Seven Days

 

Prologue

General Hammond waited patiently for confirmation of the incoming travelers.  Three teams were currently off-world; SG-1 was due back today. 

"It's SG-1, sir."

"Open the iris."   Well, Colonel, let's see how your team looks this time.

Dr. Daniel Jackson stepped out of the shimmering event horizon, closely followed by Teal'c and Major Samantha Carter.  A few seconds later, Colonel Jack O'Neill stepped through.  Hammond sighed heavily.  There were no injuries, for which he was thankful, but the people before him were definitely not happy.

"Colonel?"  Hammond prompted.

"Piece of cake, sir.  Daniel played with rocks, Carter played with dirt, and Teal'c recorded  it all in living colour.  Another grueling mission for SGC's finest," he said flippantly.

"Colonel, are you implying these missions are irrelevant?"  Hammond asked in a dangerously low voice.

Daniel glanced sharply at Jack willing him not to say anything stupid.   Don't push him Jack; you can't win.   Carter scowled at Jack and then looked guiltily at Teal'c.  A part of her wanted the Colonel to get verbally lashed in retribution for his increasingly withdrawn behaviour.  However, a much bigger part respected and admired the Colonel and she didn't want to see blood.  Teal'c lifted his eyebrow slightly, acknowledging Carter's dilemma.  He too did not desire to witness a 'scene'.

The smirk on Jack's face held and then slowly dissolved.  "No, sir.  I didn't mean to imply that at all."

Hammond could see and feel the relief in the room at Jack's response.

"I'm glad to hear that, Colonel.  We'll debrief in one hour, people, and welcome back."

"Thank you, sir," came the mixed response.

Jack made a beeline for the exit, totally ignoring his team.  Daniel looked apologetically at Hammond and said, "He didn't sleep very well, General."

"Thank you, Doctor."  Hammond shook his head wearily as he watched his exceedingly unenthusiastic flagship team leave the room.

Part 1

"Dr. Jackson, may I have a word with you, please?"

"Of course, General.  Come in, please," Daniel said, hurriedly clearing a spot in his cluttered office for General Hammond to sit down.

"Thank you, Dr. Jackson.  I’ll come right to the point.  What, in your opinion, is Colonel O’Neill’s emotional state at this time?"

"Sir, I don’t think I’m the one-"

"Dr. Jackson, you and the Colonel have a very close relationship, do you not?"

"Umm, yes, I like to think so," Daniel murmured, uncomfortable with where this was going.

"So, I’ll ask you again.  What is Colonel O’Neill’s current emotional state?"

"Jack is performing his duties with his usual efficiency-,"

"Dr. Jackson," Hammond interrupted patiently.  "Please answer my question."

"Depressed, sir."  Daniel said quietly.  "Jack is very depressed."  Feeling that he’d just betrayed his best friend, Daniel felt compelled to reiterate his former observation.  "His performance in the field, General-"

"Is exemplary," Hammond finished.  "Yes, son.  I know."

Daniel smiled briefly and reached for his wedding cup from Abydos.  Turning it thoughtfully in his hands, he softly said, "Jack was away for over three months; he didn’t expect to come home again."  Daniel looked earnestly at the General and said,  “He started a new life for himself on Edora and we took that away.  Then when he does come home, before he can come to terms with what's happened, he’s thrown into an undercover operation with the Tollans.  His friends think he’s betrayed them; he feels he’s betrayed his friends.  He's alienated from us when he needs us the most."  Daniel looked down at the cup in his hands, remembering his life on Abydos.  Daniel looked up at the General.  "He will get better, sir.  I'm sure of it.  He just needs time."

 

"Thank you, Dr. Jackson.  That’s all I need to know," General Hammond said as he eased his tired bulk out of the chair.  "I’m going to inform the Colonel that, effective immediately, all SG teams are on stand-down for seven days."  The unspoken words, ‘help him, son’, hung in the air.  Hammond paused in the doorway and added, "Act surprised, Doctor, when Colonel O’Neill apprises you of the situation."

Daniel smiled and waited for the General to close the door.  At the sound of the soft click, he lowered his head, the wedding cup clutched to his chest, and allowed himself the luxury of a few tears.  He wondered if he’d ever stop crying for Sha’re.  Did he want to?  Would his love for Sha’re dry up if his tears dried up?  A much-loved voice spoke clearly in his head, For crying out loud, Daniel!  Are you nuts?  Chuckling self-consciously, Daniel gently kissed the cup and lovingly placed it back on his desk.  Daniel knew, without a doubt, that Jack O’Neill had given him back his life after Sha’re’s abduction.  Lost and totally bereft, Jack had been there for him in so many ways.  "Payback time, Jack, whether you want it or not," Daniel said, confirming his resolve to help his friend; previous attempts to draw Jack out had been firmly, and not always politely, rejected.

Part 2

"General, with all due respect, I have already been out of action for months not too long ago, and let’s not forget my little impromptu retirement.  I hardly need another week off," Jack protested.

"My decision stands, Colonel."

"Sir, if this is about yesterday-"

"This is not open to discussion, Colonel O’Neill.  Please inform your team immediately and close the door when you leave," Hammond said, effectively dismissing Jack.

Jack paused, bit back a retort, and accepted defeat.  "I’ll see you in one week, General."

Looking up from his reports, Hammond said kindly, "Use the time wisely, Jack."

"Yes, sir."  What the hell does that mean?  "Thank you, sir."  Jack closed the door behind him, resisting the urge to slam it shut.  Shit.  What the hell am I going to do for seven freakin' days?

"Hi Jack," a cheery voice called out.

Crap, Daniel.  Rolling his eyes heavenward, Jack turned around, a false smile pasted on his face.  "Daniel."

Daniel slowed down as he approached a not very happy Jack O’Neill.  Okay, Mr. Welcome Wagon, you’re not.  "Have you had lunch yet?" Daniel asked.

"Not hungry."

"Oh-okay.  Well, I’ll just go myself then.  See you later," Daniel said, disappointment in his voice and face as he continued on his way.

 Guilt surged through Jack.  Oh, for crying out loud.   "Daniel," he called.  Daniel stopped and turned.

"Yes, Jack?"

"I appreciate the offer but I’m really not good company right now, okay?"

"Sure, Jack.  I understand."

"By the way, Hammond’s put all SG teams on stand down for one week."

"Why?"

"Something about routine maintenance on the gate.  Whatever it is, he wants us all the hell out of here."

"What are you going to do?  Go fishing?" Daniel asked.

"Maybe.  Haven’t really thought about it.  The General just told me now."

"Maybe we could do something together," Daniel suggested.  "Or not" he amended at Jack’s withering glare.

"See you in a week, Dr. Jackson," Jack drawled, walking away from a despondent archaeologist.  Don’t look back.  Don’t look back.  Jack repeated over and over in his mind.  He knew what he’d see if he did.  Daniel, shoulders slumped, head hanging low, dejection radiating off him in waves.  I don’t need your pity, Daniel and trust me, you sure as hell don't want to be around me.

Jack sought out Major Samantha Carter and Teal’c, informing them of the impromptu holiday.  Carter was thrilled to have time to work on her presentation for an upcoming conference and Teal’c requested permission to visit his family before the scheduled maintenance began.

