A.N. - This can also be found on my A03 account!
Proper Endings and New Beginnings
Daniel heard the announcement over the P.A. system.
"Daedalus arriving on schedule."
Even though he was still buried in the Atlantean translation in his hands, he decided it couldn't hurt to stop by and see what was arriving on the transport ship. It only came once every eight weeks, after all. If he was lucky, the last of his books had finally been sent, but he wasn't holding his breath. The pervious shipment had busted one of his boxes and he's lost a priceless copy of Summer's writings on heliographic symbols in Mayan and Egyptian culture. Letting out an aggravated sigh at the memory, he headed to the loading bay, glancing up only briefly from his notebook.
"Oh, hey, Jack," he said, not seeing his books on the ramp, and then tuned to leave the hangar…
In an almost comical fashion, he pivoted on his heels, nearly dropping his notebook and stared in shock at the sight.
Jack O'Neill was standing at the base of the ramp of the Daedalus in civilian clothes with his hands in his pockets and a hopeful look on his face. They stared at each other for a moment, and then the older man put his hands out and gestured towards the archaeologist, saying, "Hey, Daniel. Long time, no see."
The linguist stood there, looking entirely perplexed at seeing the General standing on the Atlantis boarding dock with three heavy bags at his feet.
Finally, he managed, "What are you doing here, Jack? Or," he carefully amended, "Do I wanna know?"
The older man shrugged.
"That depends. Do you really wanna know?"
Daniel hesitated and licked his lips, not quite meeting his friend's eyes.
"Sure, just…not here. Uh, you hungry?"
"I could eat."
Daniel smiled. Still the same old Jack.
They walked down the corridor, shoulders brushing against each other with every other step. They said nothing, but there was no awkwardness about it. It was comfortable, and Daniel had to admit that he'd been missing it for a while. No one else he'd ever known could keep that particular kind of special silence.
They hit the mess and Jack said, "Better food than Cheyenne. Ooh, is that cherry pie?"
Daniel grinned and nodded.
"Amelia makes the best."
They each got a plate and filled them up, while Jack dealt with everyone saluting him. One young cadet just about dropped his tray as he snapped to attention.
"General O'Neill! Sir!"
"At ease, airmen," he said casually, "No need. Really." He moved past him while Daniel failed to hide his grin of amusement at seeing Jack's discomfort, as well as hearing his brand of dry wit. It had certainly been a long time for them.
Jack glared at him as they sat down across from each other and drawled out, "You're enjoying this, aren't you?"
"Only because I know you hate it," he quipped, taking a bite of his cornbread.
Jack rolled his eyes and Daniel smirked back at him. As much as he resented the older man for not letting him come to Atlantis, he couldn't help but realize that he'd missed their banter. However, what he was doing here was a complete mystery. Atlantis wasn't exactly a place for a weekend getaway, and if it had been something serious he would have immediately reported to the senior officers on the base…but he hadn't, which meant that he was there for another reason entirely. But what was it?
They finished their lunches in silence, and the air between them slowly became strained as Daniel started to overthink.
As they stood, Daniel suggested, "How about we talk in my quarters? Less chance of being interrupted and no chance of being listened in-on."
More monosyllabic than his normal routine. Daniel mentally sighed. Great. Talking to him wasn't going to be easy. Of course, nothing about Jack was easy. He may have always put on a 'simple man' routine, but emotionally that man was a roller coaster that the linguist had no desire to ride again. However, if Jack was there to try and drag him back to Cheyenne mountain, so help him, he would dislocate his goddamn jaw. He didn't care if he was a general or not, he was not going back after the hell he went through just to get to Atlantis.
When they reached his room, Daniel shut the door firmly behind him.
Not bothering with pleasantries, he asked, "What dragged you all the way out here to Atlantis, Jack?"
He expected the older man to hem and haw, as was his usual way when asked a direct question of any kind, but was taken off guard when Jack quickly, yet quietly replied, "You, actually."
