Gold by Jude
[Reviews - 1] Printer
Category: Jack/Daniel
Genres: Alternate Universe, Established Relationship, Romance
Rated: Adult
Warnings: None
Series: None
Summary: As Daniel turns 50, a relaxing vacation at the cabin gives the guys time to ponder their future plans.

- Text Size +
July, 2015

"Sir, we'll be on final approach to Minneapolis in just a couple of minutes." The young, pretty cabin attendant gave Daniel a polite smile as she leaned over his seatmate to speak to him. "Could you put your laptop away now and return your tray to its upright position?"

"Oh!" Daniel hastened to save the entry he'd been making in his personal journal. "Sure, no problem." He clicked the computer shut and disconnected it from the on-board telecommunications system that was his connection to the internet.

"Thank you, sir." She moved away to speak to the passenger seated behind him.

There was an empty seat next to Daniel, but on the aisle was an attractive middle-aged woman with whom he'd exchanged a few pleasantries back in Denver. Since then, she'd mostly dozed, her head back on her seat, and Daniel had used the time to bring his diary up to date, enjoying the peace and unhurried quiet.

As he put his laptop under his seat, he turned his head and met the woman's eyes. "Almost there," he observed with a small smile.

She slid the magazine she'd been flipping through into the pocket on the seatback in front of her as she returned his grin. "Business or pleasure?" she murmured, making sure her seatbelt was tight around her hips.

"Excuse me?"

"What brings you to Minneapolis?" she asked. "I noticed you hard at work on your computer and figured you were on a work- related trip."

"Oh, no," Daniel said. "Pleasure. Vacation. I have family staying here for the summer, and I've come out on my time off to rest and visit."

"That's nice," she said with quiet enthusiasm. "I grew up here, and it's beautiful during any season, but I think especially in the summer." She shifted her gaze and looked off into the near distance with a wistful expression. "Land of 10,000 lakes, you know. Loons, mosquitoes, moose. Nice folks. God's country. But of course,I'm biased," she laughed.

Daniel chuckled along with her. "Yeah, I've heard that about Minnesota, too. I've actually been here quite often," he added.

She turned her head to gaze at him. "I noticed your wedding ring." She pointed at his left hand. "And yes, I am about the nosiest person you'll ever meet."

More quiet laughter.

"Will you be meeting your wife out here?"

Daniel continued to smile as he looked down at the thick gold band on his finger. He raised his eyebrows and then met her eyes again. "No, actually, my husband. He retired two years ago and spends the summers here. I come out to be with him whenever I can."

She looked only vaguely surprised but examined Daniel with new interest, a hint of judgment in her eyes that she valiantly tried to hide. "Oh." She got her smile back into place. "I hope you have a wonderful visit."

Daniel relaxed into his seat, his arms crossed around his middle. "Believe me, I intend to. It's my fiftieth birthday in a few days, and Jack and I have a lot to celebrate."

"Well, have a happy birthday," she murmured. With a nod and one more polite smile, she dropped her head back on her seat, her eyes sliding shut, signaling the end of her interest in Daniel.

He actually was glad to have been dismissed. He turned his head to look out at the landscape far below. Rural roads, green fields and forest, laid out like grids on a map, slowly slid by as he watched, and then the broad ribbon of the Mississippi River came into view. He felt the huge airplane turn and descend a bit, lining up for its final approach.

Home. He was almost there. He'd been aware of Jack's siren song ever since he'd hung up the phone from talking with him the evening before.

Home. Jack.

Sitting behind the wheel of his big black truck, Jack fumed at the late Friday afternoon traffic leading into Minneapolis-St. Paul International. For the tenth time in the last three minutes, he looked at his watch. Daniel's flight was due in a half hour, and Jack had yet to get Lindberg Terminal in sight. "Dammit," he groused under his breath.

Inching forward a few minutes later, he finally saw what the problem was. Someone in a big black Mercedes had rear-ended an old Dodge minivan, and pieces of both vehicles were strewn across the roadway. Airport security and the local cops had arrived and were trying valiantly to direct traffic around the accident scene, but it was only semi-controlled chaos.

Once past the mishap, traffic into the airport was smooth. As he slid into a parking slot in the underground garage under the terminal, Jack was glad to see that he still had time to get inside before Daniel started wondering where the hell he was. Just. He set off at an easy jog, glad to stretch his legs after the long two- hour trek in from the lake.

Striding off the elevator a few minutes later, Jack looked around to get his bearings and honed in on a monitor to check Daniel's flight. A flashing ARRIVED notification next to the flight information showed Jack that the plane from Denver was on the ground. He knew that strict security measures would not allow him to actually go down to the gate, so he took up a position in the concourse along the path that Daniel would have to walk to get to the baggage claim area and sat down to wait.

Jack was keyed up, anxious to get Daniel in his sights. He shifted in his seat as he waited, eyes on the passing crowd, scanning each individual the moment they came into view before dismissing them and looking behind each one, hoping for that first glimpse of his husband. He forced himself to sit as still as he could, crossing and uncrossing his legs, his hands in his lap. He started fiddling with his wedding ring, twisting it around and around, warming the gold under the pads of his fingertips.

They hadn't been together since the long Memorial Day weekend, back in late May. Five weeks of long distance phone calls and emails, trying to share their lives in the only ways they could. Jack had found it hadn't been enough. He'd missed Daniel keenly, like someone had cut off his right arm. Jack had wanted so badly to spend the summer at the cabin, and Daniel had tried hard to get an extended time off, but the needs of the SGC had to come first, so instead they'd planned this two weeks in early July.

The two of them had been separated before, many times, but Jack found the older he got, the more set in his ways he was becoming, and he wanted his spouse in bed with him at night, by his side as much as possible all the time. They'd been married for two years, ever since Jack's retirement, and the honeymoon was long over, but their square peg in a round hole relationship of almost 12 years duration was a success on every level. Their decision to marry had been absolutely right for them, and nothing had happened to make them regret it. The legal and spiritual commitment they had made to one another was for life. Jack couldn't imagine a world without his Daniel in it. He knew Daniel felt the same way, thank God, about Jack.

Jack stood up as he saw the familiar tall figure topped with a shock of long, wavy, silver hair appear in the back of the crowd moving down the concourse. He got up on his tiptoes and tried his best to look around all the bobbing heads, searching for another glimpse.

