The Things you do for Loveby devra
Manips by JoaG
The yard was neat, the bushes anally trimmed. The house was small. Compact. Probably tinier than either of Daniel's apartments, but at least it was one level. Not a balcony in sight. Okay, there were a handful of pissed off neighbors thanks to Osiris, but over time people have a tendency to forget broken windows, gunshots, and trampled flowers.
Daniel's next door neighbor warily observed Jack as he made his way to the front door. In the name of goodwill, Jack adjusted the bags in his arms and offered the man a friendly wave. The man snarled at him, then stomped up the walk to his own house and slammed the door. Jack grimaced, admittedly, maybe he'd been mistaken; maybe Daniel's neighbors had elephant-like memories.
Opened windows overflowed with loud music from Jack's era, and he couldn't help but smile at this blast from his past. Daniel had an eclectic taste in music, and over the years, Jack had adjusted. Good manners made him knock, good sense had Jack putting down two of the bags, finding his keys and opening Daniel's front door.
Jack stood in the foyer, the grocery bags at his feet, enjoying his unobstructed view of Daniel in the kitchen, standing in front of the sink swaying and bopping along to Thick as a Brick. Daniel was one step behind the beat, but that didn't stop Jack from reveling in the entertainment of a barefoot, denim-clad Daniel grooving along.
"Bingo," Jack mumbled to himself as Daniel answered Jack's question why he was a tad out of sync with the song by raising a wine glass and drinking down the contents. Jack stepped over the bags, the music covering his approach, until three steps from Daniel, he tripped over something and went flying forward.
There was an indignant screech, followed by an "umph" as Daniel broke his fall, and then a crash as the wine glass in Daniel's hand slipped and shattered in the sink.
"A simple, 'you shouldn't be drinking' would've been much more effective," Daniel grunted, pushing backwards against Jack.
"Holy shit, Daniel." Jack looked down at the feline complaining piteously as it wound itself around their entangled legs. "You have a cat."
"No, I don't."
In one swift movement, Jack flipped Daniel around to face him, and forced his gaze downward. "That's not a cat?"
"Oh. Well, yeah. But that's not my cat."
"It's in your house."
"It's the house's cat."
"Could you clarify?"
"The previous owners abandoned her and when I moved in…"
Experience had taught Jack that Daniel had issues with anything abandoned. First it was abandoned civilizations, and now cats. Great.
"She's very affectionate." Daniel skritched behind the cat's left ear using his bare toes. On command, she trilled, loudly and he smiled at Jack. "See?"
What Jack did see was a sleep-deprived, slightly tipsy, overly exhausted Daniel. Who needed a shave, a week's worth of sleep and life to cut him some slack.
"How about you and—" Jack pointed to the cat. "What's her name go take a nap, and I'll clean up—"
"Her name is Cat." Daniel blinked at Jack as if challenging him to comment on the feline's name. "No. I don't want to take a nap. I'm not tired."
"No, of course you're not tired. You're exhausted. When was the last time you slept?"
"I went to bed last night."
"Ah, but did you sleep? That's the question."
Daniel opened his mouth, shut it, then turned his attention back to the sink. "In less than three hours, there are going to be a bunch of hungry people—" He attempted to peer around Jack. "Please tell me that you bought everything on the list."
"Everything." Jack pointed over his shoulder. "Still there by the front door. I said I promised I wouldn't forget."
Jack leaned in and kissed Daniel on the lips, then stepped back, smiling as an eyes-closed, deep in the moment Daniel blindly tried to follow him. "Hey," Jack said with a gentle cuff to his chin, waiting until Daniel opened his eyes. "Now you have to promise me after everyone's gone, you'll actually close your eyes and catch some shut eye."
And there was the crux of the problem. Daniel probably was dragging himself to bed, but not allowing his body to rest. "How about sleeping at my house tonight? I'm better than Fraiser's sleeping pills." Jack stopped, scowling at his wording. "Not that I'm boring—do you think I'm boring?"
"You? Boring?" Daniel feigned innocence. "I don't where you ever got that idea."
"Your snoring durin—"
"It was only that one time—one time! Honest."
"So, is that a yes?" Jack asked hopefully. It had been while since Daniel had graced Jack with his presence. During the night. In bed.
"No, that's not a yes?"
"Yes, that's a no."
"So, you're—" Jack encouraged Daniel with a roll of his hands.
"I'm not going home with you, though you're welcome—"
"Why aren't I coming over?"
"Because who's going to watch Cat?"
"Who's going to watch the cat—"
"Not the, just Cat."
