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Coming Out 3


Summary: MOM! Oh no it's Mom! You've got to go here, Alternate Dictionaries. For all your foreign language swear word needs. Again, my thanks for betaing go to the incredible Julia (she has to read this crap carefully you know).

"Who was that on the phone?" I ask.

Daniel mutters something that I don't catch. I'm getting really pissed at being stuck in this cast.

"Daniel? I didn't hear you. Come here."

I watch the love of my life as he plods into the living room. His eyes are barely open, his hair is mussed up, he's in tatty sweats and a T-shirt and his nose is stuck in a coffee mug. What should I expect? It is only 0800 after all. I don't know how he does it off-world, I mean; wake up at the crack of sparrows and actually function after a single hit of caffeine. At home it always, without fail, takes three cups before he's even civil.

"Your mother," he mutters.

"MOM?" Shit! He spoke to my MOM? BC - before coffee? I am in such deep shit. What the fuck did he say?

"Just told her I was here to look after you until you were out of plaster, that's all." He looks hurt. Of course he'd be polite to my mom. As long as she was nice to him - that woman's way scarier than Janet. Love her to bits, goes without saying, but she is shit hot when it comes to frightening the pants off grown men.

"Oh?" I manage to get out, the question in my voice is supposed to be a prompt for him to fill me in with more details. He doesn't.

"What else?"

"J'ck, wait." He goes back into the kitchen, refills his cup, drinks it down in one go (does that guy have an asbestos tongue or something?), refills again and then comes back in looking a little better.

"She phoned up wondering why you hadn't called. I said you were in plaster and couldn't pick up the phone and dial at the same time. Told her I was taking care of you. That's all. She seems like a nice woman."

"Nice? That's the first time I've ever heard her described as nice. Look, my mom is smart, funny, but most of all, she's scary Daniel."

"Oh. Does she know about you?"

"Know what?"

"Jack. You, me, us."

"Oh. Yes and no. Look, she knew Rick and guessed about me. I admitted it. She was fine but made me promise never to tell my dad. He was a bit old-fashioned. She doesn't know about us, yet. I haven't had the time to tell her. She knows a little bit about you, told her who my team is. Oh, Teal'c's known as Murray to her, of course. Maybe we'll go and see her when I get out of plaster. What do you think?"

"Okay. Hey, rewind that. Did you say your dad was old-fashioned? Has he changed or...?"

"Or, Daniel. Dad died a year ago. Remember when I took off for a couple of weeks?"

"Dammit Jack, why the fuck didn't you say anything?"

"We weren't exactly bosom buddies at the time, Daniel. I was hurting bad, I didn't want to get over-emotional and start a fight with you."

"Jack, friends or no, I'd have been there for you."

"You were, Daniel. Every night I dreamt about you. You held me in your arms and helped me through it."

He slams his head on a cushion a couple of times, winces, and then comes over to me, wrapping his arms carefully around my waist as he kneels in front of me. "Jack, I'm here now. If you want to talk about it, please, talk to me."

"Thanks Daniel. Nothing really to say now. He wasn't particularly old, only seventy, but he had a heart attack and died suddenly. At least he didn't have a long drawn-out illness. I'm thankful for that. It was a shock though."

He kisses me, gentle butterfly kisses tracing my jaw, underneath and back up the other side. I hear a groan and realise that it has come from me.

"You want more?" he asks.

I nod, I need more, but full-blown sex is way out of the question. My shirt is already undone, he hadn't helped me do it up yet. His tongue traces another line down from my throat to my chest, toying with my nipples, breathing hot air on them. They're so hard they are starting to hurt. Oh God, his tongue is licking my belly button now, jeez, that is such a turn on for me, and he knows it. He's lingering there, letting me get the maximum pleasure out of it.

"Bed," he says huskily. I love it when his voice goes like that. Of course he knows that.

He helps me to the bedroom, and I'm feeling somewhat deflated by the time we get there. He has plans, I can tell. I can't do anything for him and it is so frustrating. He can't even straddle me, my leg is in plaster up to my hip and if he was to sit on me it would hurt like hell. I'd put up with it, but Daniel wouldn't hurt me. He couldn't derive any pleasure from something that caused me pain.

He removes my shirt and then pulls my sweats down carefully. Then he slowly undresses before my eyes. Okay, Little Jack's back on the job. Doesn't need anymore encouragement.

His tongue resumes its place and then starts working its way south. Hell, he's stopped. Oh! My foot is fascinating? He's gotten hold of my good leg and he's sucking each toe, one at a time. Oh hell, I don't know if I can take any more of this. Now he's licking the hollow of my ankle and working his tongue up my calf. This is good. Oh yeah, Danny, you are so fucking fantastic. Want you now, Daniel, need you, babe. My thigh now holds his attention, ohmygod, is he joining the dots or something? He seems to want to taste every millimetre of my skin. YES! He's hit home base, ohgodohgodohgod, he's taken my balls into his mouth. Soon, babe, gonna come soon, babe, please finish me. EEEKK! His tongue's probing my ass for crissake. OHGODLOVEYOUDANNYGONNACOMENOW! He engulfs my cock with his mouth, sticks a finger up my ass and I take off like a rocket.

Jack's lying on the bed, dazed, dazzled and completely dumbstruck, just how I like him. God, this is getting so frustrating though. He only went and broke his right arm, so no successful fondling comes my way. Can't sit on him, or his face for that matter because there's too much plaster. Don't want to hurt him. Ah ha, my colonel speaks.

"Daniel, you are fucking incredible. I'm sorry I can't do it for you yet, but I promise you that as soon as I'm out of these fucking casts, I am taking you away from here, on holiday, and I am going to fuck you senseless. Okay?"

"I'll hold you to that, Jack. Meanwhile, what am I going to do with this?"

He looks at me and sees just what he does to me, casts or no casts.

"Touch yourself, Daniel. Do it for me. I want to watch you bring yourself off, babe."

How can I refuse? He kisses me, strokes my body as my hand wraps itself around my prick. I won't be long, this is so intense. He's moaning how much he loves me into my mouth, I can't take much more of this. I'm jerking harder, faster, my head tips back and he leans in to kiss my throat. I come, crying out his name as he bites my neck, covering us both. It takes me a few minutes to catch my breath. We kiss for a while longer and then I reluctantly get up to get a wash cloth to clean us up.

Better get him dressed again. Sam and Janet are due over this morning. It's a school day, so no Cassie. That's the one good thing about odd working habits, days off can be in the middle of the week sometimes. No party today though, they're just going to keep Jack company while I go home for a bit.

Saying that sounds weird. Before Jack and I had our, er, problem, this place was as much home to me as anywhere else. My apartment is special though, its weird layout appealed to me. I love its space and it's got my things. Trouble is, I want to live with Jack. He hates my apartment. He likes houses with gardens. Not to mention the fact that he owns this place and I rent mine. I'm going to have to give it up, I know. I've not spent a single night there since we got together, only going there to pick up my mail, feed the fish and so on. We'll have to talk about that. Perhaps we could get the General to order us to live together? Nah, no way he could do that. We'll just have to find a way. Maybe if I change my postal address to a box number? That might be enough. Sam says that she's nearly there with the bug detector, something to do with EM fields or something. Much as Jack doesn't believe it, I've never got a clue about what Sam talks about, I just fake it.

