TEN STEP PROGRAM BY DEVRA


Slash: Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: PG-13
Category: Slice of Life
Season/Spoilers: None
Synopsis: A little bit of Jack's past puts Daniel on the road to recovery
Warnings: None
Length: 33 Kb

"Achoo!"

"Bless you."

"Jack?" Daniel shifted on the bed, pulling the covers right along with him as he squinted up into Jack's worried face. He cocked his head, studying the image standing over him before grinding the heels of his palms into already reddened eyes. Daniel paused mid rub, slowly lowering his hands, blinking owlishly. "Whatcha doing here?"

Jack chuckled as he sat on the edge of the bed, his hand straying to Daniel's forehead. "I could ask you the same question. This is Thursday morning, right?"

"Thursday, yeah," Daniel mumbled.

"Well, if it's Thursday, I expected to return to my house after seventy-two hours of trudging through the muck and mire of PX4-741, training the SGC's new hopefuls, to find one archaeologist waiting, bags packed, ready and willing to go ..."

"On vacation," Daniel replied, followed by two, successive down-to-your toes sneezes.

"Bless you," Jack sighed, handing Daniel his handkerchief. "You have a fever."

Daniel sniffed, blew his nose, long and loud, and didn't even offer to return the soggy handkerchief. "I'm sick ... fever, general malaise, virus," Daniel groused as he waved the handkerchief in surrender. "I feel lousy," he complained.

"You're whining."

"I told you I feel lousy ... I'm allowed to whine." Daniel sniffed, burying himself back under the quilts.

"You're not 'fine'?" Jack asked, pulling down the quilt so Daniel's bleary eyes and chapped nose were visible. "Dr. Daniel Jackson is always 'fine'," he quipped.

Daniel huffed in response. "Not fine," he replied indignantly. "Can't go away. Janet said, 'no vacation. Stay home, Daniel, and take care of yourself. Sleep. Take Tylenol for the fever. Call me'." Daniel mimicked. Weakly, he pounded the bed in frustration. "No time away, no working, take it easy, recover." He paused, scowling. "You're right. I'm whining."

"That's okay." Jack leaned forward to kiss the hot forehead. "You're allowed, I give you permission to whine. Do you want anything?"

"Want you to go home before you get sick." Daniel yawned deeply. "Now."

"Sure," Jack said, smoothing back the short strands. "Leaving right now."

"Good," Daniel replied sleepily, his eyes sliding shut before the smug smile appeared on Jack's face. "Go on vacation," Daniel slurred. "Fish ..."

Jack patted the blanket-covered shoulder. "Starting the car. Going to go on vacation. Leaving now."


The kitchen was lit by the rays of the late morning sun filtering in through the windows in the apartment. Jack sat at the table, sipping coffee, finishing the last triangle of jam-covered toast as he lazily turned the pages of a three-day-old newspaper, catching up on the local teams.

He had called Fraiser about thirty minutes ago for no reason other than to make sure Daniel shouldn't be in the infirmary. The CMO basically reiterated everything Daniel had told him. Earthbound virus, that was pretty self-contained within the archaeological division. Fraiser had made it quite clear that she had had enough of cranky, sick archaeologists/anthropologists in the infirmary to last a lifetime. Daniel seemed have been the last to become ill. Rather than listen to him gripe about being sick in the fishbowl of the infirmary, she had checked him out thoroughly, confirmed it was the virus, and had personally driven him home last evening. She had left a set of instructions of do's and don'ts, a fresh bottle of Tylenol for the fever and orders to call if he needed her.

"Do you really believe he would have called you?" Jack had asked incredulously.

"No. That's the reason I was stopping by tonight." She had chuckled. "But I trust you'll call if there is any problem. Oh, and Colonel? I would advise you to make sure the virus remains contained in the archaeological department. Do I make myself clear?" she'd warned.

"Yeahsureyabetcha," he had promised.


With indulgent concern, Jack watched Daniel shuffle into the kitchen, oblivious to his presence. Sighing deeply, Daniel paused in front of the fridge, resting his forehead against the white door.

"Why are you outta bed, Daniel?"

Slowly, Daniel turned, his bleary eyes widened with the shock of Jack's presence in his kitchen. "Jack?"

