Fraiser had phoned me about forty five minutes ago, interrupting a totally boring, placid day at home. Requesting, no ... demanding that I arrive ASAP to forcibly remove Daniel from the SGC. The doc, who is diminutive in size only, informed me that either I take Daniel out of her sight or she would have no choice but to sedate him. I also didn't miss the sarcasm in her voice when the possibility of physical restraints was mentioned.
Daniel had been offworld with SG11, doing what he does best and what he loves ... digging in the dirt and playing archaeologist. SG1 had been on extended downtime, and as much as I had desired being with Daniel, there are times when Daniel needs time with Daniel, returning to his first love and tending to his roots. So it had been with a nod and a blink that he had walked through the event horizon, chomping at the bit to examine the ruins of a library that SG8 had uncovered.
Three days had stretched to four ... four to five ... even the General couldn't find it in him to recall SG1's enthusiastic, errant archaeologist back to the nest. By the end of the week our patience had all stretched to the limit and General Hammond had finally ordered they return within seventy-two hours.
The team had returned within twenty-four hours after that last conversation, Fraiser had informed me, due to an incident where one of the members of SG11 had injured their wrist and the team leader finally decided it was time to pack it up.
In my peripheral vision I watch Daniel's hands expressing his thoughts at breakneck speed. We're sitting at a traffic light and I have to restrain a smirk at the expense of the man sitting in the passenger seat of my Avalanche. Fraiser was one hundred percent correct, Daniel isn't tired, he's exhausted and on his way towards collapse.
Daniel doesn't come with instructions, but I've been presented with my archaeologist in this very same condition a number of times before and I've learned, by process of elimination, the best way for him to achieve maximum rest.
Keeping one hand on the wheel, I lean over and squeeze his right knee with my hand. Once, twice, I apply firmer pressure for the third squeeze.
"Ow, Jack, what was that for?" He slides his hand under mine to rub the abused area.
Patting his hand as I finally gain his attention, I innocently state, "I'm hungry. Gonna pull through MacDonald's. You want something?" Now the drive thru is an imperative part of my plan. One of the first times I was handed Daniel in this state, we stopped off, got out of the car and proceeded to sit in a diner. After the soup, just before the entrée, Daniel had fallen fast asleep in the booth and I had been left with the unpleasant task of escorting an uncooperative, grumpy Daniel, as well as our unfinished meals, home.
In Daniel's skewed way of thinking -- sleeping, napping, it's all the same thing. A fifteen minute snooze can revitalize him mentally for another twenty-four hours. Physically it's another story all together. Hence the drive thru, not even bothering turning the car off ... if the motor is running and Daniel's mind and mouth still keep working, he won't have the opportunity to close his eyes for even a minute.
I place our order with the tinny voice on the speaker, going a little overboard in the carbohydrate department for Daniel. Truthfully, I'm shooting for the hibernation theory here. Keep him stuffed, wrapped in a blanket, provide him with that expensive, hypo-allergenic pillow of his, and he's all set for the winter.
I'm driving with one hand on the wheel, eating my burger with the other, "hmmming" in all the appropriate places so Daniel is under the impression that I'm listening. In actuality, I'm listening enough to know that Daniel has repeated this portion of the story twice, but I'm not gonna correct him. A talking Daniel is a conscious Daniel. And a conscious Daniel is what I'm striving for on this ride home.
At the next light, I push Daniel's bent elbow, guiding his half-wrapped burger to his mouth. Throwing him a napkin from the open bag, I cringe as he talks around his full mouth and I add vacuuming the truck on my list of priorities for the day. Twenty minutes later he will never even remember eating the burger and the fries, or drinking the chocolate shake, but that's okay. Daniel doesn't need to enjoy this meal its purpose is simply to fill his belly enough that pangs of hunger won't disturb him once he does fall asleep in our bed. He eats by rote, helped along by my prodding until both the burger and the fries are but a vague memory and a lingering odor in the cab of the truck.
Daniel yawns and before he can even use his hand to cover his mouth, I shove the large shake into his hands.
