default style cream background and navy text


Summary: Just a linking piece to 'Freedom'. This is where I diverge from history (yeah, I know it's not real history, but you'll see what I mean). Think of it as an AU if you want. Thanks, as ever, to Joy.

"So, Danny," Jack said as he passed him a beer from Daniel's fridge. They headed into the lounge and sat. "Tell me you know this relationship that you have that we can't talk about and all that well I was wondering..."

"Jack! Breathe!" Daniel was concerned by the rush of words and length of sentence from his friend. And Jack was his friend again, something for which he was incredibly grateful. Ever since their return from the other galaxy, and as soon as they'd got 'their' Teal'c back, Jack had poured his efforts into being his best friend. Sure, they butted heads, as Daniel had predicted, but it was as nothing when compared to the previous year.

Jack grinned and said, "I'm curious."

"Ask anything, Jack, but don't ask what you're not allowed to."

Another grin and a raise of his beer bottle indicated to Daniel that Jack was okay and was going to talk just as soon as his tongue would let him.

"I'm curious," he said again. "Is he, erm, your first, er..."

"Boyfriend?" Daniel asked with a snigger.

"Well, I guess. I mean, whatd'ya call him?"

"Apart from his name?" Daniel ducked a cushion aimed at him. "Boyfriend's good, if a little incongruous given our age - neither of us is remotely young enough to be called a boy, dumb nicknames not withstanding, Jack."

Jack grinned an innocent 'who, me?' look at him but gestured for him to continue anyway.

"Partner, I suppose, is preferred," Daniel said thoughtfully. "Or the dreaded S.O. Lover's good," he added with a grin.

"Is he?" blurted out Jack, then he blushed as he realised what he'd said.

"Do you really want to know, or were you just letting your mouth run away with you again?" Daniel teased.

"Damned tongue - it's got a fucking life of its own," Jack admitted. "Fuck, Danny, you've got me wondering now."

Daniel laughed. "You asked for it, O'Neill. He's mind-blowing. Blows other stuff too, but I'm guessing that's TMI, huh?"

Jack was now bright-red, but laughing his ass off at the same time.

"You didn't answer the question," Jack finally pointed out when he got his breath back.

"About what? I've told you what I think I prefer to call him and that he's amazing in bed, what more do you want to know?"

"Is he your first?" Jack growled.

"Oh. No."

Jack wasn't sure if he was surprised or not at that.

"You never said," he said quietly.

"It wasn't an issue, Jack," Daniel replied. He got in front of Jack and took his hands in his own, squeezing them gently. "I was in love with Shau're, truly in love with her."

"I know. I know you were," Jack reassured.

"I didn't suddenly decide overnight that I was one way or the other - I've always just been 'me' Jack. My first serious relationship was with a guy. Sarah was my first serious girlfriend. I'd had others, but they weren't much more than dates. Shau're was the only woman I've ever loved, really loved. I'll never love another woman the same way, I wouldn't if I wasn't with him either."

"So, what, you're bi?"

Daniel shrugged. "Yeah, I guess. I allow myself to be called that because people like labels, but I just see it as I love whomever I choose. For me to love, completely, the person has to be special. Their gender is irrelevant."

"Funnily enough, I kinda understand," Jack said, giving Daniel a squeeze back as the younger man stood up again and returned to his own chair. "I've never wanted to be with a guy, but that's just me."

"Are you freaked by this?" Daniel asked.

"A bit," Jack admitted. "I'm cool about it. I'm not going to run screaming. You're still the best friend I've ever had in my life, Daniel, and what I said on the ship goes. Don't expect me to repeat it though," he added with a grunt.

"Oh, I wouldn't," came the giggling reply. He knew what Jack was talking about - what he meant. Jack loved him. He'd heard it the once, he didn't need to ever hear it again.

"I guess I'd never even thought about what you were, ya know? It wasn't important."

"Precisely, Jack. It wasn't important. It isn't. I do love you, I will always love you. I'm in love with him. My feelings for him will never undermine my friendship with you. And the other way around."

Before Jack could answer, there was the sound of a key in Daniel's door. He'd given keys to only a few people. Sam and Teal'c had one each - as did Jack, of course. After the panic with the balcony, Sam had insisted and then a few weeks before present, he'd given one to Jack. Jack had been choked. There was one other.

"Paul! Hey, I thought you couldn't get time off!"

"Major, good to see you," Jack boomed before Paul could say anything.

"Colonel. Nice to see you too, Sir."

