Jack listens to the phone ringing 1500 miles away from him and almost chickens out in the few seconds between the click of the phone being picked up and the first hint of answer from the phone's owner.
“Jackson,” Daniel’s voice is still on autopilot; he sounds awake but Jack knows better. And now there's nothing for it but to push on like he knows exactly what he's doing; the same as he's always done when caught in a terrifying situation.
“Daniel! How’s it goin’?”
“Jack?” Jack can hear scraping and shifting in the background, knows Daniel is blindly reaching out for his glasses. “It's four in the morning. Is everything okay?”
“No, it’s not okay. I woke up today with no job, an empty house, and nothing but fruit loops for breakfast. To top it all off, I stupidly sold all of my furniture and slept on the floor last night and my back is killing me," And here Jack stumbles, has to pause to gather all his bravado around him like armor. "So now I’m worried that when you pick me up from the airport in a few hours I won’t be able to properly dip you in that big romantic kiss I’ve been planning pretty much since I realized this retirement might actually stick." There it is: all his cards on the table and it's Daniel's move.
There’s nothing but silence on the other end of the phone, although Jack imagines he can hear the slow, confused blink of Daniel’s eyes. He knows Daniel wants this, knows it like he knows the longing in his own heart, but the pause from Colorado gives him just enough time to doubt, to mentally move to Minnesota instead of home where he belongs before there’s a puff of air like Daniel’s letting out a breath he’s been holding for more than a decade.
And then Daniel laughs more air than sound, but full of joy. “Don’t worry, baby. I’ll dip you.”