You ever notice how much crap is written about love? Especially the flowery poetry stuff and the romance novel junk. You know, all those things about how love is a soaring, high as a kite feeling and all fireworks. And what about that absence makes the heart grow fonder shit? I'll tell you what absence does--it makes you miss the other person like hell. I'll give you a for instance.
Daniel Jackson. Enough said? No. Well let me tell you this. I'm lucky enough to have Daniel Jackson share my bed with me most nights that we're here on good ol' planet number three from the sun and tonight he's not here beside me. Tonight he's...well, that's the problem. I don't know exactly what Daniel's doing right now. I know *where* he is, but I don't know *how* he is. It's the not knowing *how* that's killing me.
And that's not all. Daniel is everywhere. I never realized just how much of Daniel is in my home. I mean, he's been mostly living here for the past year, but I only recently noticed all the little things that are Daniel's. The quilt on the bed is one he brought with him when he spent his first night here once we decided since we acted like we were married, we may as well live like it too. Why on Earth Daniel brought his own quilt is beyond me. It's not like I didn't have blankets if we needed them. It has some Japanese motif with cranes and cranes mean long life, so I guess it has some sort of symbolism to him. I don't know. Daniel didn't decide to clue me in on it that night, and it's never come up since. Let's face it, Daniel and I have far more important things to do in bed than discuss the symbolism of a damn quilt. And that's not all. And there's his piIlow, this stupid buckwheat hull pillow that he claims helps him sleep better. I'll tell you one thing, it sure doesn't help his snoring. It lies beside me, yet I can't bring myself to touch it. Not and retain any semblance of self control. Stupid, huh? If Daniel's head was on it, I wouldn't hesitate. But not now, not when Daniel is...Damn him anyway. What did he think he was doing, volunteering to go off with SG-9 to P6yadda-yadda?
"The taboos of the Drenayans are very complex, General. I really think it best that I go along on the mission," he'd said in that earnest ' please let me do my job' voice; the earnest voice that no one except Doc Fraiser can resist. Hell, I couldn't resist it from the first time he used it on me,and I didn't even like him then, back when I thought he was a geeky scientist. Now, I'm mush when he uses it on me. Carter and Teal'c are just as bad. General Hammond indulges him as if he were a favorite son.
So Daniel goes haring off to some backwater planet ready to charm the socks off the natives. I wonder if they even wear socks on P6-whoknowsandwhocares. All I know is they've been gone 3 days and they've missed every check-in. When we dialed them up for the first check-in twelve hours after they'd walked through our Gate, and onto a world only God and Ca rter knows how many light years from Earth, we'd lost all video from the MALP. Can you say I'm concerned? Just a little bit worried here? Like bordering on frantic? I knew you could.
Anyway, that's why I'm lying here wide awake in bed at 0232 hours. Oops, better make that 0233 hours.General Hammond and Doc Fraiser have decided that I need sleep. Uh huh, right. I'll do it right now. Well, sorry, Doc, it didn't work. Actually I agree with them whole heartedly--I just need Daniel by my side to do it.Damn it, Daniel, you'd better be okay. I'm trying very hard to forget what you told us Drenayans do to folks who break their taboos. Why'd you have to be so detailed in your report?
I turn on my right side, facing away from temptation, from Daniel's pillow. I want nothing more than to grab it and hug it close to me, to bury my face in it and breathe Daniel in. You ever realize how much of someone's scent is retained in a pillow, in their clothes? If I open the closet right now I could inhale Daniel. After Charlie...well, once Charlie was gone, I used to go in his room and sit on his bed and hold his pillow, trying to capture that little boy smell he had, Oreo cookies, milk and outdoor air. Damn it, Daniel, I don't want to be smelling your pillow, trying to capture your fading scent. I want you beside me in the flesh, smelling of coffee, chocolate and cinnamon toothpaste. I want to hear you turning the pages of a book long after you should be asleep. I want your elbow in my back. I want you here to steal the blankets and snore.
