A Giving Heart by JayEm
[Reviews - 2] Printer
Category: Jack/Daniel
Genres: Angst, Drama, Holiday
Rated: Adult
Warnings: None
Series: None
Summary: Christmases past, present and future.

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Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide open heart that thinks of others first. - George Matthew Adams

We'd formed a tradition over the years, Daniel and I. Neither of us ever had anywhere to go, no one else to be with on Christmas, so we'd spend the holiday together. Being the kind of guys we are, though, we could never just come right out and say we wanted or needed the company.

There was never any formal invitation, no elaborate plans. The first year I showed up on his doorstep on Christmas Eve, the next he showed up on mine with a bottle of wine in his hand and a packed overnight bag in his car. The year after that, I bought a party tray at the supermarket and rented 'It's a Wonderful Life'. The next year, he made turkey with Daniel-style trimmings and bought me 'The Santa Clause' because he knew I liked the actor, the closest we'd come to exchanging gifts.

The next year, Daniel was gone..and I was lost.

Teal'c and Carter tried. They both made noises about spending the day together like they thought I needed the company, but I didn't need just any company, I needed Daniel, so I turned them down.

Instead, I spent the day drinking my way through the bottle of Glenfarclas Single Malt that Daniel had brought along the third Christmas we spent together. We'd toasted the day with one glass each and then I'd put it away and forgot about it until that night. Then I pulled out the lock box containing Daniel's private journals I'd confiscated and kept private like I knew he'd want.

It didn't feel wrong to be reading Daniel's thoughts, in fact it felt comfortably right. It was almost like having him there. Almost.

Daniel writes the way he talks - words all jumbled together as if he can't get things out of his head fast enough, going off on tangents every few paragraphs that he didn't always backtrack from. Every so often his smooth script was punctuated with bits of hieroglyphs and passages of something not-English that I couldn't begin to recognize.

I remember falling asleep that night to the sound of Tracy Chapman, one of Daniel's favorites, and dreamed about a strong hand on my shoulder through the night keeping me steady company when I felt like my heart wanted to break.

That was the night I realized I loved Daniel.

It wasn't even that big of a stretch to realize I had loved him for a long time. Didn't freak me out at all, seemed like the most natural thing in the world to go from needing his presence to needing his love and his touch. No big crisis of identity, no weirdness. I just wished I'd come to the same conclusion while Daniel still had a body for me to covet for impure purposes. No, that's not quite right..I purely loved Daniel, the soul deep kind of love I knew I'd now spend the rest of my life wishing for and never having.

The journals helped. Daniel wrote all around the same kind of thoughts I was having far too late, but he never quite came out with the kind of revelation I'd come to. That's when I figured out that maybe he had, that the odd language was his way of hiding things he didn't want a casual, or official, reader to be privy to. It took me a couple of months, borrowing Daniel's professional journals from Quinn one at a time and scanning them for clues until I finally found what I needed. A key. Hidden in plain sight and looking like just another set of notes on a language he was trying to figure out. After that it was relatively easy, and I couldn't help grinning thinking of how proud Daniel would be if he knew I'd deciphered his code.

That's when I knew the truth of what I'd suspected. Daniel loved me too, and had for months before he..left. I knew then when it had happened and I knew why Daniel had chosen to go with Oma. He didn't think I'd ever catch a clue and if I ever did I'd be more inclined to deck him than kiss him because of the way I'd been acting with Carter.

Looking back, that whole thing was just a mixture of physical attraction and a good dose of safety. I knew Carter would never choose me over her career, and she knew I'd never retire while the goa'uld were still around. It was never a regs problem because I never intended to let it become one. Just a pathetic flirtation to make us both feel better about the holes in our lives where, at least on my part, someone else belonged. I think maybe part of me knew even then who that someone should be. SG1 was all that mattered to both Carter and me, at least while Daniel was still around to make us SG-1.

To be honest, there were a few times after I'd figured everything out, when it wouldn't have taken much for me to go. I almost did before I saw Daniel in Baal's cell, never quite sure if it was a dream or not for a long time afterward, but afraid to think about it too much in case I talked myself into believing it was. Or wasn't. Either way it gave me a reason to stick around the SGC. A reason to hope that someday I might see Daniel again.