"It's a stupid name. Being a linguist, I would've thought that you would have come up with something a bit more appropriate."
Frustrated, Jack threw his hands up in the air. "I don't know. Something with a bit more depth than Cat."
Daniel yawned, then yawned again, quickly throwing up a hand to play interference to Jack's comments.
"How about, you shower. Shave. Make yourself presentable so we can at least eat before Fraiser drags your ass back to the infirmary and plies you with a sedative."
"Clean up the glass. Have a beer and place all your requested ingredients on the table so you can prepare, and I'm quoting you directly, the best ribs this side of the galaxy."
Daniel looked slightly better after the shower, but even warm water couldn't chase away the dark shadows under his eyes. Fraiser was going to have a field day if Jack couldn't get at least an hour's worth of shuteye under Daniel's belt.
"I made some coffee." Jack raised his own mug.
"I think I was working my way through a bottle of wine."
"I think you'd do better with a mug or two of coffee. Black."
"Daniel…" Jack put his mug on the counter, stepped over the cat and pulled Daniel into a hug. There was a moment of non-compliance before Daniel rested his head on Jack's shoulder. Jack reached up and rubbed Daniel's temple, his fingers worrying the scab left behind by the MacGyvered memory device.
"I need to start the spareribs."
No, what Daniel needed to do was close his eyes more than he needed to prepare the marinade for the ribs, but Daniel knew that. Telling him wasn't going to make him give in and go to sleep. The brick wall was fast approaching and it was only a matter of time before Daniel ran smack into it.
"Sit." Jack pointed to the kitchen chair.
"No, this is ridiculous," Daniel complained.
"Stop!" Jack did a two-step shuffle, trying to avoid stepping on the cat intertwining herself around his legs. He grabbed the table.
"Maybe you should be the one sitting down." Daniel scooped the cat up.
"Give me the cat."
Jack sighed and plucked the feline from Daniel's arms. "Give me Cat, go wash your hands and prepare the marinade." He did a quick glance at the clock. "The clock is ticking, Doctor Jackson. Now get a move on before I buy ribs from Smokin' Al's."
Daniel pushed past Jack, mumbling under his breath words that Jack didn't believe were at all complimentary. Jack plopped down on the chair he'd pulled out for Daniel, settling Cat into his lap. "We're gonna watch you."
Slowly, with an anal precision that made Jack want to jump across the table and strangle him, Daniel prepared the marinade. Jack sat and watched, absently stroking the cat, Cat he corrected, without the the. Leave it to Daniel. Cat purred contentedly, her tail flicking with annoying consistency against Jack's leg. He wasn't a cat man. Nothing against the animals, but they were a little too aloof and self-sufficient for his liking. Give him a dog any day.
Daniel looked at him and blinked. With one finger, he pushed up his glasses, leaving a streak of apricot sauce on the side of his nose.
"Daniel, you have…" Jack touched his nose then pointed to Daniel.
"Never mind. Would you like some coffee?"
He could argue. Steer Daniel to the coffee, but what's the worse that could happen? Daniel could take the next step and move from the buzz he was feeling to a full fledged bought of drunkenness, he'd vomit and then pass out. Passing out was akin to sleeping.
The ribs were soaking in the marinade. Daniel was soaking in the wine. And Jack was soaking in the scenario of a slap happy, on his way to being shit faced, swaying in front of the sink while he did the dishes, Daniel.
"How about we go sit outside?"
Daniel turned, holding a dripping dish in his hands. "You know, I never pictured you as a cat aficionado."
Jack looked down at Cat, who was a dead weight in his lap. "I'm not."
"You could've fooled me."
"How about you and I switch places. You sit. I'll finish the dishes."
Daniel canted his head. "But you and Cat look very comfortable."
"It's an illusion. For Cat's sake you really need to sit."
Daniel dropped the dish back into the sink, then held out his wet hands to Jack. "Hand her to me."
Gingerly, he picked up the completely limp, pliable cat, handed her off to Daniel and went to finish the dishes.
Daniel was humming, a nails across the board repetitive verse of a song that was cutting through the running water.
"Daniel, why don't you take the song, Cat and—" Jack turned and immediately stopped talking.
Daniel was sitting in the chair, eyes closed, Cat in his lap, his head bobbing up and down as he hummed in his sleep.
Cat gazed up at Jack, blinking her eyes in tandem.
Jack gave her a thumb's up. "We done good," he whispered.
The doorbell rang. Loudly.
"Damn it." He'd have to talk to Carter about her impeccable timing.