Damn it, Daniel, you'd better have not gotten yourself into any trouble this time. I knew I shouldn't have left you go off with SG-9. When has your going off with anyone else other than SG-1 turned out okay? I know what you're thinking, Daniel going off with SG-1 doesn't guarantee his safety either, but at least he's where he belongs, with his family, with the people who love him and wouldn't hesitate to give their lives for his.
0235 hours. Well, this is a real productive sleep I'm having. I may as well get up and take a shower. Relax those muscles and all that. Only, this isn't one of my better ideas either. You'd think taking a shower would help me, right? I mean, you can't smell someone else in the shower unless he's in there with you, right? Wrong. W-R-O-N-G.
See here's the scoop. Carter has this habit of buying Daniel stuff. Not normal stuff that she *should* buy him, like books and socks and maybe a shirt or sweater for his birthday or Christmas. No, not Carter. She buys him stuff as if he's some type of living Major Matt Mason doll. Clothes that have everybody's eyeballs popping out when he wears them (no, I'm not telling who) and bath stuff. Stuff like sandalwood oatmeal soap, and her current favorites, peppermint goat's milk creamy shower gel and peppermint rosemary shampoo. And Daniel actually uses it. I mean, what kind of guy uses peppermint goat's milk creamy shower gel and peppermint rosemary shampoo anyway?
Besides Daniel that is. Not that I'm complaining, because actually the stuff smells pretty damn hot. On Daniel, that is. Not on me. I'm a Dial anti-bacterial soap and whatever-shampoo-is-cheapest kinda guy myself. Funny thing is, when Daniel first came back from Abydos that was the kind of guy he was too. And there's no way Daniel would buy any of that fancy-schmancy stuff for himself. Not Daniel, 'Mister can squeeze a nickel til it spits out ten pennies.'
I think it's from all those years of living in foster care where he was usually one of many and then those years of being a student. Before Catherine snatched him up for the Stargate program, I think he may have been on the verge of being homeless. Actually I suspect Daniel was homeless for a time, but he's never said and I've never asked. I don't think Daniel wants me to know, but I remember him stashing food in the guest room when he first returned from Abydos and how he always ordered the cheapest thing on the menu if we went out for dinner, even after he started getting his very hefty paycheck.
Daniel has this great fear that he's somehow a burden to those he loves. As if he could ever be. I have the feeling he's the one gonna be walking slowly alongside me as I hobble with a cane far in the future. That's if he comes back from this mission in one piece. He'd damn well better come back in one piece. He'd damn well better come back. One memorial service was enough for me, thank you very much, Dr. Jackson. And I've already made sure he knows there will be no more running off with an Unas either.
Okay, let's see. I've managed to waste another half hour and I'm still wide awake. I told Fraiser there was no point in my coming home. I could have told her it'd be a sleepless night. But, hey, what do I know? It's just *my* body and *my* archaeologist who's missing. Don't tell Daniel I said that though, okay? He hates when I call him *my* archaeologist. "I'm not a possession, my *Air Force colonel*" He sounds so adorable when he's pissy. Don't tell him that either, all right? Because he still hasn't quite caught on to the fact that I find him not only adorable but also incredibly edible when he's all hot and bothered. Hey, incredibly edible. Maybe some food would help.
You'd think there a kitchen would be a safe place to escape someone's presence, unless you were talking about someone's grandma or something. But Daniel's here too, even though *he's* not, if you get my drift. It's Daniel's coffee maker that sits on the counter, the one he bought when he decided mine wasn't capable of brewing his morning nectar to his high standards. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. It does work better than mine.
His coffee mug is sitting on the counter next to it. The one I gave him as a joke two years ago; the one that says, "Archaeologists dig it." My fingers ache to reach out and touch it, to see if it still holds some residual warmth from the cup of coffee he drank at 0500 three days ago, some essence of Daniel. If I just held it for a moment, would he be here with me? Would I be able to hear the little grumble he always makes before he takes the first sip of the day?
