“Jack, have you seen my sweater?” Daniel yelled from the
“What sweater is that?” Jack appeared at the bottom of the
stairs. He had a bad feeling he knew precisely which sweater.
“The cream colored one. You know, the one with the kind of
V-neck. I’ve had it forever.”
Jack’s silence was deafening.
“Jack?” Daniel appeared in the kitchen where Jack was busy
whipping up some bacon and eggs in a hasty effort to create a
“Bacon and eggs, Daniel. I know you have to go into work this
morning so I thought I’d get you started with a nice breakfast and some
Daniel folded his arms, lowered his head ever so slightly,
pursed his lips, raised his eyebrows, and fixed his gaze on his target.
“The sweater, Jack.”
Good Lord, Danny. Jack assumed that particular pose was meant
to prove Daniel’s determination. Instead, it always caused Jack’s blood
to rush to his shorts and his heart to beat out of rhythm.
“What?” he asked stupidly, wondering if there was any
particular look or gesture he had that turned Daniel on as much as
Daniel did him. He sincerely doubted it.
“Don’t play dumb, Jack. The sweater, I want my sweater.”
Oh yeah, the sweater. Might as well get this over with. “If
you mean that ratty, white sweater that looks a hundred years old, if
that’s the one you’re referring to... I dropped it off at a Salvation
Army bin with the rest of the old clothes.”
“You didn’t!” Daniel looked incredulous.
“I did. You told me to take anything that looked old. It
"That sweater meant a lot to me.”
“It was lying on the floor of the closet.” He’s got to be
“I wore it during some really tough times.” Daniel unfolded
his arms and chewed furiously on his bottom lip.
“It had coffee stains on it,” Jack growled, defense being the
best offense. Jack took note of the way Daniel’s gaze wandered to avoid
direct eye contact. Oh for cryin’ out loud, he’s dead serious.
“No problem. Don’t worry about it, you didn’t know. I better
get going before I’m late for work.” Daniel gave a sad, quirky smile.
Great, just great. Why couldn’t Daniel be attached to normal things? He
was always in love with a clay pot, or a coffee mug, or a damn sweater.
Jack had planned on mowing the lawn and clearing out the
gutters while Daniel was at work, a little outdoor spring cleaning.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE?”
Jack looked up through the open hatch of the huge Salvation
Army bin and was just about to snap off a sarcastic 'mind your own damn
business' reply when he realized that this time it was a police officer
making the inquiry. Oh, shit.
“You’re going to have to step out of there, sir. And keep your
hands where we can see them.” Two police officers to be exact.
Jack pulled himself up to the opening and then hoisted a leg
over the side before jumping down to the ground. He bit back an 'ouch '
as both knees yelled out in protest.
“We’re going to need to see some ID, sir.”
“Oh for God’s sake,” Jack mumbled reaching for his wallet. “Do
I look like a bum? I’m wearing Dockers for cryin’ out loud.”
Neither of the police officers looked old enough to be his
paperboy. Jack handed over his wallet to one of the young men and
froze. The bin was located in a supermarket parking lot. He hadn’t
realized a crowd had gathered to see the crazy man rummaging through
the used clothing bin. Women pulled their children closer as they
rushed past him with their carts, casting suspicious glances. Others
stood around to gawk. Jack wasn’t easily embarrassed, but this was
downright humiliating. Never one to admit defeat, or sulk in silence,
the Colonel decided to take the bull by the horns.
All eyes were on him as he held his head high and handed his
Air Force ID over to the kid patrolman.
“Colonel O’Neill?” The young cop asked, sounding confused.
“That’s right. I work out of the military base up at Cheyenne
Mountain. We had a report that an article of clothing that contained
some... um... important evidence may have been dumped here.” Jack
smiled when he heard the collective gasp from the crowd. “It’s
imperative that we locate it ASAP.” He was on a roll.
“What can we do to help?” the officers asked in unison. The
boys in blue were ready, willing and able. Jack smiled at his tax
dollars at work.
“That won’t be necessary, guys; I was pretty much finished
with the... investigation when you boys came along.” Jack spoke loudly
enough to impress the housewives.
