It all started about four mouths ago. It seemed so harmless at first. I had been looking over the sites on that Internet for about a year by then, ever since "it" had started. "It" was our series of course. And being the leader of SG-1 and the center of attention I was kinda worried, ya know? I mean what if someone found out?
[Found out what?]
About us. The series. I don't think I could live though another poor guy being "accidentally" hit by a car.
[Pardon me, Colonel? Hit by a...]
A car. Yeah. It's to preserve the top-secret integrity of the project... You mean you don't know? They didn't brief you before they sent you to try to talk to me? ... You actually don't know. Whoboy.
["They" briefed me slightly before they sent me in, Colonel, but no, they didn't give me the details of your work or condition. You where saying?]
Answer me first. Am I out of a job now?
[~a chuckle~ No, not at all Colonel. In fact some of them want you back. Very badly. One of your collages has sent me, in fact, to attempt to discuss....]
Ha. Yeah. That's rich. No.
No. I won't go back. Out there, I mean. To work. No way. After that?!
[~a sigh~ Colonel... perhaps we'd better explore this further. The Internet...?]
Yeah. Okay, so I had to protect our identity you know? Being what we are. I mean they all say that you're not supposed to believe things you see on T.V. What everybody doesn't know is that it's real. We put up with those damned cameras on practically all our missions, and then after work sometimes even have to do extra takes for the things they didn't get a good shot of. Which is great, yeah, we got a first rate T.V. show, but with the growing numbers of fans... one of these days one of them are going to be just insane enough to be right...
So. So maybe I'm paranoid. Maybe I shouldn't be. How could I have known...
... I found something out that day months ago. I expected it to be the usual. Groveling fans and stuff like that. Some of the more creative ones like to write too. I had found enough of that stuff to last me a lifetime. But this one particular site... well it dealt with, with us. ... Or more pacifically it dealt with, well, me. And Teal'c... and Daniel. It was... interesting... to say the least.
[Teal'c and Daniel are your collages...?]
Yeah. Yes they are.
[And in what way did these... stories? deal with you and your collages.]
... umm... have you ever been to San Francisco?
[... I'm sorry Colonel. I'm not seeing the connection...]
Okay, ~a deep breath~ so it was gay stuff. All right? Happy?
[... and this obviously disturbed you.]
Well yeah... yeah I guess you could say that. Yes. Yes it did disturb me. But that wasn't the worst of it. I could see what they meant. Not right away of course. No, it scared me at first. I wouldn't even think about it for months afterwards. But then, one day at work, my mind started wandering, and I began to think about it... and I let myself. I thought it was harmless you know. Just like "I wonder where the idea came from?" And, well...
[... yes Colonel?]
Stop that. Call me O'Neill would ya? That "yes colonel, yes colonel" stuff is goin' to drive me insane.
[All right... O'Neill. You where saying?]
Well... I could see what they meant. Not where it came to Teal'c though. But Daniel... Daniel's so... so... I don't know. Danielish. Yeah yeah, I know it sounds dumb. But it's true. Daniel's curious and innocent and wouldn't do anything like, oh, kill for no reason, or even for the basic fact that you're at war with someone else. He always tries to understand people. He so darned... I dunno. Feminine I guess. Yeah. Cute too.
[... and this lead to problems?]
No... really? Hell yeah. I-I started to find... find that I couldn't stop *thinking* about him. Everywhere I went, I just couldn't get him outta my head. Just the thought of him... his body... wait. I need a fix...
[... from cigarettes Colonel?]
Yeah. I guess I picked this up again didn't I? ~a puff~ hh... but it's such a relief... anyhow things went downhill from there. I finally, oh I dunno, I think around a month ago, went back to the site. I didn't feel comfortable reading the real graphic sex stuff yet, that was for sure... are you blushing yet?
[I'm a psychologist Colonel. I've encountered everything you could possibly throw at me...]
Ha! As if I'm supposed to believe that...
[... Please continue Colonel.]
O'Neill. It's O'Neill. Oh hell, never mind. So I started to read some of the other stuff on the site. I liked some of it too, believe it or not. Like this one ("I regret to inform you,") by this girl Rowan for example. - Gosh, she's good - among others. I loved the ones like that. They, unfortunately or fortunately, take your pick, gave me ideas. Like how I could face the guy and tell him and stuff. That one had a great idea of how to write him a letter. But I'd have to be dead first for it to work. So that ruled that one out. And then... and then I found it.
