'I should've listened to Daniel,' my inner voice taunts. 'Coulda, shoulda, woulda, Jonathan! Dammit,' my internal voice screams. 'Now I'm channeling my mother!'
Daniel warned me about the repercussions of giving my old car to Cassie without consulting Janet first. Shit, for the past six weeks I've been paying for this little indiscretion.
I plaster what I hope is a look of concern on my face, and nod in agreement to something that Janet has said. This time our little 'Napoleonic power monger' has cornered me in the commissary to reiterate, for the thousandth time, the price of car insurance for a teenager.
Exasperated, Janet asks, "Colonel, are you listening to me?"
"Yes," I reply and parrot to her the last insurance quote that she has just given me. In reality, my mind is far away. I've acquired the ability of having half my brain pay attention and the other half go out and take a walk. I have worked this "brain thing" to an actual art by listening to Daniel's lectures during briefings. I mean, I love the guy, truly I do, and his mouth has the capability of doing amazing things ... I'm sorry to say that boring me to death during briefings is one of them.
Janet seeks my acknowledgment one more time and I again nod my head. This time it has something to do with the size of the truck in relation to the number of friends that Cassie wants to chauffeur around. I can feel both halves of my brain start to drift, and Janet is quite aware that she has lost me now. I hear her chair scrape the floor, and I glance up to see her stand, leaning over the table with menace in her eyes. I try to warm her heart with my famous, patented Colonel O'Neill smile. It is not returned, and my smile starts to waiver as I hear our beloved CMO, who has saved our lives countless times and shed tears for downed comrades say, between clenched teeth, "Be afraid, Colonel. Be very afraid." I look into her eyes, and God help me ... I am. Why the hell didn't I just listen to Daniel?
After she exits the commissary, I rest my head in my hands. I'm still finding it hard to face the Doc after that incident last month.
The gift of the car that Daniel had bestowed upon me took a "back seat" to the other gift. The one where he acknowledged that he felt the desire to move our relationship to another level. Hey, me being me ... I wanted to jump his bones as soon as we got back to my house that evening. But Daniel, being Daniel, needed to research this artifact, commonly known as Jack O'Neill. So, against my better judgment, we took this "dig" really slowly and I spent an inordinate amount of time taking cold showers.
The night that Daniel came by to show me his research made me realize why our resident ... why my resident ... archeologist / linguist is multi-degreed. When Daniel immerses himself in his research, he knows it backwards, forwards, inside and out.
His lecture mode left us stiff, sore, but quite pleased with ourselves by the next morning. We were sitting in Daniel's office gloating and shooting meaningful glances at each other when Carter stuck her head in the doorway.
"Morning guys. Daniel, no!" she yelled.
She walked over to Daniel and removed the coffee mug from his hands. "Please tell me that you haven't drank any coffee today."
"Hey, give me that!" my coffee slut yelled, making a grab for his beloved addiction.
"Did you forget? Today is the day Janet is doing SG1's complete physicals. And she wants us to have fasting blood work."
My heart stopped, I know it did. I know my breathing stopped. I know all involuntary bodily functions halted at that particular moment. Sam said something about Teal'c already being in with Janet, and she was next. Then Daniel, then me. Sam must have left the room, because by the time I was breathing again, she was gone.
No doctor I have ever encountered in my 40 plus years of life has ever given a complete physical like Dr. Fraiser. She leaves no stone unturned, no orifice unswabbed, no vein unstuck. Daniel and I both knew what we were in for.
"Jack do you think ..."
I shrug my shoulders.
"She's not going to tell ..."
"She's our friend first ..."
"Aw Jeez, Jack. Why couldn't you have asked her before you gave Cassie your car?"
'I don't know, Daniel. Why couldn't you just tell me you loved me instead of buying me a 35,000 dollar car?' the sarcastic voice in my head echoes.
Daniel walks over to his confiscated coffee and finishes it in one gulp. I don't stop him ... caffeine in his blood stream is the least of our problems at the moment.
