When Life Hands you Lemons by devra

It had been nipping at Daniel's heels all week, making its presence known when least expected. Or wanted. He cleared his throat, coughed, then reached for the opened bottle of Tylenol behind his monitor, hoping two would hold the headache at bay until he finished this report.

"You do know you don't get paid overtime?"

Damn. Busted.

Daniel ignored Jack, hoping he'd get the hint and just leave.

"Oh, playing the strong silent type?"

Daniel resisted the urge to give him the finger, never too sure exactly the range of the security camera mounted in the corner of his office.

"You need to go home."

Daniel continued to ignore him, though the flow and rhythm of the translation was now lost.

"You need to go home," Jack repeated.

"I heard you the first time." His eyes burned, but Daniel wouldn't dare rub them in front of Jack. That act would be an admission of guilt.

"You need to go home with me," Jack amended, leaning across the desk and slamming the largest of Daniel's tomes shut.

At the moment, having sex with Jack was so not on Daniel's agenda. Wait, that was a lie, sex was somewhere after sleeping, cleaning out the fridge and food shopping.

Jack picked up Daniel's hesitation and stood, sniffing his armpits. "I don't smell, do I?"

"You don't smell," Daniel drawled. He began to close up shop. Jack had officially crossed over from annoying to dog-with-a new-bone status. Daniel was enough of a genius to know he was fighting a losing battle.

Jack was glued to Daniel's side the entire trek and elevator ride to the lockers. "Are you going to shower?" Jack asked the second Daniel's hand was on the locker room door.

Daniel mustered a smile. "Why, do *I* smell?"

Jack had the audacity to sniff the air around Daniel. "Ahh, eau d'archeologist."

"I'm taking that as a no." Daniel leaned into the door, his weight opening it a crack. "I'll be right out."

"I can't watch?"

Daniel pulled the door back towards him. "What the heck is up with you?" In sotto voce, he whispered, "You're like a dog in heat."

"Ya noticed?" Jack did a quick visual swipe over his shoulders. "It's been weeks."

"No. It hasn't," Daniel griped. "I would have noticed if it had been weeks."

"Weeks. Probably going on almost two months."

"No!" Daniel's eyes widened. "That's not possible."

Jack pushed him towards the door. "Go. Now. Please, I'm beggin' you." He shooed Daniel into the locker room. "I'll be here waiting."

* * *

Weeks? Daniel sat heavily on the wooden bench facing his locker and rubbed his forehead, the fact that the previously ingested Tylenol hadn't taken care of his headache a mere blip on Daniel's radar. At the moment, it was his libido, or lack of, he was more concerned with.

The heavy door of the locker room squeaked open. "Daniel," Jack hissed. "I'm waiting."

"I'm coming."

Jack's adolescent snort made Daniel cringe.

* * *

Jack was standing behind Daniel in the elevator. Close enough that he could feel as well as hear every inhalation and exhalation. Daniel concentrated on the ascending floor numbers.

"You have two different colored socks on."

"I do not." Daniel wouldn't give Jack the satisfaction of looking.

"Do too." Jack tapped Daniel's left thigh. "I saw."

"You did not," Daniel protested, wondering why the elevator seemed to be taking so long.

"Ah ha, did too."

Daniel rolled his eyes, then swatted at Jack's hand, still resting on his thigh. "How old are you, Jack?"

"At least my socks always match." Jack's voice dropped to a whisper. "*And* I remember the last time I had sex."

Daniel's gaze never left the elevator control panel. "You suck."

"That, Daniel, is definitely on the menu for tonight's festivities."

* * *

Whatever else was on the menu, got lost in Jack's prattle. Daniel remembered steak. Cold brews. Fresh potato salad from the Corner Deli and a large sized container of Daniel's favorite Greek pasta salad.


Daniel jumped when Jack prodded him. "What?"

"Are you listening?"

"Yeah." Daniel spit the menu back at Jack.