"Oh thanks, Jack." Daniel sips the thick liquid, moaning in appreciation at the chocolate flavored drink. I allow for a few moments of vocal silence because the sound of the shake being slurped hungrily up the too thin straw indicates Daniel is still alive and kicking.
I shiver as the cup containing the cold shake is seductively dragged along my biceps. "Daniel," my voice drips with menace as I use my left hand to push the cup away from my sensitive skin.
"Jack," Daniel echoes, his barely suppressed laughter bubbling just below the surface.
I've won the battle but not the war as I maneuver into my driveway. My hand snakes out, intercepting the shake before it makes another pass along my arm. Twin hands are wrapped around the cup and Daniel blinks lazily in my direction, but his bid for seduction is lost in the circles of fatigue that shadow his eyes, his yawn not aiding his plans along either.
I offer a gentle tug to the cup. "How much sleep did you get, Daniel?"
"Enough for me, but obviously not enough for you and Janet." Annoyed over my question, Daniel flings himself back in the passenger seat, jerking the chocolate shake from my grasp. The scientific theory that for every action there is an opposite but equal reaction is proven as Daniel is covered with a waterfall of chocolate, which bursts from the cup.
An Abydonian word, which I presume to be a curse, slips from Daniel, expressing confusion at his stupidity.
I slide the now empty plastic cup from his hands and deposit it in the bag that sits on the console. Immediately, I spring into action as an angry Daniel is a Daniel whose batteries will be adrenaline-fueled for hours as he battles his way through this emotion. I jump from the driver's seat, slamming the door in my wake as I run around the truck to grab the passenger door of the Avalanche at the precise moment that Daniel begins to pour himself from the seat. Long legs and body are turned sideways and Daniel's hand rests on the inside door handle. The fingers of my right hand are wrapped around the outside door handle and with my left index finger I swipe a glob of dripping shake from the front of Daniel's shirt. Without an iota of hesitation, I stick the chocolate covered finger in my mouth and suck the chocolate from my finger with an exaggerated slurping noise.
"Ewww, that was truly disgusting, Jack," Daniel chortles. Chuckling follows on the heels of chortling and Daniel cups his hands over his mouth in a futile gesture to halt the ensuing giggles. Flushing a deep crimson over his loss of control, Daniel swivels and buries his embarrassment in the headrest of the seat. The giggles signify the disappearance of any residual anger and further reflect how exhausted Daniel really is. The only times Daniel lowers his guard enough to allow a giggle to escape is when Fraiser has pumped him full of drugs, Carter has encouraged him to surpass his alcohol limit or, as in this case, his desperate requirement for sleep.
"Are you okay?" I question after counting to ten.
Face still hugging the leather headrest, Daniel takes a deep, shaky breath, clears his throat and then nods his head in the affirmative.
Daniel is canting drunkenly against the living room wall, waiting patiently for me to lock the front door.
With a "tsk" and a shake of my head, I slide him into an upright position, securing his stance by tightly gripping his shoulders. For all intents and purposes, I'm effectively pinning my sleep-deprived lover against the wall and I'm quite sure there won't be any argument as I again inform him that maybe his body is in dire need of rest.
Daniel's heavy lidded eyes glance down at his chocolate-drenched ensemble. "Shower first."
I bend my elbows, leaning forward to lick a wayward spot of chocolate from his chin and I continue upward until our lips meet. "Jack," he mumbles into my open mouth as my tongue seeks out his.
"Hmmm." Damn it, the self control I exhibited in the truck is leaving my body by leaps and bounds.
Daniel's response is wrapped around a yawn that echoes in the cavern of my mouth.
I release him and step back, offering up a crooked smile, before I innocently inquire, "Was there something you wanted to tell me, Daniel?"
Blood shot blue eyes that are hiding behind chocolate speckled lenses beg forgiveness. I remove his glasses and gently fold the metal ear-pieces prior to tucking them into my breast pocket. With a half smile and a pat to my lump filled pocket, Daniel secures his glasses' placement close to my heart. "I missed you," I whisper before cupping my hand around his right elbow to steer him away from the wall and into my supportive hold.
