The sound of his name floating on the breeze stopped him dead in his tracks. Was it her voice? It sounded like her voice. Before he could stop himself, he could feel the hope surging back and hated how it made him feel. Maybe this was it, the place where he would finally find her. He felt his heart betray him, set him up to be hurt again when he came face to face with the fact that she was still lost to him. Maybe he only thought he heard her calling him. It wouldn’t be the first time.
He was exhausted after having walked straight through the night. It was past mid-day now. His head was pounding and his knee was killing him. He had been to three other villages in the last week only to be sent on to the next one. He didn’t want to think about the long lonely journey back to this planet’s Stargate when he didn’t find her. He kept telling himself that this village could be the one and if not this one, then the next one for sure. He didn’t even believe the lie anymore but it had stopped him from thinking of how long it had been and how big the universe really was. It stopped him from giving up on the only thing he still dared to want and that was to maybe one day die in her arms.
“Jonathon James O’Neill! I know you can hear me!”
He hadn’t been hallucinating – someone was calling his name, his full given name. But how could that be? The only person who ever called him in that tone of voice was his mother and he was light years from Earth where she had passed away too many years ago. He continued walking in the direction he thought he heard the voice come from, as a familiar fear settled coldly into his heart. Maybe his last wish hadn’t been granted and he was already dead, or maybe this was that dream he kept having and it would heartbreaking end before he could make it to her. He fought against the lump rising in his throat as he picked up speed. He would know soon one way or another as he saw the path bend round the stream towards what looked to be a cluster of small farms in the distance. Ignoring the screaming pain in his knee, he pressed on.
She shielded her eyes with her hand against the brightening sun as she moved determinedly towards the tree line at the edge of the field. He had been out all morning, grabbing a piece of fruit and some bread before dawn to meet up with the others for some adventure they had dreamed up the night before. He met her protests with an apologetic promise to be home before the mid-day meal. A big bear hug from him nearly lifted her off the ground before he raced out of the house. She tried not to smile as she thought of how strong he had become, the strength from hard work adding to the height he had acquired in the last year. It seemed that before her eyes he had grown from the sweet laughing little boy who had brought her so much joy and comfort in her exile, to the tall, handsome young man who walked with the confidence of years beyond his own. A natural leader, she thought proudly, so much like his father that it was sometimes heartbreaking to watch him.
It was because he was so much like his father that she worried so. He was the first to step forward, the first to volunteer whenever a call went out. Many times, when he was not too much younger than he was now, she had to drag him protesting away from some group of older men setting out to do one dangerous thing or the other. It embarrassed him, she knew, but she couldn’t help herself as the fear that she could lose him too welled up in her heart. There were tantrums and bitter arguments between them which threatened to fracture their relationship until his uncle pulled him aside and explained about her past life. His uncle spoke to him about the man who was his father and about what she had endured in losing him. He had come home subdued, with tears in his eyes and a heartfelt promise to be more obedient and mindful of her feelings. He kept the promise – for the most part.
The same person had also pulled her aside and gently chastised her for holding on too tight. He was his father’s son, he had told her, and as such would be the man his father had been. It was in his blood, in his very soul to be the leader, to be the first to step up. To try to deny that would only bring them both much pain and sorrow. If she did not loosen her hold, he would break from it and the riff would be unbearable. To keep him, she had to let him go. With many tears and many sleepless nights she tried her best to give him the space he needed. They had slowly achieved a balance between them and their relationship as mother and son had grown and deepened into friendship.
She called him once again, using his full given name knowing that if he was within the sound of her voice, it would bring him back at a run. She rarely called him that preferring to reserve it for when she really meant business which she did now, an hour past the mid-day meal. There was work which needed to be done today if they were to join the group traveling south to the seaport at the end of the week. She waited a few minutes longer, and when there was no sign of him she turned in exasperation to head back to the house hoping against hope he’d doubled back to meet her there.