"Very nice, Daniel, except that conversation, as one-sided as it was, happened about two stop signs and three lights back. First, it was sex. Then it was your socks. Now it's whole conversations." Jack tsk'd. "You're getting old."

I feel like crap, Daniel wanted to say. I have a headache. I don't want steak for dinner, nor potato salad or the Greek stuff. I want a nice hot shower. My ratty sweats and my own pillow and blanket. He admitted none of those things. "I'm just distracted," Daniel lied.

"Excuses. Excuses."

Daniel rested his head against the coolness of the passenger window. Maybe Jack was right, maybe he was getting old. Make that old*er*. Right about now Daniel felt pretty damn ancient.

* * *

Daniel came awake sputtering when Jack turned off the motor.

"Luuuucy, I'm home." Jack pulled his keys out of the ignition.

Daniel groaned then moved his neck from side to side, working out the kinks.

"You know, needing a nap is also a sign of encroaching age."

"Question. Is this your idea of foreplay? Reminding me I've entered middle age?"

"No, in deference to your age, foreplay would be a glass of wine and a Viagra." Jack's hand slid over the middle console and lay hot and heavy on Daniel's dick. "Weeks." A quick squeeze and before Daniel could even respond, Jack was opening the driver's side door. "I'm starving," he winked.

* * *

Stupidly, Daniel had though that Jack's admission of hunger had more to do with sex rather than the act of actually eating. While he didn't feel one hundred percent, Jack was wearing him down, and his quick touch in the truck, more than the passage of weeks, had reminded Daniel what he'd been missing.

Now, standing by the front door, he had one hand poised and ready to undo his belt, only to realize that Jack was already in the kitchen. "Going to fire up the barbeque, you want some of that new steak sauce?"

"Yeah, that'll be fine."

"Let's eat outside. It's warm enough."

Daniel could hear bottles banging, a muttered curse, then an out of tune, very loud humming of an unfamiliar song.

Jack popped his head out of the kitchen doorway, a platter of two Fred Flintstone-sized steaks in his hands. "What the heck are you doing still standing way over there? Come help set the table."

* * *

His libido had gone to sleep and Daniel wished he could do the same, because as he set utensils next to each plate, he felt like he was moving through sludge. Dragging a body that wanted to be anywhere but upright.

"Damn." Jack waved the smoke away with the gigantic fork, then stuck it into the steak. "I forgot to set the DVR to record tonight's game, Daniel, could you—"

"I'm on it."

* * *

Daniel sat on the couch, studied the remote, turned on the TV found the station and set the DVR up to record.

* * *

Jack stepped back from the grill, grinning in satisfaction. The steaks were a thing of beauty. He had impressed even *himself* with this planning. Good eats. Good alcohol. Hopefully, good sex before the night was through. The night was warm, the sky still held a hint of daylight. Jack shook his head in amazement, he couldn't have ordered up a more perfect scenario.

He wasn't too sure when he began to notice that Daniel had been gone way too long. Grumbling, he lowered the gas on the grill, shut the top and ordered the steaks not to burn. "Daniel," Jack bellowed the minute he stepped into the kitchen. "If these steaks burn because I had to go on a search and rescue to find you, I'm going to be pissed."

Jack stopped. Listened. Downstairs. He could hear the TV downstairs and maturely stomped on the floor to give Daniel advance warning of his impending doom by Jack's hands. "Jesus, Daniel." He gave a silent prayer that the steaks would behave and remain juicy. "If you're watching some documentary or playing on the computer, you are going to wash every single dish. And if those steaks burn because you're—" Jack stood in shock at the bottom of the stairs. "Sleeping?"

Blinking didn't change the image of Daniel sleeping, stretched out the entire length of the couch, the remote in his hand tucked under his chin, his glasses and shoes still on.

"See, this is the reason it's been weeks since we've had sex."

Daniel mumbled under his breath, sighed, then coughed, but never opened his eyes.