I deposit fresh towels and sweats on the closed toilet seat and exit the bathroom, softly shutting the door behind me. I'm assaulted by the blast of cool bedroom air, so refreshing after the stifling warmth and humidity of the steam filled bathroom. One hand lingering on the doorknob, I relish the temperature change. I smile as Daniel's voice, singing an old rock tune gleaned from my extensive music collection, filters through the closed door and running water. Awkwardly I adjust my pants as I make a valiant effort to beat down visions of Daniel's long, lean naked body, distorted by the beveled glass doors of the shower, as he bathes under the stream of warm water.
I turn down the covers on the bed, fluff the pillows and I curse under my breath as I bend on old knees to retrieve the pile of Daniel's shake-covered clothes he had deposited on the bedroom floor.
I don't know what possessed me. I was doing so well up until that moment, call it senility, call it stupidity, or just call me a dumb ass, I shouldn't have started a pot of coffee. I should've waited to clean his glasses and made sure I didn't leave them next to the brewing coffee. I should've waited until Daniel was out of the shower, I should've waited to pick up the clothes and start a wash, and I sure as hell should've waited to clean up the spilled shake from the Avalanche. I should've made sure that Daniel was sleeping before my anal tendencies exploded.
Twenty-twenty hindsight now finds me hovering over the living room couch observing an uncomfortably situated, sleeping Daniel. No pillow, no blanket, just two streaming mugs of untouched coffee resting on the coffee table. An archaeologist who's snoring, sitting up with his head angled awkwardly in his cupped hand and his elbow embedded deep in the arm of the couch, barely performing its job of supporting his heavy head. Daniel's glasses are askew and his bare feet are resting on the coffee table, threateningly close to the hot coffee. Is he wearing the sweats I lovingly and painstaking laid out for him? Of course not, but in their stead he has donned a pair of too baggy, thread worn sweats and his, 'it's downtime I don't want to get outta bed', ripped, faded-I'm not sure what it even says any more-gray tee shirt.
There's no moving him now, but the couch is better than the passenger seat of the truck ... so I guess it's all relative. Cautiously, I remove the coffee mugs and deposit them on the divider before I head towards the bedroom to retrieve Daniel's pillow. Hey, if Mohamed won't come to the mountain, the mountain will come to Daniel.
Without my calling his name, without a shake to his shoulder, without any intervention on my part with the exception of handing him his pillow, Daniel is now lying prone on the couch.
The sight really had been comical, in a Pavlov's dog kinda way because all I had to do was maneuver the pillow within Daniel's realm of sense of smell and touch. Daniel sniffed, then inhaled deeply the pillowcase's odor, and grabbed it from my hands with a growl.
His eyes are closed as he positions the pillow flat on the couch while stretching himself out, and he tucks his bare feet under the end cushion, a habit of his I absolutely detest.
Daniel manhandles his glasses from his face and I cringe as he carelessly grabs them in all the wrong places. He extends an arm to unceremoniously drop them onto the hard wood floor but I intercept the glasses before they meet their doom and place them on the coffee table. I hold my breath as Daniel opens bleary eyes.
With one hand on the back of the couch for support, I bend down to place a light kiss on his cheek.
"Mmmmm," is as coherent an answer as I am going to get so I stand to watch him settle down for the duration. His right arm is hugging the pillow so tightly it's now positioned sideways. Daniel's left arm slithers around until it is tucked tightly under his body. And those damned feet dig deeper under the pillow cushion which now stands at a 45 degree angle in relation to the other cushions.
I putter around the house, finish up chores, pay bills, and sort through out-of-date papers, all the things that have a tendency to pile up. Every time I pass the couch, a smile of sheer stupidity touches my lips and I shake my head in amazement and embarrassment at the sap I've become.
I bring my simple dinner to the table in the living room with the intention of watching hockey in Daniel's presence.
"Damn it," I mutter as I glance at Daniel, placing my sandwich and beer on the coffee table.