Daniel jerked, his eyes popped open and stood. Cat was unceremoniously dumped onto the kitchen floor. Daniel wavered, stumbled forward, and it was only Jack's quick reflexes which kept him upright.
"Shit." He pushed away from Jack as he clamped his hand over his mouth.
Jack had never seen anyone turn that particular shade of green so fast. "Go," he said, pushing Daniel towards the tiny bathroom off the tiny master bedroom. "Close the door," Jack shouted after Daniel. "I'll cover for you."
By the time Jack opened the front door, the gang was all here. Carter and Teal'c were standing on the tiny cement porch weighed down with bags. Fraiser was getting out of the passenger seat of her car, holding onto the door shakily. Worriedly, Jack stepped towards her, only to grin when Cassie exited the driver's side, a thousand watt smile lighting up her face.
"It would appear that CassandraFraiser is now old enough to drive," Teal'c observed with a nod.
"Yeah, and it would appear that Fraiser's not so happy about it." Jack relieved Teal'c of one of the six packs.
Fraiser staggered up the walk. "Help me," she hissed, glancing furtively over her shoulder. "I need a drink. Now!"
"Sir? Where's Daniel?"
"Inside. Making himself presentable for company." Maybe he was stretching the truth just a little. "Come on, we're just getting ready to turn the grill on."
Jack left the women in the kitchen, emptying out the fridge, oohing and ahhing over containers of food Daniel had prepared. Teal'c was doing their bidding, searching the cabinets for platters and serving utensils.
The grill was on and Jack apologized profusely as he skirted around the packed kitchen.
"I'm going to go get Daniel," Jack said to no one in particular.
"Please," Fraiser said peeking under the plastic top. "I'm not sure if this needs to be heated up."
Jack looked under the top and grimaced. "It's green. Maybe it's mold…"
"I think we need, Daniel, sir." Carter gave him a gentle push.
"Are you pushing your commanding officer, Major?"
"She is not. MajorCarter was just guiding you through the kitchen."
"You know, I get no respect."
"That comes as a surprise to you, O'Neill?"
Jack closed Daniel's bedroom door then knocked on the shut door to the miniscule bathroom in the bedroom. "Daniel," he whispered. "Open up."
"It's not locked."
Jack turned the knob and walked into the bathroom. "Hey."
Daniel waved from his little corner of the bathroom floor next to the toilet.
Surprisingly, he looked better. Not as tired, and at least there was some color to his cheeks, which offset the circles under his eyes.
"I know," Daniel answered softly, but didn't move.
"Do you want me to bring the party in here?"
There was a flash of a mirthless smile.
"Do you want me to give you Tylenol? A bottle of Tylenol?"
"I. Already." Daniel swallowed. His 'took' was lost in another round of retching.
Jack closed the bathroom door then wet a washcloth. "Here." He placed it on Daniel's exposed nape.
Daniel slid the washcloth from his neck to his face, then plopped backwards onto his ass. He scrubbed at his face, mumbling something into the washcloth.
"I can't hear you, Daniel." Jack plucked it from his hands. Crap, so much for Daniel looking better.
"I said, 'this wasn't one of my smarter ideas'."
"What? Inviting everyone here? Drinking a bottle of wine? Not eating before you drank? Vomiting? Oh, or maybe not sleeping?"
Daniel cringed. "Can I pick one from Column A and one from Column B?"
"No, you can own up to all of them."
Bleary eyed, he gazed up at Jack. "I'm detecting a certain lack of empathy from you."
"You have two choices. You pull yourself together and stand the scrutiny and a few hours with friends or I tell them you're under the weather and Fraiser has Cassie drive you back to the mountain. What'll it be?"
Daniel barely made it to the toilet in time.
Jack rubbed his back. "Yeah, that's what I thought. I'll tell everyone you'll be out in a few minutes."
"I was unaware DanielJackson was in possession of a feline."
Teal'c was leaning against the counter, Cat resting comfortably in the cradle of his arms, while Carter, Fraiser and Cassie, were hiding grins as they gathered up barbeque paraphernalia.
"Cat came with the house."
Teal'c nodded at the explanation, the two of regally holding court in Daniel's kitchen.
Jack opened the fridge and buried his answer among the foodstuff. He popped his head over the door. "Could someone fill a pot with water, Daniel bought some fresh corn."
"Daniel, Colonel?" Fraiser placed a pile of paper plates in Cassie's arms and turned her towards the French doors. "How's he doing?"
"He's doing fine," Daniel answered, his gaze skipping over Jack's. He accepted Carter's hug with one of his own, kissed Fraiser's cheek. He opened the door for Cassie, pecking her cheek as she walked past him. He turned towards Teal'c. "I see you found a friend."
