Season 8, After Threads.
Summary: Jack and Daniel have already admitted their feelings. The events of Threads only magnify the need to do what comes next.
It was nearly midnight and Jack O’Neill sat on a bench in front of his SG-1 locker, a black sock in his right hand. He had paused in his motions as negative arguments took over his thoughts. He was busy trying to talk himself out of something. Reflexively, his gaze went from unfocused to focused as he looked at Daniel Jackson’s nameplate on his locker. Knowing he was alone, he spoke to the locker as if it were Daniel In Absentia.
He opened his mouth, paused, relaxed. He then repeated himself three more times. This wasn’t about work. Not exactly. Anything personal to do with Daniel automatically included his work because the man was his work. Jack snorted to himself because he could say the same thing about himself. Sure, he had hobbies, but they hadn’t been touched in ages. All he did lately was eat, sleep, and work.
And then came the . . . what was the actual death number? Two or Three? Did the death by Apophis before revival by the Nox count? Jack found himself preoccupied and refused to leave it alone because it was a memory exercise. At 55, he found he needed to engage in them more and more to make sure his mind remained sharp. Mental exercises were great but the memory was the first red flag so he had to stay on top of it.
After deciding the death number was three, and after taking a mental pause on that very fact, he looked up at Daniel’s locker . . . then paused again as the image of Daniel’s naked body came to mind. As it had more than a few times over the last three hours since he’d called it a night for everyone but the graveyard shift.
After Daniel had made his report, after getting dressed, he’d then beat a hasty retreat and disappeared from the mountain before Jack could even ask him over for dinner. A dinner they’d had postponed six times already—and this latest one wasn’t anyone’s fault. No, it was someone else’s fault. Replicators, Jaffa, and Fucking Baal.
His phone literally beeped, a staccato of four bells. Walter.
He leaned forward and just barely grabbed the phone from the locker shelf. “O’Neill,” he growled as he felt a muscle in his back warn him not to stretch any further.
“Sir, the downtime.”
Jack made a face. “Crap. One week, Walter. That includes me. You know the drill.”
“Got it. Thank you, sir. Good night.”
“Buona sera,” Jack said and hung up, then frowned at himself. His usual sign-off was Adios. What was with the Italian? Could it be that he’d been thinking of having Italian food? He either wanted to make it at home or go out. With Daniel, of course. Would Daniel even be in the mood? So to speak.
Again, he recalled the naked skin, this time focusing on the exercise of muscle as he had wrapped the flag around him. Daniel was fitter than in all the time Jack had known him. Seeing him naked wasn’t a unique experience. They’d had to share the community shower until cubicle renovations had been completed, all thanks to some alien viruses they or other teams brought home. But seeing him au naturel in his office was another thing entirely. And he was still just a wee bit too pale. Like himself.
Jack imagined himself naked in front of Daniel and shuddered. He was immediately self-conscious. It wasn’t the nudity, per se, nor his age. It was Daniel. Ever since the two of them admitted mutual suppressed attraction, the question was, “Now what?”
Dates, of course. Dinner, specifically.
But admitting affection and planning on doing something about it had been almost nine months ago, after rescuing the man from the Nicaraguan camp, and they’d been non-stop busy. Arranging a date had been impossible and they’d been reduced to sharing meals in the damn mess hall. Hardly appropriate.
But admitting your affection, your love—more or less—had been the easy part. Now came the part about sending his team into the fire. Jack was now safe, relatively speaking, as Base Commander, but his team was not. Risking Daniel’s life was even worse. If they didn’t get some time in, devoted to their future, it was going to pass them by. Plus there was the risk of Daniel meeting someone else. And just the thought horrified Jack.
Then the green monster woke up and asked, “What if he already has and just hasn’t had the balls to say anything?”
This would not do.
And yet here he was trying to talk himself out of arranging a dinner tomorrow evening.
“Make up your mind, dammit.”
Jack started to run a series of arguments in his head about pros and cons and the shit in between but then shook his head as if it were an Etch-a-Sketch and decided the best way was to see him now. Tonight. Tackle it, and him, fresh. Maybe via a late-night dinner a la Burger King? Yes, he decided. Or was that his growling stomach?
Daniel padded barefoot into the kitchen wearing a towel around his waist while he used a smaller one to tousle-dry his hair. Absently, he rubbed at the spot over his diaphragm and phantom pain returned each time. Getting stabbed with a sword was . . . well, painful just didn’t cover it. But each time he recalled this event, he couldn’t remember actually dying. He only realized what had happened when Oma came up to him in the diner.