And then there he was. Daniel. Safe and sound, walking towards him as big as life.

Home. Daniel.

Daniel caught sight of Jack just seconds after he'd been spotted himself. He smiled and lifted one hand, waving a greeting over the fifty-foot space still separating them. He lengthened his strides, moving around slower folks in front of him, anxious to get his hands on Jack.

As they neared one another, Daniel stretched out his arms, bent his knees, and scooped Jack up around the waist. Laughing, his arms enfolding Daniel's shoulders, Jack swooped in for a long kiss as they hugged and turned in a crazy circle a couple of times, forcing the others in the crowd to move around them.

Daniel was giddy with fatigue and excitement, relieved to finally truly be back where he belonged.

"Welcome home," Jack breathed as they broke their kiss and pulled back enough to look into each other's faces. "Did you have a good trip?"

Daniel grinned, putting his hands on both sides of Jack's face as they stood belly to belly, oblivious to how they were blocking traffic behind them. "Yeah. Fine. Better now that I'm on the ground and right here with you."

Jack blinked and swallowed hard, but his smile was huge. "Oh, babe, it's so good to have you here." He gave Daniel another quick, hard squeeze and then leaned back to pat his cheek. "You don't know." He laughed a little, his arm sliding around Daniel's waist so they could start walking together.

Later, his baggage stored in the back of the truck's crew cab, Daniel lounged in his comfortable leather seat, watching Jack effortlessly guide them through the heavy early evening traffic leaving the airport. "Before we head out, let's drive through McDonald's."

Jack smiled as he glanced at him. He put on his directional signal and leaned forward a bit to look to his left, checking oncoming traffic. "McDonald's? If you're hungry, we can go to dinner someplace decent before we leave the city."

"Nah," Daniel said with a yawn he only partially hid behind his hand. "Buy me a Big Mac and some coffee, just to get me home." He reached over and squeezed Jack's thigh. Leaving his hand there,he said, "I just want to get to the lake and go to bed."

Jack covered his hand with his own, grasping with warm fingers. He looked quickly at Daniel again and then back at the road. "That sounds like a plan, Doctor Jackson."

Daniel pulled his hand away and brushed his fingertips down the side of Jack's face and then along the nape of his neck for a moment. He studied Jack's profile, watching him smile. They had come so far over the years, and it all came down to this. The two of them. The SGC, the world, politics, the cares of the whole galaxy, all of it fell away from Daniel at that moment. He settled back in his seat again, arms crossed comfortably around himself. He was Jack's husband. And for the next two weeks, that was all he was going to be. He was finally home.

Daniel slept most of the way back to the lake. After wolfing down his McDonald's cheeseburger and draining a huge cup of black coffee, he'd slowly gotten quieter and quieter until Jack noticed his head had dropped back, his eyes closed, hands loose and relaxed in his lap.

An hour out of Minneapolis, a gentle summer rain started, turning the road to a glistening black ribbon. Jack turned on the windshield wipers and listened to their quiet swishing, concentrating on his driving even as his mind was far away from the reality beyond the hood of the truck.

Jack loved Minnesota. He joked to anyone who would listen that it had to be the most perfect spot on Earth. He'd been to a lot of places, most of which he couldn't talk about outside the walls of the SGC, and he'd never seen the like of it for beauty in all four seasons, and for the solid friendliness of the people, most of whom he rarely saw, which is just how he liked it. Minnesota had space, and privacy, and peace. Minnesota felt like home, when Daniel was there with him.

In his childhood, the camp had been pretty rustic. It'd been a damn shame how little time he'd been able to spend there, once he'd been commissioned in the Air Force. But still he'd hung onto the place, as he'd always felt sure his parents would have wanted. He'd only had a chance to bring Charlie and Sara there four or five times, but he had wonderful memories from those long ago summers. And now, in his retirement, he'd had the time and money to fix the place up the way it deserved to be, leaving him amazed, breathlessly humbled, by how much he loved it there.

As he drove, Jack often turned his head and glanced at Daniel's beautiful sleeping face. Uncle Sam had brought them together, twenty years ago now. A hurting, lonely, misunderstood academic had met a hurting, lonely, misunderstood soldier, and their lives had simply been transformed. Gradually, carefully, through pain and loss, success and joy of all kinds, over the space of years, their futures had been gently, inexorably drawn together. Two misfits had fallen in love, and together they'd suddenly fit. As the last piece of the puzzle had slipped into place, their lives had blended into a perfect unit.

Jack smiled to himself, driving easily through the gathering evening in the quiet of the truck's luxuriously appointed cab. At 62, he was turning into an old man, and he knew it. The mirror confirmed it, his knees reminded him daily, the bottle of Viagra in his medicine cabinet was a constant companion when Daniel was around. But Jack didn't care. It was right. Fitting. Expected. Growing old when one was so happy was just plain okay. No sense fighting it anyway.

And what had he lacked in his long life? Nothing. He'd been the indulged only child of good parents who'd given him everything. He'd had a free world-class education at the Academy. Air Force officer status on a fast track for promotion had led him finally to the rank of two star. He was Major General Jonathan F. O'Neill, USAF Retired, a 38-year decorated career veteran, something that filled him with pride. He'd had a loving wife and a beautiful son for a while. Not all men were fortunate enough to have had either. And then, added to all that, he'd had a chance to travel to distant planets. He and his team had been all around the galaxy and had met all kinds of aliens, for crying out loud. Aliens! And of course, best of all, he'd won the love of one Doctor Daniel Jackson. Gorgeous, sexy, smart, funny, loving Daniel, who pushed and pulled and gave and took and was the very inner fabric of Jack at the same time as he was his whole world.

An old man? Youbetcha. And Jack wouldn't trade places with a living soul anywhere. His life was perfect. The only problem he had was being separated from Daniel, and he'd decided that just wasn't going to happen anymore. He'd give up Minnesota for most of the year if he had to. He wasn't going to waste any more time with thousands of miles separating him and his husband. If the last five weeks had taught Jack anything, it was that.

Just about two hours after they'd left the airport, Jack turned off the state highway onto the access road to their cabin. It was a ten minute climb over a rough dirt road turned slippery and tricky in the rain, but Jack was an old hand at controlling the big four wheel drive truck, and he made short work of the terrain. A glance at Daniel showed him that his spouse slept on, even in spite of the rocky ride.

