Summary: Post-Shades of Grey
…it’s all in black and white…
“We drew straws. I lost.”
“That was pretty good for just a spur of the moment thing,” Sam said, catching up to Daniel as he headed for the elevator.
“Jack’s not the only one who can lie well, Sam.” Daniel was fuming. It was one thing to suspect everything was an act. It was quite another to have it confirmed.
“I saw that.”
Daniel finally looked at her, his eyes blazing. “Aren’t you just the least bit pissed off?”
She shrugged slightly, then hedged. “Well, a bit, but all three of us,” she nodded at Teal’c as he joined them, then as she saw Jack coming toward them from the end of the corridor, she hurried her words, “all three of us decided that there was something definitely wrong.”
“Sam, that was only after I’d put it out there. I can’t believe you guys didn’t say anything first if you’d suspected something before I did.” She looked at him with irritation and he amended himself. “Okay, I suspected something right from the start, but you two acted as if there wasn’t anything wrong…well, other than how he wanted it to look.”
They stepped into the elevator and Jack started to run toward them. When Sam made to hold open the doors as they started to close, Daniel held her hand back and she gave him a deep frown. His effort was futile, however, as Teal’c’s hand shot out and held the door for Jack. Daniel rolled his eyes and let Sam go, turning away from her.
Sam looked over at Jack, giving him a blank stare so Jack looked over at Teal’c.
“You are welcome, O’Neill.”
Daniel jabbed at the level 18 button, then Sam pressed 19. Teal’c pressed 20 but Jack didn’t make a move. He kept glancing over at Daniel, who wouldn’t meet his eyes. Daniel stood with his arms folded, staring at the floor readout as the car moved upward. It stopped at level 20, so Teal’c bowed to them, then left for his quarters. The doors closed and ten seconds later, they opened on 19.
“You want to have dinner later?” She asked Daniel. He shook his head, trying to give her a polite look. “Well, if you change your mind, call me, okay?”
She nodded to Jack and he nodded back. The doors closed and ten seconds seemed like ten minutes as Jack stared at Daniel, trying to figure out what the hell to say to him. The doors then opened and Daniel walked out silently. Jack followed. Realizing it, Daniel sighed and didn’t bother acknowledging Jack as he made his way to his office. Unlocking the door, he entered and walked over to the lab table, grabbed his satchel and began to set a few items inside.
Jack watched him, a bit wary. He knew he had to apologize big time for this, but this time, it wasn’t his fault. He had been given a mission and he’d followed it, whether he had liked it or not.
Deep down, Daniel knew this. He was well familiar with mission protocols. The problem lay with his personal side: firstly, Jack as his friend, and secondly, Jack as his lover. The two weren’t mutually exclusive, and in this case, it was a time where Daniel wished they were; when he wished he didn’t care so much about one Jack O’Neill, then maybe what Jack had said to him at his house wouldn’t have cut so deeply. Even now. Especially now.
The silence was finally too much for Jack and he had to say something. Problem was, Hammond’s voice came over the intercom, calling SG-1 to the briefing room, so the interruption prevented him from saying anything. Though he felt relief, Jack wasn’t sure if he was saved or not.
Back in his office, Daniel was angrier than he had been before going to the briefing room, if that was possible. The one thing Daniel hated more than anything else was wasting time. The High Chancellor and her smug arrogance didn’t need to be shoved down the SGC’s throat, but there they were, getting lectured. It may have been done with soft words, but the tone was very patronizing.
Jack and Hammond were the only ones who actually deserved the right to feel smug in proving the SGC’s innocence. But instead, they were all being treated…well, exactly as he had been treated in his third foster home when he was twelve. He’d been right, the parents had been wrong, and their grudging acknowledgement of the fact, and subsequent patronizing demeanor, had been highly insulting…although very predictable. Daniel had caught on to that attitude very quickly as a young boy. He’d seen it come from those his own parents had needed to grovel to in order to get funding; and had since had that honor repeated toward him in his own attempts in the same arena.