Maybe it was the fever stained cheeks, or the hair standing up at odd angles. Maybe it was the confused look in those fever bright eyes, the way the disheveled clothes hung, or it could have been the plaintive way Daniel asked, "Thought you were leaving to go fishing?" that prompted Jack to envelope the pliant man into a tight embrace. The heat of Daniel's fever penetrated through two layers of clothes. "Fraiser gave you a nice new bottle of Tylenol," Jack said, cupping the back of the head resting on his shoulder. "Two and some juice and then back to bed?"

Daniel nodded, his unshaven face scraping along Jack's chin and neck.

"Daniel?"

"Hmm?"

"You have to move. Oh, never mind." Jack guided Daniel to a kitchen stool, positioned him, and pushed at him gently. Daniel sat down, closed his eyes, and swayed slightly. Daniel opened his eyes when Jack put the two Tylenol and the glass of apple juice on the table. With the exaggerated effort of limbs too heavy for his body, Daniel swallowed the pills and chased them down with half the glass of juice. "What are you still doing here? I thought I told you to leave, vamoose, vacation and enjoy fishing," Daniel reprimanded in a whisper of his normal voice.

"No one gets left behind," Jack joked. He was horrified to see Daniel's eyes begin to fill.

"Damn," Daniel snorted, harshly wiping at his eyes, his embarrassment visible even through the blush of fever. "I really feel like crap. Sorry."

Daniel twisted out of Jack's attempted comforting embrace. "Don't! Okay. I meant it. Go on vacation. Enjoy. Janet's number is on my speed dial if I need her." Daniel spoke with as much dignity as he could muster.

"Listen to me," Jack explained, patiently passing over to Daniel a handful of tissues from the box on the table. "How can you say 'enjoy vacation' to me when the person I wanted to enjoy my vacation with is at home, sick?"

Daniel's finger traced a pattern in the condensation of the juice glass, shrugging in response to Jack's question. Jack took Daniel's damp fingers into his grasp and brought them to his lips for a gentle kiss. "That's what I thought also. Come on, drink the rest of the juice and I'll tuck you back into bed."

Tucked, covered, pillows plumped, Daniel's eyes followed every single one of Jack's movements. "I'm sick."

"No kidding," Jack answered with a kiss to Daniel's feverish head. "And I know you hate being sick. And I hate when you get sick. And Frasier hates when you get sick. We'll get through this. Using my Mom's tried and true healing measures, you'll be better in no time."

"Should I be afraid?" Jack smiled at the sly grin on Daniel's face.

"Naw." Jack assured the ill man. "Hey, I survived didn't I?"

"That's what I'm afraid of," Daniel whispered to the empty air after Jack departed the bedroom.


It's all in the presentation Jack's Mom had convinced him. Even the most unappetizing meal could be presentable with enough bells and whistles. By thirteen hundred hours, Jack decided to take the bull by the horns, awaken the sleeping archaeologist and insist he eat something.

Daniel had been sleeping, albeit restlessly, since eleven hundred hours with just juice and Tylenol for sustenance. Not enough to maintain a growing, sick boy. With his free hand, Jack cleared a corner on the crowded dresser and balanced the makeshift tray on the empty spot. He began to softly call Daniel's name even before sitting down on the edge of the bed. Daniel moaned. "Go 'way."

Jack played tug of war with Daniel over the covers until the ill man acquiesced and gave up with a hoarse sigh of exasperation. "I'm up!" He prodded Jack with his knee. "Move."

"Why?"

Daniel grimaced as he massaged his forehead. "Gotta pee." Jack stood, giving him some room. Daniel threw back the covers and sat at the edge of the bed.

"Do you want any he ..."

"No!" was the loudly whispered response. "I can do this. Just give me a minute."

Jack gave Daniel two minutes. "Daniel?"

Daniel looked in Jack's general vicinity. "Hmmm?"

"Uppsie daisy, big guy."

Daniel put a halt to Jack's 'helpfulness' with a hand to his lover's midsection. "Stop. It's okay. I've got this." Daniel eased his body off the bed with a whimper and slowly dragged himself the few feet to the bathroom. Jack shadowed Daniel both ways, and stopped him just short of sliding back under the covers.

"Now what?"

Humming to himself, Jack fluffed the pillows, propping them against the headboard. He gave the bed a final pat.

Daniel crawled onto the bed and slid his ass up against the headboard. He pulled up the blankets and held them protectively against his chest, flopping back against the pile of pillows. Jack presented Daniel with the makeshift tray.

