Way # 101 - Payback
His pillow smelled like fabric softener and cedar moth balls, and it reminded him of his mother's closet, where he snuck into and hid as a young boy-- whenever he didn't want to do chores, or just was seeking solitude.
It was a soothing thought, from so very long ago. He would make his private clubhouse there, in that hidden nook, and would spend hours in there with his dog, playing with his toys. He played with toy cars and plastic army men, and with the dog's chew toys, like the plushie lamb with the ear gnawed off.
Jack rolled over in his sleep and did not stir any further. That long-term, deeply embedded mental alarm that always got him up at the crack of dawn was much weaker now. He was able to finally push against it with enough force to stay blissfully stupefied when he wanted to; and to achieve the kind of luxury he hadn't allowed himself since his retirement. His premature retirement, that is.
In short, Jack had not felt this comfortable in a very long while. Comfort was something he always took for granted. He felt it was simply a luxury that he couldn't afford to have. It certainly wasn't necessary. He was so used to living uncomfortably that it felt normal to him-- the way things were genuinely supposed to be, simply a part of who he was. It's not like he thought he was really missing anything worthwhile.
In the here and now, though, Jack saw things differently. That deep feeling of comfort that was still so new for him to grasp; that radiated out from his world and he peacefully dozed in the epicenter of now; he was coming to see it not as a luxury in life. A luxury was an added perk, something a person could easily live without, the mere cherry on top. It was something that some people didn't even deserve to have, and was more like a reward meant for the few lucky or deserving.
Sometimes it still felt that way, like Jack was merely lucky, that he was being indulgent in a sort of thing he didn't really deserve, that it was greedy, childish, and even unfair. There was a new sense, though, one that told him that this comfort was not just a temporary coddling to his faculties, but instead a symptom of something larger and more significant. It was a sense that something was deeply right in his world, and that before, something had in fact been deeply wrong-- or perhaps not so much wrong as simply not right. It was a bit confusing to think about, but there were moments when clarity punched through. Jack never used to sleep in before; and now he had been more and more lately. It wasn't about that thing alone, of course. It was about dozens of little things he didn't let himself do or didn't ever bother with before. It was about big things too, like taking the time to think about stuff he normally never pondered.
All this change was slightly alarming, but for some reason Jack had a hard time worrying much over it. The memories of an older time replayed through his head. What he had before and lost; he had always assumed that it was utterly irrevocable, a single chance in a lifetime. And what he had now certainly was not the same as what he had then. But it was comparable in one key factor.
He felt a sort of comfort that told him he wasn't just taking things day by day anymore. It was a sort of comfort that he assumed he'd never experience again, that he was simply past now, that was a quality unobtainable for his age and history, that would have been a waste of time to try and expect. For whatever the reason, it came back to him, and in a manner that was entirely out of the blue. Of course, unexpected didn't make it any less uninvited.
That comfort was that he was living his life, not just drifting along for the ride. Maybe, for the first time in a long time, he was doing more than just okay. Maybe he was ending up with entirely way more than he ever dreamed of getting. Maybe he actually deserved living a life where he was comfortable in his own bed again.
"Ah-haaa. I see the tables have turned, haven't they, my Colonel?"
Daniel stood peering down at the sleeping man. He had awoken, showered, and came back to find him still softly snoring. He watched, hands on hips, a bit surprised at being in this unusual position, where he was awake long before his partner was.
"I suppose this is a rare opportunity," Daniel pondered out loud.
Truth be told, Dr. Jackson wasn't one to hold grudges, but he wasn't one to forget quickly, either. After all, Daniel had put up with a great deal indeed. And he was a firm believer that turnabout was fair play.
"The question is, what would be best?"
Daniel considered the dozing man a moment. Their bed was a mooshed pile of blankets and sheets strewn about at random. It had the kind of casual worn-in and well-used flair that Jack seemed to bring to just about everything he touched. Their entire bedroom was that way, as was the rest of the house. It was one of the things Daniel loved about him. The brand was just so distinctly Jack. Like the furniture in the house, or a pair of his worn-in shoes. Not worn out or used up; just well used, well known, and well loved. Made of stuff stern enough to last. Just like Jack.
Daniel laughed quietly to himself, trying to imagine how the man would respond to hearing that comparison. Probably not well. It was always hard for him to predict how Jack responded to any given thing.
Giving the bed a little nudge, Daniel said quietly,
He snapped his fingers above the man's head a few times.
The man was still out pretty cold. Daniel nodded to himself.
"Good," he muttered. Daniel stared long and hard at the man, then turned and walked out of the bedroom.
He walked down the hall. The bedroom fell into silence, save for Jack's intermittent snoring.
Somewhere outside, a bird chirped.
Then there were rapid footsteps on the floor, followed by a man screaming at the top of his lungs.
Jack rolled over in his sleep again, grumbled, and opened one eye.
Daniel came crashing into him from above, with enough force to snap the legs clean off the jittery old bed frame.
