"Thanks for visiting, General, Sir. I hope we won't have to wait so long until you visit us again," Colonel Robert Richards said. He snapped off a very correct salute. Brigadier General Jack O'Neill returned the salute a little less formally, as was his habit. He didn't set much stock in the formality of military life, but he was happy to receive the respect the man was aiming his way. Richards was a good man. Jack knew that it wasn't easy to be stationed at the alpha site.
"Richards. You'll receive my full report in about one week. But as I've told you already, I fully approve of the work you and your scientists are doing here. Well, you and I don't always understand everything they're...er...well, all the science.
"But, I can tell you, I think what you and your men are doing here at the alpha site is of vital importance to the SGC. To the country. To all of us. I will definitely continue to recommend that your work here goes on without interruption. I'll do my best to keep the funding going and give you any help you need with staffing and supplies. Just let me know if there's ever anything that comes up that you need help with, okay?"
Jack smiled at the colonel, who smiled back indulgently. They were both career military men. Their interest and priorities had always been taken up with threat assessment, military strategy, and leadership. The scientists had their own agenda. But both of them understood the importance of one living in harmony with the other to achieve the goals of the SGC and their government.
An airman was dialing the gate coordinates for earth as the General and the Colonel said their final words to one another. Jack stood to one side, hearing the familiar clunk of the gate engaging, and watched the wormhole form into its blue puddle. He nodded once more to Richards, looked at the two Marines accompanying him, and together the three of them stepped into the wormhole to start the long and very fast ride home.
Stepping out onto the gate ramp back on Earth, Jack sighed in relief. He was always glad to feel his molecules all back together again, aligned in their familiar places. He turned to the Marine guard with him.
"Good work, men. Dismissed," he told them.
"Thank you, Sir," they both said almost in unison.
Jack smiled at them. "Until next time, huh, guys?" They smiled back, nodding their heads in acknowledgement. The three of them walked out of the gate room together. The Marines continued down the hall to their locker room. Jack took a right onto the stairway to go up to the control room.
He looked at the clock on the wall, set to local time. It was 2200 hours. He'd left the alpha site in mid afternoon. He'd been there three days, had even reset his watch to their time so he'd know when he was supposed to be at his various meetings and check sites. Now he had to get back into sync again. He always found that hard for the first day or so.
"Welcome home, General, Sir," said Tech Sergeant Al Cloutier.
Cloutier stood as Jack came in. He knew better than to salute the General. Jack had taken him aside months ago, shortly after Jack's promotion and taking command of the SGC from Hammond, and asked him to keep all the "saluting crap" to a bare minimum, "unless the freakin' President" was watching or something. Cloutier had smiled at him, liking O'Neill's easy humor and everyman attitude. The months since O'Neill had taken over the reins had been good ones. Mostly peaceful, not too much drama, and Cloutier liked the night shift in the control room.
Jack reached out to shake Cloutier's hand. They smiled at each other. "Report, Cloutier?"
Routine. Stuff had been routine in the three days he'd been gone. Teams had come and gone. Lieutenant Colonel Carter, new CO of the reformed SG-1 and Jack's 2iC, had filled in very capably. She had handled debriefings and anything unexpected.
Jack knew that Carter's report would be on his desk when he returned to work on Monday. Right now, he couldn't wait to get home. Sleeping off world, away from Daniel, breathing alien air in a place with two moons in the sky at night was not his idea of home anymore. No way. Maybe if Daniel had been with him, but certainly not without him. He hated being in a place where he couldn't even call Daniel at night. The alpha site was just a little too far away to "phone home". Three days apart felt like an eternity.
Daniel had been named as head of the archaeology department at the SGC, at the same time as Jack had been promoted and given his new command. They had decided to live the domestic life as much as they could, home at night and on weekends, barring any emergency. No more infirmary visits or sarcophagi, no more worry about life and limb, if at all possible, for either of them.
"Good work, Cloutier," he finally said to the man. "I'm going home. I'll be back Monday. Call me, right? If you need me?"
"Right, Sir, we've got ya number." They smiled at each other and Jack turned to leave.