"What's this?" Daniel asked hoarsely.

"This, my young man, is Campbell's chicken noodle soup with a smattering of oyster crackers."

"You want me to eat this?" Daniel lifted up the spoon and allowed the captured soup sitting on the utensil to dribble back into the bowl.

"Daniel, Daniel, Daniel." Jack sighed. With a flick of his wrist, he opened the paper napkin on the tray and tucked it under Daniel's chin. "Mom's tried and true first step in caring for a sick child."

"I'm not a child." Daniel pouted. "I want to sleep, ingest Tylenol every four hours, sleep and wake up feeling fine. Can you just let me do that?" he begged.

"Nope. Did it your way." He placed his hand on Daniel's forehead and then followed it up with a chaste touch of lips to the hot, dry skin. "Tylenol and sleep, and your fever hasn't gone down. As a matter of fact," Jack said, "I believe it's higher. Why don't you start on the soup, and I'll go get the thermometer."


"Where did you get this cool ear thermometer?" Jack asked as he closely examined the modern piece of medical equipment. He turned the thermometer on, stuck it in Daniel's ear, and pressed the button to activate it.

"It was a present, from Janet." Daniel said, slurping the soup. "For Christmas, last year, I think."

"It really says something about the state of affairs when your doctor gives you an expensive thermometer and her number is on your speed dial."

Jack looked at the readout on the thermometer. "102.2," he said with a sigh.

Daniel put the spoon down, pushing the bowl away. "I don't want any more of this. I can't taste it, and it's gross." He ripped the napkin off his neck and threw it alongside the bowl. "Anyway aren't you supposed to feed a cold and starve a fever?"

"Pffft see ... therein lies the fallacy. See Mom has explained that one needs to build up strength to fight ..."

"I got it."

"It's really very interesting. Something about feeding a cold and feeding a fever."

"Like I said, I got it. It's okay," Daniel said. He washed the taste of the soup down with swig of water. "Finished. Can I go to sleep now?"

"Not yet. Time for step two." Jack relieved Daniel's lap of the tray.

Daniel noticed the "tray" for the first time. "Jack! What the hell did you use to carry the soup in here?"

Jack replied meekly, "you don't have one of those lap trays with the metal legs so I had to make do with what was available."

"Jack?" Daniel demanded.

"Okay, jeez, just a book. Why?"

"A book!" Daniel squeaked. "Aaargh," he growled. "Take off that stupid towel you camouflaged the just a book with and show me."

Sheepishly, Jack held the book up.

"Come closer." Daniel waved Jack towards him.

Daniel fingered the jacket of the book, squinting.

"See, no damage done," Jack said proudly. "I was very careful."

"No, you were very lucky. Put the book down on the chair over there. Thank you." Daniel squirmed under the bedcovers, sliding back down, pulling the propped up pillows with him.

Jack ripped the covers off the bed. "On to step two. Follow me and ummm ... bring a pillow."

"Hey," Daniel cried, making a futile attempt to grab the disappearing blanket. Daniel was grumbling about step two as he lethargically followed Jack into the living room. "You're torturing me aren't you? This is payback for something I've done." Daniel dropped heavily into the armchair, hiding his head in the pillow he was carrying.

"No, I'm not torturing you. Honest." Gently, Jack took the pillow from Daniel's grasp and flung it in the direction of the couch. "A change of scenery, Mom would say, different air, a different view." Jack patted the couch and Daniel shuffled over.

"Comfy?" Jack walked from head to toe, making sure all of Daniel was under the blanket.

"What's step three?" Daniel asked. He slithered along the couch pillows and hunkered down under the mountain of blanket. "I'm cold," he added before Jack answered his question. "Ahhh, thanks," Daniel whispered as Jack removed the antique quilt from its place of honor on the back of the couch and spread it across Daniel's horizontal form.

Jack plucked the TV remote off the table and channel surfed until he found what he was looking for.

"Cartoons?"

"Cartoons. Being home sick meant you got the couch, the TV to yourself and whatever children's show was playing." Jack's hand swept across the TV screen. "Due to the wonders of modern TV, cartoons are available 24/7."

"Step three," Daniel muttered, his eyes closing.

Jack had a half smile on his face as he bent to kiss the sleeping man on his cheek. "Yup, step three. See? That wasn't so bad, was it?"