Cautiously approaching the front of the house, Jack moved slowly forward, his senses on high alert. He knocked softly on the front door. Getting no answer, he pushed against the door and finding it unlocked, slipped inside, quickly shutting the door behind him. He relaxed against it, letting out the breath he had been holding. He’d made it back before his mother, having circled through the grove behind her and beating it back to the house at high speed. He had lost track of time – again- and it wasn’t until he heard her calling for him did he realize how late he was. Pushing himself away from the door, he moved to quickly grab one of the sandwiches she made for him before heading out to finish the tasks she had given him the day before. He really wanted to go with her and his uncle on the upcoming trip to the seaport. If he worked fast he could maybe avoided a fuss when she saw he was trying hard to make up the time.
Jack shoved a piece a fruit into his pocket for later and moved to head out the back way when he saw his mother coming towards the house from that direction looking none too happy. He turned to head back out the front door and ran straight into his uncle who had just raised his hand to knock. As the older man straightened up from being almost knocked down, Jack could see he was also looking highly agitated. He must have been looking for him too. Jack opened his mouth to explain, plead and beg that he not be left behind but his uncle abruptly cut him off.
“Where’s your mother?” he asked his face grim. Jack had never seen his uncle is such a state. He realized suddenly that this wasn’t about him. Something had happened.
“She’s in the back,” Jack said. “Why? What’s going on – what’s wrong?’
“Wrong? Well – nothing, exactly wrong – just. Something’s...happened.” His uncle answered hesitantly. His blue eyes met Jack’s brown worried ones as he reached out to take the younger man gently by the shoulders. “I don’t have much time to explain but you’re going to have to be strong, Jack – really strong. It’s going to be – well, it’s going to be..." His voice trailed off as his eyes traveled over toward the road. It was then Jack saw there was someone standing just inside the gate.
“What’s going on?" The young man asked his uncle suddenly afraid. “Who’s that?”
Before Jack could get his answer, his mother was behind him.
“Wait just one minute, young man, if you so much as move to leave – oh, hey Daniel…” She switched gears catching sight of the older man in the door. “What’s – what’s going on?” she asked seeing the strange looks on their faces as they turned towards her.
As his uncle released him to move into the house with his mother, Jack turned back towards the man who was now moving forward. Defiantly, Jack moved to stop him from coming any closer before he got some answers as to who he was and why he was there. He had only taken a few steps towards the man before he heard his mother cry out from inside the house. It was a piercing sound, something Jack had never heard before and it sent a chill through him. In the moment before he turned back to the house the man had moved close enough to Jack so that he was able to see the haunted, anguished look in his dark brown eyes. Their gazes held for a split second before the older man’s eyes moved past him to where his mother had appeared in the doorway, her eyes wide with shock and disbelief. He heard the man speak for the first time in a whisper so raw, so open, and so full of emotion that it took Jack a moment before he realized what he heard him say.
Jack had never heard his mother’s name spoken with such longing, such hunger and it upset and angered him to hear this man speak it in that way. His first thought was to haul off and knock the man square on his ass but before thought gave way to action, his mother ran past him and into the man’s arms. He took a step back in bewilderment as his mother – his mother - began to return the man’s hungry kisses, crying and laughing at the same time.
“Jack, oh my God, Jack…Jack.”
She kept saying it over and over again in a way that a mother should never say her son’s name. Except, a stunned Jack realized, it wasn’t his name she was saying. Not taking his eyes off of the crying, kissing couple in front of him, Jack stumbled over to where his uncle stood in the doorway trying in vain to wipe away the tears filling his own eyes.
“Is that...is he...” He couldn’t get the words out past the growing lump in his throat.
“Yes, that’s him.” Daniel Jackson nodded with a trembling smile, putting an arm around the bewildered young man’s shoulders.
“That’s Jack O’Neill. Your father.”
So this was the man that his mother saw when she looked at him and said with a special smile, "You look just like your father." Whenever he had seen that smile on her face or caught a certain faraway look in her eyes, this was the man she was thinking of.
