"It is beautiful, is it not, Daniel?"
Daniel lowered the camera and smiled at the young woman dressed in the robes of an apprentice of the Temple. "It is very beautiful, Janeera."
He looked across the large courtyard and saw Sam, Jack, and Teal'c with two of the Owanii High Council. As he watched, the taller of the two briefly bowed and then walked away at a brisk pace. He turned his attention back to Janeera. "How long has the Temple been here?"
Janeera laughed. "It has always been here, Daniel. For as long as our history shows, the Temple has been here to provide for us."
"Provide for you?" Daniel asked as she gestured for him to follow her through the courtyard.
"Yes," Janeera said. "One comes to the Temple to determine his or her life's path."
"You come here to find out your career...um...your life's work?" Daniel stood beside her as she pushed a button on an ornate door.
"Is it not the same on your world? How would one know one's calling? Did someone not determine your path?"
"I determined my own path," Daniel replied, and then wondered if how true it was. Would he have taken the same steps had his parents not been archaeologists? Would he have followed their path had they not been killed all those years ago?
He stepped through the door after Janeera and turned quickly when he realized the door closed behind them.
"Do not fear, Daniel. No one who comes to the Temple, who enters the Temple's Heart will be harmed." Janeera beckoned him forward.
Daniel's footsteps echoed on the stone floor as they walked down a hallway. The walls were very plain: smooth, dark wood that looked as if it had been polished by countless hands through the centuries. Light filtered down through small skylights and bathed the hallway in a golden glow.
Janeera stopped again. "Anyone may enter the Temple's Heart, but I thought perhaps your companions would not be content." She pushed open another door made of the same wood Daniel had observed in the hall.
The room they entered was small, certainly nothing Daniel expected. A simple fountain bubbled in the center of the room and the same small skylights he'd observed in the hallway also allowed light into this chamber. The walls were the same plain wood of the hallway.
"This is the Temple's Heart," Janeera said, her voice a low whisper. She smiled at Daniel. "Come, I will show you."
Daniel took a few steps forward and joined her by the fountain.
"The Heart." She pointed to the fountain, which as far as Daniel could tell was no different of any of the other fountains he'd seen scattered throughout the city and even the Temple courtyard. If anything, this fountain was smaller and less ornate than any others he'd seen. He wondered if there was some sort of ceremony the people undertook before coming to the Heart, some sort of meditation or preparation so that alone in this room they could ponder their futures. The sound of the water, dripping and flowing over the stone was hypnotic in its own way.
"Do you have your Heart's desire, Daniel? Do you know what you seek?" Janeera asked.
"I'm happy with my life's work," he said. "I'm not ready to change that."
Janeera touched the fountain and the water took on a shimmering bluish hue. "The Heart gives so much more. All one needs to do is ask."
"I don't need to ask anything," Daniel said. He looked around the room, unable to tell where the door they'd entered had gone. "My life is just the way I want it."
A pulsing light came from the depths of the fountain and Daniel stepped back, hand going up to his radio. This was not good. So very not good.
"It will not harm you," Janeera said. "The Heart wants only to bless, to show the way."
His radio didn't work, or his fingers weren't capable of functioning-Daniel wasn't sure which. A tendril of light moved towards him and he found himself mesmerized, unable to move despite his brain telling him to run, to duck, to do something, anything. And then the light reached him and he felt nothing more.
* * * *
"What do you mean it was an accident?"
Okay, that bellow was familiar and very close. Too close in fact when Daniel would much have preferred to continue sleeping.
"Jack," he said, without bothering to open his eyes.
Concern, that was concern. Daniel couldn't keep his eyes closed at that. He opened his eyes and blinked up at Jack who was curiously upside down.
"You awake?" Jack said and Daniel's brain clicked into gear and he recognized he was on the floor of the Temple.
Daniel thought a moment and ran his tongue over his teeth. He couldn't feel any aches and pains although he could very much feel the cold stone under his back and Jack's hand on his shoulder. His head didn't even hurt. He remembered the tendril of light and then...well...nothing
He became aware of Sam who knelt on his other side. She ran her fingers over the back of his head and made a small humming sound as she did so.
"How do you feel, Daniel?" she asked.
"I'm fine," he replied and realized he was despite Jack's snort at the comment.
