Waiting, Again by Nancy
[Reviews - 3] Printer
Category: Jack/Daniel
Genres: Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Pre-Slash
Rated: Adult
Warnings: None
Series: None
Summary: Daniel waits with an injured Jack.

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Author's Chapter Notes:
This was a private story presented to Lorrie who requested it be submitted to Ancient's Gate 7 - Ancient of Days. The story makes some reference to a gen story I wrote a few years ago called ‘Waiting’. However, familiarity with that story is not required to understand this one.
Waiting, Again

Somewhere off-world

Almost done. Don’t think about the blood. Don’t think about the visible bone. Just pack it tight before he wakes up. Damn! I grasp the flailing arms. He fights me, but there is so little resistance, I swallow a sob.

“It’s okay, Jack. It’s me. It’s okay, you’re okay,” I soothe.


The raspy voice scares me, but the fact he recognizes my voice gives me hope.

“Yeah, it’s me,” I whisper, gently lowering his arms to his sides.

“Feel like crap,” he groans.

“Yeah, well, you look like crap,” I murmur fondly.

He grunts in reply then hitches in a breath as I finish dressing his thigh wound.

“Sorry, I’m almost done,” I assure him. “Do you remember what happened?”

He shakes his head weakly and I know he’s in too much pain to even think.

“Carter and Teal’c? They here?”

Except if his team is in danger.

“They’ve gone home to get help. We couldn’t risk moving you. You’re hurt pretty bad.”

He doesn’t say anything and I know he’s trying to process the information; trying to remember. I take the opportunity to give him an injection of morphine. He doesn’t even respond to the needle which tells me how much pain he’s really in. I dampen a cloth and cool his face. He’s not as hot as he was, but he’s been going up and down for the past two hours. Two hours. Is that all it’s been since Sam and Teal’c left?

Earlier that day

“Tell me again, Carter, why we can’t bring bicycles to an alien planet?”

I smile at Jack’s pretend affront at having to slog for several hours by foot through semi-arid, but thank the gods, relatively flat terrain.

“We can’t risk leaving any of our technology lying around, sir,” Sam responds, trying not to smirk

“Right, but it’s okay to show all and sundry our MALP’s, UAV’s, weapons, et cetera,” Jack drawls, squinting up at the sun, “but it would be the end of civilization as we know it if they saw a Schwinn Special.”

“Don’t ask,” I whisper to Teal’c.

“I don’t make the rules, Colonel,” Sam replies patiently.

“They could at least give us some Nikes or something, for crying out loud,” Jack mutters, scuffing his boot in the dirt.

I smile and shake my head. Jack would be lost without combat boots. I think he was born wearing them. I smile at the image of an infant Jack in combat booties. Suddenly, my boonie is snatched from my head and I flinch instinctively just as Jack swats me with it and then plants it a little too firmly back on my head.

“What was that for?” I cry indignantly as I readjust my hat. “I didn’t say anything.”

“You were thinking something,” Jack retorts.

“Daniel Jackson is always thinking, O’Neill,” Teal’c states.

“Thank you, Teal’c,” I say sincerely.

“Ah, that’s what he wants you to think,” Jack says sagely.

“What is your point, O’Neill?”

“Thank you again, Teal’c,” I say. “Yes, Jack, what is your point?”

“Carter, when was the last time we did a quick march?” Jack asks, his eyes still on me.

“Point taken,” I mutter. I know when I’m beaten.

“I thought you’d see it my way,” Jack replies, adjusting his sunglasses with an imperious flair.

Teal’c looks like he’s about to intercede, but a quick shake of my head has him acknowledging my desire for silence with a raised eyebrow and a slight bow of his head.

“Okay, kids, we’ll head over to those trees and take twenty,” Jack announces. “It might be the last trees we see.”

We eagerly head over to the shade and shed our packs. Within seconds, we’re happily ensconced in our little oasis, munching on energy bars and drinking cool water. I finish my bar, lie down and stretch out, my hands clasped behind my head.

“We move out in ten, Daniel,” Jack murmurs.

His voice sounds apologetic and I glance at him curiously. He gives me a little smile, and I realize he is apologizing. He’s always nagging me about not getting enough rest, and now that I feel like sleeping, he can’t allow it.

“Just resting my eyes,” I say with a smile.

He hears my unspoken gratitude and I close my eyes. Jack and I have had some of our best conversations in complete silence: a look, a nod, a small gesture that speaks volumes. It’s a comforting phenomenon we share, and I cherish it.


All too soon, I sense movement around me; our twenty minutes are up. Surprisingly, I feel rejuvenated and I jump to my feet.

“Show-off,” Jack grumbles, but there is affection in his voice.

I grin and shrug into my pack. Seconds later, we’re on our way. Two hours later, I’m yearning for our shady grove of trees. The sun is hot and relentless. Worse, the terrain has degenerated into rock, loose shale, and immense boulders.

“This is a lot worse than what the UAV showed,” I say, pulling out my bandana to wipe sweat off my face.

“Indeed, it is most unpleasant for the inexperienced,” Teal’c states, his face enviably dry and cool looking.

“Come on, Teal’c, you’re not saying you actually enjoy this?” Sam asks, wiping her own sweaty brow with the back of her hand.

“It reminds me of my training as a young Jaffa, Major Carter. We would go on many hikes such as this.”

“Ah, so you do hate it,” Jack says.

“On the contrary, O’Neill, it is most pleasurable without a blindfold,” Teal’c says placidly.

“Blindfold?” I cry. “The made you traverse something like this blindfolded?”

“Indeed. Our symbiotes were kept extremely busy,” Teal’c replies fondly.

“Ouch,” Jack winces, envisioning the chaos. “Well, we don’t have symbiotes and this is nuts,” he says, gesturing to the miles of rock ahead of us. “I don’t care how much naquadah is supposedly out there, it’s not worth breaking our ankles over, never mind our necks. The yellow brick road ends here; we’re going home, Toto.”

“No argument from me,” I say with relief, “uh, not that I’m Toto, or anything,” I add.

Jack grins and gives me a friendly swat to the head.

“We could send out another UAV, sir. Try to find a more accessible route,” Sam suggests, also visibly pleased at the decision to return to the Stargate.

“T, you okay with going back?” Jack asks.

Teal’c looks out at the harsh landscape and then at each of us.

“If I must,” he says with a martyred sigh.

“For crying out loud,” Jack mutters. “We can blindfold you on the way back if you’d like.”

“That will not be necessary, O’Neill, however, thank you for your concern,” he says with a solemn nod.

Sam and I glance at each other and try not to laugh, while Jack just shakes his head and turns around.

“Let’s go, kids.”