Daniel’s anger had been two-fold in that briefing room. Firstly, the arrogant, smug, and patronizing attitude from the Tollans, and secondly at the seeming acceptance of it by Jack and General Hammond. In fact, everyone except himself seemed to be bowing their heads, though not literally.
Not one to cater to such bullshit for long, especially when it wasn’t deserved in any way, Daniel had had enough. He had stood up, startling everyone at the table.
“Excuse me, General. I’m sorry to interrupt but,” and he’d then turned on Travell, his voice pitched normally yet filled with anger. “I find it absolutely incomprehensible how someone as technologically advanced as you and your people could at the same time be so obtuse as not to recognize that humans less advanced than you deserve the same respect and consideration that you feel yourselves deserve. Instead, you sit there and belittle and patronize.”
General Hammond and Jack had tried to shut him up but Daniel had kept going.
“Jack risked his life to prove that we weren’t directly responsible for the thefts against your world as well as the worlds of others and you have the damn gall to sit there, self-important and arrogant, just like the Goa’uld I might add, and condemn all of us for the actions of a few. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I cannot possibly stomach this insulting attitude of yours any longer. When you feel like speaking in an intelligent and civlized manner, I’ll be happy to return. General, again, my apologies. Please excuse me.”
He’d then promptly left the room without permission. He knew he was going to get called to task by General Hammond but he frankly didn’t give a fuck. Just then, the intercom opened and a female voice was ordering him to General Hammond’s office.
“Oh boy. Here I go again. Me and my big mouth.” He looked at his satchel, then opened his supply locker and retrieved the empty duffle bag and set it on the table. He had a feeling he might just be filling it soon.
Fully prepared for the sacking he was sure was coming, Daniel made damn sure that his expression didn’t give away any of the disappointment he was already feeling. He was still angry…in fact, the moment he glimpsed Travell in the briefing room just prior to knocking on Hammond’s office door, he was reminded of his anger. It also reminded him that he felt justified for what he’d said. It seemed that getting fired for doing that seemed to be an oft-repeated performance in his life.
Daniel entered and closed the door.
“Sit down, Doctor Jackson.”
“I’d prefer to stand, if that’s all right with you, sir.”
“No, it is not. Please, sit down, Doctor.”
Hammond’s tone was no nonsense, so Daniel sat. This, too, was wasting time. If he was going to get fired…
Hammond suddenly got up from his chair and went around the office, closing the blinds…and effectively cutting off the view of the briefing room. Daniel frowned, wondering why Hammond was doing that, then thought that maybe he just wanted to spare him the embarrassment of having others see him get fired.
When Hammond sat back down, he folded his hands in front of him. “Doctor Jackson–“
“Sir, I know what you’re going to say but–“
“No, you don’t, Doctor.”
“I’m going to get fired, right?”
“No, son, you’re not, but you very well could be.”
Daniel hesitated, unsure he heard the man. “No?”
“No. High Chancellor Travell would probably expect something like that but I’ll have to disappoint her. You’re only getting a reprimand. For what it’s worth, Doctor Jackson, I and every other member of this facility agreed with you.”
Daniel blinked in surprise and Hammond smiled. “I know you’re not used to hearing us back you up, but privately, I agree with you.”
“Doctor Jackson,” Hammond said with sufferance, “I know that you are not naïve to the protocols of having to deal with bureaucrats. Universities are filled with them. But Government bodies are even worse.”
“I’m aware of that, sir.”
“And you are already aware of the Tollans’ notorious arrogance, as witnessed previously by your two other visits with them.”
“I know that, yes, sir.”
“Then why did you allow yourself to lose composure earlier?”