Jack's response was a whimper as the restless man tried to find a comfortable position on the couch.


"That kid's head in this cartoon is shaped like a football."

"Hey." Jack appeared in Daniel's line of vision, squatting down in front of him.

"His head? Why doesn't anyone notice?" Daniel asked rhetorically.

"And Pluto is a dog with no clothes and Goofy is a dog that wears clothes. It's the way of the world, Daniel. It's a cartoon. The public accepts these indiscretions." He used the back of one hand to feel the temperature of Daniel's neck.

"Porky Pig wears a shirt and no pants?"

"There ya go, ya got the concept." Jack pasted a smile on his face, stamping down the worry. The Tylenol hadn't seemed to help. If anything, Daniel's fever seemed to have risen in the past two hours.

"Want some juice?" Jack stood up from where he'd been sitting on his heels, pushing off his thighs. Even Daniel grimaced as Jack's knees' popped.

"Anything would be fine, thanks. But if you're gonna call Janet, take my temperature first. She gets pissed when you call and leave her holding to check." Daniel buried a sneeze in the crook of his elbow. "Ow ... and she's number three on the speed dial, just so you know."


"Now it's 102.6." Jack straightened up with a sigh. He put the thermometer down on the table beside the couch.

"Gonna call Janet?"

"Do you want me to?"

Daniel thought for a moment. "No, I'd rather you didn't. Do you mind?"

"How do you feel?"

"I'm freezing, my head hurts, my bones ache ... otherwise I'm fine. The usual." Waving his hand in dismissal, Daniel adjusted the blanket, settling back into the couch cushions.

Jack picked up Daniel's feet, sat down, and dropped the feet into his lap. He snaked his hand under the covers and rubbed the socked toes for added warmth. "Make you a deal. When you stop feeling fine, I'll call Fraiser."

"Deal." Daniel's muffled voice peeked from under the blankets.

Jack's hand traveled under the leg of Daniel's sweat pants to caress the warm calf. Happily, he could feel Daniel relax under his ministrations. He turned his eyes back on to the inane cartoons on the TV. "You're right, Daniel, that kid's head is really shaped like a football."

"Told ya," Daniel answered smugly.


"This is step four?" Daniel asked, peering down at the filled bathtub. He backed away from the offensive object, wrapping his arms around his midsection, utterly defenseless, utterly miserable. "I really don't want to do this." Peripherally he saw the towel and clean sweats that Jack had thrown over the towel bar. Though changing into fresh clothing was appealing, Daniel knew the water was hot, and would probably feel great, but he was shivering with the chills of fever and couldn't even face the idea of taking off his clothes.

Jack began to tug at Daniel's clothes. "Honest, Mom O'Neill always said --"

Daniel slapped Jack's hands away, ignoring the hurt look on his lover's face. "I know, I know. I can do this."

Jack sat on the closed toilet lid watching Daniel as he dropped his clothes on the floor and cautiously stepped into the tub. The noise he elicited when he settled in was somewhere between a groan and a moan.

"See, told you it was a good idea."

Daniel hunkered down until his chin was just over the water line. "Hmmm ... feels nice," he admitted. His hand rose from the water and he flicked it in the direction of the light switch, flinging droplets of water. "Could you turn off the lights?" Daniel ducked his head, screwing his eyes shut. "Hurts my eyes."

"Sure. Be right back."

The door opened, closed then opened and closed again. Within a few moments, the light clicked off and Jack whispered, "Better?"

Daniel lazily turned his head towards Jack voice and smiled at the candles sitting on the vanity. "Much. Thank you."

Jack sat on the toilet lid, working on the crossword from the morning paper, bending close to the flickering candles for light. Daniel never moved. He seemed to be sleeping, in fact. Jack was glad to see him comfortable at last. Twenty minutes later, the crossword was finished from 1 down to 65 across. Jack moved to the tub. He picked up the arm that rested on the porcelain rim. "Time to get out, Daniel."

"I just got in here, didn't I?" Daniel whined.

"You're whining again." Jack flicked the lever on the tub to start the water draining.

"Hey!" Daniel sat up, his sudden movement splashing water over the side of the tub. "I told you ..." Daniel eyed Jack suspiciously. "What are you doing?"

