food just as Naytha promised. Cheese and a loaf of
fresh bread for tonight... beats MRE’s any day of the week.
There are two bedrooms. One of them has two beds, a larger one
and a smaller one, I assume for Jack and Jarack. I take the other room
and unpack. The sound of infectious laughter draws me to the window and
there’s Jack, bad knees and all, rolling around on the ground,
wrestling with pint sized Jarack, his little boy giggles filling the
evening air. This is going to be a lot more complicated than I had
We’re just about to eat the evening meal Naytha had so kindly
prepared for us when Jarack waves his arms and pointedly shouts for us
to stop. Apparently, we need to thank the ancestors for our food.
Jarack is delighted when Jack tells him to go ahead and say the
blessing. The small face wrinkles in serious concentration as he
“Thank you to the ancestors for our food that we have to eat
and to Naytha because she made it for us. And, ancestors, if you see my
ma, tell her I miss her and she should come home to visit me. Thanks be
to the ancestors.” He smiles radiantly as Jack and I exchange glances.
“All done,” he adds at our hesitation.
After dinner and a quick cleanup the three of us sit out on
the front porch to enjoy the quiet evening. The two large wooden chairs
for our use are remarkably comfortable considering there is no padding
covering the seats. Jarack is on Jack’s lap, the two of them already
bonding. Like I said, Jack is great with kids. I’m surprised when
Jarack leaves Jack to climb up on me. He kneels on my lap, facing me,
the big, brown, Jack-like eyes staring intently into mine.
“Daniel,” he asks curiously, as he moves his face even closer,
his eyes inches from my own. “Why do you have circles on your eyes?” A
short pudgy finger points at the lens and moves slowly, closing in on
the glass until he lightly taps it. I hear Jack snickering in the
My eyes involuntarily cross for a second at the closeness of
his face and the finger smudging up my lens. “These are called glasses,
Jarack. The lenses are made into a special shape and prescription to
correct various forms of vision problems.”
“Oh,” he says, still staring intently. “But, why do you have
circles on your eyes?” No DNA test needed here. There's no doubt this
is Jack’s son. Nope, no question at all.
Jack snorts loudly before coming to my rescue. “What Daniel is
trying to say is... they help him see better.”
Jarack claps his hands in delight. “Can I try them, Daniel? I
want to see better too!”
“Jarack, they won’t work on you. They’re made special for my
eyes.” He seems so dejected at my honest, logical words that I change
my mind. “But you can try them if you want to.”
“Yes, please, Daniel.” He brightens immediately as I set my
too big glasses on his miniature features.
His eyes crunch closed and then open again. “Look Jack, I have
circles!” Jarack whirls around and sits down on my lap facing Jack, his
eyes huge and blinking furiously through the lenses.
We both laugh heartily at the sight of him. “Daniel,” Jarack
frowns in disappointment. “The circles are broken. I can’t see better.
They make everything fuzzy.”
“Okay, that’s enough for now.” I take the specs off of him and
put them back on my own face while Jarack takes a second to rub the
fuzziness out of his eyes with his fists. He scoots back over to Jack
and settles down, his head resting on Jack’s chest, looking up at the
sky to watch the stars come out. Jack’s arms instinctively wrap
protectively around the little guy. I’m content watching both of them;
in awe of the short amount of time it takes to win a child’s trust.
Jarack falls asleep, but when Jack stands up to take him
inside he wakes up, confused and crying for his mother. He wants to go
home. Jack’s not having much success at comforting him so we decide to
walk the two miles back to Garan’s house in order to keep our promise
to the frightened little boy. Jarack sobs quietly into Jack’s shoulder
for the duration of the twenty-minute walk.
It’s barely dark, still early enough that Garan and Naytha are
both up, though I get the feeling we may have interrupted something.
Jack hands Jarack over to Garan and kisses the tear stained cheek,
whispering that we’ll see him in the morning, as the two of us head
back to our temporary home.
Stars are popping out across the night sky as the moonlight
lights our path. Jack is deep in thought, his shirt, sopping wet where
Jarack’s face had been buried.
“He’s a great kid, Jack.”
“He is pretty terrific, isn’t he?” Jack moves closer to me and
reaches out to touch my shoulder, then without warning he takes my hand
in his. My first impulse to the simple gesture is to pull back in
“What?” Jack sounds alarmed by my reaction.
“No, it’s nothing.” I grab for his hand and hold it firmly in
mine. “It’s just...”
He stops walking. “Just what?”
“It’s just that we’ve never held hands outdoors before... I
guess I kind of forgot that we could.”
“We haven’t?” I can practically see the wheels spinning in
“No, we haven’t.” On Earth we have to be so careful, every
touch, every emotion hidden from the world as if our relationship is
some sort of dirty, shameful secret.
“But it’s okay with you?” Jack squeezes my hand for
confirmation and I squeeze back.
“Yeah. It’s more than okay.” I love the warmth of his strong,
rough hand gripping mine as we casually make our way back to the cabin.
“Stay here,” he orders, dropping my hand as we near our
destination. Damn. I immediately feel the loss of his touch. I could
get used to this handholding.
He’s back in minutes with a blanket. “Come on.” He takes my
hand again so I eagerly follow wherever he wants to go. We end up in a
clearing near the lake that looks similar to the clearing we sat in
that night four years ago when we first met Laira and watched the fire
Did Jack and Laira share this place? Suddenly, I need to know
so I ask him. He stops fussing with the blanket and turns to face me.
“No, this was my place. Just me.”