“I didn’t think I’d lost my composure, sir. I had just had enough of her insulting attitude.” Hammond started to interrupt but Daniel put his hand up. “No, sir, really. What I said would not endanger any relationship we have with them. We’re under no trade agreement so we wouldn’t be risking anything but losing the tiresome chance of being talked down to. I have heard the tone that was in her voice all my life, and frankly, in this case, she should have been more accommodating. I could not sit there and allow my Commanding Officer and my Team Leader, this entire facility, and hell, the entire planet be spoken to like that without a direct answer to the contrary.” He took a deep breath, then swallowed. “I’m sorry if I’ve ended up embarrassing or offending you, sir. It was not my intention.”
“Doctor Jackson, I thought you liked these people.”
“I do, sir. It’s just that her arrogance got on my nerves. After dealing with the stress of the last two weeks, I think she was the last straw.”
General Hammond regarded Daniel for a long time before answering. “Someday, I hope to be laughing about this, and maybe – just a little – I already am. However, I am going to have to put a Letter of Reprimand in your file.”
Daniel shook his head, looking down at his hands, before looking up at the General. “It’ll go with all the others, sir.”
Hammond gave him a look of worn tolerance, stood up and went to the door. Daniel stood, regarding his C.O. carefully. Hammond looked at him again, though a bit more kindly. “You’re not going to stay mad at Colonel O’Neill too long, are you, Doctor Jackson?”
Surprised by the question, Daniel bit his lips together, thinking before answering. “Not too long, but…you both should have trusted us, sir. We would have surprised you at just how good we can be at lying. We cover for this facility on a dailybasis, General. Pretending to be pissed off at Jack would not have been impossible. In fact, you’ve heard our arguments before. I’m sure I could have come up with something completely believable.”
“I’m not so sure, Doctor.”
“I am, sir.”
“So, you’re angry with me, as well?”
Daniel gave him a level gaze. “Yes, sir. I am. I know you were acting on other interests and reasons, but yes. I won’t be for long, but I am.”
“Could you try and give Colonel O’Neill the same due consideration?” Hammond asked as he opened the door.
“You didn’t hear what he said to me, sir. It wasn’t just hurting my feelings, although that was bad enough.”
“You do know he was under surveillance.”
“Yes, sir, but so what? What he said effectively ended our friendship.”
“Is that why you said what you said to Colonel Makepeace?”
“About Jack’s command?” Daniel asked, surprised that the General knew, but not that surprised.
“Yes,” Hammond replied, showing how unhappy he was to hear about that comment.
“Yes and no. I was pissed. But…I knew, General. I knew something was up. I also felt just a bit…defensive…at Sam’s apparent willingness to accept Makepeace’s–“
“It’s her duty, Doctor. She had nothing to say about it, one way or the other.”
Daniel sighed. “Perhaps. But it doesn’t mean a hill of beans if your commander is dirty.”
“Did you know he was taking technology?” Hammond asked, alarmed, closing the door again.
“No, but I had this feeling…ever since Jack went off in the briefing of almost two weeks ago. Something wasn’t right. It was like watching an episode of the Twilight Zone or something. General, Jack and I are best friends, not just colleagues and teammates. I knew something was off. I went to visit him to find out what it was and he effectively ended our friendship, right then and there. That pissed me off and it only made me more suspicious. I’ve never been a fan of Makepeace’s, but he does his job. He doesn’t fool around, he doesn’t play, and he has no sense of humour. But something about him set me off and I didn’t know what it was. At first, I thought it was just because he was Jack’s replacement, but that wasn’t it. It was just…sir, I’m a damn good liar when I want to be and I’ve learned to spot it in others…like with this incident…but whereas Jack was very good at making his lies believable, even to me, Makepeace wasn’t. He sounded…phony.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
Daniel raised his brow knowingly. “Considering the hoax you two were perpetrating, I would have been brushed off…sir.”
“To your perception, maybe.”
“Okay, I understand that, but I still think it would have been a lot easier as far as personal trust is concerned to have let us in on this.”