The hot shower had felt good. And taking off his uniform and getting back into his civvies felt good. Jack was excited to be back on Earth. With every foot he moved away from his office, passing through the various checkpoints on the way out of the mountain, he could feel his step lighten, and his mood improve. He couldn't help thinking about who he had waiting for him at home. He was a lucky, blessed bastard, and he knew it.
He found himself whistling a little tuneless ditty as he walked along, speaking when spoken to, showing his ID where he needed to. He'd left the alpha site in bright afternoon sunshine on a summer day. He found himself approaching his truck at a dead run, almost midnight on a cold late October night that seemed to be making up for the lack of rain Colorado had been complaining about for two months. Jack wondered if Mother Nature intended to dump all the rain they needed for the whole month in the same two hours.
He got into the truck and slammed the door behind himself. Wow. Talk about under water. He started the truck, turned on the lights and adjusted the heat to full blast. He shivered. He was pretty wet and knew it'd be a while before the truck warmed up.
"Not a fit night out for man nor beast," he said softly to himself, peering through the rain pouring down his windshield. Even with the wipers at high speed, it was a struggle to see.
Jack decided to call Daniel and slipped his cell out of his coat pocket. It was late, but hopefully Daniel was waiting up for him. He dialed their number at the house and waited. He was smiling, just thinking about Daniel. * Getting sappy, O'Neill*, he said to himself. *Guilty as charged.*
" 'lo?" came a sleepy voice. Jack chuckled.
"Hey, it's me," he told Daniel.
"Jack! You're back?"
"No, silly, I'm calling long distance from a bazillion miles away."
He heard Daniel yawn, not even trying to stifle it in Jack's ear.
"Daniel! You awake? Did I wake you up? Sorry..."
"No. Well, yes. I dunno. I was trying to wait up for you. Are you later than you said you'd be? Where are you?"
"I'm sitting in the truck. Still on base. I have it running and am heading home right now. I just wanted to hear your voice. Will you be up when I get home? I hope?" Jack wanted to be home right now. He hoped Daniel would wait up for him.
"Yeah, I can wait up. Actually, I'm watching TV. Don't know if I'll be awake when you get here. Wake me up, though, huh?"
"My pleasure, Danny. God, I've missed you. Have you been doing okay?"
"Yeah, everything's good," Daniel said, yawning again. "Hurry home. And listen, drive slow, okay? It's a stinky night out. And Jack?"
"I love you, Jack. I've missed you too. A bunch. Bye."
Jack said good-bye and closed his cell phone. He put the truck in gear and started the drive home. *Youbetcha, Danny. I'll drive really carefully. I want to get home in one piece, so you and I can practice being one piece together. Lucky and blessed, that's me.*
Jack pulled into the driveway of his house almost forty-five minutes later. It had been a slow trip in the heavy rain, down the mountain road and then along through the local streets. He'd listened to an opera CD to while away the time, but most of the time his mind was on home, his Daniel and their nice warm bed. He felt like a starving man in need of a good meal. The proverbial desert nomad in need of an oasis.
Pulling up beside Daniel's black Subaru, he shut off the truck's lights and ignition and pulled the hood of his jacket up over his head. He even took the time to zip his coat, knowing the wind and rain would soak him through before he got inside. Daniel had left the lights on outside for him, so at least he wouldn't break a leg trying to get onto the porch.
When he came inside, he pushed the door shut, breathing hard from his run and the way he'd been holding his breath trying not to drown. The rain outside was about as heavy as he'd ever seen it. He took off his coat, shaking it over the rug in the hallway, and hung it on a hook by the door.
"Daniel?" he called out. It was dark in the living room and kitchen area. He switched off the outside lights, locked the door, and went to the patio door to make sure it was locked. Everything seemed to be secure, so he started down the hallway to the family room.
He and Daniel had turned his old spare bedroom into what they called the family room. They'd splurged on a wide screen TV, and they had surround sound and DVD and a VCR all set up to enjoy movies and hockey games, Discovery Channel and ESPN, opera and Top Forty. He and Daniel didn't always agree on their entertainment choices, but had found a pretty easy balance. They chose between Civil War documentaries, and reports on archaeological digs in Peru, and between Bizet's "Carmen" and Limp Bizkit.