Young Jack sat awkwardly next to his Uncle Daniel across the table from his father as his mother busied herself in the kitchen. It was what she always did to calm herself – cooking something, feeding somebody, usually, him. It was amazing to him that he didn't weigh a humongous amount although his uncle had grumbled about picking up a few pounds lately. The older man had smiled at him briefly as he joined them at the table, acknowledging his open scrutiny, but the deep brown eyes that matched his own returned to following his mother as she moved about the room.
His father sat quietly as his uncle explained how the older Jack had been directed to his home when he found his way into the village and what a shock it was to the both of them when Daniel answered the door. It was young Jack's first opportunity to get a good look at him and it was unnerving as he recognized an older version of himself. To finally see those aspects of his face that he didn't find reflected in his mom's or his Uncle Daniel's was disconcerting. They had the same type of build, tall, muscular but slim. He could see his father didn't have an ounce of fat on him while young Jack still carried the fullness of his adolescent years. There was a shadow of the color of his own hair amidst the shoulder length silver grey, more so in the salt and pepper of the beard. He carefully studied the older man's hands as he pulled off the ragged fingerless gloves and loosely clasped them in front of him on the table. Glancing down at the table, he saw that they both held their hands in the same way, loosely in front of them as if ready to move quickly. Young Jack slowly spread his hands wide on the table looking at them as if he hadn't seen them before. They were his father's hands. The only difference was on his hands were a few less scars and on his father's left hand there was a band of brilliant gold.
His mother leaned over from behind him, one hand resting lightly on his shoulder as she placed a dish on the table in front of him. He felt her freeze and knew she had caught sight of the ring on his father's hand. His uncle who had been chattering on, trying to fill the silence went still. Jack watched his father's face as he watched his mother as she stood staring at the ring. His mother's grip on his shoulder tightened.
"I never once took it off," his father whispered to her. "Not once in over 15 years."
He saw his father's hand reach out to gently clasp his mother's across the table as she broke down and began to weep again. He guided her gently from around the small table to pull down into his arms. This time her tears were quiet, sorrowful and his father held her tight against him, his face buried in her hair as he slowly began to gently rock her. Young Jack felt a lump rise up in his throat as he watched them, just beginning to understand what they must have endured, and the private pain his mother must have carried in silence for so long.
He stood up as he felt his uncle's hand on his shoulder and was grateful for its steadying guidance as he was lead from the room, blinded by his own tears.
Daniel Jackson watched patiently as Jack Jr. (he’d been calling him that in his mind all day) continued to pace absently around his workroom. It doubled as a classroom and most afternoons at this time, Jack Jr. would be here studying until the evening meal. There would be no studying done today but it was the only place Daniel could think of to bring the young man so his father and mother could have some time alone together.
Daniel spoke quietly as the young man began to fiddle with one the few rare artifacts he had been able to bring from Earth all those years ago. Annoyed, Jack Jr. put the piece down understanding his uncle’s tone of voice. He knew it by heart having heard it ever since he was a baby. He sighed heavily and slouched down into a nearby chair looking gloomy. Daniel couldn’t help but smile.
“What?” the youth snapped upon seeing the smile.
Daniel shook his head and his smile widened. He knew the last thing his nephew would want to hear was how much he looked and acted like his father. The thought brought back a flood of bittersweet memories of crowded labs, meetings in briefing rooms and cake in cafeterias from another life.
“Just thinking,” Daniel answered. “About what you must be thinking, feeling...”
Jack Jr. shrugged. “I don’t know,” he mumbled.
“You don’t know what you’re feeling or what you’re thinking?” Daniel prodded gently.
“Both,” came the dejected answer. “I mean, I thought he was…you know, dead.”
“I know your mom never told you that,” Daniel replied, “And I’m sure I never did.”
“I figured she…she couldn’t,” Jack Jr. said quietly. “Like it would hurt her too much to say it out loud.” He looked over at his uncle. “I figured you just didn’t want to talk about it. Whenever he was mentioned you got this…look on your face. I thought maybe he died in that war you told me about.”