For some stupid reason that makes me ridiculously happy and we
both settle down on the blanket, lying on our backs, staring up at the
starry sky. Edora is a beautiful world.
Jack captures my hand as I raise it to point out a
constellation that reminds me of home. He turns it over, studying it.
Soon his thumb is rubbing gentle circles into my palm. It’s not long
before the easy, loving gesture fills me with desire. Looking into
Jack’s eyes I see a reflection of my own need. We both strip out of our
shorts and t-shirts in record time and lie naked and unashamed in the
moonlight. It starts out with a needy kiss until Jack throws his leg
over mine and our hardened cocks rub urgently against one another. He
has leverage and pins me down, searching for a comfortable rhythm. I
thrust back and the two of us duel and grind our flesh into one
another. The hot, sweet friction burns through us as we both quicken
the pace until we come simultaneously under the stars.
Exhausted, lying side by side, I’m conscious only of Jack’s
hot breath in my ear. Again he reaches for my hand and holds it over
his heart for a few silent minutes. “We’ve never done that outside
before either, have we?” The soft, sarcastic whisper is more of a
statement than a question.
I answer him anyway. “No, I don’t believe we have.”
It only takes a few seconds to throw on our shorts and
t-shirts. I’m gathering up the blanket when I feel Jack’s hand on my
shoulder. “Daniel, wait.”
“You forgot your circles.” Jack chuckles softly, as he
positions my glasses on my face and then plants a kiss on the tip of my
Jarack’s childish voice carries on the breeze, his excitement
obvious. A smile crosses my lips at what this must mean. No, it
couldn’t be, could it?
Yep, it is.
Jarack appears on the path, using both hands to hold up the
fish he has dangling on the line. “Daniel, look!” He tries to run
towards me but loses his balance and almost trips, righting himself
before taking a headfirst tumble into the dirt with his heavy prize.
Jumping out of my porch chair, I attempt to get to the little
guy before he injures himself in his exuberance.
“Daniel, I caught a fish! See!” Jarack’s smile could power the
Stargate. “All by myself,” he emphasizes, holding the fish up as high
as can, his muscles straining with the effort. Jack suddenly appears
behind him and easily relieves him of his burden.
I catch Jack's eye and can't help myself. “YOU caught a fish?”
“How about that?” His smile matches Jarack’s.
Jack is positively thriving in this outdoor environment. He’s
already tanned and looks healthier than he has in a long time. He’s
completely relaxed and seems to have temporarily lost the trademark
sarcastic bite that keeps everyone in line and out of his way in the
halls of the SGC.
He smiles brightly. “Go figure. Turns out I have to travel
halfway across the galaxy to catch a fish. Carter and Teal’c will have
a field day with this one.”
He’s got that right. My mind searches for an appropriate
smart-ass reply. After seven years of friendship and six months of
being lovers, I’m still enamored enough at the sight of Jack that I’m
having trouble keeping up my end of the conversation. Jarack tugging on
my shorts is a welcome distraction.
“Don’t you like my fish, Daniel?”
The sad tone of Jarack’s question has me a little confused.
“Yes, of course I like your fish. You did a good job.”
He looks disheartened, apparently not satisfied with my
answer. “Jack said I did a GREAT job.” He emphasizes the 'great' with a
hint of an attitude. “Jack said I’m the best fish catcher ever.”
Jack gives me a wink and a crooked grin.
“Come on, buddy.” Placing a hand on Jarack’s head, Jack steers
him towards the back yard. “We’re going to clean up this fish and then
we’re going to cook it up for dinner.”
“Will it taste good, Jack?” Jarack’s endless questions
continue as he hurries after Jack, his short legs moving in fast motion
to keep up with Jack’s longer strides, as the two of them disappear
behind the cabin.
Even though they’re out of eyesight I can still hear Jack’s
reply. “I’m betting it will be the greatest, best, most fantastic
dinner we’ve tasted in a very long time.”
The least I can do is go back inside and rummage around to see
if Naytha left any food that might go well with a fish dinner. I didn’t
mean to disappoint Jarack by gawking at Jack when I should have been
making a fuss over his fish. It’s just that Jack looked so damn good.
What did I say that made Jarack’s face fall? ‘Good job’,
that’s what I said. ‘Jack said I did GREAT job.’ This is exactly why
I’m not good with kids. I don’t generally engage in enthusiastic
exaggerations, yet another example of why I would not have made a very
My mind wanders to the first time my parents let me uncover a
piece of pottery at a dig site and use my own brush to clean it up.
That night my father came to my room, sat on the edge of my bed and
told me how lucky he was, lucky that out of all the little boys in the
world he had me... the one who was going to grow up to be a GREAT
archaeologist. He said ‘great’, not ‘good’, I distinctly remember that.
I was six years old when my father said those words to me and I never
doubted them. When you’re six years old everything your father says is
gospel. My parents weren’t as boisterous as Jack, but they offered high
praise and quiet encouragement to boost my confidence. I understand it
now, a self-fulfilling prophecy, living up to expectations... when the
hell did Jack get so smart?
“Daniel!” Jarack is shouting my name from somewhere outside.
I hear Jack’s quieter voice. “Jarack, go inside and ask him. I
could have shouted myself.”
Within seconds Jarack appears in the doorway. “Daniel, Jack
said we could cook my fish OUTSIDE on the fire and eat it OUTSIDE too!”
He’s animated and talking so fast in his excitement he reminds me of
myself when discovering a new language or culture. “But if you don’t
want to, then we’ll eat INSIDE.” He looks up at me, waiting hopefully.
