The first thing Jack saw upon waking was a very concerned-looking Daniel squinting intently in his general direction. The younger man's pose said it all—arms tightly wrapped around his body, head down, a road-map of anxiety creasing his forehead. Jack knew exactly what was going on in his mind, and he decided to have a little fun.
"Daniel—I'm over here," Jack called, and Daniel jumped a bit.
"Jack! You're awake," said Daniel, cautiously approaching the spot where Jack's voice had come from.
"Glad to see those PHD's are working for ya," Jack snarked. "Euchh!"
"What? What's wrong?" asked Daniel.
"Oh, nothing," Jack answered grouchily. "Apparently I had a really good dream, if you know what I mean. Damn!" he exclaimed, plucking the damp sheet away from his body.
"Then…you don't remember?" Daniel asked softly, his fingers picking nervously at his sleeves.
"The dream—you don't remember the dream?" Daniel asked in exasperation.
"I never remember my dreams," Jack answered. "And anyways, if the aftermath is anything to go by, I have a feeling this was a dream I wouldn't go discussing in public."
Daniel's shoulders slumped a bit at his words and Jack immediately regretted yanking his chain. "Daniel…" he started.
But before he could get more than a word out, Jacob Carter knocked on the door and barged into the room. "Sorry to interrupt, fellas, but George is waiting to hear our reports."
Inwardly cursing Jacob's horrible timing, Jack climbed off the cot. Daniel was already out the door before his feet hit the ground, and Jack was about to follow when he remembered that he needed to change into a fresh pair of pants before he went anywhere.
He managed to catch up with them just as they were about to enter the Briefing Room. "Daniel—wait up, would ya?" Daniel pretended not to hear him and picked up his pace. His stupid little joke had really hit a nerve with Daniel, and he desperately wanted to set things straight with him. Jack jogged the last stretch of corridor, but didn't get there fast enough to stop Daniel and Jacob from entering the room. General Hammond, Carter, and Teal'c were already seated around the table—it was too late to say anything to him now.
"Gentlemen," Hammond greeted them as Jacob and Daniel took their seats at the table, taking the last two chairs on the side nearest the door. Jack, fully determined to sit next to Daniel, dragged a chair from around the other side of the table and promptly flanked the younger man. He didn't miss Daniel's purse-lipped glower as he settled in next to him.
"Thank-you once again, Doctor Jackson, for coming in on your free time and volunteering your help in this matter," said Hammond, formally noting, for the record, that the archaeologist was still on suspension.
Daniel nodded in return. "Glad I could help," he said, pointedly ignoring Jack, who was busy scribbling something on the notepad in front of him.
"Jacob, if you would be so kind as to start us off with your account of the bomb's deactivation?" asked Hammond.
Jack tuned them out at that point, intent on finishing his note to Daniel without the others noticing. When he finished, he discreetly slipped the notepad under Daniel's arm. He hoped that even if Daniel wouldn't listen, he might at least read his apology.
Annoyed, Daniel glanced down at the rectangular shaped white blur Jack had passed to him and turned to the other man, his eyebrows raised as if to say 'what are you—stupid?'
Jack all but smacked himself on the forehead when he remembered that Daniel couldn't see what he'd written. Still, he had to get the message across before the meeting was over and Daniel slipped out of his grasp again. As his brain concentrated on a way to get the other man's attention, he became aware of a lull in the conversation.
"Colonel?" Hammond prompted.
"Hmm?" Jack replied, still slightly preoccupied with Daniel.
Hammond's face darkened as he held his temper in check. "Care to give us your version of what happened in your dream?"
"He doesn't remember," Daniel answered for him, trying to sound helpful, even though Jack could hear the bitterness in his voice.
This was the chance Jack had been looking for. "Of course I remember, Daniel. How could I forget?" Jack couldn't help but smile at his friend's obvious surprise as he proceeded to give a highly detailed account of the bomb's defusing. As an added reassurance that he did remember everything, Jack snaked his foot towards Daniel's and started playing footsie with him. To his relief, Daniel let him, and by the end of the meeting, he seemed much more relaxed. He even had that familiar spark in his eyes that Jack loved so much.
After Hammond had called an end to the meeting, Jack and Daniel lingered in the Briefing Room until they were the only ones left.
"So you remember? Everything?" asked Daniel.
"Everything," Jack assured him. "I was stupid; I shouldn't have teased you earlier; I'm sorry. But in my defence, you just looked so worried…I couldn't resist."
Daniel was quiet for a moment until at last he seemed to make up his mind and he nodded. As far as apologies went, it wasn't great, but it wasn't bad, considering it was Jack. "I guess, technically, I'm still on suspension. I don't suppose I could bug you for a ride home?"
"What, and have Janet come after me with the rubber glove? Uh-uh—you're coming home with me. Doctor's orders."
"You're sure? You're not going to change your mind again and leave me alone at home, alone, in the dark…all by myself? Did I mention the 'alone' part?"
"Yeah…about that," said Jack. "I guess I kind of freaked out a bit. Sorry." He chuckled.
"What?" asked Daniel, fighting his own smile—after all, he was trying to act wounded, and smiling would completely ruin the effect.
"It seems like I have a lot to apologise for," he answered.