Hammond listened carefully to his words, then nodded and reopened the door. “Try not to stay mad for too long. Just do me, and yourself, that favor, okay?”
“I’ll try, General.”
“I can’t believe you said that!” Jack spat out as he barged into Daniel’s office, slamming the door shut.
Daniel sighed and put his hands through his hair. “To what are you referring?” Truth be told, Jack could say that about any number of things Daniel had said in the last few hours.
“You’ve never trusted my command?!” Jack half-asked, his voice loud and angry, but not yelling…not yet.
Daniel’s eyes narrowed, and his expression became indignant. He stood up and looked Jack in the eye. “I see you’ve been to see Makepeace. What, he had to get one last dig in?” He knew damn well it wasn’t Sam or Teal’c who had told Jack that.
“Did you say it?” Jack asked, gritting his teeth, indicating that he was good and mad, not just upset.
How dare he be pissed off at me. That was just one more thing to add to the list of reasons for Daniel to be ticked off. “Don’t like to hear that, do you? Piss you off, hurt your feelings?”
Jack’s eyes widened. “What the hell do you think?”
Daniel snorted derisively. “Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret of my own, Jack. I said that on purpose. On purpose. I wanted to get on Makepeace’s nerves. Sam’s, too, for not defending herself, and I did. Pissed them both off. That thin blue line. No matter how another within your command acts, you still protect him…even after he’s gone. In this case, ‘he’ means you.”
“Why?” Jack asked, pointedly ignoring what Daniel had just said because he knew that there was more to it.
“Why did you really say it?”
“That’s not important. What’s important is that I didn’t mean a word of it. However, I am starting to think otherwise.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Daniel sighed and bit back the urge to take a swing at Jack. He finished a few strokes on the computer, then retrieved the disk in the drive and shut the computer off. “Jack, I’m not getting into this with you…not here.”
“Fine, we’re leaving,” Jack told him, and took him by the arm. Daniel shook it off roughly and scowled at him.
“No…we are not. I am going home. You, on the other hand…” and he gestured at the door. “Don’t let it hit your ass on the way out.” He picked up his satchel and headed out the door.
Jack stood there, clenching his jaw, and let Daniel go. “Fine,” he mumbled to himself. “Not here.”
Here he was, sitting yet again outside Daniel’s apartment building. This was getting old, Jack thought. Instead of thinking about what he’d say or wrestling with any of the guilt he felt, Jack got out of his truck and headed up. There was really no point in wrestling with any of it. All he had to do was argue his side, defend his position. That was all. Yeah, right.
He reached the apartment and knocked.
Inside, Daniel sat on his sofa, his bare feet propped on the coffee table and a glass of wine propped on his thigh. The TV was on, but he’d muted the sound. The narrative on Ancient Pyramids had begun grating his nerves. When he’d turned on the TV, it hadn’t been bad to start with. The program before it, Mystery of the Pyramids, wasn’t profound, but it was a fascinating look at cross-pollination as well as the more in depth look at Giza pyramids and their correlation to the ancient night sky. At one point, the narrator referred to the ancient pyramids as star gates, which Daniel found amusing, along with the insertion into the program of an Edgar Cayce ‘prophecy’ about the pyramids being built in 10,500 B.C. Gee, what a coincidence.
The following program was also about showing the cross-pollination of some of the pyramids built on just one continent, the African continent. Problem was, the program had little to do with cross-pollination. It spoke of Egypt and ancient Nubia, but that was all. The narrator had started to pepper the facts with Christian biblical beliefs, using it as an historical timeline instead of the real history, uncolored by religion. The moment that had happened, the mute button was hit. It was a mystery to him why the Discovery Channel would have one program on the pyramids that was filled with proper scientific guesswork and study, then show another one lacking in true archaeological theory.
Deciding to watch Jeopardy instead he set his glass down on the coffee table and reached across the sofa for the remote.