A heavy dose of making out on the sofa instead of paying attention to the boob tube helped pave the way to understanding. If Jack ever found Daniel watching the TV over Jack's shoulder, even while being soundly kissed, Jack knew to give him space, back off and let the boy watch. Usually he could distract Daniel really easily. Conversely, Jack had found that Daniel liked to make out during the last five minutes of the third period of every interesting hockey game Jack tried to watch. But Jack could forgive him just about anything, and especially that. Life was never boring.
Jack came to the open doorway of the family room and leaned one shoulder on the doorjamb. Yup, there he was. Daniel was sacked out in the recliner, feet up, an afghan over his lap. He had his feet crossed at the ankles, his socks sticking out from under the blanket. There was no light on in the room; just the light from the TV gave illumination. Jack could see the TV picture reflected in Daniel's glasses. His hair was tousled, and he hadn't shaved. A light five o'clock shadow on his cheeks and around his mouth made him look sexy as hell. The thick neckline of his dark green sweater was bunched up under his chin.
Beautiful. His Danny was a beautiful man. Inside and out. Stubborn and opinionated, smart and intuitive, and absolutely drop dead gorgeous. Jack wondered again what Daniel saw in him. Hopefully, he saw someone who was so shit in love that he almost didn't have any brain cells left. Also, hopefully Daniel felt exactly the same way. He said he did. Jack was never sure how that could be true, but he always saw love in Daniel's eyes when he looked at him, even in the hard times. They didn't fight much anymore, and really never very seriously, but when they did have disagreements, Daniel always was reassuring of his love. Jack knew he didn't deserve such happiness, even as he greedily took every drop of it he could get.
Jack could feel the swelling in his groin as he gazed at Daniel. He needed him so much; he thought maybe he'd climb right on top of him right in that chair. Three long days without Daniel had left Jack limp with wanting. Well, not limp exactly. But wanting, definitely.
Jack stepped into the room and came up to Daniel's chair. He took a couple of pillows off the couch and threw them down beside Daniel on the floor. He kneeled carefully on them, mindful of his creaky joints.
Just as he was kneeling and approaching Daniel for a kiss, something leapt up on Daniel's chest, almost right in Jack's face. He pulled back sharply, his eyes widening in alarm.
"Mew?" said the little creature. It was a half grown kitten. All black, with long, white whiskers and a white patch on one side of its upper mouth that ran down into a white heart shaped bib. Big white paws completed the tuxedo look. Wide yellow eyes searched Jack's own, and the two of them did a quick mutual threat assessment.
Neither of them looked away. "DANIEL?" Jack said loudly, shaking Daniel's arm. He was still kneeling, frozen in time and space. What the hell?
Daniel came awake with Jack shaking him. Oh-oh. The kitten was in Jack's face, or trying to be. He'd hoped maybe to do a gentler introduction, when the time came. He hadn't told Jack about the cat earlier on the phone, hoping it would go better in person.
"Hey, Jack" he said to him. He tried to sit up a little, but Jack's steely grip on his arm, and the cat standing on his chest, didn't exactly give him much freedom of movement.
Jack and the cat were still staring at each other. The cat wanted to sniff Jack, and Jack was having none of it. As the cat came onto the arm of the chair, reaching out its nose to try to make contact with Jack's face, Jack was backing up.
"Let her smell ya, Jack, she wants to meet you is all," Daniel told him softly with a smile.
"No, I don't want to get...smelled...and what is this? Do we have a cat?" he asked Daniel stupidly.
Daniel chuckled. "I dunno, Jack, but I think there's a cat that has people now. Gimme a kiss. God, I've missed you."
Keeping one eye on the animal, Jack leaned in to kiss him. The instant their lips met, Jack's eyes closed. Mmm, so soft. So sweet. Jack lingered for a moment, gently licking at Daniel's lips, loving the taste and feel of him.
They pressed their foreheads together. Meanwhile, the cat had moved in to smell Jack's cheek. He felt a little tentative lick with a warm, raspy tongue. Instinctively, he reached up to wipe off the cat spit.
He sat back again. "Daniel," he said in a low warning tone. "It licked me..."
Daniel laughed right out loud. "I lick you all the time, Jack. No biggie. And it's not an it. It's a she."