Daniel stared his friend for a moment, waiting for the punchline…but when it didn't come, the silence stretching between them uncomfortably, he finally managed to say…
Jack rolled his eyes.
"Look, I know this isn't exactly what you were expecting, but you know what they say, hindsight is twenty-twenty, well, more like forty-twenty in my case. Aging eyes, you know, but beside the point." He took a step forward closer, and continued to talk, gesturing widely the way that he did when he talked. "I was…sort of…a jerk, you know, before you left, and I kinda feel I owe it to you, to both of us, to tell you why."
At that, Daniel nodded and replied, "Actually, I've been wondering that for a while now. I just figured that it was you being, well…you."
Jack gave him a look, but Daniel was un-phased. The older man looked down at his feet, shoved his hands into his pockets, and said, hesitantly, "I was sort of…possessive, I guess."
Daniel said nothing, but grimly nodded, agreeing.
"You've always been a good friend, Daniel, and I guess I thought that when you wanted to go to Atlantis that you were…abandoning me."
"Stupid, I know," he stopped him, "But I couldn't help it. You've always been, you know, the one person who kept me from going crazy. Mostly."
A faint smile appeared on Daniel's lips at hearing that, but he kept his mouth shut, knowing that the only way Jack would get through what he had to say was if he said nothing. Jack let out a frustrated sigh and began to pace in front of him, running a hand through his hair.
"You're sort of the only real friend I have. Ever had, actually." He saw Daniel's eyebrows shoot up at his words, so he quickly said, "Carter's…Carter. I mean, she's a friend, but not someone I turn to in times of crisis, you know? And Teal'c is more like a war buddy, but you…you're different. You always have been. And, I think you know that…"
At this, Daniel felt something warm uncurl in his chest. Like…like he'd been waiting to hear those words for a long time. Like it was something that he'd needed to hear for years.
Jack licked his lips and continued.
"When you… "died", ascended, whatever…that was when I kind of started to understand just how different you were to me." He paused, stopped pacing, and then took half a step forward and added, "When you came back and didn't remember me…it hurt like hell. Almost as bad as when Charlie died. I felt like a part of me was…missing."
What did he mean by that? Missing?
Jack pressed on, saying, "I, I'm not all that great with words, you know that." Daniel nodded. "All I can really say it, even though you never asked, I'm telling you now. So…yeah. Uh…what do you think?"
Daniel was now even more confused than ever. What the hell was Jack saying? Not a single thing of what he had just said had cleared anything up. He still didn't even know why Jack had asked him not to go in the first place, which was what he most wanted to know, and he hadn't even come close to an apology.
"What do I…what do I think?"
The older man nodded, and Daniel snapped.
"I think you're clear as mud! Didn't feel or sound like an apology, and I was hoping for, oh, I don't know, some words along the lines of "I'm sorry?" I mean, you're not making much sense, Jack!"
"Not making sense?" Jack snapped back, his voice rising in volume. "I just laid my heart on the line, here, Daniel! I just left the SGC and took a four-week trip to get here and talk to you in person!"
"Oh, great!" the linguist sarcastically replied, flinging the notebook still in his hands in the direction of his desk. "You took a small vacation to come see me, tell me I'm your only friend, and…what? Get some sun and sand for a week or so and then go back to Colorado and abandon me all over again? Yeah, feeling a real friendship here…"
"I left the SGC!" he repeated, and Daniel rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, you said that already, Jack. Vacation days gotta be used up sometime. God knows you never took them when you were still a colonel…"
"You're not listening to me, Daniel," Jack said, grabbing the younger man's shoulders firmly with his hands. "I left the SGC."
Daniel tried to pull away, remembering previous times when Jack had tried to use his physical presence as a distraction…but then stopped as he realized just how Jack had said it. Emphasis on the word 'left.' He looked down at the floor. Three bags. He looked back up at Jack. No uniform. The information slowly locked into place in his mind, making a coherent picture.