Finally they drove into the yard. It was raining in earnest now, the downpour thundering on the sheet metal roof of the truck. Shoving the big vehicle into park, Jack turned off the headlights, shut down the windshield wipers, and sat in the gloom, the truck left running for the air conditioning. He slipped off his seat belt and twisted around to look at Daniel. They were going to get soaked getting into the cabin, but it didn't matter. Jack found himself smiling again. They'd both be naked in the first minute and a half through the door anyway.

Jack fished in his pocket for the Viagra bottle he'd tucked in there earlier, shook out a pill and dry swallowed it. In ten or fifteen minutes, when he needed it to be working, it would be. The damned stuff was like a miracle potion. Daniel was lucky, he didn't need it, at least not yet. Jack had a lot of pride about a lot of things, but not about having to use those pills. He needed them, it was a goddamned fact of life, and he quite simply was not quite ready to be quite that old quite yet, thank you very much. He was allowed one pill every twenty-four hours, and that was plenty anyway.

He reached over and used his right hand to push his fingers into the hair at Daniel's nape. His hair was as long as it had been in the old days, when he'd first come back from Abydos. But now it was almost completely silver, shot through with wonderful strands of gunmetal gray and gold.

Jack tightened his fingers, massaging the base of Daniel's skull. "Hey," he urged in a low murmur. "We're home. Time to wake up."

Slowly the cornflower blue eyes blinked open, and Daniel gave him a lazy smile that shot half of Jack's blood supply straight to his groin. "Jack." Daniel looked around outside the truck, noticing the rain for the first time. "Raining." Turning his head, Daniel leaned toward him, allowing Jack to pull him in with pressure at the back of his head. "Kiss me?"

Jack did. Thoroughly, with Daniel giving back everything he was getting. He tasted of coffee and some flavor that was simply Daniel, something Jack had never been able to identify.

At some length, they broke apart, eyes searching each other's faces. "Love you," Jack said simply. When Daniel nodded and smiled, he added with his best leer, "Wanna take you to bed."

Daniel waggled his eyebrows at him. "Whatcha waitin' for? The rain to stop?"

Jack turned away, switching off the truck ignition. Keys in one hand, his fingers on his door handle, he looked back at Daniel. "Last one in!" he challenged.

They both opened their doors and took off at a run for the cabin, laughing and tumbling through the entryway together.

Daniel Jackson had always lived inside his own head. All his life, he'd been a student, a teacher, a natural diplomat, a voracious reader with a photographic memory and a prodigious work ethic. Only Jack O'Neill had ever been able to make him forget all that for even a little while. When they were together like this, Jack could make him forget who and what he was and turn him into a totally physical being.

Right now, in this bed, spread-eagled on his back, there was only Jack's mouth. His hands. Warm, gusting breath against his skin.

Daniel didn't know anything else. Didn't want to know anything else. When they made love, Jack possessed him. Owned him, outright, to do with him as he pleased. Only Jack had ever had such an effect on Daniel. And at the moment, there *was* only Jack. Nothing and nobody else existed.

At some length, Jack knelt over him and used the flat of his hands to push Daniel's thighs wide apart. When Jack took him into his mouth, swallowing him whole, Daniel arched his back and howled like a wild thing. The sensation was almost too much, overbearing, overriding, overwhelming. He moaned and thrust deep into Jack's throat, lost in his need to come.

Within moments, Jack had most of his lubed hand up Daniel's ass, running insistent fingers over that hidden place inside him that set off fireworks behind his eyelids. The other hand was doing some kind of magical dance with Daniel's balls.

His orgasm was still in his belly, coiling and uncoiling like a restless serpent, but Daniel could feel it rising closer and closer to the surface. "Gonna come, Jack," he panted in a harsh whisper. "Oh, GOD!" Then as Jack hummed and increased the suction on his cock, suddenly it was there. With another keening gasp, Daniel came, pouring into Jack's throat in long, hot spurts. Daniel almost wept with the relief and release of it. Hands wound in Jack's hair, he gave himself over to the sensation. For the moment, he was completely gone.

Quickly, without giving Daniel time to come to his senses, Jack tore open a condom packet with his teeth, slipped it out, and quickly unrolled it on himself. He lifted up Daniel's legs, sliding his hands under his ass, pressed the lubed tip of his cock at Daniel's entrance, and slid home in one deep thrust.

Neither of them was interested in finesse. This was about coupling, connection, and simply getting off. Bent over Daniel, Jack pounded into him over and over. Within moments, he was dripping with sweat, his face contorted with pleasure/pain.

Daniel's head restlessly tossed on his pillow, his fists wound in the sheets at his side. Somewhere up behind Jack's shoulders, his toes curled in the ecstasy of being fucked into the mattress. Long, ragged whimpers were torn from his throat. Surely Jack was splitting him in two? Nothing in the world was like this, ever. Nothing felt so good, as he balanced precariously on a knife-edge of pain that was almost unbearably sweetened with deep, gut-wrenching pleasure.

Jack's ferocious thrusting was shoving Daniel up the bed until finally the top of his skull knocked against the headboard. Daniel threw his hands back to grasp onto the bed's railings, pushing back at Jack, countering every thrust with one of his own.

Jack had him bent almost double. His face was buried in Daniel's neck, and he'd latched onto the skin there with his teeth, sucking on him, marking him. Daniel threw his head back, lost in the belonging, the completion, the total mindlessness of being fucked into oblivion.

No one else. No one else had ever been able to do this to Daniel Jackson. Others had joined their bodies with his in the past, but no one else had ever taken him to such a place. Only Jack could do this, not just to his body, but to his mind and heart. He was his, body and soul. His husband. And this was where Daniel truly knew he belonged. Nowhere else.

Jack awakened at first light, an old habit ingrained in him from his long years in the military. The bedside clock's glowing red numerals showed him it was just past five. It was cool in the room, and slightly humid from the rain the evening before. Early morning in July in the north woods was a sweet time, a gentle time, free from the thermal excesses of either extreme.

Jack ran his hand down over the dried come on his belly and onto his morning erection. He squeezed his ass muscles and smirked to himself at the answering ache there. Daniel had fucked him slow and deep during the night, staying inside him for the better part of an hour as they spooned up together, alternately dozing and then reawakening for more play until finally Daniel had latched onto the nape of Jack's neck with his teeth and given him a final hard ride to completion. Jack would be walking crooked today, but it was well worth it.