I mention my idea to Jack and his eyes light up. It might work, we'll run it past George. He pops over from time to time so we'll talk about it then.

We're up and decent and waiting on the girls. I have to be there to open the door for them, it's just too painful to watch Jack struggle out of his chair and onto his crutches. We chat about the possibilities of me moving in permanently. It's okay when one of us is sick or incapacitated, but people really would talk if we weren't sick. I hate the subterfuge.

The girls finally arrive and they're already giggling. Poor Jack, not only is he in pain and in plaster, he has those two in silly mode to contend with. Still, he could do with a laugh. I remind him of a Spanish proverb

When your wife tells you to jump off a roof, pray God it's a low one.

I take it to mean, don't bother arguing with a woman, you'll lose and the best you can hope for is injury rather than death. Funny, that didn't cheer him up at all. Oh well, can't win them all.

"Daniel. How come you know so much useless stuff?" he asks.

"Don't know, Jack, years of practise I guess. Got loads more weird stuff. I used to collect proverbs, a sort of hobby. The weirder the better. I'm still trying to figure out some of the meanings."

Janet encourages me to tell her some more.

He who eats alone coughs alone - an Egyptian one. Heard about laughing alone, but that one is a bit surreal for me.

An early bird wipes its beak; a late one wipes its ass - an Estonian one. Got the beak bit, but the ass?

Another Egyptian one; Better the gargle of a camel than the prayers of a fish - go figure, I can't.

My favourite is an Ethiopian one, which does sort of make sense. Don't blame God for having created the lion, but thank Him for not having given it wings.

That one makes Jack laugh and says it reminds him of another one, something about getting down on your knees and thanking God that elephants don't fly.

I have to go, so I make good my escape before Jack's sayings get even worse. I leave them with a French one,

He who fondles you more than usual has either deceived you or wishes to do so.

This makes Janet laugh out loud, saying she doesn't get enough fondling at all and wouldn't mind being deceived once in a while if it meant she was to get some. I look at Jack and he winks, giving me permission to be naughty. I pull her up into my arms, plant a huge kiss on her lips and quickly grope her backside, before legging it out the door.

If I did what Daniel just did I'd be a dead man. Janet's face was a picture. I know how good the boy kisses, I don't think she'd ever been on the receiving end of a Danny Special before. It took her a good five minutes before she even spoke.

"Hot damn, Jack, now I know why you won't let him go. If he's as good in bed as he kisses, I'm surprised you're up and dressed."

"You don't know the half of it, Jan. That was only a Danny Special. Maybe one day you'll get a Daniel, King of the World, Brain Melter. Trust me, he's even better in bed."

The girls are sat there with their tongues hanging out and I feel fucking fantastic. How lucky can a guy get? Sam gives me a little bag. I look at the contents and give her a kiss. "Thanks Sam, that's exactly it." I put it away for later.

We sit, talk, eat, drink coffee. Then I need the toilet.

"Ah crap. Er, ladies, could you help me up please? I, er, I need to take a leak."

Janet goes into 'trust me I'm a doctor' mode. I tell her that this is precisely why I don't trust her, she knows far too much about me as it is. She and Sam help me up and Janet follows me to the bathroom, asking if I need help. I don't. I can manage.

"Don't want me to hold it for you then?"

She is so suggestive. Strike that, she's downright dirty. Love her to bits really. She finally told me exactly what had happened to Daniel. I've seen his burns, they've healed nicely. His skull fracture wasn't as bad as it could have been, but that's sorted and we already know there's no brain damage; Jacob's healing thingy probably helped a lot, too, I guess. (I actually got Janet to take me to church so I could give thanks for letting us live. First time I've gone voluntarily since Charlie died. I lit a candle for him while I was there.) His ribs were bad, a couple of cracked ones but one was broken and sticking in his lung - that's why Jake couldn't fix it. The cracked ones were too close to the snapped one for him to attempt healing them - he was afraid that he could end up starting to fix the one pointing in the wrong direction and that would have done more harm than good. Given that his skin injuries weren't too bad, in that they weren't life-threatening, he left those alone. He'd have done more if he could, for both of us, but my arm and leg were snapped like Danny's rib and the healing device doesn't reset bones into the right place. Still, we're grateful for what he did. He stopped the bleeding and did stuff like that and Jan's convinced that something in the device triggers the body's own healing system to work that bit faster. Not that it feels like it when I'm still in plaster, mind.

I've talked to Daniel about getting back to the ship. He's reluctant to talk about it. I can't believe that he still thinks that he should've gotten me back to the ship quicker. He had to avoid a pursuit, carrying a 190 lb. grown man over his shoulder, with a fractured skull and one working lung. Not to mention the fact that he was losing blood from some kind of stab wound and the head wound. Those ten klicks must have seemed like a hundred. He probably had to do at least fifteen, maybe more, weaving about and doubling back to confuse those that followed us. He used every single technique that Teal'c, Ferretti and I have drilled into him over the years. By what he hasn't said, as much as what he has, I think he had to kill a couple of times too. I once showed him how to kill silently. It's such a hands-on technique that I prayed he'd never have to do it. His determination that I wouldn't die got us back. I know I would have died, not necessarily from my injuries, but I would have been caught. He died on the table. Again. They brought him back. Again. He actually started to come round from the anaesthetic on the table, and before they could get him under again he said, "Don't die Jack. Love you." Janet says she swore everyone in the room to absolute secrecy. Apparently some of the nurses cried. I did when she told me.

Janet's waiting for me as I emerge. She sees how pensive I am and she pushes me to talk. Got to be mentally cleared to work as well as physically. Funny though, it's not the horror of the mission that's bothering me.

"I don't get Daniel," I say finally. "The guy's a fucking hero. He saved my life again. No normal human being could have done what he did, even if they wanted to. How could they? I'm bigger than him, heavier than him. If it was for a mile or so, then maybe. I know it took him over a day to do it, but it was still an amazing feat. I think we need to do something for him. He can't get a medal from the military, he can't get the peer recognition I know he craves. He's saved lives, billions of lives and no one can know. It's not fucking fair."

They agree. They want to do something for him too, once and for all, to really tell him how much he is appreciated and loved. He knows his friends love him, but he can only hope that he has the respect of the military guys at the base. That's the key. They are going to have to be the ones to tell him.

There's a knock at my door. Who can that be? It's only 1400 hours. George wouldn't come here until much later and I know Teal'c's gone to visit his family. Oh. My. God. I am in deep, deep shit.

I pull up on the drive. The girls have gone? Why? They wouldn't leave Jack unattended. Cassie would be all right to come home from school on her own. I knew I shouldn't have been so long, but I wanted to do some shopping. There was very little left in the house. Shouldn't really drive with a head injury, but it's been five weeks now and the concussion has gone, the bone's mended with Jacob's healing device help, so I don't tend to feel faint anymore. Perhaps Janet went and left Sam. That must be it. I open the front door with my key, and stumble through carrying some of the bags. He's sitting on his armchair and he's looking thoroughly kissable. I just rush over, get on my knees and kiss him soundly. Must admit, I didn't expect that reaction. He doesn't exactly look pleased to see me now.

"Sorry I took so long, Jack. Got some groceries in. Did the girls leave you long ago?" He shakes his head and looks back over his shoulder. I look up and follow his gaze. There's an elderly woman, silver-haired, sharp brown eyes, a handsome woman, obviously very beautiful in her youth and, oh, fuck, obviously Jack's mom.