"I do believe the cat—"
"Cat," Daniel amended, "her name is just Cat."
Teal'c nodded as if calling the cat, Cat, was in the realm of normalcy. "The sound that this animal is making is quite pleasing."
"Purring." Daniel scratched Cat under her upraised chin. "It's called purring."
"It means she likes you." Carter went nose to nose to Cat. "Don't you?" His 2IC's voice took on the sickening quality people got when talking to infants or little children. "Well, aren't you the sweetest little thing?"
"She has her moments."
Jack saw what Daniel didn't. Fraiser was appraising him. As she walked around the kitchen, she kept Daniel in her line of vision, hiding her assessment behind barbeque preparation. She walked past Jack, who was still hiding behind the fridge door.
"When was the last time Daniel slept?" she hissed at him.
Jack handed her two ears of corn and waved the two he had in his hand at her. "Good luck getting an answer out of Mr. Evasive, though if you threaten him with needles and the infirmary, you might get a straighter answer than I did."
Jack extricated the barbeque prongs from Daniel. "If you don't go and sit your ass down, I'm going to serve you to Fraiser. Complete with your tale of drinking and vomiting."
"The corn's probably ready. Thanks."
Jack resisted the urge to smack Daniel with the oversized utensil. "What part of si—"
"Daniel," Carter yelled through the open door, a bottle of wine in her hand. "Where's your corkscrew?"
"One drink," Jack hissed as Daniel took a step towards Carter. "One drink, or else, with my blessing, your ass is going to belong to Fraiser."
"Top drawer. Left of the sink," Daniel answered then turned his attention to Jack. "Do me a favor? Turn the ribs before they burn and," he said, walking backwards towards his house, "mind your own business."
Jack minded his own business and held back his "I told you so" when Daniel exchanged his glass of unfinished wine for a mug of coffee.
"Just say it," Daniel said, examining Jack over the rim of the mug.
"I told you so."
Jack shrugged. "Never even entered my mind. Figured you'd decide for yourself." Jack rearranged a corner of the grill.
"You know, Jack, I never realized how fanatical you were about grilling."
"I'm not a fanatic, it's just that everyone else's cooking skills aren't up to par with mine." Jack waited for some comeback from Daniel.
Daniel pushed his glasses to rest on top of his head, then one handedly rubbed his eyes.
He lowered his hand. "It's nothing—"
"Mom wanted me to remind you that she likes her franks charred." Cassie leaned into Daniel, who reciprocated and rested his chin on her head.
Jack speared a blackened hot dog and held it up. "Doc, how's this?" He made the frank pirouette 360 degrees.
"Perfect." Fraiser yelled, giving Jack a thumbs up.
There was enough food on the table to feed a small army. Jack could barely see Fraiser over the pile of hot dogs and franks. "Daniel, did you forget to invite the rest of the SGC?"
Daniel blinked at the food, as if he were unsure how the hell it had even gotten to his table, then sat next to Fraiser. Teal'c took a seat on Daniel's other side, reaching for a burger as he sat. Daniel smirked at Jack, then yawned.
"Why don't you go lie down, Uncle Daniel, you look tired."
"Out of the mouth of babes," Fraiser said innocently, grabbing the burnt frank from the top of the pile.
Daniel's objection would have been a bit more convincing if it wasn't buried in another yawn.
"Touché," Jack added, reaching for an ear of corn. "The check's in the mail." He winked at Cassie.
"Ha." Daniel didn't laugh nor did he reach for any of the food, ignoring the plates passing under his nose.
"Are you not hungry, DanielJackson?" Teal'c hesitated with the plate of ribs.
Daniel reached around Teal'c and grabbed a hamburger from the platter, then dropped it on his plate. He stuck his hand in the bowl of chips then let them rain down over the burger. Sweeping the chips to the side, he took a bite of the burger and chewed.
And when Daniel finally swallowed, it was with so much difficulty that Jack had to resist snatching his plate away. Strangely enough, he'd made his point, because as they ate, not one person at the table, including Fraiser, insisted Daniel take another bite.
Jack had seen that expression on Daniel's face before. Daniel was mentally cataloguing the table's contents. "Where's the guacamole dip?"
Carter paused from dressing her burger. "Square container?"
"We thought it was something that had gone—" Carter blushed, her interest centering on getting the bun just right.
"Moldy," Fraiser finished for her.
Daniel shook his head at Carter's lack of cooking forte.
"Do you wish me to get this green foodstuff for you?"