For this evening to be perfect, hell, for Jack to have sex, it was imperative that the other person involved be awake. Never mind the meal, which at this moment was probably turning into ashes. Sleeping Daniel was going to ruin all his plans.

"Wake up," Jack ordered, his hand poised over Daniel's shoulder. "Wake up," he insisted, louder this time. Jack changed his mind and shoved his hand into his pocket. "Okay, I'll let you sleep for just a while longer, but the second those steaks are slapped onto the plate, you're getting your ass off that couch."

* * *

The steaks were done and arranged beautifully on their respective plates. The outside lights were on, giving the backyard a warm, amber glow. All that was needed to get started was an awake and aware Daniel.

He'd stuck his head into the house, not once, not twice, but three times, and screamed out Daniel's name. Jack was positive, the third time he yelled out Daniel's name, there had been a response. But based on the fact that he was now sitting here all alone with only condiments, steaks and good intentions keeping him company, Jack was pretty sure Daniel's answer had been a figment of his imagination.

Grabbing both plates, Jack went back into the house to fetch the wayward archaeologist. With reverence, he deposited the plates on the counter, blowing a kiss to his cooling steak. Daniel was going pay for this.

* * *

And he couldn't. Jack just couldn't bring himself to wake up Daniel. His position hadn't changed, but this time, for some strange reason, Jack truly assessed Daniel before using his cupped hand to blow taps into Daniel's ear.

"Oh." Jack rocked back on his heels. Surprised at how young Daniel looked while sleeping, Jack couldn't help but touch. The permanent furrows of his brow were smooth, worry dissolved. Amazed, Jack continued his tactile exploration. Crow's feet that had settled in the corners of his eyes had flown while the lines around his mouth had miraculously disappeared. And he looked young. So young.

And Jack felt old. Suddenly old, the years between them stretching and elongating; only Daniel's short hair with a well-hidden strand or two of grey threading through the brown reminded Jack that years had passed. Carding his fingers through Daniel's hair, Jack searched for the grey, as confirmation Daniel was truly forty, that he belonged in Jack's life and that two very expensive steaks were sitting on Jack's kitchen counter.

"Jack?" Daniel looked up, blinking.

Jack patted his cheek. Sorry to see the lines, furrows and crow's feet reappear as soon as Daniel opened his eyes. "Go back to sleep."

"Dinner?" Daniel's eyes were closing even as he spoke.

"Putting the steaks on now," Jack lied, smiling when Daniel nodded. "I'll wake you when they're ready." He waited. Gently, he removed the remote still clutched in Daniel's hand. Daniel gave it up easily, not fighting Jack for possession. The glasses also came away without an argument. Jack settled the afghan from the back of the couch over Daniel, who accepted it with a down-to-his-toes sigh of appreciation.

* * *

Jack relit the grill and threw on one of the steaks. He wrapped the other and stuck it in the fridge for tomorrow. Put some potato salad on his plate, then deposited the containers next to the steak in the fridge. By the time the extras were put away, Jack's reheated steak was done.

The table outside was too lonely, ditto for the kitchen, so Jack went down to watch sports on TV and keep Daniel company while he slept.

* * *

Daniel's coughing didn't bother Jack as first. Sharing a tent, he was pretty familiar with Daniel's sleep idiosyncrasies and rules. The throat clearing, searching for the right spot. The jumping up and making a notation in his journal, talking to himself in a myriad of languages but when all of Daniel's criteria were met, the guy slept like the dead. Except when he was—sick.

Frustrated, Jack threw down his fork, held back his temper and placed his knife protectively over his very beautiful, but not quite finished steak. He picked up the folding table and with gentle precision, moved it to the side and stood. Jack felt the heat of fever even before he actually touched Daniel. "Sonofabitch, Daniel, you could've mentioned this *before* I put both steaks on the grill." There was no anger in Jack's voice, just a feeling of disappointment and an unfamiliar ache in his gut.