“We can bring in a K-9 unit, sir.” Officer Paperboy offered
“Not at this time,” Jack replied, wondering if that would work
if he had a piece of clothing with Daniel’s scent. He decided to store
the idea as a last resort. “I did a thorough search of the clothing in
question before I was interrupted.” Jack was about to make his exit
when he had an idea. “It would be helpful if you could find out when
the last pick up was and where the contents of this bin ended up.”
“No problem, Colonel.” After a few minutes on the radio one of
the officers handed Jack an address. “Do you need an escort, Colonel?”
“No. I can take it from here. I don’t think we want to draw
any more attention to this operation than we already have. I’d
appreciate it if we could keep this quiet. Hush, hush.” He gave them a
wink. “Thank you for your help, gentlemen.”
“Glad we could be of service, sir.”
A tentative, female voice called out from the crowd. “There
aren’t any dangerous chemicals or viruses on the piece of clothing your
searching for is there, Colonel?”
“No, nothing like that. No need for concern, ma’am. The Air
Force has this situation under control.” Jack spouted out the
information with his usual charm. “Gotta go, folks. Um... enjoy the
day.” He gave his best boyish smirk and a quick wave and hightailed
back to his truck, hoping this wouldn’t get back to the base. Hammond
would have a cow.
Jack spent the next few hours at the Salvation Army warehouse
rummaging through large, black, plastic garbage bags until he found
Danny’s prize possession. When the hell had he turned into such a
“That’s what you’ve been looking for?” the toothless woman at
the front counter asked in surprise when Jack strolled by trying to
“Five dollars,” she stated without looking up from her
“FIVE DOLLARS? It’s MY sweater.”
“Not after it’s in the bin. Five dollars.”
Jack handed over the money in a huff and rushed home,
determined to arrive before Daniel.
He missed by ten minutes.
“Hey, Daniel!” Damn. He has to be sitting right there at the
table waiting. Jack had been hoping to sneak the sweater in unnoticed.
The gutters weren’t cleaned, the grass wasn’t mowed and the spectacular
dinner he had promised was nowhere in sight. Still, Jack was confident
in his ability to bluff his way through.
“How was your day?” Jack asked pleasantly.
“Oh, fine. The translation didn’t turn out to be anything we
could use, but everything went smoothly.”
“Ah,” Jack said intelligently. “I didn’t expect you home so
“I’m not early. I said I’d be back by 4:00.”
“Right.” Perfect, Jack thought. He’s on time one day a year
and this has to be the day.
“So, where were you, Jack?”
“Oh, me, a... here and there. Nowhere really.”
“What’d you do all day?”
“This and that, nothing much.”
“Uh huh,” Daniel said suspiciously. “Didn’t you say you were
making me dinner?”
“Dinner? Yes, dinner. I was making you dinner and then I
thought you might rather just go out for dinner. Do you wanna go out
for dinner, Daniel?”
“Out is fine. Are you okay, Jack?”
“Me? Yeah, why?”
“You’re acting a little... weird.”
Jack subtly worked his way around Daniel trying to slip the
sweater by unnoticed. Another few feet and he’d be in safety of the
living room. “Weird? No. Weird how?”
“Jack, what’s in the bag?”
“What, this bag?”
Oh, forget it. “Good news, I found your sweater.” Jack feigned
enthusiasm and tossed the bag over to him.
The genuine smile made it all worthwhile. “Salvation Army?”
Daniel asked reading the bag. “Jack, did you have to go down there and
“NO. I didn’t HAVE to... but I did.”
“Took a while to find, huh?” Daniel looked like he was going
to bust a gut.
“Not that long,” Jack said defensively.
“Long enough that you didn’t get any yard work done and you
didn’t start dinner.”
Damn him. The man was too smart for his own good.
“Smells a little…musty.” Daniel took the old sweater out of
the bag and hugged it to his body.
“MUSTY? MUSTY? Why of all the ungrateful comments. Do you have
any idea what I had to go through to rescue that ratty thing for you?”
Daniel let loose. His shoulders shook with uncontrolled
laughter. “No, Jack, I don't, but I want you to tell me all about it,”
he said after regaining his composure. “Every last detail.”
Jack smiled happily. No problem, Danny. It was so rare to hear
a genuine belly laugh from Daniel. Jack would spare no details. He
could listen to that laugh all day and all night.
The sweater was rapidly becoming Jack’s favorite too.
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