“I’ll take Screaming Sexual Frustration for $2,000, Alex,” he muttered. Snorting at himself, the knock at the door startled him for a split-second. A second after that, he knew who would be on the other side. Groaning, he let himself fall forward on the couch, burying his face in the cushion. Couldn’t Jack wait?
No. Stupid question.
With a huge sigh, he pushed off the couch and went to the door. He tacked a bland expression on his face but the one that greeted him in no way matched it.
“What do you want?”
“You know what I want. To talk.”
An absurd need to copy the last conversation the two of them had had – offbase – rose inside him. However, he didn’t feel up to the stress of remembering what Jack had said, so he skipped it.
“Fine,” and he stepped aside. Jack walked in, pausing as he watched Daniel close the door. “You’ll want a beer I suppose?”
“If you have one,” Jack replied, his voice soft, belying what he felt.
Daniel nodded and padded to the kitchen. Jack watched him, and his ass in those grey sweats that seemed to be wearing very thin. Jack scolded himself for thinking of Daniel’s ass when he first needed to make sure he would still be able totouch Daniel’s ass.
As Daniel retrieved the beer, he felt his heart lurching at the dissipating scent of Jack’s cologne in his nose. Gods, he loved that scent. He paused a moment before shutting the fridge, sternly telling himself not to get distracted. If he was going to be able to work with Jack, he had to straighten things out. Jack’s being here was necessary, he told himself. Wanting to put off their talk would do neither of them any good.
He returned and found Jack sitting on the couch, remote in hand, his coat hung up by the door. He handed him the beer, then took the remote from him, shut off the TV, and sat down.
“Thanks,” Jack said, twisting off the bottle cap.
Jack motioned at the TV. “Thought you were watching Jeopardy?”
“Not anymore,” he replied and picked up his wine glass. He shifted his position, bringing a folded leg up on the sofa and placed his back between the backing and the high arm of the sofa. “So…talk.”
“Give me a minute, okay?” Jack asked, suddenly very nervous, and very sure that talking this out was a bad idea. If Daniel was simply going to be hostile…
“Jack, I’ve given you more than a minute. You say our friendship – hell, our relationship – is fine, but I don’t think it is. What can you possibly say to change that?”
Jack’s expression told Daniel he was sorry. But those words spoken the week before kept echoing in his ears. He wanted to believe him now, but the pain of those words, and the alarm that had gone with them, wouldn’t allow Daniel to just let it rest.
Jack could see that Daniel was thinking about it but he knew why Daniel wasn’t so willing to let it all go. “I’m sorry for what I said last week. You know I was being bugged.”
“Yeah, now, but for godsake, Jack!” Daniel replied, his voice rising just a bit. “‘Not much of a foundation’? Couldn’t you have used a better phrase than that? Something along the lines of ‘Apparently you didn’t know me at all’?”
“Daniel, I said I was sorry. I had to say what I said in order for those fuckheads to believe I never liked you to begin with.”
Daniel let out a sharp breath. “Yeah, well…you made me believe it, you asshole,” and with that, he set his glass down, got up off the couch and started pacing. “I mean, maybe there isn’t much of a foundation, considering that some of it’s based on f–“
Jack held up his hand to cut Daniel off. A thought occurred to him and he sent Daniel a warning look that had nothing – mostly – to do with their conversation. His expression was then one of distraction as he said, “Daniel, do go there. Don’t dwell on what I said. It was a lie, okay?” He wasn’t looking at him when he said it, either. Jack was off the couch and looking around. “Hold on. I think I left my cell in the car. In case Hammond or someone calls, I need to go get it.” He went for his coat, leaving a very perplexed and angry Daniel standing there, talking-hands stilled in mid-air. He pulled his cellphone out of his jacket, showing Daniel that he actually had it, then set it back inside the pocket. “Just…wait. I’ll be back in a second.”