I look at Teal’c and give him a ‘high-five’.

“I saw that!” Jack says, not turning around. “Daniel buys dinner!”

“Daniel picks the restaurant!” I pipe up.

Jack bends down, picks up a rock, and flings it at me. I evade it easily. It’s a light-hearted moment we all enjoy.

Two hours later, my mind wandering, I walk smack dab into Teal’c’s back.

“Oomph. Sorry –”

Teal’c raises a warning hand and we all fall silent and still as statues. Then we hear it: a faint hum that is getting progressively louder.

“There,” Teal’c says, pointing to our left.

We turn to see a large, metallic sphere emerge from the horizon, fly overhead, and out of sight.

Jack lowers his binoculars and looks at Teal’c.


“It would seem likely, O’Neill.”


Crap, indeed. We’re still hours away from the Stargate.

“Maybe they’re friendly,” I suggest.

Jack looks at me. “Ya think?”

I frown at his sarcasm. “Not everything in this universe is out to get us, Jack.”

“If this is a naquadah-rich planet, who likes naquadah as much as we do?” Jack asks.

“I’m just saying … okay, so what do we do now?” I ask in defeat.

“Quick march,” Jack orders.

Teal’c and Sam head off immediately. I look at Jack and see the deadly seriousness in his eyes, but it’s the fear on his face that spurs me on. I nod and set off after Sam and Teal’c.

I try not to think of the heat and the miles of barren land between the Stargate and us. I’m good at high speed sprints, but long distance running has never been my forte. I could really use those Nikes about now. I hear Jack behind me. His breathing is slow and regular, but I wonder what this is doing to his knees. Thinking about Jack’s discomfort helps take my mind off my own. For someone who can obviously take care of himself, I seem to spend a lot of time worrying about him. But am I worrying about Jack, or am I worrying about myself? If something should happen to Jack … no, I don’t want to think about that. I’ll think about the stitch in my side instead. Ouch.

I see the trees from our previous respite, and at long last, Jack gives the order to ‘take five’. Selfishly, I’m gratified to see Jack and Sam breathing heavy and sweating. Teal’c, well, Teal’c’s an alien; he cheats.

We bunch together and stare at the trees. We know it would be much cooler in there, but we also know it could now be harbouring unfriendlies.

I take a long drink and look at Jack hopefully.

“Wish I knew, Danny,” he says softly.

I raise my eyebrows slightly. He rarely calls me Danny. I enjoy it when he does, but under these circumstances, it gives me a chill.


Jack gives me a small reassuring smile and then turns to Sam.

“As much as we could use the shade, my instincts tell me to stay clear, Major.”

“Mine, too,” Sam acknowledges.

“Either way, we’re sitting ducks,” I murmur.

“Better a moving waterfowl, than a stationary one, O’Neill,” Teal’c, rumbles, glaring at the trees as if they’ve betrayed us.

“Just catching our breath, T,” Jack replies, clutching his P-90 as he scans the area.

We take a last drink and prepare to leave.

“Weapons ready,” Jack orders. “Take it slow.”

We proceed to walk past the copse of trees. What was a haven earlier is now sinister and my skin prickles. Everyone’s face is grim and I readjust my grip on my own weapon.


We all look at Teal’c and then up to the sky where he’s pointing. Something large, metallic, and glinting in the sun is hurtling towards us, an eerie screech preceding it.

“Another probe?” I suggest, looking at Jack.

Jack watches the object for a couple of seconds and then suddenly grabs me and spins me around.

“It’s a bomb!” he yells, pushing me ahead of him. “The trees!”

I don’t need telling twice, and run for the trees. I’m aware of Sam and Teal’c hightailing it likewise. I hear an ear-splitting whine, silence, and then a violent explosion that throws me to the ground.

I skid painfully on the ground. I spit our dirt and gravel as I scramble to my knees, my head spinning. Miraculously, my glasses are intact. I see Sam and Teal’c get up and continue running. I look for Jack, but strong hands suddenly haul me to my feet and he’s yelling in my ear.

“Keep running!”

Another bomb lands behind us, but luck is on our side and we all make it into the woods.

“Don’t stop!” Jack orders.

We thrash our way through the trees. My feet entangle in a root, and with a wrenching pain, I go down hard. Shit! I’ve broken my damn ankle.

Furious with myself, I grit my teeth and roll over onto my back. I expect to see Jack bearing down on me, but he’s not there. I get a sick feeling in my gut.


I lurch painfully to my feet and brush dirt and debris out of my eyes. That’s when I notice the bloody handprints on my sleeves: Jack’s handprints.

“Jack!” I yell, the pain in my foot all but forgotten.

“Daniel Jackson!”


“Sam! Teal’c!” I call in the direction of their voices. “Is Jack with you?”

“No, he was behind you!” Sam replies.

Then I hear a stumbling, lurching sound in the bush. Oh, God. Jack.

I stifle a cry of pain as I limp back the way I came. “Jack!”

“Daniel, go back!”

The sound of Jack’s voice spurs me on and I ignore his order. Soon, I see him come stumbling through the undergrowth.

“Damn it, Daniel, I said keep going.”

Jack’s breathing is harsh and laboured, but it’s the blood on his pants that chills me.

“Sam! Teal’c! Jack’s been hit!” I shout.

“Daniel, get down!” Jack growls.

I hear the whine of another bomb. I drop to the ground, curl into a ball, and wrap my arms around my head. A multitude of rocks and branches rain down upon me, inflicting minimal damage. I look up cautiously and then scramble to my knees, jarring my foot painfully. I fall back with a grunt, and then I see Jack.

Present Day

“Hard to breathe,” Jack whispers.

“You broke some ribs,” I say, wiping the sweat off his face. “A, uh, tree fell on you.”

“Goddamn trees,” he mutters, closing his eyes.

His indignation makes me smile. Although there is nothing remotely amusing about our situation, if Jack can still complain, he’s still fighting.

“Bombs,” he murmurs and his eyes open and seek mine. “We were attacked.”

Not a question, but a statement.

“Yes,” I reply.

“Carter and Teal’c,” he says, struggling to sit up. “It’s not safe.”

“Jack, don’t move,” I admonish, gently grasping his shoulders and easing him to the ground. “You’re badly hurt. Sam and Teal’c are fine. They’re calling in every half hour, and I haven’t heard any more explosions,” I explain. “We think it was maybe an automatic response to the probe passing over us. We should be safe now.”

I don’t know if Jack even hears me. His face is a mask of pain and his breathing is worse than before.

“They’re okay?” he asks, his hand waving weakly.

“Yes, Jack, they’re okay,” I repeat, grasping his hand. “I promise.”

