Daniel found himself staring at nothing, standing just inside Jack's front door. He'd managed to use the key and let himself in, while Jack parked the car and brought their take-out up to the house.
It was stupid -- how he continuously kept having problems with ordinary everyday stuff. Granted he'd only been back for a couple of days, and Janet had kept prodding and testing him until he'd begged her to let him out. He'd needed air, open skies. Only problem was having been used to being ascended, things like keys and door handles... well, it was a matter of getting used to.
Unlike... Jack in some strange ways.
The man had been hovering close as often as possible after they'd found Daniel, and he realised he'd missed it. Even Jack's mother-hen routine. For little over a year, Daniel had been allowed to try it in reversed roles and it had helped him reach a conclusion. His feelings had confused him when Jack had been tortured by Bhaal. His reactions had been... well, he could remember very few other incidents where he'd been so torn and worried, more or less unable to do anything about it. There *was* back when Jack had had the Archive downloaded into his mind and Daniel had had to watch the man slowly withdraw from reality. Or when they'd fought the Replicator bugs the first time... just before Jack and Teal'c were transported to Thor's ship. Those times Daniel hadn't been able to do anything. Theoretically he'd been more than capable after his... ascension. He'd worked his way around it. Tried to let the others know where to find Jack. Helped Jack even when he wasn't supposed to... Well, he'd helped once too many... The Ascended ones had kicked him out, even Oma Desala hadn't been able to cover for him this time. Something in his mind told him it was what he'd worked towards for a long time anyway -- getting back to this reality.
Ascended 'life' had all the mysteries and all the answers... yet it had lacked the one thing that had kept Daniel sane and in a lot of ways safe... Jack.
So often had Daniel returned to check on Jack, witnessed the grief the older man refused to show or share with anyone. Jack thought Daniel had only visited a few times, when in truth, he'd spent many a night, next to Jack, trying to soothe the man's nightmares, wishing endlessly that he could touch, reassure... caress...
And now he was coming full circle. He was back where he'd been when they'd left Abydos. Jack's place... to sleep in Jack's guestroom. Daniel was torn from his reverie when Jack slipped in behind him, clearing his throat to get Daniel's attention.
"Sorry," Daniel mumbled and continued into the house.
"Why don't you go shower?" Jack put their food down on the table. He knew Daniel had shunned the communal showers at base as much as possible. Jack led him up the stairs. Daniel was supposed to remember where the bathroom was, but it seemed he had trouble staying focused. Turning on the lights in the room, Jack ushered him inside. Before leaving him to it, Jack stopped in front of him looking slightly embarrassed.
"Out with it," Daniel said, giving the man a small smile... felt odd to smile again, but... good.
"I ah..." Jack trailed off, hand rising to hover over Daniel's shoulder.
Somehow Daniel understood and nodded without a word.
Jack's brown eyes went softer as he turned his hand to rest it, palm flat against Daniel's cheek, then the other joined in, fluttering down over Daniel's chest.
Daniel couldn't quite believe how good it felt. The heat from those hands... amazing, and before he knew it, he was enveloped in a strong, warm embrace, breathing in Jack's scent as he buried his face against the other man's neck.
"I'm real, Jack, I'm real," Daniel whispered soothingly into Jack's ear.
Jack drew back, looking even more embarrassed. "It's just... I... needed..."
Daniel nodded. "I know." Me too, he added in thought.
"I... I've still got some of your stuff in the guestroom..." Jack trailed off as he backed out of the bathroom.
Daniel was... stunned, staring after him for a moment. It had been more than a year... and Jack still had... wow. His thoughts returned to their previous musings about the enigma that was Jack O'Neill.
"Daniel..." Jack's voice brought him back a moment later. "You're zoning out again."
Daniel grinned guiltily. "Yeah."
"Look, why don't you fill the tub, and I'll bring you the pizza and a beer, and you can soak while eating?"
Daniel nodded. Bath... sounded so... nice. Especially when Jack bent over to turn on the water... nice...
Jack gave him a small smile as he left to let Daniel undress in private.