The look reminds me of Jack trying to cajole me into turning off the
Discovery Channel in favor of ESPN.
“I think we should eat your fish outside. If that’s okay with
you?” The little guy shakes his head vigorously and hugs my legs; it
seems he’s already forgiven me for my earlier lack of enthusiasm at his
angler skills. Jack was right... kids never hold a grudge.
The fish is very tasty and I don’t hesitate to inform Jarack
it’s the absolute, best fish I’ve ever tasted. Jarack’s proud smile
stretches from ear to ear. Maybe I can get the hang of this after all.
Jack is going to visit Paynan this evening, a friend from his
previous adventures on Edora. It’ll just be Jarack and me for the
evening. I’ve negotiated treaties on other worlds, I’ve been shot,
zatted, tortured and ribboned, hell, I’ve even ascended, so why I am I
so nervous about entertaining a four year old for a couple of hours?
Jack gives Jarack a kiss on the forehead and then leans in and
gives me one as well. “Have fun, kids. I won’t be too late,” he
promises as he heads out the door.
The fishing expedition has tired Jarack out and he seems
content to lie on the floor and color with the crayons Jack brought for
him while I read a 300 page report on artifacts discovered by SG-4 two
Before I even notice he’s up, Jarack is climbing sleepily into
my lap and nuzzling his head against my chest. My arms immediately
enfold him in a hug. His little body feels so snug and warm against
mine. My heart aches at his dependence and vulnerability until I
remember he has adults that love and care for him. It’s my own painful
childhood causing the ache.
It’s funny seeing the little dynamo so subdued. He usually
goes full tilt every waking second until the evening, then he collapses
on Jack’s lap and sleeps like a rock for twelve hours. I’m thrilled he
finds my lap an acceptable substitute. He lifts his head and looks up
at me. “Daniel, did you see my ma in the stone ring?”
I kiss the furrowed forehead. “No Jarack, I didn’t.” The
bright brown eyes fill with tears and I wish Jack were here to comfort
“Will you look for her for me?” The hope in his eyes is worse
than the sadness.
Holding him tighter is the only solace I can offer. Oh,
Jarack, the stone ring isn’t the answer to your prayers. I’ve searched
for the ones I’ve loved and lost for a long, long time and I’ve never
found any happiness or comfort there. “Jarack, your ma is not in the
stone ring.” My hand gently ruffles the back of his head, my fingers
soothing his scalp through the fine, soft baby hair.
The tears he’s been holding back begin to fall. “Where did the
ancestors take her, Daniel? I miss her.”
“I know you do.” My own eyes sting with unshed tears, as I
attempt to console a loss that is inconsolable. “She loved you, Jarack.
Remember that. Know that in your heart.”
Jarack’s hand clutches my shirt as short, muted sobs rack his
compact little body. His tears help me to summon the courage to share
my own pain. “My mom died when I was a little boy too.” The words are
so hard to say even after all these years, I’m not sure he heard me, my
voice shaky with emotion.
He let’s go of the death grip on my shirt and gazes up at me,
his eyes and nose in desperate need of a tissue.
“Did you miss your ma, Daniel?”
It strikes me no one has ever asked me that simple question.
“Yes, I missed her very much. I still miss her.”
“Did she love you?”
“Yes, she did.”
His last question, “Did you cry?”
“Yes, Jarack, I cried.” I cried... alone, with no one to hold
me and wipe away my tears.
My answers have a calming effect. He’s knows he’s not alone.
“You’ll be okay, Jarack. I promise you that. Think about all the people
who love you and will take care of you.”
His sobbing subsides to hiccups, my hand still tenderly
massaging his scalp. “Naytha and Garan love me. They take care of me,”
he says bravely.
“Yes, they will always take care of you.”
“Jack loves me too,” Jarack confides. “He told me he does,” he
adds, not sure if I believe him.
“Jack does love you very much.” I understand his need for
“And you know, Jarack, I love you too.” My grip tightens
around him and I kiss the top of his head.
The sturdy body relaxes as I take a minute to wipe his eyes
and nose. Jarack rests his head on my shoulder and closes his eyes. “I
love you too, Daniel,” he whispers before falling asleep.
Staring down at the small bundle in my arms I feel a love that
is completely foreign to me, the love of a child. Jarack’s trust fills
me with an overwhelming desire to protect and suddenly I understand
Jack a little better. Maybe I wouldn’t have made such a bad father
When I’m sure Jarack is asleep, I undress him and get him
situated in his bed, rubbing his back through the thin blanket to be
sure he’s drifted into a deep slumber after my interruptions.
It was easy discussing what was best for Jarack before we
actually met him. Our discussions were logical and impersonal. We
talked about bringing him home with us but only if he didn’t seem happy
or well cared for. He is happy and well cared for and I wish we could
bring him home anyway. Secretly, I had worried about what effect a
child would have on my relationship with Jack, but it hasn’t strained
our relationship at all. In fact, it’s made it stronger. Of course,
we’re not home, and life is so much simpler on Edora. I didn’t just
tell Jarack I loved him tonight to comfort him... it’s much more
complicated than that. I really do love him. Cassie is the only other
child I’ve known and loved and she was practically a teenager when we
met. I’m going to miss this little boy terribly. I can only imagine how
difficult this will be for Jack.
Speak of the devil. “You’re back early.”
He plops down in the porch chair beside to me. “Yep.” His hand
is already stroking up and down my forearm. “I wanted to get home.