“Good, good; that’s good,” he sighs, clutching my hand weakly.

He relaxes, and I place his hand down gently on his chest.

“You okay?” he asks.

“I’m fine, Jack.”

He looks at me blearily and then shakes his head.

“Not getting my memos.”

“Memos?” I ask, frowning.

“Memos about new headgear. Bloody bandages. Who woulda thought.”

“Oh that,” I say, fingering the bloody gauze on my forehead. “It’s nothing.”

“Uh huh,” he replies dubiously. “What else?”

“A sprained ankle, assorted cuts and bruises. Nothing serious,” I reply.

He stares at me then nods, his eyes sliding shut.

“You should’ve gone with them. Shouldn’t be stuck—”

“Damn it, Jack. Do you think I’d leave you like this?” I cry, my voice cracking. His words hurt and anger me. I shouldn’t let them because I know he doesn’t mean it, but he’s dying and I’m scared.

His eyes open and he looks at me. He smiles sadly. “No … never.”

“Damn right,” I say, turning my back to hide my tears.


I know that tone and it brings a fresh surge of stinging tears.


“What?” I say a little too harshly.

“Not your fault.”

I knew he was going to say that. He knows he’s dying and he’s accepted it. Well, I haven’t and I won’t. I also can’t look at him. Instead, I struggle to my feet and mutter, “Get some rest.”

I limp painfully away, not looking back.


Well, that went well. Damn it, Daniel, I didn’t mean to hurt you. Hell, I just don’t want you to feel any worse than you already do. That ankle must hurt like a son-of-a-bitch and you’ve probably got a mother of a headache. And here I am, flat on my back, useless as tits on a bull. On second thought, maybe I’m not that bad. Leg’s on fire and it hurts to breathe, but maybe if I sit up—no—no—bad idea. Crap, I know this feeling: bleeding internally. It’s the Antarctic all over again, only warmer. Well, Daniel never gave up on Carter and me; I’ll be damned if I give up on him. Danny will get us out. Where the hell did he … Daniel? Aw hell, he’s crying.


Well, this is sure helping. Jack’s back there in a whole lot of pain and I’m sitting here crying my eyes out. Get a grip, Jackson. We’ve been in situations like this before. We’re going to be fine.

A wave of nausea assails me as I stand up too quickly. I lean heavily against a tree, waiting for the feeling to pass. Sam warned me I might have a concussion. Now would not be a good time to pass out. I’ve been saving the water for Jack, but I’m going to have to take some for myself. He’s depending on me and a fat lot of good I’ll be unconscious.

Okay, the head’s clearing. I just need a stout branch to help with the walk back. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking, taking off like that. Yes, I do, and I’m not proud. Jack was trying to help me and I shut him out. It’s time to get things back on track.


Come on, Daniel. Get your ass back here. You know I can’t go after you. That’s torture you know. Well, it’s about time; I hear him coming back. Ouch. I wince at a muffled curse. Damn it. Take it slow, Daniel. I’m not going anywhere. I am getting colder though. The sun must be going down. Ah, there he is. Jesus, Daniel. You look like how I feel: crap.


“Jack, you’re supposed to be resting,” I chastize as I sit down heavily beside him.

“You see me doing push-ups?”

“Mentally, yes,” I reply, feeling his forehead.

His fever is up, but I don’t let it show on my face. I dampen a cloth and dab his heated skin.

“Are they overdue?” Jack asks, his eyes closing. I hope he’s enjoying the cool cloth.

“Push-ups, Jack,” I say affectionately.


I smile at the familiar growl.

“No, they’re not overdue.”

“Wouldn’t lie to me, would you? Nah, you never lie,” he mumbles.

“Rest, Jack,” I urge softly.


“Where?” I ask, swallowing with difficulty.

“Inside,” he whispers.

I chew my lower lip and take a deep breath.

“You’re … you’re probably bleeding internally.” I say, wincing at the crack in my voice.

“Peachy. Knew it felt familiar.”

“And you lived to tell the tale,” I tease lightly, “so you can add this one to your repertoire, too.”

“As long as you’re here,” Jack whispers, reaching blindly for my hand.

I grasp his hand and hold it tight. “Always, Jack. Always,” I whisper, my vision blurring.

“Daniel, this is Sam. Do you read?”

“Yes, Sam, I’m here!” I cry, blinking my tears away. “Where are you?”

“We’re at the ‘gate. Teal’c’s dialing now.”

“Great, that’s great,” I sigh, squeezing Jack’s hand encouragingly.

“How’s the colonel?”

“He’s hanging on, Sam. I’ve changed his bandage twice. The bleeding has slowed, but it hasn’t stopped. His breathing isn’t great, but he still manages to get a dig in,” I say, smiling at Jack.

“We’ll be back as soon as we can, Daniel, and this time with transportation. I’ll radio as soon as we’re back on this side.”

“Okay.” I turn my head and lower my voice. “Please hurry, Sam.”

“Daniel, if anyone can keep the colonel going, it’s you. Carter out.”

I turn off the radio and feel a great weight slip off my shoulders. They’re almost home and help will soon be on the way.

“How long?”

I look down at Jack and feel my optimism melt away. I know what he’s asking and what he’s implying.

“It won’t take them as long to come back. General Hammond will provide transport,” I insist.

“You know the rules, Daniel,” he protests weakly.

“I also know General Hammond,” I reply.

His fingers go lax in my hand and my chest constricts.


“Resting … just resting.”


Crap. I hate this feeling. Daniel’s worried sick and I really can’t help him. I know I’ve lost track of time, but I do know it’s been hours since we were attacked. Hours and they’re not even at the ‘gate. Not good, not good at all. Daniel says not to worry. What else is he supposed to say, for crying out loud?


Oh, crap. I didn’t mean to say that out loud. Just what Daniel doesn’t need right now. He wants to know where it hurts. I hear the fear in his voice. No use in lying; he’ll know.

Huh, how ‘bout that? Daniel admitted I’m probably bleeding internally. Okay, since we’re being honest here.

“As long as you’re here,” I say and grope for his hand.

Danny’s hand is warm and strong. He’s got strength he can’t even imagine, and that’s saying something. I always get this strange buzz or energy when we touch. Weird. Nice, but weird. Hell, he must be amazing in bed. All that energy and concentration focused on just you. Must be mind-blowing. Shit, what am I doing thinking about Daniel having sex? And not just sex with anyone, but with me? I must have got hit in the head, too.

Carter! I heard Carter’s voice. Thank, God, they’re okay. One less thing to worry about. Took them a long time though. I don’t want to think about what shape I’ll be in when they return.

“How long?” I ask.