And sure enough, I did. Months later on an elevator at the SGC looking so beautiful to me that my heart ached with wanting to hold him, to touch him. Knowing I couldn't, I gave him a hard time instead about needing our help to save Abydos. Maybe because I could see he wasn't happy out there playing with Oma anymore. He was nervous and furtive, speaking at machine gun speed like he always did when he was afraid and trying not to let it show.

I think I just wanted him to say the hell with it and choose to become human again, to choose me, so I pushed and pulled and kept at it until he did choose..and then he disappeared.

Despite Carter's doom and gloom pronouncement that we couldn't count on help from Daniel to translate the tablet he said was the key to defeating Anubis, I didn't give up on him. Somehow, I felt I'd know if Daniel was gone for good. At least that's what I kept telling myself every night when I went home alone, went up to the roof, and looked at the stars alone wishing I'd said something to Daniel while I'd had the chance. As if maybe, if I'd told him, things would have been different.

I'd reached a kind of ritual existence by the time Quinn said he'd translated Daniel's tablet. I went to work, I did the job, I came home and watched the stars. Sometimes I got a little drunk; for a couple of weeks I even started smoking again. Spent more than a few nights in conference with my right hand and my dick when things got too raw and I needed the kind of release I knew nothing on Earth was ever going to come close to providing.

Then we went to the Lost City, City of the Lost, wherever the hell it was.the place where we found Daniel. Only it wasn't Daniel exactly; the face and the voice were the same, but the man inside was a pale shade of the Daniel we knew. He was there, but not quite.there. He didn't remember us; hell, he didn't remember himself, but in the end he trusted something about us enough to follow us home.

It didn't take long for him to start remembering, though. Little things at first, a face, a name, a place, a word, then it all started falling into place for him and things settled into a rhythm that was damn close to what we'd had before.

If he remembered what was in the journals I gave back to him when he got his new place, he never said anything. Things were good, great even, as we got to know each other as a team and as friends again. We went off on our missions with a renewed sense of purpose and pleasure in just being able to do the job together once more. We finally got over the compulsion to baby-sit Daniel's every move, and he made a few concessions to make us feel better about doing that.

Life was pretty damn good, all things considered, even if I was suffering a small crisis of conscience over being in love with my best friend and not being able to do a thing about it. Watching him helped, seeing him alive and smiling and content. Being his friend helped even more, closing the gaps that had opened before he left and the new ones created by his spotty memory. We were good, we've been good for months now, and yet..

It's Christmas Eve and I just couldn't seem to catch up to Daniel to invite him over. Now there's no answer at his place and it's getting late. Last year I spent this day alone because I had to; this year it was the last thing I wanted to do.

I put the tree up when I got home, hopeful I'd still manage to reach Daniel, but now I can't seem to find the energy to uncrate the rest of the decorations. With a sigh, I figure a beer might be a good idea and head for the kitchen, but the doorbell rings before I get there. Veering right, I open the door to find..

"Daniel?"

It's really him. Looking hotter than anyone so recently dead has a right to in a deep green v-neck sweater and black leather jacket, carrying a couple of shopping bags.

"Um, hi, Jack."

Somehow I put my eyeballs back into their sockets and manage not drool all over him as I invite him in and take his coat. I don't even hold it that long to feel the warmth of him and to inhale his scent all over it before hanging it on the rack by the door.

I turn to see he's gone through to the dining room table to place his bags there.

"Daniel?"

He looks up and smiles shyly at me. God, he looks so incredible standing there, alive and whole and here again after so long thinking times like these were gone forever.

"Jack?"

"Anything you'd like to share?"

"It's Christmas, Jack." As if that explains everything, which I guess it does.

"You remember.."

He shrugs his shoulders, head dipping in that little boy lost way that cuts straight to my heart every time.

"It's okay, isn't it? I can go if you have other.."

"No! Um, no. Please, um, stay. Please, ah, do."

He grins a little and nods. "I'd love to, thanks."

I just shake my head and smile. This night is turning out better than I'd expected.

"So what's in the bag?"

He turns around and looks at the brown paper sacks like he's never seen them before. "Oh! Just some. Well.here."

Reaching inside, he pulls out a wrapped package and hands it to me.

"A gift?" I rattle the box and smile at him. I think he remembers enough not to expect me to say he shouldn't have.

Daniel just smiles and motions for me to open it, so I do. It's a bottle of Glenfarclas. Same year as the one I demolished last Christmas.

