Never Turn Back Timeby devra Author's Warning: T'm putting in a squirk warning, for those who believe this story needs one, because eventually the past will meet the present.
And in the darkest night
If my memory serves me right
I'll never turn back time
Forgetting you, but not the time.
Whatsername by Green Day (American Idiot)
Daniel had been admonished enough times already by the man sitting across from him to know that he shouldn't be swinging his legs under the table, but he didn't care. The truth was, he had stopped caring about a lot of things since four days ago.
"Tell the waitress what you want to eat," the grandfather-man ordered, tapping the large menu in front of Daniel.
Daniel shrugged. He didn't want food, he wanted to go home. The stifling apartment wasn't home, this city wasn't home. This place where his parents died would *never* be home.
Daniel could hear the sigh of annoyance at his silence, followed by the short, curt order. "He'll have waffles. Syrup on the side, please. I'll just have white toast with coffee."
The menu was abruptly slid from his grasp, slammed shut and handed to the tired looking woman standing by their table. She gave Daniel a tentative smile, stuck the pad in her pocket, the pencil behind her ear, then tucked the menus under her armpit and disappeared.
There was no escape now, and he swung his leg a bit harder. There would be no more hiding behind menus or well-meaning people with sympathy in their eyes. There would be no more pretending as he'd sat in the hallway of the funeral parlor that he was really waiting patiently for his mom and dad to finish a lecture or meet with a friend. This was reality. His parents were dead, both buried just hours ago in this place far from the warm sands of home and friends. How stupid was that? Egypt was home, they should be there. *He* should be there.
The 'please call me Nick' grandfather had scoffed at Daniel's objections while he made the arrangements for the funeral, speaking down to him in a way that shocked him. Angry with Daniel when he wouldn't back down, making a comment that had to do with apples not falling far from the tree that Daniel didn't understand.
"This is very bad timing," his grandfather mumbled, clenching and unclenching his right hand around the glass of water.
Daniel apologized in Arabic for the bad timing of his parent's death.
"Speak English," Nick hissed in his own heavily accented voice. "You are in America now."
Right now, speaking English took too much effort, so Daniel chose to stay silent. The people he lived with, the Middletons, even that man from next door, Jack, seemed to accept his silence. But this man, this *grandfather* person placed demands on his integrity and forced words from his mouth. He hated that, and at the moment he hated him, the situation, this eating place and the fact he wanted his teddy, a vestige of childhood he thought he'd left behind until the coverstone took away all that was familiar.
"I do not need this responsibility at the moment." Nick tapped his spoon against the table, his gaze everywhere but on Daniel. "Too many years of research, too much time invested in—I cannot afford to lose this opportunity—"
Daniel shut out the drone of Nick's voice, remembering the glimmer of hope he'd first experienced when he'd heard the Middletons discussing his grandfather. They spoke about the man in the same hushed tone as his parents had spoken about him.
The man that showed up wasn't what Daniel had expected. He was gruff and demanding, ordering people to do his bidding, barely acknowledging Daniel's presence. Making it clear from the very beginning he was to be 'Nick' and *not* 'Grandfather' and that the word 'Grandpa' was never to cross Daniel's lips.
The idea of having someone to mourn with had been squashed when Nick shook his head and tsk'd at Daniel's tears as they entered the funeral parlor the first time. The oversized hand he'd tried to grab as they walked down the aisle towards the coffins was quickly shoved in a jacket pocket, well out of Daniel's reach.
He had spent most of the time in the hallway, sitting in one of the ornate, overstuffed chairs, uncomfortable in a newly purchased suit. Daniel hung his head, scuffing his shoes on the carpet, studying two pairs of legs as they walked by him. He glanced up to see Nick standing by the front door, shaking hands with a man that was as much a stranger to Daniel as Nick was. An abrupt burst of laughter from Nick tore at Daniel, making him angry. How dare he? Why wasn't he sad?
Daniel slid off the chair and stepped into the viewing room, the first time he was alone with his parents since—he sniffed and wiped his nose on the sleeve of his jacket, pleased at the line of snot it left in its wake.
Without hesitation, Daniel approached the coffins, aghast at the photos propped up on easels. He had seen those pictures before, they had been taken—Daniel stopped and searched his memory—for publicity photos for a book coat... book jacket, he corrected himself. He smiled as he remembered his dad drawing fake moustaches, glasses and beards on them when they had arrived, claiming that they didn't resemble him or his mommy. And he was right. They didn't look like them at all.
Horrified, Daniel realized his daddy was too tall for his box. He needed to check, he had to make sure, maybe someone had made a mistake. Maybe they were burying someone else's daddy in his daddy's coffin. Daniel walked to the mahogany coffin next to his dad's picture and stepped up onto the stool that he had seen people kneel on.
The handle was cold, and Daniel struggled to maneuver so he had balance enough to lift the lid. A peek would be enough just to see—so he bent to the right, his muscles shaking with the unnatural angle and weight of the wood.
He gasped in shock at the sharp smack across his hands, and the handle slid from his grasp. He spun sharply, nearly falling, holding onto his father's coffin for support. "What did you do that for?"
"What the hell did you think you were doing?"
"Checking." Daniel felt a little more powerful and a little more secure by his parents' presence, plus the added height from the stool. "I wanted to make sure—" and he stopped, voicing his doubts out loud made them seem stupid. "It's none of your business, they're my parents. You don't even care." Daniel waved his arm around the empty parlor. "I saw you here. Laughing. Having a good time. Pointing at me," he patted the coffin he was leaning on, "pointing at them, shaking your head."
"You are just like your mother." There was no softness in those words, no hint of love or even a compliment as he pulled Daniel off the stool. "The limo is waiting to take us to the cemetery." He pushed Daniel forward.
"No!" Daniel yelled, digging in, grabbing onto a folding chair as he passed. "It's not time. I didn't get a chance to say goodbye."
"You can say goodbye at the cemetery, this is neither the time nor the place for theatrics, Daniel. If you insist on this behavior, I'll have no choice but to pick you up and carry you like a baby." Nick adjusted his tie, glancing over his shoulder. "Would your parents be proud of how you're acting?"
Embarrassed that his parents might have witnessed his temporary loss of control, he just shook his head, then released his hold on the chair, allowing Nick to guide him to the waiting limo with a hand on his back.
* * *
The sun was shining very brightly, too brightly for Daniel's liking. Didn't the funeral planner know the sun wasn't supposed to shine on funerals? Couldn't Nick have waited for a dreary day? Rain would have been better, would have done a better job of masking Daniel's tears than he was doing. Rain would have blended in with the moisture on his face and no one would have been the wiser.
