Daniel stood in the kitchen and looked through the window into the backyard. Jack was out there, fussing with his new grill. It was ninety billion degrees outside but the man wanted to grill the hamburgers for their team night. Said they taste better with hickory charcoal. He might be right. But as he watched him, even with others around, Daniel felt the old stirrings awaken.
Seven weeks. It had lasted seven weeks. A huge relief went through him as his eyes widened slightly.
He thought, “It’s back. It only took a Roswell alien calling himself Thor and Jack’s backhand across the shoulder to get my life back in order.”
Before Jack’s reflexive swat, he’d been as grouchy as a bear with a sore head. Not getting any had definitely been hard on his temperament. Who knew?
In the backyard, Jack was demonstrating the fine art of flipping burgers for Teal’c and Sam.
“The king in his castle,” Daniel murmured thoughtfully. Then Jack flipped a patty too hard and the damn thing sailed over the grill and into the yard. Daniel spit some of his tea back into the glass, choked slightly on what had been left in his mouth, and just gave in to the guffaw. Sam had joined him while Teal’c smirked.
Trying to ignore them, Jack had apparently heard through Sam’s laughter and he peered at him through the window, scowling and beckoning. Daniel grabbed the buns and homemade coleslaw and headed out back. The smile on his lips had only partially to do with Jack’s epic failure with the patty.
. . .
Jack turned off the light in the kitchen, faced Daniel who stood in the foyer, and abruptly said, “Well that was a mistake.”
Daniel gave him a sympathetic look. “What? Teal’c and watermelon?”
Jack snorted. “I thought he’d like it. Who knew he’d find it revolting? Who the hell finds watermelon revolting?”
“A Jaffa, apparently.”
“It’s bizarre.” He stretched and grimaced. “Damn I’m sore.”
“Teach you to try and move that grill without its wheel support, Jack.”
“Thought I could do it,” Jack scowled. He rolled a shoulder. “Maybe I’m just getting ol—”
“Finish that statement and I’ll leave.”
Jack gave him a measured look. “You must be blind because I am—”
Daniel held up a finger and for once, it shut Jack up. “Indulge my willing blindness.” Jack gave him a lopsided grin. “Yes, you’re older than I am. Doesn’t mean you’re ready for retirement packages, so don’t go ruining the evening, given how things have changed.”
Jack frowned. “What’re you getting at? What’s changed?”
“Things,” Daniel said, enunciating a word with no syllables and making it sound as if it did.
Jack took in Daniel’s expression and body language. Plus, the light in his eyes. His frown turned upward very, very slowly. “Have they now?” he asked, and his voice was smooth and smoky at the same time.
Daniel took his hand and without any further conversation, led him down the hall toward the bedroom.
“Hot damn,” Jack said behind him. “Hot-diggity-damn.”
Jack studied Daniel’s face as he dozed. Things certainly had changed. The lines were gone. The shadows were fading. Maybe the world was right again. He then grimaced and mumbled to himself, “Don’t jinx it, dumbass. Don’t you know any better?”
“Why aren’t you asleep?” Daniel mumbled, slurring a little.
“Getting there. I have a little energy left.”
Daniel both groaned and let out a weary laugh. “I don’t. You took it out of me, like Androcles and the Lion.”
“That’s a bad metaphor.”
“Sue me. I’m content. And sleepy. And not thinking clearly. Now, shut up and sleep with me.”
Jack snuggled down with him and murmured, “Getting a little bossy.”
Daniel murmured, “Oh dear.”
Jack didn’t want to do it. He told himself firmly that he didn’t. But the tickling fingers came out anyway.
MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE
Jack hated being in the infirmary. It wasn’t so much being cooped up in bed. Hell, he didn’t mind that part. It was having to do it in a ward that he didn’t like. Fraiser had modified that somewhat by placing those screens around him, but it was window dressing. He wanted to go home.
“Doc!” he called out. “Get me outta here!” Someone was coming. But they had boots on. Around the screen appeared Daniel. “Hey,” Jack said testily. “Where’s Fraiser?”
“Seeing to SG-11,” Daniel said as he pulled up a rolling stool to sit next to Jack’s bed.