[Found what, O'Neill?]
It-- it was a poem. It didn't have a solution exactly, but it summed up how I felt so incredibly well. It was called, um, "To make love or not to make love." I think. Yeah, that was it
It was a spoof on Shakespeare's "To Be or not To Be."
Anyhow, I loved it so much that I printed it off and folded it into a little square thing and stuck it in my pocket. I kept it there at work and stuff, all day long. It made me feel better. ... ~a sigh~ and that was great and it worked well, but then one day... one day after showers, I couldn't find it. It wasn't in my pocket any longer, it was no where. I felt absolutely sick...
[... So what did you do?]
Justa sec. I'm getting' to that part. ... Anyhow after hours of lookin' and not finding it I went home. The next day we had a mission, so I of course showed up. Everything went fine that day, as far as I can remember, besides the fact that I couldn't get that missing note outta my head. I was so afraid that Daniel had found it that I asked him about it. Well, I got as far as "Daniel have you seen..." and then he looked at me.
[He... looked at you.]
Yeah. Just kinda glanced up at me. I dunno. I dunno what the hell I was thinking, but I couldn't help myself. So I lost it. All right? So I lost everything in that second, my job, my friendship... so sue me. So that's why I'm here, okay?
[What. Exactly. Did. You. Do?]
Oh. Oh, I kissed him. ~grumble~ Happy?
[You... kissed him.]
Yeah. What're you, deaf?
[And that's all that you did.]
[And you felt that this was enough of a basis to wander down to the local police station and turn yourself in as a very dangerous man?]
... Look Lady, I don't think you quite understand...
[Well, I may not exactly understand, but there is also something that I don't think you quite understand, Colonel O'Neill.]
[What if I told you that I was sent by that young man you kissed? And what if I told you that he needs to speak to you right *now*?]
... I - I What? I don't believe you.
[Oh, believe Colonel. He's down in the main part of the station right now, pacing about I believe. He said that it was desperately urgent, and that he's dying. Or something like that. Apparently something about a sickness contracted on another planet...]
What?!! ... That's so incredibly-- stupid! And I'm really supposed to believe that?!
[Look, will you just check?]
[~a sigh~. .... Then I suppose my work is done here. Good day Colonel.]
"Wait!..." Suddenly lightheaded, O'Neill let out a small moan, clenching at his brow. When he looked up again the woman was gone, apparently disappearing out of the door and down the hall.
He stared in faint distress in the direction she had left in. "Come back!" he was tempted to call out. "Tell me more..."
No. He couldn't. He was in here for a reason.
What if she had been right? What if Daniel really was hurt? What if...??
He also couldn't stay here with the knowledge that Daniel could be hurt or, or dying, and not do anything about it. The door to the cell had been left open. All he had to do was walk out of it...
He did so like he was in a trance, or sleepwalking. Every step seemed numbed against the soles of his feet. All he knew was that he *had* to do this...
The two men lay by each other's side on O'Neill's disorderly bed. Unmoving, they gazed into each other's eyes. The length of their bare and defenseless bodies were pressed close to each other, but no words were spoken between them. Silently Jack reached out towards his younger companion, wrapping him in his arms with all the tenderness that he could manage.
Daniel's only response was a slow shuddering breath as he lay his head cautiously against O'Neill's chest. The poison in his system was starting to do its dismal work, but he was past caring. Initially, when he realized he was doomed he had rallied against fate, searching for an escape. He still had a mission in life; a wife to find. He couldn't go, couldn't leave now. Only when he had realized that his situation was a hopeless had he decided to get Jack. After all, Jack had been a father to him for almost two years now... either that or an annoying friend. But only recently... only this last week had he become aware of the fact that the Colonel may love him as more than a father or a friend.
It had been hard to say the least. To get Jack from his police station prison he had committed himself too, then to convince him that it was all right. That he loved him as well, and that he was dying, from a weakening insect bite he had acquired on the last mission, and, dang it, all he wanted to do was be with him. It was all he could do. And finally to lay here, barely an hour ago, wrapped in O'Neill's arms and trembling, but only having one last request....
'... Just be gentle....'
And, as unwilling hands had explored his body, a body he was so proud of, one he had kept clean and pure and beautiful, he felt no shame. The world didn't matter any longer, nor it's judgements or cruelty. Only this, their love and support towards each other. Expressed exquisitely in a smile, a touch, a word.
