Right After the Cab Ride
"Daniel, you are too much. I wouldn't be this nice to someone who just threw up in my car." Jack takes off his shoes and leaves them in the middle of the floor.
"Jack that wasn'th my car, tha-th was the cab-th, and yes you would." I pick up his shoes. "As a matter of fact, you'dth be even worse, if it was me. Bethides you managed to get most of it on yourself." I lead him directly to the shower and start the water.
"You're probably right, on both accounts."
"Take off those clothes and I'll throw them in the warsth, while you get cleaned up."
I step to the hall closet and grab a t-shirt, a pair of Dockers and a towel. Jack comes by for a post mission every so often, so I always have some of his clothes around. I make a point to NOT watch him. Even in the locker room I always wait for him to get most of the way done before I even start. I know all too well what would happen to me, much less what I would do if we both were naked at the same time even when we both are not drunk off our asses. I should never have agreed to that stupid, 'Just a little drinking game,' I sing-song, "Me-ASS."
I try to keep my mind from wondering about Jack and the locker room on base, but it seems the blood has already caught my mind in the undertow on its way straight down.
I step back in to bathroom and sit the clothes on the sink.
"Here," Jack says.
Here what? I think. And I look up.
What a mistake...
What a big fucking, totally gorgeous mistake...
GOD, I WANT HIM.
"HERE." Jack says.
What did he just say??? He couldn't mean??? He shoves the clothes towards me, oh yeah. "Yes, right, your clothes." I push my glasses up on my face even though they weren't falling and grab the pro-offered clothes. I had to get something in between me and the sight of him before I did something other than stare.
Jack looks at me in a curious way and then steps into the shower. I watch him through the textured glass. Wet water coursing down a totally wet, absolutely hot body. I watch him get the soap out, rubbing his nice slick hands all over himself.
"Daniel, could you come here?"
I walk over to the shower transfixed on the man that said my name.
Jack pokes his head out. He looks at me, and then smiles in what appears to be shock and says, "Enjoying the floor show?"
I snap to. I run out of there and shut the door. I grab the detergent and carry them to the washer and dryer secreted in a faux pantry in the behind kitchen.
'God, could I have been any more stupid? Yeah, and the winner of the Moron of the Year Award... goes to Dr. Daniel Jackson. '
'Were you under fucking nishta or something? God he must be totally mortified.'
I dump some laundry soap and some fabric softener in the washer and then throw in his clothes. I hear a thud as his clothes hit the bottom of the washer.
"Shit," I pull his pants out and get his wallet and change out of the pockets, then put them back in and start the machine.
I open his wallet.... to... to check for water damage, right Dr. Jackson, and maybe this is all a happy dream and I'll wake up in a ditch somewhere...
There's a picture of Jack and Charlie: Thank God, no water. I would have had to shoot myself.
Then, oh yeah, I remember that day. Jack and I took Teal'c the amusement park. I convinced Teal'c to ride the roller coaster with me, Jack sat out. He must have bought this picture while he was waiting. I look so totally stupid, my longer hair flying back as we go down that final hill, Teal'c looks.... well....no different than he normally does, save that ridiculous do-rag.
I flip to the next one - Sam and I in the lab. Cassie took this picture with the camera Jack bought her after the Jolinar incident. Cassie must have given him this picture.
And... Oh God, the Jell-O wrestling. I blush. I was thrown for such a loop when Teal'c called. I just had to say yes. Then they had amateur matches and Jack volunteered me. I was in the middle of fighting some other audience member. Quite an unflattering picture actually, My shirt was half torn off and soaked with warm green Jell-O. I do have to say that the opponent was not a good fighter but now that I see us side by side, I guess I had a little more in the muscle department. 'Why on Earth would Jack want a picture of me like this?'
I flip to the next, me and Janet, and the next, just me....me...me...me and Jack.
All of the pictures have me in them, save the first.
"Are you just now figuring it out?"
Crap, Jack's behind me. What should I do? I close his wallet and stare at the smooth leather. "I didn't know."
"Neither did I."
"For being such a headcase."
He comes up to me and places his finger on my chin. I allow him to turn my head to face him. He's wearing the clothes I brought to him, but they're soaked. He must have not even bothered to dry off before putting them on and coming out right after me.