Well, I have two happy campers.  In fact, they seemed damned glad.  Have I been that bad?  Jack thought idly as he returned to his office.  Curious as to whether Daniel was serious about eating, Jack detoured to the commissary.  Sure enough, there was Daniel, poking his fork unenthusiastically into something unrecognizable.  Hell, Daniel.  How do you manage to look so pathetic?  Jack mused as he sauntered over to Daniel’s table.

"What the hell is that?"  Jack asked, straddling a chair, his forearms resting on the back.

"Damned if I know."

Jack laughed, unprepared for Daniel’s response.  Ahh, Danny.  You can always make me laugh.

Smiling ruefully, Daniel said, "I think it’s supposed to be chicken pot pie."

"It’s green," Jack said, making a face.

"Yes.  I think they got carried away with the asparagus or broccoli, or something," Daniel replied thoughtfully.

"What the hell kind of chicken pot pie has asparagus and broccoli?"

Daniel shrugged.  "Maybe it’s the lima beans?"

"That does it!"  Jack said disgustedly.  "Get rid of that.  I’ll buy you a decent lunch...outside," Jack said raising his voice so the cooking staff could hear him.  Scrambling after Jack, Daniel gave a wink and a quick 'thumbs up' to the cook.

Part 3

"You son of a bitch, you set me up," Jack hissed, rage glinting in his eyes.

"It’s not like that, Jack," Daniel said frantically.  A slip of the tongue and Daniel had inadvertently informed Jack of his chat with General Hammond.  "He’s worried about you, Jack.  We all are.  You have to-,"

"Don’t say it, Daniel.  Don’t you dare tell me what I should or shouldn’t do," Jack said angrily, rising from his chair.

"Jack, please.  I’m sorry.  Sit-"

"Shut up, Daniel.  Just shut the fuck up.  Pay for your own goddamn lunch," Jack said coldly, smacking the bill on the table.

Sorrowful, blue eyes watched an irate Jack O’Neill storm out of the pub.  Grateful, for once, for the steady din of O’Malley’s, Daniel stared glumly at their half-eaten meals.  Smooth, Jackson.   Real smooth.

Jack pulled over to the side of the road, realizing that he was too angry to be driving.  Thumping the steering wheel in frustration did little to alleviate his tension.  "Damn you, Daniel.  Why can’t you just leave it the hell alone?"  Hot tears began to sting Jack’s eyes as he answered his own question.  "Because he’s your friend, you asshole.  Because he knows what it’s like.  Because he cares and he wants to help you, you worthless bag of shit."  Jack slumped forward in defeat, resting his head on the steering wheel.  "Damnit, Daniel.  You do this to me every time."

Part 4

Daniel tossed his journal aside and turned on the television, idly flipping channels.  Pausing momentarily on a hockey game, he felt a sudden sense of loss; he missed his friend.  Images of happier times in front of Jack’s television set flashed through his weary mind.  Daniel swiped at the tears blurring his vision and switched the station to a cooking show.  "This should be safe," he muttered.  "Nothing in common between crepes and Jack O’Neill.  Nope, nothing at all.  Crepes...crepe...crap...oh, crap.  Damn you, Jack.  Why won’t you let me help you?  I know you’re feeling lost and confused.  You don’t know where you belong, where you want to be.  Believe me, I know what it’s like.  God, I’m babbling to myself."  Turning off the TV, Daniel picked up his empty coffee mug and went into the kitchen.  While pouring himself another cup and starting a fresh pot, Daniel admitted to himself that Jack would have to make the next move.  To push Jack further would be tantamount to suicide.  Marginally convinced that he had done all he could, Daniel immersed himself in translations; it was the most effective method of escape he knew.

A six-pack of beer and two hockey games later, Jack O’Neill went outside to watch the setting sun; the colours were beautiful.  He thought of Laira and wondered how she was; was she watching a sunset or…was it a sunrise?  Dismayed that he didn’t even know what time of day it was on Edora, Jack closed his eyes, trying to visualize the planet that had been his home for over three months.  In his mind’s eye, he saw the woman who had welcomed him so warmly into her life, and into her bed.  The simple life he had embraced.  Just like Daniel.  Jack’s eyes snapped open.  "For crying out loud, Daniel.  Can’t I do anything without you popping up?"  Jack complained.  A sudden growling alerted Jack to his stomach’s distress.  "Should’ve finished that lunch," he muttered.  A wave of guilt washed over Jack.  Not only had he been rude to Daniel but he had also stuck him with the bill.  "Aarghh!  Stop thinking about it," Jack said loudly.  "Food, that’s what you need to concentrate on.  Food."  Returning to the kitchen, Jack made himself something to eat and plunked back down in front of the TV.  There was always something to watch.  Ah, there.  Fly-fishing.  This has potential.  A nice river…a cabin.  Yeah.  Ha, I can just see Daniel trying-.  Crap!  Flipping channels, Jack finally ended on a mind-numbing infomercial for hair removal.  That and a few whiskies later, he mercifully passed out.

Part 5

"Damn woodpecker," Daniel mumbled sleepily.  The knocking seemed to be endless.  "Go ‘way."  The silence that followed was blissful.  "Thank you," Daniel muttered as he began to drift off into blessed oblivion.  A renewed and exuberant bout of banging brought Daniel to a somewhat alert state.  "Okay, okay, I’m coming," he called out, finally realizing that someone was at his door.  God, what time is it?  Peering through the peephole he saw Jack, a very impatient Jack.  Wondering if Jack was here to beat the crap out of him, Daniel hesitantly opened the door.

"It’s about time," Jack complained as he pushed past Daniel.

"Uh-come in," Daniel said to the empty doorway.

"What, did I wake you?"  Jack asked, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

"Umm-yes, yes you did.  What time is it?"  Daniel asked as he stifled a yawn.

"It’s six o’clock already."

"Six-six o’clock?  As in a.m.?"

Jeez, Danny.  How do you manage to look so cute this early in the morning?  "Yes, Daniel.  Here, you go have a shower," Jack said, gently steering Daniel towards the bathroom, "and I’ll make some coffee.  We can grab some breakfast on the way."

"On the way?"  Daniel said confused.

"Yeah, we’re going on a trip.  We're going fishing."

"Fishing?"

"Yes.  Now come on, I only have six days to do it in."

"Six days?"

"God, Danny, did you get any sleep at all?"  Jack asked good-naturedly.

"I-I don’t know.  I just remember this-this woodpecker, or something," Daniel mumbled distractedly.

"Woodpecker?  Jeez, Daniel, you're weird.  Come on, move it," he said, giving Daniel a friendly push.

Jack put the coffee on and, while Daniel was in the shower, he took the liberty to pack him some clothes.  Thumbing through some obscure archaeology magazine, Jack looked up and smiled approvingly at a tousled, but shiny and somewhat alert, Daniel Jackson.

"Here," he said, offering Daniel a large mug of steaming black coffee.

"Thank you," Daniel replied, gratefully inhaling the aroma before swallowing a healthy gulp.

"Easy, Daniel.  It’s still hot."

Waving his hand in a ‘piece of cake’ gesture, Daniel flopped down in a chair.  "So...where exactly are we going?"

"Just a little place I know, about four hours from here."