Daniel nodded sighing. “It had crossed my mind a couple of times,” he admitted. “But with your father…” A smile began to play at Daniel’s lips again. “With your father, being dead isn’t exactly the absolute we think it is.” He shook his head against the younger man’ quizzical glance. “Uhm – long story – later.” He leaned back in his chair. “What else?”
Jack Jr. sat thinking for a moment. “If he hasn’t been dead, then where’s he been all of this time?” he asked. “What’s he been doing?” And why hasn’t he been here with us? was the unspoken question Daniel heard in the young man’s voice.
Daniel frowned. “I’m not sure myself. We didn’t have a lot of time to talk before I brought him over to your house. I’m sure he’ll tell us after he’s settled in.”
“Settled in? So he’s staying ...here.” Jack Jr. said. “He’s gong to – what – move into our house?”
“I would assume so,” Daniel answered gently. “He is your father and your mother’s husband. Where did you think he would stay?”
Jack Jr. hadn’t thought that through and wasn’t sure how he felt about it. How would he feel about a perfect stranger, father or not, just moving into his home? “Well,” he said slowly,” I guess I thought that being he’s your brother, he would stay – wait a minute…“
Jack Jr. sat forward suddenly, frowning as he began studying Daniel’s face as if something had just occurred to him. “You’re my uncle, but my mother’s not your sister. If you two are brothers, how come he doesn’t look anything like you?”
Caught off guard, all Daniel could think of to say was, “Ah…well….”
“Another long story?’ The young man spoke with an eerily familiar sarcasm.
“Ye-ah…” Daniel replied slowly.
“Uh – huh.” In one fluid motion Jack Jr. swung himself out of the chair and was heading towards the door.
“Where are you going?” Daniel called after him.
“To talk to my father,” the young man threw over his shoulder. “…And to get some answers and to hear some of those very long stories.”
“Just – no, wait. Jack!” The only answer was the loud slam of the door.
As he hurried to follow his young charge, Daniel reflected in exasperation on how many times in another life he had said those exact same words to another Jack O’Neill.
The house was left silent as Dana’s sobs subsided and she and Jack sat holding each other. There were so many things both of them wanted to say but too many words to know where to start.
Dana reached up and gently brushed her fingers over Jack’s cheek feeling the roughness of his beard against her fingers. She smiled, remembering how he used to tickle her awake with the stubble of his unshaven face in the morning.
“When did you do this?” She asked softly.
Jack smiled. “Oh, I guess about...ten, twelve years ago.” He answered. “About the same time I started to let the hair grow. It was easier to maintain after I left Earth, and it gave me a measure of camouflage.”
“Really?” Dana said smiling. “I would have known you anywhere, even with the beard and the longer hair.” Her hand slipped around to the back of his neck where she ran her fingers gently through the hair at the nape of his neck. She felt him shiver slightly at her touch and a familiar look took fire in his eyes, a look of desire with both excited but also surprisingly frightened her. When the arm that Jack held her with tightened around her waist, Dana pulled away without thinking startling both Jack and herself. The look in his eyes changed from one of desire to distress.
“I’m sorry,” he apologized coming to his feet. “I…I shouldn’t have…”
“No, no, I’m sorry,” Dana cut him off quickly. She caught his arm as he stood and turned to walk away from her. “I was just …startled, that’s all.”
Jack shook his head, unhappily. “I presumed…I didn’t have the right –“
“Didn’t have the right?” Dana repeated, upset. “Jack…you’re my husband. You have every right. It was just ….it’s been so long….” Her voice caught as she swallowed back the tears. “I’m not used to…there hasn’t been…”
Jack looked down into Dana’s eyes that pleaded with him for understanding. Of course, he had startled her. They had been apart for 15 years. She still loved him, he knew that but in many ways, they were strangers to each other. She had to get to know him all over again. They had to get to know each other.
Sighing, Jack reached out and gently pulled Dana back into his arms.