"Hhhhi!" My voice has gone up a few octaves as I stumble to my feet. Jack's groaning. I know he was going to tell her, but I think she already knows now.

"Mom, this is Daniel Jackson. Daniel, Mary O'Neill, my mother Daniel." I want to run. I'm no coward, but this woman's rap sheet is longer than Jack's.

"Ppppleased to meet you," I stammer.

"Hello Daniel. I take it you know my boy well then." Her mouth turns up at the edges and her eyes are laughing. Thank God, she doesn't mind about me. I relax straight away. Her facial expressions are the same as Jack's, so reading her should be reasonably easy.

"Not as well as I'd like to," I say, winking at her, taking a chance that her sense of humour is as bad as his. She laughs, Jack moans.

"Oh no, she likes you Daniel. My life is over."

"How long have you two been together?" she asks coming over to me and putting her hands out. I take them and guide her to a chair.

"Only about six weeks, but we've known each other for years. Jack's my best friend, he just got friendlier, that's all."

Jack's groans are getting louder and his mother laughs again. I tell her I have some groceries to put away and she decides to help me. I really like her already. Any woman that can bring my Jack to heel is a good woman in my book. And she's good at it, given Jack's stories about her. I get the rest of the shopping in and we set about putting things away.

"Tell me about yourself, Daniel, I want to know about the man that's obviously got my Jack where he wants him."

"Oh, I don't know about that, Mrs. O'Neill," I say, she interrupts me to tell me to call her Mary. "Jack's his own man, so am I, we work together. I'm an archaeologist, linguist, we're on the same team."

"That's odd, since when do they have archaeologists in the Air Force?"

"They need my linguistic skills mainly, I speak a few languages."

"Nearly thirty," shouts Jack. Her eyes open wide, I think she's impressed. Hope so, don't want her to think I'm some sort of toy boy.

"You don't look old enough to speak that many languages," she says with a wink.

"I'm a lot older than I look, Mary. I'm thirty-six, and despite what Jack thinks, I'm not a kid anymore."

We head back to the living room and sit with Jack. I tell her a little bit more about me. "I've known Jack for over five years. He helped me look for my wife when she was, er, um, kidnapped. She died a couple of years ago," I add when she looks confused.

"You were married? Don't tell me Jack seduced you - took you over to the dark side?" Her face is illuminated, the good humour underneath is infectious.

I fall about laughing. "Oh God no! Nothing like that. I'm not as innocent as people make out, you know. No, I'm like Jack, I like women, it's just I like guys more. Don't get me wrong, I loved my wife, desperately, she was everything to me. It took me an age to get over losing her. We only had a year together before she was taken from me, I didn't get her back until she was killed. I could never marry again, no one could replace her. As for us, Jack and I only recently found out about each other. I couldn't have been either more surprised or more annoyed. We'd been best friends for years, we've wasted too much time apart. This is it for us, no more looking."

She smiles, realising the depth of my feelings for him. Turning to Jack she asks,

"That's the same for you Jack?"

"Oh yeah Mom. Never going to be anyone else." He looks at me with such love in his eyes that there's no mistaking his sincerity.

"I'm happy for you then, I hope things work out. You still have to be careful, I take it?"

"Yeah," says Jack sadly. "The General knows, he says he'll let me retire if it gets out. We're going to have to be careful on the base. Some people know, but they can be trusted. Those ladies that were here earlier for example. Sam's on our team, she's like Daniel's sister, they're so close." I nod, confirming his statement. "And Janet, she's our doctor on the base. Good women, both of them. We love them dearly and they take good care of us."

"Forgive me for asking, but why aren't you with them then?"

"Mom, it's not like that, they're our friends. Sam's my subordinate and like I said she's like a sister to Daniel. Either of us being with her, well, it wouldn't be right. And Janet knows far too much about us. That and the doctor-patient thing. No, friends, nothing more."

"Okay," her sharp brown eyes tell me that she's processing the data and now wants more information. Just like Jack.

"Tell me, how did you get those injuries, Jack?"

"Can't tell you much, Mom. I can tell you that Daniel was a hero. He saved my life, pure and simple. He carried me to our transport. It was so far it took him over a day to do it. That was with severe injuries to himself. He damn well nearly killed himself."

She looks at me, her eyes every bit as intense as Jack's ever get. I bow my head, don't want to talk about it.

"Is that true, son?" her voice is gentle, just like my mother's used to be. I nod. "Wouldn't leave him, couldn't. Rather die than lose him," I manage to whisper.

She comes over to me and hugs me, "Thank you Daniel, for giving my son back to me." There are tears in her eyes, mine too. I was so close to losing him again. She kisses my face, wipes away my tears. I don't feel so good.

Daniel's fainted clean away. I get my mom to bring the phone to me, then as I dial Janet, she puts him in the recovery position.

"He had a broken skull Mom. He also had a punctured lung and other injuries. He carried me, me, Mom. I should have been carrying him."

"With a broken leg and arm, and by the looks of you there were other injuries too." She's looking at my face, it's still raw.

"Carter said by the end he was dragging me to the transport. I think I got some of those then. I was shot, a couple of times, got some laser burns too. So did he, and a stab wound. We were both out of it for four days. He died, but they got him back."

"It sounds like you found yourself someone good, Jack."

"Oh Mom, I have never loved anyone this much, not even Sara."

"Not even Rick?"

"No, not even him. Daniel's died before. A couple of times to save me. We've always been lucky so far, getting him back. I don't mind telling you that I'm scared shitless of losing him."

"I understand. I take it you have an agreement. You both come back or...?" she lets the sentence hang, knowing the outcome.

"Yeah. He didn't want me to die, so he didn't allow himself to either."

"He sounds determined."

"Stubborner than a pack load of mules, Mom. Nobody and nothing stops him doing what he wants to do. I've been on the receiving end of it often enough. How's his breathing?"

"It's just like he's asleep, Jack. If we hadn't seen him faint I'd have said he'd dozed off. Tell me more about him, his background."

"There's lots to tell, but then there isn't much either. Trying to get information out of Daniel when he doesn't want to give it up is harder than the blood out of a stone trick. Try not to wince when you hear it Mom, his story isn't pretty."

She nods, takes a deep breath and I tell her what I can.

"He's an orphan, he saw his parents crushed to death when he was eight. I found that out only after knowing him a couple of years. I knew they were dead but I didn't know he'd seen it happen. He was rejected by his only living relative, his grandpa - again, I only found that out after another year. He was passed from pillar to post. He did finally get some good foster parents, ones that could cope with a genius, but they were killed in a plane crash. He's got nobody except us, Mom."

"You said he's a genius, you mean that or do you just mean he's very clever?"

"He's a freak of nature. And I mean that kindly. His IQ's off the scale. He's a multiple PhD, told you about his language skills. His mind doesn't work like yours or mine. He can't think in a straight line, he goes off on so many tangents it's scary to watch him work sometimes. Carter, now she's a regular genius. Doctor of astrophysics. Thinks straight down the line, knows more stuff than I ever could in a million years, works out things faster than a computer. We're talking Einstein proportions. Daniel can think rings around her any day of the week."