Jack was startled at this awakening, and gave a rather strange cry that went along the lines of "Waaaaaaaaaaaggggghhhhhhh!"
A dog started barking hysterically at the noise. Jack instinctively fought back against his ambusher, trying to get an arm around the throat in a death-grip. Daniel shoved blankets into Jack's face to avoid getting strangled, which only worked half-way, and while he kept his arms busy, Jack wrapped his legs around his attacker and forced him to roll over. Struggling with all the stupid blankets, Jack pressed down against the man, hard, and tried to get at his face. Once he'd whipped enough blankets out of the way he saw Daniel and hissed,
"Danny-- you-- moron!"
"Morning!" he replied cheerfully.
"You want to get yourself killed!"
"Looks like I'm off to a good start," Daniel quipped. Jack snarled and tried burying Daniel back in the covers, but Daniel fought back, which only made Jack all the more determined. They struggled over who could suffocate the other in the sheets first, and it was a pretty even match until the both of them fell ungracefully off the bed. Fortunately with the frame snapped it was a slightly shorter trip to the floor.
"Ow! You sprained my ankle, you jackass!"
"Serves you right, you freaky little stalker--"
Jack abruptly stopped Daniel's attempt at getting up by grabbing a leg, so that he fell back to the floor.
"Where do you think you're going?"-- THUMP!
"To a slightly safer distance," Daniel suggested, trying to kick his foot free. Somehow, he managed to slip through Jack's grip, crawled across the floor, and scamper out the room, with Jack angrily demanding he get the Hell back here.
"DANIEL!" he bellowed down the hall, as he stood in the doorway, glaring, trying to discern where he ran off to. He paused a moment to quietly listen. Birds chirping in the distance and a nearby dog barking its head off. Jack narrowed his eyes and crept out of the bedroom.
Slowly, he peered into each doorway along the hall, and then around the corner. Aah-ha. There he was, standing out in the open, leaning against the back of the couch, sipping a mug of coffee. Jack smiled grimly to himself. The man thought he could protect himself with a full mug of coffee, thereby repelling any random attacks. What Dr. Jackson failed to take into account was how very little Jack really did care about coffee stains on his furniture, floor, and elsewhere in the house. He wasn't getting away that easily.
Silently, Jack came charging full-speed, or at least as silently as one can when running across a hardwood floor barefoot. Daniel turned his head to see him and stared as if startled; then he gently tossed aside the empty decoy mug and threw himself over the back of the couch.
The inevitable result was Jack flying into empty space, trying to alter course in mid-flight, and careening over the couch at much too great of speed. He rolled off the couch and ended up on the floor beside it, falling at a fairly painful angle, making this fact known verbally with a very startled yelp and a painful moan.
Daniel gazed down at Jack from his cushy position on the couch for a moment, surveying the damage. Jack groaned and rubbed the back of his head, cursing none-too-mildly about goddamn slippery hardwood floors. Uncurling from his spot on the couch, Daniel slithered down to perch triumphantly on top of the crumpled and defeated form of the Colonel.
Jack paused in his cursings to peer up at the man, who was looking down at him rather smugly.
"You all right?" Daniel asked, and despite his triumph, it was a genuine question.
Jack grunted. "I'll live."
"Okay. That's good."
Jack shifted a little, grit his teeth at the soreness in his side, and said,
"You're a jerk."
"I learn from the best."
They were quiet a moment, the only sounds being the same maniac barking.
"It seems Tok'ra is a bit worried," Jack observed.
"Yeah. You'd think she'd be used to stuff like this by now."
"She's only trying to protect her master from rabid archeologist attacks."
"Uh-huh. Because I'm real dangerous," Daniel drawled.
"You can be when you want to."
Daniel leaned down further on the man, gazing thoughtfully.
"I suppose that's true."
Jack felt the anger slowly drain from his body, gradually being replaced by a new kind of heat, and despite himself, a smile quirked at his lips as he peered up into the innocent blue eyes of his attacker.
"So. Does this make us even?" he asked.
"Hmm. Well. For now, it does," Daniel acquiesced, dropping a casual kiss on Jack's lips.
Jack grinned and leaned forward, intent on laying claim to the man's mouth, but he winced in pain instead and groaned, shifting on the ground.
"Oooh man, Danny, my side really hurts. I think I might have broken a rib."
"Really," Daniel said, his tone completely void of sympathy or belief.
"I'm serious. At least cracked a couple . . . there could be internal bleeding, too."
"You'd better check it out. I may need a doctor to look at it. You being the nearest doctor."
Daniel gave him a look like he was being a complete and total moron.
". . . of archeology," the man said, same look still on his face.
"Well, yeah. That means you know things about bones, right?"
Dr. Jackson let a smirk slip by; he had to give him credit for that much.
"Yes, when the bones have long been dead and buried for several centuries."
"You might wanna not wait quite that long," Jack said, somehow being adorable and seductive simultaneously. Daniel's eager kiss was a promise that he wouldn't be waiting a moment longer.