"You gonna tell me how SHE got in here? What's going on?"
"Let's go get ready for bed. I'll tell you the whole story. But we'll have company. She's been following me everywhere tonight. And Jack? I stuck the litter box in the bathroom. So don't close the door to that room for longer than a few minutes, 'kay? And don't trip on the food bowls in the kitchen."
"Litter box? Food bowls? What the hell?" Jack stood up and looked down at the two of them.
Daniel put the cat on the floor and pushed himself up and out of the chair. He slipped his arms around Jack's waist and put his head down on his shoulder.
"Watch your language around the baby, Jack," he said quietly into Jack's neck in a little singsong voice. "She's quite impressionable, and you might hurt her feelings. Or teach her bad words. You better be careful. And I need another kiss."
Jack wrapped him in a bear hug, a full body hug that made contact between them from shins to chins. And then he kissed him as thoroughly as he could. The whole time they kissed, Jack was aware of a gentle presence around their ankles, rubbing itself against them.
Daniel was right. The damned cat followed them everywhere. Every single time Jack looked at her and she noticed him looking, she opened her mouth wide and a little tiny "squeak" would come out, like a little hello. Sheesh.
Daniel apparently thought she'd hung the moon. While he was standing next to the bed undressing, she walked back and forth on the bed, running her tail along his stomach as he bent over her. He patted her and told her what a good cat she was, and don't let that naughty bad Jack scare her, he was all bark and no bite and was really a pussy cat himself, and he'd come around, she wasn't to worry.
"Daniel, I'm gonna throw up if you keep talking to it like that. You know, like I'm not in the room."
Daniel looked over at Jack, who was pulling on his sweatpants and tee shirt. Jack was a proverbial sight for the proverbial sore eyes. Three long days without him had felt like a month. He watched him take his dog tags and tuck them inside his shirt and then arrange his shirt down over his hips. All Daniel could think of was how to get him out of those clothes, hopefully faster than he'd gotten into them.
"Hey, handsome," Daniel said. "You wanna come over here and say that again? I'll show you who's in the room all right."
He didn't have to ask Jack twice. Jack was around the end of the bed and pulling Daniel into a hug before Daniel could finish the sentence. Jack kissed him hungrily, backing him into the bed until they both tumbled onto it, laughing into each other's mouths. Jack held himself up on his hands, looking into Daniel's face. He lowered his head and suckled on his neck, listening to Daniel's little sounds of appreciation.
"Gotta get you out of that shirt," Jack growled into his neck. "Gotta get out of mine..."
Suddenly, he was aware of the cat, who had come up beside them and was trying to insinuate herself under Daniel's chin, wedging her head up between theirs. Jack could hear her purring.
With a big sigh, he lowered himself onto Daniel, deliberately putting his head on the opposite side of Daniel's from the cat. "Danny," he whined. "God, are we gonna have an audience?"
Daniel started to giggle. Then he started to laugh. Jack pulled back to look at him, trying to look stern and utterly failing. As he looked into Daniel's face, seeing the love and good will in his beautiful blue eyes, he knew he'd lost this battle before he'd even been aware there was a battle.
"Daniel, I think I'm jealous. I think you have a girlfriend. I don't like cats. I like dogs. This isn't a dog. I'm serious, are you gonna let her watch?"
Daniel laughed even harder. Finally, he put his hands on Jack's shoulders and gently pushed him off him. When Jack rolled away, the cat skittering along to avoid getting squashed, Daniel sat up Indian style on the bed. Jack rolled onto one elbow and looked at him.
Immediately the cat came around Jack and got between them. She was rubbing herself on Jack's chest. When he didn't pat her, she started trying to rub her nose on his chin. He gave her a little push toward Daniel. Daniel reached out to her, and she immediately transferred her interest to him, climbing into his lap. She turned around a couple of times and then lay right down between his thighs. As he patted her, she looked back at Jack. He noticed that her eyes narrowed every time she felt Daniel's hand run down her back. She was squinting and blinking in pleasure.
Jack had to smile at her. "Daniel, her expression is just like mine when you do that to me. You gonna tell me how we became cat owners, or do I have to beg?" Daniel smiled back at him.