“You choose the damnedest times to pause in mid-conversation, Jack,” Daniel snapped, but he knew something else was wrong, so he didn’t let on. Jack left the apartment and Daniel looked around. Then it dawned on him. His apartment could be bugged. The very thought made him angry as hell. No…venomous, righteous anger would be more appropriate. He stood there, suddenly wondering if someone was watching as well, then became even angrier. Shutting the blinds, he then turned on his stereo. Not so loud that the neighbor might complain, but loud enough to have to raise his voice if he wanted to talk to Jack.
Jack knocked twice on the door, then entered and closed it, turning the deadbolt. He had his cellphone in hand, but put it away and pulled something else out of his pocket as he hung his coat back up. A radio of some kind with a long antennae. Jack nodded at the stereo and gave Daniel his ‘good thinking’ expression, then turned on the radio device as he walked over to him and whispered in his ear.
“It picks up signals from listening devices, new or old.”
Daniel wanted to ask him where he got it, but it suddenly dawned on him that Jack would have one, have had access to this kind of equipment in the past and likely would have kept some of it, or two, have needed to run a sweep of his house after returning home so he’d have gotten hold of this kind of equipment from someone. That ‘someone’ he wasn’t so hot on knowing about.
“As I was saying, Daniel,” he said, his voice normal as he moved about the room, checking very carefully. “What I said was a lie,” and he turned to look at him, deliberately, not just for effect. “I had to say it and it needed to be quick. I didn’t want to draw it out.” His eyebrow rose as the red light on the receiver went from flashing to solid. He felt up underneath and behind one of Daniel’s bookshelves and came out with a small round metallic device. A surveillance bug. He looked at Daniel and handed it to him, then closed his fingers over Daniel’s, squeezing slightly before letting him go. Gesturing with his hand, he prompted Daniel for a response.
Daniel caught on, and just as Jack had done, he spoke the truth, just not what he wanted to say…yet anyway.
“Well, you did a good acting job, Jack. Though for a while I thought I was living in the Twilight Zone.”
“Daniel, can I ask you something?”
Jack found another bug behind one leg of the bureau behind the sofa. “It’s not exactly off-topic but…what prompted you to say what the hell you said to Travell?”
Daniel snorted. “Smug woman had it coming.”
Jack shrugged. “Okay, I’ll agree to that. Next question.”
“You drew straws?”
Daniel bit his lips together. He was wondering when Jack would ask that…then his humour left him when Jack found another bug on the base casing for the overhead light in the dining room. He handed it to him, then went into his office study. Daniel followed, trying to think up an answer to his question.
“Well, I was pissed. I also wanted to show you just how good a liar I can be.”
Jack paused and turned from his examination of the bookcase. “That was a lie?”
“And when did you and Carter and Teal’c think up this lie?”
“They didn’t. I thought it up right then and there. Give them credit for playing along – with aplomb, I might add.”
Jack blinked at him, then sighed and nodded. “Guess I deserved that, didn’t I?” he asked as he followed the rapid flashing of the light and bent down under Daniel’s desk when the flashing went solid. He found the fourth bug attached to a wire at the base of one of the cables suspended under the desk. With a sigh, he dropped it in Daniel’s hand. Daniel looked at it, then back at Jack.
“Not so much, but I was mad…as I said.”
“Are you still mad?”
The room clear, Jack left and went for the deck. Daniel frowned, wondering why Jack would have to check there. But he found one. Just at the top of the side of the sliding glass door. Daniel was really getting pissed now. “You know, you’re gonna have to talk to Sam about the rest of that,” he said cryptically as he held up his hand, referring to Sam’s house being bugged as well. Jack dropped the fifth bug inside his palm.
“I know. But she can wait. First…I need to mend us.”
They went down the short hallway that led to the laundry room. It was clean. Backtracking to the main bathroom, Daniel sighed with relief when Jack found that empty as well.