"No, Teal'c, but thank you. There are pita chips that I prepared—"
Fraiser patted Daniel's hand. "We don't need any more food—"
"I'll be right back," he insisted and Teal'c shifted to the side, giving Daniel space to maneuver.
As one, they watched Daniel go into the house. Jack turned his attention back to his plate. "What?" Hands around his burger, Jack looked up to find all eyes on him.
"DanielJackson does not appear to be himself."
Leave it to Teal'c to voice the obvious. "Yeah, you noticed that, too."
"He appears to be trying too hard. I am unsure as to why he feels the need to impress us with this array of food."
Jack's glance bounced around the table. "Okay," he said, reluctantly putting down his burger. "I get the hint."
Jack stepped into the kitchen and danced around Cat. She complained loudly at Jack's intrusion. "Too bad." Except for him and Cat, the kitchen was empty. Movement would be easier without Cat sabotaging his every step, so Jack bent down and picked her up, ignoring her hiss of discontent. "Look, I don't like this any better than you do, so get over it." Cat growled, deep in her throat, then settled in Jack's arms. "No offense, you're a great cat, as cats go, but I'm so not a cat person." Absentmindedly, he stroked her head. "So, want to share where Daniel's hiding?"
Daniel was hiding in plain sight, standing in the doorframe of his bedroom. "I don't know what possessed me."
Jack peered over his shoulder. "Yeah, that bed is sorta—"
Daniel sighed, his shoulders rising and falling with the effort. "Not the bed." He canted his head sideways, resting it on the wooden doorframe. "I'm incapable of being sociable today."
This was it. The brick wall. Daniel was going to go down with a whimper, not a bang. He was just going to fade away, the wine and exhaustion chipping away at his strength.
Jack allowed Cat to slip from his grasp. The second her paws her the ground, she squeezed between Daniel's legs and made a beeline for the bed. "Hey, it looks like someone has the right idea." He glanced over his shoulder, then planted a kiss on Daniel's neck. "Go," he said, nudging Daniel forward. "I'll bring out the moldy green dip and chips, you go to sleep."
"Sarah left for England today."
Shit. "Did you expect her to stay?" Jack certainly hadn't wanted her to stay.
Daniel remained silent.
"Daniel?" Jack moved closer.
"We were like strangers. When I went to say goodbye to her…"
"Time and the Goa'uld have a tendency to do that to people."
"I'd forgotten what it had felt like being with Sarah until—" He touched his temple.
"Osiris screwed with your memories, Daniel."
"Not enough of them, I remember what a bastard I was. How focused. Oblivious to Sarah, intent on proving my theories. I have this really bad habit of never leaving well enough alone, like with Sha're. And we all know how that turned out. All either of them wanted to do was love me. Why can't I—"
Jack so did not want to take a walk down this path. "Stop it!" Angrily, Jack pivoted Daniel to face him. "Where the fuck did this come from?"
Daniel jerked from his grasp. "You think because I sleep with you, I've forgotten—"
"Forgotten?" Jack sputtered, confused and angry. Very angry at Daniel's manipulation of the conversation. "I'm warning you, Daniel…" Jack became one with Daniel. Sharing his space, Jack's own emotions clouded his judgment. Forgetting the people sitting outside around the picnic table, but most of all, forgetting the brick wall approaching faster than the speed of light "…Before you say another word, think about the words that are going to come out of your mouth."
"Jack… I—" Daniel reached out.
"What the…" Jack's attention was sidetracked as Daniel grabbed a fistful of his shirt.
Daniel's knees buckled just as Jack put two and two together.
"Damn it!" Jack's hand shot out and grasped Daniel's other arm, controlling their descent. Daniel was out cold by the time they hit the ground, and controlled or not, the thud Daniel's head made when it connected with the corner of the doorframe made Jack eternally grateful Fraiser was just a bellow away.
Fraiser was kneeling by Daniel's side, checking his vitals. Cassie had retrieved the medical bag from the car and it sat opened within arm's reach. The hallway was oppressive, body heat and tension raising the temperature to an uncomfortable level. And Jack was hovering. He knew he was hovering and that it was only a matter of time before…
Jack received the usually reserved-for-infirmary glare. "Colonel, why don't you, and everyone else, go clean up the kitchen."
They'd been dismissed. "That's okay," Jack said. "I'll stay, they can handle it."
"Sir, don't you—"
Jack showed Carter that Fraiser wasn't the only one who could glare.