Wait…no. He hadn't…
"Jack…are you telling me…you retired?"
Jack lifted his hands from Daniel's shoulders and said, "Ding ding ding! Now he gets it. Give the man a gold star!"
Daniel stared at him, more than confused. Why the hell had Jack retired from the SGC? They had been regularly promoting him through the ranks, which included pay raises, so why had he given it up? Treating their conversation like a linguistic code, he thought back over what Jack had said…and felt like an idiot and an ass all at once. Asking. Telling. Was he…gay? No. Bisexual, for sure. Daniel had seen the way that he'd looked at women in the past, so it was both. Was that why he'd left? But, if he was retired, then why would it matter that he was gay? The don't-ask, don't-tell clause wouldn't apply to him. Also, if he was retired, then why was he here telling Daniel that he was his only friend and trying to make amends and…well, shit.
"Jack, don't tell me that you left the SGC for me. Don't tell me you gave up your career…your life!…for…oh god, I can't even say it…"
Jack gave him a look.
"Daniel, you're acting like it's the end of the world. Which, if you recall, we've dealt with before, so this shouldn't be as bad…so, why're you panicking, exactly?"
Daniel gaped at him, his mouth hanging open, trying to form words and failing. Jack had the worst sense of timing. Ten years. Ten years. Daniel had been shoving down his feelings for Jack, absolutely certain that the man was painfully heterosexual and would never reciprocate his feelings. He'd been dealing with his emotions in the unhealthiest way possible for ten fucking years… And now…this.
He wanted to punch him. In the head.
Instead, he tightened his jaw, gritted his teeth, and glared.
"Jack…you have shitty timing."
"What? Why're you blaming me?" he said, his body language going defensive.
"Because it's all your fault!" Before Jack could protest, he went off, determined to be heard. "Jack, I have been forced into the world of the military since the beginning, and though I may hate their policies, I never thought that you thought much of them either, so we had that much in common, but this…goddammit, Jack. You…there is so much about you that I can't stand. You prefer guns to words, and you know how to avoid answering a question even when your life depended on it; especially when your life depended on it!"
Jack let out a huff of air and glared at him, but Daniel wasn't deterred.
"But the one thing, the one thing that I always respected about you was that you spoke your mind and you were always willing to find the truth, even if it was the last thing you wanted to hear, and you have no idea how long I've admired that about you…but this…us," he gestured towards him and back to himself, moving his hands up and down. "…I figured it was never gonna happen because you never said a goddamn word. One word from you. That's all I ever would have needed. But no. Apparently that was too hard for you."
He went silent.
It was quiet for a long time.
And then Jack said… "So…you like me back?"
Daniel gaped a second time.
"Out of everything that I just said…that's what you get from it?"
"Well, am I wrong?" he gently asked, stepping closer to Daniel, closing the distance between the two of them, leaving Daniel feeling more than a little flustered at having Jack suddenly standing only inches way, instead of a solid three feet away. "I mean, that's all that matters right now, right?"
Daniel still didn't know what to say, so the older man provided him with, "This is me admitting to the truth, Daniel. I…am an ass. You…not so much." He leaned in slightly, putting a hand on Daniel's neck, and then said softly into his ear, "All I know right now is that I desperately need to kiss you…"
It felt as if all of the air had been punched out of his lungs at hearing those words, but before Jack could do anything, the linguist reached up with both hands and dragged Jack's head back, his lips sliding along the stubble of his jawline as he did, and then dipped his lips to capture the older man's, and he was fucking gone.
Warm, soft, perfect…so many words to describe it, but also too many words. The warmth that had uncurled from his chest earlier suddenly erupted into a thundering in his ears and Daniel felt that some sort of invisible wall had just come down. Holy shit, it was perfect. Yes. Perfect. That was the word. Perfect. Perfect. He let it run around his head as he proceeded to slip his tongue past Jack's lips, and at the taste of Jack on his tongue…it tasted like coming home.