I turn away from the counter and yank open the refrigerator door, and even there I can't escape him. Daniel's life and mine have become entangled so thoroughly, a knot so complex, that I wouldn't know where to start to tease it apart. It's because of Daniel that there's maple syrup in the fridge. B.D.--before Daniel, I never even made pancakes or waffles. But Daniel loves them, so there's maple syrup for our Sunday morning breakfasts. There's salad too. Not iceberg lettuce and a few carrots. Nope, there's something called mesclun mix, which in my personal opinion looks like someone just went out and weeded their garden, but Daniel likes it so there it is. Sometimes I roll my eyes when he brings it home, but the taste has kind of grown on me. There's at least four jars of jams. Combinations like wild blueberry champagne, peach melba, and cranberry orange marmalade. My jar of good old American grape jelly is consigned to the back of beyond. Damn it, Daniel. You'd better get home to eat this stuff, because I sure as hell would hate to have to throw it away. Who can eat four jars of jam by himself anyway?
I put a slice of whole wheat bread in the toaster, whole wheat because as Daniel says we need fiber in our diets and pour myself a glass of skim milk, not whole, because Daniel worries about my cholesterol. I grab the slice of bread as it pops up, take my glass of milk and walk into the living room.
The sofa should be safe, except...this is going to sound corny... I bought that blue pillow at the other end because it matches Daniel's eyes. I bought it before we even were more than just friends. Must have been my subconscious or something Freudian like that. Thank God MacKenzie doesn't work at the SGC anymore. I shudder to think of the fun he could have had with that little tidbit.
I choke down the dry toast and gulp down the milk, reaching for the remote, and look...here's another little reminder I don't need. The TV comes on to the History Channel which means Daniel had the clicker last. I'm such a sucker--he just looks at me over the tops of his glasses and gives this little frown when there's something he wants to watch and I'm switching on to a hockey game. What's a guy to do? I hand him the remote every time. Not that I'm ever going to tell him, but some of those shows he picks out are actually pretty good. And it's not like he never watches sports with me. He does, head lying on that blue pillow that matches his eyes, nose buried in a book for most of the action and feet resting on my lap. He doesn't even ever ask for the foot rubs, just wiggles his toes and gives me a shy smile. Who could resist that? I certainly can't. But tonight, actually this morning, I don't want to listen to some documentary on ancient China, especially since I don't have my own cultural expert sitting next to me to add a pithy comment or two. No sirree Bob. I click to ESPN and settle down to watch...wow...the National Aerobics Championship...this looks exciting...not. Meanwhile, I'm missing the familiar weight of Daniel's legs resting on my thighs.
One National Aerobics Championship and three infomercials later, I decide that heading to the mountain might not be such a bad idea. There's just too much of Daniel here. Strange how all the little things can make you miss someone. You'd think it'd be the big things, like the fact that there's not another human being sitting next to you on the couch or lying beside you in bed. But it's not just that. It's the hundred million little things that make me miss him, all those little ways Daniel's put his stamp on my heart, all those little things that annoy me and that I want to keep annoying me for the rest of our lives.
Heading towards the front door I realize that I'll have to keep a sharp eye out for the Doc on base. If she takes a close look at my eyes she can't help but notice these dark circles. I can probably avoid her for a few hours at least.
I hear the phone ring as I'm grabbing my keys to the truck. Grabbing up the receiver, I answer it with a mouth that is suddenly as dry as the deserts that Daniel loves.
"Sir?" It's Carter, and oh God no, she's crying. I can hear her hiccup. "Sir? Are you there?"
"I'm here." Right now, I don't think I want to be.
"Sir, it's Daniel and the others."
I do not want to hear this, Carter. I lean against the counter, my fingers curling around Daniel's coffee mug even as I brace myself.