"Okay," Daniel said, accepting the vague response.  "So...why are we going?"  Daniel’s eyes locked onto Jack’s as he sipped his coffee.  The deep concern and hope in those radiant blue eyes drew Jack like a magnet.

"Look, Daniel...about yesterday...at lunch..."

"It’s okay, Jack.  I shouldn’t-"

"No, Daniel," Jack interrupted, holding up a silencing finger.  "You were just trying to help and I was being an ass."

"Okay."

"You don't have to agree so readily, you know."

Daniel smiled and took another sip.  He looked guiltily at Jack and said, "Look Jack, in case you’re wondering, Hammond didn’t put me up to it.  He’s concerned of course, but he didn’t set you up."

Jack nodded, accepting the explanation.  Raising his eyebrows, Jack said, "Green chicken pot pie?"

"Ah, well...yes, that was a setup," Daniel said ducking his head.

"Your idea?"

Daniel nodded, a half-smile gracing his face.

"Good one, Dannyboy.  There’s hope for you yet," Jack said impressed.

"Jack, I’m sorry I tricked you," Daniel said sincerely.

"Don’t be.  I didn’t give you much choice, and I haven't exactly been Mr. Congeniality."  Jack leaned forward, swirling his coffee in front of him.  Glancing up at Daniel and seeing the compassion in his friend's eyes, he said quietly, "I know I need to talk about Edora, Daniel.  I also know that you’re the only one I can talk to but I’m just not ready yet."

"Believe me, Jack, I understand.  I just want you to know that I’m here.  Anytime," Daniel said earnestly.

"I know that," Jack said gratefully, thinking of the countless times and ways that he needed his unassuming, and remarkable young friend.

"So," Daniel said lightly, trying to ease the tension, "I guess I should pack some clothes."

"Oh, I did that already."

"You packed my clothes?"  Daniel asked incredulously.

"Hey, trust me.  You can pack your personal stuff, and books or whatever," Jack offered magnanimously.

"Gee Dad, thanks," Daniel said grinning.

Scowling, Jack said, "Now snap to it.  I’ll get us coffee to go."

"Did you pack me underwear?"  Daniel asked as he stood up.

"Yes, Daniel," Jack sighed.

"Just checking," Daniel replied as he went to gather up the rest of his ‘stuff’.  A few minutes later and he was ready.

"Let’s rock and roll," Jack said smiling.

Part 6

After an hour into the drive, Jack pulled off the road and stopped the car.  He sat very still, staring down at his hands clasping the steering wheel.  Daniel, who had been dozing, sat up warily.

"Jack?"

Jack’s hands tightened, his knuckles whitening.  "Jack, what’s wrong?"  Daniel asked, now fully alert.

Jack swung his gaze slowly over to Daniel.  Daniel saw guilt and pain.  "I’m sorry," Jack said hoarsely.

"For what?"  Daniel asked perplexed.

"Hell, Danny.  I didn’t even ask if you wanted to come."

"That’s okay-"

"No.  No, Daniel, it’s not okay.  I treat you like shit and then I practically kidnap you.  There’s nothing okay about it."

"Well, then ask me."

"It’s a little late for that," Jack said gruffly.

"No, it isn’t.  We only left an hour ago, it’s not too late to turn back."

Jack felt a sudden twinge of trepidation that perhaps Daniel did want to go home.  He looked out the window then back at Daniel.  "Would you like to go fishing with me, Daniel?"

"For how long?"

"A few days, six if you’d like."

"Just fishing?"  Daniel inquired.

"And...talking," Jack said hesitantly.

"Talking’s good."

"So, is that a yes?"  Jack asked.

"Don’t rush me.  Let me think."

"Daniel," Jack said exasperated.

"Okay."

"Okay, what?"

"Okay, I’d love to go with you."  Daniel proclaimed.

"Good...that’s good.  So, do you want to leave now?"  Jack inquired politely.

"Yes, let’s," Daniel said decisively.

Shaking his head in amusement, Jack started the car and pulled out into the road.

"Jack?"

"Yes, Daniel?"

"Did you pack me enough underwear for six days?"

"Yes, Daniel."

"Good.  Six days it is."

Smiling broadly, Jack resisted the urge to ruffle Daniel’s hair.  "Can you last another hour before breakfast?"  Jack asked to the accompanying growl of his own stomach.

"I think the question is, 'Can you last another hour, Jack?’"  Daniel countered.

"Point taken.  We’ll stop in an hour if not sooner."  

Part 7

Daniel sat back in the car seat, comfortably sated after a hearty but greasy breakfast, and enjoyed the passing scenery.  Jack gazed fondly at his friend and thanked every deity he could think of for granting him Daniel Jackson.  The hours went by quickly.  Soon, Jack announced, "We’re almost there."

"Uh-Jack, this place does have running water and an indoor toilet, right?  I mean, off-world I expect to have to use bushes or whatever, but when I’m on vacation, you know, I’d like-"

"Relax, Daniel.  It’ll meet with your approval," Jack assured him.

"Good.  Just checking."

"Here we are," Jack said as he stopped in front of a good-sized log cabin.  Daniel got out of the car and took in his surroundings.

"So, what do you think?"  Jack asked anxiously.

Daniel looked around at the trees, the mountains, and the lake; even the fish were jumping.  "Wow, it’s like a movie set.  Everything’s here.  It’s beautiful, Jack.  No, it’s stunning…absolutely stunning."

Feeling absurdly proud, Jack murmured quietly, "I thought you’d like it."

"Like?  This is incredible, Jack."  An eerie cry broke the silence.  "Jack, a loon!"  Daniel said excitedly.

God, he’s just like Charlie.  The sudden thought in Jack’s head stopped his breath and he turned away, swallowing hard.  Daniel noticed the sudden movement out of the corner of his eye.

"Jack?" he asked quietly.

Jack grunted, dismissing him with a wave, "I’m okay.  Just a sudden attack of nostalgia."

"Charlie?"  Daniel ventured gently.

"Yeah, Charlie."

"This was your place; yours and Charlie’s."

Moist, brown eyes looked at Daniel.  "You’re the only other person I’ve brought here."

"Jack, we can go somewhere else if-"

"No.  No, I wanted to bring you here, Daniel.  I-I wanted to share this with you," Jack said gesturing around him.  I need some new memories. 

"I don’t know what to say, Jack," Daniel said blinking back his own tears.

"Look," Jack said quickly.  "Why don't you sit here and enjoy the scenery and I’ll unpack the car.  I’ll get the food put away and come back out to join you."

Daniel readily complied, understanding that Jack needed the time to regroup.

The first thing Jack did was to put on some coffee, and then he had everything unpacked and put away in a matter of minutes.  He stood in the kitchen and watched Daniel from the window.  "God, Daniel, you have no idea how much it means to me having you here."  Jack heard the distinctive call of a flock of geese.  His heart burst with joy as Daniel’s face lit up and he looked back hurriedly at the cabin, willing Jack to come out and share the sight.  Jack poured two mugs of coffee and returned outside.

"Did you hear the geese, Jack?"

"Yeah.  Get used to it; you’ll hear it a lot."