"Huh? Dinner time?"

"Yup. Dinner's all ready. Two Tylenol with a bottle of that disgusting apple nectar juice that you like."

Daniel coughed. "Make mine rare, okay?"

Jack rolled his eyes, wondering if he could drop Daniel at Fraiser's front door. "Sure thing, buddy."

* * *

By the time Jack returned to Daniel with Tylenol and a bottle of that gross, ridiculously expensive pee-colored apple juice that Daniel liked, the man of the hour was sitting up, bent at the waist, the palms of his hands pressed against his temples. Jack shoved his hand under Daniel's face, making the two pills bounce enticingly. "Take these, you'll feel better."

Daniel averted his head, coughed, then groaned. "Don't think I'm ever going to feel better."

"Humor me. Take these, drink, then I'm going to drag you into bed."

Daniel gazed up at Jack, cheeks flushed, eyes bleary and unfocused. "You want to have sex with me?"

Jack sighed. "Eventually, Daniel."

* * *

Jack prodded Daniel up the stairs, a tad surprised when Daniel walked right past the bedroom door and continued down the hallway. "Hey." Jack skirted around Daniel, turned to face him and began walking backwards. "Where are you going?"


"Really?" Jack put a hand on Daniel's chest. "Why?"

"To sleep this off." Daniel coughed.

"*This* is not a hangover." Jack rubbed the spot under his fingertips, experience teaching him the reverberating rattle in Daniel's chest was so not a good thing. "You're sick."

"And you hate getting sick." Daniel buried a sneeze in the crook of his arm.

"I do," Jack admitted begrudgingly. Well, he used to, strangely enough a part of him didn't mind if Daniel shared his illness.

"So take me and my germs home." He cleared his throat, fidgeted then pushed Jack's hand away.

Jack's displaced hand moved to Daniel's forearm. "I don't have to. You and your germs *are* home."

* * *

Daniel may be sick. Feverish. Headachy. With a chest that felt as if a mastadge was sitting on his lungs, but he was aware enough to comprehend what Jack had just said. Home meant commitment. Commitment meant forever. And forever was associated with the "L" word. "This isn’t my home."

Jack appeared hurt. "Semantics, Daniel. You have a drawer filled with your clothes. Your toothbrush hangs next to mine. We share a bathroom, a shower and a bed."


Jack laughed, then leaned in and planted a kiss on Daniel's cheek. "There is that. But then, there's always this." Jack gathered Daniel in his arms, hugging him. Tightly.

"I'm delusional," Daniel said when he finally extricated himself from Jack, his hand skimming his own forehead. "I'm hallucinating."

"Nope." Jack gently shoved Daniel, who had no choice but to take a few steps backwards. "I want to show you something."

* * *

Daniel sat at the edge of the bed, poised, ready to run from this strange man wearing Jack's face, who was also wearing his heart on his sleeve. Daniel eyed him suspiciously. "What are you doing?"

"I'm going to convince you that it's not all about sex." Jack began to unbutton Daniel's shirt.

Daniel slapped his hand away. "Weren't you trying to convince me that it *was* all about sex?" God, he wanted nothing more than to get horizontal on the bed. "Reminding me it had been weeks?"

Jack's hands slipped under Daniel's, and he began, once again, to work on the buttons. He shivered as the air hit his overheated skin. "Shit." Jack jumped up and frantically began searching through the drawer in the dresser that was designated 'Daniel's', stopping only when he came away with a pair of threadbare sweats. "Should've had these before I started to…" Pausing, he shrugged then sat on the bed, the sweats in his lap.

"Started to what?" Daniel grabbed the sweatshirt.

Jack grabbed the sweatshirt.

They tugged.

"Let me have the shirt, Daniel."

"I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself. Believe it or not, I can get shower, get dressed, cook—" The cough put a kibosh on Daniel's argument.