I sit in Janet's office trying and failing to appear cool, calm, and collected. After finishing her very thorough exam, our CMO ordered me to wait for her in her little cubicle of an office. A little known piece of SGC trivia, Janet's office is the only place in the mountain without security cameras. Something to do with patient / doctor confidentiality. I wish, at this moment, I had control over my left leg, which seems to have developed this nervous spasm thing within the last 10 minutes. It started right after she put a call in to Daniel's office to meet her here.
I try to force her into making eye contact with me, but the closest I get is a grimace and what sounds kinda like a growl thrown in my direction. That's about the time I start thinking of the wording to my resignation. I hadn't even gotten past the 'Dear General Hammond' part when Daniel knocks and enters her office. I get a might bit indignant when I see she gives him a big smile. He can't even look at me, and I see the mug of coffee he holds in his hand like a security blanket is vibrating just a little. Janet extends her hand and offers him a seat across from her and next to me. Impulsively, shit, my head is already on the guillotine block, I move to rub his forearm in comfort. Daniel rewards me with a smile, Janet rewards me with a sigh. A sigh? I'm missing something here, aren't I?
And so she begins. Of course, she starts by defending Daniel's honor. Don't they all? Hey what about me ... he's the slut, I'm just an innocent bystander ... I can see she will never buy into that argument. I listen, and this time I utilize the whole brain process to pay attention to our good doctor. She mentions the doctor / patient confidentiality thing and proceeds to go into safe sex doctor mode. Poor Daniel is blushing, and my right foot has picked up the spasm rhythm of my left leg. For 30 minutes we are a captive audience to our wonderful doctor. We sit and listen patiently, side by side, no longer touching but confident in the friendship of the woman who sits across the desk.
The cold, bitter taste of my coffee brings me back to the here and now. I dump the remaining dregs of my mug and proceed to the office of Daniel Jackson; friend, confidante, pain in the ass and, as of six weeks ago ... lover. I roll the word around on my tongue. It sounds good there, something I had wanted there for a long time.
I head out of the commissary to find Daniel. If I've figured our schedules correctly, we have 24 hours downtime before I have to leave the SGC for Washington.
I've spent the last 72 hours training cadets offworld. Without Daniel. Alone. Without sex alone. Sighing, I realize if those cadets could put up with an over-aged, sex crazed Colonel, they should enter the Stargate program heading their own team, 'cause let me tell you ... the Goa'uld have nothing on me.
Shaking my head, I quickly dispel the thought. It's not like Daniel and I have had sex or even woken up next to each other on many occasions ... our jobs and life styles won't permit it. But, and if Daniel ever, ever heard me say this, without him, my life would be worth shit. I can liken my experiences with Daniel to a bag of potato chips; you love them to death and cannot only eat just one. You want them all, the whole bag, the whole enchilada. I want all of Daniel. Since we opened this relationship, it's kinda hard to put it down and go on to the other food groups, such as life, work, missions. I'm still finding it hard to believe, at this point in my life, with these birds on my shoulders, I've turned into such a sap.
I find myself standing outside of Daniel's lab, trying to compose myself, commanding my blood to resume its circulating through my body and stop pooling in my nether regions. Daniel had been closeted with Hammond and SG4 when I returned. So I showered, cold again, of course, visited the doc in the infirmary, and then had the doctor visit me in the commissary.
Now the moment I've been waiting for. Checking my watch ... I'm officially off duty for 24 hours and Daniel should be right behind me, visual thought there, commanding blood again ... in about 2 hours.
In my best Special Forces mode I enter his lab. I love catching Daniel off guard, observing him observing ancient languages, artifacts. But Daniel senses me ... how the hell he has perfected that is beyond me. I am no further than 10 steps into his lab, his back towards me, when I am greeted by a "Hello, Jack."
I stop. "Daniel?"
Our tantalizing conversation has brought on by the fact that Daniel's voice sounds like Elmer Fudd.
"Hewwo, a'ck? Daniel?" I'm upon him in three strides swiveling his chair so he now faces me. He looks horrible, eyes and nose are red. He looks exhausted. My hand instinctively moves to feel his forehead. Daniel grabs it before it completes the mission.