He shut his eyes, only concentrating on those feelings again. He didn't even realize that someone was talking to him, his voice growing in alarm....
"Daniel... Daniel please..." Concerned O'Neill embedded his fingers in the younger man's hair, then brought them down to run them gently down the side of his face. "Daniel..." 'Come on kid, please don't say I killed you...'
Obviously he hadn't... yet. Slowly, Daniel raised his head to gaze up at him, his steel blue eyes clouded with pain. "Jack..." he began, his light tenor voice soft. His eyes closed, only for a moment, then flicked open again. "I... I always thought that... that when I died...."
A mental shooting pain seemed to rip through his mind at the issue of those words. 'When I die...'
"Don't talk like that Danny..." he chided gently.
A tiny smile was all that he got in response. Drawing in a breath for strength, Daniel continued, despite O'Neill's heart-felt request.
"I always thought that when I die that it would be in Shar'ea's arms, you know." His eyes closed and he smiled a little wider. "We... we'd be old... old and there would be lots... lots of little kids around. And ... and grandkids." His eyes reopened, shining with tears that threatened to overflow and trickle down his pale cheeks. "I never did find her..."
Jack was silent for a long moment; something deep inside of him feeling like it was going to wrench in two. When it had become too much for him to bare he looked away, averting his eyes from Daniel's face. "I... I'm sorry." He mumbled.
It was Daniel who now reached out to touch his grizzled cheek. "... Why? I came back for you, remember?"
He looked back up at the smaller guy. "Because." He sighed, searching for the words. "Because this... this was still incredibly selfish of me. I - I know how you feel about Shar'ea... and," 'And I thought I needed you more. And now you're going to die because of it. If I hadn't been a coward and fled, I could have saved you...'
In any other situation the smile that Daniel gave him would have warmed him right to his toes. "Jack..." he spoke this time in barely a whisper. "Oh Jack, you always cared for me, didn't you? Even when you where irritated... with the things I did or - or said..."
He looked back up at Daniel, and promptly lost himself in warm depths of his eyes. ... And what exactly was he supposed to respond to that with? How could he even think of a reply?
"I... I'd rather be... here, than anywhere else right now, it that helps..." He just continued to smile sweetly up at him, wrapped there in his arms. What wrenched O'Neill's heart so much was the fact that he could see that his little companion's eyes were drooping with weariness, "I loved you, Jack..." he mumbled, so softly that he could barely hear him.
Oh gosh, it wasn't going to be long now, was it? "Daniel," he murmured, catching those pale eyes before they fully closed.
There was only one tiny spark of life left in them when Daniel looked back up at him. He opened his mouth to say something, then obviously decided against whatever it was. Instead he shifted his head forwards, only the slightest bit, towards O'Neill. It wasn't much, but it was enough to allow his lips to touch the other's.
Neither one of them moved. Jack was exhausted now as well, with no energy to move, he realized... not that he would have wanted to. Instead he just lye there, his mouth nudged against the others. Daniel was still breathing, he was relieved to note, feeling the whisper of warm breath touch his skin. In out, in out...
It was so soothing that he had almost faded off into slumber when he realized that the breathing had stopped.
His eyes flew open and he cried out loud, sitting up abruptly. Horrified he reached down, fingers landing on a cooling cheek. A rough thumb fumbled on his neck, desperately searching for a pulse that no longer existed.
"DANIEL!" Grasping the unresponsive body's upper arms, he shook him desperately, trembling with the raw fear that he felt raging though him. "Daniel wake-up! Damn it Daniel! DANIEL!!!"
Wake-up Daniel. Please, please wake-up...
He sat up with a start in his bed, images that danced in his mind so sharp for a moment that he had no idea where he was. Then he blinked, his vision clearing.
'What...?' He looked around slowly, eyes wide. Why... why he was at home! In his own bed at that, alone, and not in some holding cell in some sorta prison either! Elated, he clambered out of his bed, practically running to the window.
Dark. A huge grin seemed to split his face. It was dark! Back in the first part of his... (was it a dream? It must have been) it had been daylight as he paced that tiny cell, talking to... to that psychologist woman.
A dream! Ha! It had all been a dream. He turned away from his window again, quickly, then paused, heart freezing for a moment. No... no it was all right. His bed was empty as well. It was a mess, his pillow scrunched and jammed against the wall, sheets pulled out and half hanging off the side, but, hell, it was his bed!