Jack groaned in frustration. "I know that. I *know* you're able to do all those things. But for now, let me take care of you." Jack removed Daniel's fingers from their death grip on the sweatshirt.

"I'm dying?" Daniel squeaked. "Janet told you something she didn't tell me?"

"Daniel! What do I have to do to convince you that there's more to this—to us…" Jack waved the sweatshirt between their bodies, "—than—," Jack's glance raked the length of the bed, "… sex."

Daniel's smile was slow and one sided. "I was never the one that needed convincing, Jack." He grimaced when the most romantic proclamation he'd ever made to Jack was spoken in an eighty year old, three pack a day, sounding voice.


Daniel reached over, snatched the sweatshirt from Jack and quickly slipped it on. "I'm sorry. Look, forget I ever mentioned anything. It's the fever talking, but can I have the sweatpants…"

"And you never thought to mention this to me?"

"Mention what? That I needed my sweatpants?" Daniel coughed again, then raised his shoulder and rubbed his nose.

Jack handed Daniel his sweatpants, his gaze never slipping from Daniel's face. "I think that maybe I lo—"

Germs and all, Daniel clamped his hand over Jack's mouth. "Don't say it. Feel it all you want." Daniel shook his head, slowly dropping his hand. "Just don't say it," he warned.

"Gotcha," Jack said. "You've been feeling this way for how long?"


"No, not sick. The other thing—the thing I can't mention."

Daniel toed off his shoes, pulled off his socks, stood, and unbuttoned his pants. Stepping out of his pants and boxers, he kicked them over to join his shoes and sock pile.

"Daniel." Jack grabbed his hand.

"Jack. I'm butt ass naked. I need to put on these sweatpants. Then I need to get into this bed before I pass out. Horizontal on the mattress or prone on the floor." Daniel glared at Jack's hand. "Your choice."

"No brainer," Jack said, releasing Daniel's hand. He drew back the blanket then patted the mattress. "Hop on in. I'm too old to pick you up off the floor."

* * *

"Daniel?" Jack spooned up behind him, one arm tucked between them, his other arm rested against Daniel's midsection. "Are you awake?" Jack settled the point of his chin into the sensitive hollow of Daniel's shoulder.

"Ow." Daniel tried to shrug Jack off. "No. I wasn't, but I'm awake now."

Jack pulled Daniel against him and squeezed.

Daniel squeaked in protest. Then coughed.

"Sorry," Jack apologized, using the hand between their bodies to rub Daniel's back. The movement was awkward and uncomfortable, but Jack didn't care. "Better?" he asked when the harsh coughing eased.

"Oh, tons better."

"There's no need to be sarcastic." Again, Jack sidled up to Daniel, placed his chin back in position then sighed.

Daniel ignored the sigh.


"Yes, Jack."

"You know, this not having sex thing…"

"Please," Daniel whined. "Can we discuss this tomorrow?"

"No, we can't. You don't have to say anything. Just listen, okay?"

Silence, except for the rattle Daniel's breathing was producing.


"I thought I didn't have to *say* anything. That I could just listen. So I was listening."

"Oh, sorry. I thought, maybe you went to sleep."

"No, just listening."

"It's been so long since I've been in lo—"


"Lotsa like with someone," Jack amended the sentence without skipping a beat. "That I forgot that it's not about the big things. The physical attraction. The great sex—"

"Thank you."

"What are you thanking me?"

"The great sex line—wasn't that inferring to—"

"You? Yes, it was, but aren't you supposed to be just listening?"

Daniel sneezed, coughed then just nodded, his head butting Jack in the nose.

Jack planted a kiss on Daniel's neck, the heat of his fever seeping into Jack. "Where was I before I was so rudely interrupted? Ahh—yes. I sorta forgot life is about the everyday things." The hand anchoring Daniel to him searched and found one of Daniel's own hands and held on tightly. "Like this."

"So having a fever and in need of an antibiotic made you realize how much you—"

"Are in lotsa like with you. Yeah."