Daniel knows what I’m asking. I can feel the tension in his hand. He says Hammond will send transport. He might be right; it’s something George would do. I just hope it’s not a corpse they transport back. I’m not feeling so shit hot.


“Resting … just resting.”

It’s okay, Daniel, don’t be scared. I squeeze his hand. At least I think I do. Can’t feel too much right now. Guess that’s a good thing.


Jack’s sleeping. Pain and exhaustion have finally taken their toll. Regretfully, I ease my hand from his limp grasp. I have to treat my own injuries, especially the head wound. I can’t risk an infection; Jack needs me to be one hundred percent. There’s also something bothering me that I try not to think about: the probe. If activation of the Stargate triggered the probe’s release, like a forgotten, but still active security system, then Sam and Teal’c’s recent gate activation could launch another probe. And another probe means more bombs, and I really don’t want to think about that.

Instead, I concentrate on disinfecting my assortment of cuts and scrapes. Not surprisingly, I find ones I missed the first time around. Already they are red and swelling. Sam won’t be pleased. I let her treat my ankle and head wound, but I told her I’d take care of the rest of the injuries. Her priority was to get back to the Stargate. I wince as the disinfectant does its work. If Jack sees them, I’m a dead man. The thought of his cranky paternalism makes me smile. I remember him as an old curmudgeon on Argos. Even though he had aged more than fifty years, he had still been quintessential Jack.

I’m thinking about Jack a lot, and I know it’s because I’m afraid of losing him. I also can’t help thinking that maybe if I had remained ascended I’d be able to save him now. If Jack knew what I was thinking, he’d say, ‘For crying out loud, Daniel,’ and then proceed to tell me in no uncertain terms what a flake I was. Even that thought gives me comfort.

Speaking of comfort, my ankle is screaming at me. I wouldn’t be surprised if I fractured it. Even so, it’s minor compared to Jack’s injuries. I look down at him and frown. His sleep doesn’t look very restful and his breathing isn’t right. I hate to wake him, but I’m afraid he’ll start choking if I don’t.


I give him a little shake and his eyes snap open.

God, he looks bad. He begins to cough and I wince at the pain it must be causing his ribs. I help him to sit up and then gently ease him onto his side.

“Easy,” I soothe, as he continues to cough.

His coughing is congested and he spits out blood, confirming my fear of internal bleeding. He attempts to hide the fact, a gesture that makes my heart ache. I rub his back, offering what comfort I can.

“Crap,” Jack mutters, clearing his throat.

“Here,” I say, holding a cup of water in front of his mouth.

Jack takes the water, swishes it around in his mouth and spits it out. He takes some more and this time swallows it.

“Do you feel better sitting up?” I ask.

“I think so. For awhile, anyway,” he replies.

“Here, lean against me,” I suggest as I carefully position myself behind him.

He leans back and sighs. “Better.”

I smile and wrap my arms loosely around his chest.

“Am I hurting you?” I ask softly.

“No, no, this is good,” he says, patting my arm, his head resting against my shoulder. “Déjà vu,” he adds.

“Déjà vu,” I whisper and close my eyes.


I can’t believe I’ve put Daniel in this position again. Son-of-a-bitch. I’m supposed to be the one looking after people. Not that I want Daniel injured. Crap, he is injured and no doubt worse than he’s letting on. I also can’t believe how good it feels to be in his arms. Safe and loved. I shouldn’t be surprised; I remember this feeling from before. I also remember thinking it wasn’t a bad way to die. Hell, it’s still not a bad way to die, but I know what it will do to Daniel, and I’ll be damned if I do that to him.

“Hey,” I rasp, bumping him with my head.

“Hey yourself,” he replies, his breath tickling my ear.

“Last time you sang to me,” I pout.

He chuckles softly and I bounce lightly on his chest. Sweet.

“Any requests?” Daniel asks.

“Know any Rigoletto?” I ask with a raised brow.

“In your dreams, fly boy.”

“No, huh?” I grouse. “How about something Abydonian then?”


I smile at the genuine surprise in his voice.

“Seriously. You must know some songs.”

I feel his arms tighten slightly around me and I hope I haven’t brought back painful memories: memories of Sha’re and the people who adopted him as one of their own.

“Daniel, you don’t have to if—”

“No, it’s okay, Jack. I just haven’t done it in a long time. You sure you want it in Abyonian?”

“It’s a nice language,” I say, and maybe it will offer Daniel some comfort.

“Um, the only ones I know are lullabies,” he says apologetically.

“Perfect,” I murmur, attempting to snuggle into him.

He laughs and I feel a gentle pressure on the top of my head. Then I feel him tense. Ah, Danny, don’t do that; you’ve done nothing wrong.

“About time,” I grumble.

“Excuse me?” he asks, puzzled.

“I was wondering what a guy had to do to get a kiss around here.”

He snickers, and I grin as my head bounces on his chest.

“I just hope you’re not expecting anything else,” Daniel says.

“Maybe later,” I murmur.

God knows what he thinks I mean. Hell, I don’t know what I mean. It’s just that when Daniel and I get into these situations I realize how important he is to me, and maybe, just maybe, I love him more than I should.

“Are you comfortable?”

The query is a mere whisper, but the concern in his voice is thunderous.

“Perfect,” I reply, relaxing completely into his embrace.

Daniel starts to sing; a low, melodic tenor that gives me goosebumps. I’d forgotten what a damn fine voice he has. I’ll be damned if I forget again. I close my eyes. I know some Abydonian and I think I actually recognize some words. Then I start thinking about what he’s lost. Daniel should be living on Abydos, singing to his and Sha’re’s children; not lying here on some forgotten planet with a dying colonel in his arms.


Ah, crap. I’m crying.

“Don’t stop,” I say hoarsely, clasping his arm.

I feel his hand over mine; warm and strong, and I feel another spate of tears. For crying out loud, I’m falling apart here.

“Is my singing that bad?” he asks, squeezing me tenderly, and yes, I get another kiss.

“Ass,” I mutter, sniffing loudly.

“Softie,” he accuses.

“It’ll be our secret,” I mutter.

He laughs gently and resumes singing.


I know Jack is crying for what I’ve lost, but I’ve also gained a great deal because of that loss, and I’m holding most of that in my arms. I’m okay, Jack. Trust me on that.

I think he’s asleep. It’s a good think he doesn’t understand Abydonian, otherwise he’d probably have nightmares. Like Earth lullabies and nursery rhymes, Abydonian ones are not always conducive to sweet dreams. But then, neither is our situation. Jack is in real trouble here and we both know it. Even if we don’t get attacked by the defense system, if that’s what it is, the chances of Jack hanging on till Sam and Teal’c return are … damn it. I tighten my hold on the man in my arms. He is not going to die. I will not let him die.