He pushed himself to a sitting position. Janeera stood a short distance away, her face hid in her hands. There were other Owanii there too, including at least two of the robes of what he knew were the priesthood of the Temple.
"Do you need assistance, Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c asked. He extended a hand.
"Yeah, um, thanks," Daniel said as he took it and stood. Jack frowned at him.
"I'm fine," Daniel repeated, this time with more emphasis. He looked at Janeera. "What *was* that?"
Janeera said nothing but turned away from him. Instead one of the priests spoke. "The Temple's Heart provides many things for us. For some, for a favored few, it binds one to another. Binds soul to soul, heart to heart. A Life Bond, very rare now but common once."
"Life Bond," Jack repeated. "Daniel is life bonded to her? She's a..."
The priest shook his head. "No. Life Bonds can only be formed between two who already love. Janeera is pledged to the Temple. She would not desire a Life Bond with another."
"So then who?" Sam asked. "Wasn't Daniel alone in here with Janeera?"
"Janeera is an apprentice. She should not have attempted to allow the Heart to speak to another without permission or supervision."
Jack took a few steps closer to the priest. "And, so, therefore...?"
"The bonding was not completed," the other priest said. "Therefore no harm has been done."
Daniel felt slightly dizzy and despite his efforts to take a deeper breath, he seemed unable to draw in enough air.
He heard Teal'c's voice, which seemed far away, but Teal'c's arms were around him holding him up. He could hear himself gasping for air, the room seeming as though there was no oxygen in it.
"Daniel," Jack said and touched his shoulder.
Breaths came easier and oxygen-starved lungs filled with air.
"We're getting the hell out of Dodge." Jack squeezed Daniel's shoulder and Daniel looked up at him in confusion. "Fine, my ass."
"I am," Daniel insisted, his voice wheezy. "Or maybe not," he continued as Jack stared at him.
"We'd like to get him home," Jack requested with far more tact than Daniel expected.
"Of course," the first priest said and bowed. "We will provide transport for you to the Great Circle."
"We are sorry for Janeera's indiscretion," the second priest added as she led them down the hallway. "She is young and somewhat impetuous."
"She meant no harm," Daniel agreed. His heart was pounding like he'd been running for hours. He'd be home soon, he told himself. Everything was going to be okay.
* * * *
Daniel didn't look so good. That damn fountain had done something to him. Jack didn't care what anyone said. The trip back to the Stargate had been punctuated with bouts of Daniel breathing erratically and halfway passing out. It didn't get any better when they'd stepped through the Gate and were back on Earth.
Fraiser didn't have an answer for them. She'd come to the debriefing hours earlier with the news that she hadn't found anything to explain the problems Daniel was having. Nearly eight hours later and, as far as Jack knew, she was no closer to finding an answer.
Jack pulled a stool closer to Daniel's bedside. He knew Daniel wasn't asleep despite his closed eyes. There was a pinched look to his friend's face, his mouth in a tight line and his eyes scrunched at the corners. Jack let his gaze trail down Daniel's body, down to Daniel's left hand twisted in the sheets. It was far too apparent that his condition had deteriorated since their return.
"Hey," Jack whispered. He reached out and covered the tight fist with his hand. "Hang in there, okay?"
Fingers loosened under Jack's and Daniel let out a sigh. He rolled his head towards Jack and opened his eyes.
"How you doing?" Jack asked.
Daniel's eyes were slightly glassy-most likely a remnant of whatever drugs Fraiser had him on. "Mmmm." He licked his lips and Jack searched for a cup of water for him.
The sound of heels on cement alerted Jack to Fraiser's approach.
He looked up from passing the cup of water to Daniel and raised his eyebrows in question.
"You have news?"
Fraiser looked down at the clipboard she carried for a moment. "I do."
Jack didn't like the way her voice went soft as she spoke. His stomach twisted.
"Daniel's going through withdrawal."
"No. No, not again," Daniel said. His fingers shook under Jack's hand.
"What do you mean withdrawal?" Jack asked. He moved his hand, rubbing his thumb over the skin on Daniel's wrist.
" He's showing all the signs of withdrawal from some sort of drug," Fraiser explained.
"I'm not. Jack, I didn't...there was nothing. I didn't..." Daniel's voice rose. "I swear I'm not..."
"I know," Jack reassured, squeezing his friend's shoulder and Daniel relaxed, the same way his fingers had loosened under Jack's grip earlier.