They lingered in the kiss for several moments, Jack's hands dropping to Daniel's waist, pulling their hips closer together as Daniel continued to hold his head to his, his fingertips gently exploring down the older man's neck, reveling in the heat that he felt under his hands.
They finally pulled away with gasping breaths and Jack let out a soft chuckle.
"Well, damn. If I'da known that honesty would have gotten me this far, I would have retired a long time ago…"
Daniel smirked at him, settling into Jack's grip, letting his hands slide down to the man's shoulders and then down his arms, and replied, "Oh, it'll get you a lot further than this, Jack…"
Jack smirked back…and the next thing Daniel knew, they were rolling onto his bed.
Daniel slowly woke up the next morning and smiled when he felt a warm body behind his, two lanky arms wrapped around his chest, holding him tightly. He turned over to his back and smiled at seeing a familiar shock of silver-gray hair. He turned his head all the way to the right, simply staring and enjoying the sight of seeing Jack completely relaxed, and then smiled when he shifted and brown eyes slowly blinked open.
"Mornin'," he said in a sleepy voice.
"Morning, Jack…how was your night?"
"Very nice." He leaned in and pressed a soft kiss to the archaeologist's lips. "The company was the best part, I think…"
Daniel let out a soft laugh and said, "Oh, I'd hope so."
Instead of pulling away, as Daniel had honestly been expecting him to, the older man tucked himself closer into his body and (there was no other word for it) nuzzled his head into Daniel's neck, acting for all the world that he had nowhere else he needed to be, which, to some extent, was true. It was a Saturday morning, and Daniel had nowhere he needed to be, as well, and it was going to be a relatively quiet day in terms of translating. He'd gotten almost all of the important things out of the way, which meant he could spend the whole day lounging in bed with his new lover.
Lover. He liked the sound of that word.
He let Jack throw a leg over one of his and curl himself into him, so, in response, Daniel reached over and ran a hand down the older man's bare arm, and quietly marveled at the strength that he could still feel in his body: lean and hardened muscle under soft skin.
Jack hummed contentedly and muttered, "Tha's nice," and Daniel smiled.
Their small bubble of contentment, however, was burst as someone began to bang loudly on the archaeologist's door.
"Dr. Jackson, I have some papers for you to sign!" yelled a familiar voice and he groaned. McKay. The man didn't know how to shut up and he certainly didn't know how to leave a man alone to sleep in on a weekend morning. Daniel rubbed his eyes with his free hand and yelled back, "Can you come back later?"
As if that was invitation, which it decidedly wasn't, Daniel heard the door to his rooms open, and before he could react, he heard Rodney walking into the adjoining front room acting as if he had every right to violate Dr. Jackson's privacy and had done it plenty of times before…which he had. On countless occasions.
"You didn't lock the door?" Jack muttered, and Daniel rolled his eyes.
"Normally I don't have to. People respect privacy around here. However, McKay is under the perpetual delusion that he's the exception to every rule."
"Ah, he hasn't changed then."
Both realized that they had no time to hide the fact that they were in bed together, so they resigned themselves to the inevitable scene, which meant that the two of them looked remarkably unaffected when Rodney strode into the bedroom, a stack of papers in his hands.
"Dr. Jackson, I need you to sign…"
His voice trailed off and his eyes went wide. Daniel, annoyed at being denied a leisurely morning sleeping in, sat up in the bed, gently dislodging Jack's arms from his torso. Letting out an aggravated sigh, he reached over and grabbed his glasses from the nightstand, sliding them on and glaring at the scientist who had invaded his personal quarters.
"Good morning, Rodney. What do you have that is so pressing that you felt the need to invade my room?"
He hesitated, his eyes darting between Jack and Daniel, and then finally managed to stutter out, "Uh, G-General O'Neill, sir…good to see you."