He kisses me. Very slowly, tentatively, almost fearfully. I arch my neck up into him, and allow him full access to me. He takes all I offer. My knees go weak and I fall back against the washer. He steps up against me and places his arms around me. I'm firmly squashed between a washer and Jack's hard on and there's nowhere else I'd rather be.
He tastes of mouthwash and tequila. My brain starts to say something but my body tells my heart to ignore my brain. I force my thoughts down as I slowly begin to explore his mouth. I have dreamt of this for so long. I cherish the realization that my dreams pale in comparison to the real thing. "Jack,... " I moan against his mouth... It's a request.
Jack laughs a little as he pulls away from me, "Daniel, as fun as it sounds to make love to you on a washer there's a big double bed a few steps away with our names on it." He turned and motioned for me to follow.
I don't get two steps before my internal warning bells go off.
"Jack, you're still drunk."
"Yeah, so are you." comes his reply.
"Don't you think we shouldn't do this until we're both sober?"
"Why?" he says and kisses me again. His hands cradle my face as his fingers trace my jaw line. His light touch on the soft spot behind my ear starts to melt my resolve. "Come on, Daniel, I love you. Don't you know that?"
Warning bell #2. Jack wouldn't confuse lust for love.
I pull his hands down and hold them. "No, Jack. I think we should wait."
"For what? Don't you want me? Or am I totally misreading the whole shower thing?"
"Oh God, of course I want you, I just don't think..."
"That's right, Daniel, don't think..."
I start to say something, but Jack jumps me.
I'm now lying on my back; thank God we landed on the couch rather than the floor. He's on top of me and still kissing me. His hard cock is pressing into my thigh and making me harder as I think about it. How could I have not known about Jack and his feelings? I break the kiss to look in to his eyes. He looks back at me with love. For the first time he senses my reluctance and starts to sit up.
"Daniel, if you want to wait, that would be fine, it's just that I've just waited so long..."
He flashes me a quick smile and I remember all the reasons I fell in love with him in the first place.
"I guess a little more wouldn't kill....mmphhh."
I pull him back down on top of me and stick my tongue down his throat. 'Yeah, Jack, I don't feel like waiting anymore, either...'
He gets the idea as I pull his shirt over his head, then he follows my lead in a much more enthusiastic way..
My clothes fly off of me and across the room. I'm totally being ravished by a psychotic Colonel, my own personal crazy Colonel Jack,... MY JACK. I close my eyes and lean my head back as I let the epiphany sink in. His hands are cool on my heated skin, they are very careful, almost fearful. Jack finishes with my clothes and stops to look at me. His hands start to shake as they touch my skin and then they freeze. My GOD, the lust that's pouring out of his eyes. I feel like I'm drowning in it. He won't go any further on his own. I stand up and pull him to his feet for the first kiss of the evening where we stood on even ground.
"Jack?" I say as we come up for air. "Didn't you mention a great big double bed a little while ago?"
My aching head. Oh GOD my head. I now remember why I don't drink. I sit-up and try to find my glasses and open my eyes. The sheets are crumpled on the other side of the bed, "Oh fuck..., I don't remember even flirting with a anyone last night. This is not good." I squint again looking around the room. When has the light in my room been so bright? I don't even remember the Abydonian sun being this bright. I put my feet on the floor. My aching head. Come on Daniel, left foot, right foot. I put weight on my right leg and collapse with the pain. 'Yeah damn I forgot.' I look down at my most recent battle wound. 'Damn, the stitches are bleeding. Janet's not gonna like this.' I pull my robe off the headboard and wrap it around me. I have to shut those blinds. Shoes. Those aren't my shoes. Almost there. Yes here now, how do you work these things again? Ouch. Crap. Damn desk.
"Shit!" Right on the foot. So much for that plan.. Must make lights go out. I try to step on the desk...
I'm on my back looking at the ceiling. Someone's in the doorway, can't see. They're coming closer. "Daniel are you Okay???"
It's? .... Jack? .... Now I remember. Mmm, yes, I remember now, very good. One of my hands is on my head shielding my eyes from the offensive light source. "Jack, thank GOD it's you." I raise the other hand to point at the window. "Would you please turn off the Sun for me? My eyes..."
"The fucking sun is still on, god damn it. Must get it to turn off." I start to move and I call out in anguish as my whole body is rocked with pain. I wonder if I wish hard enough if the lights will go off...