He turned his head to the right and regarded the sleeping profile beside him in the semi-darkness. He allowed his eyes to rove over the beloved features, taking note of the long splayed out fingers on top of the sheet pulled up to the middle of Daniel's chest. Daniel had lost some weight since they'd been together last. They didn't talk about such things, but nothing about Daniel ever went unnoticed by Jack, a fact of which he was sure Daniel was aware.

Daniel's hand looked lean, his wedding ring almost too big on its slender finger, the fine wrist bone sharply evident in his pale arm. He hadn't been eating right, or sleeping enough, or getting any sun. Same old story. Without Jack there to nag him, all Daniel knew to do was work, and then work some more. Coffee, the occasional candy bar, and McDonald's take out every third day did not make a healthy Danny.

Jack stretched to press a kiss to Daniel's shoulder, then rolled over and put his feet on the floor. He ambled into the bathroom and washed up. Then, while Daniel slept on, never moving, Jack puttered quietly around the bedroom, picking up their discarded damp clothing from the day before, putting the condom box and lube back in the bedside table, and finally getting out some clean jeans to slip into. He pulled on some warm socks and boots and an old sweatshirt, and went out to the kitchen to put on the coffee. When it was ready, he filled a thermos, leaving the pot plugged in for Daniel in case he woke up, and then headed out with his tackle box, fishing rod, and his lucky fishing hat, which he plucked off the peg in the back entryway.

A short walk brought him down to the pier, where he stepped into his small boat, stowed away his coffee and fishing gear, and cast off. With a gentle push against the dock, he picked up the oars, fit them into the locks, and proceeded to quietly pull the blades through the water, heading to his favorite fishing cove, just a few hundred feet up from the cabin.

He'd stocked the small lake with rainbow trout, back five or six years before, and since his cabin was the only place on the shores, or indeed in the same twenty square miles, Jack had no shortage of good fish to choose from when he visited. No one but Jack and his infrequent guests had ever eaten of all those fishy progeny. No one walking on two legs, anyway.

He sat in the boat, sipping coffee from the thermos's cup, his fishing line played out near the rocks of the cove. Nothing was stirring. The rain from the evening before had left everything washed, hushed, holding its breath before the busyness of nature's day. Dawn was Jack's favorite time on the lake, and as close to being in a church as he ever got.

He watched the sun rise at the eastern end of the water. It was just starting to peek over the tall pines, which still looked black against the sky. A bright rim of golden light heralded the dawn, and as Jack sat as still as a statue, eyes riveted to the sight, a ray of sun cut through the gloom, flooding his face with its warmth, causing him to shut his eyes tightly at the sudden visual intrusion.

He took a deep breath, flooding his lungs with the fresh, clean air, smelling of pine, damp moss, rotted leaves, lake water, and the aroma of his coffee. It was good to be alive. To love a fine man, and be loved in return, to be free like this, free in every way that mattered, to be healthy and fulfilled. He had it all.

A small movement of his fishing rod caught his attention, causing him to open his eyes and grasp the grip of the fiberglass handle more tightly. He started to reel in a fat trout. It was a good one, at least ten inches, maybe 6 or 7 pounds. He'd make a good breakfast.

"Ah ha!" he crowed at the trout as he reeled him over the edge of the boat. "Gotcha, grandpa!"

When Daniel awoke, he stretched and yawned, reaching for Jack and finding that side of the bed empty. Not unusual, since the General often got up early, no matter what day of the week it was or where they were. He grabbed for his glasses, checked out the clock, which told him it was almost seven thirty, and took a quick glance around the room.

Early sun was filtering in through the horizontal blinds at the open windows. It was cool, and Daniel was struck at how outdoorsy the air smelled. He remembered the rain, which had continued most of the night, and was glad to see that the sun had decided to make an appearance for his first day home.

The smell of coffee got him moving. He quickly used the bathroom and snagged Jack's old threadbare robe off the back of the bathroom door. He wrapped it around himself before strolling barefoot out to the kitchen to pour a mug. Jack wasn't around, but a glance out the window showed the truck in its usual place, so Daniel knew he hadn't gone far.

He remembered his laptop and suitcase out in the truck, so he put down his coffee and went in search of Jack's keys, which he found on top of the dresser back in the bedroom. He slipped his feet into his sandals and went outside to get his stuff. As he slammed the truck door and went to turn back towards the cabin, he looked out over the lake and spotted Jack a ways out, rowing back in the boat. There'd be trout for breakfast, then. Daniel's stomach rumbled just thinking about it.

He went back inside, quickly unpacked his clothing, loading everything into the closet and a couple of drawers, and grabbed his shaving stuff for the bathroom. He brushed his teeth, got the shower running, and stepped under the blessedly hot water. He was stiff and sore from sitting in the cramped airplane as well as from being loved within an inch of his life. It was a good soreness, and Daniel didn't mind.

He was just applying shampoo to his hair when he heard a knock on the door and Jack's voice as he stuck his head into the bathroom. "Hey! I got a trout! You hungry?

"Yeah! Starving," Daniel called back. "But Jack?"


"Plenty of room in here. Come and join me?" He pushed the shower curtain aside and smiled at Jack's happy expression. "Mornin',lover," he kidded in a deep rumble.

"Mornin', hot stuff," Jack countered. He made a show of pulling his sweatshirt over his head and flipping it back over one shoulder into the bedroom. He quickly unlaced and toed off his boots and started undoing his jeans, grinning and gyrating his hips in a way he knew was only comical, not sexy. "That ol' dead trout can wait, I reckon," he drawled. He pushed his jeans down over his legs and kicked them aside.

Daniel laughed in delight. As Jack joined him under the spray of hot water, he was glad that both of them knew what was really important. The trout would keep, but some things wouldn't.

Jack sat back in the kitchen chair, watching Daniel finish eating his breakfast. He'd been glad to see him polish off a huge fried trout fillet, a pile of hash brown potatoes, a big bowl of baked beans, a glass of OJ, and two mugs of coffee laced with cream and sugar. At this rate, he'd have Daniel fattened up in no time.

"You were hungry," Jack told him. An understatement. Daniel had eaten like a starving man.