While Mom's taking that in, I call Carter. She's on her way. Good, Janet's arrived. She quickly scoots past my mom who's opened the door for her and heads to Daniel's side. While she's taking his vitals I tell her what happened.

"He seems okay," she says, "his measurements seem normal. I'm not taking any chances though, not after what happened. Pass me the phone, Jack."

She calls for transport to take him to the infirmary. I want to go too, but she tells me to stay. She'll let me know what's wrong as soon as she knows anything. I'm not happy, but given my circumstances, and the fact that Mom's threatening me, I acquiesce.

"Call me quickly," I tell her as she heads out the door. She promises she will. She's going straight up to the infirmary to prepare to receive him. He's safe here.

I tell Mom a bit more about Daniel while we're waiting, about his wife, his kindness, and before she thinks he's some sort of saint, his bad temper, foul mouth, the fact that underneath the lady killer looks and flirtiness he's really as gay as a goose. She laughs.

Sam comes, she must have broken the sound barrier let alone the speed limit. She and Mom chat until the ambulance arrives. I get her to help me up and I give her something to give to Mom. The package Sam brought is opened. It's an identical ring to the one that Daniel bought me.

"Mom, slip it on his little finger please, left hand. He'll know what I mean by it when he wakes up."

She puts it on. "You going to enlighten us, son?"

"Nearest thing to a wedding ring, Mom. He gave me one when we got out of hospital. Here." I show it to her. She nods, understanding.

The ambulance arrives and the medics come barrelling in to my living room. Mom stands there, looking really scary.

"You take good care of my little boy, you hear?" in her best, no nonsense Chicago/Irish voice. She's accepted him. He's one of her own now.

We watch as they take him away, Sam by his side. The medic said she should go in her own car. Major Carter went into a full-blown snit and she's sitting next to him now. She won't leave him.

Jack's ceiling isn't grey. Neither does it have strip lighting. Ah fuck, infirmary and back in my bed. I'm squinting, trying to focus. I know that outline, fuzzy or no, those curves are unmistakable, not to mention the hand on hip and foot tapping.

"Hi Jan. What happened?"

"You passed out at Jack's."

"Ah. It's his mom. She's scary."

"As scary as me?"

"Worse. Can you even imagine a female Jack? With added attitude?"

"Ooh momma, I'm goin' straight over there and pickin' me up some tips." Great, that's all I need. Napoleon Frasier taking lessons from Genghis O'Neill. I'm doomed.

"Why did I pass out?"

"Low blood sugar, Daniel. When did you last eat?"

"Um," I say, trying to remember. I don't tell her that sleeping has been nearly impossible with Jack in plaster.

"That 'um' says enough to me, Doctor Jackson." Shit, big trouble now, she only ever calls me that when I'm in it up to my neck.


"You will be. How many times have I told you to eat regularly? Especially now, Daniel. Did you have breakfast?"

"Coffee, Jack's mom phoned, got distracted." Not saying how. I did sort of eat...


"Oh. Forgot. Was going to cook as soon as I got to Jack's. Went shopping for it. Got distracted again. Can I go home now please?"

She mutters and removes the drip. "Wait, I'll drive you." I give her a huge smile, I think she forgives me for kissing her earlier.

She calls Sam over, she was on the phone relaying the info that I was okay. Sam points to my finger. I look, the ring. I want to cry, shout, scream that I love him, but I have to wait for that. Settle for a shit eating grin. I'll tell him later.

"Jan? What happened to my earrings when I was here before?"

"Sorry, Daniel, they're in my desk. Forgot to give them back to you. Not just earrings I noticed."

Hell, I'm blushing. Of course she found my navel stud. At least I hope it was her. It wasn't, it was Jason, one of her nurses. He comes over to say hi, bringing the stuff with him. I whisper, hi Jason, you haven't said anything have you? Come on, Daniel, you've gotten too much on me as it is. Of course I have, he makes love like an angel. Won't tell though, he's military. It would get him killed. It's much safer going out with male members of the military, they have far too much to lose to embark on the snarky-ex routine. Jason's a good laugh, we really had a good few dates. Had to stop, someone saw us out. Got away with saying we were out for a beer, that I owed him a favour for sneaking coffee to me in the infirmary. Couldn't take any chances after that. Like him loads though, nothing like as much as I love my Jack, but he's a good guy.

He gives them back to me. I leave the earrings off, but defiantly stick my navel stud in. Janet's laughing and Sam's eyes nearly pop out of her head. They get me up, still dressed thank God, and lead me out of the building, I want to go via my office but they won't let me. It is so embarrassing. I've spent five years trying to get the respect of the soldiers here and I pass out like a Victorian heroine. Am I ever going to gain some sort of regard?

Back at Jack's and Janet's giving him strict orders that I eat - regularly - or I'll be staying in the infirmary until she thinks fit. Mary's fussing, she's been cooking, enough to feed an army by the looks of it. Jan's had to go to Cassie, but Sam's staying, so there's only four of us to eat. The two women eat like birds leaving by far and away the lion's share for us, one grouchy colonel and an admittedly starving archaeologist. She won't let us leave any food on our plates. Man, she's really scary.

Oh no, Sam's telling her stories. Jack and I are groaning into our dinner. I'd play footsie with him under the table but his nearest leg is the one in plaster. Jan says it can come off soon. Back up at the base Sam said she'd have another go with the healing device when he came out of plaster just to make sure that everything was strong again. They have to be careful not to use the device on unblended humans too often, not good for us apparently.

What's that? Oh God, no. Not that story.

"So anyway, we met with the natives of this remote pla, er, place, and then the men of the village decided that they'd take the guys off on some weird initiation ritual. Murray, he's way cool about stuff, he didn't care a bit that this ritual had to be done in the nude."

"Not surprised at that Sam, have you ever seen the guy?" I interrupt. Mary's intrigued, I suck it up and spill.

"He's big. Bigger than Jack, about 6'4". Broad, black, and I know that he has enough admirers on base to call him extremely handsome."

"I'll say," says Sam. "He gives off vibes, you know, 'look at me I'm a man', sort of vibes."

"I'm not short, I'm a six footer for crying out loud," I say, "but he looks so much bigger than me. Makes me feel pretty inadequate, I can tell you."

Jack finally speaks up. "Trust me Daniel, you've got nothing to feel inadequate about. Anyway, are you gonna tell Mom the story or what?" Meaning 'don't let Carter, she'll embarrass the hell out of us, so please Daniel, tell our side of the story. Huh?'

"Sure, er, yeah," I know I'm blushing. Damn. "Luckily, Sam was taken in by the women. They were horrified that she couldn't weave cloth. She had to spend a couple of days learning how to do it. I could've shown you, Sam, you only had to ask." She kicks me.

"So we go hunting. It's a ritual hunt, only a particular animal is allowed to be caught. Fair enough, we think. Been there, done that, worn the feathers. Trouble is, this thing is this big bird," I think quickly, change it all to Earth terms, "a sort of ostrich." Jack nods, allowing me that. It wasn't an ostrich, it was more like an archaeopteryx. It was one mean fucker with a temper to rival mine after a coffee drought. "It kicks, hard, and pecks. The other thing was, the only weapons we were allowed were these bow and arrow things. Now I've done archery at college, hunted with natives using similar things, but these were weird. They sort of fired round corners. Personally, I still think they gave us the warped ones and were laughing themselves silly at the outsiders pathetic attempts to catch the fu, er, stupid bird."