But instead of rain, there was sunshine, and the mid-July temperature was hot and uncomfortably humid. Daniel stood apart from everyone, shivering even under the relentless heat, wondering what would be Nick's reaction if Daniel jumped into the open, freshly dug holes. He probably wouldn't be missed. Who was here to miss him? Not one of these people would care if he was alive or dead, so he took a few steps towards the open ground, weaving around the grownups until he could actually see down into the gaping twin holes. Indecision was the only reason he stopped. Who? Mommy or daddy? Mommy had the smile and the hugs, but daddy told the best stories. He couldn't choose, not this fast and he straddled the gravesites, indecisive.
A gruff complaint, then Daniel was jerked backwards by the collar of his shirt, held in place against Nick by a forceful grip on his shoulder. People swarmed around him, offering sympathies to Nick accompanied by 'poor boy' and pats on the head to Daniel, clicking their tongues over Nick's plight.
A sharp rap of a metal spoon on the table brought Daniel back from the cemetery to the diner. "Are you listening to me, boy?"
"You don't want me, do you?"
"It is not a matter of want." Nick pursed his lips and waited for the waitress to place their orders on the table. He gave her a curt nod of dismissal, then waited for her to walk away.
Sighing, Daniel flopped back against the cushioned bench of the booth. "Then what is it?"
"You are a little boy. And little boys do not belong on archaeological digs." Nick took a sip of coffee, grimaced, pulled out a handful of sugar packets, ripped them open and dumped them in. "Horrible stuff, this American coffee." He stirred the coffee then took another sip. "Better."
"I went on digs with my parents all the time." Daniel sat up straighter, he didn't want to go *anywhere* with this man, but neither did he want to be thought of as a baby in his grandfather's eyes. Frustrated, unable to find the words, he tore off a piece of waffle with his fork and dunked the chunk into the syrup, stuffing it into his mouth. It felt great doing down, sweet and satisfying, but he refused to give Nick the satisfaction of enjoying something he'd ordered, even though he was starving. Daniel cut into the waffles again, dunked it into the syrup then waved his fork around, sending syrup droplets onto his pants and other hand. "I have my own tools, I speak—" Daniel's teeth dug into his lower lip to stop the trembling, Nick didn't even look up from his toast as he spoke.
He acknowledged Daniel's presence by pointing to his full fork with his own spoon, a definite command to shut up and eat. Nick didn't care about him. Daniel saw himself through the man's eyes and it hurt more than he wanted to admit. He was an obligation, a hindrance, a reminder of someone his grandfather had lost, a burden. "I want to go home," he said softly, repeating it louder and with more insistence when Nick ignored him.
Exasperated, Daniel could see Nick fighting to keep control. "This is your home. America. Social Services said the Middletons—"
Okay, not wanting to go with Nick and being told he was being left behind were two completely different things. Daniel tried to blink the blurriness out of his eyes. "You're leaving me here? You *really* don't want me?" For a child who had been loved for eight years, this was an unthinkable, horrifying, devastating thought, and finally the implications of what his parents' deaths actually meant stabbed through Daniel, and he threw the fork onto the plate of waffles, then shoved the plate away.
Nick stood up, dug into his pocket and threw a wad of money onto the table. "Come with me," he ordered. Too afraid not to listen and suddenly too exhausted to put up a fight, Daniel slid from the booth and obediently followed Nick out of the restaurant.
The traffic and bustle of New York City was surreal and Daniel was glad when Nick finally stopped at a little park and motioned for Daniel to sit on the wooden bench.
"You look like your grandmother." Nick stroked Daniel's head and lifted his chin, studying his face with an intensity that frightened him. "Those eyes. So blue. Margaret had eyes the same color." Nick sighed. "And the hair. Even your mother wasn't this blonde." Daniel sat still while Nick fingered his hair, afraid to break the spell.
He sat next to Daniel and tentatively his arm crept around Daniel's shoulders. All it took was a little tug before Daniel leaned against Nick.
"Did you love my mommy like you loved Margaret?"
Nick chuckled, and pulled Daniel closer. "Margaret was your mother's mother. My wife. Your grandmother. And yes, I loved her very much."
"Oh." He never thought this man would be capable of loving anyone. He fingered the spot of syrup on his pants, absently trying to rub away the stickiness. "Why are you angry at my mommy?"
"She left to go on a dig, taking you along. You were a baby, barely six months old. I argued a child should be home, safe, not traipsing around to all the corners of the world." Nick withdrew a handkerchief from his pocket and blew his nose. "We argued. She told me she would not abandon *her* child as I had *abandoned* her to live with relatives when my work took me out of the country."
"What about her mom—Margaret?"
"Margaret died when Cla—your mother was twelve."
"I didn't know that."
Nick's sigh was so loud and long that Daniel could feel his body rise and fall with the motion. "I wasn't there when Margaret died. I didnot find out until I arrived home weeks later from a dig in Brazil. Your mother never forgave me for that."
"So my mom took me away?"
"Yes, she and your father. To Egypt. I thought about her, and you—very much. I did attempt to write, but I was unsure of where to begin."
Daniel wanted to hurt Nick as much as he was hurting, and the only weapon he had at his disposal was his words. "It's too late now, you'll never be able to say you're sorry."
"Yes, it is too late."
"I'll be good. I won't bother you. I can help. I speak lots of different languages." Daniel knew he sounded desperate, and he hated that. Gone was the wish to hurt, he simply didn't want to be left behind.
"Daniel," Nick warned.
"Don't leave me."
"I am sorry. But I still do not believe that archaeological sites are the best place to raise a family."
"You want me to be safe with strangers than live with you."
"Daniel!" The arm was withdrawn, the Nick of earlier had returned. "This is not up for discussion. My grant does not provide for little eight year old boys, no matter how helpful they are. The people you are with now seem very nice and they will take very good care of you."
Daniel kicked at a pebble, happily scuffing up his shoes. His eyes were gritty and tired, and he was hot, uncomfortable and the bench the where they were sitting was in direct sunlight. Daniel could feel the sweat begin to drip down his neck and back. "They are nice people," he softly agreed.
Nick slapped Daniel's leg. "That's the attitude. See, you will do fine."
"But they don't love me," Daniel challenged.
Nick checked his watch. "It is time to go, Daniel." He stood, his body blocking the sun's glare.
"You don't love me either."