"Are you finding that hard to believe?"

"No. I'm not. Now can I go to sleep?"

"Why? You don't need to get up in the morning."

"I do."

"Don't." Jack resisted the urge to blow a raspberry on Daniel's neck. "We both took a personal day."

"We did?" Daniel's voice was slow, lethargic, heavy with phlegm and sleep.

"Yup. Well, not really. You took a sick day and I took a personal day to take care of your sorry, feverish ass. Just for the record, I expect the same caring, loving treatment from you when your germs become my germs." Jack has intentionally thrown in the "L" word to gauge Daniel's reaction.

"You're tempting fate."

"Why? Because I mentioned the word loving in the same sentence with you?" Jack was angry at the same fates that Daniel felt he was tempting. "Or because you feel everyone you've ever loved has been taken from you?"

"You're hitting below the belt."

"I love you, Daniel Jackson. I can't promise you that I'm not going to die, but my passing will have nothing to do with my confessing my undying love for you."

Daniel's snort turned into a round of coughing, so prolonged that Jack hauled him up into a sitting position, left the room and returned with a bottle of water and his cell phone. The water he handed to Daniel with an order to drink, the cell phone he waved at Daniel. "You know that dying thing goes both ways."

"I'm fine," Daniel managed. In a familiar move, Daniel held up his finger to stop Jack. "Give me a minute." He took a drink. Stopped. Took another drink then nodded at Jack. "You don't need to call Janet."

"I don't want to explain to her tomorrow why you hacked up a lung on my bed and I didn't deem it necessary to call. So give me a good reason why I shouldn't just call her."

"Because I love you." Daniel took another swig of water, put the bottle on the night table, then slid back under the covers.

Stupidly, Jack stood there, opened mouth. "You said…"

"Get in bed, Jack."

He didn't need a second invitation. Placing the phone on the dresser, he all but jumped into bed.

"I'm going to disavow any knowledge of saying that word," Daniel said the second Jack plastered his body against his. "Chalking my admission up to illness."

"Something along the lines of 'this Hallmark moment was brought to you by Daniel's fever-induced delusion'?"


Jack's hands slipped under Daniel's sweatshirt.

Daniel pressed his hands against his sweatshirt, trapping Jack's. "Right now, I'm going to go to sleep before I'm overcome by another delusional moment."

"Can't have that, can we?"

Daniel yawned. "Not answering. I'm sleeping."

"I'll be here waiting."


"Aren't you supposed to be sleeping?"

"Yes, but I'd like to know. Are you waiting for what? Hell to freeze over? Morning? Me to fall asleep so you can call Janet? Sex?" Daniel's voice squeaked on the "x" sound like an adolescent's.

"No. I'm waiting for you to fall asleep."

"See, I knew it. You're going to call Janet the second I close my eyes and I'm going to wake up in the infirmary with all sorts of IV's sticking out of my hands, that annoying blood pressure thing on my arm—"

"No, I'm waiting for you to fall asleep so I can say that 'I love you'."

"Sleeping now." Daniel's voice was a hoarse whisper.

"Okay," Jack whispered, equally as soft. "Love ya."


Okay, maybe tonight didn't turn out as Jack had planned. But tomorrow was another day. Because, by tomorrow, Daniel would most likely be pumped up on Fraiser's antibiotics. The steaks would be sliced, diced and served up with some onions and peppers on fresh rolls. The potato and Greek salads would taste great as side dishes. It was that lemon/lemonade analogy. The one that said if the fates dumped a sexy, sick archeologist into your life, you just had to learn to make the most of the situation and love the crap outta him.  

The End!

Authors' Comments:

This fic was written for jo who asked, quite nicely I might add, for a J/D story. I also need to thank her for her extraordinary beta talents and friendship, both of which I'm the richer for and I'd be lost without. Thank you for those who have stuck with me, it's always great to know someone's got an eye on my six.


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Since 08 May 2007