"We've contacted the Owanii," Fraiser said. "It's possible the device in the Temple..."
"It didn't work," Daniel murmured, sounding more alert than he had since they'd come back from the planet. "They said the bonding wasn't complete."
Jack looked at Daniel again. The pain that had lined his face earlier was gone. In fact, in the past few minutes, Daniel appeared to be his normal self. A possibility came to mind, a possibility Jack rejected almost as soon as it had formed. But still...
"Doc, keep an eye on Daniel." Jack removed his hand from Daniel's shoulder and stepped away from the bed.
"Jack?" Daniel asked. He sounded almost panicked, which made Jack think his idea might not be so far-fetched after all.
"There's no sign of any sort of drug in Daniel's system, but yet he's reacting as though he's withdrawing from one," Jack began. "When I came in here, Daniel wasn't even able to sit up, much less be coherent."
"Oh God," Daniel said and Jack turned to him. Daniel had the expression he always wore when he was on the verge of discovery. "I think you're right."
"Gentlemen," Fraiser interrupted, "do either of you care to explain what's going on?"
"You're right, you know," Daniel agreed with Jack. "We have to test your hypothesis."
"Ya think?" Jack said. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and took another step only to find his way blocked by Fraiser.
"You have to let him go, Janet," Daniel said behind them. "I think Jack's right. I'm not addicted to a drug. That machine made me addicted to him."
Fraiser looked up at Jack. "I would say that's not possible, but I've learned not to discount anything anymore."
"It's worth a shot, Doc. We don't have another explanation at the moment," Jack pointed out. She nodded and stepped away from him.
"I'm going to have Daniel moved to ISO room three. You can observe from there," she said.
Jack nodded. If indeed his hypothesis was correct, it would allow him quicker access when Daniel's condition started to deteriorate again. He hoped against hope he was wrong and that there was a far simpler explanation for all of this-some bug that Fraiser would be able to combat with a nice cocktail of drugs or that bump Daniel had on his head. But this was Daniel and the SGC, he reminded himself. He doubted anything would be so simple.
* * * *
Jack turned at Carter's entrance to the observation room. He nodded and then turned back to watch Daniel.
She joined him by the window and he heard her quick intake of breath. Yeah, he understood how she felt.
"The sarcophagus," Carter whispered. "It's like the time he was addicted to..."
"Yeah," Jack answered. Even from his vantage point, it was apparent Daniel was sweating profusely and in pain. It was like the sarcophagus, but different-this time Jack could do something more for his friend than simply hold him while he went through the worst of the withdrawal. This time his presence would provide relief Daniel needed, although it was a double-edged sword. In the hours they'd been testing the theory it was Jack's touch, Jack's presence that was the addiction, the amount of time that Daniel could go without Jack's touch had shrunk to less than an hour. Tolerance, Fraiser called it, the need for more and more of the addicting substance to experience the same effects that the first dose had provided. So Daniel experienced withdrawal without Jack's presence but Jack's presence caused him to become more addicted.
"I've got to get down there," Jack said.
"It is you?" Carter asked as she followed him towards the isolation room.
"We've contacted the Owanii, sir." They stopped at the door, Carter stepping back just a little.
"They express their regrets for Daniel's, uh, illness. They won't send any of their doctors to the SGC. They won't leave their home-world." Carter looked at the door. "We'll figure something out, sir. Janet will figure out a way to cure this."
Jack glanced at her and could tell she didn't believe a word she was saying. He nodded and opened the door. Daniel needed him.
* * * *
"It's the only way, sir." Daniel clasped his hands tightly together to control the tremors. He felt Jack put a hand on his knee, strong, lean fingers, warm even though the layer of fabric. "I can't continue to function this way," he gave a little laugh, "although I'm not functioning very well at the moment am I?"
General Hammond looked at him for a moment and then turned to Janet. "Doctor Fraiser?"
Daniel shivered as Jack moved his hand and placed it near the waistband of his BDUs. Skin touched skin where Daniel's T-shirt had ridden up and Daniel had to resist every urge to rip off his clothes and let Jack cover every inch of him for relief.
"I agree with Doctor Jackson," Janet said, all calm, cool professionalism. "He requires Colonel O'Neill's constant presence to prevent him from experiencing withdrawal. If this can't be reversed, both Doctor Jackson and the colonel will be unable to continue their duties here at the SGC in any meaningful fashion."