Brought ya something to drink.”
He’s told me stories about the power of this stuff... rot gut
is what he called it. “Uh, no thanks.”
The jug dangles back and forth in Jack’s hand. He’s teasing me
with it. “Come on, Daniel, it’s called...Tollka of Vollka or whatever
the hell it’s called. It’s guaranteed to grow hair on your chest.”
“Do you want me to grow hair on my chest?”
He looks confused. “Um, no, not really. How’d everything go
“Well, fine. He’s asleep.”
“Fine?” I guess I sounded a little too hesitant and Jack never
trusts my version of ‘fine’ as it is.
“He was upset, but he really is fine now.”
Jack is on instant alert, my assurances not doing much to
appease him. “Upset about what?”
“He was missing his mom and I was wishing you were here to
talk with him.”
Jack settles back down and offers me his hand. I accept it
gratefully. “I’m sure you handled it just fine,” he says confidently,
smiling at me in the darkness.
“Actually, I think I did okay.”
Today was a great day. The three of us went to the caves and a
few other ancient sites sacred to the Edorans. The places we visit,
like the village, are eerily quiet. Because of Laira’s status as
leader, all of the townspeople remain indoors, mourning her loss. Only
the barest essentials are attended to and without much joy or
conversation. We saw a few villagers at the well and a small group of
children playing a game with sticks and a makeshift ball. That was
about it. The small number of people we did see greeted us kindly with
smiles and gratitude for Earth’s help in rebuilding after a third of
Edora’s sparse population was killed in the fire rain four years ago
when Jack was originally stranded.
We stopped by Garan’s for our short, daily visit to assure
Jarack that all is well. Naytha, as always, packed us a basket of bread
and fruit, along with a cooked meal consisting of meat or fish. She’s
insistent on this and we always gratefully accept not wishing to insult
her by refusing. The meal is always fresh and delicious.
The rest of the day was spent exploring. I was happily lost in
the primeval history of Edora while Jack and Jarack roamed the caves
and the hillside, climbing rocks, swimming and giggling at my attempts
to explain the ways of the ancestors in accordance with the ancient
text. Jack has expressed his concern of Jarack’s unwavering belief in
all the tales and legends of Edora and its history. I gently pointed
out Santa Claus, Halloween and the Easter Bunny. When Jarack is older
he’s sure to question the validity of many of Edora’s myths and
legends. Children often find comfort in the traditions and belief
systems of the adults they are closest to and I caution Jack about the
timing of poking holes into those perceived truths.
The three of us are so good together, the feeling of family so
strong I have to blink back tears. I haven’t experienced this feeling
since I was a child of eight. Never as an adult. I have to remind
myself this is temporary; Jarack is not coming home with us. It’s
difficult to envision what our lives on Earth would be like if he were.
Life on Edora is primitive and so much simpler than life on earth, yet
much more accepting. The days and nights spent here will be cherished
It’s dusk by the time we return to the cabin. Jarack is in
Jack’s arms sound asleep, drooling contently on Jack’s shoulder. He
conked out a couple of miles back, and Jack had to pick him up and
carry him the rest of the way. A storm is approaching and we didn’t
want to get caught in it.
Jarack is clean and sweet smelling from our after dinner dip
in the lake and Jack gently lays him on his bed, keeping the small hand
trapped in his own for a few minutes before kissing the sweet face.
When he finishes his goodnights I do the same.
Jack and I decide to sit out on the porch and watch the
approaching storm. He pulls his chair flush up against mine and reaches
for my hand as the thunder begins to rumble in the distance. We never
held hands much at home and aside from Jarack, this simple pleasure is
going to be the hardest thing for me to give up.
It’s quite an impressive show as lightning bolts dance across
the sky followed by loud cracks of thunder. The last loud clap brings a
frightened Jarack running outside and jumping up onto Jack’s lap,
burrowing his face into his father’s shoulder. Jack releases my hand to
soothe his son. “It’s just a storm, little guy. Nothing to be scared
of.” Jack amazes me. He’s always been protective, but I’ve never
witnessed this nurturing side of him before.
“Jack, it’s, it’s the fire rain,” Jarack gasps, trembling in
“No.” Jack has Jarack wrapped in a tight reassuring hug. “It’s
not the fire rain. How do you know about the fire rain?”
“Everybody knows about it. Lots and lots of people had to go
join the ancestors.”
Jack kisses Jarack’s hair and then brushes it back from his
forehead. “This is not the fire rain. The bad part of the fire rain
will not come again for... well, forever for you.”
“Really? How do you know?” Jack hesitates then glances over at
“Daniel told me. Daniel knows everything. This is just a big
old thunder and lightning storm.” A crack of lightning flashes downward
from the sky, followed by another big boom to emphasize Jack’s point.
Jarack is still concerned, not convinced this is a natural
occurrence. He explains how he normally hides under his bed at home and
waits for the ancestors to go away. “Are the ancestors mad at us,
“No. No it’s just... Daniel?”
I shoot him a glare. Typical Jack. “It’s just atmospheric
Jack raises an eyebrow at my lame attempt at an explanation.
“Tell you what, kiddo, I’ll have Carter explain it to you when you’re
old enough to understand. Maybe when you’re fifty or so.”
“When I’m five, Jack?”
“We’ll see.” Jarack covers his ears as another blast of
thunder rolls across the dark sky.
“It’s really nothing to worry about, Jarack.” Jack removes
Jarack’s hands from his ears. “It’s just the a... the ancestors
“Jack!” I can’t believe he said that, especially after
complaining about the primitive belief systems in place on Edora.