Gratefully accepting the coffee, Daniel shuffled over to make room for Jack to sit on the crude log bench.  "I’d never get tired of that sound," he said thoughtfully.  Sipping his coffee he glanced sideways at Jack.  "Thank you," he whispered.

"Didn’t want you to get a caffeine headache," Jack said simply.

"No," Daniel said shaking his head.  "Thank you for bringing me here."

Jack, at a loss for words, leaned over and nudged Daniel affectionately with his shoulder.  The gesture elicited a shy smile and Daniel instinctively leaned into the touch.  They sat that way for a long time, until Daniel's bladder got the better of him.

"See, that's what all that coffee does to you.  Rots your kidneys," Jack teased as he entered the cabin with Daniel.

"I'll take the risk," Daniel replied.

"Bathroom's down there," Jack directed.

"Thanks."

Jack wandered into the living-room and checked the fireplace.

"Great fireplace," Daniel said admiringly.

"Yeah, it's my favourite part.  It's hard to beat a stone fireplace."

Daniel nodded and then looked around, a puzzled look on his face.  Jack smiled, knowing what was going through his friend's mind.  "Something wrong?"  Jack asked.

"Uh-no-no, nothing at all," Daniel replied still looking perplexed.

"Daniel?"

Daniel looked confusedly at Jack.  "It's just that…there's no television, Jack."

"Is that going to be a problem?" Jack inquired.

"No-no, not at all.  It's just that, well, there's no television," he repeated, stymied by the discovery.

"Yep, it's just you, me, and the great outdoors.  Think you can live with that?"

Daniel's grin conveyed his whole-hearted support of the scenario.

"Come on, I'll show you your room."

"Do you own this, Jack?"  Daniel asked as he followed Jack.

"I wish.  No, it's a rental.  Sara and I used to come here all the time.  Charlie loved it.  He used to count the days, hell the months, to vacation time.  This was his room," Jack said as Daniel followed him into a small but well-appointed room.  Daniel felt his chest and throat constrict.  Jack had never talked so openly about Charlie and he was a little overwhelmed by it.

"Jack, are you sure?  I could just as easily sleep on the couch."

Jack smiled warmly and placed his hand on Daniel's shoulder.  "I've never been more sure in my life, Daniel."

Daniel smiled, his eyes shimmering.  "It's perfect," he whispered.

"Yes, it is," Jack said enigmatically.  "Come on, I'll show you the rest of the cabin," he said brightly.  Jack steered Daniel out, his hand still casually resting on Daniel's shoulder.

Part 8

Jack couldn’t remember when he had last had such a relaxing and enjoyable time. They fished, read, played chess, and played cards.  Daniel asked about fly-fishing and Jack showed him the rudiments of the art and how to tie flies.  In return, Daniel showed him how to tie better flies.  Initially, Jack was amazed at Daniel’s abilities but he soon realized that Daniel’s infinite patience and dexterity with small objects were only natural given his occupation and training.  He also caught on very quickly to the art of fly-fishing.

"You’ve been holding out on me, Daniel," Jack said accusingly.

Beaming happily, Daniel replied, "Just because I may forget to eat or sleep-"

"Or wear shoes."

"Or tie my laces," Daniel conceded graciously, "doesn’t mean I’m a total dweeb.  It’s the same as you pretending 90% of the time you don’t have a clue as to what Sam and I are talking about."

"Now that’s not pretending," Jack protested.

"Yeah, right and I’m a cross-dresser."

"Now that would be fun to see," Jack said as he threw out his line.

"In your dreams, Jack."

"How’d you know that’s what I dream about?"  Jack teased.

Blushing, but refusing to rise to the bait, Daniel asked, "So, what do you think Teal’c would look like with a beard?"

 And so the days went by.  The two friends bantered easily back and forth and caught up on some much-needed rest.  Jack hadn’t realized how much he had missed the gentle camaraderie of Daniel Jackson until he immersed himself in it; he vowed that he would never become estranged from his friend again.  He didn’t feel any pressure from Daniel to "talk".  They were just two friends on vacation and Jack was loving every minute of it.  He knew they would talk and he also knew it would just come naturally.  The third night, it came.

Daniel brought out the coffee and he and Jack settled down to enjoy another beautiful sunset.  Sipping his coffee, Jack said quietly, "Laira and I used to watch the sun go down."

Daniel glanced sideways at Jack and nodded knowingly.  "Some of my favourite moments with Sha’re were when we watched the sun rise or set on Abydos.  I always hoped to show her an Earth sunset; this would have been perfect," Daniel said wistfully.

Jack looked fondly at Daniel and wished for the thousandth time that they could’ve saved Sha’re.  "How are you doing, Daniel?  So much has happened since Sha’re died, I haven’t really asked you."  Great friend you are, Jack. 

"Well, I’ve finally stopped crying at night," he said with a shrug.  "Then, maybe not," he amended softly.  Jack reached out, tenderly brushing aside the single tear sliding down Daniel’s cheek.

"I’m so sorry, Danny," he whispered.  Daniel nodded his thanks, blinking back another tear.

"You tried so hard to save her, Jack.  I can’t thank you enough for that."

"No one tried harder than you, Daniel.  Kasuf and Skaara know that, and so did Sha’re."

"God, I hope so."  Daniel poked absently at a spot on the ground with a stick.  "I don’t know if Teal’c said anything or not, but I wasn’t very nice to Sha’re when I saw her on Abydos...that time."

Jack could hear the self-recrimination in Daniel’s voice and he replied without hesitation, "Teal’c said you refused to leave her side until she gave birth.  He said you held her, comforted her, and loved her.  You didn’t give your own safety a second’s thought even though you knew Ammonet would emerge as soon as the child was born."

"Good old Teal’c," Daniel said with a sad smile.

"Did he lie?"

"No, but he didn’t tell you everything," Daniel said hollowly.

"Maybe he only said what was important, Daniel."

Daniel wrapped both hands around his mug and shivered slightly.  Jack knew the shiver wasn’t from cold.  Daniel was reaching into himself, preparing to pull out the ugliness he mistakenly thought dwelled within him.  Jack knew there wasn’t an ounce of meanness in Daniel but Daniel didn’t believe that.  Daniel looked at Jack and then focused on the ground. 

"When I saw that she was pregnant...I...I could barely look at her."  Daniel looked up at Jack.  "I was angry, Jack.  Angry that she...I was so cruel to her, Jack."  Daniel’s voice choked and Jack placed a comforting arm around his friend’s shoulders.

"You’re a lot of things, Daniel but cruel is definitely not one of them.  It was just a gut reaction.  Just seeing her must’ve been a big shock," Jack said reasonably.

"When I realized she was pregnant with Apophis’s child I was angry with her because she hadn’t been stronger.  Angry that she allowed him to do that."

"Sha’re didn’t have any say in the matter, Daniel.  She was a victim."

"I know that.  I-I just couldn’t help feeling betrayed.  God, I wasted so much time; time I could have spent loving my wife, telling her how much I loved her.  I’ll never see her again, Jack."  Daniel lowered his head and cried quietly. 

Jack’s throat tightened at his friend’s anguish.  Damnit, Danny.  Don't do this to yourself.   Jack gently massaged Daniel’s shoulders, offering him support.  The much welcomed comfort helped and Daniel soon regained his composure and straightened up.  "She really cared about the baby," he said.