"McKay," he replied sitting up as well, leaning his shoulder against Daniel's. "I would say it's a pleasure to see you, too, but I think we both know that would be a lie, so, to repeat Daniel's question in layman's terms…what the hell are you doing here?"
Faltering, his hands almost tearing the papers he held, he replied, "Uh, I need, uh, Dr. Jackson's signature for a carbon-date test on one of the tablets we recovered from the main temple. Any requested tests on the artifacts from the temples are all subject to Dr. Jackson's approval due to the, uh…the, uh…sensitive…uh, nature of…the…"
Irritated, Daniel put out his hand.
"I'll sign the damn thing, if that'll make you go away."
McKay handed it to him. Daniel signed it. He stared at the two of them a moment longer…and then left the room. The linguist let out a sigh when he heard the door to the corridor close, feeling of mixture of relief and anxiety. Well, this was something that he hadn't expected to happen.
Jack looked at him.
"So, now that McKay knows…"
"The whole base will know within the next half hour," Daniel supplied for him, and Jack nodded. "Ah. I see."
"Yeah, not exactly how I planned on coming out, either," he said, sliding a bit further down his pillow. Jack then turned on his side and propped himself on one arm and looked at him. The silence stretched for a while, until Daniel asked, "Are you just planning on staring at me for the rest of the day?"
"Possibly. Not a bad view, actually."
Daniel let out a small laugh.
"So…you. Me. My bed. All day. Maybe a break or two. Does it sound like a plan?"
Jack gave him a look. He shifted slightly on the bed and leaned in, brushing his lips against his shoulder, and muttered, "Sounds like a plan," and then rolled over him and pinned him to the bed with his hips, smirking down at him. The older man then proceeded to take shameless advantage of the linguist, leaning down and sucking a dark bruise into his neck, and Daniel responded in kind, both of them forgetting the embarrassing incident only a few moments before.
They tussled around for several minutes, working themselves back up into a heated frenzy.
But then, in a momentary lull, Jack lifted his head from where he was sucking a second bruise onto Daniel's hip, and said, "Since everyone's gonna know about us soon enough, does this mean I can move in?"
At that, Daniel froze and then looked down at his new-found lover, more than slightly surprised at the question. They stared at each other a moment, blue eyes locked with brown, and then Jack tilted his head and said, "Too soon?"
"Too soon," Jack concluded, and started to pull back, but stopped when he felt fingers brush into his hair.
"No. Not too soon, Jack," he murmured, pulling him up to his lips, where they traded several soft kisses, after which Daniel added, "If anything, it's been a long time coming. I mean…we've been dancing around each other for, what…ten years now?"
Jack hummed in the back of his throat.
"Yeah, just about…"
He leaned in and nipped Daniel's shoulder affectionately, trying to distract the younger man, but Daniel didn't give in.
"Jack," he said, pulling his attention away. "I love you, you know that?"
At hearing those three words, the man's eyes seemed to soften and his lips widened and he replied, "God, that's good to hear. I mean, despite the way I've treated you over the years, you know, being snippy," he pressed a kiss to his chest. "Being possessive," he added, a second kiss on his neck. "Being a general jerk." A third kiss on his jaw. "I mean…you put up with a lot…"
Daniel nodded and accepted the last kiss on his lips and replied, "Yeah, you're right. I've been a saint putting up with you."
"Thank you for not throwing me out."
"Oh, it crossed my mind," Daniel admitted, and Jack chuckled.
"So…I get to stay?"
The linguist nodded, and then said, "Since you're retired, you can stay on as a military consultant. How does that sound?"
He pressed another lingering kiss to his lips, and was taken by surprise as Daniel suddenly flipped their positions, with Jack on his back and Daniel hovering over top of him, his thighs on top of the older man's and his hands pinning the retired-general's wrists to the bed.
"Now…I have some plans to keep, general…"