Daniel has pivoted so his face is now squashed into the back of the couch and his knees are brought into a fetal position, hugging his chest. The couch is no way wide enough for this position. His ass is hanging over the edge and Daniel is going to be floor bound in moments because his center of gravity is completely unbalanced. His feet, in their search to locate warmth, have thrown the end cushion to the floor.
I grab the oversized, folded afghan from the back of the couch and tuck it around Daniel's body. I watch in amusement as he unfolds from this cramped position with a deep sigh. Bending, I pick up the discarded couch cushion, punch it back into shape, lift up Daniel's feet, and replace the cushion beneath them. As an afterthought, I grab the shawl from the back of the recliner and lay it atop the end of the afghan, adding additional warmth for Daniel's feet.
Satisfied, I stretch out on the recliner. My sandwich and beer balanced on the arms of the chair, and I switch on the TV. An evening with Daniel and hockey ... what could be better than that?
I bribe my bladder with every thing I have, promising my over-full internal organ any form of payment in exchange for allowing me to continue sleeping; but it remains relentless in its attempts to prod me awake, the uncomfortable pressure not permitting me to focus on anything else but its incessant request to be emptied.
I sit up with a groan, confused at the slew of blankets which puddle around my feet. Jack's house is dark but is as familiar to me as my apartment and I make my way to the bathroom, using chairs and walls to keep my sleep addled body upright.
The TV is on and some inane announcer is broadcasting the need to purchase some totally ridiculous object. Remnants of Jack's dinner and beer sit on the table right next to my glasses. My stomach rumbles at the sight of the empty dish and my glance slides from the couch to the kitchen. My stomach casts its vote by growling loudly, unequivocally informing me of my need to eat and drink before I can return to a state of blissful repose.
I scoop up the blankets from the floor and move to the recliner to cover Jack's sleeping body. There isn't even a hitch in his snoring as I tuck the afghan around him and kiss him gently on his forehead.
I slap together a peanut butter sandwich and pour myself a glass of milk by the light of the opened fridge door. I stuff the last bite of sandwich into my mouth, wash it down with the remainder of the milk and use my thumb and forefinger to wipe away any residual evidence of this early morning snack.
As I rinse out the glass and check out the clock on the microwave, I guiltily acknowledge I've slept comfortably on the couch for almost fourteen hours straight, and Jack, with his bad knees and not so great back, slept on the recliner.
I pad over to Jack and gently but persistently shake him until he opens his eyes.
"Come to bed." I lift the afghan in an invitation to follow me. "Come on," I verbally prod as I tug on his hand.
"What time is it?" Jack inquires as he moves the recliner to an upright position.
"Late ... umm early." I'm surprised when an unexpected yawn interrupts my sentence.
Jack stands and stretches slightly to work out the stiffness in his body. "You're still tired, Daniel," he grabs my elbow. "Come on, let's get you into bed instead of that lumpy couch."
I open my mouth to object then think better of it. I mean, if Jack thinks he's putting me to bed instead of the other way around, who am I to object and so I follow him obediently into the bedroom.
Jack veers off to the bathroom and I head over to the bed and slide under the covers. Out of pure laziness I steal one of Jack's pillows rather than going back to the couch to retrieve mine.
Jack joins me in bed and we lie there on our backs, mirror images of one another, staring at the ceiling with our arms tucking the blankets close to our bodies.
"Are you still tired, Daniel?" he asks unable to hide the concern in his voice.
I bite back words of annoyance and then am unable to hold back a smile as I sense Jack's hand creeping over the inches separating us. He traps my hand under his and we lie like that for a while in silence, the room growing lighter as the rising sun peeks through the shades.
Jack's breathing begins to even out and unbelievably, even after fourteen hours, I can feel my body relax and I begin to drift.
"Daniel?" he mumbles.
"Do you realize that we, you and me, are like an old married couple?"
I whip my head to face him, cracking open my eyelids. "Would you care to expand on that statement, Jack? Should I take that as an insult?"