“We’ve got too much still to do, Jack,” I whisper, “and I’m not just talking about saving the world. I’m talking about us. Things we haven’t said; things we haven’t done.”

I kiss the top of his head and bury my face in his hair. And then I hear it: the probe. I hold Jack as tight as I dare, willing ourselves to be small and still, to be invisible. If it’s heat-seeking, we don’t stand a chance, but if it’s looking for movement—oh, shit.

“Jack, be still. Shh, it’s okay,” I whisper urgently.

But Jack can’t be still: he’s choking, and I know what he’s choking on.

I scramble out from underneath him and roll him onto his side. The horrible choking turns to a bubbling cough, and wads of dark blood spatter the ground.

I’ve held back for so long, but tears stream down my face as I rub his back in a vain attempt to offer comfort. My other arm is holding him close to me, hoping to alleviate some of the pressure from his ribs. I can feel the heat from his leg and I know I have to change his bandage.

Jack coughs one more time and then collapses in exhaustion. I ease him to the ground and rub his shoulder.

“Crap,” he croaks, his voice raw and strained.

The familiar growl fills me with hope. I laugh and sob at the same time as I continue to rub his shoulder.

“Okay, now?” I ask.

He nods and spits out more blood.

I swallow with difficulty and reach for the water.

“Here,” I say, urging him to drink.

He grasps the cup weakly, but manages to rinse his mouth.

“You need to drink,” I urge.

He silently swallows some water and I remove the cup from his trembling fingers before he drops it.

“Are you cold?” I ask.

He nods and lowers his head wearily to the ground.

I look up at the sky. The sun is going down, but it’s still very warm. I look down at Jack. I’d placed our blankets underneath him to give him some relief from the bumpy ground and I hate to remove one. I also shed my jacket hours ago and it’s now covering his leg. I don’t want to start a fire because of the probe and what may follow. My options are limited. I also need to change his dressing.

I carefully remove my jacket from his leg and hike it up to cover his chest and shoulders. In spite of my gentleness, he gasps.

“Sorry,” I whisper. “I need to change your dressing,” I add.

“No point,” he mutters.

“Jack, we can’t let it get infected. You know—”

“Heard the probe,” he interrupts.

His words leave me speechless for several seconds. He expects us to die. That’s not the Jack O’Neill I know.

“That doesn’t mean Jack-shit,” I counter, finding my voice.

“Jack-shit?” he queries, opening one eye.

“You know what I mean,” I mutter.

“Daniel,” he whispers.

I never knew my name meant so many things until I met Jack. This ‘Daniel’ means, ‘You don’t have to pretend for me. I heard the probe. I know it’s a security system. I know the bombs will come.’

“We survived the first one,” I say defiantly. “If it happens again, we’ll survive it, too. Now, I’m going to change your dressing.”

“God, you’re a nag,” Jack mutters.

“That’s why you love me,” I reply lightly. “Now, let’s get you on your back.”

“You’re an animal,” he grunts as he allows me to roll him over.

I snicker and work quickly. To my surprise and pleasure, the wound looks better, much better.

“You’re going to be okay, Jack.”

“You sound surprised,” Jack whispers, stoically enduring my ministrations. “You always do good work.”

Touched and embarrassed by his praise, I duck my head and quickly bandage his leg.

“All done,” I say, dabbing at the fresh sheen of sweat on his face.

His hand reaches up and grasps mine. I look down at him in surprise. His eyes are open and very clear.

“I do, you know,” he says, staring intently.

“Jack?” I say, shaking my head in confusion.

“I do love you,” he replies.

I’m speechless again. I do know Jack loves me. I just never dreamed he’d actually say it.

“I know, Jack,” I assure him, squeezing his hand. “I know. I love you, too.”

His eyes suddenly fill with tears and my own vision blurs.

“I, uh, tried to tell you … before, but …”

“It’s okay, Jack. I knew.”

I did, too. He said he was lousy at that stuff, and he was, but an admission of ‘admiration’ was a big step for Jack, and I was happy to receive it.

“Lousy at that stuff,” he mutters.

“Yes, you are, but you’re getting much better,” I smile, swiping at my eyes, and then gently wiping away Jack’s tears.

“Timing sucks, though,” he murmurs, closing his eyes and clasping my hand to his chest.

I settle down beside him and hold him as best I can, offering my warmth and my love.

Soon, his hand goes lax in mine and his breathing slows. I lie there a few more minutes and then slip my hand from his grasp. He doesn’t move and his breathing, though laboured, is even. I carefully roll away and stand up, gingerly testing my foot. Pain flares up my leg and I bite back a yelp. I look at Jack; he stirs, but doesn’t waken. Quietly, I grasp my make-shift crutch, limp over to my pack, empty its contents, and begin filling it with dry pieces of wood.

I don’t want to leave Jack, but I have to do something, and I have to do it before it gets too dark. I just hope I’m not inviting disaster. I quickly swallow some painkillers, say a silent goodbye to Jack, and head out of the forest.


Damn, it’s cold. I frown, trying to remember where I am. It doesn’t take long, and I know why I’m cold, or at least colder than I should be: Daniel’s gone.


I grimace at the plaintiveness in my voice. Did I order him to leave to save himself and he actually left? Yeah, right. Get real, O’Neill. This is Daniel. The man who takes ‘no one gets left behind’ to new heights, even if it ends in his own death.

I look at my surroundings, or, at least what I can see from flat on my back: a whole lotta trees. It’s definitely getting darker. I manage to get into a semi-upright position. It hurts like hell, but it takes a little pressure off my ribs. It also exhausts me. I shiver and pull Daniel’s jacket tighter around me. I’d rather wrap the real thing around me. For crying out loud, there I go again. Why am I thinking about Daniel in that way? Must be some weird dying thing. Get in my last jollies or something. What a load of crap. When I was dying in Antarctica I sure didn’t think about Carter that way. I did think of Sara though. All the things I didn’t say and should have. Thought about Daniel and Teal’c a lot, too, hoping they were okay and not stuck somewhere like Carter and me. Where the hell is Daniel?


That took a lot longer than I had planned. I hope Jack is still sleeping. If he wakes up disoriented he could hurt himself. He could—

“Jack, what are you doing?” I cry in dismay, as I see the object of my worry propped up precariously on one elbow.

“I’m waiting.”

“For me?” I ask guiltily, hobbling over to him and sitting down.

“No, for Godot,” he answers sarcastically

“You seem better,” I say with a tired smile.

“Sleep and pain-killers: Breakfast of Champions,” he drawls.