Jack takes over. "We came back after a couple of days, skin torn to shreds, freezing cold, dragging this damn bird behind us. It wouldn't have been so bad if it had stopped then, but no, they had only just begun with us. They plaster us with mud, head to foot, then get us completely shi, er, drunk and made us dance. Carter couldn't keep a straight face through the whole thing."

(He didn't tell the women that the three of us had had to cling to each other overnight to stop our balls falling off with the cold. It was awful for both of us. Not only were we constantly fighting the desire to get warmer using, um, friction, we were both reminded how pathetically inadequate we really are by Teal'c. If I could've wiped the smug look off that alien bastard's face...)

Sam's putting her oar in. "You looked magnificent Jack," she says, laughing her head off at the memory.

I add the final bit. "To add insult to injury, they'd gone and cut up our clothes, to add them to some sort of weaving. Sam, could have saved some of them, I'm sure." I glare at her and she cracks up again. "The only thing we had to go back in were these tiny leather pouches, like g-strings. We had to face our general, not to mention a load of marines and SFs just wearing those things. I couldn't believe it though, Murray's didn't exactly cover his, um, assets, making me feel even worse 'cause mine were well-covered. Way to go to make a guy feel bad, you know. Oh and Sam, next time you complain about having to wear native dress, just remember that blue Simmarkan number covered everything. You got off lightly. Oh, and we're equal there now, so the gloves are off, sis."

Mary's laughing at the story, I think it's just the mental image of the three of us in g-string pouches myself. That would be enough to scare anyone. Mind you, Jack looked good in his. Wonder if they're kicking around at the SGC? I know the tape of us coming through the gate ended up being shown at the Christmas party.

"You seem to see a lot of the remoter parts of the world in your work." We look shiftily at each other. She KNOWS. I don't know how, but she damn well knows that we're not telling the whole truth.

"Yeah Mom, we do. Been to the deserts, mountain ranges, even Antarctica. Sam and I were lost there and somehow Daniel found us. Everyone else had given up on us. One more night and we'd have been permanent fixtures, but Daniel wouldn't give up on us, he kept looking."

He looks at me, softly smiling. Sam reaches out and puts her hand on my arm. I don't know where to put myself.

"You've done the same for me."

"When you were with Nem, we tried, we didn't understand what had happened but we tried Daniel, it just took us too long. We should have gone back there sooner. And the same with the thing with Nick. We took too long. Sorry Daniel." She's apologising for finding me? I tell her that it doesn't matter, they found me, I was okay in the end. Jack's saying nothing. I can see the guilt written over his face.

"Tell you what Jack, next time you go missing, I'll take a break once in a while. Make you feel better?"

He hits me. We're okay.

Mary's saying nothing, just observing the interaction between us. I wonder if she knows I'm watching her? Probably.

Sam's gone home, Mom's turning in too. Daniel asked me if he should go home but I said no, stay. I need to keep an eye on him anyway. Mom's okay about us. I tell him a bit about her. When I was a kid, we'd foster kids like him. My mom liked the ones with difficulties, she was so patient with them, helping them through whatever trauma they'd gone through. She's a child psychologist by training. A doctor. Daniel nods. I thought he'd be surprised that my mom was so smart.

"Don't be daft, Jack. You're just like her. You take in waifs and strays, I'm living proof of that. And you're smart, way smarter than you let on. I know that, always have done. Your 'me colonel, me dumb' routine doesn't wash with me. I just wish I'd been fostered by your mom. I'd never have wanted to leave."

I try to hug him, it's difficult with one arm in plaster. "Come on, my waif, let's go to bed." He helps me up and we get ready.

Lying in bed I'm uncomfortable. It's always bad being in plaster, but when you know that you're due out, the discomfort seems to grow by orders of magnitude. Daniel lies on his back and then pulls me into his arms, resting my head on his chest. I feel so safe and secure there. It's a strange feeling. I've always been the protector, but now I'm the protected. It feels good. He thanks me for the ring, it means everything to him. He tells me how much he loves me. I tell him that I love him too, I'll always love him. He's mine now, got the ring to prove it.

Mom finds us like this in the morning. She brings a coffee into us and I wake as she comes into the room. Daniel's still sleeping, holding me tightly.

"You two look happy," she whispers, a broad grin on her face. I thank her for the coffee.

"Never happier Mom. Daniel's special to me, special to everyone on the base. He just doesn't always recognise it. We'll keep telling him though. Maybe one day he'll get it." She bends over and places a kiss on my cheek, then does the same for Daniel. Even in his sleep he knows the light touch and he smiles.

"You're a good boy, Jonathan. You have a good heart. He's got a beautiful smile," she says.

"I'm doing my best to keep it there. I spent far too much time doing the wrong thing, making his life hell. Don't ask, I screwed up, that's all you need to know. I'm not going to do that again, ever."

She nods, knowing that I mean what I say. Then she leaves, saying that she's going to cook breakfast so we'd better get up.

I try to rouse my sleepy linguist, fail miserably so I resort to shock tactics. I bite his shoulder. He slept through that? No chance. Come on Daniel, coffee's waiting. Up and at 'em soldier.

"'ckoffJ'ck. Civvy." Ha! Can't pull the civilian routine on me, sunshine. Mom's waiting.

His eyes open, horrified. "Why the fuck didn't you say so?" He downs the coffee quickly, hauls me out of bed and propels me to the bathroom. He has to help me wash. I usually hate sponge baths, but this last couple of weeks have been fun. Not today apparently. Ah, Mom's waiting. I should never have told him so many stories about her. He's scared witless.

Mom's got breakfast ready as we finally make it downstairs. I have news for Daniel, I kept it from him yesterday, don't know why. I tell him as we sit down to eat. Janet says she's going to pick me up on her way into work and get the casts off. Maybe, I hope, they'll stay off. Don't mention Carter's healing thingy, but Daniel knows that she'll give it another go if needs be. Mom's in bossy mode.

"Jonathan, why haven't you been home in a long time?"

"Sorry Mom, been out of the country a lot. I always call - when I can get to a phone that is. Tell you what, I'm due some proper vacation time. How about I come up as soon as I can?"

She looks over at me, studies me, does the same to Daniel.

"I would rather hope that you'd bring Daniel. Patrick will be back from visiting that monastery in Ireland next week. We'll have a family get-together. Bridget and her family can come over too."

I look at Daniel, he's curious. I've never really talked much about my brother and sister. "Monastery?" he asks. Oh yeah, here goes.

"Mom, it's best we don't go home if Pat's there. You know it would be awkward. Bridie and the gang, sure, but Pat?"

"Jack, why not Patrick?" Daniel asks.

"My brother's a priest, Daniel. He doesn't know about me, and as I'd like to keep on speaking terms with him..." I let the sentence end like that. Daniel's smart, he'll know it's not because I'm ashamed or anything. He has no family to speak of, only Nick, and he forgave that bastard for putting him through hell purely because he was blood. Daniel nods at me, he understands. However, my mother doesn't.

"Jonathan, Patrick's a grown man. He's seen and heard things, done lots of stuff too. He's a good man, forgiving."