Jack stifles a grin and shrugs.
“Should I ask Daniel?” Jarack asks hesitantly.
“No. Forget bowling.” Jack’s hand cups the back of Jarack’s
head. “There’s nothing to be scared of, buddy. I got ya.” Despite the
lightning strikes and the roaring thunder, Jarack curls up on his
father’s lap and falls asleep.
Even with last night’s rain it’s another hot day and Jack has
decided to take Jarack down to the lake for a swim. I begged off,
thinking I could use some down time and get in some reading, plus I
figured Jack might want some alone time with his son. Only an hour has
gone by and I’m already restless and bored without the two of them
horsing around, wrestling and giggling.
It’s almost noon when I decide to make up a picnic lunch and
head down to the water. The guys are sure to be hungry. The lake is not
far and I can hear Jarack squealing with delight before I actually spot
Jack is standing a little ways out from the shoreline, the
water coming up to just below his chest. He’s holding his little boy
under the armpits and spinning him around so Jarack’s legs are bouncing
and splashing off the surface of the water. As much as Jarack is
enjoying himself I can’t take my eyes off of Jack. He’s absolutely
beautiful, bare-chested, his silver hair shining in the afternoon
sunlight. And the expression on his face... I’ve rarely seen Jack so
openly joyful. The hard lines life has etched into his handsome
features have all but disappeared. The man looks ten years younger and
my heart is pounding at the sight of him.
“Faster, Jack, spin me faster,” Jarack urges.
“That’s as fast as I can go, buddy,” Jack laughs, spinning the
boy one last time before stopping. “I’m all tired out.”
“No you’re not,” Jarack argues.
Jack hugs the boy to his chest, and glances up, his smile
brightening as he spots me. I feel myself blush at being caught
staring. “Besides, Jarack,” Jack says, pointing me out. “Daniel’s
To my surprise, Jarack seems just as happy as Jack to see me.
He squirms impatiently in Jack’s arms until the water is shallow enough
for Jack to safely set him down and then runs as fast as he can,
splashing happily up the beach until he’s close enough to throw his
arms around my thighs for a wet hug.
“Daniel, did you see me?”
It’s not easy to tear my eyes away from Jack’s face to smile
down at him. “Yes, I saw you, Jarack.”
“Jack spinned me faster and faster... like an, an
air-o-plane.” His little face is lit up like a Christmas tree.
I glance back up at Jack, “Like an airplane, huh?”
Jarack nods and pulls on my shirt to be sure he has my
undivided attention. “It’s a big, big shiny machine that can fly way up
high in the sky. Like a bird!” His description comes complete with
sweeping hand gestures.
“He likes to get all technical,” Jack says, patting his son’s
shoulder. “Just like me,” he smirks. Moving closer, Jack reaches for me
and places a firm, wet hand on the small of my back. “What are you
doing here?” The touch sends a shiver racing down my spine.
This is not the time or the place. “I brought lunch.” With
that announcement I twist away from Jack’s touch. He has no clue how
turned on I am and he won’t, not with Jarack here. Dammit, I’m blushing
Lunch was well worth my efforts. Jack and I barely have the
blanket spread out under the shade of an old tree before Jarack is
tearing into his sandwich with the same gusto Jack usually reserves for
the last piece of his favorite pie.
“Jack’s teaching me how to swim like the fishes.”
“Jarack, don’t talk with food in your mouth,” Jack gently
Jarack chews frantically in order to finish giving me the
details of his swimming lesson. We eat up the sandwiches and some of
Naytha’s cake and absently listen to Jarack’s endless chatter.
“Are we going to go swimming again?” Jarack asks as soon as
the food is gone.
“Nope. Let’s take a little rest,” Jack coaxes, as he stretches
out on the blanket and pats the spot beside him for Jarack to join him.
“I’m not going to nap,” Jarack announces firmly. “I’m not a
“I know that.” Jack’s on his back, his fingers interlocked
behind his head, staring straight up into the sky. “I thought maybe you
could look at the clouds with me.”
Jarack reluctantly agrees after we both confirm he is not a
baby. I stash the scant leftovers into the backpack and lie down to
join them, mimicking Jack’s position. Jarack points out a few cloud
images before curling up closer, using Jack’s chest as a pillow and
Jack frees up a hand and reaches for mine. When he finds it
our fingers intertwine over Jarack’s head. He squeezes my hand tightly
for a few seconds before he succumbs to a light nap himself. I don’t
sleep. I’m too stunned at my surroundings. Jack and I are sprawled on a
blanket in the sunshine holding hands; Jack’s son safely nestled
between us, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
It’s a tease really, a taste of what we’re missing. I once
told Jack I don’t really have any fantasies, but I lied. This is part
of my fantasy. To put my arm around him, to dance at a public function,
and to lie down on a blanket in the middle of a bright sunny afternoon
and hold hands.
I love Edora.
We’re leaving in two days and Jack decides he’s been putting
it off long enough, he has an obligation to put in a guest appearance
at the mining site and at least show his face to the Edoran leadership.
I’ve been down there twice already and I’m going to go back tomorrow
for one last visit. Edora’s new leader isn’t Laira, but she’s
intelligent and kind; Earth and Edora should have no problem
maintaining a budding friendship.
Jarack is playing in a pile of dirt near the edge of the trees
when Jack calls him over to say goodbye. The boy wastes no time
galloping back up to the cabin.
“But I want to go with you,” he whines as soon as Jack
finishes his goodbye.