"Umm," Daniel agreed. "Thanks, everything was great." He waggled his eyebrows at Jack. "I think I'll marry you."

"Oops," Jack observed. "I'm taken."

Daniel leaned forward, reaching for Jack's hand across the small table. "You are, aren't you?"

"Very." They smiled at each other. Jack knew how sappy the two of them looked and sounded, and he didn't give a damn. It just plain felt good.

Jack squeezed his warm fingers. "You wanna do anything special today?"

Daniel reached out with his other hand so that Jack's fingers were captured. He ran his thumb back and forth over Jack's big thumb knuckle. "Honestly? I want to go back to bed, maybe sleep until about noon. I'm exhausted."

Jack pulled his hand away and pushed to his feet. "Well, in that case, let's get you tucked in."

"Come with?" Daniel asked as he joined him. "Wanna talk for a while?"

Jack would have done anything he'd suggested. Talking, he knew, would be more a matter of listening, but he could do that, too.

And so they spent close to an hour in the bed, the covers pulled up to their chins, talking easily about anything and everything, making sure to stay in contact with hands, arms and legs. Mostly they had their eyes closed, but sometimes they looked into each other's faces, satisfying a hunger to feast themselves on the sight of one another.

Finally Daniel held out his arms and invited Jack to come and lay his head on his shoulder. He ran the fingertips of one hand over Jack's short, spiky hair, over and over, almost hypnotically. "I've missed you so much," he murmured. "I hated being apart like this. It seems worse than last summer was."

Without answering, Jack gently kissed his neck, his nose right over the place where he'd left a big, red mark the night before. This kind of lovemaking, one of quiet words and easy touches, was just as necessary as the rough coupling they'd accomplished a few hours before. He put his lips over the bruise, his throat tightening with emotion. He squeezed his arm around Daniel's middle, causing Daniel to turn towards him a bit more.

Jack was silent, turning over and over in his mind the decision he'd made. He was virtually certain that at the end of Daniel's two-week vacation, he'd be following him back to Colorado. He couldn't stand the idea of being alone again for so long. He closed his eyes, breathing in the scent of Daniel's sweet neck, loving the way Daniel was gently rubbing his stubbly chin back and forth over Jack's temple.

And while the both of them were lost in their own private thoughts, Daniel fell asleep. His breathing evened out, his hands stilling their petting of Jack's body. Eventually, with a final gentle kiss to Daniel's cheek, Jack eased out of his arms.

It was close to noon when the phone rang. Anxious to get to it before it woke Daniel, Jack strode to the desk by the computer in the living room. He flipped open the small video screen, quickly checked the caller ID and pushed the button to complete the connection.

Brigadier General Samantha Carter's pretty smiling face greeted him when the video came up. "Carter!" Jack had never learned to call her by her first name. And she still called him General or sir, at least most of the time.

"Morning, General," she greeted him. "How are you? How's Daniel doing? Did he arrive okay?"

So many questions. Jack smiled into the small camera. "I'm fine. He's good. And yes, he did."

Carter looked distracted. Command of the SGC hadn't changed that much since Hammond's and then Jack's day. It was still a curious mix of hurry-up-and-wait and crazy oh-my-God-are-we-going-to- live-through-this moments. "That's good, sir. Look, I need to talk to Daniel sometime. Today, if I can. I made those arrangements he was asking for, and I just wanted to confirm everything with him."

Jack gave her a quizzical grin. "Arrangements?"

"Yeah," Sam told him. "Oh, wait. Excuse me for a sec."

Jack watched as she turned her head to look at someone who had probably just come into her office. "That's okay, Corporal. Leave those right there. Yes. I'll get back to Major Cook in an hour or so about that. Dismissed."

She looked back at the camera. "Sorry, sir." She chuckled. "You remember about this office, right?"

"I do, Carter. Still have nightmares about it sometimes." He was kidding, and he knew she knew he was kidding. "Don't worry, though. You'll be able to retire someday, too."

"Yeah, yeah," she agreed. Carter rolled her big blue eyes dramatically.

God, how he still loved her, as a friend, a comrade in arms, someone who had gone to hell and back with him, Teal'c and Daniel a thousand times, back in the day. He'd trust Carter with his six any time, and always would. He smiled at her indulgently.

"Would you have Daniel call me when he gets up?" she instructed him.

Jack raised his eyebrows at her. "How'd you know he was sleeping?"

She gave him a don't-kid-a-kidder look. "This is Daniel, sir. He got there yesterday exhausted, starving and working on his last nerve. Am I right?"

Jack shrugged. "Yeah. What're we gonna do with him?"

"Maybe we can find something." She smiled again. "Oh, Pete says hi, by the way. Have Daniel call. I gotta run."

"K, Carter," he told her. "Over and out."

She gave him a mock two-fingered salute and pressed the button to disconnect them.

Jack sat back in his chair. Arrangements?

The cabin was quiet as Daniel awoke. A quick check of the bedside clock told him it was close to 2 in the afternoon. He reached for his glasses and hauled himself up to sit on the edge of the bed. He ran one hand over his mouth, smacking his lips together, trying to wake up. It'd felt wonderful to actually get some real sleep.

He ambled into the bathroom, used the facilities, brushed his teeth, and looked at himself in the mirror. He was pale, with deep shadows under his eyes. And too thin. No wonder Jack had fed him that lumberjack breakfast. He'd probably scared the poor guy when he'd gotten a load of Daniel's bones showing under the skin of his face.

With a sigh of resignation, he shut off the bathroom lights and went in search of some clothes.

Dressed in some of Jack's old cut off jeans and a sleeveless black tee shirt that had seen better days, he wandered barefoot out to the kitchen. There was a note next to the coffee pot, where Jack had known he'd see it.

//Daniel-- We had a milk and beer emergency, so I went to the store in town. Call my cell if you think of something else we need, okay? I might even be back by the time you get up. Call Carter. She called at noon and said to tell you " the arrangements have been made", but she wants to talk to you. Arrangements? I thought it was only me who got to arrange you. Ha. There's a ham and cheese sandwich and an apple in the fridge for you. Eat. Back soon. Love.//

Daniel called Sam, pleased that she was actually in her office and available to talk to him when he called. In short order, his plans for work had been confirmed. When he hung up from speaking to her, he was smiling, pleased down to his toes.