"Please tell me this is a dream," Daniel groaned without opening his eyes. "Please tell me I didn't pass out." Daniel's left hand reached for the wall and sought for purchase, but Jack and Fraiser pinned him to the floor.
"You fainted," Jack said.
"Grown men don't faint," Daniel argued weakly.
Secure in the knowledge that Daniel's wasn't going anywhere in the immediate future, Jack released his hold.
Tentatively, Fraiser followed suit. "Just for your information, Daniel, grown men faint when they don't eat, drink, and have extremely low blood pressure."
"You forgot vomit," Jack added to Fraiser's repertoire.
"Thanks, Judas." Daniel squeaked open his eyelids just to glare at Jack.
Fraiser waved the penlight in front of his face and Daniel reciprocated by batting her hand from his line of vision.
"Do that again, and you're going to be mine for the next forty-eight hours, even if it requires restraints and sedation."
Daniel managed to lever himself up onto his elbows. "Isn't threatening me against everything the Hippocratic Oath stands for?"
Fraiser patted Daniel's arm. "Who's going to rat me out?" She gave Jack a wide, wicked grin. "Colonel O'Neill?"
Jack rubbed his ear. "Hmmm? Was someone talking to me?"
Jack wasn't exactly sure what words were exchanged, but neither Daniel nor Fraiser looked too happy about the arrangements. Jack was standing in the kitchen doorway, Teal'c, Carter and Cassie chatting as they cleaned up, were subdued. Daniel was sitting on the couch nursing an orange juice, a plate containing a half eaten hamburger resting on his lap while Fraiser stood over him, arms crossed, silently daring him to object to being force fed.
"You really need to be in the infirmary."
Daniel raised the glass of juice, gulped down the liquid then handed the empty back to Fraiser.
Jack moved from his vantage point to the small seat across from the couch, unsure if he was going to have to play referee.
With a slight shake of her head, Fraiser reached out and took the glass. "This isn't a punishment, Daniel."
"It's not? I'm being threatened with the infirmary if I don't behave—that certainly feels like punishment to me."
Clapping his hands together, Jack stood. "What Daniel is really saying is 'thanks for caring and that he'll be sure to finish what's on his plate'." He turned to Fraiser. "While you, on the other hand, are 'thanking Daniel for opening up his house and providing you with dinner'. Isn't that right, Daniel?"
Jack closed and locked Daniel's front door.
"Jack?" Daniel waved him over then pointed to the chair.
"Daniel?" Jack shook his head at the invitation.
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but did you, or did you not, just throw my company out of the house." Daniel flung the plate with the still unfinished burger onto the table.
"Correct me if I'm wrong, Daniel, but did you or did you not faint in your hallway while you had company in your house?"
"I passed out. I didn't faint."
With exaggerated movements, Jack slid the plate off the table and onto Daniel's lap. Before he had a chance to object, Jack kissed him, then cupped his chin, resting his forehead against Daniel's. "You scared the shit out of me. Please," Jack begged, "can you not do that again?"
"I'm so tired." Jack could feel Daniel's weight as he shifted and relaxed.
Ahh… with a little help, Daniel was going to be up and over that brick wall in no time.
"There's nothing stopping you from going to bed."
He pushed away from Jack and sunk into the back of the couch. Strangely enough, as small and uncomfortable as Daniel's bed was, his couch was a little bit of heaven on Earth. Closing his eyes, Daniel exhaled loudly.
"You know, plenty of z's are captured on a couch. Couch is good. Couch is fine for sleeping."
"Not sleeping," Daniel answered. He didn't open an eye or miss a beat in his breathing.
"Of course you aren't."
Fifteen minutes into Daniel's non-sleeping, he'd toed off his shoes. Then he stumbled to the bedroom, eyes at half-mast, and Jack watched with a smile on his face when Daniel returned with his pillow and blanket. He dragged them over to the couch and stood there, a slight sway in his posture, as if figuring out what he needed to do was beyond his comprehension.
Snatching the pillow from under his arm, Jack tossed it onto the couch. Like a dog playing fetch, Daniel chased the pillow, the blanket following him down.
"Good boy." Jack patted his head, then adjusted the blanket.
Cat was curled into herself, weighing down the blanket by Daniel's feet. Jack stood, beer in hand, staring at Daniel who, for some goddamn strange reason, was staring back at him. "You were just sleeping. Less than five minutes ago. Five minutes." Jack held up the fingers of his free hand. "Five minutes," he repeated. "You were sleeping. I left the room to get a beer." Jack held the bottle up. "I come back and you're awake."
Daniel's answer was a lazy blink.
"Did Cat wake you?"