And yet, the memory loss bothered him. He couldn’t remember dying. Why? He remembered quite vividly all the other times he’d died, especially from the radiation sickness. He’d let go and was sort of escorted out of his body. That was the only way to describe it. Escorted.
He then snorted at himself. “Yeah,” he said aloud as he stared at the contents of his refrigerator. “And then I was escorted one last time but did I get to go home? Show up in my office? The mess hall, the latrine? Oh no, I had to show up in Jack’s office, and au naturel.” He kept remembering Bra’tac’s broad smile, too.
Superimposed over it all was that his dick had taken notice and wouldn’t return to normal. He looked down at himself as he remained at Half Mast.
“Mind telling me what you think is going to happen?” he asked his idiot body part.
He knew the answer. In the shower, he’d toyed with jerking off but had put it off for later just in case. “Because you think Jack’s coming over, you knowing him so well and all.” Daniel rolled his eyes. “What do you think’s gonna happen?” he repeated.
He fished out the bottle of Sweet Tea from the fridge, imagining Jack coming over and saying, “I’m not really hungry for food. What I’d like to do instead is fuck you stupid. Whaddya say to that?” Daniel sighed and said aloud, “Wishful thinking is a waste of time, dummy.”
There was a sharp rap on his front door and Daniel jumped so badly he spilled his tea. Some got his left foot but that was all. With another eyeroll, he grabbed a paper towel and yelled, “It’s open!” before turning on the tap. He ran the towel quickly through the water, then leaned on the counter and bent his leg to wash off his foot. The water was still running so he vaguely heard the door open and shut.
He stoutly refused to get embarrassed at being caught wearing a towel. It was a step up from Jack’s office. And they were alone. Danny Junior jumped with interest and grit his teeth in frustration and grumbled, “Do Not embarrass me. Go back to sleep.” He then caught the tell-tale scent of fast food and his stomach growled.
“That smells good,” he called out.
There was a significant pause, then Jack said, “So does the smell of the shower. Nice towel.”
“What?” Daniel asked as he got another paper towel, then looked down at himself. It was a plain, burgundy-colored towel. He looked over, saw the smirk on Jack’s face, and realized that he wasn’t talking about the towel. “Oh, my ass. Thanks. I think. Dinner?”
“You’re welcome.” Jack lifted the bag. “Where?”
Daniel dampened the paper towel and ran it over his foot again. “Bedroom.” Then blinked a few times. “Kitchen table. I meant, kitchen table.”
Jack couldn’t stop smiling. “Freudian slip?”
“Oh bite me.”
Jack let out a grunting laugh. “I am not touching that.”
“Please,” Daniel said as he walked past him with his glass of tea in one hand and the other firmly keeping his towel from opening on accident. “Now everything will be innuendo.”
“Maybe,” Jack said as he sat down at the table. He then got back up and called after him, “Mind if I grab—”
“In the fridge!” Daniel called back.
“Thanks!” Jack opened the fridge and then stared at the six-pack sitting on the top shelf. “You’re joking.” He pulled out a bottle of Dos Equis and stared at it.
“What?” Daniel called.
“Dos Equis? Really?” Jack asked as he took himself and the bottle down the hall to stand in the doorway of Daniel’s bedroom. He was in his briefs now, pulling on a pair of jeans. No shirt yet. Jack resisted the urge to tell him to stop there. “Dos Equis?”
“They were out of Heineken.”
“At the store? No one runs out of Heineken, Daniel. Where were you?”
“At the Hacienda, the Mexican grocery store.” Jack stared at him as he zipped up.
Daniel felt self-conscious and ordered himself to relax. It only partly worked. “What?” he asked as Jack peered dubiously at the beer bottle. “I was out of a few spices. I prefer the ones imported from Mexico. The Hacienda has them. And since I was there, I grabbed beer. You are aware that Heineken owns Dos Equis?”
Jack’s brows rose. “Shit, seriously? When’d that happen?”
Daniel shrugged. “But I hear it’s a decent brand. Several million Mexicans can’t be wrong, ya know.”
Jack tipped the bottle at him. “They have their own original brands of beer which are pretty damn good. Why not get one of those? Haven’t you tasted them yourself?”
“Because I go by word of mouth. And because I suck at having an opinion on the matter because, for the umpteenth time, I don’t like beer.” He whispered the last few words as if imparting a secret.
Jack stared at him for a beat, then nodded and turned to go back to the kitchen table. “Yep. I keep forgetting.”
Daniel grabbed a black tee shirt that had a set of Air Force wings on the breast over the heart and followed, putting it on as he went. “No,” he drawled, “you don’t bother to remember.”