"He was her child, Daniel.  You care about him, too."

"Yeah, I do," Daniel smiled.  "I just wish that-," Daniel’s voice cracked and he looked away.

 Jack’s heart ached for his gentle friend.  Squeezing Daniel’s shoulder tightly, Jack said quietly, "You wish you could have given her a child."

Daniel hitched in a breath and turned tear-filled eyes to Jack.  "We thought we had all the time in the world.  Why did it have to happen to Sha’re?  She deserved so much better."

"You both did, Daniel.  Wanna know what I think?"

Daniel looked inquiringly at Jack.  Giving Daniel a gentle shake, Jack said, "I think you gave more to Sha’re in your one year together than she would have had in a lifetime on Abydos without you."

Gazing skeptically but appreciatively at Jack, Daniel answered with a small smile.

"I’m serious, Daniel.  And let’s not forget the small fact that you gave her and her people their lives back.  Freedom from slavery and all that."

"You’re a big softie, Jack," Daniel teased.

When it comes to you, you’re damn right.  "Don’t spread it around, okay?  It doesn’t fit with my rat bastard persona," Jack said seriously.

Daniel laughed and gave his assurance.  Satisfied, Jack stood up and held out his hand.  "More coffee?"

"Yes, please.  Thank you."  Daniel watched Jack leave then leaned back, gazing up at the stars that were slowly winking on.  "I’ll always love you, Sha’re.  Please be happy," he whispered.  Daniel knew that Sha’re was in a much better place now than she ever was as a host to Apophis’s queen.  Nevertheless, his failure to protect her was a constant ache in his heart.  Looking towards the cabin, his heart reached out to Jack.  As deep as the pain of his loss was, he knew it paled in comparison to that which Charlie’s death had wrought upon Jack.  Daniel reflected upon the amazing adaptability of the human spirit and knew that he too would be fine.  It would just take time and a friend called Jack O’Neill.

Part 9

"What are you smiling about?  You look like the cat that ate the cream," Jack said as he sat back down and placed two mugs of coffee on the ground.

"Just life," Daniel answered with a smile.

"Along with the universe and everything?"

"No, haven’t got that far yet."

"Well, maybe this will help," Jack said as he shrugged a pack off his back.  He pulled out a large thermos and placed it in front of Daniel.  "This is for you and this," he said pulling out a bottle of whiskey, "is for me but I may be inclined to share it."

"Jack Daniels?"

"Apropos, don't'cha think?"

"It has a nice ring," Daniel conceded.  "Anything to eat in there?" he asked hopefully, trying to peek into the pack.

"What kind of a host do you think I am?"  Jack protested as he pulled out a jar of peanuts

"Ooh, honey-roasted.  My favourite."

"Help yourself," Jack said as he passed the jar to Daniel.

"Thanks."

"So, life must be good," Jack said blithely.  "I mean, by the way you were smiling and all."

"Yeah," Daniel smiled.  "For the most part, life’s pretty good.  I’m not anxious to leave it in any case."

"Amen to that.  Keep rolling with the punches, Daniel.  That’s the trick," Jack said quietly.

"And if I fall?"

"I’ll be right there to catch you," Jack said solemnly.

Daniel locked eyes with Jack, seeing a deadly earnestness in the caring, brown eyes.

"Promise?" he asked with a shy smile.

"Promise."

An overwhelming sense of peace settled over Daniel and he basked in its comfort.  "Jack?"

"Hmm?"

"You know that thing with the straws?"

Jack winced at the memory of his attempted apology for denouncing their friendship and of Daniel’s cutting response.  "Yeah."

"I made that up.  You probably know that but I just want to make sure," Daniel said sincerely.

 Jack held Daniel's gaze for several seconds.  Smiling, he held his mug out to Daniel and said, "To the most solid friendship I know."  With a grateful smile, Daniel clinked his mug against Jack's, toasting their friendship.

"I guess I deserved it, though," Jack admitted after another swallow.

"It was a pretty rotten thing to do, Jack."

"But you do understand why I did it, don't you?"  Jack asked worriedly.

"Yes, but I still don't like it."

"Daniel, I'll do whatever it takes to keep you safe; to keep my team safe.  God forbid, anything like that should happen again, but if it does, I want you to remember…I need you to remember that you're the best damned friend I've ever had, or ever will have.  I don't ever want to lose what we have, Daniel.  I can't."

Daniel stared silently at Jack, absorbing his words.  Softly, he said, "You could have been killed, Jack.  You could have died and our last words to each other would have been…"  Daniel waved his hand in the air, unable to express his fear.  "Then, assuming that Hammond would have eventually told us the truth, I'd end up hating you for what you did, and hating myself for my reaction."

"That’s why I need you to remember what I said, Daniel.  Promise me.  Promise me you'll remember," Jack implored.

"I promise, Jack, but if it happens again, you are going to be one sorry son-of-a-bitch," Daniel said ominously.

"Understood," Jack said with a grim smile.  The wrath of Daniel was not something to be taken lightly.

"Look!"  Daniel said excitedly.  "A shooting star!"  All thoughts of betrayal and subterfuge vanished from Daniel's mind at the sight of the simple stellar phenomenon.  Jack looked affectionately at Daniel and shook his head.  The man travels galaxies and he still gets a thrill from a simple meteor seen from Earth.  Don’t ever change, Danny.

"Did you see it?"

"Yeah, I did."

"We never saw any on Abydos.  Sha're and I always looked but-Oh God, Jack.  I'm sorry," Daniel said in a stricken voice.

"For what?"  Jack said in alarm.

"The shooting star.  I just realized that it might…you know…remind you of Edora," his voice trailed off.

"It's okay, Daniel.  I have some good memories of Edora."

“I’m glad,” Daniel replied, accepting Jack's assurance.  Daniel helped himself to more coffee and then held his mug out to Jack, a quirky smile on his face.  "Share a little?"  Grinning broadly, Jack poured a little whiskey into Daniel's coffee.  Daniel took a sip and shivered.  "Whoa, I don't know how you can drink that stuff straight."

"Practice, Dannyboy.  Lots and lots of practice.  But right now, I think I'll join you and have it with coffee."

Settled back with their drinks, Daniel noticed that Jack was watching him intently.  "What?"  Daniel asked casually.

"What?"  Jack retorted, a bit startled.

"What do you want to ask me?"

"What makes you think-"

"Jack," Daniel interrupted with a 'don't give me that shit' tone of voice.

Suitably reprimanded, Jack said, "It's kind of personal."

"Ask me," Daniel invited.

Jack nodded, and asked, "When did you realize that you were in love with Sha're?"

Daniel smiled at the question and at the memory.  It hurt to talk about Sha're, but Daniel found it cathartic.  "That's easy.  It was when she showed me the writing on the temple wall, depicting the history of Ra.  It wasn't long before you showed up, actually.  Sha're and I were trying to understand each other.  Jack, it was so exciting when we realized that we could communicate.  I mean, really communicate.  Learning words from each other.  She taught me her words and I taught her ours.  God, the joy and wonder in her eyes; her thirst for knowledge.  I didn’t stand a chance, Jack; she stole my heart then and there."  Daniel looked at Jack shyly, his eyes shining.