Watching the water fill the tub, Daniel managed to remember to turn it off in time and even found a bottle of bubble bath on the shelf above the tub. Sniffling, he smiled. This was the smell he had caught under Jack's usual scent. Daniel frowned. It also explained why it had seemed so familiar. It was the same brand and scent Daniel had used... Oh. Finally moving to get rid of the standard military jump-suit and the rest of the clothes, Daniel slid into the rich, foamy water.
Being ascended had its ups, but God, having a body and soaking it in the tub like this? Priceless.
A low chuckle from the door made Daniel open his eyes again.
"I don't normally make a habit of eating in the bathroom, but you look *so* comfortable..."
Daniel grinned as Jack set a small fold-out table down next to the tub and put a plate with their pizza on it. A beer was held out to Daniel and he accepted it and took a light sip. Then he looked at the label. Wow, one of the few brands Daniel really liked. Foreign beer too. Jack looked like he didn't want to be asked about it, so Daniel didn't. He settled for knowing Jack had bought this for him.
They didn't talk much as Jack slid down to sit on the floor, back propped up against the tub. He didn't even say anything when Daniel's hand strayed to brush lightly against his hair and neck. He seemed to understand that as much as he needed to know Daniel was back, Daniel needed to know it too.
After some time and quite a while after the last pizza slice had disappeared, Jack finally spoke. At first he talked about simple things, in a low and calm voice. What had changed, what had stayed the same at the SGC, short descriptions of places they'd visited, people they'd encountered and Daniel allowed Jack's voice to lull him in a little. Then Jack went silent again. Daniel could feel as Jack moved away for a moment, and when he opened his eyes, he found the other man kneeling next to the tub, arms resting on the edge, chin on his arms, watching Daniel with a mild frown.
"I guess you don't know what you've got till it's gone, huh?"
Daniel swallowed hard, telling himself not to cry. "Missed my bickering, did you?" His own voice raw and low.
"Yeah, no one around here to stand up to me, to tell me to shut up, to whine at me, for me to whine to..." Jack's voice seemed to be in no better state. "No one to make me laugh, to laugh at me, with me..."
Daniel nodded, not trusting his voice anymore. Before he knew it, he was pulled forward into a hug, water sloshing down the side of the tub.
"Guess the glowing guys weren't much fun either?" Jack asked, a low note of hope in his voice.
"Not really," Daniel mumbled, basking in the rare occasion of being allowed this close to Jack. "Not much bite, really. Bunch of verbal push-overs."
"Kicked you out when they couldn't handle you?"
"Always did have a big yap, Spacemonkey..."
Daniel swallowed hard and laughed till his body shook. "When you're right, you're right, Jack." He nuzzled Jack's neck without thinking about it, but the man didn't seem to object. "Jack?"
"Mmm." Jack sounded as if he was light years away.
"You're getting wet."
"Mmm?" Jack slowly pulled back, looking down his front, then laughed as he stood, pulling gently back from Daniel. "Yeah, I'll go change and get you something to wear tonight, I'll be right back." His voice was thick and his eyes were red-rimmed, but Daniel chose to ignore that. Jack had never felt at ease talking about emotions. All in due time.
Daniel lay awake, staring up into the ceiling. It was almost familiar to him, though it wasn't entirely like the one in Jack's bedroom. He had taken his liberties while ascended, he couldn't very well act like a little kid and take his pillow and drag it into Jack's bed, asking if he could... no, definitely not.
Two hours later, Daniel was still staring at the ceiling. Dammit. While ascended, he hadn't needed sleep and even as his body told him he needed it now, somehow the rest wouldn't listen, and thoughts kept whirling through his mind. The thing with the pillow? Looking more and more logical by the minute there.
Before he knew it, he'd opened the door to the hallway and taken a step out into it, coming face to face with Jack.
"I... eh." Jack trailed off, obviously no knowing what to say, how to continue.
"I couldn't sleep," Daniel blurted out, feeling the heat rush to his face, realising that a similar statement had escaped Jack's lips.