"I thought maybe you'd need a new one by now."

I just nod at him, there's no way Daniel could know...

Reaching into the bag again, he pulls out a party tray from the supermarket, a bottle of wine, and a DVD of It's a Wonderful Life.

"You really do remember." I don't know why I'm so absurdly touched that he's remembered all our Christmases.

"Of course I do, Jack. There's turkey and things to go with it in the other bag. That's if you want..?"

I can't help myself then, I put down the whiskey and hug him. Hard.

"Thank you, Daniel."

He hugs me back, just as hard, his head ducking into my shoulder as if he's trying to subdue the same kind of emotions that threaten to overwhelm me. We stay that way for a long, long time. Nothing sexual about it, just a long overdue and completely necessary reconnection.

Eventually he pulls away, but just far enough to look me in the eye.

"I've got one more gift for you, Jack. If you want it." I open my mouth to say something, but he hushes me. "Just.wait and see it first, then decide."

I'm lost, but seeing how important it is to him, I agree.

He steps away from me and reaches into the bag again to lift out a small gift box, slim and elegant, roughly the shape of a book. I open it slowly, barely able to take my eyes off him.

It's a journal. A clean, new leather-bound journal just like the ones he uses. I don't understand.

"Open it," he whispers.

He's written my name on the flyleaf in a vaguely Arabic-looking script. I turn the page to find - his code. Months of teaching it to myself come back easily and I begin to read.

Dearest Jack,

Almost from the day we looked at one another over that bomb at the pyramid on Abydos, I knew we were connected. Over time, I felt the bond between us grow and in those last few years after Sha're died, I began to feel something even stronger for you. I feared it at first; I feared even more that you would never return those feelings. I understood why you turned to Sam as an emotional outlet, but that didn't stop me from seeing it as a rejection of something you knew nothing about.

By the time Oma offered me ascension, I felt so isolated by my own feelings, I was so tired of all the failures of the past year that it was easy to decide. I didn't want to die and I certainly didn't want to live some half healed parody of my life - a life I was increasingly convinced you would never be a part of.

I don't remember anything about my time away except this. I was drawn back to you constantly. I don't know how often or how I did it, but I was never very far away from you, I couldn't and still be me.

I love you, Jack, and hope I'm right in thinking this is the time to tell you. I found the key to this code in one of my journals, and you're the only one who could have put it there. If you've read the hidden passages and still try so hard to be around me, then I'm hoping you, maybe, feel a little of what I do. If I'm wrong and you didn't spend a lot of time figuring out how to read this because you needed to know my feelings for you, then you can close the book and we'll pretend this never happened. Go back to being friends and I'll do my best to be content with that, because I know having even part of you is preferable to not having you at all.

It's up to you, Jack, as for me - I choose us.

With all my love, always,

D.

Tears sting my eyes as I reach out a hand to draw him to me. Pulling him close, I whisper into his ear, "I choose us, too, Daniel."

He makes a sound halfway between a sigh and a whoop of triumph, and I just have to kiss him. Imagination is nothing like the real thing, nothing at all. He's warm and responsive and tender all at once. His hands slide over my back in an almost frantic attempt to pull us even closer than we are, which is no problem at all. None. Because I'm doing the same thing. We almost lose balance before finding a convenient wall to lean against as we get lost in the freedom to finally touch in the way we've both desired so long. It's slow and easy, then passionately desperate, then slow again and I don't want it to ever end. Our bodies line up perfectly, friction delightfully teasing us both until I'm sure we'll spontaneously combust right there in the hallway.

I want to ask him to go to my bedroom, want to make this last all night and then some, but I realize it's impossible for both of us. We've needed this so long, needed each other, that nothing can stop it now. I get my hands under his sweater, somehow his have found their way into the back of my pants, and I just lose myself in him.

It's almost like ascending, I think. It's joy and passion and amazement, along with a year and more of needing beyond all reason. It's every wish come true and every dream made solid, and I find myself crying even as I laugh at how my heart fills with keen awareness of the precious gift I've received tonight.

I willingly give Daniel my heart and soul without looking back, and he does the same for me with every caress, every kiss, every sacred whisper of my name. And when we fall - finally, blissfully, incredibly - it's together, the way it always should have been, the way it always will be.

Finis
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