“Problem?” Jack asked, worried.
“No,” Daniel sighed. “Usual testing, but one of them had a broken leg. Specialist Waters, I think. I only saw the person from the cast down and a glimpse of the others hovering.” He gave Jack a sympathetic grin. “She’ll be along.”
Jack grumbled deep in his throat and pulled the covers up over his shoulder as he turned on his side. “Why aren’t you home?”
“Examining the language the, uh, entity left in the computer core. Sam’s pissed, having to spend time purging it.”
“Right,” Jack said, not really caring. He was bone-damn-tired. He closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them again to tell Daniel to go home. Then he caught the look on his face. “No.”
Daniel blinked. “What?”
“I’m not talking about it right now. Or maybe ever.”
“Look,” Jack said, that warning tone in his voice, “I know you’re all ‘Mr. Anthropologist’ over there but I’m just not up for questioning. Talk to me when I’ve got the energy.”
“You might lose it,” Daniel said, clearly disappointed. Jack was holding a spate of knowledge in his head. Daniel couldn’t not be fascinated to learn what Jack knew. But he also saw the weariness and exhaustion in the man’s face. He held up a hand before Jack could speak. “You’re right, you’re right.”
“I always am,” Jack said. He’d have sniffed if he’d had the energy. Daniel let out a weird sound that clearly meant ‘horseshit.’ “Wiseass.” He softened a degree. “Go home. I’ll be fine.”
“And too tired to drive. I’m your escort. So when she says it’s okay for you to split, I’ll take you home.”
“Yeah?” Jack asked, eyes widening hopefully. “Seriously?”
Daniel misread him. “It’s me, stupid. Who else?”
“No, dummy, I meant about going home.”
“Oh,” Daniel said, frowning. “Well, yes. She said she’d be along to discharge you in a bit.”
Jack reared up slightly, voice rising. “Why the hell didn’t you say that to begin with?” Daniel gave him a cheeky half-grin. Jack deflated back onto his side and narrowed his eyes. “You’re earning some time in the cooler, I hope you know that.”
“Oh?” Daniel asked, brows rising. “In what way?”
Jack would’ve chewed at his lip had he wanted to bother. “I dunno yet.”
“Hmm,” Daniel said, and pulled out a book. It earned another scowl from Jack. “I’m gonna read, you’re gonna snooze, and then Fraiser’ll be here.”
“Here’s a shocker. I can’t sleep in here. I’m too twitchy.” Daniel made a sympathetic face. “What’re you reading anyway?”
“You’ll laugh,” Daniel said, positioning the paperback so that Jack could only see the book’s top edge.
“I’m too tired.”
Daniel smiled. “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” Jack giggled. It made Daniel giggle back. “No, not really.” Jack scowled. “Okay, really.”
“Read to me.” Daniel’s voice could put him to sleep. Most times. Here, maybe. Daniel looked chagrined. “I know you don’t like it but do it for me. Please.”
After a dramatic sigh, Daniel did. In less than three minutes, Jack was out like a light. Daniel stopped reading aloud and Jack’s eyes opened. “Huh,” Daniel said, and began again. Half an hour later, Fraiser appeared behind him and Daniel stopped reading with a finger over his lips. Jack didn’t awaken.
Fraiser barely tapped the chart in her hand and mouthed, “When he wakes up, take him home.” She turned and left with a grin on her face.
Daniel stood and stuffed the book into his fatigue shirt’s side pocket. Jack opened his eyes. “Where ya going?”
“To get you a wheelchair. We’re leaving.”
“Jack, be nice.”
Grumble, grumble. Jack pushed up to sit, swinging his legs off the bed. His hair stuck straight up. Daniel refrained from laughing. “I’ll make you dinner after we get there so you can heat it up after you wake up.”
Jack worked his mouth and tongue to get the fuzzies out, then grimaced. He needed to brush. “Where’re you gonna be?”
“Beside you,” Daniel said softly and left to get the wheelchair.
Jack considered out loud, “Maybe I should get possessed more often.” He made a disgusted face. “Way to jinx it, stupid.”