He wandered over to the mantle at the field stone fireplace and picked up one of the photographs there, of him and Jack on their wedding day. On the sixth day of June, two summers ago, they'd been married at High Point Pavilion in the Garden of the Gods park in the Springs.

Using the tip of his index finger, he traced the outlines of Jack's smiling face. They were standing arm in arm in the photo, dressed in identical black suits. Daniel had on a pale blue shirt and conservative patterned tie. Jack was wearing a dove gray dressy tee. Both of them wore white rose boutonnieres, a gift from Sam and Pete. You could see the shiny new wedding bands on their hands, if you looked closely enough. Behind them, the Garden's strange formations of red stone rose up, framed by the purple, green, and black of the high Rockies, and Pike's Peak, still crested with snow.

It was a beautiful scene, all the way from the two happy smiles front and center to the breathtaking background set by nature. Daniel felt a sudden lump in his throat, remembering. The answering dampness in his eyes was not a surprise. He and Jack owed their very lives to each other, and had almost from the day they'd met.

To stand and say vows to Jack that sunny day had been Daniel's privilege, in effect sealing everything they'd gone through-- the grand scheme to save the world alongside Teal'c and Sam, over and over, as well as their smaller, but no less important, plan to stay together, through everything.

In the beginning, no one had wanted them to be what they were. No one. Not even Jack and Daniel themselves, who had found themselves surprised, even shocked, by first their deep friendship, and then their love. Don't ask/don't tell had been a nightmare, one from which they'd only been released gradually.

"I love you, old man," Daniel whispered as he replaced the photo. He stood for a moment, one hand on the mantle, head bowed in thought.

Raising his eyes again, he let his gaze sweep over the other photos there. This was his life, come full circle from the peace and contentment he'd known as a child with his parents before their tragic deaths, to the deeper, mature peace and contentment he knew as part of Jack's life. They hardly ever fought anymore. Both of them had finally gotten what they needed, and there was no longer any need for sharp words and misunderstandings.

Neither of them was perfect. Neither of them expected the other to be so. And it was all good.

Jack brought the big truck to a stop next to the cabin, arriving just in time to catch sight of Daniel, standing naked out at the end of the dock. As he watched, Daniel dropped a towel at his feet and placed his glasses on top of it. Lifting his hands over his head, he dove head first into the lake. Jack watched him as if he were in slow motion-- the perfect alignment of his spine, the tight, firm curve of his clenched ass muscles-- as Daniel seemed to pause in midair for the split second it took him to hit the water.

Daniel broke the surface almost thirty feet out, shaking his head, the water spraying around him in a shower of diamond-like droplets. Like a seal, he did a neat surface dive and didn't come up for air again until he was another thirty feet away from the dock. At that point, he started to swim for the far shore, using a neat crawl.

Chuckling to himself, Jack slid out of the truck. He opened the tailgate and hoisted the case of Guinness onto one shoulder. Hanging on to the gallon jug of milk in one hand, he managed to get in the house without dropping anything.

After putting everything away, he did his mother hen thing, checking to see that Daniel had eaten. He was pleased to see the sandwich he'd made him was gone, a ring of milk left in a glass in the sink, an apple core on the plate next to it. "Good boy," he whispered.

He walked to the large picture window in the living room that looked over the lake and could just make out the small speck of Daniel, still swimming for the far side. It was a long ways over there. He'd be gone a while.

Taking a pillow and quilt off the sofa, Jack went outside and spread the blanket on the huge hammock, strung in the deep shade between two maple trees in the side yard. He rolled into the hammock, his head on the cushion. Lulled by the buzz of cicadas in the trees nearby and the softer whisper of a summer breeze in the leaves over his head, he promptly fell asleep.

As Daniel hauled himself out of the water and onto the deck, he stood there dripping in the warm sunshine, reflecting that he really needed to get out more. He was out of breath and could feel the blood pumping in his veins, his heartbeat thumping gently in his ears. He hadn't had a good workout like that swim in too long to remember.

He spread out his towel and lowered himself to sit cross-legged on it, enjoying the feeling of the sun on his face and body. He was a little hungry, but it felt good, reminding him he was alive.

Brushing the wet hair back from his face, he lifted his chin, his eyes closed, listening to the quiet sounds all around him. Jack's rowboat rocked gently in its berth, the wooden hull drifting in tiny scrapes against its mooring. The water below the dock lapped against the pilings in whispers, and across the lake a mallard duck chuckled to his mate. It was breezy, a pleasant, perfect July day. Daniel could hear the sound of the long grass near the dock as it rustled in the soft movement of the air.

He sat for long moments, contemplative, almost meditative, savoring the miracle of this peaceful place, this quiet, this perfection.

Smiling, Daniel stretched and stood up. He slipped his glasses on and picked up his towel, tying it around his hips, and started walking slowly up the dock and onto the flagstone path to the cabin.

The sound of soft snores drew his eyes to the trees beside the property, and he spotted Jack sleeping in the hammock. Daniel went and stood next to where he lay, looking down at him, studying him. Jack was flat on his back, his hands behind his head, mouth hanging open slightly, breathing deep in his throat in a low rasp, looking impossibly comfortable. Also impossibly handsome and sexy as hell. Daniel's enigma of a husband, capable of great warmth and caring, loyal and protective almost to a fault, and equally capable of being one of the great sarcastic jackasses of all time.

Daniel let his eyes rove over Jack's features, relaxed now in sleep. The skin of his face was deeply tanned from the Minnesota sun, impossibly long, lush eyelashes lying darkly on his cheeks, the left eyebrow scarred from a long-ago wound. Jack was a long, tall drink of water, lean as ever and still as tough as nails. Daniel loved his wide shoulders, flat belly, narrow hips, and finely muscled arms and legs. He loved everything about Jack's appearance and always had.

Deciding to join him, Daniel slipped off his glasses and dropped them on the ground over at the base of one of the trees. He slid into the hammock, aligning his body along Jack's and resting his head on his shoulder, one arm flung around Jack's middle.

Waking with a long sigh, Jack pulled his hands out and slipped his arms around Daniel. "Hey, baby," he murmured. He kissed the top of Daniel's damp head.

"Hey," Daniel greeted him. He snuggled his forehead into Jack's neck, nuzzling him with his nose. "Having a good sleep?"