"I know Mom, I just don't want to put him in the position that he feels he has to forgive me. I've done nothing wrong. I love Daniel. I'm not apologising for that, not to anyone. Patrick's faith means that he believes what I do, what I am, is wrong, it's a sin. How can I make him choose between his faith and his brother?"

She sighs, she can see my side of things, but she's an open-hearted woman, caring in the extreme. She has decided that Daniel is one of hers now, and nothing will change that. She still treats Sara as her daughter, for which I am grateful. Daniel speaks to her.

"Mary, I don't want to be the cause of friction between Jack and his family. I know what it's like to lose everyone you love, I won't let that happen to him. Let Jack go home. I'll stay here. It's okay, I'm not put out or anything. We have to hide our relationship on a daily basis, we have friends at the base, ones we trust with our lives, and we can't tell them. Only those that needed to know actually do. Keeping me a secret from Patrick is worth it. Jack can't be forced into such a fundamental argument with him. I'm not worth that."

"Daniel, don't you dare!" I snap. "You are worth it, don't you ever believe that you're not. It's just that I'd rather not get into this with him, not take any chances. But if it came down to it, I'd choose you. Told you the Air Force could go jump, didn't I? Same here. I love my brother, I don't want any trouble with him, but I am not giving you up and I think you are worth it." I see a tear in his eye, my hand has hold of his chin, forcing him to face me, to look me straight in the eye. He is worth it, he is

Her turn now. "Jonathan, may I remind you of your brother-in-law?" Ah yes, my sister is Mrs. Bridget Lowenstein. Not the sort of surname you'd expect for a good Catholic girl. Patrick and Reuben get on like a house on fire, always have done.

My turn to sigh. "I'll get the time off Mom, I'll try to get Hammond to allow Daniel to have the time off too. We'll come, but you'd better be prepared for the fireworks." Daniel shakes his head, but I give him the 'forget it sunshine, we've lost' look. He shrugs and tacitly admits defeat.

Janet's due soon so Daniel helps me get my shoe on, bending down to do up the lace for me. Mom's laughing at the sight.

"Daniel, how on earth did such a good-looking young man such as yourself end up with such a decrepit old fossil as Jack?"

Daniel grins, stands up, kisses my nose. "I'm an archaeologist, Mary, I love old things." He's only getting away with that one because Janet's just turned up.

"Just you wait, Spacemonkey, I'll get you back when I'm out of these casts."

"Hey guys," Janet fairly bounces through the door.

"Hi Jan," Daniel smiles hard at her, her obvious happiness is infectious.

"Spill it Doc," I order, "who's got some interesting disease now? Or is it a textbook case of some broken finger or something. You usually only look this happy when someone's writhing in agony."

"Humph! You're only not being punched because you're older than me Jack. I have respect for my elders."

"No respect for rank, Major."

"Plenty, Sir, when it's earned." She salutes me, my instinct to salute her back is more powerful than my memory of the fact that my right arm is in plaster to the shoulder. I let out a yelp. Mom's cracking up, she really likes Janet. I'm in even deeper shit than before.

Daniel turns on the charm before I get hurt even more. "Come on, Jan, tell me. Has Cassie done something amazing again?" We'd told Mom a bit about Cass last night, so she knows who we are talking about.

"No, well she is amazing but no, not that. Remember the upset about the medical exams being done by outsiders? Well, they got put off and put off, heaven only knows why, and Hammond's blown his lid. He's told the Pentagon where they can stick their doctors, gone straight to the President, got his backing, and I'm back on the job. It's a lot more work for me, but under the circumstances I'm happy to do it."

We breathe a sigh of relief and Daniel hugs her and kisses her cheek. "What, no Danny Special?" she teases.

"Hmm, not today. Maybe soon." His eyes are sparkling as he says it and I can see she's looking forward to the idea already. He asks if I want him to come up, but I say he should stay away. He agrees and says he'll take Mom out for the day. Mom's happy with that, says it'll be good having a toy boy to escort her around town. If anyone else had said that he'd have gone nuts. But he's laughing, flirting with her, telling her WHAT? That having to escort such a beautiful woman beats the hell out of going round Safeways with a battered old colonel.

I'm hurt, I tell him I'm hurt. He grins an apology, slips his arms around my waist and kisses my lips so gently I can hardly feel it. That doesn't stop my blood hitting my groin faster than hyperdrive and my IQ slipping below 100. He's away from me too fast and Janet's whisking me out of the door. No fair. Want to go to bed.

"Okay," I say, "what questions do you have for me?" Her curiosity is killing her, I can tell. She grins.

"Hundreds, most of which I'll get the answer, 'can't tell you' to I'll wager."

"How about you ask, and I'll answer anything I can. Can't say fairer than that, can I?" We pour another coffee and face each other across the table. I love to study her face, it's interesting. So much like Jack's.


"It was a nickname I got from Jack years ago. He'd thought I was dead, I thought he and the team were. We were pleased to see each other. That's all." That's all she's getting anyway. A nod.


"Regular check-ups, physicals. Jan normally does them but there was hassle about it, the powers that be wanted outsiders to do them. Jan always hides the fact that some of the guys on the base are gay. We didn't trust the confidentiality of the other doctors." Another nod.

"Danny Special?"

"A kiss. I was teasing Janet yesterday. She was complaining she didn't get enough fondling - long story, bad joke. Jack calls the kiss a Danny Special. He seems to need to give names to anything and everything."

"I'll bet she enjoyed it."

"Hope she did. Look Mary, I know your curious about our relationships with the girls. It's hard to explain. Sam and I, Jack told you we're like siblings, right? We do things together, tell each other stuff. She's safe with me. It's not because I'm gay, I'm not totally. I love beautiful women, it's just that's not the way we are. I've seen her in the showers at work, she's seen me. No sparkage if you like. When she stays at my place, we share a bed. Nothing happens, just a cuddle. Neither of us even wants to step over the line. I love her more than life itself, but I could never see the day that she and I got together. As for Janet, our relationship is similar, but more fiery. We fight sometimes, argue a lot. It's more passionate but there's still no chance that we'd ever get together. We have a history, medical stuff, won't go into that. I trust her as a human being, and trust her 99% as a doctor. There's just that little bit of friction. She thinks I'm a dreadful patient by the way. I am. And she feels guilty over that problem we have. We flirt, we enjoy it, but it's only because nothing will come of it. Does that make any sense?"

"Some, relationships are often hard to explain. How about them and Jack?"

"He's a newcomer to the intense side of our friendship. Sam's his second in command. There's a barrier between them that they cannot overstep because they have mental blocks. It's the regulations. I know him being with me is a bigger breach of them in one sense, but because I'm a civilian and not in the chain of command, it's easier for him to accept. He does love Sam, more than he should, but it's not like that. Janet's a bit different, but as he says, she knows far too much about us. Trust me, having a relationship with your doctor, well, it's weird. Her fingers have been places my wife's never got to. Including inside my stomach. Nah, it would just be way too strange. He loves her too though, in his own way. Cassie's the binding force. We all love her as if she was our own daughter. We'd go through hell to help them willingly."

"Your team sound like a family."

"They're the only family I have."

"Not now, Daniel. You have us." I get up and go over to her, put my arms around her shoulders and give her a hug. We go to sit in the living room together.

"Tell me about your parents, Daniel. Jack told me what happened to them, and that you saw it. That must have been devastating for you."