“I know,” he whispered as he buried his face in her hair. “We need to give it some time. I’ve already decided to stay with Daniel.”
Dana lifted her face to protest, but Jack shook his head kissing her gently on the forehead. “Trust me on this, Dana,” he said firmly. “I’m going to stay with Daniel. Just a few days for both you and …”he paused “…you call him Jack, too?”
Dana smiled through her unshed tears. “Yes. He’s Jonathan James O’Neill, II.” She said proudly. “When he was little, I called him JJ, but the older he got, the more like you he became until I couldn’t call him anything but Jack.”
“Well, that’s going to be interesting,” Jack said a smile playing against his lips. “Two Jacks. I guess we’ll both come running when you call.”
Dana laughed, a sound which brightened Jack’s heart. “Well, you might come running but he’s a teenage boy. When was the last time you saw a teenage boy come running when his mother called?”
Jack smiled broadly, glad to feel the tension between them easing. “You’re right about that,” he said. “I never used to come when my mother called me especially when she used my whole…” Jack stopped abruptly. “You were calling him this morning, weren’t you? Farther up the road, towards the far end of the stream?”
Dana looked surprised. “Yes, I was near there. How did you know?”
“I was on that road heading here,” Jack told her. “I just barely heard you.” He laughed ruefully, “I thought I was loosing it. It sounded just like my mother when she used to call me.”
Dana shivered at the thought. “You were that close.” she whispered. Jack nodded.
“In fact, I walked right past this house heading for town.” He explained. “I’ve learned not to go knocking on doors before I get the lay of the land. The town center is usually the best place to go for information.”
Dana moved out of his arms and back into the kitchen, indicating that Jack should take his seat back at the table. Setting a platter of cooked vegetables and meat on the table, Dana shook her head in wonder as she took a seat across from him. “How in the universe did you find us, Jack?” she asked pushing the hot food towards him. “How did you even know where to start looking?”
Jack picked up her fork and took a bite of the food as he thought back to the day which marked the beginning of his journey. He smiled at Dana softly. “I just followed the yellow brick road.”
“Ok, you and Teal’c are starting to creep me out about this Wizard of Oz ritual TV watching thing that you’ve got going on,” Dana muttered as she continued to fold the towels she had just taken out of the dryer. “Why don’t you just rent the DVD and watch it uncut instead of waiting for it to come on broadcast TV?”
“Because it’s not the same,” Jack said simply as if it explained it all. He sat down on the edge of the bed, and picked up a towel from the still warm pile and began to fold it. It was Saturday afternoon at the O’Neill household and laundry day.
“What do you mean – it’s exactly the same without the commercials,” Dana said in exasperation removing the towel that Jack had just added to the stack of folded towels and refolding it. Jack took no offense, just picked up another towel and began to fold it.
“It’s about the anticipation,” Jack explained as he watched with amusement as Dana refolded that towel as well. “It about the build up to the actual experience, it’s …it’s foreplay.”
Dana gave an unladylike snort. “How is it that you can connect every subject in the world back to sex and / or the Wizard of OZ?’ she asked as she took the towel Jack picked up out of his hand before he could fold it. Instead of picking up another one, Jack laid down across the bed to watch Dana continue with the folding.
“It’s a gift,” He replied stretching lazily.
“Uh – no,” Dana said dryly. “It’s weird.”
“What? You don’t think Dorothy is hot in those cut little white bobby socks and – “
“Ok, that’s way too much information for me,” Dana finished folding the towels and picked up the stack to take it to the linen closet. “Especially the thought of you and Teal’c discussing it.” He voice carried from the hallway back to Jack who had stretched out more fully over the whole of the bed. “The two of you lusting over Dorothy Gale is not a picture I ever wanted in my mind.”
“Hey, Teal’c brought it up first – “
Jack laughed as Dana came back into the bedroom and dumped a basket of loose socks and unfolded underwear on top of him. “Make yourself useful,” she said. “And change the subject, please. I am sick to death of hearing about the Wizard of Oz.””