"Im ot ick 'ack, awergies."
Being the genius Colonel, I'm translating this to mean "I'm not sick , Jack, allergies."
I'm totally distracted for a moment as Daniel's fingers do magic things to my hand, which he still holds. It is obvious that my archeologist missed his Colonel.
He nods his head, looking miserable and grabs for a tissue.
"Confused here, Daniel. Where's your medication?"
From what I can translate, Janet has had this new, long-acting medication she has been wanting to try on Daniel, but she needed all of his current meds out of his system before giving it a shot. Side note to self ... the woman is not Napoleon ... she is the Marque De Sade in drag. Daniel has been off them for 72 hours, from what I can interpret, and has to go to the infirmary.
"You're going now, Daniel." He must feel like shit, he is letting me guide him out of his office without protest and, for the first time, I notice how rumpled his BDU's are. "Sleeping, Daniel?" I ask, as I maneuver him into the elevator. He averts eye contact. "Sleeping on your office couch, Daniel?" We step off the elevator and I turn him in the direction of the infirmary. Daniel mumbled something like "miffeduack."
Totally clueless, believing him to have cursed at me in one of this 26 languages, I keep walking. Daniel stops and pulls me a little closer, repeating, "Miffeduack" with a small smile. Lightbulb time here, and I respond in kind. "Missed you too, Daniel. Let Janet take a look, then it is home time for us ..."
Oh god, Daniel, I start praying, don't look at me like that, stop licking your lips. Aagggh ... too late. I am sporting a tremendous hard on as I begin to mentally curse my linguist. Shit, Daniel, you suck. God, visual again. Pants becoming a little uncomfortable. Great way to walk into the infirmary. As horrible as Daniel looks, you can be sure this will be the first thing the good doctor will notice. I position Daniel as a barrier in front of me as we enter her sanctuary.
Janet pounces on Daniel as soon as we walk through the door. She escorts him to a bed and looks wickedly in my direction. I scurry over behind Daniel, opposite her, hoping that Daniel and the bed will hide my "condition."
And then she gets angry at Daniel ... reiterating what she told him ... come in as soon as the allergy symptoms began again after discontinuing his old medication. And he gets the promise of a full examination ... but not before she relegates me to a chair against the wall. I sidle over to it, watching as she pulls the curtain around the bed to examine Daniel. Naked exam? Promising myself I will stop the word association games as I place one of the infirmary's three year old magazines in my lap.
Eventually, she pulls the curtain back and signals for me to join them. She hands me a bottle of pills. "Make sure he takes these after the shot wears off. Follow the instructions. PLEASE! He should have never waited this long to see me. That wasn't my intention, Daniel. I never wanted your allergies to flare up like this."
"Thorry." Daniel whispers and she melts. I physically see our formidable doctor turn to mush before my eyes. Janet pats his knee gently and then the she wolf turns to me.
"Don't let this happen again, Colonel." I start to protest, to tell her I wasn't even on earth, when she continues. "Take him home." I smile, a very large 1000 watt smile ... the doctor just gave me permission to take Daniel home, to bed, to ... "He should sleep for quite a while," she says.
I turn to Daniel, who is already sporting that dopey, drugged grin. "Sleep?"
"Sleep, Colonel. And I want to see him tomorrow, before you leave for DC." Dammit ... she remembered. That doctor, our friend, just drugged Daniel to gills, causing him to probably sleep for 22 of our 24 hours of downtime ... I guess it is payback time.
"Let's go, Daniel." I assist Daniel off the bed, swearing I hear the doctor chuckle as we leave the infirmary. We get what we need to leave, Daniel still managing under his own steam. I can see in his eyes, though. .. that will not last too much longer.
We get to the garage and I stand there in puzzlement. "Car?"
He dangles his keys from his fingers, making the point that he drove us both to SGC before I left for Cadet Training 101 off world. "I'll drive," I say quickly, as I grab the keys from his outstretched fingers.