"It was. Never really got over it. They were archaeologists. I was born and brought up in Egypt. Loved it there. Couldn't speak English till I was five. Jack'll tell you, I get nightmares sometimes, rarely in English, usually in Arabic. I think of Cairo as my home. Didn't know my parents too well, they were always so busy. I had a stream of nannies, not many could handle me. Fatima was the last one, she looked after me for three years. Indulged me. Spoilt me rotten actually. When my parents died I couldn't understand why they wouldn't let me go to her. We'd only come over for the winter, to set up the exhibition. We were due to go back a few weeks later. I hated New York. It was so cold and wet. I kept crying I wanted my ayah but they wouldn't send me back. My grandfather didn't want me, so as far as I was concerned she was the only family I had. Things were different then, they wouldn't send me out of the country to live in a different culture to the one they thought I should live in. They didn't want to recognise that it was the only culture I understood. So, not much of a childhood, not until I was twelve. I got some decent foster parents. They wanted to adopt me, but on the way to see my grandfather the plane crashed and killed them. That pretty much sums me up."

She studies my face, looking to see how it all affected me. I try not to show her, I don't want her to think I'm some pathetic case that needs taking care of. I can look after myself. Have done for a long time.

"You're a hard man, Daniel. You've done a good job of bringing yourself up. Many others would have given up, blamed fate, ended up in a life of crime and saying it wasn't their fault. You made the most of your talents. You're a credit to yourself, you should be proud."

Wow. I wasn't expecting that. It must show on my face because the next thing she says is, "I guess you're not told that often enough."

"No. First time actually."

She shakes her head and puts her hand out to me so I can help her off the sofa. "Call me Mom," she orders, "and take me shopping."

We crash through the door of my apartment, laughing fit to burst. I have never had so much fun shopping in my life. I told her about the leather shop, giving her a brief description of the pants I'd bought for Jack. They'd had to be cut off when we returned to the SGC. She didn't ask for details about the mission, just accepting the fact that what we did was necessary. George had ordered the bill for the clothes to be paid directly to me, I think the idea that his head of the anthropology department had an account at a fetish shop was a bit much. I had to go in and pay the bill, so Mary, no, Mom, came with me. I couldn't believe it when she fell for a jacket. It's really nice, quite staid, no chains or anything. Fits her like a glove. I couldn't resist and bought it for her. Her face was a picture. I had to replace my pants, like them too much to be without them. She squealed when I came out of the changing room in them. Oh yes, she said, very you. I can't wait to see Jack's face when we get home.

I took her to the various food shops I go to. Jack's dad didn't like foreign food, so I gave her a crash course in herbs and spices, how and when to use them. She's going to sign up for cookery classes when she gets back to Chicago. I'm going to cook tonight, a Middle Eastern feast, full of the best things that I can make. I think she'll love the warm spiced dishes and the honeyed sweets.

We visited a few book shops. She loves the written word as much as I do, we even share a few favourite authors. It was funny, someone thought she was my mom in one of them and she said she was. Introduced me as her boy, proud as punch to have someone who loved books. I felt ten feet tall. I nearly died when she started looking at books on gay sex though. Said she wanted to understand me and Jack more. I steered her to ones about relationships instead, though as I pointed out, our relationship is not like other people's. Our friendship is a strange one. I think she wants to talk about that.

I give her a guided tour of my loft. She loves it, thinks it's peaceful.

"Are you going to move in with Jack?"

"We'd like that, though we doubt that it is a good idea. I'll probably keep this place for a while longer."

"You don't want to leave it, do you?"

"Not really, but I want to be with Jack more than I want to stay here."

Again, the nod, the understanding. I should feel like I'm on trial, but I don't. She's accepted me as her own, something I never thought would happen. I know that women are on the whole more accepting of gay men than straight men are, but I'm sleeping with her baby son. I know he's a forty-five year-old Air Force colonel, but he is her youngest, and she does call him that. I wonder if her psychology background helps her to accept me? Probably not, she strikes me as being a very giving and loving person, just like Jack. I should be wary of her, I have a natural distrust for her profession, never having been on the receiving end of any therapy that was worth anything, but I'm not.

We sit on the couch and drink coffee. Just as well I have some dried milk here.

"Tell me why you and Jack get on so well. You're very different."

"We are. And I don't really know, is the honest answer. We wind each other up at work, we fight like cat and dog. He's so hard-core military and I am a 'pinko bleeding heart liberal'. I love to read and study. He loves sport. I know he reads, and I know he can quote Shakespeare, but he prefers not to tarnish his macho image in public. I don't follow orders as much as I should, I think he follows too many of them. The rest of the base knows to stay out of our way when we fight, even the marines avoid us. But God help anyone that tries to come between us, they'd be toast. Even Sam and Murray stay away from us when we fight."

"You have a passionate relationship."

"We do. But it's not based on sex. Never has been. He's my best friend. Took me in when I had nowhere to go, gave me a place on the team when none of the others would have given me standing room. I have to prove myself, but he gives me the benefit of the doubt whereas he has no time for others of my profession. He sticks up for me in front of the whole base."

"You do the same for him."

"Of course."

The cellphone goes, it's Jack back from the base. He's wondering where the hell I am and what am I doing with his mother.

"We're at my place Jack, and we're having a great time. You want to talk to her?"

"I want you to come home, Daniel. Bring her if you must." His voice sounds resigned, but I know there'd be hell to pay if I didn't take her back.

"Okay Jack, we're on our way. I've got some stuff for dinner so don't call the pizza place."

"As if I would." We sign off and I help Mom off the sofa.

"Come on, duty calls," I say with a wink. She shrugs, says a mother's work is never done and we head off over to Jack's house. Home.

At Mom's place, been here for a week. Daniel and I got the time off that I requested so we're making the most of it. Two weeks of doing nothing, not recuperating, not working from home, just vegging on the sofa and enjoying my family's company. Mom was right, Bridie adores Daniel. No biggie that one. Reuben was surprised to find out my choice of partner, but he's cool about it. Bridie's kids are here too; Emily is a mom herself, my great niece Katherine (oh God, that makes me sound old) was born last year. I think about it, Bridget is fifty, Em's twenty-five, it's not surprising that she has a kid of her own, probably more surprising that it took her so long. Bride's other kid, Joseph, is twenty-two. Not married yet, but engaged to an apparently delightful girl out in California. She's not here but Joe is. Em and Joe are also smitten by Daniel - surprise, surprise.

Pat's due here today. He's gotten a couple of days off from his parish on the other side of the city. He enjoyed his retreat, feels really peaceful and relaxed according to Mom. I wonder if sending Daniel on retreat would help him? He's pretty wound up at the moment. Bride's gone off for the day with her family. She wanted to give us the privacy to introduce Daniel to Pat. She figured that Daniel and I wouldn't appreciate an audience. Mom's still here though, thank God. She can put Pat in his place if he loses it. I'm far more nervous about telling him than telling George. The worst that George could have done was dishonourably discharged me and I could have lost my pension. Here, I could lose my brother.

Oh God, he's here. Mom's making a big fuss of him as he walks through the door. He's in civvies, just the dog collar. Hey, bro, snap. Just got my dog tags.

"Where's Bridie?" he asks, his eyes darting around the hall, listening out for sounds of the children (they are not kids anymore, O'Neill, they're grown up now. Ah, they'll always be the kids to me, who am I kidding?).