"Sir, they're alive. They're fine. They just walked through the Gate about 10 minutes ago. Sir?" I can hear her voice even as I drop the phone and run to the truck. When I see Daniel, he's going to get an earful about worrying his CO.
I stuff the speeding ticket I've just gotten into the glove box. Eighty in a sixty mile an hour zone. That's going to take a nice hunk of change out of my checkbook. Don't tell Daniel, okay? Because much as I worry about Daniel, he's even worse when it comes to worrying about me. And this time he'd be right if he went off on some rant about stupid driving and how the hell did I save any time because I just spent almost twenty minutes parked by the side of the road getting a ticket. Daniel needs me. I know he does. He'd probably appreciate it if I was alive and in one piece. And besides Carter said he was fine.
Notice I said, Carter said he was fine. Daniel's fine can mean anything from he's in perfect health to he's dragging himself to the Gate with a broken leg. Last time Daniel said he was fine, he had a fever of a hundred and two and bronchitis. When he lost his voice from the strain of all the coughing, he even wrote he was fine on the little note pad I'd provided him with. So I think you'll understand if I don't always trust Daniel's judgment when it comes to his health. But when Carter says Daniel's fine: Daniel's fine. As in no broken body parts, no injuries that require a stay in the infirmary for even one night or a couple of hours, no strange alien virus or even a good old Earth one. Nope, when Carter or even Doc Fraiser reassures me that Daniel's fine, I can be assured that I will arrive on base and find him in one piece.
I take it back. This time Carter did lie. Well, not a big lie. Just a little one. Okay, maybe not even a lie. But Daniel is sitting across from me in the mess and he's got three stitches in a cut that bisects his eyebrow. Carter's sitting next to him, where I should be, mind you, and she's smiling at him. If I didn't realize that she knows that Daniel and I are together, I'd be mighty jealous of that proprietary smile she's bestowing on him.
"Just think, Daniel. You'll have a scar to match the colonel's." She pushes the glass of orange juice a little closer to him.
Daniel smiles at her. "Yeah, I guess I will. How about that?" He digs his fork into the plate of lasagna that Teal'c's placed in front of him.
He *will* have a scar. Damn it. Doesn't he have enough of them already? Not outside scars. There's not too many of those, even the appendix one is kind of just this faint white line now. I know...trust me...he lets me inspect it very carefullly every night. It's the inside ones I worry about. Those are the scars that wake him up panting and shaking. Those are the scars that sometimes cause him to curl up in a ball so tight when he's asleep that I can't get him out of it until I hold him for a long time. Those are the scars Daniel has that I hate. I don't want Daniel to have any more scars in his life.
Daniel's chattering on to Sam about how he thinks that she'd find the weather patterns on Drenaya fascinating, especially since a storm like the one that kept Daniel and SG-9 unable to reach the Gate happens only once every fifty years or so. He takes another absent minded bite of the lasagna as Teal'c motions to the plate.
You may be wondering just why Daniel's eating lasagna at 0730 when everyone else in the mess is eating normal food like pancakes, eggs, oatmeal and Froot Loops. Daniel's eating lasagna because when the cooks realized that Dr. Jackson was back, they rounded up some that they were preparing for lunch and put a pan in the oven. He once told them how tasty it was and he gets the extra special treatment ever since. He's managed to charm the hard nosed cooking staff the same way he charms everyone else. He finishes the last bite of his second helping and says a polite thank you to Teal'c as the big guy takes the plate away.
My archaeologist is eating like he's hasn't seen food for three days. He said that the Drenayans served them some sort of gloppy porridge. Very filling but bland he said. So right now, Daniel's craving spice and complex flavors and he's about to eat his third helping. You know, if I was stranded off world for three days eating gloppy porridge, I'll bet Teal'c wouldn't bring me three helpings of lasagna. No, Teal'c would frown and say that one helping of such a calorie laden dish would be sufficient for someone of my age and metabolism.