"No," Daniel sighed, a slow appreciative smile lit up his face as he moved his legs back and forth. The tabby went along for the ride without a sound of protest. "She's keeping my feet warm."
Daniel's feet were always cold. Even offworld, at one hundred in the shade temperatures, he wore his socks. Summer. Winter. Fall. Spring. Those feet could never differentiate the changing seasons. The majority of the time, the responsibility for warming those appendages fell upon socks and Jack's body heat. Today, Jack had been replaced.
Jack checked his watch.
"Go ahead." Daniel's arm made a lethargic wave towards the TV. "Feel free."
"It won't disturb you?" His hand hovered over the television remote on the table.
Daniel snorted. "From what? Sleeping?"
Jack sat. In his opinion, this house only had three outstanding elements. One, being Daniel. The second was the couch, but since Daniel and the couch were, to some degree, mobile, and could move from place to place, Jack had to admit he loved the fifty-two inch, wall mounted, plasma screen TV. Daniel had loved Jack enough to spring for the premium sports package. With the HD wiring and hookup in place, Jack would sometimes just stare at the screen, mesmerized by the clarity of each blade of grass in the outfield or the sheen of the ice on the hockey rink.
Jack ascended the channels then descended the channels, hesitating only once on a fly-fishing competition.
"You're going to bore me into sleep?"
He took a sip of beer and kept flipping through the channels, stopping when he came across the beginning of a movie. "Hey, Cassie had mentioned this one…"
"What's the worse that could happen? I'll fall asleep." Daniel yawned.
Jack flipped back to fly-fishing. "What'll it be?"
"Okay, the Ring it is."
SG-1 had traveled the universe. To them, science fiction and horror movies were always good for a laugh, scripts written for them to tear apart because they'd been pretty much desensitized to whatever Hollywood could throw their way.
Daniel shifted on the couch, drawing Jack's attention. Thirty minutes in, and Daniel was already getting antsy. Cat growled in protest.
"Want me to pause it?" Jack hit the record button then the pause without waiting for Daniel's reply.
"Okay," Jack said keeping his gaze on Daniel, his finger blindly searching for the correct button.
"Turn it off."
Daniel sat up. "I said," his voice was rising in pitch, "…turn it off."
By rote, Jack's finger found the off button and the screen went black. "It's off."
Daniel's head sunk into his hands. Like a tightrope walker, Cat balanced herself on his blanket-covered legs and head butted his hands. Slowly, Daniel raised his head. "Guess we should've watched fly-fishing."
Jack aimed the remote at the TV. "It's not too late."
A single shudder passed through Daniel. "No, thank you. That would bother me more than the movie."
"The movie scared you?"
"I'm approaching forty, Jack, and I haven't been afraid of the boogeyman for a few decades…" He rubbed his eyes, sighed deeply and looked embarrassed. "Yes," Daniel admitted begrudgingly. "The movie scared me."
"Why, Daniel," Jack prodded. "Why did this movie scare you?"
"At this moment, fly-fishing would scare me. I thought having Sam, Teal'c—my friends over would help…"
"I'm thinking since you fai—"
Daniel's eyebrows crept to his hairline.
"Since you passed out," Jack amended. "Friends weren't the answer."
"I'm exhausted. The only thing I want to do at the moment is go to sleep." Daniel picked Cat up and she settled in his lap.
"So, go to sleep."
"What if this isn't real?"
"Whoa." Jack made a rolling motion with his hands. "Stop. Back up. I think I've missed something."
"What. If. This. Isn't. Real." The wave of Daniel's hand encompassed the living room.
Jack cleared his throat and sat up straighter, he hated pulling teeth from a cryptic, beating around the bush Daniel. "I understand the words, what I'm not getting is the meaning behind them."
All the signs were there. There was the half smile, and the slightest tinge of red on the tips of Daniel's ears. Furtive glances that bounced around the room, never meeting Jack's eyes nor staying on one object for longer than a few seconds. Ten agitated digits pervasively stroked Cat's fur.
"Daniel," Jack pointed to Cat. "You're going to electrocute the poor animal with the friction."
"Oh." Daniel's hands flew off the tabby and settled by his side.
"It's just me and you in this—"
Cat offered up a plaintive meow.
"Sorry," Jack apologized. "It's just me, you and Cat. There's no reason to be embarrassed."
"I'm not embarrassed." The stain of color overtook Daniel's face.
Jack said nothing.
"What if this isn't real?" Daniel's voice was just above a whisper, his fingers gravitating back to Cat. "Like the Gamekeeper's planet? What if Sarah—" Daniel shook his head then tapped his temple. "What if Osiris is still in here. Trying for a different tactic."