"Step five." Jack said waving the bath towel at Daniel like a toreador. Grunting, Jack bent down to grab Daniel under the arm and assisted him out.

"Oh. Step five." Daniel moaned as Jack wrapped his wet body in the still warm-from-the-dryer towel. Daniel rested his head on Jack's shoulder, his soft whimpers of appreciation vibrating against Jack's neck.

"Enjoying this?" Jack chuckled.

"Mmmmm." Daniel pulled back, squinting blue eyes appraising Jack. "Your mother used to dry you in a warm towel?"

"No, Mom used to give me the hot towel, and I'd dry myself. Thought I'd go the extra mile for you though."

Daniel dropped his head heavily on Jack's shoulder, sighing in contentment. "Um. Love you, Jack."

Jack grabbed fresh, warm sweats from the towel bar and shoved them between their bodies. "Dress." He ordered softly.

"Dress," Daniel echoed, dressing slowly as Jack kept a supportive hand on his elbow.


Jack smoothed the pillowcases on the bed. "Step six," he said to the man standing next to him with his eyes closed, swaying slightly. "Clean sheets. Fresh linens to refresh the soul."

Daniel threw himself on the bed and crawled up the length until he collapsed with his head on the pillow.

"Feeling better?" Jack tugged and maneuvered the blanket from under Daniel's body. "You could help me here, ya know." Jack complained.

"Sorry." He lifted his butt and Jack just shook his head and chuckled as Daniel turned over onto his stomach, buried himself deeply in the proffered blanket. He didn't even seem to notice when Jack rubbed his ass through the layers of blankets.


Two hours later, Daniel turned down all suggestions of dinner, accepted another dose of Tylenol, and waved away Jack's concern and the offer of Jell-O.

Jack made dinner, cleaned up, and gave himself a time limit of forty-five minutes to watch the news before turning in. Yawning, he stretched out on the couch, the seventy-two hours offworld catching up to him.


In the three strides it had taken Jack to get from the doorway to the side of the bed he had managed to assess the situation. A fever-induced nightmare had deposited a struggling Daniel to the floor and Jack bent in front of the shivering, disoriented man. "It's me, Daniel."

"NO!" Daniel shouted. He shook his head vehemently and lashed out with his foot, upending an unsuspecting Jack.

"Ow. Crap, Daniel." Jack rocked forward, grabbing Daniel's flailing arms. He shook him once and then enveloped the protesting man in a tight hug. Jack's hands easily slipped under the sweatshirt, kneading the overheated skin as he rocked Daniel. The shaking eventually stopped and Daniel relaxed in Jack's hold.

"Hey." Jack continued rocking. "Back with me?"


No answer. Daniel's weight grew heavy in Jack's arms. Daniel attempted to drag the remainder of the blanket off the bed but Jack's hand thwarted Daniel's plan.

"Much as I love holding you in my arms, Daniel, my knees aren't going to be able to handle the hard floor for much longer." Jack struggled under Daniel's weight to a standing position.

"Like the warm towel?"

"Huh?" Jack paused while settling the blanket around Daniel, his eyebrows raised in confusion over Daniel's comment. Daniel was turned on his side while his long legs danced restlessly under the covers. He shivered and Jack responded by tucking the blanket closer to Daniel. "Step five, the towel? Care to expand on that?" Daniel's hands lay limply in Jack's grasp.

"Bad dream. Ummm. Rescue. Comfort." Daniel yawned around his utterances. "Like the warm towel. Your arms, warm, safe. Understand?"

Jack thought a minute before he agreed with Daniel. "Yup. Step five that's me. Warm and comfortable."

Daniel folded their intertwined hands under his chin. "Your Mom. Smart woman." He buried a sneeze in the pillow. "Tell her thank you."


Jack was exhausted. Lying in bed, he wanted nothing more than to sleep, but Daniel's body was the epitome of an electric blanket. The fever and closeness of his fever-hot body was giving Jack an extreme case of claustrophobia. The sick man was a leech. No matter how many times during the night Jack had pried the ill man off, Daniel searched out Jack's warmth and sucked himself right back onto Jack's body.

"Daniel, please." Jack begged as Daniel furtively tried to find purchase to burrow under Jack's body.

"So cold." Daniel had murmured apologetically, through chattering teeth, only to repeat the performance minutes later. Jack compromised by spooning Daniel tightly up against his body. Jack made sure the quilt covered the two men from aft to stern and then threw his left leg over Daniel's limbs and tucked his arm around Daniel's midsection effectively pinning the unsettled man to Jack's body.