“Hey, in this house we respect the WIZ.” Jack said with mock sternness as he began to pick through the pile looking for matching pairs.
“Oh, please,” Dana said condescendingly.
The ringing of the doorbell cut short Jack’s reply. “He’s early,” Dana sighed.
“Hey, it could be anybody.” Jack protested as the door bell rang again. He reached for his cell phone that had just begun to ring. “What makes you think it’s him?”
“Because he’s always early,” Dana called over her shoulder as she headed barefooted down the hallway to the front of the door. “I’ll get it.”
Confident it was the big Jaffa that she had come to think of fondly as a brother, Dana opened the front door without checking.
“Welcome to Oz, my ….” Dana stopped in mid-sentence startled as a fully armed Airman moved pushed his way into the house pulling her away from the door followed by two more, guns at the ready.
“Excuse me ma’am,” The airman said formally his eyes everywhere in the house but on her. “We’ve been ordered by General Hammond –“ He didn’t get a chance to finish as Jack came tearing from the back of the house, his cell phone in one hand and the gun he kept in the table by his side of the bed in the other. The look of shock and grimness on his face told Dana that something was horribly wrong.
Reaching out as the airman stepped aside, Jack pulled Dana to him in a quick embrace and whispered in her ear, “Shoes. Now.” The look on his face as his eyes met hers silenced Dana’s questions as he continued listening on the phone. Suddenly fearful, Dana moved quickly back down the hall to the bedroom past her tennis shoes which she had left lying haphazardly by the bed and brought out a pair of the sturdiest walking shoes she had. They had talked about this before. No matter what, when the situation was dangerous, when Jack told her to move, Dana would move without question and do whatever he asked her to do. An airman had followed right behind her, sent by a sharp hand motion from Jack to guard her. Forcing herself to ignore the panic his presence stirred in her, Dana willed herself to calm as she reached farther back in the closet for a large packed knapsack that sat next to the empty spot where the shoes had been. She pulled it out and the airman once again stepped back as Jack hurried into the room to take it out of her shaking hands, tossing it to the airman who had followed him. He also reached in the closet and pressed her warmest jacket into her arms.
“We’re leaving now,” she heard Jack say as the phone click shut. He gave another sharp signal to the airman at the door who immediately turned to lead the way, his weapon raised. He turned back to Dana who had moved quickly to the bedside table to pick up her wedding bands that lay in the small pink ceramic rose shaped dish that Jack had bought her on their honeymoon. As she slipped the rings on her finger Dana looked up at Jack, seeking answers and comfort in the eyes of the man whom she loved and trusted beyond reason. He held out his hand in silence, his eyes asking her to trust him just one more time. Without hesitation or a glance back Dana took Jack’s hand and followed him out of their bedroom into the unknown future.
“Teal’c…” Dana whispering the name of their friend brought Jack's thoughts back to the present. Jack could hear not only deep affection but deep pain in her voice. She raised a sad gaze to meet his. “You know?”
Jack nodded his head, setting down his fork, no longer hungry. “Daniel told me,” he said flatly. “I knew some of it but not the details.”
Dana sighed. “It’s been years, but I still miss him.” She said simply.
“So do I.”
They sat in brooding silence for a while then Dana said quietly, “For a while, we tried to track as many from home – Earth - and our allies as we could.” She sighed deeply. “We lost track of so many. Every one at the alpha sites just…scattered. After a while we realized that there were so many who wanted to cut all ties with anyone or anything from Earth.”
“They were afraid,” Jack said. “Afraid of being tracked, captured and killed.” He paused. “Or worse.”
“Worse.” Dana repeated shuddering involuntarily remembering what worse could be like from her own experiences. “God…” She covered her face with her hands shaking her head as if to clear it. “It was all like a nightmare – terrible, horrible - but it was real. All of it.”
“Yes,” Jack said quietly. “All real.”
Dana looked up hearing the haunted tone in Jack’s voice and seeing the torment in his eyes. “It must have been unthinkable for you,” she said reaching for his hand across the table. “You stayed behind. You saw it with your own eyes.”