"I see that you have a key. Most sensible arrangement. Staying here certainly beats those motels, doesn't it?"

"Um, yes, Sir," Paul replied dubiously.

Daniel kicked Jack. Jack poked Daniel back, then found himself flat on his ass.

"Jack, drop the 'colonel' act for crying out loud," he said in exasperation. "Shut the door, Paul and come on in. Jack - I'm talking to Jack aren't I?"

Jack picked up on the mood, got up off the floor and walked over to Paul.

"Paul," he said quietly. "Call me Jack."

Paul's tense body language softened. He understood. Anything said there was 'off duty'. Whereas they were technically on duty 24/7 - 365 days of the year - no human being could be that and remain human. They had to have a 'military off-switch' somewhere. In civvy mode, Paul knew that whatever Jack heard he wouldn't even feel obliged to report unless the security of the base or country were compromised. Which it wasn't, so Paul felt a little happier. However, years of reflexive hiding were hard to shake.

"Jack," he replied with a smile. "Thank you."

Tentatively, Daniel put out his hand to Paul and he took it, then found himself pulled into a hug. Daniel looked over Paul's shoulder and saw Jack winking at him. He winked back with a huge smile and then broke the hug.

"Come on, tell me what's up," he ordered Paul.

"How do you know something's up?" Paul demanded.

"Well, you said you wouldn't get this weekend off, and then you come crashing through my door fit to burst. I know you, Paul. Talk!"

"Do you want me to go?" Jack asked, suddenly feeling like a fifth wheel.

"No," Paul replied, "I think you'll like to hear this one too."

Daniel poured Paul a cognac and then they all sat down.

"Okay," Paul said as he sniffed the brandy and then took a sip. "Did you know that Senator Kinsey has a son?"

"Yes," Jack replied, in a 'get on with it' manner.

"Well," Paul drawled, "he's in the Navy."

"And?" both men urged.

"He's gay," Paul said with a grin.

"So?" Jack prompted.

"He's got a boyfriend," came the next bit of information.

"Therefore?" Daniel added.

"Who happens to be the son of Admiral Alfredson." He mentioned a name that brought Jack up sharp. That man was on the JCS.

"Is this public knowledge?" Daniel asked carefully.

Paul nodded, "They got found out."

"SHIT!" Jack's pronouncement spoke for them all.

"Poor guys," Daniel put in.

"Don't feel too sorry for them," Paul hastily added, "they came out deliberately. They want to get the law overturned."

"Wow," Jack said in admiration. "That's a very brave thing for them to do."

Daniel and Paul agreed with him wholeheartedly.

"I know Jamie Alfredson," Paul said, "he works at the Pentagon these days. He and Simon Kinsey were fed up of not being able to live together when Simon was on land and so they decided they'd take the chance."

"How are their fathers taking it?" Daniel asked.

"Admiral Alfredson is standing by his son. Jamie actually talked to him beforehand. They're very close and apparently the Admiral has known of the relationship all along. He's always been one of the supporters of ditching the law. He's holding his head up and saying publicly that he's proud of his son. It was going to be on the news tonight. I'd have thought you'd have watched it already."

"No, we've only just got back and had terminal debriefs and so on," Daniel sighed. "We got here about half an hour ago."

Jack leaned forward and put one of the twenty-four hour news channels on.

Kinsey was 'unavailable for comment' apparently. Alfredson, however, was standing on the front step of his house and talking animatedly to the press.

"I am always proud of my children," he was saying, "never more so than today. My son has served his country with distinction, been injured in her service and always put her needs before his own. Is it so much to ask that he has some happiness to go along with it? I stand side by side with him. If necessary, I will resign my position on the Joint Chiefs to prove my point. I am disgusted with the law and the wishy-washy half-baked 'don't ask' temporary measure. Something should be done and done now to bring this fine country that I have served for forty years up to speed with our allies. The other leading democracies in the world have abandoned the Victorian attitudes that insisted that only so-called 'straight' men and women can serve. I'm telling you now, I have knowingly served alongside many homosexual sailors over the course of my time in the Navy. I know for a fact that there are very many in all the branches of the services and they serve their country with bravery and pride. It is about time that this country acknowledged them and their service and was proud of them too."

"Wow," Daniel said. "What a guy! I feel for Simon Kinsey. He could have had a father like that, but look what he ended up with."

Jack was grinning from ear to ear.

"You do realise, guys, that this is only the beginning, but it is a damned good start. Here's hoping."

He raised his beer, got acknowledgement, and the three men toasted the young men that were embarking on a long and difficult fight.