Daniel sat up slowly, working the kinks out of his stiff shoulder and neck muscles. Age certainly hadn't approved his flexibility, that's for sure. "Ow."
"Serves you right for sleeping at your desk rather than your bed."
With lethargic fingers, he readjusted his glasses, unburying them from the crevices the frames had imbedded in his face. He sniffed, squinted and tried to force his eyes to focus on the digital display of numbers on his watch, then positioned the phone more comfortably between his neck and shoulder.
"Why are you up so late?" Jack demanded.
Daniel yawned. "I'm not up. Well I am *now*. I was sleeping, you woke me—"
"Someone has to watch your six."
"Huh?" Daniel wasn't entirely sure this whole conversation wasn't part of a dream resulting from overwork, stress and a morning briefing deadline. "It's three in the morning which makes it," Daniel paused, pushed aside the cobwebs choking his thought processes, "five in your neck of the woods. What the *hell* are you doing up so early?"
"This isn't about me, this conversation is about you."
"Jack, honestly, I'm not too sure *what* this whole conversation is about."
"I miss you," Jack said, as if those three words were explanation enough for his early morning phone call.
Daniel sighed. "I miss you, too." He gazed up at the blinking security camera in the corner and resisted the urge to wave. Even though the cameras didn't pick up vocals, as a precaution, he lowered his voice half an octave. "Phone sex at the SGC really doesn't do it for me, Jack."
"Really? 'Cause funny, it would do it for me," Jack snorted. "See, I'm sitting here in my bedroom, naked, imagining my fingers slowly opening your—"
"Shut up," Daniel hissed. He wondered if he would have enough time to run home, strip, place a long distance call to Jack and make it back to the SGC in time for the seven a.m. briefing.
"Too visual for you?"
"No." Not too visual for his brain, which was still stuck in sleep mode but his dick seemed to be entertaining the idea of the quick side trip home.
Jack chuckled. The sound was deep and familiar and Daniel couldn't help but smile. "Miss you, too."
"I know," Jack responded confidently. "That's why I called."
"You do know you're an overconfident SOB."
"I know. It's quite an endearing quality, don't you agree?"
Daniel eyed his empty coffee pot with longing. The cord on the phone was too short and he really didn't want to tell Jack to hang on while he made a fresh pot.
"You don't need a cup of coffee."
"I wasn't drinking anything." Not a lie.
"But you were thinking about refilling the pot."
"How the hell do you know that?"
"Do you really need to ask?"
"No, I guess I don't."
"You should be home sleeping. I shouldn't have had to chase you down to talk to you."
"Chase me down? Where the hell did you think I would be? After nine years you, of all people, should know I don't exactly lead an active social life. Three choices. Home, SGC or offworld."
Daniel groaned, the caffeine lure was triggering a headache and he opened his desk drawer with his left hand and ruffled through his odds and ends to locate the dwindling bottle of Tylenol. "I sorta figured the infirmary would count as part of the SGC." He flipped open the top with his thumb and shook two out onto his desk top.
"So, Vala's finally gone."
He tossed the bottle back into the drawer then popped one Tylenol into his mouth and dry swallowed the tablet. Note to self, he realized as he forced the dissolving pill down his throat, purchase gel caps on his next trip to the store. "Yeah. Gone." He pinged the other Tylenol against the binding of a book right in front of him and watched it bounce off and slide to the edge of the desk.
"Do you miss her?"
Daniel shuddered, popped the other pill and washed this one down with a bottle of two-day old tepid water. "Miss her?" Life here at the SGC was quieter, calmer, he was playing catch up with his workload, a state of normalcy had returned to his life. He now knew when he closed his eyes he would be waking up on his couch, bed or desk and not in the infirmary. Normalcy was good. "It's quiet around here."
"Quiet is good?"
Daniel was unsure why Jack was presenting this as a question, but he answered it nevertheless. "Quiet is good," he confirmed.
"Does Mitchell miss Vala?" Maybe three Tylenols would do the trick, and he contemplated opening the drawer again.
Jack's sigh of exasperation would have been comical if it hadn't been so early in the morning. "No, Daniel. How's Mitchell?"
"Fine-fine, or just fine?"
"He's a bit over the top for me."
"Really?" Jack sounded a touch too happy.
"Too enthusiastic. Too—he's not you," Daniel said, deciding to forego the third pill, choosing instead remove his glasses and rub his eyes in place of reopening the drawer. "That's not saying he doesn't do his job. He does. He's just…"
"That's alright, Daniel."
"Yeah, it is," Daniel laughed. "One of you is more than enough."
"General Landry and Dr. Lam are okay. Not the original, but it's been—"
"Nine years," Jack filled in.
"A long time. Things change." Daniel felt old and alone. "People move on. People die."
"Sorry," Daniel hated when his emotions slipped through the cracks because of exhaustion. "It's late. I'm tired and obviously more morbid than this conversation calls for."
"Excluding death and ascension, sometimes change is for the better."
"Sometimes." Daniel bent his neck muscles and felt them crack with the release of pressure. And then again, sometimes change pulled people in his life too far from him and although that wasn't okay, at times there weren't any other choices. He'd manage. He'd survive. He always did. "I miss you, Jack."
"Miss you, too. Hell, that's why I called."
"Now I know you have at least three hours before you have to be wherever it is you need to be, so I want you to please lie down on the couch, and by the way, don't you dare take another Tylenol or make a pot of coffee. Sleep."
"Always remember, Daniel. Whether I'm in Washington, my office or your bed, I'm always watching your six. Though I prefer watching it in your bed over the over two."
"That makes two of us."
"You think Landry likes you enough to give you some time off to go fishing?"
"Fishing accompanied by a smidgeon of archaeological ass-watching. Though I'm thinking fishing might look better in the request."
"Fishing might work."
"Just so you know, before I moved to Washington, I placed a stack of those request forms in your top drawer, under the bottle of Tylenol."
"How convenient." Daniel opened the drawer, flipped aside the bottle and pulled out a blank form.
"Just one suggestion—"
"I'm not stupid enough to write down fishing."
"Daniel, admit it, you've never seen one of these forms before. In nine years you've never requested—"
"Ha ha." Daniel grabbed a pen, slipped his glasses back on and began to read the small print.
"Make sure you submit it in triplicate. Doesn't count unless it goes to the appropriate parties."
"I need to make it count."
"We need to make it count. Go for seventy two hours. Me. You. Lake. Fishing. Archaeologist-groping."
"I don't see a blank for that."
"I'm going to go. I don't want to distract you while you'll filling in the blanks."
"Jack, before you go. I just want you to, ummm, know—"
"How much you hate fishing?"
"No how much I hate filling out paperwork."
"Triplicate Daniel. Remember. Triplicate. It'll all be worth it."
This fic is for the people in the next room may you always be this close.
Jo thanks for the beta, your patience, guidance and your little red pencils that are always worn down to a stub after receiving one of my fics.
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