Now that Daniel's sitting across from me, I ache to touch him. And I can't. Not here, not on base. A hair ruffle just isn't going to do much for either of us at this point.
By the way, did I mention that Carter's sitting beside him? Where I should be?
Where was I? Oh yeah, the hair ruffle, the touching and all that jazz. Doc Fraiser said Daniel should be taken home to catch up on some sleep. Seems that storm on P6D-444 kept SG-9 and Daniel quite busy helping the Drenayans batten down the hatches so to speak. So while he may be basically unhurt, Daniel's pretty beat. Not that anyone but me, Carter and Teal'c would notice.
Daniel's in what I have labeled his 'Energizer Bunny' mode. It's not a label I've ever used in his presence. Please don't repeat it. But when Daniel gets really tired, he gets really wired. And right now, his mouth is going about a mile a minute even as he scarfs down the remaining food on his plate. Carter's eyes are beginning to glaze over and believe me, when Carter's eyes glaze over it means that Daniel's gone way overboard. I grin and lean back in my chair, stretching out my legs under the table. My feet reach under his chair, my calf brushes against his. Daniel stops in mid sentence, his fork dropping out of his hand. He looks across the table at me and smiles. Remember that shy smile I mentioned earlier? That's the smile he gives me. Gotcha, Dannyboy...as I try not to melt right there in the mess.
"Sam, you don't mind if we finish this conversation another time, do you?" Daniel sounds almost apologetic.
"Not at all, Daniel." Sam pats his hand, just as a big sister should. "You really should go home and get some sleep. You too, Colonel." She gives us each a sly grin.
"Hey, who gives the orders around here anyway?" I ask, trying to sound disgruntled but coming off as disgustingly cheerful.
"I believe that would be General Hammond, O'Neill," Teal'c intones. Yeah, and people think Teal'c doesn't have a sense of humor.
"Well," I drawl, "General Hammond has given me orders to take Daniel home." I stand up and stretch. "Ready to go, Daniel?"
"I just want to stop by my office and grab a book or two." Daniel holds up a finger even as he starts on his way. I snag him by his jacket as he walks past me.
"Nope," I tell him. "Absolutely not, nadda, nyet. I am taking you home right now."
"You make me sound like a puppy, Jack." Daniel frowns. "I'm not even really tired despite what Janet says."
"Yeah." I give him an appraising look. "But I am. So let's get a move on."
Daniel's stubborn look fades as he studies my face. "Okay," he finally agrees. "I'm sure I can find something to work on at home."
By the time we get to my truck Daniel's practically bouncing. I'd hate to think of what he'd be like if he'd had coffee. Thank God, Carter was supplying him with orange juice. I know Daniel though and he's about ready to crash. Trust me on this one.
"Do you want me to drive, Jack?" he offers, holding out a hand for the keys to the truck. "You look pretty tired."
Oh yeah, like I'm going to give my keys to someone who's probably not slept more than a few hours in three days and is practically jumping up and down he's so hyper at the moment.
"I'll be fine," I reassure him. "I just want to get home. C'mon, get in."
I hit the preset for the classical music station and am very quiet. Sure enough, we're not even a mile from the mountain when a faint snore reaches my ears. I take my eyes from the road long enough to see Daniel, my best friend, my lover, sleeping with his head thrown back and his mouth open. His left hand has fallen from his lap to the seat beside him and I take that hand in mine as I continue to drive, within the speed limit, thank you very much. I mean, it's not like there's any rush now. Daniel's alive. He's safe. He's fine. I intend to keep him that way.
Daniel's hand twitches slightly in mine and he turns his head toward me even in his sleep. I pull his hand over to rest on my thigh while I drive us home, needing his touch to reassure me that he's here with me now. I drive home as the sounds of Bach fill my truck, Daniel's snores providing a counterpoint. It's quite possibly the most beautiful music I'll ever hear.