The mining site is no place for children; I’ve checked it out
first hand and besides, the Colonel is supposed to be making an
official visit on behalf of earth and the SGC. Jack is grimacing at the
discomfort of wearing his BDU’s for the first time since we arrived. He
gives Jarack a peck on the forehead. “Not this time, buddy.” He winks
at me and starts out on the five-mile hike to our command post.
Jarack is not a happy camper. “Yes, I am going,” he says, more
to himself than either of us and then proceeds to follow Jack in spite
of the orders to the contrary. The stubborn determination reminds me of
a certain Colonel I know and love.
Jack turns around. “Jarack, I said no.”
The four-year-old folds his arms across his chest and pouts.
“Yes, I will come. I know where the mine place is,” he brags defiantly.
Jack is hot and sweating in his uniform and in no mood for his
son’s disobedience. He gets down on one knee and puts his hands firmly
on the boy’s shoulders. “Jarack, you are staying here. Do you want
Daniel to hold you on his lap until I’m gone or can you stay by
“I’m going with you.” He’s not budging an inch.
“Fine.” Jack unceremoniously picks Jarack up and sits him on
my lap. He kisses the boy’s forehead and then mine and heads out to
make nice with the Edoran leaders.
Jarack seems a little stunned by the swiftness of Jack’s
action and departure. Jack is out of sight by the time Jarack recovers
and a few tears roll down the chubby cheeks.
“It’s okay, Jarack.” My thumbs gently brush away the tears.
“Jack had to go to work, that’s all.”
His shoulders shake with a few sniffles before he wipes his
eyes and blows his nose in the tissue I provide him. “Is Jack mad at
me?” he asks, the innocent eyes fraught with worry.
“No, Jack’s not mad at you.” My hug goes a long way in
reassuring him. “He was just in a hurry and you were not being very...
He wrinkles his nose and forehead. “What’s copper-tive?”
“It’s means you weren’t doing what Jack asked you to do.” It’s
hard not to smile at Jarack’s facial expressions and antics.
“I wasn’t minding?” A light goes on and Jarack smiles his
“Right. You weren’t minding.”
He appears to think this over for a few seconds. “Daniel, do I
have to sit on your lap until Jack comes back?”
I chuckle at the thought of me trying to hold the small, yet
powerful ball of energy in check for more than a few minutes. “Nope.
Just until I know you won’t go running off after Jack.”
“I won’t.” He’s already squirming restlessly. “Can I go back
and play in the dirt pile now?” I tousle his hair and gently set him
down. As soon as his feet touch the ground he runs clumsily toward the
mound of mud he was having so much fun with before Jack’s departure. I
watch him for a while before getting back to my reading.
The sun holds only good memories for me. Egypt, Abydos and now
Edora. The warm rays are soothing on my face, not as harsh as the sun
back home. I open my eyes with a jolt, remembering where I am. Jarack!
I was watching him. He was right down there. How long have I been
sleeping? I spring out of the chair, slightly panicked, calling out his
name. All I can think about is the mine, or the lake... what if he
decided to go for a swim?
The little guy comes out from behind the trees, his short,
pudgy legs churning as fast as he can run. “What, Daniel?” My yelling
has scared him; his shaky question echoes my anxiety. There is nothing
scarier for a child than knowing that an adult is truly scared. That’s
one thing I remember from my own childhood. My heart calms to a more
natural rhythm as I squat down to his level and give the slick,
dirt-covered body a relieved hug.
He hugs me back just as fiercely, happily assured everything
is fine. I hold him at arms length to give him the once over. At some
point during my catnap, Jarack has discarded his shirt, shoes and
socks. After one more firm squeeze I release him to get back to his
dirt pile. He trudges back down to play with nothing on but his shorts,
his slight potbelly resting just over the rim of the waistband,
reminding me of a little Buddha.
“Play where I can see you,” I order, as I head back to the
porch. For the first time, I have a hint of what it’s like to be a
parent and to be responsible for a precious life.
For all the years I’ve told Jack I understood, for all the
years I thought I did understand; it wasn’t true. For one fraction of a
second in the brilliant sunshine of a lazy afternoon on Edora I caught
a glimpse of Jack’s true horror.
I never really understood at all.
It’s our last night together and Daniel has been sticking
close to me, subtly touching me whenever he can, providing me with
physical comfort for what’s sure to be a tough day tomorrow. He
disappears into the bedroom and I’m wondering if he’s trying to give
Jarack and me some time alone. I hope not, Jarack is as attached to
Daniel as he is to me.
“Jack, did Daniel go to bed?” Jarack must be reading my mind.
I’m about to tell him I don’t know when Daniel emerges from the bedroom
with two books and a shy, tentative smile.
He sits down at the table and calls us both over. “Hey, guys,
I have something for you two.”
Jarack jumps off of my lap and runs to Daniel, leaping into
his. “What is it, Daniel? What do you have?” he demands excitedly.
Never let it be said that an O’Neill is blasé about gifts.
“It’s a book!” Jarack yells to me in delight.
“It’s a very special book,” Daniel says softly. He takes
Jarack’s hand and helps him open the book and turn the first page.
Jarack’s eyes go wide with astonishment. “It’s me, I’m in the
Daniel smiles happily and kisses Jarack’s hair. “Yep,” he
says. “It’s you in the book.”
“And Jack!” Jarack turns each page slowly in anticipation with
a look of wonder at each new image revealed. “Jack, look! It’s our fish
that we caught!”