Wow! They did, oh wait that was Jack. You know you are my savior, don't you? I start to sit-up but he stops me. He gives me something. He says it'll help. OK, Jack. You've never steered me wrong. I lay my head on his lap, it feels so warm and comfortable. I can almost feel my aches going away. I start to drift off to sleep.
Cold.. I'm cold...Where's my big blanket? I sit up and reflexively hold my head. Ahhhh, My previously throbbing head has settled down to a dull ache... Last thing I remember... Oh God I didn't... Please tell me I didn't, let this be some horrible dream.
Nope, I remember now... I did... Shit, shit, shit, Good one Daniel. A perfect way to come on to Mr. Straight As An Arrow Colonel Jack O' Neill. "Look at me I'm sooo Drunk." Goddamnit. He'll never believe you were serious about last night. He's probably going to run from you now. What were you thinking? I'm going to need another freaking stargate to get me out of this hole I'm in. Calm down... breathe... This can't be all that bad. I sit-up and look around. He's cleaned up the place removed all of his stuff from this room. Crap, he even changed the sheets. He must not be able to deal with what we did last night.
It's another one of my curses. I've never understood how other people can go out and do stupid things when they are drunk, but most people aren't blessed with a memory like mine. I don't go out to get drunk often only 'cause I have a tendency to end up with nasty hangovers and perfect recall. I remember it all, the shower, the laundry, the couch, oh god the couch, but he was drunk, it was not really him, he didn't want this... God why for once in my little life can't I have a relationship that doesn't get screwed up? 'Cause, well, of course, it's me, we're talking about.
I roll over and stare at the wall. There are two very deep impressions in the wall. I remember... God
I loved the look on his face when I lured him in here and pushed him down on the bed. The look was surprise, disbelief, ....eagerness?.?.?... of course he was freaking eager... you were in the process of giving him a blow job. He is a guy. What guy doesn't look eager at that? Calm down. He was just as drunk as I. How much can he remember? Well those marks are from when you picked his shoes off the bed and threw them against the wall. At least I'll have those to remember last night. He'll probably never want to be alone with me again.
Crap. He'll never be able to be with me.
"I'll fix those."
I roll back over to look at him. Shit, he does remember. "No, don't worry about it."
His eyes betray such fear and regret. He didn't want you, Daniel. You're just going to have to accept that. God how could he have been that convincing then? Damn, just thinking about how he screamed my name over and over again... it gets me hard just thinking about it.
"If you just want to forget that last night ever happened..." I stumble and almost choke on the words, "that would be alright." I hope I don't sound as pitiful as I feel.
He stares at me, he has such a 'How could you do this to me?' face. He breaks eye contact and backs away to where he is almost out the door again. "How in the world did I know you were going to say something like that?"
"I'm sorry." I say, "I'm really and truly sorry. I know this makes you look at yourself differently."
"You damn right I look at myself differently. I should go turn myself in right now."
'Turn your self in?' One act doesn't make you gay. Besides what about the 'don't ask don't tell' crap? Are you really that adamant about gays not being in the military, that if you thought you were one you'd turn yourself in? "Please don't do that, you'd probably be kicked out of the military."
"You're DAMN right I'd be kicked out. I'd hope they'd lock me in a prison and never let me see the light of day."
I stare at him, this doesn't sound like the Jack I've always known. Sure we've had our differences but I never thought he would hold such prejudices. I make a conscious effort to breach the barrier he's putting up. Maybe he's just scared that I would reject him this morning. I walk over and place my hand on his shoulder. "I couldn't let that happen so please don't do that. I'd never forgive myself."
He pulls away the second I make contact with him. He almost shudders at my touch. Shudders with fear, anger or regret? "The only person you couldn't forgive is yourself." He backs away until he's in the corner... "How in the world can you talk to me like this after what I did to you?"
"You didn't do this to me, this happened a long time ago. And I feel no differently towards you. You are still my friend if you still want to be."
I suddenly realize I'm only wearing a robe. I look at Jack; he's rubbing his eyes like he does when he's thinking too much.
The doorbell rings.
Jack looks over at me, "I'll get it. So you can... get dressed."
"Thank you," I mumble but he's already out the door.