Jack gestured vaguely back towards his bedroom. "If you want to... I mean... the bed is big enough..." Jack trailed off.
Daniel dipped his head, but gave a small nod nevertheless. He couldn't turn that offer down, not if he wanted to get some rest. And, it seemed, nor if he wanted Jack to get some rest as well. So Daniel followed when Jack backed into his bedroom, brown eyes never leaving him, as if Jack was afraid he'd disappear if for a moment the man should look away.
Jack watched as Daniel pulled the sheets up over his shoulders before slipping under them himself. They lay like that, for little while and Daniel managed to doze off, until Jack stirring in his sleep roused him a little. Not giving it another thought, he did what he'd done so often through the last year, when he'd kept watch over Jack. He rolled to his side and reached out for the other man. Only this time it earned him an armful of strong, warm skin and muscles, barely covered in a thin Tee and a pair of boxers.
Before Daniel could fully awaken and pull back, realising his mistake, Jack's arms slid around his waist and kept him in place.
"Jack...?" Daniel's voice was barely above a whisper.
"Hush, we'll talk... in the morning, promise..." The words came out in a tired, though contented tone.
Daniel pulled back a little, to try to make out Jack's face in the light from the moon, shining through the window. For a moment they stayed like that, before they drifted towards each other, lips brushing lightly over lips, the kiss being deepened without ever getting too urgent. They had time now.
Something had woken Daniel sometime into the early hours of the morning, but he wasn't quite sure what it had been. He looked to the side where he found Jack sprawled on his belly, one arm possessively draped over Daniel's waist. Daniel wasn't entirely sure if he should cry or smile at it. Settling for the smile, he lay back, looking up, following the shadows on a familiar ceiling.
There was a warm glow somewhere to the right of the window, and it didn't seem to come from the moonlight. Daniel bit his lower lip. It was definitely a very familiar light.
"Oma Desala," he whispered, his voice low enough to let Jack sleep.
"I had to see how you were doing, Daniel... had to see what you wanted so much in this world that you would willingly sacrifice the gift you had been given." The figure of pure light levitated to his side of the bed, a soft, glowing face gazing down at him.
"Impressive, but still, not really reason for you to behave like a petulant child and break the rules."
Daniel bowed his head guiltily. Well, they hadn't listened to him, so he'd just gone ahead and acted on his own. Then he couldn't help the light chuckle escaping him. "It's years of Jack rubbing off on me."
Oma didn't answer him, she simply studied the sleeping figure next to Daniel.
"Besides," Daniel continued, "we're a race driven by curiosity, by a strong sense of wrong and right. We need to believe in doing the right things for the right reasons."
"And if you're wrong?" Oma's attention returned to Daniel.
"Then we learn, and we try to right what has been done wrong."
Jack stirred next to him. "Daniel," he mumbled, voice thick with sleep. "Stop talking to the glow-in-the-dark lady, and come back to sleep."
Daniel rubbed the arm tightening around him. "In a minute, Love."
"..." Jack turned his head and a very sleepy look was cast in Daniel's direction.
"Sorry," Daniel tried to sound as if he was, as he turned to Oma again.
"No you're not," Jack grumbled.
"Honey?" Daniel tried to hide his smile.
"Daniel..." There was a distinctive warning tone in that one spoken name.
Oma smiled and began fading. "No matter what happens or has happened, and for whatever it is worth to you, your unity has my blessing."
Daniel smiled broadly as he lay back down. "Thanks." He slid over to allow Jack to pull him closer.
"Nice of her," Jack mumbled, halfway asleep again.
Daniel snuggled closer. "It was."
"Honey?" Jack inquired sleepily.
"Won't happen again." Daniel nuzzled Jack's neck affectionately.
"'s good, Sweetheart." Jack smiled into Daniel's hair.
Daniel chose to let it go. "Love you, Jack."
"Love you too, Daniel, now let me sleep, I'm an old man, I need my rest."
Daniel grinned in response, but did as he was told. Plenty of time to tease the old man when they got up... at some point, because it wasn't as if they were in a hurry...