I go over to the table to join them and share in Jarack’s
amazement. I’m looking in wonder too, but not at the photos, I’m
looking at Daniel. I love him and I’m having a hard time taking my eyes
off of him to look at the pictures. A long time ago, Daniel single
handedly restored my faith in mankind and every once in while he does
something to remind me of that. He’s unique, there’s no one quite like
him, and I still can’t believe he’s mine.
“Jack, look!” Jarack pulls on my sleeve and demands my
attention as the three of us marvel at each photo in the small album.
“I like your pictures, Daniel!” Jarack practically shouts as we stare
at the last photo. It was taken last night. It’s another shot of the
two of us, Jarack asleep on my lap, my arms wrapped around him as we
were sitting outside during our nightly ritual of watching the stars
“These are YOUR pictures, Jarack. They’re for you to keep.”
“Mine?” Jarack clutches the photo album to his chest for a
moment before turning his attention to the other book on the table. He
starts tearing into the second album when Daniel gently places his hand
over Jarack’s to stop him.
“Those are the same pictures as yours, Jarack. They’re for
“All the same?” Jarack sounds disappointed.
“Yes, I thought you and Jack would like having the same
pictures to look at.
“Okay,” he says softly.
“Is something wrong?” Daniel asks, with a concerned frown.
“There are no pictures of you in my book, Daniel,” he says
Daniel looks surprised. I’m with Jarack on this one. “Yeah,
Daniel, I want some pictures of you in my book too. Get the camera.”
Daniel agrees to my suggestion so I snap some shots of the two of them
and then show Jarack the photo previews in the camera. He’s not happy.
He explains to me that he wants ‘big’ pictures of Daniel, ones that
will fit in his book.
“Yeah, Daniel, how did you make the pictures big?” I ask with
“I printed them off today on one of the computers at the
“Ah, well, as good a use of our power supply as any, I
“Jarack,” I try explaining. “Daniel and I are going to have to
take the pictures home with us and then we’ll send them with one of the
men at the mines to give to you, okay?”
“Okay,” Jarack agrees, looking skeptically at the camera.
“Jack, can I draw pictures and send one for you and one for Daniel?”
“Sure you can. Whenever you want to. As a matter of fact...” I
find a pen and a piece of paper. “I’m going to write something on this
paper that will help you send us anything you want. All you have to do
is have Garan give your pictures or letters to one of the men at the
“Here, you go.” I finish writing out our names and titles on
the slip of paper and as an afterthought, add our home address as well.
I hand it to him and slide another copy into my own pocket for Garan
Jarack wiggles off of Daniel’s lap and sits down on a small
bench under the window. He opens the folded piece of paper and studies
it carefully. Pride wells within in me at this life that I’ve created.
The knowledge something good and right in me produced this tiny,
innocent perfect being is a soothing balm for my emotional scars.
“What are all these numbers for, Jack?” A small, mud creased
finger points at the writing.
I glance down. “That’s the zip code.”
“What’s a z-zip, zip c-c?”
“It’s nothing you have to worry about. You just have Garan or
Naytha help you write that on one of the envelopes I gave you and I’ll
get your message.”
Daniel shoots me a look and starts in on an explanation. I’m
trying not to smirk at the idea of explaining Earth zip codes to a four
year old on Edora. Of course, Daniel being Daniel, calls Jarack over,
settles him back on his lap and forges ahead.
“Well, Jarack, there are so many people on earth that numbers
are assigned to the end of each person’s address, so the postman knows
who the letter belongs to.”
“Ad-ad-address?” Jarack stutters, looking a bit confused.
Daniel continues with his usual patience. “Your address is
where you live. It helps locate the name of your town, and your street,
and even your house.”
“The town and then the numbers?” Jarack is staring at the
paper in wonder.
“Exactly!” Daniel shoots me a triumphant glare and tousles
Jarack’s hair enthusiastically.
I decide to wipe the smug look off of Daniel’s face and give
him another lesson about kids in the process. “Jarack, do you have any
more questions about this?” There is no way the kid understood that
concept. I should know, he’s my kid.
“One more question,” the little guy says slowly, holding up an
index finger in a gesture oddly reminiscent of Daniel.
“Sure, go ahead,” my linguist encourages with a smile, waiting
“Daniel,” Jarack asks thoughtfully. “Who gets to wear the zip
That’s my boy. It takes all of my effort not to laugh at the
two of them. Daniel opens his mouth, then wisely closes it and pulls
Jarack in for a hug. “Don’t worry, Jarack,” he whispers soothingly.
“Your letters will always find us.”
The next morning Garan and Naytha and Jarack accompany us to
the Stargate for our final goodbyes. Watching Jarack bouncing along
ahead of us I have no doubt leaving him here on Edora with Laira’s
family is the right thing to do. He’s happy here. Besides, there is no
pollution, no bullies, no daycare, no babysitters, not to mention, no
kidnappings, no child molesters and... no deadly weapons carelessly
lying around to play with. That’s what I tell myself, my head is buying
it, my heart isn't so sure. Damn, seven days ago I wasn’t sure of his
existence and now I’m going to miss the kid more than I would have
I scoop him up in my arms for a last goodbye. The feel of his
small arms around my neck and the hard kiss on my cheek remind me how
lucky I am. I never thought I’d feel these sensations again. Tears
spring to my eyes as I realize for the first time I’m grateful for my
son. The tears are of shame at my initial attitude. Jarack isn’t a
mistake. He’s alive and real and wonderful.
He places a small hand on each of my cheeks and gazes into my
eyes. “Jack, are you going to come back and play with me again?”