"You have a go," General Hammond said after a moment of silence. He put up his hand when Daniel began to get up. "On the condition that the rest of your team accompany you."
"Understood, sir," Jack said.
Daniel nodded his head. "Thank you, General Hammond." He took a deep breath as Janet and General Hammond left the briefing room.
"Daniel?" Sam asked.
"I'm okay. I'll be okay." God he was so tired. His stomach spasmed, and he felt cold despite his jacket. Even the skin to skin contact didn't seem to help anymore. Daniel swallowed hard. He needed Jack-needed him in a way he wasn't sure Jack would be able to give. He clenched his hands into fists. He wasn't going to ask. Hell, he couldn't ask. Daniel wondered if Jack could see the raw desire on his face. God, he hoped not.
"Carter, why don't you and Teal'c start getting things sorted?"
Daniel closed his eyes, not wanting to see Sam and Teal'c giving him pitying glances as they left.
"They're gone," Jack whispered in his ear some moments later.
"Yeah." Daniel could feel bile rising in his throat. Jack's breath hit the sweat on his neck and made him shiver.
"Talk to me."
Daniel forced his eyes open. Jack's pity was even worse than Sam or Teal'c's. Jack's face was inches from his own and Daniel pushed back slightly in his chair. He glanced away, down at the grain of the table, and pulled his thoughts together.
"Talk to you? You *want* me to talk to you?"
Okay, so the attempt at levity fell flat. He turned to face Jack, a light bulb going on in his brain as he really looked at his friend. It wasn't pity he saw on Jack's face. It was love. And didn't that just screw everything up even more?
"Not yet," he managed to say, although he didn't know how he found the strength to speak. "Not here. Not now."
Jack said nothing but covered one of Daniel's hands with his own.
"We'd better...um...yeah...we have to get going." Daniel knew he was babbling but Jack didn't seem to mind. As Daniel stood, Jack rose and put a hand on his shoulder.
"We're gonna work this out," Jack finally offered as they walked out the door.
Daniel's eyes burned. This wasn't the way he wanted any of it to happen. Why had he been thinking of Jack when the Heart activated? He looked at Jack whose expression was grim. Damn, damn, and damn.
* * * *
Daniel was in bad shape. Jack didn't need Janet Fraiser nearby to tell him that. He turned his attention away from Daniel who was occupied in looking out the window of the room they'd been given in the temple.
"I will bring back the ancient books the Owanii have offered," Teal'c said as he stood by the doorway. "Please tell DanielJackson that I will endeavor to accomplish my task as quickly as possible."
"I'll do that," Jack replied.
"MajorCarter will remain with the priests in the Temple's Heart. They have agreed to allow her to test the water in the fountain."
"I want you to keep an eye on her after you bring back the books." Jack glanced at Daniel again and then lowered his voice. "Daniel doesn't need an audience for this."
"I understand, O'Neill. I will place the books outside the door if it is closed."
Jack nodded his thanks and then shut the door behind Teal'c.
"Jack." Daniel's tone was sharp and he turned from the window. He walked to the bed slowly.
He sat down on the edge of the mattress and looked up at Jack, his expression bleak, his eyes bloodshot, his face pale and sweating. "It's not enough."
Jack sat down beside him. He put his arm over Daniel's shoulder, pulled him close. "This?"
"I need...touch doesn't seem to be...you know..." Daniel tensed under Jack's arm. "I'm sorry."
"You need more." Jack paused. "Sex? You need sex?"
Daniel nodded his head and stared at the floor. He appeared defeated, worn down, and misery seemed to exude from him.
Sex with Daniel-not such a horrifying prospect. Not for Jack, not at all. But Daniel didn't look so happy about it-more as a duty, a foul-tasting medicine he had to take in order to survive. This wasn't how Jack wanted his first time with Daniel to be. Hell, what first time? He'd never crossed the line and let Daniel know how he felt about him to begin with. Daniel was his friend, and Jack didn't want to do anything to jeopardize *that* relationship by bringing the L-word into it. Not that Daniel would end the friendship if he found out his best friend was gay. Daniel wasn't the kind of man who would ever do that. Everything would change though, Jack knew, whether or not the feelings were returned. Jack was a risk taker, but friendships, especially his friendship with Daniel, weren't something Jack was willing to lose. He could do this, he told himself. A friend helping a friend in need was a friend indeed. Okay so he changed the saying to suit his purpose, but the sentiment was there.