“So…um,” Daniel started, trying to think up questions. He wasn’t so much angry at Jack anymore, but he was still very hurt. Right now, there was the reality of his apartment being bugged…which pretty much strengthened Jack’s case. It was one thing for Jack to defend himself about saying what he’d said to him because his house was monitored, but it was another to have it confirmed by seeing his own apartment littered with the devices. These people were very serious…and…they must have been monitoring him for…how long? “How did you know they were monitoring you?”
“I found their listening devices and spotted a van down the street that didn’t belong there. NID and their rogue agents are fucking sloppy people.” He said that deliberately just as he found one bug placed under the night stand and another bug placed in the bedroom’s connecting bathroom. That now totalled seven. Moving back into the living room, he held up his hand as he saw Daniel about to speak. He picked up the telephone, then opened the transmitting end. Clean. The radio receiver would have found it, but Jack needed to make sure anyway. With the apartment now clean, he went back to the kitchen and took one of Daniel’s glasses out of the cupboard.
“You need this glass?”
“Um, need it? No.”
“Good, ’cause you probably won’t see it again.”
He filled it halfway with water, then had Daniel drop the surveillance bugs in. With a smug smile, Jack then placed the glass in the freezer. “There, let them talk to the frozen food. I’ll take that to Hammond later, along with my own glass. Doesn’t negate the possibility of a parabolic microphone somewhere nearby but…I’ll assume that operation is a wash, especially now that they’re scrambling for cover. If I find any of them around my house, your apartment, or Carter’s place, they’re not going to be breathing much longer.” His venomous words were contradictory to his actions as he gently took Daniel’s hand in his own, then led him back into the living room. The music was just a bit too loud and Daniel made to turn it down but Jack stopped him, then pulled him into his arms and gave him a long, firm hug.
He moved his lips to his ear. “I really am sorry,” he said, his voice soft, his lips even softer. It sent a shiver down Daniel’s spine, alternately thrilling him and aggravating him because he didn’t want to have this…not yet. Jack’s breath in his ear made him feel that familiar warmth crawling inside his belly and he didn’t want to be distracted. He reached out and turned the music down, then pushed back to look into Jack’s face. Before he could say anything, Jack’s entreating expression cut him off.
“You believe me, don’t you?” Jack asked, his hand at the small of his back…still…a distraction.
Daniel nodded, then separated and led them back to the sofa. They sat, closer together this time, facing each other. “What I find difficult is the words you chose to use.”
“Daniel, I’ve had to do a lot of nasty things in my life, and that one was one of the hardest.” He reached out and caressed his cheek. “It was just as hurtful for me to say that as it was for you to hear it.”
Daniel leaned into his touch, despite his arguing judgment. He closed his eyes to the thumb that brushed his lips. When he opened them again, he was startled for a moment as Jack’s face was right in front of him, his lips nearing his.
“Could we kiss and makeup now?” Jack whispered.
Daniel took Jack’s hand from his face and looked into his friend’s eyes…and saw pain. Unfortunately, Daniel was forced to remember another pain…one of two days earlier. That pain had been his own. He placed his hand on Jack’s chest and forced him back a little.
“We could. There’s just one other thing I need to get past.”
“When you supposedly went back to Edora, you have no idea what that did to me.”
Jack closed his eyes, dropped his head, and groaned. “So…not going to kiss and makeup then.”
Daniel brought his hand up from Jack’s chest and lifted his head by his chin, forcing Jack to look at him. “We will. But the problem is…I want to know why you chose to go back there. Why choose a place that was…is…pretty much a symbol of pain between us, and the rest of your friends for that matter?”
Jack sighed heavily. “I’m sorry, Daniel. My reasons for going were in no way meant to hurt you.”
“I realize that…now.”
“Okay, well, one, it was the only freely accessible gate where no one would immediately notice me. I couldn’t have chosen the Land of Light or Cimmeria or some other place. Those places held no…connection for me, if you see what I mean.”
Daniel sighed, and nodded. “But Edora did because the personnel who’d been to the planet before the meteor strike saw how you were with…Laira…and her son.”
