Christmas Present - or - What the Dickens?
It was December 23rd.
After a 'lovers' tiff' - no, make that a flaming row - the previous day, Daniel had stormed out. Of course, he would come back again. He always did. Feeling totally misunderstood, or from Daniel's perspective, feeling sorry for himself, Jack had hit the bottle. He'd awakened late that morning in front of the television which was blaring out a noisy children's Christmas show. He must have dozed off on the sofa. Now, he could swear that the crick in his neck, the kink in his spine and a particularly malevolent hangover were all in cahoots.
Despondently, he dragged himself to his feet and switched off the T.V., wondering as he did so, how he'd managed to sleep on as long as he had with that racket going on. Then the memory of the night before slammed back into his head making the rest of his pains run for cover. How could Daniel have said all those venomous things - things only a linguist could put into such scathing words so succinctly?
Jack spun round, half expecting to find Daniel standing behind him with that superior sneer on his face. He figured Daniel must have crept back in during the early hours while he was still out of it then he realized it was all in his head. Jeez, he must have been more drunk than he'd thought.
He forced himself to be calm. No, of course Daniel hadn't left. He would've gone for a drive and then maybe gone back to the loft to sleep. It wouldn't be the first time... Once he'd thought over how obnoxious he'd been, he would simmer down and come back bearing pizzas by way of an apology. Then Jack would display great magnanimity and tell him it was all forgotten already. After that, the make-up sex - sorry, sorry, love-making - would be awesome, sensational, earth-shaking...
Lunchtime came and went. Daniel hadn't returned and Jack wasn't hungry. Time passed like an arthritic tortoise. The waiting was hell. Oh well, while he had the house to himself, he might as well do something constructive - like wrapping Daniel's presents.
First up, a blue shirt to match his eyes. Daniel would get all snarky over that - then he'd wear it at every opportunity because he knew his Jack loved him in that particular shade of blue. Next was 'Ideology, Symbolic Power and Ritual Communication: a reinterpretation of Neolithic mortuary practices' by Michael Shanks. It went right over Jack's head, but he knew Daniel would love it. Then came a number of silly little stocking fillers that would have him chuckling, being as they all held some significant reference to their lives together.
Finally came a tiny red plush box containing a heavy gold monogrammed signet ring with 'Love you always' engraved around the inside. Yes, that would really make Daniel feel like a heel, which was fair enough, given that he'd behaved like a complete asshole last night.
By now, it was dark outside, and still no sign of Daniel. A small hint of worry was beginning to niggle at the back of Jack's mind. Nah, if he'd had an accident, someone would have notified him by now. He was probably in the apartment doing exactly the same as himself - wrapping Christmas presents.
Evening crept onwards towards Christmas Eve. Still no Daniel. Eventually, Jack gave in to those nagging doubts and rang the loft. Answer-phone. Damn! Come on, Daniel, pick up... Nothing. Morosely, Jack reached for the brandy and flicked through the channels.
"Just lost another team member, Jack?"
"Yes, really - as soon as he came through the door..."
"Well, let's just check that out, shall we? Give me your hand."
Somehow, Kawalsky was now standing in front of him, hand outstretched. What was this? Charlie's ghost? He didn't believe in ghosts.
"This is not real," he grumbled. "You're not real. You died"
"Sure I'm real. Feel."
So Jack reached out and put his hand into Charlie Kawalsky's. It was solid - and warm. Charlie pulled him to his feet. As he rose, a slight shiver passed through him. Nervously, he looked behind him and saw... Himself - sprawled inelegantly across the sofa with his mouth half-open and dribbling slightly. Jack looked frantically at Kawalsky then back at himself again. Not a pretty sight.
"Am I dead too?" he breathed, horror-struck.
"Nah, of course you aren't. Do you feel dead?"
"Well - no..."
"Okay, let's go."
He was aware that his living room had faded away and he was standing on the ramp in the 'Gate Room looking at the gently rippling surface of the event horizon.
"After you, Jack."
The scene on the other side was sickeningly familiar.
"Aw, crap!" Jack exclaimed as he looked around the underground room on Euronda where S.G.-1 had just arrived.
It appeared that no one could see him. All he could do was watch his own boorish behaviour towards Daniel as he single-mindedly - make that blindly - pursued his goal of acquiring advanced weapons at any cost.
Jack shifted edgily from one foot to the other and back again.
"It's for his own good," he muttered.
"How do you figure that one, Jack?"
"Aw, come on, Charlie - you forgotten 'don't ask, don't tell'? Don't want folks to get the idea that we're together."
"Well, you manage to convey the idea that you have nothing but contempt for him, sure. Thing is - whose benefit is it really for? His? Or yours? You're the one who'd be looking at a spell in Leavenworth, not him. You gonna tell me it's because you don't want him to feel guilty about that?"