Mom's answering. "They're out for the day, Patrick. Come on in the kitchen, we've a lot to discuss." His face takes on a serious look and follows Mom and me to the kitchen. Daniel's there, making Mom some tea. I introduce them.

"Pat, this is my friend Dr. Daniel Jackson. Daniel, my brother Father Patrick O'Neill." That sounds so formal, but I want this to be civilised, polite even.

"Doctor? Medicine?" asks Pat.

"No, actually one's archaeology, the other's in linguistics."

"A double PhD? And you and Jack are friends?"

Daniel grins shyly at me, his eyes twinkling beneath those long lashes of his. "Hmm, it's the poetry reading, gets me every time."

I prod my finger into his shoulder and Mom laughs. Pat looks like he's missed the punch line. He hasn't, he just didn't hear the beginning of the joke.

"Look Pat, this isn't going to be easy to say but I think it's best if I just come out and say it. Daniel's not just my friend, he's my partner."


"Yeah, as in 'for life'. Got it?"

"Oh!" To be fair there's not a lot more that he could say. Mom looks at Daniel and the two of them take off. This is between me and him. I know that they won't be far though, in case I need them. Pat's bigger than me, got a mean right hook and he's not afraid to use it.

"Look, Pat, I'm sorry if this is hard for you, I know that your faith doesn't allow for this. I don't want you to hate me, it would break my heart if you did. I also don't want to cause any problems for you or your conviction. You know I'm not religious, I've seen too much death and destruction to be able to ever have a strong faith. I do however respect your beliefs and your choice to become a priest. I just hope you can respect me for mine."

Silence reigns. Pat's not ignoring me, he's considering his response. Daniel does that, goes off into his own little world, working out his thoughts before coming back and telling me precisely what he's worked out. While I'm waiting for his response I make him a cup of tea. Handing it to him he looks up at me. There's hurt and confusion in his eyes. There's also love. I know he's hurting and that it's not just my fault. He's torn between doctrine, brotherly love and the basic tenet of Christian love and forgiveness. I sit back down across the table and stare into my own cup.

"How long has this been going on?" His voice is gentle, brotherly.

"Our relationship is only a couple of months old but our friendship is years old. He's my best friend, Pat."

"So this is just a continuation of a friendship?"

"Sort of, but not in the way you're thinking. Pat, I'm not straight, haven't been since I was a teenager. Neither is Daniel. We just took too long to tell each other. He's not my first boyfriend and I'm not his." Ouch, that wince when I said that word spoke volumes to me. He's not happy.

"He was married too, he lost his wife, she was killed." Okay, let's try for the sympathy vote here, usually works with Pat. I tell him about Daniel, sure I'm laying on the tragic act with a trowel, but I want Pat to feel for him or else we won't stand a chance.

"Jack, this isn't easy for me. In myself I don't have a problem with your orientation. Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to condone it. Don't you have the same problem at work?" Pat really is a good man, cares deeply about others, as he should.

"Yep, but there's more people there willing to ignore the rules. Even my boss, the General, knows and is okay about it. My team know and my doctor knows. They're the only ones we've told. I know that there are others who could be told, who wouldn't care one way or another, but we can't afford to take the chance. Daniel works with me. If word got out about him he'd probably get beaten up, maybe killed."

"I understand, don't worry Jack, I'm not going to tell anyone. I must admit to being, I don't know..."

"Angry? Disappointed? Disgusted?"

"No, not that, certainly not that. Confused I think. Yes, more like confused."

"You mean how come a career military, macho prick like me likes sleeping with guys?"

"Something like that," Pat's laughing, thank goodness. I love him, I'm proud he's my brother.

"Dunno, just my good luck I guess. Blame it on hormones if you want. Doesn't change the fact that I've known I was bisexual for thirty years, which is longer than I've been in the Air Force."

We head off for the lounge, hearing raised voices as we go.

"I should go, Mom, I can't come between them, it would be wrong."

Pat goes to open the door but I say no, leave Mom do her job.

"Daniel, I accepted you didn't I? You're my boy's partner but I chose to accept you, it wasn't forced on me. You love Jack, I know you love him, your actions have proved what your words already told me. As far as I am concerned you are one of mine, part of the family. Patrick's going to have to suck it up and live with it. There'll be no more of this defeatist talk under my roof. Huh, and Jack said you weren't a quitter, that you've never given up on him even when he deserved it."

"I'm not giving up on him! I'd never do that, never. I have no brothers or sisters, Mom, not real ones. If I had though, I know that I'd fight to the death to keep them."

"Daniel, Pat's just found out that Jack's to all intents and purposes, gay. It wouldn't matter whether he had you or anyone else or not. It's a fundamental truth that that is what Jack is. Don't you understand, dear? It's not about you, it's about him. He needs you, are you going to walk out on him?"

"God, no, couldn't do that. Wouldn't do that." Daniel's voice trails off. He gets it. Finally. I look at Pat. So does he. He puts a hand on my shoulder, pulls me into a hug. "We're okay little brother," he whispers, and we go in. I put my arms out to Daniel and he comes over to me, sighing as I pull him into a hug.

"Okay Jack?"

"Okay Daniel, everything's okay." Another sigh and I feel his body go limp against mine. The relief is actually tangible.

Mom's saying something about a party. Daniel's ears prick up. He puts his hand out to her and they head off for the kitchen, Daniel telling her about some quick and easy party food he can make, I hope he means those really tasty things he made for Janet's party. Never did get her that stripper. Next year, definitely.

We're back at work. It's been a funny couple of months. I finally 'found' Jack, nearly lost him, got him back and gained a family. All he's gotten in return is me and a look at the wild side of the girls. Poor man. I'm dreading today, April the first. We always play tricks on each other. I wouldn't feel so bad about this but I've been sleeping at my place for the last few nights, things have been hectic here and we both needed the peace. I have no idea what he's been up to.

I'm opening my office door with trepidation. Last year he wired the handle. No water pouring down on top of me. No whoopee cushion on my chair. What the fuck has he done? I look around, no, don't get it. Perhaps a coffee will help?


I see him in the corridor, he takes one look at me and legs it. The fucker's taken my coffee pot.

Charra alaik! Sharmute!

I take off, running after him and he's scared. We reach the corridor where his office is. Oh no, Jack, we finish this here. A sea of marines parts and lets him through, scattering completely when I come barrelling passed them.

Dolboy'eb! Govn'uk! Khueplet!

He stops outside his office and turns. His hands are up in surrender. I grab hold of him, screaming more insults at him. This is turning him on, I can tell. File this one for private use.

Irrumator! - I start on the Latin, he gets that one.

"What the fuck have you done with my coffee pot?" I mean, I've got a sense of humour but taking my coffee? That's unforgivable. I see one of the marines pale. He understands. I see him putting his hand on his heart, shaking his head.

"Sorry Daniel, I'll give it back, honest." He tries not to grin. I'm not impressed. "It's in the store cupboard by your office." I harrumph and put him down. "I'll make it up to you," he says weakly, then turns to walk into his room. Oh shit.

I hear his voice as I start off running down the corridor.


The marines are pissing themselves as I take off. He can't catch me. Besides, Sam and Teal'c helped. So did Siler and the techs. I wonder if he even saw the roses? Doubt he's seen the pink background on his PC, or the hearts and flowers screensaver...