Daniel's car. One of the reasons why we are here, now, together. I gotta love this car. The cherry red, 1966 Mustang convertible, 5 speed ... Daniel says driving the car reminds him of me when he ... don't want to go there just now. We both get in the car, shutting the doors simultaneously. Daniel turns sleepy blue eyes towards me. "Thop?" he says.
"Stop? Daniel we didn't start yet."
He sighs in frustration pointing upwards. "Oh, top. You want the top down?"
"Ummm ... no. Not good for your allergies and do you know what the weather is like?"
He shakes his head.
I'm going for the finish line here ... "Haven't been off the mountain for three days have you Daniel?"
"I know, you missed me ... I missed you too. We'll save the top down for another time." Okay, I'm picturing us in this car, top down, racing down the highway, two wild and crazy guys ... I'm starting the car, now. My visuals are playing havoc with certain body parts of mine.
We go through the necessary check points and head towards my home. Daniel yawns and turns sideways to look at me. He grins sleepily and I order him to close his eyes. He complies without question, Janet's medication beginning to take hold. I'm shifting gears, when I feel his hand atop mine on the gear shift. Just laying there ... then he begins stroking, stroking my hand, my wrist, stroking the gear shift ... "Daniel," I call, testing his depth of sleep.
He mutters, removes his hand and turns towards the passenger window. Obviously he was already slumbering. Shaking my head, I can only imagine what his visual had been with the gear shift.
I pull the car into the driveway, the lack of motion waking Daniel to the point of semi-coherency. He looks from the house to me and smiles ... I know what he is thinking. I'll let him live this little fantasy until I get him in the house, but from the drugged look on his face I'm thinking that the ten-foot walk to the front door is going to be a challenge.
Suddenly, he reaches across the seat with lightening speed, grabbing the front of my shirt and pulling me towards him. He honors me with a "missed you so much, you've been gone for three days kiss." He's purring, I'm moaning, from the kiss and from the fact that my left hip is wedged by the steering wheel and the gear shift is poking into my side. The downside to Daniel's car? The distinct lack of space availability to two grown men.
Daniel nods his head in agreement.
He stays upright through the front door, but begins to sway dangerously as I turn to lock it. I stand behind him, guiding his walk through the house to the bedroom. I pull the covers down and sit him on the side of the bed, his eyes are fully closed and his breathing is deep. I opt for stripping him down to his boxers and tee shirt to sleep. Daniel attempts to take off his tee-shirt after I remove his shirt.
"No," I laugh. "Later." The 'Colonel Sap' thing runs through my mind again as I place a gentle kiss on Daniel's forehead. He hates when I do that, and since he doesn't protest, I know he's sleeping ... sitting up, but still sleeping. I push him down gently and cover him.
Even though it is still daylight, I've missed Daniel, and feel the need just to be close to him. I, too, strip down to my boxers and tee shirt and get into bed. Like a heat seeking missile, Daniel spoons into me with a sigh, taking his perfect, boxer clad ass and rubbing it against my crotch. Even in a drug induced sleep, my archeologist in still a slut. I stay in that position for awhile, holding him, feeling his congested breathing rattle against my chest, thinking of driving a certain red Mustang with the top down. Visual thoughts again guiding my way into slumber.
I'm puzzled at Jack's change in attitude as soon as we reach the garage. He opens the Avalanche's passenger side door and orders me tersely to just get into the car.
With my ribs taped and my right arm in a cast, I awkwardly climb into the seat, grimacing as he slams the door. He gets in, throwing my carryall over his shoulder into the rear seat.
I open my mouth, but am interrupted by Jack's "Don't say it, Daniel."
Don't say what? My anxiety is increasing with every mile he drives. He places a CD in the player, pumping up the volume and thereby halting any chance at further conversation. I turn and stare out the window, the passing scenery indicative of the fact that we are driving to places unknown to me, nothing is familiar. The man sitting in the seat next to me is not familiar to me at the moment. The only familiar thing is the sick feeling settling in the pit of my stomach, brought on by the fear of losing someone close to you.