"Umm," Jack agreed. "How was your swim?"

"Good. Tiring. I don't think I'll move again for the rest of the day," he said with a soft chuckle.

"Okay," Jack agreed with an answering snicker. "Me, too. We're turning into a couple of slugs."

"Hungry, though," Daniel observed.

"So I suppose we'll have to get up sooner of later, then."

They were quiet for a couple of minutes, resting in each other's arms.

Jack took a deep breath and exhaled on a long sigh. "Um, I decided something, Daniel. I need to tell you-- I'm going home with you when you leave," he said quietly.

Daniel pulled back to look into Jack's eyes. "Oh?"

Jack nodded, giving Daniel a little grin. "I'm not staying here alone. When you fly out, I'll pack up the place and go home in the truck. Need you around. These old bones get cold at night without you there."

"Well," Daniel started with a shake of his head, "I can't let you do that. I want you to stay here for the summer, like we planned. Like you want. I don't want you to go back to Colorado until fall. You belong here."

Jack put his palm against Daniel's cool cheek. "Uh-uh. I've thought about it a lot." He gave Daniel his best command look,only half kidding. "We didn't get married so we could live a thousand miles apart for weeks at a time. And I don't know about you, but I've decided I'm too old to live like I've got forever to wait for things to be the way I want 'em. No way." He huffed at Daniel in a show of impatience. "No way," he repeated.

"Well, forget it." Daniel grinned at him. "You're not going back to Colorado until September." He paused for dramatic effect. "But then, neither am I!"

Jack gave him a mock glare, clearly able to tell that something was up. "What?"

Daniel pulled him closer and planted a kiss on his lips. "Nope. I'm not going back to Colorado until you do. The both of us can stay. All summer."

Jack pursed his lips at him. "Is this about those arrangements?" He furrowed his brow, squinting his eyes at Daniel. "On the phone, Carter said she'd made the arrangements you wanted."

"Yup. She's set it all up so I can work from here this summer. The satellite guys are supposed to be here in a couple of days to install the equipment to give me a one megabyte per second upload capability, and-"

Jack held up one finger. "Uht! Uht! Just cut to the chase and never mind the Carterspeak!"

"Yeah, I'll be able to do teleconferencing and consultations, even with allies off world, all from our living room right here." Daniel laughed. "Hey, it's 2015, Jack. I can do most of what I do in the mountain without even leaving the cabin."

Jack didn't seem convinced. "Security. What about security?"

Daniel shrugged. "Beats me. Sam says they have it all figured out. They'll give me passwords, codes, whatever I need to get on line, and she says it'll all be secure. The President okayed it and everything."

Seeing Jack's question in his eyes before he could even voice it, Daniel said, "I was trying to arrange all this before I left, so I could tell you when I got here, but Sam didn't think they could do it. But finally things fell into place, and she got the clearance to fix this up for us." He kissed Jack again. "I didn't want to get your hopes up, or mine either, if it couldn't be worked out."

Jack smiled, relaxing back into his pillow. He squeezed Daniel closer. "I was gonna give this up, Daniel, if I had to. I do love it here, you know that. But I don't care where I am that much, really. Not enough to be separated from you anymore."

"I know," Daniel said quietly. "I feel the same way."

Jack smiled at him. "I'm glad." He brushed Daniel's hair away from his forehead, looking deep into his eyes. "So tell me. You sure you can get anything done, working here? You know, with me around distracting you and all?" he asked slyly.

"Sure. By two weeks from now, when my vacation is over, you'll be so sick of me, we'll be able to do our own thing all day long."

"But what about at night?" Jack murmured. He kissed Daniel, gently biting his full lower lip and running his tongue into his warm mouth, exploring the familiar surfaces of Daniel's teeth. He pulled back and gazed into his face. "At night I get to be the one to arrange you. Deal?"

"Deal," Daniel whispered with a slow, lazy smile. "Speaking of which, wanna get started on that right now? We don't wanna get out of practice, you know."

Epilogue July 8, 2015

The elegant restaurant was beautifully appointed. French. Pricey. Secluded by large potted palms from the rest of the dining room, their table was placed in a private alcove up close to a floor to ceiling window on the twentieth floor of their hotel. Minneapolis was literally at their feet in the darkness, the small twinkling lights from many illuminated windows visible through the sheer draperies.

Daniel put down his fork, pushing his plate away from him a bit. Dabbing at his lips with his linen napkin, he lifted his eyes to Jack's face, softly shadowed in the candlelight from the table.

Jack stopped mid-chew, noticing Daniel's gaze on him. "What?" He reached a hand across the table and grabbed Daniel's fingers.

"Nothing," Daniel murmured with a small smile. "I'm just crazy about you, that's all. Did you know that?"

"I did. I do. I'm glad."

"Thanks for this, Jack. The hotel. This wonderful meal. The wine. Everything was perfect."

"Yeah," Jack agreed, giving Daniel a meaningful, searching look. "It sure the hell is. Perfect."

Daniel snickered, withdrawing his hand as their waiter appeared to clear the dishes. "You are so full of it, O'Neill.'

Jack waggled his eyebrows at him. When the waiter had disappeared again, he leaned towards Daniel and said, "Full of it is what I plan to be in a little while."

"Ooo. I love a man with a plan." Daniel rolled his eyes but couldn't help grinning.

When the waiter came back to ask about coffee and dessert, the men declined. Jack had promised dessert in their room for later. After signing the check, they stood to leave.

Jack kept one proprietary hand on the small of Daniel's back as they walked out of the restaurant and headed for an elevator in the hotel's spacious atrium lobby. Once in the elevator, he touched the button for their floor and turned to Daniel as the doors silently closed, pushing him gently against the wall. He insinuated a knee between Daniel's thighs and pressed his body full length against him, capturing his lips in a long, deep kiss. Daniel's hands came up under Jack's suit coat, exploring his back. He allowed himself to be dominated, enjoying the taste of Jack's tongue in his mouth and the heat of their groins pressing together.

Jack reluctantly stepped away only when the elevator doors slid open. There was an older couple waiting to come on. Their eyes were as big as saucers at the sight of the two handsome men who'd been devouring each other.

"Excuse us," Jack murmured as he and Daniel went past them into the hallway.

"Well, I never," the woman said under her breath as the elevator doors slid shut.