“Ouch,” Jack said, sitting back down.
“How’s that an ouch?” Daniel asked, then grimaced and returned to the bedroom to get his tea.
Jack considered the question. “A little bit of a reprimand there.”
“Point, but it wasn’t what I was thinking,” Daniel said as he returned and took a seat next to him, but at the end cap. Jack looked at him and grinned as he ate a few fries. “What?” Daniel asked warily.
“Your hair is so cute.”
Daniel looked upward as if he could see his mess of wet hair. “Jeez.” He returned to the bathroom and combed his hair back, then added a small dollop of hair gel to his palm before spreading it between his hands and combing his fingers through his hair. After washing his hands, he returned to the kitchen and retook his seat.
“Better,” Jack said. “Not as distracting.”
Daniel snorted and stared at the wrapped offerings on the table. “What’s mine?”
“Here, and here,” Jack said, giving him an order of fries and a large burger.
As they ate, Jack noticed that Daniel kept rubbing two fingers over his diaphragm. That wasn’t normal. “You hurt?” he asked.
“What?” Daniel asked, confused.
“You keep rubbing your chest. What’s up?”
“Oh,” Daniel said, slowing down his chewing, then swallowing his food with tea. It took him a few moments and during that time, he rubbed his chest again. He looked down, then did it again. He then rubbed with his palm and gave Jack a wan smile. “I died. Again.”
“I kinda figured. What with the naked in my office thing. You haven’t really talked about that, though I suspect it’s in the report.”
“More or less,” Daniel said, subdued. “Replicator-Sam. She stabbed me.” He looked down and touched the spot. “With her sword arm.”
“Her arm turned into a blade of steel and et voila!” He grimaced and said in a case of massive understatement, “Man, that hurt.”
Jack winced around a mouthful of food. “Then what happened?”
“I woke up,” Daniel said, making air quotes, “walking into a 1970s diner.”
Jack stared at him. “DeSala’s gotta twisted sense of humor if that’s who did that.”
“It was,” Daniel said, toying with a French fry. “It was a perfect recreation of a retro diner that my grandfather Nick brought me to after my foster parents died.” He paused. “Before handing me over to the state.”
Jack made a face. “That definitely deserves an ouch.”
Daniel jogged his brows. “Anyway, Oma served me waffles. She was dressed as a waitress. Wouldn’t interact with me except as a waitress. She appeared, disappeared, stopped to talk, to drop Zen Koan philosophy. And I gotta tell ya, I wasn’t in the mood.”
Jack frowned. “So all that was to . . .?”
“All about The Choice,” he said with more air quotes. “Either I die for good by leaving the diner or I ascend.”
Jack blinked widened eyes. “Um . . .”
“But I couldn’t decide. I wanted another choice. Like returning me to Earth. To you. Um, the SGC.” He made a face that wasn’t entirely negative. “Okay, yeah, to you.” He rubbed his chest again and caught himself. He flexed his fingers and resolutely put food in both hands.
“Anubis was there,” Daniel went on. “But not as himself. He looked like an average guy. Acting like an ascended who actually spoke to me instead of ignoring me like the others were doing.”
“Okay, their way of doing things?” Jack half-asked. “Not a fan.”
“I’m hip. Anyway, Anubis called himself Jim, of all things. He was directly at odds with Oma and I didn’t know why until I badgered both to learn the truth. Who he truly was. And why he was stuck as a half-ascended being.” He explained to Jack’s arched brow.
“And what happened to get you back here?”
“I don’t know. Obvious answer? The Others. I was yelling at them to interfere, to put a stop to him and help Oma. They ignored me. Anubis didn’t. He taunted me, telling me there was nothing I could do. He had this newspaper that frequently updated with what was going on at Dakara. He held it up to me for the last time and goaded me into attacking him.”
“I tried. The Others blocked me.” Daniel grit his teeth. “The fucker was so smug. Then . . .” Daniel blinked a few times. “Oma stepped up and said there was something she could do. She turned all glowy and attacked him. He went all glowy and they sort of combined. They went through the ceiling and disappeared. Unless the others step in, that’s what she’s going to be doing until the end of time. Fighting him.”
Jack blinked and said, “That sucks.”
“Yeah. I think it’s punishment for showing him how to ascend in the first place.”
Jack stared at him as he ate some fries. Then finally, he asked, “So . . . you didn’t do anything about the replicators?”
Daniel jogged his brows again. “As I said before, no, I don’t think so. I mean, if I did, I don’t remember it because I was fighting Replicator-Sam’s control. She was in my head, fucking with me, so I messed with her head in return. If that paused the bugs, so much the better because I was trying to get her too occupied to maintain control.”