SG1's schedule had been hectic, and General Hammond had granted us an offworld "vacation" to a planet with minerals and ruins aplenty. Sam and I had spent hours pouring over and studying the feedback from the UAV and MALP. I remember Jack making a remark about PX7123 being a playground for his scientists at the briefing. Upon our arrival on the planet, we had separated; Teal'c and Sam in search of minerals, Jack by my side as I explored the ruins of an ancient temple.
We lasted all of 5 hours on the planet. Jack had warned me during my exploration that the shifting sand under the temple's foundation was making him nervous. I chalked it up as one of his mother hen propensities. My discovery of scrolls that corresponded to the writings on the wall in an unfamiliar language, forced me to turn a deaf ear to his warnings.
I remember begging for twenty more minutes. Jack wanted me to bring the parchments outside ... I refused. I don't even recall why. I argued that I needed the walls to assist in the translation, or maybe because I was angry at being told what to do. Twenty minutes came and went, Jack's insistence after he walked the perimeter increasing.
Unsure of the safety of the building, he wanted us to leave. Recent rains, he observed on his walk, had eroded the foundation of the building, making it unsafe. I should have seen this, I've been on digs the majority of my adult life. I pleaded for another 15 minutes ... just to video tape the walls, then I would go.
The allotted time frame came and went. Jack became furious ... I ignored his rantings ... ignored him. He turned to leave ... was almost out the door when a horrific sound made him stop. I stood, turning towards Jack ... I remember him turning towards me and calling my name. I felt myself falling and the next thing I remember was waking up in the infirmary.
I suffered a concussion, broken arm, two broken ribs, along with a punctured lung. I was unconscious for two days. I remember nothing of my accident on the planet and very little of my first days in the infirmary, save Jack always being at my bedside.
I told him I was sorry, I should have listened ... he waved the apology off, not necessary, he stated. I never noted a problem between us until we got into his car.
I yell his name, trying to right my body, as he drives at breakneck speed around the mountain bends. My head hits the passenger window, as he pulls the truck into hairpin turns. I cradle my casted arm against my body in an effort to protect it from slamming into the car door. I yell his name again, not knowing the man bent over the wheel.
"I thought this is what you wanted, Daniel."
Heights, I swallow as the road seems to disappear and the Avalanche hangs over the side for a moment before continuing on the asphalt. I am afraid to answer him, afraid to distract him.
He pulls the truck to the side of the road, onto an observation area. Dust and rocks fly haphazardly as he slams on the brakes and turns to face me, the vehicle still running. Panting, as though he'd just run a marathon, he reiterates, "I thought this is what you wanted, Daniel."
Before I can reply, he finishes, "I thought you wanted to kill yourself." Jack doesn't wait for a reply, just jumps out of the Avalanche.
I lean over, turn off the car, wondering what Jack was referring to. Opening the door, I slowly step down from the car, confused over Jack's perception of things.
I approach my lover slowly, cautiously, as he stands at the edge of the observation platform. Peripherally, I take note that the view from the mountain is magnificent, but our height makes me swallow convulsively.
"Jack?" The slump of his shoulders and stance of his body confuse me. "I don't understand, Jack."
Jack turns to face me. "You're right, Daniel. You don't."
That's all he says. I'm panicking. I feel my breathing increase and my heart pounds painfully in my bruised chest. I will my voice to remain calm and not break with emotion. "I want to understand, Jack. Would you please explain it to me?"
Jack takes a few steps towards me, now standing in my personal space. He knows he is one of the few people I allow there. I hold my ground.
"You know ... if you died, I would have died along with you."
Realization clicks into place. The planet, the injuries I sustained. What I perceive to be guilt, both his and mine. "I told you I was sorry. I should have listened."
He sighs, and I know there is something I seem to be missing. I try a different route. "Teal'c and Sam would be here for your if something happened to me, Jack. The General, even Janet and Cassie. They would be there for you."
Jack is angry now. For a linguist, I don't seem to be reading his language very well at all. "Dammit, Daniel, sure they are my family ... our family. But you ... you are my life. I need you to understand that ... when you willingly throw your life away, you're taking mine along for the ride."
"Jack, I ..."