"I never said—"
With a weary sigh, Daniel got up off the bench. "I understand, you don't know me well enough to love me or to take me with you, it doesn't matter that I look like Margaret. What matters is that I'm being left behind because you're still angry at my mommy, and this is your way of getting back at her." He shoved his sweaty hands into his pockets and started walking, then stopped, looking over his shoulder at Nick, who suddenly seemed older and beaten, while Daniel felt a sense of smugness at this small victory. At this point, it didn't matter. Daniel would show Nick. He could abandon Nick just like he was being abandoned.
* * *
Daniel looked at the breakfast offerings laid out on the perfectly set table in their hotel suite. He pointed at his plate. "Jack?"
Jack looked up from reading the paper. "Daniel?" He gazed over the top of the newspaper, then flipped the corner towards Daniel. "You're dripping on the carpet."
He tugged the towel tighter around his waist, holding it in place with one hand, gesturing wildly at the set table with the other. "Care to explain?"
"The magic of room service. I ordered us breakfast while you were showering. Figured you barely ate on the plane last night." Jack turned the page, flicking the paper, folding it down to size. "So I thought you would be hungry." He slapped the paper onto the table, grabbed a triangle of toast and shoved it in his mouth.
"You know, Daniel, while you're quite pleasing to look at in your towel, bare chest and *my* imagination, I can see your goose bumps from all the way over here." He shook his head. "And as hard as it is for me to believe I'm saying this, why don't you put on some clothes, or at least the bathrobe that this extravagantly expensive hotel provides."
"You like waffles, there's even warm syrup and strawberries. The kitchen wanted to know if you wanted some whipped cream, but I thought it was too early in the day for—are you okay?"
Daniel adamantly shook his head. "I don't want any waffles."
Jack switched the plate of waffles with his plate of pancakes. "See, all better. Waffles all gone."
* * *
Jack chased his egg around the plate with the last triangle of toast while Daniel watched, his own fork making tunnels and mounds with his plate of eggs. "At least eat the pancakes."
He sliced into the stack with his fork, then speared a triangle. Daniel stuffed it into his mouth, making an exaggerated showing to Jack of following orders. He swallowed with a gulp, finished the last of his coffee, and threw down his napkin. He huffed in indignation when Jack applauded him.
"Well done. Nice temper tantrum." He waved his hand to a space by the bed. "There's plenty of room there, on the floor, for a full blown tantrum if you want."
"You're an asshole," Daniel shot back.
"Yeah, I am, but *you've* been impossible." Jack stood and walked around the table, resting his chin on Daniel's head, his arms draped over impossibly tight shoulder muscles, but Daniel accepted Jack's touch with a sigh of appreciation. "You explore the unknown all the time, what could the Museum have possibly uncovered after all this time?"
Daniel felt Jack's chin bob up and down on his head when he shrugged. "I just wish my past would stay there sometimes."
Jack buried his face in Daniel's still damp hair and he languished in Jack's gentle massage to his shoulders. "Pessimistic, aren't we?"
"Realistic." Daniel brought his hand up and looked at his watch. "I gotta go," he said, not moving.
"Let me come with you."
"This is as far as you go, Jack." Daniel leaned his head back, only to be stopped by Jack's stomach muscles, and gazed into his partner's concerned upside-down expression. Patiently, in case Jack had forgotten, he recounted their previous conversations. "We had this discussion at the SGC, in your office, in my office, driving in Colorado Springs, at my house, your house, even on the plane ride here."
"So you haven't changed your mind?"
"No, I haven't." This upside down position was awkward and added to Daniel's headache, so he maneuvered out from Jack's grasp, sat his ass on the table and faced him, a chair separating them.
"Let me wait in the cab. The lobby."
"You're begging, Jack. Begging generals aren't a pretty sight."
Daniel couldn't help but smile at Jack's embellished 'feel sorry for me' sigh, and he patted his knee sympathetically. "You'll manage. I won't be gone long. Believe me, the Museum wants to give me whatever they have and get me out of there as fast as they can."
"I still don't under why they couldn't just *ship* it to you."
Daniel skirted around the chair, walked to the bed, then slipped on his shoes, feeling Jack's gaze boring a hole in his back. "This was your idea, Jack. Accompanying me to New York was *your* idea." Daniel grabbed his wallet and room key off the night stand. "I would have been back in one day and you never would have missed me."
"I would have missed you," Jack admitted, sliding his hands down, anchoring them on the arms of the chair, hiding his face from Daniel.
"You could have stayed back at the SGC, in your office, going through your reports, your memos—"
Jack stood abruptly then clamped his hands over his ears. "Nooooo! I'll be good." He dropped his hands, grabbed his folded paper, sat in the chair and pointed to the mussed up king-sized bed with a lascivious grin. "I'll wait right there for you."
"Behave yourself," Daniel ordered, pointing to the other bed in their oversized suite. "Mess that one as well; we don't want the maids talking, do we?"
Ridiculous as it looked, Jack battered his eyelashes at Daniel. "How can I behave myself *and* mess up that bed?"
Daniel kissed Jack goodbye. "Being the general, you managed to clear your schedule for the *whole* entire weekend, you'll figure out the bed thing."
* * *
Daniel left his good mood in the hotel with Jack. Standing, impatiently, waiting for the curator, he missed Jack's company. Now there was nothing here but ghosts.
The door opened and a middle aged, bespectacled, balding man entered the room, apologizing to Daniel every step he made. "Mr. Jackson—"
"Doctor." Exasperated that he had to remind the man of his title every time he spoke to him.
"Doctor, I'm sorry. Please," he pointed to the room he had just came from, "this way."
Daniel followed the man and was a bit taken back when the curator stood next to his desk, his hand resting on a battered shoe box. "That's it, Dr. Peterson?"
Nervously, the curator pushed his glasses up, then patted the box. "As I explained in my letter, the box was found in the apartment of," he picked up a folded piece of paper sitting on his desk, "Diane and Steve Middleton by one of their foster children, a Ms. Katie Athans, who had kept in touch with them."
"Middleton?" Daniel sank down into one of the straight backed chairs in the office without being asked. He blinked in confusion. "Who?"
Dr. Peterson checked the paper one more time. "The records indicate you were placed with the Middletons until a suitable foster home could be located. It would seem Mr. Middleton died about five years ago. Mrs. Middleton recently went to a nursing home, and Ms. Athan was at the apartment cleaning it out, when she came across this box."
Daniel cleared his throat. "Umm, how did you connect that box to me?"
"Ms. Athans opened the box and found several newspaper articles that dealt with the unfortunate accident with your parents, Dr. Jackson. May I take this opportunity to extend my—"
Daniel waved away his condolences. "And how did this lead the Museum to me?"