Jack grabbed Daniel's hand. "I'll bet she never did," he agreed.

"You're incorrigible," Daniel told him with a laugh. Like that was news.

Jack fumbled with the card pass for their door and finally managed to get it open. He stood aside to let Daniel go in first, smiling in expectation at what he hoped would be a nice surprise.

Daniel stood still just inside the suite's living room, regarding the beautiful table, which had been covered with a white linen cloth. A silver vase held a dozen roses of all different colors, yellow, red, pink, pale lilac, white, and peach. The table was set with silver charger plates, pure white dessert dishes, two tall champagne flutes, and linen napkins in silver rings alongside sterling flatware. A magnum of Dom Perignon was chilling in a silver ice bucket next to the table. And, at the center of it all, stood a chocolate birthday cake with so many candles, Daniel knew it had to be fifty.

"Jack," he breathed. "What did you do?" He turned around and gave Jack a grin, reaching for his hand.

"Come on," Jack urged, tugging Daniel over to the table. "Sit. I'll open the champagne, birthday boy." He pulled out a chair for Daniel and held it for him while he sat down.

Once the champagne had been decanted, Jack sat down next to Daniel and held out his glass for a toast. "To you, Danny."

"To us," Daniel murmured.

"And may you have fifty more years, so we can do this again at your hundredth."

They clinked glasses and drank deeply of the expensive wine.

"Gold," Jack told him with a smile as he refilled their glasses. "This is your golden birthday."

"Um, I think that's for anniversaries," Daniel corrected him. He took another mouthful of the exquisite champagne, enjoying the pricey bubbles going down his throat and tickling his nose.

"Yeah, well, maybe we'll have one of those someday. But meanwhile, this gets to be your gold star day."

"Gettin' old, Jack," Daniel said, knowing he'd get no sympathy from his older husband.

"Nah, just gettin' better. Aging, like fine wine."

"See?" Daniel laughed. "Full of it. I told you so." He swallowed more wine, draining his flute, and indicated Jack should give him more.

"Here ya go." Jack poured and then returned the bottle to the ice bucket. He sat and watched Daniel drinking. "Speaking of which, you ready to go to work on my plan?" Jack gave him his most meaningful look, complete with waggling eyebrows.

Daniel put his glass down with a smile and got to his feet, drawing Jack up next to him.

Laughing, they headed to the bedroom, the birthday cake forgotten for the time being.

Jack turned his head so Daniel could kiss him, a wet, sloppy kiss accompanied with lots of tongue and needy whimpers from each of them. Spooned up behind him, up on one elbow, Daniel thrust into Jack in long, easy glides, possessing him, hitting his prostate on almost every pass.

His eyes closed, carried away with the overwhelming feeling of Daniel's mouth, his cock, and his very busy hand on Jack's erection, Jack's brain didn't know which sensation to dwell on next. It was simply a firestorm of pleasure, one he'd become quite addicted to in their years together.

"Oh, that's it," Jack moaned as the two of them stopped kissing to grab some much-needed air."Oh, yeah, babe, just like that," he murmured, more to himself than to Daniel.

Daniel pressed his lips to Jack's shoulder and picked up the pace a bit. "Love to fuck you," Daniel groaned. "Love how good you feel, Jack." His breath hitched in his throat. "Oh, God." He jabbed into Jack with short, hard strokes, his hand working Jack's cock.

Jack loved to come that way, with Daniel filling him up on the inside, never missing a beat as he fucked him fast and hard. Only a few seconds later, he came into Daniel's hand. "Danieldanieldaniel," he keened as his body shuddered in orgasm. He pushed his ass back against Daniel, urging him on, his hands twisted in the sheets, anchoring himself as he was fucked into the mattress.

Daniel's orgasm wasn't far behind. His balls drew up tight, his fingernails digging into Jack's skin above his hipbone. He thrust into him, whimpering in pleasure as he filled the condom deep in Jack's guts. "Oh, fuuuuck," he gasped. "Jack."

Jack reached back and held Daniel's thigh, urging him to stay buried inside him. He squeezed the softening cock with his ass muscles, milking him, drawing out the rosy haze of the afterglow of their joining for both of them.

After a few moments to catch his breath, Daniel laid down on his side, his arm around Jack's waist.

"So sexy," Daniel whispered. He nuzzled his nose in the nape of Jack's neck. "You felt so fucking perfect, just like always."

Jack turned his head to try to see Daniel out of the corner of his eye. "Love you, Danny."

Daniel hugged him close, kissing Jack's hair and then the side of his face. "Love you, too," he murmured. As he slowly withdrew from Jack's warmth, he reached down to grasp his own dick, hanging onto the condom, which he pulled off and dropped onto a small towel he'd put next to the bed earlier.

Reaching for the comforter at the foot of the bed, Jack pulled it up over them and turned to face Daniel so they were nose to nose. His eyes roved over Daniel's face as he stroked his cheek with the back of his hand and then his fingertips, over and over. "My beautiful Danny."

Daniel smiled, cupping Jack's jaw with one hand. Sleepy and contented, they shared a warm, lazy, almost chaste kiss.

Holding Daniel close, the silver head tucked under his chin, Jack listened as Daniel's breathing evened out, and he became almost boneless in his embrace. He pressed a kiss to his hair, leaving his lips there, breathing in the familiar scent of the man who had been his lover for so long, he could barely remember ever being with anyone else.

Jack lay still, thinking, drowsy and comfortable. This felt good, like it always did. It felt like home, centered and right. It was dark in the room, which was lit only by the light in the bathroom, behind its partially closed door. The world outside their room seem far away and unimportant.

After several minutes, Daniel roused and nuzzled Jack's neck. He took a deep breath and moved back a bit to look him over. "Not sleeping? All your thinking woke me up. Thinking about anything good?"

"Yup. You," Jack told him with a grin.

"Sap." Daniel kissed him.

Jack kissed him back. "Pot and kettle, Doctor Jackson." He waggled his eyebrows and grinned at him. "You ready for some of that cake? Seems to me we have a birthday candle bonfire to light and then try to put out."

"Fifty candles, " Daniel said with a shake of his head. "I can't believe it."

"Gold," Jack told him with a smile. "Don't forget that. And together? We're 24 karat."

"Solid gold," Daniel agreed. "For sure."

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