He’s smiling, but he can’t hide the pain in his eyes.

“Are you okay like that?” I ask.

“Not really,” he replies, lying back with a pained grunt

I lean over and fuss with my jacket that’s covering him.

He sniffs and wrinkles up his nose.

“You smell like woodsmoke.”

“I, uh, set up a campfire out there,” I explain, waving my hand.

He looks at me like I’m nuts and then an appraising smile crosses his face.

“A decoy,” he murmurs. “Good thinking, Daniel.”

“Maybe,” I shrug. “It’s a long shot. I don’t know if I went far enough.”

“It’ll buy us some time, Daniel. That’s the important thing,” Jack assures me. “How’s the ankle?”

“Don’t think I’ll be dancing anytime soon,” I reply, wincing as I flex my foot.

“Me neither,” Jack sighs, closing his eyes and grimacing as something spasms inside.

I glance at my watch.

What the hell’s taking them so long? They should have come through the Stargate long ago. It’s going to be dark soon. Surely, Hammond’s not holding them back because of that? Jack might not make it until morning. Not if he’s bleeding internally. If? That’s wishful thinking.


Jack’s quiet query jolts me from my morbid thoughts.

“I’m here, Jack,” I say, leaning over him anxiously.

“Cold,” he mutters.

The evening is warm and the heat is still coming off me in waves from my recent exertion. Body heat is the quickest, most efficient way to warm Jack, but I’m afraid of hurting him.

I stretch out beside him on his good side and hold him tentatively.

“I won’t break,” he grumbles.

I smile at his surly tone.

“All right, but you asked for it,” I warn.

He cracks one eyelid open and peers dubiously at me in the dim light.

I pull my jacket off his chest, wrap it around both of us as best I can and curl up around his body. I grasp him snugly. The heat is oppressive and I feel the sweat drip down my spine.

“Better?” I ask, my head resting on Jack’s chest.

“Much better,” he grunts.

I smile and will all my heat into Jack.


‘Better?’ he asks. Oh, Daniel, much, much better. He feels like an electric blanket on high. How can one guy put out so much heat? Hell, he’s probably got a friggin’ fever. Or, is it me with the fever? Damn, it’s hard to think. Well, stop thinking and just enjoy it. Enjoy? Yeah, enjoy. I’ve thought it before and I’ll think it again: this is a good way to die. I always figured I’d die alone. Iraq taught me that. Hell of a way to go though. Hell for friends and family if you’re lucky enough to have them. I’m a lucky bastard. I’ve got both with SG-1, and none more so than Daniel.

Daniel. Hell of a thing for me to do: die in his arms. It’ll kill him. That’s if the bombs don’t get us first. He didn’t need to stay. Carter and Teal’c would have gotten him out. At the very least, he could’ve gotten away from me and decreased the odds of being a target. Who am I kidding? The guilt would kill him if the bombs didn’t. Guess you’re stuck with me, Danny.

“Am I hurting you?”

The question is a warm tickle in my ear. I smile and pat his arm weakly.

“No, Danny. Feels good,” I whisper.

He burrows a little closer and my heart aches a little more for what he means to me. It’s my turn now. I turn slightly and kiss the top of his head. In response, he squeezes a little tighter.

Yeah, he feels damn good. He’s only wearing a T-shirt, but already his arm is slick with sweat. He must be as uncomfortable as hell.

“If it’s too hot you—”

“Shh, just rest, Jack. I’m fine.”

Yes, you are, Daniel, but you are way beyond fine, and I don’t know what the hell I did to deserve you.

Daniel’s hand is gently caressing my shoulder. He’s probably not even aware he’s doing it. In fact, I’m not sure when he actually started, but now that I am aware, my mind is going to places it has no business going, and … oh, crap.

“Daniel?” I squeak, silently telling my semi-rigid cock to mind its own business to which it responds with a ‘what the hell do you think I’m doing? I’m not dead, yet,’ twitch.

“Hmm?” Daniel responds tiredly, his hand still massaging my shoulder.

“Um, maybe you shouldn’t do that,” I suggest.

His hand continues to rub and then suddenly stops. He lifts his head and the loss of heat is remarkable.

“I’m sorry, Jack. I—”

“Daniel, don’t,” I interrupt. “It’s just … well, I was, um, enjoying it a little too much, if you catch my drift.”

I’m glad it’s dark and I can’t see his eyes. God knows what he’s thinking. I’m bleeding internally, for crying out loud. I’m not supposed to be thinking about sex.

“Really?” Daniel queries, sounding utterly surprised rather than disgusted.

“Nice to know it still works,” I mumble, mortified, but trying for levity.


I shouldn’t be enjoying this as much as I am; Jack is seriously injured. But holding him is just, well, wonderful. The heat is stifling, but it’s a small price to pay if Jack can derive some comfort from my warmth. I remember holding him like this after the Lerans tried to kill him. We waited so long for Sam and Teal’c to rescue us. I thought he was going to die, and I remember thinking I wanted to die with him. I didn’t want to face another devastating loss like Sha’re and my parents.

God, I’m selfish. When I ascended I didn’t stop to think what it would do to Jack, or to Sam and Teal’c. Not really. Jacob was healing me; I didn’t have to ascend. I had a choice between a life, maybe, physically scarred beyond recognition, or an incredible journey beyond my imagination. A ‘no-brainer’ as Jack would say. I asked him to let me go and he did. I can never repay him for that.

His breathing sounds bad again.

“Am I hurting you?”

“No, Danny. Feels good,” he replies in a whisper.

I smile, relieved, and hold him a little bit closer. I love this man. I feel a gentle kiss on the top of my head, and I hug him even more.

I’m sweating like a pig and Jack tries to tell me I don’t have to hold him, but I assure him I’m fine. Yes, the heat is unpleasant, but the discomfort pales in comparison to the joy I feel just holding him like this and the joy in knowing he’s deriving comfort from me. It’s almost intoxicating, this feeling.


Whoa. I can’t believe Jack is sexually aroused. My God, the man’s bleeding internally. How can he even think about sex? I’d laugh if our situation wasn’t so serious. Trust Jack to have his priorities all screwed up. Well, it certainly can’t be me that’s turning him on; it must be just the physical contact. Who am I to deny him that?


Daniel lowers his head back to my chest and, to my amazement, resumes the caress.

“Daniel?” I whisper.

“You’re injured. How much trouble can we get into?” he replies.

“You’d be surprised,” I mumble, ruffling his hair as best I can.

He snickers and pats my shoulder.

“We shouldn’t get your heart racing,” he says. Damn, he even sounds serious.

“Ah, but what a way to go,” I sigh.

“You’re not going anywhere, Jack, except back to the SGC and Janet’s expert care.”