"The Museum was named in the article and your name, as well as the names of your parents, were highlighted. Ms. Athans remembers Mrs. Middleton speaking fondly of a little boy whose parents had died—" He stopped, embarrassed. "So she brought the box to me, and out of obligation we—the MOMA—felt it was only proper that the items in the box be returned to their rightful owner."
"That's it?" Daniel squeaked. When he had received the mysterious note from the Museum, they had alluded to a box, which Daniel had obviously thought had belonged to his parents. The bent, dirty, battered and stained shoebox was certainly not what he wanted to see.
"Did you expect more? Something different?"
"No. Sorry." He stood, gesturing at the desk. "Let me sign what needs to be signed, I need to catch a plane—"
"Would you mind if I called our PR people down for moment. Good publicity for us, you understand."
"Grown man reunited with items of his past, that sort of thing."
"You're kidding." Sitting in this stuffy room, facing this obnoxious, oblivious man, Daniel finally understood why Jack always insisted he wasn't permitted to carry a zat. He counted to ten, forcing himself to stay calm. "My parents died in this museum, Dr. Peterson, is this the sort of publicity you're after?"
"No, no…" Peterson had the good graces to blush. "I just thought…"
"That I'd forgotten it?" Daniel snatched the box off the desk, grabbed a pen and scribbled his name and date on the form next to the box, flinging the pen onto the desk when he finished. "Think again, *Dr. Peterson*, seeing your parents die right in front of your eyes, that sorta has a way of staying with someone."
* * *
A publicity stunt. That's all this was. They wanted pictures, expected him to smile and shake hands and be grateful they had located a part of his life that he would rather have forgotten. A period he *had* forgotten until sitting in the curator's office. Burying his time with the Middletons so deep in his subconscious they didn't even pop up in nightmares. A black hole full of memories. Wonderful. Just what he needed.
"Are you okay, sir?"
Daniel jumped at the hand on his arm. "I'm fine," he stuttered, looking around in confusion, not remembering how he'd gotten outside, blinking in the bright daylight.
"Do you want me to call someone for you?" the woman asked. "You really don't look fine."
Daniel drew a shaky breath and managed a slight smile. "I'll be fine. I *am* fine." He forced a smile of epic proportions, then gestured towards the street and the waiting line of cabs when he realized the woman wasn't going to leave until he did. "Thanks very much for your concern. I'm just going to grab a cab."
He walked down the stairs then turned, hoping she would be gone, but she still stood watching him and she didn't leave until Daniel had opened the back door of a cab and waggled his fingers at her. He could see her nod of acceptance before she stepped back into the museum, and for a second he had a fleeting thought of Janet keeping tabs, and a ghost of a true smile appeared.
"Where to, buddy?"
"Sorry, my mistake. I've changed my mind, think I'm gonna walk."
The cabby shrugged. "Have it your way, just make sure you close the door behind you, it's too hot to let any of the AC out of here."
"Sure." Daniel backed out of the cab, then slammed the door behind him.
He wasn't sure where he wanted to go, but he knew going back to the hotel and Jack's prying eyes wasn't an option at the moment. So he walked.
The sign in the restaurant window said 'Under New Management' but it wasn't the word that drew Daniel to push open the door, but the horrific need to pee which made the choice for him. He was pleasantly surprised. More than a 'run of the mill' coffee shop, it was a place that exuded comfort and solitude, and the extensive list of coffees on the blackboard definitely was a plus.
"How many, sir?" The waitress looked no older than Cassie, which suddenly made him feel old, very old. He didn't miss the way her stare fixated on the box tucked under his arm.
"This way, please." She walked him to a booth in the back, then dropped a menu on the table.
"Excuse me," Daniel drew her attention before she walked away. "Where's the men's—"
She pointed to a hallway to the left of his table, on the other side of the restaurant. "Just down the hall."
* * *
Like a dinner companion, the box sat opposite Daniel and like an artifact, it taunted him with its hidden secrets. Still, he waited until he'd ordered and the waitress placed his mug of coffee and croissant on the table. The coffee was delicious, the croissant had been ordered just because he felt like he should order something, and he drank half the cup before pushing the dishes to the side and pulling the box in front of him. No more delaying the inevitable.
Daniel debated his approach. Flipping off the lid or slowly raising it. A slow peek into the past or a complete immersion. He decided to approach this like the good archeologist he was. First he examined the box, sliding it around the table, viewing it from all angles. Nondescript, faded coloring, a normal shoebox for men's shoes size 13 from Thom McCann.
He waved away the waitress' offer of more coffee, then waited until she moved down the aisle before he slowly lifted the lid and placed it alongside the box.
Once again he became eight as he reverently withdrew the battered bear from the top of the box where it had been awkwardly folded. Memories distorted by time of a stifling hot campsite where a little boy celebrated his birthday, 'oohing' over a pile of presents. A little exclamation of protest when his mom pulled a stuffed bear from behind her back, claiming loudly he was too old for stuffed animals, yet he allowed the toy the seat of honor in his lap while he happily worked his way through his other packages.
There had been a special dinner that night, and cake. Laughter. Daniel sniffed away tears and brought the stuffed animal up to nose, hoping to catch a whiff of desert air and happiness. Daniel's smile faded when all he could smell was age.
The bear became a divining rod as he sifted through the box. Pulling out images of hot rooms, hotter nights, Nick, the vague, distorted images of the people he presumed to be the Middletons and their futile attempts to make him feel welcomed or wanted, failure, silence, all shrouded in fear. Fear of being alone. Abandoned.
There was a Rubik's Cube in the shoebox, a Yahtzee score sheet, the penciled-in names nothing more than smudges. Movie stubs, a deck of cards and wings. Wings?
Daniel flipped the last article over in his palm. A pin. Silver embossed wings. Air Force wings. Slowly Daniel ran fingers over the pin's design and he remembered two people, a woman and a man named—Daniel tried to recall the name, but gave up after a few minutes, dropping the wings back into the box with a sigh of exasperation of memories lost in the past thirty years.
A small manila envelope was lying flush with the bottom of the box and Daniel slid the contents to the side and slipped the envelope out. He opened the envelope, peeking in at the contents, then shut it, blinking his eyes in shock. The envelope went back in the box and Daniel placed the lid back into place, the pulled out his cell phone and called Jack.