Jack paused, beer bottle raised and stared hard at him. “You mean . . . you were taking control?”
Daniel waggled a hand back and forth. “It’s getting hazy, like a vivid dream fading away, but in essence, it’s what I was trying to do. I surprised her. Told her she was in Danny’s World now.” Jack continued to look at him in astonishment and Daniel gave him a sick little smile. “You do what you gotta do.” He resisted rubbing his chest despite the strong urge. He decided that distractions were in order. “So. Anyway. We’re finally having that dinner.”
Jack’s brows shot up. “What? This? Oh no, this doesn’t count.”
“What? Why not?”
“It’s fast food. Fast food isn’t a dinner date. It’s dinner.”
“Date,” Daniel said, mulling over the term.
“I, uh,” Jack began, looking sheepish. “I have a confession to make. I’ve been toying with the idea of dropping the whole dinner date plan.” Daniel opened his mouth to answer but Jack held up a hand. “I talked myself out of that because the reason for backing out was sheer fear. We’re on new ground. I didn’t know where it would lead and my fear of rejection kicked in.”
“Fight or flight,” Daniel said with a nod.
“Not exactly,” Jack said. “Just me being a chicken shit.”
“No you’re not,” Daniel said instantly. “It’s fear of rejection. I . . . had similar thoughts. And then I decided, ‘what the hell, we should try.’”
“And if it doesn’t work out?” Jack asked carefully.
Daniel stared back and sighed. “I’m not thinking that way because it presupposes we’d fail. I don’t think we will. I think maybe you’re worried about sex.” Jack stunned him by blushing. Daniel refrained from saying it was adorable. “Relax.”
“I can’t,” Jack said, thinking one thing could derail their future. “Um . . . pitcher or catcher?”
“Don’tcha just love baseball metaphors?” Daniel asked, and at the exasperated look on Jack’s face, he leaned over and held his hand out, palm up. “Catcher.”
Jack took his hand. “So . . .”
“Let’s set up a real date.” Jack was disappointed. Daniel smiled. “Much as I would love to take you to the bedroom, I think we should wait until we have a few dates under our belts because sometimes the little things can ruin a new relationship. Sex just makes it worse if we split up.”
“Yeah, maybe, but c’mon. It’s sex. Maybe we can skip a few dates.”
“Yeah, and maybe I think you’re worth waiting for.” Jack’s brows rose. Daniel cleared his throat and concentrated on threading his fingers through Jack’s. “I know, I know. Cliché.”
Jack pulled him over. “How about we start with a kiss?”
Daniel was about to argue but Jack was pulling him closer and he gave in. Their lips met, warm and slightly salty from the fries. Daniel parted his lips and that turned the kiss from chaste into sexual.
He tastes good, both of them thought, and then it was Jack who reluctantly but firmly broke the kiss. “We’re in trouble,” he said huskily.
“We are?” Daniel asked, eyes closed for a beat before he opened them to stare into Jack’s eyes. Which were filled with desire. “Oh. Yeah. I guess we are.”
“Let’s settle on date number three,” Jack offered, though his body was resolutely objecting.
Daniel licked his lips and sat back. “Three. And I think we have to skip staying over at each other’s place because right now, my bedroom is calling. Too dangerous.”
Jack grinned. “Agreed. But we can share movie nights as a concession.”
“No,” Daniel said, matching his smile. He got up from the table and with a heavy sigh said, “And it’s time for you to go. Seriously. Thanks for dinner.”
“Yeah,” Jack said, clearing his throat. “No problem.”
Daniel saw him at the door. Jack opened it and paused on the threshold. “Think it’ll work out?”
Daniel leaned over and kissed him. “Yes. Now, go away so I can jerk off.”
Jack growled and yanked him over for another kiss, this one far deeper and more involved. Daniel tried to speak around the edges. “Neighbors.”
“Not a chance. I’ll get jealous,” Daniel whispered.
Jack growled again, this time pulling away. “Jerking off instead of having sex,” he said grumpily as he turned and walked down the hall toward the exit. “What’s wrong with this picture?”
Daniel called after him, “Everything. Good night, Jack.”
“Good night, Daniel. Now close and lock your door.”
Daniel did so and leaned against it. “Think you’ll last to date three?” He closed his eyes and rubbed at his lips instead of his chest. “Not a chance in hell.”
As he cleaned up, he thought that waiting aside, their relationship would last. Despite their huge differences, being together had been in the cards from the very start. It only took nine years to work it out. With a sigh, Daniel headed for his bedroom.