"No," Jack replied, but it didn't sound convincing even in his own ears.
"Trouble is, Jack, you got Daniel believing in your little subterfuge, too."
"Wha'd'ya mean?" Jack asked breathlessly.
"Wanna know what he's doing right now?"
"Yes. No Oh - I don't know..."
Jack looked back at Daniel in time to see him give the bearer of beer a very welcoming smile.
In vain. He and Kawalsky were now in an upper room. Daniel and the other guy were already partially undressed, and in a frantic lip-lock as they worked at getting rid of the rest of their clothes.
"Daniel!" Jack cried, devastated.
"They can't hear you, Jack," Kawalsky pointed out.
Jack wanted to look away - felt he was intruding somehow as Daniel dropped to his knees and took the guy's leaking erection into his mouth. He swallowed it whole while the guy moaned, running his fingers through Daniel's hair. Then he shuddered and Jack could guess where Daniel's finger was. He wasn't surprised when Daniel pulled away and gently backed his partner to the bed. Jack knew well the effect that Daniel's talented finger could produce.
"Better sit down before you fall down," Daniel murmured with a playful smile, then continued their love-making.
The guy was writhing more now, his breath coming in short panting gasps as Daniel worked him. He couldn't be far off now - nope...
"Danny! DannyDannyDannyDannyDannnneeeeeee! Ahhhhh!"
After a short while, Daniel released the guy's softening cock, then went over to the scattered clothing and pulled something from his jacket pocket. Lube - and a condom. He'd come prepared then. Jack wasn't sure whether to be appalled or pleased. A bit of both he supposed. And hurting. He watched in misery as his lover - or should that be former lover now? - took his pleasure with another man. This shouldn't be. Danny should be at home - with himself - not driving hard into the ass of a stranger. Oh. Marco. His name was Marco.
Jack was too grief-stricken for tears. Dry-eyed, he watched as Daniel snuggled up to the... to Marco, a contented smile on his face. How could it all have gone so wrong?
He wasn't totally lying. There wasn't any one thing he'd done - or said - that he could pin it on. The whole thing was cumulative. He'd simply worn Daniel down with his constant bitching - driven him away by showing him a lack of... what was that little word he himself was always complaining about? Oh yes. Respect.
"You ready to move on, Jack?"
He and Kawalsky were not alone. Daniel and Marco were there, too, opening presents together on a Persian rug in front of the fire. Daniel had a wistful expression on his face. Marco noticed.
"What's up, lover?" he asked.
Jack's heart contracted at the endearment.
"It's this present - it's from Jack."
"I thought you and he broke up last Christmas. Is there something I should know?" Marco asked, shuffling up to Daniel and playfully nibbling his ear.
"It's okay, dear one. That chapter of my life is ended so there's no need for you to worry. It's just... I was wondering what he's doing now. Whether he's with someone else, or if he's spending Christmas on his own."
"Well, whose fault would that be, Dan?"
"I know, but still I don't like to think of people being lonely at this time of year."
"Aw, Danny, you're such a softy! That's why I love you so much," Marco murmured, pulling him into hug and kissing him softly.
"And what are you doing, Jack? Let's see, shall we?"
Willing or not, Jack was back in his own home. It seemed very bleak - and uncharacteristically untidy. His other self was there too, gaunt and unshaven, and laid out on the sofa, surrounded by a wrack of discarded pizza boxes and empty bottles. He seemed to have slipped back into that desolate place he'd inhabited after his adored son Charlie died. Jack was horrified.
"Enough!" he cried. "Why are you doing this to me?!"
"I'm not doing anything to you, Jack. It's all your own work, the sum total of all the choices you've made in your life."
"Not a lot, I guess. You wouldn't like to give me a clue here, though?"
But he was talking to himself.
He looked around and found he was still lying on the sofa, as he had been when Kawalsky had first appeared, but he didn't have long to contemplate what had just happened. The door opened. It was daylight - Christmas Eve - and Daniel had come back!
"Danny!" Jack exclaimed, leaping to his feet, unable to keep the elation out of his voice.
"Ah, you didn't need to get up, Jack. I'm not stopping. I just came by to pick up some of my things."
Jack's spirits, having soared heavenward, now plummeted back into the depths.
"I'm seeing someone else now," Daniel announced with finality, heading for the stairs.
"No..." Jack breathed.
He sat down again suddenly, feeling himself going into shock. By the time Daniel returned, his breathing and pulse had steadied and his brain was beginning to function again, instead of going round and round in an ever-diminishing spiral. He went over and laid a hand on Daniel's arm.
It was possibly the hardest thing he'd ever said. Daniel's eyes flew to his face.
"Jack, have you been spying on me?"
"No! Well, not intentionally"
Daniel gave him an old-fashioned look.
"I'll bring your - your Christmas presents out to your car, shall I?"