"Hi. Yeah. No. I'm okay. I need you to—" He sighed, then pulled the box closer to him. "Yes, Jack *I'm* fine." Nervous fingers tapped the top of the box. "Can I just talk? Good, Okay. I need you to take the rental car, pick me up in front of the museum." Daniel rolled his eyes. "The traffic won't be that bad. Yes, I know you *hate* city driving, we won't be in the city that long. If you shut up long enough, I'll tell you. Good. Are you listening now? Car, pick me up in front of the museum. That's right. Oh, one more thing, ask someone at the hotel for directions to Pinelawn Cemetery, I'm going to introduce you to my parents."
* * *
Daniel stared out the window while Jack drove, watching disinterestedly as the over-crowded city conditions eventually gave way to an overabundance of greenery and space.
"Looks like a different world out here, compared to the city."
Daniel just nodded. He had barely spoken and eventually after the first hundred 'are you sure you're okay' and 'what's in the box', Jack had allowed him space. It wasn't an uncomfortable silence and he could still sense Jack's concerned gaze, but at the moment he couldn't multi task. Daniel was focusing on remembering the days after his parents' accident. He was working on putting images in a fluid, coherent order and he was failing miserably. The only thing he was succeeding at was giving himself a massive headache.
"Contemplative is a horrible look for you. Me, I kinda like the towel-around-the-waist-dripping-wet visual better."
He smirked at Jack, trying to look angry, but he couldn't help the hint of smile that tugged at the corner of his mouth. "I already mentioned this today, Jack, but it bears repeating – you're such an asshole."
"Yes, but I'm *your* asshole, Daniel."
That remark earned Jack a full-out belly laugh. "I'm not touching that statement with a ten foot pole," Daniel said, smiling at Jack's profile. He squirmed, moving his feet protectively around the box on the floor, then turned to stare out the window, this time letting his thoughts drift as he counted the sameness of the trees that lined the parkway.
* * *
Neck muscles protested as Daniel jerked upright. He smacked his lips, rubbed his eyes but didn't open them. "How long?"
"How long did you sleep? A big whoppin' ten minutes. If you mean how long until we get there? We're here."
Daniel sat up slowly, blinking, rocking his head back and forth to work out the stiff muscles.
"Daniel? Which way?"
"Thinking. It's been a while."
"How long is a while?"
"A while." Daniel looked out the window, surveying the sea of headstones. "Thirty years, give or take." He squinted into the distance. "I'm sorry."
Jack drove off into the direction of a brick building. "Time has a way of distorting things."
Daniel nodded but kept silent, focusing on the pat on his knee, a supportive 'I'm here for you' Jack gesture while his gaze stayed fixed on the landscape outside his window. "I'll be back," Jack said in his best Terminator impression. Daniel took pity on his attempt of humor and gave Jack the smile reaction he had been hoping for.
"Not funny?" Obviously, Jack saw through his façade.
"It never is," Daniel answered with a tight shake of his head.
Jack rolled his eyes. "Everyone's a critic." He parked the car, then opened the door. "I'll find where your parents are—"
"I should know," Daniel pointed to the headstones, all feelings of bravery waning now that he was here. "I thought I could just remember where they were..."
"Nothing to worry about." Daniel got one more supportive pat to the knee before Jack slid from the driver's seat and shut the door behind him, leaving Daniel surrounded by the type of silence that makes your ears ring.
Even though Daniel had moved the seat back, he still had to bend his body in an awkward position to retrieve the box by his feet, then placed it in his lap. With a haste borne out of fear that Jack would be returning any second, he lifted the battered cover and dropped in the purchase he'd made while waiting to be picked up. Mission accomplished, he patted the box, shaking his head in wonderment at just *how* his action resembled one of Jack's supportive pats. Amazing how those little nuances slipped under Daniel's line of defense.
* * *
He knew by the tenor of voice that Jack was not in agreement with Daniel's decision. "I swear, Jack, I'm not going into a volatile situation. There isn't a System lord, a Jaffa, or even a Stargate for miles. I'll be safe."
Daniel knew it wasn't a matter of safety. He knew Jack knew it wasn't a matter of safety. It was all about caring so much, too much at times. But Jack would couch his need to shelter Daniel in words that were thinly disguised, sometimes forgetting that Daniel was a linguist and able to see through Jack's smoke screen.
"Ten minutes," Daniel promised before he folded the map to his parents' graves, holding it tightly against the box. "Ten minutes with them alone. It's been a long time."
* * *
"Mom. Dad." He straddled their graves, blinking back tears, honestly surprised that two headstones with their names on it could make him emotional. It had been years since they'd died. Since he had last visited their graves. Since he had been eight years old. Too many years and lots of water under the bridge.
Daniel drew a deep breath and began to talk. He gave his parents a condensed version of how their son had spent the last thirty years of his life. He placed the box at the foot of the graves, removed what he needed and began to do what he had wanted to do all those years ago in the funeral home.
* * *
"Your ten minutes are up."
"Ummm, is there something you want to—" Jack pointed at the doctored up photos propped by their respective headstones.
Daniel stuck the magic marker into his back pocket. "Jack, I would like you to meet Claire and Melbourne Jackson."
Jack's smile was filled with both indulgence and a tad of 'have you lost your mind' sentiment. "Want to share?" he asked.
"Oh, the photos."
"Yes, Daniel. The photos."
Daniel shrugged. "Those were publicity pictures that my parents hated. And when my father saw them for the first time he drew fake noses, glasses and moustaches on them—"
"Just like you've done."
"Yup." Daniel squared his shoulders, proud at what had taken him thirty years to do. "Those hated pictures were the ones my gran—Nick, chose to display at their funeral. I told him my parents hated them, but he didn't care. I did. Took me a while, but I made it right."
"Claire. Mel." Jack gave the headstones a little nod, then cocked his head, grinning. "Your folks seem like nice people."
"Yeah, I sorta think so, too."
Daniel watched with interest as Jack walked to the head of his mom's grave and squinted at the picture. "I can see the resemblance between you and your mom."
"Really?" Daniel said, waving at his dad's doctored photo. "I always thought I looked like my dad."
"They would have been proud of you."
They would have been proud, hell, they *were* proud, he knew that. The reason for visiting their graves wasn't because he was looking for anything more than to make up for those few weeks after their death. An apology of sorts. Giving them what they would have wanted thirty years later. Two photos. To let them know he had forgiven them for dying. A huge gaping hole in his memories had been restored with that battered shoe box.
He jumped when Jack touched his shoulder. "Sorry. But the photos—if your parents hated them..."
"Your guess is as good as mine. My grandfather must have given them to the people I was staying with, and they must have thought I would want them."
"Ahhh, so that's what was in the box?"