“Makepeace was also in Hammond’s office when I showed up to make my request. His presence made it easier for Hammond and myself to…”
“Keep up the charade. I get it.”
Daniel sighed dramatically and dropped his head to the back of the couch. He was emotionally tired of the whole thing. In fact, he was drained. Maybe he could go on vacation and sleep for a week. That might work.
Jack noticed the strain around his eyes. He hadn’t thought how hard this whole thing would have been on Daniel, but it really had been, hadn’t it? Daniel normally bounced back from just about anything, especially when it only concerned himself. Like with Hathor. But not now. This was different because, like the addiction to the sarcophagus, it involved someone Daniel was involved with…deeply involved with. Though this one time, it was not Daniel’s doing. It was his. Jack should have known how Daniel would have reacted to all of this. He felt even worse and dropped his head to the back of the couch as well, his eyes searching for Daniel’s and found them closed.
Daniel suddenly said, “I’m going to put in for leave tomorrow.”
Jack slowly raised his head, his eyes wide. “Where did that come from?”
Daniel opened his eyes and looked back at him. He really did look tired, Jack thought.
“I need some time off, Jack. I need time to put all of this into perspective. I don’t want to keep any resentments about this, either. You know. So, a week should do.”
“Here? Or some place else?”
Daniel didn’t answer him right away. Instead he reached out, took Jack’s collar in his hand, and pulled Jack’s head down on the sofa back. He gave him a long look, then drew a finger down his cheek. “Sounds like I’m running away, doesn’t it?”
“No. You look tired, Daniel.”
Daniel nodded. “I am. Didn’t feel it so much until just a few minutes ago. Having you explain to me about Edora kind of just topped everything off, I guess.”
“So…you’ll probably go to Cairo then?”
Daniel shook his head. “Not that far away. I just need a bit of time to get over all this anger. Anger at you, anger at Hammond, anger at the Tollans, anger at the NID. We haven’t had any decent time off in a while so…”
“So you’ll be gone a week then?”
Daniel looked into his eyes, saw the pain there, the stress; saw that Jack needed his own vacation. “You need it, too.”
Jack sighed. “Yeah, I could do with some time off.”
Daniel nodded, his finger straying not too far from Jack’s cheek. “As for your earlier question, I wasn’t thinking of going very far. Some place quiet and serene. I don’t know. A few days.”
Jack pulled back a little, staring hard into those vivid blue eyes. “Does it…does it have to be away from me?”
Daniel frowned in confusion. “I…don’t…no, I don’t think it has to be away from you. What are you getting at?”
“Why not go to my cabin?”
Daniel gave him a small grin and shook his head. “Thanks, Jack, but I was thinking more along the lines of room service, hot water whenever I wanted, not cooking for myself.”
Jack snorted. “Okay, I guess I can see how you’d like those things.”
“You prefer doing it the old fashioned way, Jack, and I can appreciate that. And I know how to, like when I’m on digs. But going to your cabin would feel kind of like a busman’s holiday and…I’d rather do nothing but read,” and then he smiled wider, teasingly, “unless you feel like coming along and cooking, cleaning, and generally doing everything else you’d be doing at the cabin, only I wouldn’t have to do anything but eat and read.”
For a moment, Jack thought he was serious, until Daniel laughed quietly. “Gotcha.”
Jack smiled at him. “Brat. But I do have a question.”
“Does this mean you’d like me along?”
Daniel’s eyes went back to being serious and he lost most of his smile. He pulled Jack to him till their lips brushed. “Yes. If you can swing it.”
Jack’s eyes widened. “Yeah?”
“Yeah,” Daniel whispered.
“So, we get to kiss and makeup now?”
Daniel smiled at him. The first genuine smile Jack had received from his lover for a while.
“Sweet,” he whispered before opening his mouth to receive a thoroughly spirited kiss.