"That's okay, Jack. You keep them."
"Oh. Um, well at least" Jack muttered, nipping round to the Christmas tree and back again, "take the littlest one..."
He put it into Daniel's free hand and wrapped his fingers over it.
"Believe it!" he said earnestly, his eyes locked on Daniel's, then bolted upstairs before he lost it completely.
It was half an hour before he'd mastered himself sufficiently to come downstairs again, by which time Daniel was long gone. Well, he guessed he'd probably done the right thing for once in not pressuring - begging - Daniel to stay - to leave Marco and come back to him. Trouble was, it didn't make him feel one iota better than before. Nobility sucks, he noted.
The next goal, even harder, was to resist the long seductive slide into self-pity. Been there, done that, so it would be that much easier this time around just to give in and wallow. He thought back to the future view of himself. Supposing Daniel did change his mind and come back? One look at that Jack O'Neill and he'd turn right around and walk straight back out again. Merry Christmas, Dr. Jackson, and welcome to my hell-hole! So he pottered around, making the place look like a show home, then realized it didn't look like home at all. Oh well, in another couple of days, he'd be back in the mountain getting ready for another mission. With any luck, he'd get himself killed and thus put an end to his misery.
He thought about going to bed. He'd remained defiantly sober, and now he didn't think he'd be able to sleep. He went into the bathroom and ferreted in the medicine cabinet. Maybe he'd find some left over sleeping tablets. Yes. For a split second, he contemplated taking an overdose, but then recoiled from the idea - couldn't bear the thought of what that might do to Daniel. Then again, maybe he'd welcome it. One less thing to worry about? No, he was trying to put things right, and that certainly wouldn't. He took a couple then crawled sadly into bed, thinking how big it suddenly seemed for one person, turned out the light and slipped straight off into a dreamless sleep.
When he slowly drifted back to consciousness on Christmas morning, he thought he must still be asleep and dreaming. He tried desperately to return to sleep - to hang on to the dream in which warm limbs were draped over him, and soft breath was tickling his ear. But of course, he couldn't. Such things simply don't happen.
"J'ck?" came the muffled reply.
"You're real?" Jack wondered breathlessly.
"What? You think I just fell off the Christmas tree?!"
Pre-caffeinated Jackson? Oh, this was real, all right!
"Stay there!" Jack ordered leaping out of bed en route for the coffee maker. "Don't move!"
"Wasn't planning on going anywhere," Daniel grouched.
Oh, boy! One snarky archaeologist in his bed. Christmas just didn't come better than this!
Come midday, they were still wrapped around each other and contentedly drowsing after a marathon se love-making session that rated at least a hundred on a scale of one to ten. Jack was feeling hungry and thinking about what to do for Christmas lunch.
"Guess we really ought to get up"
"And do it all over again?" Daniel sniggered.
He lifted the bedclothes.
"Oh, I'm already up...!"
But the thought of Daniel not only up, but up him, suddenly made him lose track of what he'd been going to say. He rolled back and aimed for Daniel's tonsils with his tongue, which was ardently reciprocated, as he moved over to straddle him. Daniel rapidly caught on as Jack knelt upright, and he guided him on to his rigid cock. Jack pushed down hard and fast which evoked an intense moan from them both. He paused for a moment then began rocking movements until Daniel's cock was hitting his prostate every time. Daniel's elegant hands worked Jack's shaft in a way that deprived him of all higher brain functions. Now and again, Jack paused as one or other of them was getting too close. It just felt so good, he wanted to prolong it as much as possible.
As he pumped his come into Jack, his muscle contractions tipped him over the edge almost simultaneously. Jack joined in his cries of ecstasy then sprawled, gasping and blissful, across his chest.
"Oh, Danny, love you, love you, love you..." he panted.
After a very belated lunch, eaten casually on their knees in the living room, they snuggled up together on the sofa.
"So what did Marco say when you told him you were coming back to me? You are staying... aren't you? Couldn't bear to lose you again."
"Yes, I'm staying. How could I stay away from my crotchety old colonel?" Daniel replied, punctuating the last three words with gentle kisses on his cheek. "Um... Marco?"
"Yeah... the guy you were moving in with."
"I wasn't moving in with him. An old university friend was visiting the 'Springs and I went over to look him up.
"Daniel Jackson, you manipulative bastard!" Jack exclaimed, then pulled him into a hug. "And I'm sorry you needed to do it to make me realize just how very much I love you."
"As I love you - and I'm sorry too. Your 'littlest' present made me realize just what a treasure I have in you. I opened it just after midnight, and couldn't bear to stay away a moment longer."
"So ya crept in beside me while I was asleep..." Jack said, with a sappy look on his face at the thought.
"Yeah," Daniel grinned. "And by the way, his name's Theo, not Marco. Where did you come up with that from?"