Daniel bent and scooped the box up, then flipped back the lid, sliding it under the box's bottom. "I don't know how I left this behind or why it was kept after I left."
Leave it to Jack to pluck the bedraggled, well-worn, stuffed animal. "I find it amazing that you left without your stuffed rabbit."
"Not a rabbit, Jack. A bear."
"Nope, rabbit, look at those ears." He made the stuffed animal do a little dance in front of Daniel. "A Wabbit."
"Bear. Teddy bear, to be exact."
"Nope, Wabbit. A little kid I knew a long time—" He looked at the toy, then at Daniel, his eyes widening as his Adam's apple bobbed. "Your parents died in New York?"
"Yeeees, New York. You know that." Daniel spoke slowly, the contents of the opened box forgotten in the wake of the expression of horror on Jack's face.
"When did they die?"
Mutely, Jack nodded, clutching the stuffed animal to his chest.
"It was July. Hot, humid—I hated the weather."
"Where did you live?" Jack insisted, stepping closer to Daniel.
Jack shook his head, then stepped closer to Daniel. "No, I mean *where* did you live? With whom?"
"In an apartment, with a couple—"
Jack grabbed Daniel's chin, then maneuvered his face so he could study it from all angles.
"Jack, what the hell—"
"Ssss. Please be quiet," Jack begged as he removed Daniel's glasses, then stared unblinking into his eyes. "Oh shit." He flung the bear into the opened box Daniel still had pressed to his abdomen. "Danny?"
"I hate that nickname."
Jack's flat laughter sent shivers down Daniel's spine. "You always did. Even as an eight year old kid." He returned the glasses to Daniel's face, pushing them gently into place with his forefinger.
"I don't think I understand."
"No, you understand," Jack disagreed. "You just don't remember. Think, Daniel—Steve and Diane Middleton. Apartment. New York. Fifth floor walk up. One of the hottest July's on record."
There were images more than memories. "I don't—"
"A young couple lived next door to the Middleton's. Husband was military, Air Force, to be exact, home on leave. His young blond wife was a student, almost finished with college. The little boy spent a lot of time with the husband and his wife. Dinner—"
Daniel dug around in the box, and slapped a deck of cards in Jack's hand. "They played cards, didn’t they?"
Jack nodded, but Daniel could see there wasn't a hint of joy in his face. "Cards, the park—" Jack dropped the deck back into the box, then scrubbed his face. At a loss for words, his hands fought to locate them mid air, eventually giving up and allowing his arms to flop to his side. "It was hard to entertain a child who was hurting so bad that silence was all he could manage."
Daniel sucked in his lips, biting hard, refusing to blink and give in to his blurred vision. Jack's image wavered before him.
Jack grabbed Daniel's forearm and squeezed, a futile attempt to divert Daniel from Jack's own emotional precipice. "Why don't you stay with your parents and visit for awhile. I'll be waiting in the car."
An order, not a request, and Daniel could only nod silently at Jack's departing back.
* * *
The silence remained the whole ride back to the city. It was awkward and uncomfortable and Daniel actually contemplated tossing the box with all the memories out the window. Instead he watched the scenery reverse from trees and open areas as it reverted back to the congestion of the city.
Jack drove with a patience that grated on Daniel's nerves, setting his teeth on edge, forcing his fingers to grip the tattered cardboard box tightly. He allowed the taxis to cut him off, pedestrians to walk right in front of their moving vehicle and yet there was nary a honk or the more familiar string of curses that Jack always pulled out of his back pocket when surrounded by traffic.
He felt guilty. Why? Damn if he knew the answer to that one. For not remembering Jack? Jesus, there *were* extenuating circumstances. Maybe he was angry at Jack for not remembering *him*? The joy of giving the photos to his parents was tempered by the other memories he'd found in the box.
Jack pulled the car in front of the hotel. "I'm going to go park the car in the lot, I'll meet you back in the room."
Daniel slid out of the car and slammed the door. He'd been dismissed. Again. When Jack couldn't deal with him, he was shoved quite politely out of the picture. Like a little kid. It had been thirty years since he had been that eight year old boy in Jack's memories, he could only hope that eventually Jack would remember that.
* * *
The sky outside the hotel window was dark. Daniel sat staring into the night, watching the lights from the surrounding buildings blink on one by one. The dinner hour had come and gone with no sign of Jack.
* * *
The two miniature bottles of scotch in the room's fridge had dulled his senses to the point of sleep but the pot of strong coffee he'd made to counteract his reaction to the alcohol had done a good job up to a point. The feeling of someone watching him was intense enough to wake him from his doze on the couch.
"I didn't mean to wake you."
Daniel sat up slowly then swung his legs over the side of the couch, feeling the start of a headache as he screwed up his face and looked up at Jack. "Wasn't sleeping." His tongue felt thick and heavy in his mouth and his lie slipped past Jack unchallenged.
It took two bone popping stretches and a yawn before he felt coherent enough to stand, and it was then he realized the first rays of the sun were lighting up the city. "I'm not a little boy anymore."
"Damn it, Daniel, don't you think I know that?"
He debated opening another bottle of liquor or a fresh pot of coffee. Based upon the way he felt and the way Jack looked, coffee and a side order of breakfast would be a better choice. Jack's gaze followed him as picked up the phone and ordered room service.
He hung up the phone and leaned against the wall. "Breakfast will be here in thirty minutes, why don't you go shower first?"
"We need to talk." Jack took a step towards him.
Daniel closed his eyes, exhaled loudly and took a step in the direction of the bathroom. "Fine, I'll shower first."
"Jack. I'm not going to go into where the fuck you were last night. That's just too hysterical housewife, even for me."
"You were a kid." Jack took the stuffed toy from the open box on the counter and waved it at Daniel, the head flopping grotesquely with the movement.
"That's right. *Was* a kid thirty years ago." Daniel waved his hand the length of his body. "I haven't been a kid in a long time." He grabbed the toy from Jack's hand and tossed it back into the box.
"I know that. Damn it, I *know* that."
"You keep saying that," Daniel yelled, "but you don't mean that. What the hell can't you get past?"
Jack pounded the wall with his fist. "Don't you remember?"
"Do I remember you? No. I remember images. Feelings. Three decades is a long time to put a face together with a name."
"Alright. Fair enough." Jack began to pace the spot of carpet in front of Daniel. "Share with me what you do remember."
"I remember my parents dying. My parents died."
Jack's face softened at Daniel's words.