"I can think of one or two ways you could make it up to me," Daniel said suggestively.
"You're not mad?"
Daniel rubbed the back of his neck as he thought. "I think we're going to have to expect some bumps along the way, Jack. This is a big change for both of us. But I think it's worth it. I think you're worth it."
"You never cease to amaze me, Daniel."
"Wait 'til I get you home," Daniel leered, and held out his hand. Jack took it in his, and tucked it into the crook of his arm, Daniel's blindness providing the perfect cover to hold hands on base.
"Wakey-wakey, sunshine," came an annoyingly chipper voice from nearby.
Daniel moaned and yanked the blankets up over his head. He'd known Jack was an early bird, but it seemed unconscionable that the man should be so…peppy…at such an ungodly hour of the morning.
"I know you're in there," said Jack, peeling back the covers to reveal a blue eye that glared at him venomously. "Come on, Daniel. Monday morning, remember? We have a briefing at 08:00 hours. Now get a move on."
Daniel groused and grumbled, choosing Spanish as his rant-language for the day. Jack just smiled beatifically back at him. It was enough to make the complaints die on Daniel's lips.
It had been a surreal weekend, spent locked away in Jack's house. It was a weekend of discovery for both of them, and they had done more talking than touching as they worked through their feelings and their expectations for their new relationship. Moments of blind panic—of fearing to let go of the past—were countered with moments of such sweet tenderness that they were both left speechless. There was no doubt on either side that what they felt for each other was real and couldn't be ignored. But one of the first things they had agreed on was to take the physical part of the relationship slowly. They needed time to adjust and to explore, without high expectations or fear of rejection. The kissing had been good. Hell, it had been fantastic, and the same went for everything else they'd tried. The attraction was definitely there, but they were equally shy when it came to nudity, and so far they had only managed to get as far as frottage before one or the other backed off.
Daniel wasn't the least bit worried about it—the foundation was strong, and that was all that really mattered. And in the meantime, waking up in the same bed as Jack—being so close to him and knowing he would always be there—was turning out to be highly addictive. He found that he felt a gap in his soul whenever Jack was out of his sight, and it was going to be hard once they were back at the mountain and couldn't spend every minute of every day together.
Today was the big day. Daniel's eyesight was still a bit on the fuzzy side, but with his glasses on, he could see well enough to return to his duties. Things would have to return to normal—at the mountain, at least—and the fear of slipping up or getting caught out by someone at the SGC had forced them to come up with a plan. It was Jack's idea to head off any potential disasters down the line by confronting the big problem head on.
And so, half an hour before their briefing was to start, Jack and Daniel stood side by side, staring at General Hammond's office door. Daniel nudged Jack, giving him a look that said he could back out now, if he wanted to. Jack shook his head—he could do this! He'd saved the world a bunch of times—facing Hammond shouldn't be so difficult. Taking a deep breath, Jack rapped sharply on the door.
"Come in," Hammond called from inside.
Jack swung the door wide open and marched in confidently. Nope—no nerves here, he thought to himself, straightening his jacket as he unconsciously stood at attention. He felt, more than saw, Daniel come up beside him, and his close proximity went a long way in taming the snakes that were writhing in his stomach.
"Colonel, Doctor; what can I do for you?" asked Hammond, his hands folded calmly on the desk in front of him, a welcoming smile on his face.
Jack frowned and fidgeted with the buttons on his jacket—this would be a lot easier if Hammond didn't look so…peaceful. He couldn't help feeling like a cowboy staring down at his injured horse—looking into those big, innocent eyes and knowing he had to put a bullet between them.
"Sir," said Jack, eyes straight ahead, completely professional. "Daniel and I…what I mean to say is, uh…"Jack swallowed hard, squared his shoulders and started again. "Sir—Daniel and I have something we can't tell you." There; it was said—or unsaid, but in a very 'said' sort of way.
General Hammond's eyes shifted from his second in command to Daniel, who was subtly touching shoulders with him in support. "I take it this is something I can't ask you about, either?" Hammond asked, quickly putting the pieces together.
Jack nodded, grateful that he didn't need to elaborate in order to make his point. "It's really something you shouldn't know about, Sir."
"So you decided to not tell me, because…?" asked Hammond.
It was Daniel who answered. "We thought it was something you should know about—better you don't hear it from us than from someone else."
"I see," said Hammond, his fingers drumming on his desk. "Does anyone else…not know about this?"
"No one," said Jack.
"Except Jacob Carter," Daniel interjected.
"Except him," Jack amended. "But I give you my word we'll keep it low-key, hush-hush, under the radar, over the rainbow…you name it."
"See to it that you do, Colonel," said Hammond. "Remember, we have big brother watching over our shoulders all the time. If word of this gets out, I'll have no choice but to deny we ever had this conversation. Understood?"
"What conversation, Sir?" asked Jack with a wink.
Hammond shook his head and sighed. "Dismissed," he said, but as O'Neill was halfway out the door, he stopped him. "Oh, and Jack?" he said, a knowing twinkle in his eye, "it's about time, son."
Jack grinned. All his worrying vanished with Hammond's blessing. Sure it wasn't going to be easy, but it was worth it. Daniel was worth it. And for now he was just happy to be living the dream instead of fuelling the nightmare.