"Well," Daniel began. "It's been raining all day. Pretty heavy. And cold. I took the afternoon off from work because I had to go to the dentist at one. Remember I told you before you left?"
Jack nodded. He could watch Daniel talk all day. Had, in fact. *Beautiful Danny*, he thought. *How did this lucky cat find you? How in hell did I find you? *
"I did some grocery shopping after I got my teeth cleaned. No cavities, by the way..." He grinned at Jack.
"So, I got home about four, I think, and had to haul stuff inside in that gross rain. I was just trying to get everything inside, and the door was open while I went back and forth. Just as I came into the kitchen the last time, there she was."
He looked down at the little cat in his lap and scratched her under the chin. She lifted her nose high into the air, giving him better access to her neck.
"God, Danny, she acts just like me. I really am jealous!" Jack looked from the cat to Daniel and back again. "Look at her, the little hussy. What the hell happened while I was gone? I can't be gone three days, and you have a new love in your bed? God!"
Daniel looked up at Jack and smiled at him, and Jack thought again how he needed those blue eyes on him. He needed everything he had. And the cat? Hmmm...
"So anyway, Jack," Daniel continued. "What was I supposed to do, shove her back out in the rain? I couldn't do that. I even went back out into the rain myself to get her some food and litter stuff. She's a friendly little thing. I've always loved cats."
Jack thought about that one. Daniel had always loved cats? He'd known him for about a hundred years, and Daniel had never spoken the word "cat" to him, that he could remember. He was silent, looking at Daniel indulgently.
Daniel kept the cat in his lap but hitched his butt over towards Jack to draw them nearer. Jack took a pillow and shoved it behind his head, lying down and looking up at Daniel.
"Pat her, Jack. She's so soft..." He took Jack's hand and helpfully nudged it toward the cat. Jack took one finger and ran it along her face and neck. He could feel the furious vibrating that was her sound of approval. "Listen to her sing," Daniel said softly. "Isn't a cat purring the most wonderful sound an animal can make?"
Jack didn't know about that. He was kind of fond of dog vocalizations of all kinds, himself. He'd never owned a cat, not even as a kid. Never wanted to. You couldn't play fetch with a cat. You couldn't take a cat for a walk. You couldn't take a cat fishing with you. What in hell good were they?
"What in hell good are they, Danny?" he asked, even as he continued to stroke her.
"I dunno," Daniel said quietly. "They just feel nice. And they love you. And they don't ask for much back. Just food and a warm place to sleep and some play time and love time. Not so different from me, Jack. Not so different from me."
Jack heard his change in tone and looked quickly up at Daniel's face. He knew instantly where this was going.
"Oh, sweetie." He lifted a hand to cup Daniel's cheek. "She's a cute little cat. I don't know anything about cats, but if you want to keep her, we can. You know I can never say no to you. I don't even try anymore. This cat and I, we're both hopelessly in love with you. And I can share if she can."
Daniel took a big breath. He hadn't even been aware that he'd been holding his breath. He felt foolish and couldn't really figure out why it meant so much to him that Jack indulge him in this. He grabbed Jack's hand from his cheek and kissed the palm. Then he rubbed his face into Jack's hand again.
"Thanks, Jack. Love you. And you'll see, you'll get used to her. At night, when we come home from work, and she's all over you and me, you'll wonder how we ever got along without her. You'll see.
"Remember, Jack? Remember how I came home from Abydos after Sha'uri...after I lost Sha'uri? I had no place to go. And you took me in. I was like a stray cat myself.
"That was the night I started to fall in love with you. It took me ages to realize it. I know it took you even longer. But you took me in, Jack. And you've kept me, one way or another, all these years. Both of us, this cat and I, came out of a cold place and into a warm one. Right into your arms. I never want to be anyplace else. And I know once she gets to know you, she'll feel the same way."
Jack held his arms out to Daniel. "C'mere, you stray cats," he murmured. "These old arms are big enough for both of you."
|Genres:||Alternate Universe, Established Relationship, Romance|
|Summary:||Daniel and Jack learn to share.|
Author's Chapter Notes:
Warnings: Major sap alert, major smooshiness alert.