"And I was alone." He averted his face from Jack, ashamed of his lie. Didn't make a difference *how* old he was, that truth still hurt. "If you would have asked me this question two days ago, I would have remembered. The coverstone falling, my grandfather, the funeral—that's it. I always figured my skewed sense of time was due to the fact it was me screwing up my time line. I never knew—"
"You weren't alone. There were people who cared." Jack's hands slammed against his thighs. "I cared."
"And that's the problem," Daniel replied softly. "Suddenly you can't separate *me* from that needy child."
"You were beyond needy. You were lost and terrified. You barely ate, or slept."
"We played cards."
Daniel sniffed the air, then smiled gently. "You cooked. Spaghetti. I remember that. A seesaw?" Daniel got a half smile from Jack. "It's like I'm viewing someone else's life. I can see the characters, but no one looks familiar to me at all."
Thankfully, the knock on the door gave Daniel the breather to gain his composure. Jack opened the door, and the two watched with disinterest as their breakfast was set up with a flourish. Jack took care of the tip and the busboy, quietly closing the door. Jack grabbed a slice of toast.
"You're angry that I don't remember you?"
He grimaced, as if he taken a bite of something distasteful, but the toast was still whole. "No, Daniel, I'm not angry you don't remember me," he mimicked. "My feelings are more along the lines of being in love and fucking someone my wife had talked about adopting." Frisbee like, Jack threw the toast and Daniel watched as it sailed through the air, mesmerized as it flew over the table, landing butter side down on the carpet.
* * *
Jack showered while Daniel drank the whole pot of coffee. He sat on the couch, nursing the last cup from the carafe with the stuffed bear on his lap, when Jack emerged from the bathroom, wrapped in a towel, a cloud of steam snapping at his heels.
Jack slipped on a pair of sweats and tee shirt, as if it were bedtime rather than morning. Daniel hid a yawn behind the coffee cup when Jack picked up the carafe and shook it, raising his eyebrows *and* the empty pitcher at him. Daniel shrugged an apology, and Jack exchanged the carafe for a glass of OJ.
He sank lower and lower into the couch, until he finally gave in and placed his coffee mug on the table, then propped his feet up next to it. The stuffed bear sat in his lap, his fingers tugging on the ears. "You know, in some alternate universe, somewhere, you and Sara *did* adopt Daniel Jackson and you all lived happily ever after."
"And in some universe, Charlie is still alive, and Sara and I are still married. What the hell does that have to do with the price of tea in China?"
"Maybe you just have to grab happiness where you can?"
Jack rolled his eyes, gulped down the rest of the juice and walked to where Daniel was sitting. "I pushed you on a swing, I held you when you cried." Frustrated, he scrubbed his hands through his hair, leaving his strands sticking up in every direction. "I comforted you."
Daniel smiled and tossed the bear to Jack, who caught it and held it close. "You gave me what I needed at the time I needed it." He tapped Jack's leg with his foot. "You still do."
"I don't remember those days, but when I opened the box, I was flooded with feelings of safety. You were part of those feelings, and from what I'm hearing, you were a *large* part."
He had to smile at Jack's unabashed embarrassment.
"I'm not that little boy anymore. But I'm thinking without you, Sara and the Middletons, I wouldn't have survived. I wouldn't be who I am today." Daniel leaned his head back and gazed up at Jack. "Thank you."
"Do you want me to say 'you're welcome'?"
Daniel was tired, annoyed, angry, flooded with a myriad of emotions he probably would have handled better if he had slept. "I don't want you to say anything." He stood, stretched, then walked to the nightstand and grabbed the box. "What's in here isn't about you. It's about me. My past. My life." He took the bear from Jack's hands then exchanged it for the box, shoving it into Jack's midsection with enough force to take pleasure out of his 'omph' of surprise. "But maybe you should keep it," Daniel ordered with a wave of his hand, "because you obviously remember more than *I* ever will."
While the box was still in Jack's hands, Daniel stepped in and flung the lid off, then rooted around inside. "Here, these probably belong to you." Daniel pinned the Air Force set of wings to Jack's tee shirt. He patted the pin then straightened it, stepping back to survey his handiwork. "Do they look familiar?"
"My wings." He looked down, then up at Daniel, his eyes widening in surprise.
"You know, I think everyone's memories but mine are in this box."
"You kept my wings?"
"I obviously kept nothing. The Middletons kept my stuff for safekeeping, they kept my memories, you kept my memories, hell, everyone had a piece of me for safekeeping."
Daniel flopped back onto the couch then covered his face with the stuffed bear. "I don't even know what I'm saying anymore." His 'pftttt' was muffled in the animal's fur. "Considering I'm a linguist, that's a pretty sad state of affairs." He waited, listening, clamping a lid on his disappointment with Jack's silence. With more hurt feelings than he cared to admit, he laid down on the couch, tucking the bear under his head, then looked up at Jack who stood there, a blank, unreadable expression on his face. Great! Two could play at this avoidance game.
"We have until tomorrow night until our flight." Daniel scrunched down on the couch, wedging his body against the back of the cushions. "The way I see it, you have a bunch of different options, Jack. You can see New York, you can eat the cold breakfast, take a nap, or exchange your tickets for an earlier flight." Daniel forced out a cavernous yawn, tapping his open mouth, gauging Jack's reaction when he finished, and finding none, he continued. "Me, I'm taking the nap option."
* * *
Betrayed by his own body, Daniel slept. While he had drifted into slumber with nary a protest, the act of waking was proving to be a different, much more difficult transition, and his mind fought against coherency.
In slow motion, accompanied by a grunt and a groan, he moved so he was now lying on his back, instead of his side. Smiling, he squirmed, then moved his head onto the bolster so he could have a bird's eye view of Jack, who was sleeping at the end of the couch, his head awkwardly tipped backwards. Openmouthed and snoring with enough amplitude to awaken someone three doors down. Daniel removed his feet from Jack's lap and the hands that were holding them in place, then wiggled them until they were firmly embedded between Jack's ass and the couch cushion.
Jack sputtered to life when he got ten twitching, sock covered piggies as a wake up call.
"See you chose the nap option as well," Daniel commented, his voice still heavy with sleep.
"Seemed like the best choice at the time," Jack replied in a voice that was as coated with sleep as Daniel's. "Still does." Jack yawned, his head moving from side to side to crack the stiffness from his joints. "The sleep part at least—though twenty-twenty hindsight, the bed would have been a better choice."
"Bed was open."
Jack dug his butt into Daniel's feet. "Yeah, I know, but at the time, this seemed like the better place."
With a grunt, Daniel tugged his feet out from under Jack, then dumped them back in his lap, curling them protectively around Jack's groin.