"I can help," Jack said, careful to keep his voice neutral. He put his hand on Daniel's thigh. "You need this. I can do it." He thought he sounded...not eager.
"I don't want to...I can't ask you to..." Daniel stuttered and then ruined the effect by wrapping his arms around his chest and shivering violently.
"I'm offering. You need this, Daniel. It doesn't mean anything." Jack winced as he said the last words, but hey, if it gave Daniel any chance at dignity it was worth it.
"Yes," Daniel ground out finally. "Oh God, yes." He began to pull off his shirt before the words were out of his mouth.
Jack undressed just as swiftly.
"God, Jack, God," Daniel moaned and pulled on Jack's shoulders until they both had fallen onto the bed.
Jack moved his hands over Daniel's chest, over his abdomen, allowed himself something he'd denied for too long. He covered Daniel's body, licked the salty sweat from Daniel's neck, buried his face into Daniel's shoulder, and placed a kiss in the hollow of Daniel's collarbone. He looked up to see Daniel with his eyes closed and kissed that same spot again. Daniel continued to shiver and his body was cool and sweat slick under Jack's.
"How do you want to do this?" Jack murmured when he came up for breath. "Top? Bottom?"
Daniel stilled under him, body gone stiff. He raised his head. "You know about...never mind."
"I read," Jack replied and then figured he'd better shut up if he had any chance of not letting Daniel know the truth.
"Top. You need...just top." Daniel's voice trailed off.
"It's gonna be okay," Jack whispered and continued his kisses. He made a trail of them from Daniel's collarbone, down the sweep of Daniel's chest to the lean stomach and the appendix scar. Daniel let out a moan as Jack moved even lower. Jack winced as Daniel grabbed at his hair when he finally reached Daniel's cock. He breathed in the scent of Daniel, tried to capture the moment in a memory so that he'd have something when everything went to shit in the aftermath.
He gasped as Jack took him in his mouth. His back arched and he grabbed at Jack, his fingers sure to leave marks. Jack felt his mouth fill with Daniel's come. He swallowed and found it easier than he thought. He pulled back and lifted himself on his elbows to look at Daniel's face. Daniel lay limp, his eyes open but somewhere far, far away.
"Daniel?" Jack's heart pounded faster and not from his exertions. He stretched slightly and put a hand to Daniel's cheek. Warm skin. That was good, very good. As he watched Daniel licked his lips.
"More," he whispered.
Jack shifted and reached over the edge of the bed. He found what he sought one-handed and opened the foil packet with his teeth. He was clean, figured Daniel was too. It seemed it might afford Daniel just a bit more detachment from the situation. Spit was going to have to do for the lube though.
"You ready?" Jack asked. He tried to turn his thoughts and emotions off, like it appeared Daniel already had, but he was spectacularly unsuccessful. All he could think as he positioned Daniel who'd gone strangely unresisting was that he loved Daniel. He loved him and would do this as many times as was necessary even though the feeling wasn't returned. Daniel being alive was more important than Daniel returning Jack's love. He positioned himself carefully, unsure of how Daniel would receive him. Please, Jack sent up a silent prayer, don't let me hurt him. Jack pushed in, and Daniel groaned. Jack stopped.
It was all Jack needed to hear. He pushed further and then slid out partially. Daniel moved with him and let out a hoarse cry as Jack hit his prostate. Jack pushed harder, their rhythm faster until Jack thought he'd explode. A white haze filled Jack's vision and he finally lay spent, pressed down on Daniel's back. He wasn't sure if the salt water that stung his eyes was his sweat or tears.
* * * *
Daniel pinched the bridge of his nose and tried to focus on the words before him. Jack shifted beside him and grunted in his sleep. Daniel froze, afraid to move. He didn't want Jack to wake up, didn't want to look Jack in the eyes. No, scratch that, he couldn't look Jack in the eyes. He glanced down at the book he held in his lap. He could feel his face flush with shame. He loved Jack but this wasn't what he'd wanted. The sex they'd had over the past three days on Owanii meant nothing. At least it appeared that way. Jack was doing his duty, nothing more, a necessary evil to keep Daniel alive until they could find a way to reverse the effects of the machine.