Jack swallowed hard.  The unabashed love in Daniel's eyes was heart-wrenching.  "Thank you for sharing that, Daniel," he said quietly.

"I'm happy to share good memories with you, Jack. It's sure a lot easier than the bad ones."

And you've had more than your fair share of those.  "I guess it's my turn, huh?"  Jack said uncomfortably.

"You didn't force me, Jack and I won't force you," Daniel said gently.

Jack regarded Daniel closely.  Although the evening was late, the moonlight and cabin lights clearly revealed the sincerity in Daniel's eyes.  Not that he expected anything else.  Nodding more to himself than Daniel, Jack said, "Ask me."

Daniel met Jack's level gaze with his own.  Adding more coffee to his mug, he sat back then asked, "Did you love Laira?"

"Yes, I loved her," Jack said softly.  "But…I don't know if I was…in love with her."

Hearing the pain in Jack's admission, Daniel asked, "You feel that way because you left her?  You feel guilty that you didn't stay on Edora?"

"Yes," Jack said glumly.

"Did you want to stay?"

Jack stared into his mug, swirling the contents absently.  "A part of me did but a bigger part obviously didn't," Jack said reproachfully.  "When I realized that the Stargate was gone, I felt such a rush of panic and disbelief.  I spent days digging, hoping it was just buried and not destroyed. Then, little by little, I began to let go but I never stopped thinking about you and the others.  One day, I finally let Laira take my things away.  That was the day she heard the voices on the radio.  When she told me I could hear the resignation in her voice."  Jack looked at Daniel, guilt etched into his features.   "Hell, Daniel, I was out to that site so fast.  When I saw Teal'c's face, I was so goddamned happy.  I was rescued.  I was going home.  That's all I could think about.  Laira who?"  he snorted in self-derision.

"Jack, you can't beat yourself up because you wanted your life back," Daniel assured him.  "I willingly stayed on Abydos but you, you had no choice.  You were stranded, Jack.  Cut off from your home and your friends.  It must have been terrifying for you, left behind like that."

"The feeling is indescribable," Jack whispered.  But you know that, don't you, Danny?  I left you behind to die.

"Jack, don't go there.  I begged you to leave." 

Jack stared at his friend.  "You can be damn scary at times, you know that?"

"Practice, Jack.  Lots and lots of practice.  Now, about Laira?"  Daniel prompted.

"Right."  Jack threw a couple of stones into the lake, their soft plops an odd comfort.  "Laira made it bearable.  She never once blamed me, unlike a lot of the other villagers.  She patiently coaxed me into accepting my new life and…letting go of my old one.  Christ, it was hard, Daniel.  Hell, I even missed your boring old lectures."

"I'm moved," Daniel replied, knowing all too well that Jack was resorting to humour to cope with his guilt and his loss.  Daniel eyed his friend closely.  "Did you really believe we abandoned you, Jack?"

Jack looked at Daniel and shrugged his shoulder.  "A long time passed, Daniel, although it seemed a hell of a lot longer.  I knew Hammond couldn't continue the search indefinitely.  I'm expendable," he said simply.

"Not to me, Jack," Daniel said forcefully.  "And not to Sam, Teal'c, or Hammond.  We wouldn't have stopped trying.  Sam got even less sleep than I did.  She was relentless; she was determined to find you and she did."

"And don't think I'm not grateful," Jack insisted.

"That was the longest three months of my life too.  We went through hell, Jack.  We knew where you were but we didn't even know if you were still alive."

"I know, Daniel and I'm truly sorry for that," Jack said sincerely.  Jack could well imagine the fear and anxiety the loss of the Stargate must have caused his friends.  Jack didn’t know how he would have handled things if it were Daniel, Sam or Teal'c who had been lost.  Not very well, that was for damn sure; leaving a team member behind, or losing one to a Goa'uld were his two greatest fears.  Jack took a gulp of his drink.   "The rest of the villagers started to accept me.  Laira and I were getting…close.   I guess it was just easier to cope if I believed I wasn't going to be rescued."

"You slept with her?"  Daniel asked.

"Yes," Jack replied quietly.  "She wanted-," Jack's voice faltered and he turned away from Daniel.

"She wanted you to help her have another baby," Daniel finished gently, a fleeting image of Laira protectively caressing her belly flashing in his mind.

Jack looked appreciatively at Daniel, and said, "You're scaring me again."

"Sorry," Daniel smiled.

"I tried not to get involved, Daniel.  I really did," Jack sighed.   "But one night, after a little too much of the local brew-,"

"You were a goner."

"Yeah, big time."

"God, Daniel.  I hadn't been with anyone since Sara.  I didn’t realize how much I missed being with someone until I went to sleep beside Laira and woke up next to her.  Loving someone.  Being loved."

"I know," Daniel whispered.  The sorrow in Daniel's voice was like a punch in the gut.

"Jeez, Daniel, I'm sorry."  Jack felt like shit.  Here he was bemoaning the loss of a woman he had only known for a few months.  A woman he chose to leave; a woman who was alive and well; a woman whom he could see if he really wanted to.  Daniel, on the other hand, had married Sha're, fully expecting to live the rest of his life with her.  After only one year, she had been cruelly taken as a host and for three years Daniel searched in the faint hope of rescuing his wife.  Those years of hope culminated in the birth of Sha're's child by Apophis and in the death of Sha're at the hands of Teal'c.

Daniel smiled sadly at Jack.  "It's okay, Jack.  You can’t keep apologizing every time you remind me of Sha're.  Your pain isn’t any less real or important than mine."

Jack gazed steadily at the young archaeologist.  "You're a good man, Daniel Jackson, and a hell of a friend."

"I'll drink to that," Daniel grinned as he held out his mug to Jack for a refill.

"Another shot of this stuff and you'll fall asleep on me," Jack grumbled amiably as he complied.

"Straight coffee after this, I promise."

"There's another pot ready for you.  Here, give me the thermos and I'll fill it," Jack offered.

"No, I'll do it.  I need to go inside anyway," Daniel said as he picked up the thermos and started for the cabin.

"Oh, Daniel, watch out for that-," Jack winced at the muffled 'oomph' from Daniel.

"Stump?"  Daniel supplied from his sprawled position on the ground.

"Yeah," Jack grinned.  "That's the one."

"I thought it was further over," Daniel grumbled as he picked himself up.

"You okay?"  Jack asked with genuine concern.

"I'm fine.  Anything I can bring you?"

Just yourself, Danny.  "There's another jar of nuts in the cupboard over the stove.  Seeing as you've scarfed most of these," he emphasized with a shake of the jar.

"I thought you liked seeing me eat," came Daniel's fading response as he entered the cabin.

Part 10

Jack smiled and stood up, stretching the kinks out of his back.  Emotionally, it felt good to talk but it was physically tiring.  He closed his eyes and inhaled the fresh scent of the woods, allowing the soft  sounds of the night to soothe him.  Jack didn’t realize he'd been standing there that long until he heard a voice at his shoulder.  "Nothing like this on Abydos."

 Startled by his friend's silent approach, Jack scowled faintly.  "Don't sneak up on me, Daniel.  You never know when I'll revert to old habits."

"Sorry," Daniel said contritely but Jack could hear the amusement in his voice.  "Here," he said holding out a sweater, "You should put this on; it's getting chilly."