I hear the fear in Daniel’s voice and I pat his arm weakly.

“You’re the boss,” I whisper.

“Fine time for you to realize it,” he mutters.

I chuckle, but it’s the wrong thing to do because my lungs fill up with fluid. I cough and choke, and before I know it, I’m on my side and Daniel’s rubbing my back, trying to ease the pain. Blood pools in my mouth and I spit it out. Crap, this isn’t good.

Daniel doesn’t say anything, just continues rubbing my back. I swear I can feel his hand trembling. Where the hell are Carter and Teal’c? They should’ve come through the ‘gate by now. If I’m thinking it, I know Daniel’s gone through every possible scenario. Danny, I’m sorry, but I don’t know if we’re getting out of this one.

“What did I tell you about the rubbing thing?” I mutter. My voice is hoarse, but I get the tone I was aiming for. His hand stops and I can feel his laugh. He must be stuck to me like glue. It’s a comforting thought.

“You’re incorrigible,” he replies in mock disgust.

“That’s why you love me,” I murmur in reply.

He doesn’t say anything; just continues to rub my back. I really don’t feel up to talking, but I want him to know the rubbing helps.

“It helps, Danny.”

I can barely hear my own voice, but Daniel does. I’m rewarded with a gentle kiss on the back of my neck which sends a pleasant tingle through my body. His hand resumes its soothing massage. I sigh and close my eyes.


Something’s not right. They should have come through the ‘gate by now. And that damn bomb should be coming any time now, too. I’m sorry, Jack, but this really might be our last stand.

Oh, shit. It’s coming. I feel Jack tense and I know he hears it, too. I practically crawl on top of him in a futile attempt to protect him.

“Not now, Daniel. Got a headache,” Jack mutters.

“Were you born an ass?” I ask, chuckling in spite of our imminent demise.

He snorts softly and I shake my head. I can’t believe we’re joking as a bomb hurtles towards us. We’re facing each other, but it’s too dark to make out details. Maybe it’s a good thing we can’t see each other’s false bravado.

The whine of the approaching bomb stops and, in the eerie silence, I hold Jack tighter.

The ensuing explosion has us clutching each other convulsively. The noise is deafening, but we’re unscathed and I have visions of my decoy campsite being blown to smithereens.

“Way to go, Daniel,” Jack whispers.

We’re so close I feel the warmth of his breath and smell the metallic tang of blood. He’s dying. Even so, I take pride in his praise.

“We’re not out of the woods, yet,” I whisper in return.

I feel a little gust of warmth on my face as he laughs at my choice of words, but the moment of lightness is short-lived; we hear the next bomb.


I know what Jack’s going to say: it’s been an honour serving with me, and he’s sorry it’s ending this way. I don’t need to hear it. I know how he feels and what this is doing to him.

“I know, Jack,” I say, and then I do it. I lean forward and kiss him on the lips. If we’re going to die now, we’ll damn well do it distracted.

Jack grunts in surprise, which opens his mouth. I respond immediately and stick my tongue in. Jack reciprocates, albeit tentatively, and I am so amazed by what we’re doing I barely notice the bright flash around us. My mind registers that ‘this is it’, but as Jack would say, ‘what a way to go.’

“Greetings, O’Neill, Daniel Jackson.”


Jack and I pull back in shock and stare wide-eyed at the diminutive alien.

I try to say something coherent, but I can only manage a startled gasp.

“I regret we cannot converse further, but Dr. Fraiser is waiting,” Thor says.

I swear there was a glint in those dark orbs, but before I know it, there’s another bright flash and then Jack and I are being pulled apart. Instinctively, I reach for him, but small, firm hands hold me back.

“It’s okay, Daniel. We’ll take care of the colonel from here.”

“Janet?” I say, blinking at her in confusion.

“Welcome home, Dr. Jackson,” she smiles. “You have some very anxious teammates waiting to see you.”


Sam, Teal’c and I hover outside the infirmary. Janet’s been in there with Jack for a long time and we don’t know whether that’s good or bad. I hate waiting.

“She’s coming,” Sam whispers.

“I know you’re all waiting anxiously,” Janet says, pulling off her surgical mask, “so I’m happy to report that the colonel’s going to make a full recovery. He has some intensive physiotherapy ahead of him, but with help and understanding, we should all survive his wrath.”

We laugh at her humour and relax considerably.

“You did a good job, Daniel. I just wished you’d looked after yourself half as well,” Janet adds, looking pointedly at me.

I glance at Sam and Teal’c for support as I fidget on my crutches.

“I thought I did pretty well,” I say in my defence. “I didn’t miss anything, did I?”

“No, but you certainly did a number on that ankle,” Janet retorts, “and before you tell me you can’t be held responsible for damage an explosion did, the colonel has already told me how you walked out of that forest to set a decoy fire.”

“Oh,” I mumble, looking down at my shoes.

“How many miles did you walk on that foot, by the way?” Janet asks.

“I wasn’t counting,” I shrug. “Besides, it was worth it.”

“Indeed it was, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c rumbles. “Your actions likely saved both you and O’Neill for which we are all grateful.”

“If General Hammond hadn’t contacted the Asgard, we’d likely both be dead,” I say.

“We’ll never really know, Daniel,” Sam says, “but I’m certain you would have kept the colonel alive,” she adds, giving me a brilliant smile.

“There is no doubt in my mind, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c confirms.

“Take credit where credit’s due, Daniel,” Janet smiles.

“Thanks, guys,” I say sincerely, taking solace in their faith. “Can we see Jack?” I ask, looking at Janet.

“He’s still pretty groggy, but I know none of you will take ‘no’ for an answer, so just a few minutes,” Janet cautions.

“You go, Daniel. Teal’c and I can see him later,” Sam offers, glancing at Teal’c for confirmation.

“Indeed, Major Carter. Give O’Neill our regards, Daniel Jackson.”

I know they don’t know what happened between Jack and me on that planet, but maybe there’s something in my face that tells them I need to be alone with Jack.

“I will,” I promise.


Jack’s eyes are closed. He’s pale, but he looks a hell of a lot better even with the nasal cannula, the IV’s, and that finger thingie. I don’t know if he’s awake, and I don’t really know what I’ll say to him if he is. God, I kissed him! I know he kissed me back, but still …


Daniel’s here. I feel like death warmed over, but I can still feel when Daniel’s around. Strange. Maybe it’s just my imagination; wishful thinking on my part. Only one way to find out: open my eyes or make a noise. Okay, eyes don’t want to cooperate. Grunting’s easier. I’ll try that.


Grunting works every time.

“Jack, are you awake?”

Good question. Am I?