"Daniel, I don't want to hear 'I'm sorry' again. I want you to listen. We do dangerous work. If you or I die or are injured while encountering aliens, goa'ulds or hazardous environments ... well that's the nature of the beast. Traveling through the Stargate, we are aware of the risks. But the trip to this planet, that was a "vacation," a walk in the park for you and Carter; no aliens or goa'ulds. You were willing to throw us away by risking yourself for pieces of paper. When Fraiser wasn't sure if you were going to make it ... wanna know what I was going to do? Retire for good. To the mountains. Far away from everyone and everything. Leaving them like you left me."
"Daniel, I don't know why I didn't physically drag you away from that accursed temple, like I dragged you away from Ernest's planet. Maybe this time, I was testing your choices."
"I failed." All the failure of my life compounded. 'Sorry' is not an adequate word at this point in time.
"No ... we both did." He steps forward, taking me gently in his arms. He releases me, holding me at arms length, then drops his hands. "I need you to let me all the way into your life, Daniel. I'm not leaving you like your parents, like Sha're. I want to grow old ..." Jack smiles hesitantly. "Older with you, Daniel. I need you to understand, this between you and me, it's not just for now. It's forever, for the long haul. But it's no good if you don't understand that."
Jack's speech, the height ... I walk back to the Avalanche, leaning against the door, the feeling of the cool metal through my shirt and bandages grounding me. I look at the view from the safe distance of the truck. Jack's right ... there is a part of me I won't let him have. It's safer that way. A protection if something happens to him.
His shadow blocks the sun as he stands in front of me. I choke out my response, giving him a glimpse into to my thoughts. "It's safer that way. It won't hurt as much if something happens to you."
"Daniel, don't live your life waiting for something terrible to happen. That's not fair to you ... or to me."
I lower my eyes. "I've lied to you, to me ... it hasn't helped. I don't know what I would do if anything happened to you." I love Jack enough to finally admit the truth to him. "I want to be the one to go first, I can't deal with another loss. I need to die first ... I don't want to be alone again."
Jack can't answer me. Like he said before, due to the dangerous nature of our work, he can't guarantee that won't happen. I appreciate his not insulting me by making empty platitudes.
He gathers me into his arms, pulling me away from the car. We don't work 9 to 5 jobs, or make our morning commute on the subway. We don't have business meetings or deadlines. As much as we would like, we cannot guarantee that one of us won't spend our golden years alone. "I know Daniel," Jack says.
I don't know if anything was solved, or if I would do anything different if the situation occurred again. That's my nature. But I've revealed to him what he was searching for and I've revealed to myself the truth I've kept hidden.
Jack places his hands on the side of my face, pulling me in for a kiss. Never releasing his hold, he blindly places his hand and opens the rear door. We climb in, and I use my carryall as a pillow as I lay down. Jack enters the truck, closing the door behind him and positions himself to my side. He leans over me, and I unconsciously grimace in pain. Jack looks first puzzled, than upset. "Oh god, Daniel, I'm sorry. Your ribs."
I don't care, I need him at this moment. I want him, all of him. I pull him roughly down to me in response to his concern. Our coupling is fast and fulfilling, the need to feel taking precedence over the pain in my ribs. Satiated, Jack kisses my forehead as I button my shirt. I hate when he does that ... I'm not a child. I open my mouth to say something, but the look on Jack's face stops me. I rest my forehead against his instead.
As we move to the front seats of the Avalanche, Jack looks into the rear seats and then at us, trying to assess how we just did what we did in that space. I laugh as he states, "Necessity is the mother of invention."
He pulls back onto the road, and I'm offering a silent prayer of thanks to my old car that died on that rainy day, thus starting the whole chain of events leading to this point in our lives. I readjust the volume of the CD player, leaning back on the seat.
"Look, Daniel." Jack replies, pointing.
"Jack, please don't."
I knew Jack wouldn't be able to resist, the cliché king that he is. He was showing me the sunset in the distance and I mentally brace myself for what is to follow. I close my eyes, letting the soft strains of the music flow through my body as I hear Jack say, "All's well that ends well, as the two lovers ride off into the sunset."
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