"Thanks," Jack said, shrugging into the garment.  "I didn't see much of Abydos but Edora had some pretty nice spots from the little I saw."  Jack sat back down on the bench and Daniel joined him, studying him closely.

"Did you ask Laira to come back with you?"

"Yes."

"Because you wanted her to, or because it was the right thing to do?"

Jack looked sideways at Daniel.  Only Daniel would have the nerve to ask him that and only Daniel could get away with it.  "Both," he said finally.

Daniel waited several seconds before saying, "But-"

Jack smiled mirthlessly.  "Going right for the jugular, eh Daniel?"

Daniel gazed solemnly at Jack, his blue eyes filled only with compassion and concern.

"But more of the latter," Jack conceded.  "Damnit Daniel, I missed the SGC; I missed Earth for crying out loud.  I'm not ready to settle down as a family man and definitely not on another planet."

"How did she relate to you during the days that the gate was being unburied?  She knew you were going to leave, right?"

"She knew.  I wasn't going to lie to her."

"And?" Daniel prodded.

"And she became a little more, you know, uh, demanding," Jack said, suddenly absorbed in his fingernails.

"Ah, you mean she-"

"Yes, Daniel."

"And you um-rose to the challenge?"

"I held up my end," Jack said proudly.

"I bet you did," Daniel laughed and then flinched as Jack raised his fist in mock anger.

"Well, anyway," Daniel ventured.  "She obviously wanted to stay on Edora."

"She said her place was there."

"And your place is here, Jack.  She can't hold that against you, so why do you?"

"What if she's pregnant Daniel?"  Jack said wearily.

"I don’t know," Daniel smiled.  "I kind of like the idea of a little Jack or Jackie O'Neill out there."

"Be serious, Daniel," Jack said crossly.

"I'm deadly serious, Jack.  Laira wanted a child.  If you gave her that then you did a wonderful thing.  You should be happy for her."

"I just feel so damned irresponsible.  I feel like I used her."

"I think you used each other, Jack.  You didn't force her.  If anything, it sounds like she forced you."

"Could you leave a woman you got pregnant?"  Jack asked bitterly.

Daniel pondered the question and said softly, "I don't think I'll ever have to worry about that."

Jack looked sharply at Daniel.  "What the hell kind of crap is that to say?"

"Look at my track record, Jack," Daniel said grimly.  "Hathor, Shyla, the Destroyer of Worlds.  My wife gets pregnant by another man."  Daniel's voice choked and Jack cursed himself a dozen times over for upsetting his friend.  Not knowing what to say, Jack reached out and clasped the back of Daniel's neck.  He gave a gentle squeeze and shake, apologizing and offering support in his gesture.

Sighing wearily, Daniel leaned into the support.  "Really, Jack.  I don't have a lot of options.  I can't have a relationship on Earth outside of the SGC; my life would have to be a lie and I refuse to be untruthful to someone I love.  Inside the SGC, there's Sam, the odd technician, and God forbid, Janet and her nurses.  I love Sam dearly, but not that way and I see enough of Janet and her crew as it is.  The rest are just passing ships in the night."

"Well, thank you, Dr. Jackson," Jack said stonily.  "You've just described my life; I feel so much better now."

"Sorry," Daniel chuckled.

"So, what you're saying," Jack said, gently shaking Daniel, "is that we can only find female companionship on another planet and that's iffy at best."

"I’m afraid so, Jack."

"Hmm.  So, Daniel?"

"Yeah?"

"Are you gay?"

"No."

"Me neither," Jack frowned.

"Bummer," Daniel said, his eyes flickering with amusement.

Jack lightly smacked the back of Daniel's head and said, "Well, when I am ready to retire I could always see if Laira was still interested in me and you and I could both go to Edora.  I'm sure we could find someone willing to take you."

"Gee, thanks, Jack.  I'm touched," Daniel said glibly.  "Hey, I could marry Jackie and then I could call you Pop.  Granted she'd be a bit young."

"You stay away from my daughter.  You'd have her up to her knees in old rocks, rummaging through people's garbage," Jack protested good-naturedly.

"Jackie Jackson," Daniel murmured.  "Nah, she'd have to keep her own name.  What's Laira's last name?"

Jack looked blankly at Daniel.  "I don't know.  I never asked.  Did Sha're have a last name?"

"Yeah, Jackson," Daniel said brightly.

"I mean before that."

"You'd never be able to pronounce it."

"Oh.  Well, Jackson's good; we'll stick with that,"  Jack decreed.

Daniel nodded in agreement and mused, "I wonder what Sha're's son is called, or if anyone's named him?"

Jack saw the wistful look in his friend's face and his heart ached.  "We'll find him, Daniel."

Daniel looked gratefully at Jack.  "I know we will."

Jack studied Daniel's profile in the moonlight.  "Daniel?  Whatcha thinkin'?"

Daniel smiled sheepishly and ducked his head.

"Come on, Jackson, give," Jack prompted.

"No, it's dumb.  You'll think I'm stupid."

"Daniel, I have never, and I will never think you're stupid.  Now, come on, let's hear it."

"It's just wishful thinking."

"Daniel," Jack said warningly.

"Okay," Daniel sighed.  "It's just that…sometimes…I think that, maybe…you know…that Sha're's son is really my son, too."  Daniel glanced up quickly to see if Jack was smirking.  Jack's steady gaze comforted him and emboldened him to continue.  "I know it sounds crazy, Jack but what if…what if Sha're was already pregnant when she was taken as a host and the presence of the symbiote delayed the pregnancy until her body was comfortable, physiologically, with the symbiote's.  Do you think that's possible, Jack?"

"Hell, we've seen so many weird things since we started jumping through the Stargate, that a delayed human pregnancy doesn't seem far-fetched at all.  I mean, animals can delay implantation if food is scarce or the weather too severe.  Right?"

"Yeah, but-" 

"Was the baby cute?"

Daniel smiled at the memory of holding his wife's child.  "As a button and then some."

"Well then, he must be yours," Jack stated triumphantly.

"Jack, you're drunk," Daniel laughed.

"A little giddy from lack of sleep maybe, but definitely not drunk."

"If you say so," Daniel said pouring himself another coffee.  "Oh, you weren't planning on sleeping tonight, were you, Jack?"  he asked guiltily.

"What, and miss all this mutual gut-spilling?  Here; fill mine, too."

Both men settled back with their drinks, immersed in their own private thoughts.

"You can ask me, Daniel," Jack said quietly.

Surprised at Jack's invitation, Daniel hesitated then asked, "Do you want Laira to be pregnant?"

Jack smiled at Daniel's intuition and answered slowly, "I honestly don't know.  I want her to be happy so, I guess, yes.  If that's what she really wants."

"Then everyone's happy," Daniel said matter-of-factly.  "Laira will have another child and I-uh, we-have you back where you belong.  Treasure your experience for what it was, Jack; two lonely people who became friends and shared an intimacy desired by both.  Don't let your fathering of a child weigh you down."

"Can things really be so simple, Daniel?"  Jack asked hopefully.

"Life is as simple as we want to make it, Jack."