I fumble around for some clothes. And I hear him let someone in the door. Why didn't you just tell them to go away? Sam... It's Sam's voice. I pull on a sweatshirt and pants set. I hope I don't smell too much like Jack. I told Sam how I felt about Jack, a long time ago so she'll know something's up. I walk out there. Jack is mumbling something about my hangover.
She smiles at me, "I'm not interrupting anything, am I?
"No, Sam, nothing." Jack looks at me like I betrayed him or something. 'Get over yourself, you're not gay... point made.'
"Sir," she looks at Jack. "I hope you don't mind, they called my house. I guess they got my number from the check I paid with last night. They said you needed to get your car or they'd tow it. I called your place but no answer. I called here but it was busy. So I got a ride from Janet and brought it over here for you."
I look over at the phone. It's off the hook, guess that happened while we were... too busy to notice.
"Thank you." Jack says without conviction.
"So, you guys okay? Hangovers not too bad?" Sam smiles and I know she's trying to lighten the mood. Good luck, Sam, I don't think it's gonna happen this time.
Jack looks at me, and I say, "Fine."
"No, Sam, everything isn't fine," he counters.
"Yes it is, other than the monumental hangover. Jack, you should go. I'll give Sam a ride home. It's on my way to the base. I have to run and make an appointment with Janet anyway, I noticed something this morning I want her to take a look at." I have had about enough of you and your homophobic views for one day.
"You sure, I could take you to the base?" I can see Jack struggling somewhat but all I can think of is him getting his homophobic, oh-god-I-slept-with-a-guy ass out of my home.
"Yes, I'll be fine. I'm a big boy I don't need someone to hold my hand at the doctor's." Jack stands there and just stares at me like I'm some fool. Why the hell won't he go? If he's so freaked about the gay thing why won't he leave? He's too Goddamn worried about his poor fragile little Daniel, that's why. I've had enough of this over-protective glorified team leader business also. "JUST GO! I can't take this right now!"
He takes his keys and gets his jacket and finally leaves.
"What was that about?"
Sam and I tried to have something about the time... Sha're died. She's wonderful don't get me wrong, but it was a little too like... kissing a sister? I never had a sister so I'm only guessing here, but we were fine up until it got physical... then... well it just didn't work... She brought up the brother thing first and I had to agree it was just so 'us.' She started calling me Skywalker soon after that.
We did grow apart when we found out the other had feelings for Jack. But for some reason she's started being more okay with it of late. I think that's because... I sense a new person in her life, I have my suspicions about who it is, but I can wait for her to tell me. She saw us leave the bar last night, and heard Jack accept the invitation to stay at my place. She's smart enough to figure out the rest.
Sam sits down on the couch
"Sam," I sit down. "I'm glad I can talk to you about this. Yes we came here last night and we fooled around a bit, well, as best we could with this bum leg of mine. But he had some sort of anti-gay freak out this morning."
"That doesn't sound like him?"
"I know. I thought he actually started to see me differently, but no. He asked if I wanted him to 'turn himself in.' He said that he should go to prison for doing this with me." I hold my head in my hands. "I really don't know what to do."
Sam comes up and sits down next to me and gives me a hug. I hug her back. "I almost had him, now I never will."
I take Sam home being ever mindful of the sore on my leg. It's really throbbing now the effects of the alcohol have worn off. I'm so glad that I was out of it when the bandage came off in the middle of last night's escapade. If I hadn't been liquored up and rather occupied with some thing else... I pulled a stitch or two out. The shrapnel nicked the femoral artery, and made this wound a real bleeder. I'm surprised the there wasn't more blood. I had lost enough blood in the infirmary to warrant getting a transfusion. Janet is sooooo going to kill me, well as Jack is so fond of putting it, I'd better pack it in, and fess up to her.
I swing by the SGC on the way back and confess my mishap to Janet, I tell her all about my falling down the stairs with my laundry basket and she eyes me skeptically. If she does suspect something, which I'm almost sure she does, she is kind enough not to push me for answers.
I return home to find the smell of Jack has barely dissipated if at all. I sit on the couch and lean back.
I realize I nodded off when I awake to the sound of the phone ringing. I jump up and grab the receiver. "Hello?" I mutter in a voice that betrays my former state of unconsciousness.
"Hello?" says Jack's voice from the other side of the phone.
He took me by utter surprise, I don't know why considering his need to make sure he has everything figured out. "Jack?" I answer.
"Yah?" he responds like I feel, "So you're home huh?"