Jack awoke with an armful of cooler, sweaty, snoring archaeologist. A light kiss to Daniel's forehead confirmed a lower temperature than yesterday, but still feverish. Jack backed slowly out of bed, not wishing to awaken Daniel. By the time he crept stealthy to the door, he realized that Daniel hadn't even moved a muscle.


Jack placed the tea and toast on the coffee table in the living room. "Whatcha doin'?"

Daniel chewed on his bottom lip, thinking. "Step ... ummm ..." He waved the remote at the TV. "Whatever step the cartoons are." He pointed to the tea and toast. "For me?"

"If you want."

Daniel's hands latched around the cup, and he languidly sniffed the aroma and steam drifting out of the tea. Jack laughed at Daniel's expression. "That was purely orgasmic."

Ignoring Jack's remark, Daniel took a tentative sip. "Ahhh."

"Step seven. Honey, tons of sugar, strawberry tea. I hated tea, and Mom would doctor it up so I would drink of its healing qualities."

Daniel took another sip, longer this time, swishing the liquid around in his mouth.

Jack scrunched his face up. "Anyone ever tell you you're disgusting?"

Daniel smiled over the rim of the mug before slowly lowering it, but his attempt at a lascivious glance got lost in a sneeze.

"Bless you."

"Thanks," Daniel sniffed. "How did you manage to get strawberry tea, toast, soup and whatever else you have in your bag of tricks from my empty cabinets?"

"Never underestimate the power of special ops."

"Oh ... don't ask, don't tell?"

"Something like that. Rank has its privileges."

"You mean you made someone ..." Daniel ducked his head. "Never mind I don't think I want to know."


"If your Mom didn't have shower as step eight, call her and tell her to put it on the list."

Jack's eyes were glued to the TV. "I believe shower is somewhere on the list." He bent his head backwards, over the edge of the chair looking up at Daniel. "You still look a little rough around the edges ... but better." Jack's nostrils flared as he sniffed the air. "You definitely smell better."

Daniel muttered an unrecognizable word as he left the living room.

"I heard that, Daniel!"


The apartment was quiet. Suspiciously quiet for Jack. Definitely devoid of Daniel noises quiet. Jack's search revealed a napping archaeologist stretched out in bed, glasses askew, papers and books scttered the length of the quilt. "Daniel?"

Daniel mumbled and flipped over. Only Jack's quick reflexes rescued the pile of papers from being crushed under his lover's butt. Jack gathered the papers and books, gently plucking them out from under Daniel's body smoothing them out to the best of his ability and deposited the whole kit and caboodle unceremoniously to the floor. With one knee on the bed for leverage, Jack leaned into the sleeping figure and removed his glasses.


"I'm bored."

"I know."

"I showered, napped, watched cartoons, and ate."

Jack lowered the newspaper and glowered at Daniel for the last remark. "Ate?"

"Semantics ... okay. I had tea. Tell me why I can't go back to the mountain."

Jack shook the paper, straightening the lines and folded the next page over. "You still have a fever."

"Let me work then."

"Go ahead. Work. I'm not stopping you." Jack flipped the paper over. "I just want to see you stay awake and focused for more than ten minutes after you open a book or your laptop."

Daniel retrieved two books from the counter, got his pad and pen, and dropped them with a loud 'I'll show you' bang on the coffee table. Eight minutes and four written lines later, Daniel massaged his temples and forcefully slammed the books shut.

"Head hurting?" Jack inquired from behind the paper.

"Hmpf."

"How about a movie?" Jack sighed.

"No."

"TV?"

"If I didn't want a movie, why would you think I would want ..."

"History Channel ... Discovery Channel." Jack held his breath as Daniel paused, considering the two options.

"No."

"Food?"

"Not hungry."

Jack threw down the paper in disgust. He got up and pounded into the kitchen, opening and closing drawers angrily. He returned to the living room and threw a pack of cards onto the table.

"Cards?"

"Cards."

"Jack, I don't want to play ..."

"Shush. This isn't open for discussion. Step nine ... and honestly this was the best part of being home sick. Got Mom and her time all to myself. Since we don't have any board games here ... Do you have board games? Never mind, stupid question. We're going for a rousing game of 'Go Fish'."