Damn. Daniel hated this. He hated being dependent on someone else-hated most of all that his dependence was on Jack. He kept trying to remember what he had been thinking when Janeera activated the Temple's Heart. Had he been thinking of Jack? Or had the fountain in some way sensed his deepest secret-and his deepest desire? The books the Owanii had supplied hadn't given him any answers. All he'd managed to discover was that his addiction was very rare, even more rare than Life Bonds. What was it the priest had said? The bonding was not complete...therefore no harm....oh. Oh!
He got out of the bed, relieved when Jack didn't wake. He had to find one of the priests, had to ask if it was even possible. Daniel made it halfway to the door before he began to shake with symptoms he knew meant he was too far from contact with Jack.
He hadn't heard Jack get out of bed, didn't hear Jack's approach. Jack put his arms around Daniel and the shaking subsided almost immediately. He leaned back into Jack's embrace and took a deep breath. His heart slowed back down to its normal rhythm.
"What's going on?"
"I know what we need, what I need to do. We just need to find one of the priests. I think it will, well, I don't know if it will, but I think it..." Daniel knew he was babbling but didn't seem to be able to stop.
"It's oh-two hun...never mind," Jack pointed out and pulled Daniel back towards the bed. "We'll find someone."
"I don't need." Daniel gestured toward the bed.
"Clothes." Jack threw a t-shirt towards him.
* * * *
"You said the bonding wasn't complete," Daniel said to the two priests who had joined SG-1 in the Temple's Heart.
"It was not," the elder of the two replied.
"What happens if the bonding is completed?" Daniel pressed on.
Jack did his best to glare at the Owanii and wondered why that hadn't been something they offered at the beginning of the whole mess.
The priests looked puzzled. "The Life Bond binds soul to soul, heart to heart."
"Yeah, yadda, yadda. You told us that before. Right about the same time you told us there wouldn't be any little nasties because the bonding wasn't completed," Jack felt compelled to add to Daniel's line of questioning.
Daniel took a step back and ran a hand through his hair. Jack hated seeing Daniel like this-unable to think his way through problems he normally would solve in hours not days, reduced somehow from brilliance to shadow.
"What happens to the Life-Bonded couples?" Carter asked when it became apparent that Daniel wasn't able to gather his thoughts.
The younger priest smiled. "Nothing happens. They are connected by love and friendship throughout their lives. They are free to pursue their callings."
"Wait a minute. You're saying a Life Bond doesn't require them to stay together?"
"Of course not. What if one would be called to life on the sea while the other is called to be a farmer? How could both be happy?" The priest had the temerity to laugh. "Do you not have Life-Bonds on your world?"
Jack looked at Daniel who was growing paler as the conversation continued.
"Can such a bonding be completed?" Teal'c asked.
"If it is the pair's desire," the young priest spoke again. "It is a simple process."
"Let's do it," Jack said.
Daniel looked at him in what Jack could have interpreted as horror. He chose not to. "Life-Bond?"
"Friendship. Seems to me we already have that part down. So no harm, no foul, right?" Jack kept his tone light, joking.
"It will stop this?" Daniel asked and waved a shaking hand in front of his body.
"It will stop," the priest said. "Your friendship with O'Neill will continue as before. However, it will be sealed in your hearts. Nothing will destroy your friendship."
Jack waited, almost holding his breath. And finally Daniel gave a small nod.
"I will remain," the elder of the two priests said, "along with Daniel and O'Neill."
"Sir, we should..."
"Wait in the courtyard," Jack ordered her and Teal'c. He didn't like splitting his team, but the Owanii had been helpful and trustworthy, and Daniel couldn't continue living the way he'd been since Janeera had triggered the device the first time.
"We wish you and DanielJackson well, O'Neill," Teal'c offered before departing.
Jack nodded and turned his attention to Daniel before the younger priest, Teal'c, and Carter had left the room.
"Step closer," the priest commanded.
Daniel didn't move until Jack touched him lightly on the arm.
The priest smiled as they stepped forward.
"Do you desire to join heart to heart, soul to soul?"
Jack swallowed hard as he was reminded of a marriage ceremony.
"Yes," Daniel whispered. He leaned into Jack, his skin over-heated with what Jack suspected was a fever.
"Yes," Jack responded.