"Daniel, I haven't seen you in what ... almost a week, and during all that time I was thinking of a hundred and one ways to ravish your body ... and for you to ravish mine."
I'm thankful that the room is still dark enough to cover the blush I feel heat up my face. "You were ... a hundred and one ways?" I wouldn't even dare to mention how I occupied my evenings as the sole occupant of my tent. Suffice it to say, archaeologists have very vivid imaginations.
"A hundred and one," Jack reiterates. "But now ... now all I can think of is how comfortable this bed is and how glad I am you're home, even if you spent the first few hours sleeping on the couch."
I yawn loudly in response.
The bed vibrates with Jack's laughter. "I take it you're in agreement with me?"
"Which statement?" I teasingly reply. "The tired one, the old married couple one or the hundred and one ways that you're gonna make love to me."
Jack pulls and tugs at my pliant body until we are facing each other and he places an open palm on my five o'clock-shadowed cheek. I barely have time to bury my unexpected yawn in Jack's neck before I feel his echoing yawn against my scalp. I truly am unable to stop the overflowing laughter.
My giddiness dies in my throat as Jack suddenly tightens his grip on me. "Sometimes, this is enough for me, Daniel. To hear you laugh ... to have you close. If that makes me part of an old married couple, then I'm sorry."
There will be no response to this because Jack's little snort of embarrassed laughter is a signal that this conversation has ended. Jack may be surprised at the feelings he just verbally blurted out and while I bask in similar sentiments, I understand his need to put this to rest. I'm okay with that.
Certain conversations, like sex, have a time and a place in our life, and now isn't the time or the place for either. Jack is right about this. This comfortable bed, our caring for one another, our infamous arguments, the looks and the touches; it all reverts back to our friendship. The cracked, chipped and sometimes unbalanced foundation that was the start of it all. Sex is simply an extension of our feelings, not the basis of our relationship. If our attraction and desire for each other had been founded solely on physical want and need, we would have crashed and burned months ago, and if that revelation makes us an old married couple in Jack's eyes, then I agree wholeheartedly with him.
"Jack?" I can feel the breath hitch in his chest, fearful that I'm going to expound on his thoughts.
"Yes, Daniel?" There is hesitancy in the way Jack says my name.
"Those hundred and one ways to ravish my body ... tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow," he promises with a kiss in my hair.
My left leg finds purchase around Jack's and my hand settles on the curve of his ass. Jack suddenly flings the covers back and jumps from the bed, disappearing from the room with an over the shoulder shouting, "I'll be right back."
My hand and my leg drop to the bed without Jack's body to hold them up, and my words of concern do not even make it past my lips before something soft and very well-known slams into me.
"My pillow," I sigh reverently as I bury my face in its familiarity.
"Right. Your pillow. Now can I have mine back?" Jack asks as he pulls his pillow out from where I had been laying, my head thumping onto the mattress as Jack settles himself back in bed.
I place my much beloved pillow under my head, patting and plumping it until it has obtained the perfect shape needed for sleep.
Jack and I resume our positions as before, but instead of my hand on his ass, my fingers work their way under his tee shirt, soaking in the warmth of his skin.
"Feels nice," he murmurs and I am hard pressed to hold in my laughter as Jack begins to hum an off key rendition of the Beatles "When I'm 64."
"You don't have too much longer to go before you reach that age," I tease. Nimble fingers find the ticklish place that only Jack knows of and laughter bursts from me. "Stop!" I reply breathlessly.
"You started it," he replies petulantly.
We participate with our 'did not'/'did too' routine until our voices fade out.
"Thank you," I whisper only to be answered by a snore from Jack. I'm glad he's sleeping because now I can tell him how much I love him and what he has done for me ... how his caring has recharged me right down to my soul. All those words which embarrassment usually forces me to withhold come easily as I confess them to the sleeping man in my arms.
The sounds that accompany the start of new day begins to steal into the solitude of the bedroom and I'm too far down the pathway of sleep to even acknowledge Jack's soft, "You're welcome, Daniel."
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