Jack leaned forward, rubbing his face wearily.  "God, Daniel.  Sometimes I just get so tired of everything.  All the fighting; the politics; the lies.  Jumping through hoops for Uncle Sam and our alien buddies.  Too many people have been hurt, and none more than you."  His gaze fixed to the ground, Jack saw Daniel get up, from the corner of his eye.  Wondering if he'd put his foot in his mouth again, Jack started to sit up, until he felt Daniel's strong fingers on his shoulders.

"Loosen up, Jack," Daniel whispered.  Damn, Jack.  You really do carry the weight of the universe on your shoulders.

After his initial surprise, Jack relaxed and let Daniel's amazingly long fingers do their magic.  Daniel smiled at the moans and groans his ministrations were eliciting from Jack.  He also felt an awkward sense of pride that Jack was comfortable enough with him to allow this contact. 

Jack sat in blissful silence, except for the occasional moan.  He couldn’t believe how good the massage felt and he really didn’t want Daniel to stop, but he knew Daniel's fingers must be getting tired.

"Mmm.  Daniel?"

"Yeah, Jack?"  Daniel said pushing down hard on a stubborn muscle.

 Jack groaned pleasurably then asked, "Will you marry me?"  Jack felt the fingers abruptly still, then ever so slowly, Daniel continued the massage.

"Nah, you’re too old."

"Old?"  Jack whipped around to glare at his grinning friend, who was desperately trying to restrain from laughing.

"You could never keep up with me," Daniel choked, the laughter bubbling out of him.

Jack tried to maintain his indignant glare but Daniel's laugh was infectious and a delight to see and hear.  Shaking his head ruefully, Jack grinned and said, "You're gonna eat those words, Jackson.  The next time we're off-world…" Jack finished, the unspoken threat hanging.

Wiping the tears from his face, Daniel gasped, "God, I think I'm giddy."

"Ya think?"  Jack laughed.  "Come on, kiddo," Jack said getting up.  "I think we both need to go to bed."

"Will you still respect me in the morning?"  Daniel giggled.

"Give me that coffee," Jack said grabbing Daniel's mug and sniffing it suspiciously.  "Well, it's not spiked so it must be caffeine-overload."

"Ya think?"  Daniel echoed Jack's earlier words, as he started walking backwards towards the cabin.

"Daniel!  Look out for…the stump," he finished futilely.

Daniel lay sprawled on the ground, once again.  He looked up sheepishly at Jack and said, "First thing tomorrow, this stump goes."

"Today-tomorrow or tomorrow-tomorrow?"  Jack asked grinning.

"Don't confuse me, Jack.  Here, give me a hand." 

Jack hauled Daniel to his feet and brushed him off.  Guiding him into the cabin, he said, "Goodnight, Daniel and don't forget, it's your turn to cook breakfast tomorrow."

"Would that be today-tomorrow or tomorrow-tomorrow, Jack?"

"Don't get cute.  You've got six hours and then I want to smell that bacon."

"Six hours?"  Daniel groaned.

"Come on, you're notorious for working 'round the clock."

"But that's different; that's work.  We're on holidays, Jack," he protested.

"That's right, and I don't want to waste it all sleeping; we only have three days left."

Daniel searched Jack's face, his words echoing in his mind, We only have three days left.  "Are you having a good time, Jack?"  he asked hopefully.

Touched by the concern and sincerity in Daniel's voice, Jack placed his arm around Daniel's shoulders and squeezed him tight.  "Daniel, I am having the best time."

Daniel smiled, lighting up the whole room.  "Me too.  G'night, Jack."

"'night Danny," Jack said, clapping him on the back.  "See you in six hours," he called as Daniel disappeared down the hall.  Daniel mumbled something in Abydonian and Jack chuckled.  "Yeah, life is good," he said as he strolled into the kitchen to clean the dishes. 

Epilogue

General Hammond glanced at his watch; ten minutes until his briefing with SG-1.  I hope seven days was enough for you, Doctor Jackson.  "Well, there's only one way to find out," he said as he picked up the briefing papers and left his office.  Hammond looked quizzically at various SGC personnel as he made his way to the briefing room.  Behind respectful salutes, faces were positively beaming; something was making everyone happy.  As he neared his destination, he slowed down, a bemused smile spreading across his face.  SG-1 was in attendance and, by the sounds of it, they were having a grand old time.  Jack's laughter was clearly heard followed by an admonishing 'Ja-ack' by Daniel.  Almost hating to intrude, Hammond opened the door.  Jack and Carter jumped quickly to their feet, trying to stifle the grins on their faces.

"At ease," Hammond drawled, unable to suppress his own delight at the obvious display of camaraderie in the room.  "What's all the ruckus?"

"It's nothing, General," Daniel said quickly, shooting a warning glare at Jack.

"Colonel O'Neill was just relating the misadventures of Daniel Jackson and a stump, General Hammond," Teal'c intoned implacably.  Daniel stared at Teal'c, a look of shock and disbelief on his face.  The look of betrayal on Daniel's face caused Jack and Carter to burst out laughing.  Teal'c, in turn, cocked his eyebrow, and asked, "Is that not the truth, Daniel Jackson?"

"Yes, Teal'c, but that's not the point.  You weren't supposed-,"  Daniel's voice trailed off at the glint of humour in Teal'c's eyes.  Daniel smiled and shook his head, resigned to the fact that he had been 'had'.

"Well, I'll look forward to hearing about that later, Doctor Jackson," Hammond  said affably.  "Now, Colonel," he said casually, "Seven days wasn't too much of a hardship for you?"

"No, sir," Jack said sincerely, as he looked gratefully at Daniel and then back to Hammond.  "The first day was a little slow, but the last six were the fastest days of my life.  Thank you."

Hammond acknowledged Jack's gratitude with a nod.  "So, Colonel, is your team ready for their next mission?"

Jack turned and locked eyes with each member of his team, silent messages passing back and forth.  He looked back at Hammond, unabashed pride shining in his eyes.  "SG-1 is fit and ready for duty, sir."

"Very well, Colonel.  The latest MALP transmissions look rather interesting," he said as he walked around the table passing out the reports.  He handed the last report to Daniel, pausing long enough behind the young archaeologist to place a firm hand on his shoulder.  Daniel looked up and smiled at the older man's conspiratorial wink.  Daniel then opened the report, and his eyes raced eagerly over the images of an ancient civilization that greeted him.  He looked up, automatically focusing on Jack.  Jack was watching him and smiled warmly, thrilled that the next mission looked tailor-made for his friend.

"Looks like a few all-nighters ahead, eh Danny?"  Jack whispered.

"I may have to go on another trip to catch up on the sleep I'm going to miss," Daniel whispered back.

"I know just the place."

"I can't wait," Daniel smiled and then ducked his head, concentrating on the task at hand.

Jack gazed fondly at Daniel.  Neither can I Danny.  Neither can I.

 

The end

 

 

link image
link image
link img
link img
link img
link image
isis link
Eilidh17
DennyJ
Amberfly
Carlyn
Winterstar
LadyD
Isis
   
  Hawk50 Nancy Bailey Carrie AnnO  
link img
link img
link image
Marzipan
JAJJAJ
Gemsong
Cancer
Taylyn
GateGremlyn
Pough

 

 

Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This is a parody for entertainment purposes only. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted anywhere without the consent of the author.