"Yes, WOW! I sure am. How'd you guess?" I'm in no mood the baby his homophobic ass.
There's a long pause on the other side of the phone, I suddenly feel like shit for that smart-ass quip. I start to apologize and start a conversation, but then I decide that if he wanted to talk, he'd talk. "Have you seen a ring around there?"
"What?" comes my completely perplexed response. Absolutely not was I was expecting...
"My service ring, I might have left it over there..."
"Well," I say sitting down for a regular conversation, "where was the last place you remember having it?"
"Umm...," comes his reply. Maybe not time for a regular conversation.
"Jack, I..." I start but he cuts me off.
"SorryIgottago-bye..." and he hangs up.
I stare at the phone in complete shock... the bastard hung up on me...
I go into my bedroom and sit on the edge of the bed. I stare into the darkness. The room betrays his former presence... His scent hangs in the air as if he could never truly leave. I bury my head in the pillow in a vain attempt to evade my own thoughts; only to be rewarded with an even stronger reminder of him. I throw the pillow across the room. The blackness devours it. I have to stop thinking about him and that night or I will go insane. I grab the other pillow and head back into the living room, I pull a random book off the shelf and lay down on the couch.
I hear the phone ring and roll over to face it. I almost land on the floor before I realize I wasn't in my bed. I sit up and untangle the blanket from my feet. I grab the phone and mutter a strangled "Hello" into the receiver.
"Daniel?," says a voice to high too be Jack's.
"Yes," I respond.
"Where are you?"
"Where the hell do you think I am?"
"Well, who peed in your cheerios this morning..... I meant why aren't you here... "
I remember I was supposed to meet Sam this morning before work and help her bake a cake for Cassandra's party tonight.
"Oh, shit, I'm sorry Sam... It.. I..."
"It's OK Daniel... I'll just buy a cake to take to the party, that's what I did last time."
"I know... I'm sorry..."
"Daniel..., I know, it's ok. Just be sure to come tonight, or I won't forgive you."
"Yeah, I'll be there. Thanks, Sam."
I jump in the shower. I don't know whether or not to be mad or just sad. I let the heat pound down on my skin and burn with its touch. I reach to grab the conditioner, I don't know why I even bother now that my hair is so short but it's out of habit. I kick something. Metal. I look down but the image is blurry and I can't see clearly without my glasses. I reach out and pick up the elusive object and bring it close enough to see. It's.......... Jack's ring.
The ring he called about yesterday. I roll the ring in my hand. It must have came off just before... I can't help but think, I very possibly lost him forever...
I fall to the floor of the shower, the water still beating down on me, hot and unforgiving. Images flash in my mind. I clutch the ring tight enough to cause enough physical pain to flush out the emotional. The dark cloud of depression that somehow I've been able keep at bay is swarming in. My defenses are down. I'm losing, losing it all. The sheer pompous words come to mind and make me almost laugh at the thought. 'It's better to have loved and lost...' They have never lived my life, I've lost every goddamn time I've ever dared to love. Failure, desertion, loneliness, these are my friends, my comrades, my brothers-in-arms. They are the only ones I can rely on. Their cold company is the only thing filling my soul, and even the heat of the water can't keep the chill from my bones
He's been reclusive all day. Jack normally can't spend more than an hour in his office without going insane, but today he's had himself barricaded in there, like he's hiding in a foxhole. I want to go see him but I feel as if I'd be intruding.
He's barely let me speak to him and all I'm getting from his eyes is fear and regret... I've known Jack way too long not to know something's up.
It's five now, almost time to start Cassie's make-up party. I watch Sam walking to his office and him follow her out. I couldn't give the ring back to him in person without losing it so I'm just going to sit it on his desk.
I walk in to his office and start to sit the ring on the top of his papers. I stop for a brief second to admire how tidy it is. Military to the core... Why did I ever think he would go for me? I'm as dusty and broken as the artifacts I dig-up. How did I think I rated above years and years of drilled-in reactions and taught taboos? I look at the papers in his out box. A formal letter is on top, I normally don't read other people's mail, but there's something odd about it. I pick them up for a closer look...
I find that circumstances surrounding my personal life prevent me from being the best person for this job any longer. I regret to inform you that I will no longer be able to lead SG-1 and do offer this letter as written verification of my resignation.