“Not sure,” I mumble. Did Daniel and I really kiss? “Dreaming, maybe.”


“Yeah. Strange dreams,” I murmur.

“Um, what kind of dreams?” Daniel asks.

Daniel sounds nervous. Ah, that must mean it wasn’t a dream. Sweet.

“You and me,” I mumble.

“You and me?”

“Yeah. I think we were … kissing.”

“Really? Um, kissing?”

“Bright lights, too,” I frown. “Thought I’d died and gone to heaven.”

“H-heaven?” Daniel repeats.

You heard me, Danny. For one moment there I was … how can I describe it? It was the most incredible feeling, like everything just suddenly clicked together. Daniel and I were the only two people in the universe. We belonged together.

“Sounds like a dream, Jack.”

Daniel’s voice is soft and … sad. Oh, crap. What if Daniel kissed me just as a distraction? Well, it worked, Daniel. You sure as hell distracted me. He thought we were going to die. We were supposed to die. We weren’t supposed to survive and have to deal with the consequences; consequences like being in love with your best friend because that’s what I was feeling, and that is what I’m still feeling. I may be drugged up to the eyeballs, but I know I’m in love with Daniel. The question now is: what the hell do I do about it? More importantly, how does Daniel feel? I know he loves me, but in that way? Crap, why should he? Man, this is depressing. Wake up and smell the coffee, O’Neill. He’s telling you it was a dream. He’s giving you a way out. Guess that answers that question; Daniel doesn’t feel the same way. Shit.

“You’re right,” I mumble. “Just a dream.” Now go away, Daniel before I cry. Stupid drugs make me weak.


Like hell it was a dream, Jack. I kissed you and now I’m pretending like it never happened. Why? Because I don’t want to get hurt, or because I don’t want Jack’s career to suffer? No, it’s because I’m scared and I don’t really know how Jack feels. Yes, I thought we were going to die, and yes, I kissed Jack because I didn’t want to dwell on our imminent death, but in my heart, I know I kissed him because I couldn’t think of a better way to tell him what he meant to me. I know he’s drugged to the gills right now and can’t be thinking straight, but he deserves the truth, and so do I. If there’s a chance there’s something between us, then I want to know.



Damnit, Daniel, just go. We can forget this ever happened. I’ll deny everything. I’m good at pretending; I’ve done it for years. Special Ops teaches you a lot of things. How the hell do you think I’ve managed to live with myself all this time?

“Jack, I know you’re awake; your fingers are clenching.”

Damn him and damn him for sounding so … so loving. And damn these fingers for … ah, Jeez, he’s holding my hand.

“Jack, if it was a dream, then I had the same dream.”

He’s whispering and holding my hand tight. Crap, I think I will cry.

“And you were right; it was heaven.”

Holy shit!


I smile as Jack’s fingers tighten around mine. Message received and understood. I look down at our hands, not surprised to see my thumb caressing the back of his hand. I think I’m going to be doing a lot of that.

“Guess we have some talking to do,” I say softly.

I wait patiently as Jack’s eyes slowly open and focus on mine.

“Hate that stuff,” he mutters.

“Yeah, well maybe we can do some other stuff, too,” I suggest, squeezing his hand.


Other stuff? Damn, I really have died and gone to heaven.

I look at Daniel incredulously. I look down at my tubed-up body and frown. I look back at warm, blue eyes and sigh.

“Don’t think I’m up to ‘other stuff’.”

“I can wait, Jack. I will wait.”

Daniel’s eyes are blue, clear, and so full of promise, my heart aches. But, it’s a good ache. Hell, it’s a great ache. I’m in love.

“I hate waiting,” I grumble.

Daniel smiles in that way that makes his face look so young, gentle, soft, strong, and wise. It’s an amazing face. It’s an amazing smile, and it’s all for me.

“I better go and let you rest. I think I hear Janet’s heels clicking impatiently in the back.”

“Gotta stay on her good side,” I murmur. I don’t want to go to sleep, but I’m losing the battle.

“Oh, before I go, Sam and Teal’c say ‘hi’. They’ll drop by later.”

“What about you?”

Crap, I sound needy and whiney already.

“I’ll be here.”

I think I nod my head. Hell, I haven’t even asked him how he’s doing. I wasn’t the only one injured. Damn, I’m going to pass out, but I’m going out with a smile: Daniel just kissed me on the forehead.


Jack’s smile as he finally gives in to sleep tells me I did the right thing. I know Janet’s behind me. God knows what she’s thinking, but I couldn’t not kiss Jack. Not after what we’ve been through, and not after what we’ve just said. I won’t flaunt my feelings for him, but I’ll be damned if I pretend they don’t exist, especially around people I care about. Janet’s a friend, and I will not deceive a friend.

I release Jack’s hand and grab my crutches. I turn around, take a couple of steps and then look up.

Janet’s eyes are large and shimmering, and I know without a doubt, Jack and I have an ally.

“I’m not jumping to conclusions, am I?” she asks quietly.

“No,” I say, shaking my head. “Something happened on that planet; something that’s been waiting to happen for a long time.”

“It won’t be easy for either of you,” she cautions.

I look back at Jack. I miss him already. Janet’s right; it won’t be easy. The best things in life never are.

“For the record, Daniel, I saw one good friend give comfort to another,” Janet says seriously.

“Off the record?” I inquire, turning around to look at her.

“Off the record, what the hell took you two so long?”

I laugh, hold my crutches under one arm and open the other. She comes into my arms and I embrace her tightly.



Jack’s eyes look at me blankly and then brighten.

“Hey,” he murmurs. “You told me you’d be here.”

I smile and offer him the ubiquitous ice chips.

“Mmm, ice chips,” he moans in his best Homer Simpson voice. “A man after my own heart.”

“Got that already,” I say softly.

He looks at me and smiles. “Yes, you do. You won’t break it, will you?”

“Not a chance,” I whisper, shaking my head.

“Guess I’m not getting out any time soon, huh?”

“You were badly injured, Jack.”

“How are you?”

“A couple of weeks on crutches and a few more scars,” I shrug.

“Any interesting places?” Jack asks, his eyebrows arching.

“Excuse me?”

“The scars. Any interesting places?”

“Jack, are you coming on to me?” I ask, suppressing a smile.

“Is it working?”

“God, you’re impossible.”

“Been called worse,” Jack murmurs, crunching some more ice.

“Of that, I have no doubt,” I smile.

He scowls, but there’s affection in his face.

“Big changes ahead,” Jack says.


“I’ll retire if I have to.”

The conviction in his voice brings tears to my eyes. I grasp his hand and our fingers entwine.

“So will I,” I vow.
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