Jack pointed at Daniel's feet. "Is this—should I worry about—"
"No, I'm not going to kick you." Daniel rubbed the heel of his left foot along Jack, smiling as he felt Jack's cock harden. "Just the opposite."
"Oh, I see you're showing me what New York has to offer."
"No, showing you what *I* have to offer, Jack."
Jack shifted his position. "In my heart I know you aren't that little boy anymore, but it's very hard for my brain to forget."
"Tell me," Daniel insisted, ignoring the expression on Jack's face when he pulled his feet away and sat up. "Tell me about that little boy."
Jack cast a sideways skeptical glance at Daniel, one that he knew all too well.
"Okay, I'll go first then." Daniel took a deep breath, and fixed his gaze on a painting hanging by the table. It was easier than looking at Jack. Hell, it was easier than thinking this actually happened to him. "I was a precocious child." He shot Jack a narrowed, evil glance at his 'still is' comment. "Borderline obnoxious. Too smart for my own good." Daniel warned Jack with a zipping motion to his lips. "My parents loved me, they truly did, but they also loved their work. Sometimes it was hard sharing them, but I learned, adapted, and in time developed a love for archeology as a matter of survival."
He refused to meet Jack's eyes and he waved away his concern. "My story. My memories. You'll get your chance." Daniel cleared his throat, dislodging the lump that had formed. "Okay, maybe survival is the wrong word. Though I'm sure McKenzie would have a field day with that. They loved me. I knew they did, I never had a doubt in my mind of my place in their lives, but there were times when a discovery would obsess them, consume them—"
"Obviously, the apple didn't fall far from the tree, if it even fell at all." Jack's voice was gentle, without a hint of sarcasm, and Daniel turned and gave him a rueful smile as he recalled Nick making the same statement.
"I loved the freedom of the desert. At eight I thought I was the luckiest boy in the world, or what I knew of the world. TV, cartoons, comic books, run of the mill toys were alien things to me. Imagination and the children of the people who assisted my parents on the digs were my companions.
"I always wondered what would have happened if I hadn't been as intelligent as I was. If I had been a different type of child, whose strengths were in athletics or math, rather than in social science, how my parents would have dealt with that type of personality. Would it have been like oil and water? I wonder if that's why my parents had no more children, why I have no siblings. One of my life's greatest mysteries.
"They dug, I learned and flourished under their tutelage. Our days, my days, in an eight year-old's mind, were idyllic, until they discovered the coverstone. It became the sibling I never had, vying for my parents' attention every waking moment. Two archeologists on the outskirts of the public eye, with that one discovery, stepped into the limelight.
"My parents were caught in a whirlpool and they knew it, sucked under by deals of exhibits and book offerings. I remember my mom promising me life would be different after New York." Daniel pushed his glasses atop his head, then ground the heel of his palms into his eyes, but that didn't seem to alleviate the burning sensations behind his lids. "My mom was right on the money with that prediction, wasn't she, Jack?"
"What are you sorry for?" With his pointer finger he repositioned his glasses, then blinked incredulously at Jack. "You of all people have nothing to be sorry for. Nick does, most definitely. The man was in New York because my parents sent him an invitation to the opening of the exhibit. How fortuitous, hmmmm? Nick was in New York long enough to bury them and to make sure I knew he didn't want me." Daniel pinched the air with his thumb and pointer finger. "I would say Nick should have a *bit* of guilt over this. And if we're going to get technical, my parents can have a spot of guilt for behaving irresponsibly and dying."
"Their death was a tragedy, Daniel, they couldn't foresee *nor* could they stop it."
"There was no will. No money. At eight, my parents, with their death, left me a ward of the state. The United States—a place I hadn't been to since infancy. A place my mother hadn't called home for over seven years. What did they think was going to happen to me if they died? Why didn't they even think about that?"
"Maybe they thought—"
"Don't even say Nick. His own daughter hadn't spoken to him in years. The invitation was mailed to rub his nose into their success. I heard their late night conversations. I know they knew Nick's curiosity wouldn't keep him away. My mom would tell my dad what she was going to say to him when he showed up. Horrible thing was, an eight year old child became a pawn in their battle.
"Okay, your turn now." Daniel leaped from the couch and pointed to Jack. "I've told my tale of woe, now it's your turn."
"There's nothing to tell."
"No fair," Daniel pouted, stamping his foot. "I want to know. You have no right not sharing these memories" He walked over to the box, reached in, then tossed the deck of cards to Jack, followed by the Rubik's Cube, the Yahtzee score papers. Jack caught each item and held them in his arms.
"You gave me courage, Daniel." Jack placed each item on the table in front of him, then leaned back into the cushions, his fingers exploring the wings still pinned to his tee shirt. "Sara had been hounding me for a child, and I wasn't ready, or willing to take that step. I didn't think I had anything to offer to a child."
"You offered yourself, which was more than anyone else seemed willing to give to me."
"That's all I had."
"It was enough. It was *more* than enough. It was what I needed. It gave me a foundation to build on."
Jack gestured towards Daniel with a nod of his head. "And this foundation thing, it's all solid?"
Daniel couldn't help be smile, remembering a long ago conversation in the hallway of the SGC. "A bit cracked and dented, but the foundation is still strong." He stood as Jack got up off the couch and walked towards him. With only inches to spare between the two of them, Jack stopped.
"I'll never turn back time, Daniel. I may have forgotten you, but not the time we spent together." He took Daniel's hand and pressed them to the wings on his chest. "Thank you for keeping them safe."
Jack shushed Daniel's argument with a finger to his lips. "Okay, it's semantics," he agreed. "You didn't keep them per se, but let's not be picky. They're here, where they belong. Like you."
Daniel shivered as Jack's hands wound themselves around the nape of his neck, his thumbs running up and down the sensitive spot at the top of his spine. "Jack," he moaned as those expert hands worked their way down to his ass, pulling him so close that a single piece of paper couldn't fit in between their bodies.
"What?" Jack asked breathlessly, as Daniel leaned in, swiping his jawline with his tongue.
"Are you ready to see the sights of New York, now?"
"I think I already am."
This fic is a companion piece to JoaG's story Wings of Change . Both are stand alone stories. Please read the warnings at the start of the story.
While Never Turn Back Time was inspired by a single line from Threads, due to certain discrepancies in the time line, I felt it was safer to call this an AU. Thank you to the sisters of my heart for their patience and support. Jo, thank you for the wisdom of your beta and for allowing my universe to intertwine with your amazing, touching, wonderful story.
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