“Yes,” Jack said again. “I saw the end of the world. I saw the world I loved and swore to defend with my life die in front of my eyes. But that wasn’t the worst part.”
Dana didn’t ask the questions that her eyes held. She sat silently holding tightly to Jack’s hand and waited. Jack swallowed hard before speaking again.
“The worst was seeing with my own eyes the destruction of both the Alpha and the Beta sites,” he whispered. “It was weeks later, when we finally we able to get through to the other gate at Area 51. We finally got it up and running and stepped through to the Alpha site we saw …” Jack paused and swallowed hard again. “- we saw the remains of all of those human bodies burnt beyond recognition and I didn’t know – I didn’t know if you were one of them -”
Jack got up abruptly and walked away from the table. Dana followed as he walked out the door into the moonlight, his back to her, his face raised to the sky. Dana slipped her arms around Jack’s waist and laid her face against his back. She could feel his heart beating hard and she tightened her hold as if to anchor him in the present as he relived the memories of that horrible day from over fifteen years ago.
Jack spoke after a moment, his voice coarse with emotion. “It was so quiet there – as if every kind of life had been wiped out. All I could hear was you begging me, pleading with me not to send you away. It was even worse when we got to the Beta site. There was an auto message which let us know that a few had gotten out, but it didn’t say who. It was the not knowing if I had sent you to your death that was so terrible.”
Jack turned to face Dana his eyes filled with deep regret and self-recrimination. “Forgive me.” he said taking her by the shoulders and looking deep into her eyes. “No matter what, I should have kept you with me. I had promised you we would never be separated but after Janet told me about the baby….” Jack’s voice broke completely as he gave voice to the deep fear he had held for so long. “I broke my promise to you because I was afraid I couldn’t keep you and the baby safe.”
“Oh Jack,” Dana buried her face in his neck. “I’m so sorry – I should have been the one to tell you.” She choked back a strangled bitter laugh. “It was so silly – I was waiting until the right moment.” Dana began to weep heavily. “When we got to the Alpha site and I opened the cigar box you had sent through with the airman - the pictures …and Charlie’s glove, your name tags and your general’s stars attached to the Air Force patch.” Dana shook her head. “And the note that said, ‘For our son.’ I felt so…so…ashamed. Like I had cheated you of that moment. I still do. ”
“No, baby, no,” Jack insisted tenderly. “That’s not what I wanted. All I wanted to do was to let you know that I knew. I thought it would make it easier for you.” He lifted her face so he could look in her eyes. “I had so little time when the mountain was breached. I wanted to give you something to would let you know how much you carrying my child meant to me.”
Dana was shivering in the night air. “I…I thought I’d never see you again….thought you were saying good-bye.”
“Not goodbye,” Jack whispered pulling her closer. “Not then, not now, not ever. You are my life, Dana. The reason I live is because of you. No matter what happens, no matter what separates us, I will never stop trying to my way back to you. I will always find you no matter how far I have to go, no matter how long it takes.”
As Jack’s lips captured Dana’s in a deep crushing kiss, his earlier resolve to take it slow was swept away under the built-up passion of years of separation, of longing denied and love deprived. Dana returned his kiss hungrily, her earlier reticence vanishing under the power of a love she thought she’d never feel again in the arms of the man she feared would never hold her again.
As the long banked fire of their love flared back into flame, Dana broke the kiss just long enough to take Jack by the hand and lead him back into the house. She had barely enough time to bolt the door before he flattened her against it, his body pressing urgently against hers as his mouth found hers again. As each fevered kiss blended intoxicating into the next, Jack gave way just long enough to allow Dana to guide him into the warm darkness of the room where she had slept for too many nights alone. Their bodies intertwined hungrily, the famine of so many lost nights of passion overwhelming them. The pain and heartache they had endured was burned away as Jack and Dana resurrected their love, their passion and their lives in each other’s tear-filled embrace.