“Yes, I will,” I manage to choke in reply as I give him
another squeeze and place a final kiss on his forehead.
“Daniel too?” he asks, his hands still pressing on my cheeks,
holding my head in place.
“We’ll both come back and visit you, Jarack. I promise.” I’m
seconds away from letting the tears escape when Daniel comes to my
He stands beside me with open arms. “Do I get a hug, Jarack?”
My son leaps into Daniel’s waiting arms and soundly hugs his
neck. Daniel looks a little choked up himself at Jarack’s unrestrained
enthusiasm. The boy pulls back, gazes into Daniel’s eyes and wags a
finger at him.
“Don’t forget to take the pictures out of the little box and
send them to me, okay, Daniel?” he says sternly. Demanding little
tyke... wonder where he gets that from?
“I won’t forget,” Daniel promises. And I know he won’t.
Knowing Daniel, he’ll probably print them out tonight as soon as we get
Naytha gives both Daniel and I a farewell hug before Garan
shakes my hand and whispers a promise to take care of Jarack and keep
him safe. I have no doubt he will. He also assures me Daniel and I will
always be welcome in their home.
Daniel dials up our home and sends the GDO code while Jarack
stands safely between his two young guardians, the three of them
holding hands. The little boy pulls a hand free from Naytha just as the
wormhole swooshes to wave a hearty goodbye as we step through.
The briefing is long and poor Daniel has to make his three
short visits to the mining site sound necessary and productive. I
sympathize and am happy to have the luxury of letting my mind wander to
the small wonder that is my son. The time spent with Jarack was a
precious gift made even more special by Daniel’s presence beside me.
When the meeting finally ends, Daniel and I meet up with
Teal’c and Carter in the commissary for some dinner and to do a little
catching up and some explaining. I tell them about Jarack, and though
they are obviously as surprised as Daniel was, they both manage to
offer up congratulations. The days and nights of Edora don’t line up
with Earth’s and by the time we finish eating, Daniel and I are
exhausted, suffering from a little gate lag.
We both sign out at 1900 hours and head for home. It’s a quiet
ride. Daniel’s eyes are closed and I have no way of knowing if he’s
actually sleeping or just thinking about the past week. I can’t blame
him for fantasizing. The freedom we experienced on Edora is going to be
difficult to forget. It’s ironic that after all of our hard fought
battles, and all of the sacrifices we’ve made to ensure Earth’s
freedom, Daniel and I have to visit another planet, light years away
from our home, to truly enjoy the liberties we fight for.
As soon as we get inside the door Daniel runs upstairs and I
hear the shower running. Since we’ve been gone for seven days I do a
thorough check of the house, first opening the windows to air the place
out a bit, and then checking the fridge to make sure nothing is reeking
or giving birth to a new life form . When I hear the water shut off I
give Daniel a few more minutes and then head upstairs to take care of
my own needs.
When I enter the bedroom, all scrubbed and fresh, I’m
surprised Daniel’s not in bed. I’m pretty sure neither of us are up for
any fooling around tonight and as much as I loved listening to Jarack
dozing safely in the small bed beside me, I’ve missed snuggling and
sleeping with Daniel’s warmth pressed up against me. My first thought
is to go downstairs and hunt for him, but before I head down it hits me
where my guy will be. I peek into the spare room and sure enough, there
he is at the computer, his head nodding and drooping as he fights to
stay awake. The printer is humming away, printing the pictures of
Daniel and Jarack. He’s so tired he doesn’t hear me come in.
His body jerks slightly forward in surprise at my touch, and
then immediately relaxes at the feel of my arms wrapped tightly around
his shoulders. I plant a gentle kiss on the nape of his neck and he
lowers his head to encourage me.
“Almost done.” He attempts to pull away from my grasp in order
to finish up the photos. I’m not letting go.
“What?” He laughs softly at the firmness of my hold.
“Thank you, Danny.”
“For?” he asks cautiously.
“For Edora, for standing by me,” I whisper from behind. “I
thought that part of me died with Charlie.” My voice hitches at the
sound of my son’s name. “Come to bed with me.” I’m nuzzling at his
“I will.” He tries to squirm out of my grasp, but I hold him
“As soon as you let go of me.”
“If I let go of you, you’ll go back to what you were doing.”
Rather than arguing he laughs softly, knowing it’s the truth.
“Look, Jack.” Daniel points to the photos. Releasing him, I
pull up a chair to sit beside him and watch Jarack’s smiling face
emerge from the printer.
“He sure is something, isn’t he?”
Daniel turns towards me and kisses my bowed head. “He sure is.
Maybe when he’s a little older or after you retire, he could come and
stay with us for a while. Or we could go to Edora again if you think
he'd be scared here. What do you think?”
How does he do that? Read my mind like that. “I think that I
love you, Daniel Jackson.”
He’s smiles at me and turns off the computer and offers his
hand. I take it willingly as he leads me silently down the hall to our
We snuggle deep into the bedding and though we haven’t slept
in the same bed for over a week our bodies quickly settle into our
usual sleep positions, Daniel’s back secure against my chest. We’re
both exhausted and my archaeologist is asleep in seconds. My mind takes
a few more minutes to power down. I love this man beside me, this man
who has freed my soul. Daniel is closer than he’s ever been with no
walls or secrets lying in wait to snare us. It’s a rare thing to be
thoroughly known by another human being and loved in spite of your
When I close my eyes I see Jarack.
Fair day, Laira, and thank you.
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