"Go Fish?"

Jack sighed, shaking his head in wonder. "I should have known. Let me explain to you the rules of this wonderful game of skill and chance."


"You're drifting. I asked if you had an eight."

"Sorry ... ummm, no eight." Daniel covered his mouth with his hand of cards fighting down a yawn. Jack plucked the cards from Daniel's loose grip.

"Hey!" he protested. "I was finally winning."

"We've been playing most of the afternoon and I'm hungry."

Daniel dropped sideways, curling his body to fit on the couch. He pulled the afghan off the back of the couch to cover himself. "Chinese. Hot and sour soup."

Jack adjusted the blanket and bilaterally gauged Daniel's temp with a kiss on the cheek and a hand to the forehead. "Chinese is acceptable. Wonton. Your temperature is up again."

"Egg drop, extra noodles. Take out place is number 6 on the speed dial."

Jack gentle ruffled Daniel's hair. "What am I on our speed dial?" Jack teased.

"Two."

"Two? Who's number one?"

"Not who, what. Work. SGC is number one."

"The SGC?"

Daniel chuckled at Jack's menacing glance. "Work before pleasure." He taunted.


After Chinese food, two Tylenol, and enough of the Cartoon Channel to make one nauseated, Daniel dragged himself to bed. Jack cleaned up the mess, closed up the apartment, and went to take a shower. He found Daniel lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling. Jack stood over the bed, staring down at Daniel. "What's the matter? Can't sleep?"

"Too much time spent horizontal today. Slept too much already."

"I'll be right with you. Let me take a shower and I'm sure we can find some ..."

"Ways to spread germs? As much as the idea sounds appealing and tempting, I don't want you to ..."

Jack threw his hands over his heart, a look of mock indignation spread across his features. "Hey! I'm hurt that you would even suspect, even think I would ... I could."

Daniel didn't even crack a smile. "Take a shower. I'm not going anywhere."


Jack slid into carefully under the covers. "Daniel?" he whispered. Jack let his fingers skim the expanse of Daniel's shoulders as the man lay on his side, facing the opposite wall.

Daniel slithered backwards at Jack's touch, inching closer to his lover's body heat. Jack threw an arm over Daniel's stomach sliding him the rest of the way. He nestled his head in the crook between Daniel's shoulder and neck testing his temperature behind a tender kiss.

"What's ten, Jack?" Daniel asked.

"Ten?" Jack grabbed Daniel's hand as it walked down to join his around his abdomen. His fingers were hot and dry in Jack's grasp.

"Ten steps ... There's always ten steps."

Jack mentally ticked off all the steps in his mind. "Oh, you're right. Come here. Turn around and face me."

Reluctantly, Daniel turned. "I was just getting comfortable." He complained as he settled into this new position with a sigh.

Jack brought a hand up and smoothed back Daniel's hair. "I know you were, but for the tenth step it is important to see the person. Look them in the eye. I love you."

Daniel pulled back, confused.

"Okay. You don't get it."

Daniel shook his head.

"My Mom would always let me know at the end of the day when I had been sick, that taking care of me was never a burden. She would never complain that there were other, everyday chores that needed to be done. She was doing a job she loved, with the tea and the bath, the towels and the sheets. As much as I complained and whined. Mom never did. No matter how angry I got, she anticipated everything I needed. At the end of the day, she would sit on the side of the bed and tell me how much she loved me and hoped that I felt better the next day."

"And if you didn't?" Daniel said softly. "Feel better I mean."

Jack kissed Daniel gently on the nose, smiling at Daniel's annoyance with that particular show of affection. "Mom would be there with the tea and the aspirin ..."

"And all the rest of the steps?"

Jack tucked Daniel's head under his chin, rubbing his jaw along the other man's short hair. "Yup, all the other steps too."

Daniel sighed and his breath felt warm and comforting through Jack's tee shirt.

"I get it now, Jack. Thank you."

"No. You still don't get it. I don't need a thank you. You thank me with your laughter and in your smile. You thank me by loving me." Jack shrugged.

Jack could feel Daniel's smile against his skin. "I love you, Jack." Daniel shifted and kissed Jack on the cheek. "I'll thank you when I don't have a fever or germs that you can catch. I promise."

"There you go, Daniel ... now you got it."


FINIS

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