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No one should have to put up with this much crap, Jack thought as he stared across the Global Dynamics rotunda to where Nathan was arguing with his head of security. Jo was holding her own against him but Jack sort of remembered how she had described Nathan in the original universe as 'Stark says jump and everyone asks what direction and how high'. At least Jo wasn't going to blindly jump in any direction, and as far as Jack was concerned, he wasn't going to jump for Nathan Stark no matter what.

He folded his arms across his chest. It appeared Nathan's ego remained as unhealthy and gigantic as it had in the other universe and, oh, now that was just great, he added silently and sarcastically, because Allison had stepped up to support Nathan's very bad decision. Part of him wondered why he thought he might ever have a chance with Allison when it was clear she would always back Nathan no matter he said, and no matter how stupid the idea. Jo took on a belligerent hang-dog posture of defeat and Nathan turned to Jack with a smug smile plastered on his stupid, handsome face. He swaggered across the rotunda with Jo and Allison trailing behind before striking a smug pose in front of Jack.

"Well, Sheriff?"

"The answer's no."

"I could make it an order."

"You're not my boss."

"I can get you replaced."

"And I can kick your ass."

"Now, Sheriff, we're grown men. Surely we can come to a civilized agreement."

Jack felt a stab in his chest, recalling where he'd heard similar words before from the same lips. It hardened his resolve because he had already lost Nathan once and he didn't want to go through that again. Nathan's loss in the other universe had hit him harder than he expected, making him acutely aware of the thin line between love and hate. He hadn't realized he had crossed the line from hate into love until weeks after he watched Nathan die. Just a simple thing, something to torment the other man only to realize Nathan was gone forever. Except forever hadn't lasted more than a few months thanks to a trip back to 1947 and a return to an altered future; one where he was married to Nathan.

"I don't need your permission, Carter."

"So why ask?" Jack narrowed his eyes, his gut telling him something. "Unless you know it's a stupid idea and want someone to say so."

Nathan rolled his eyes but didn't deny it.

"So what would you suggest? Waiting until it crashes down on our heads?"

"What about the magnetic E field thingie. Can't you redirect it to make the asteroid bounce off?"

Nathan stared at him for a moment before starting to yell orders.

Later that evening Nathan slid into bed beside him, pressing his lips against the nape of Jack's neck. Apparently the asteroid had a metal core and they used a magnetic pulse to repel it, nudging it just enough to miss the planet. At least that was the simple explanation and Jack didn't care to hear the complicated one as he knew it would make his brain hurt. He knew he could milk this to delay getting any closer to a man who gone from being his adversary to his life partner while he figured out what to do but today's events had reminded him of all he had lost in another past. Instead Jack turned and reached for Nathan, surprised when he discovered how easy it was to show how much he loved him.

END