"Place your hands in the Temple's Heart." The priest pointed.
Jack stiffened as the water flowed over his hands. It didn't feel exactly like water. Not that he could explain it-it just didn't feel right. It was warm and his hands began to tingle lightly. Daniel held his hands beside his and as Jack watched, a pulsing light began to move up from the bottom of the fountain until their hands were cast in a bluish light.
Daniel tensed beside him.
"I'm okay. This is different than before." Daniel's voice was soft and filled with wonder. Jack watched as the light played over both their hands and then traveled up their arms.
He couldn't help it-he laughed and through his own laughter could hear Daniel doing the same. He was filled with a sense of peace, a sense of camaraderie and well-being, a sense that he would never be alone again even if light years separated him from Daniel. And just like that the light disappeared and the Temple's Heart was just another stone fountain.
Jack looked at Daniel. "You okay?"
Daniel nodded. "You?"
"Yeah." Jack said. He didn't feel any different than he had before.
"That's it?" Daniel asked the priest.
"It is. You are welcome to remain in the Temple's Heart should you choose to join in a deeper way, but the bonding is complete."
Daniel looked at Jack. Jack wasn't surprised by the relief he saw in Daniel's eyes. "I want to go home."
Deeper bond, Jack thought and realized that deeper bonding was the last thing Daniel wanted or needed at the moment. "
You got it," Jack said and led the way from the room. He was leaving a part of his soul on Owanii, something he thought he might never regain with Daniel. It hurt more than he expected.
* * * *
Daniel stood ramrod straight in front of General Hammond's desk and waited until Hammond looked up from the letter he'd just given him.
"I'll approve the leave of absence, son, if you're sure this is what you want."
"I'm sure, sir." Daniel made sure he met the general's gaze and was relieved when no further explanation was requested.
"Stay in touch," General Hammond requested as he signed the paper, "and come back to us when you're ready."
"I will, sir." Daniel ducked his head. It wouldn't do to show any emotion now, not when he was so close to being able to leave, to find some place where he could be alone, grow comfortable in his own skin again. Yeah he was running away. He knew it, and there'd probably be hell to pay for it, but he wasn't in the mood to deal with anyone else at the moment. All that mattered was escape.
* * * *
He was starting to understand the attraction of fishing. Granted, it had taken two weeks of daily sessions with a fishing pole, a comfortable chair, and his journal, but he thought he might be catching on to what Jack found so soothing about sitting by a lake with only one's own thoughts for company. Or lack thereof, Daniel corrected, considering he'd been staring at the water with hardly any thoughts at all for the past...well, he didn't know how long.
Of course, thinking about not thinking made him start thinking again. Daniel glanced down at the open journal on his lap. He closed it decisively. No, he wasn't even going to think about the pages he'd written about his experience, about his feelings for Jack, feelings he didn't want to deal with. He was going to think about fish. Or not fish. Or maybe not think at all.
He closed his eyes and tilted his head back. He wasn't going to analyze what had brought him to Jack's cabin in Minnesota, especially since said Jack wasn't here with him. Daniel shut down that line of thought and began to conjugate verbs instead, in Goa'uld just for good measure.
The sound of tires on gravel pulled Daniel out of his half doze, and he nearly fell out of his chair trying to get to his feet.
"Jack," he said as a familiar silver-haired figure got out of the rental car. He looked at the fishing rod one last time and headed up to the car.
"Nice cabin you got here," Jack said, but he was smiling.
"Yeah. I know I should have asked. I didn't even know I..." Daniel trailed off as Jack held up a hand.
"You mind helping me get out the groceries? I thought you might be running out by now." Jack opened the trunk and handed Daniel a couple of bags.
"What are you doing here?" Daniel asked without budging from his spot.
"This is *my* cabin," Jack reminded him and grabbed the remaining bags. He took off towards the steps and Daniel noticed a slight limp.
"Wait a minute," Daniel said and then took off after him. "What happened to you? Why are you limping? Why didn't anyone call me?"
Jack deposited the bags in the kitchen and pulled out some cold cuts and a couple of steaks. He put them in the fridge before he turned to face Daniel and the bags on the table. "Those are just staples. No need to put them away now."
"You're limping," Daniel repeated and narrowed his eyes. It didn't appear to have much effect on Jack's mood.
"Little run in with a mutant rose bush, couple of stitches. I'm gonna be fine."