"And what if you're just exhausted, with a mind that's coming up with unbelievable scenarios."
Daniel thought a moment. "And what if you're Osiris—"
"Jeeze, Daniel." Jack jumped up and threw his arms out to the side. "Do I look like Osiris?"
"Osiris was male."
Frustrated, Jack's arms fell to his side. "Sarah, Daniel. Do I look like Sarah?"
"No, of course not, but when she invaded my dreams, she made me see things that hadn't ha—"
Jack pounced on Daniel and Cat hissed in protest, escaping just before Jack closed the gap between their two bodies. He delivered a crushing kiss, surprising Daniel with its suddenness.
Daniel struggled and squirmed until Jack pulled back. "Something you forget to share with me, Daniel?"
"Kissing me doesn't prove that you're Jack."
"No?" Jack slipped his hand between them and through Daniel's jeans fondled his dick. "Maybe this can help prove that I'm…"
"Sarah kissed me, too."
"She did?" Jack wagged his eyebrows at Daniel, hiding his jealousy behind the comedic gesture. "Ahhh, but her kisses were just a dream."
"It was an invoked memory."
"A dream. Did it feel like this?" He placed a chaste kiss on Daniel's lips. "Or maybe more like this." Jack's tongue found the sensitive spot on Daniel's jaw line.
Daniel shook his head, then moved it to the side, giving Jack freer access. "Didn't feel like that at all."
"No?" Jack asked innocently. "How about this? Does this ring any bells?" Jack took no prisoners. His leg found purchase on the floor and offered him the added leverage he needed to crush Daniel's body into the couch cushions. This kiss was far from chaste and Daniel reciprocated, hungrily.
"Real enough for you?" Jack whispered in Daniel's ear when they separated.
Jack grimaced, moved his ass and tried to work out the cramp in his calf without whimpering. He bent his toes upward a few times, hissing at Cat when she thought the movement was invitation to play.
He was cramped, sweaty and uncomfortable. Cat was playfully annoying which was just adding to Jack discomfort. Daniel? Daniel was sleeping. Snoring. Drooling. Down for the count, sleeping. Of the three, Daniel was the only one who seemed to be enjoying these cramped sleeping arrangements on the piece of furniture he referred to as a bed.
Daniel was tucked up against Jack. His ass to Jack's groin, grinding into him, slowly pushing Jack across this poor excuse for a bed, as well as giving him a nice sized boner.
Jack settled himself on the couch, pulled a small blanket over his feet, then fluffed and plumped the pillow behind his head. Cat eyed him from her perch on the coffee table.
"You too, gal? Daniel hogging the whole bed?" Stupidly, Jack patted the couch. Cat gazed at him as if he were stupid. "Sorry, forgot you're not a dog, you need enticement for me to get you to do what I want you to do. Sorta like Daniel." Jack's fingers danced along the front of the couch. At first the tabby feigned boredom, licking herself, but Jack saw her glance over at him. Until, eventually, her glances overtook her cleaning and curiosity got the better of her and she jumped from the table to the couch.
Jack continued to move his fingers, while she pounced and batted, until she grew tired of the game and climbed onto Jack's chest, purring as she searched for the perfect spot.
"Do not think that this is going to be a permanent thing or that I even like you."
Cat blinked at him and he swore she smiled as well.
The feline gave Jack a tight little nod, closed her eyes, then covered her nose with her tail.
He flicked the tail and it went right back into position. "That's pretty impressive."
Jack flicked it again, with the same results. And again. And again, only this time, for his efforts, he received a deep warning growl.
"Okay, I get the hint." Jack began to pet her. "If you dare tell anyone about me and you bonding while Daniel's sleeping, I'll make your life miserable." Jack shifted. Cat shifted to compensate. "It's amazing, you know," Jack said, commiserating with Cat as the two of them tried to find a comfortable spot. "The things you do for love." He paused. "Well, not you—I meant me. The things I do for love. Cleaning up vomit. Covering his ass. Sleeping on his couch." Jack sighed, and Cat butted his hand with her head with a soft purrumph.
"And talking to his cat." Jack complied and scratched her between the ears. "Yup, if that ain't love, I don't know what is."
This story is from a zine called You'll be alright, a zine which was a labour of love, put together by devra and I for our wonderful Jmas last year.
If you want to see more of Jmas' ezines, here's her link:
And Darcy made a vid - you may want to check it out on her site here called Stand - by Rascal Flatts
to contact devra
Since 10 August 2008