Attached are the necessary forms in triplicate.
Col. Jonathan Patrick O'Neill
I fall against the desk, still gripping it in my hand.
He really meant it...
I can't believe he really meant it. He would rather leave the military than...
I hear someone coming down the hall, I back up behind the door as Jack runs in and opens the desk drawer. He fumbles around the drawer and stops when he senses the missing letter I now hold in my hand. He stares at his now empty out box, the man never looked worse. I struggle with the thought of reaching out to help him. I have never been a person to reach out to hug someone. My youth taught me to quell those urges. But in all my life, I have never wanted to more.
"Sir?!?," comes the plea from the hallway, and stifles my urge to show myself.
He locates his keys and leaves.
I fold the letter in half, if it's between him and me, I'll be the one to beg-out. He's needed more here than I am anyway. I fold the letter in half again and place it in my pocket.
I head to the club Janet reserved for this little make-up party. I hang in the back. I present a small token to Cassandra, quite a little neat trinket to tell you the truth. It's an Egyptian Hieroglyphics stamp set from the Met. I threw away the accompanying book based on one of Budge's. I printed off a simple translation guide for her to go with them.
She never really showed any interest in archeology, but I figured...
I walk outside right after the cake is cut, I need some fresh air, and I think Jack needs the space anyway. He seems so bottled up and well, freaked when he's around me.
"You just getting some fresh air?" some strange voice asks.
I look up at this guy pulling out his cigarettes. I look at his shiny case. I used to smoke back in the old days. No one at the SGC knows that. It was the fist thing to get cut when I was losing my grants left and right. I never really missed them. It's only on nights like this when I'm fighting off depression that I even get the urge.
It's a little chilly so I nod to him and wrap my arms around myself.
"You want one?" I look back up at the man. He's tall but not as tall as Jack, and he has a slender build. His clothes are old but are still in style. "You just look like you wanted one."
"Menthol?" I ask, taking a step closer to the man.
I take the offering and light it from the lighter in the guy's out-stretched hand. I take a long drag. I can feel the sharp menthol down my cool throat. "It's been years."
The guy looks at me. "You quit?"
"Yeah, a few years back I ran into some pretty stiff money problems. So it became cigarettes or food."
"Been there." He takes another drag before continuing. "So you better off now?"
I take a drag. "Yeah much, thanks."
He laughs, "I meant financially."
"Oh right, I'm doing ok these days." I pause retrospectively, "Actually I've never been better."
He takes another drag and then looks at me suspiciously. "I'll believe that about money part, but you have heartbreak written all over your face. Do you need someone to buy you a drink? You know... someone to drown your sorrows with."
"Thanks, but no. That's what kind of started this mess."
"I see..." He takes the last drag off the cigarette and drops the butt on the sidewalk. "Was it love?"
"Yes, but it's not returned."
"Ouch... Nothing hurts as well as someone saying they don't love you."
"It wasn't actually said, I was spared that at least."
"Then how do you know?"
"I just do..." Sam, Janet and Cassie open the door and walk out. "Thanks for the cigarette, but here come my friends."
"Cool, I have to go as well. My friend's waiting on me. I hope everything turns out for the best."
"Hey Daniel," Sam says as she approaches, "I didn't know you smoked."
"I don't. I just bummed this..."
I turn around, "Um, I didn't catch..." He's not there. I glance down the street... nowhere to be found.
"He was just here."
"Don't worry about it. I'm going to drop Janet and Cassie at her party, then I'll swing by here to take you home ok."
"Hey Sam, I'll just catch a cab. You don't need to stop back by and that little car of yours couldn't hold all of us."
"I'm sure. You go have a good time."
"Daniel, I'm just staying with them at the party until Janet decides it's safe. Then I'm taking Janet home."
She looks at me, and then smiles. "Hey I'm sorry it didn't work out."
I drop my cigarette as well and crush it under my feet. "Well you win some..."
"And some are too stupid to know when they win some." Sam leans in and lays a kiss on my cheek. "Take care, Daniel. I'll see you tomorrow."
"You take care too. Bye Sam." She gets in her car and drives away.
So it's done... I'm leaving to let him be the one he needs to be, my life at the SGC is over. I just hope Jack can learn to deal and be strong as he's pretending to be.
Wait, I don't have to hope, he is that strong... I know he is... It's one of the many reasons I love him.