Daniel crossed his arms over his chest. "How many stitches?"
"You wanna see my scar?" Jack asked. Daniel continued to stare. "Okay, forty five."
"And Janet let you come up here? Let you fly?"
"It's my left leg. I didn't need it for driving." Jack opened the fridge again and grabbed a couple of bottles of water before he reached in his jacket pocket and pulled out a bottle of pills.
Daniel watched as Jack took the medicine. He didn't know why he was feeling so angry. It *was* Jack's cabin. Daniel was the one that didn't have the right to be here. He had come without asking Jack's permission, had left the SGC and the Springs without saying goodbye other than a brief email to his teammates.
"I see you took up fishing." Jack wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "You using both rods?"
Daniel shook his head, not able to find his voice.
Jack nodded and pointed back towards the dock. "I'll grab the other one and meet you."
Without a glance back at Jack, Daniel left the cabin and went back down to his over-turned chair and open journal.
* * * *
"We need to talk," Jack said into the dusk.
"Talk," Daniel repeated. He checked his watch. They'd been sitting on the dock for four hours without exchanging any words, the silence stretched to rubber band tightness.
"Yeah." Jack sighed gustily and wiped his hands on his jeans. "About, you know."
"I don't want to talk about it." Daniel began reeling in his line. "It's over. Can't we just forget it? I'm fine, you're fine. Everything is fine."
Jack leaned forward and took the fishing rod out of Daniel's hands. "Remember what that priest said? Nothing can destroy what we have?"
"I think it was destroyed the minute I got addicted to..." Daniel wiped his own hands on his jeans and glanced sideways at Jack. "I don't mean that the way it sounds. It wasn't...you weren't..." It was his turn to sigh.
"It wasn't a hardship for me," Jack said. "I thought you should know that."
Daniel stared out at the lake shadows. "I didn't want you to...damn it. I didn't ever want you to find out. It wasn't the way I...I never wanted you to..." He stopped, and thought about what Jack had just said. "Oh."
"Look, if our friendship can't be destroyed, there's something I need to say. And I promise that if you can't be on the team after this, I'll understand," Jack began but Daniel put a hand up to his lips.
"You said it wasn't a hardship. You mean...and I was..."
Jack nodded beneath his fingertips. He pulled Daniel's hand away and showed a smile. "Yeahsureyoubetcha."
"I love you."
"Oh. That's just. Wow." Daniel felt his own mouth turn up in a grin. "I didn't know. I really didn't know. I thought you were, I don't know, doing a duty or something."
"Why'd you come here?" Jack asked.
The abrupt change of subject caught Daniel off guard. He looked back at the lake, took the time to gather his thoughts. "I needed to get away. Needed to feel in control again. I wanted you, Jack, and as far as I knew there was nothing on your side. I guess I needed to pull myself back together. And now...everything's changed."
The words fell into the twilight like pebbles cast into the water.
"What we could have, what we should have had, it's been taken away. Do you think I want the memory of our first time to be that of a fix? That's been taken from us." Daniel knew he sounded bitter.
"So we start again." Jack said it so casually Daniel wasn't sure he'd heard him correctly.
"You think it's that easy?"
Daniel almost swore he could hear the shrug in Jack's reply. "Only one way to find out."
He felt like shouting into the night, but he didn't. Daniel stood up, gathered his fishing rod, and looked at Jack. "So, Jack, you want to join me for supper? Throw some steaks on the grill?"
"Sounds great," Jack replied and reeled in his line. "And after supper?"
Daniel hesitated only a moment. "We'll see what happens."
Jack settled an arm across Daniel's shoulder, a familiar, comforting weight that demanded nothing. "Good enough for me, Daniel."
They walked towards the cabin, together. What would happen would happen. Daniel smiled. It was enough for the moment. It would always be enough.
I had this prompt which was from Peggy:
"Daniel is addicted to sex with Jack (that he needs Jack's cock/sperm like he needs air)"
|Genres:||Angst, Challenge, Hurt/Comfort|
|Summary:||Jack helps out when Daniel runs into trouble off-world.|
Author's Chapter Notes:
This fic was written from Peggy's prompt for the AG Fic Challenge. Thanks to her for providing it. Thanks to Sharon for the beta, and for my sisters of the heart for reminding me to finish what I start.