Letting out a howl of pure delight he ran forwards, taking a flying leap into the air. He landed with a soft thud, then grinned for all the world to see. But his only audience, the room, was silent, dark and foreboding in response.
He sighed. Ah well. Everyone was a critic. Shrugging he tugged his blanket's over his nimble body, another slight smile brushing his lips as he closed his eyes.
That lasted about a whole five seconds before his eyes flew open again.
Sh*t. All he could see when he closed his eyes was someone else's eyes, peering up at him through the dark. Pained, but clear. A mouth, gasping for breath, the ability to speak...
'I love you Jack...'
Hell. Ah, hell hell hell hell...
He sat up slowly, glaring at no one in particular in the deep of that room. Then sighing, he hauled himself up again. Stomped towards the door; wrenched it open. Thumped down the hall and into the kitchen.
Flicked on the light, then winced slightly as white flooded the room, assaulting his eyes.
He sighed again. Grumbling, he marched over to the cupboard and, like it was second nature to him, he pulled out the coffee maker.
It was going to be one looong night....
He had been having a perfectly awful day. He was miserable to say the least, and it showed. It after hours finally, that blessed time when the debriefing for the latest mission had closed and they were all allowed to go home. He really needed the break, he decided, rubbing a wearied hand across his forehead. He was not doing well. He had, in the course of eight hours, managed to confuse Teal'c, get into an argument with both Captain Carter and Major Hammond, and pick very well on Daniel.
He considered that last example. Had he been a little too harsh on him today?
Yeah, he finally decided, heaving a deep silent sigh. Considering that Dr. Jackson had spent at least four of the last eight hours either looking confused or glaring at him in righteous indignation, he probably had been. Heck, the kid couldn't help what he, Jack O'Neill had *dreamt* about. No matter how much it had frightened him. Heck, Daniel would probably be halfway across the country by then if he had known....
'... He died in my arms...'
Oww. He clenched his teeth and placed a palm against his forehead, frowning deeply. Great. Not only did he have to have that dream, but now it wouldn't leave him in peace. Cripes he had a headache.
It was about that time when a certain someone's light tenor voice from behind him decided to make his headache grow.
He stumbled slightly with his surprise, then recovered quickly. Sighing he rolled his eyes skywards. He didn't even slow his pace, so Daniel was slightly short of breath when he had finally caught up with him.
"Jack." He repeated, gulping quickly.
"Yeah?" O'Neill returned irritably.
Daniel blinked. "I uh... need to talk to you." his voice sounded urgent, but that wasn't exactly something new. Everything was urgent to Daniel.
Groaning O'Neill glanced up, farther down the hall they where travelling on. They where only a few yards from the elevators now, and escape for him. All he had to do was boot it over there... no. It wouldn't be fair to Daniel, and very unprofessional of him. Sighing he stilled his feet and stopped, turning to Jackson.
"What is it?" he barked.
"Um... I..." Daniel suddenly went shy, ducking his head for a moment. When he looked up again his eyes were intense, blue.... O'Neill felt like he would loose himself in them. Frowning he gave himself a little mental head shake, distracting himself away from them.
"I just wanted to say... thank you Jack." The young scientist continued.
Huh? O'Neill raised an eyebrow questioningly.
Daniel motioned with his hands, obviously searching for the words he wanted to say. "I mean you've always been kind to me when it's really important... an'," the scientist fumbled to a nervous halt, then drew in a deep breath.
By this time O'Neill was looking at him with both of his eyebrows raised.
"Look, I know we don't really see eye to eye sometimes, but maybe we can try to a little more in the future. I would really like that Jack." His voice was soft when he spoke that last sentence.
"Okay..." O'Neill returned, sounding and feeling just slightly confused. What had inspired this?
Daniel looked down and his hand fumbled in his jacket pocket, searching for something. "Ah," he mumbled when he had obviously found it. "I believe you lost this," he said, holding it out towards Jack.
It was a tattered piece of paper, folded over and over again in a tight little packet. Really confused this time, O'Neill reached out and took it from the scientist.
"And um, yeah. See you around, 'kay?" Daniel was off like a shot, gone almost before O'Neill could look from the wad of paper in his hand to Jackson's retreating form.
"Wait Daniel!" he called out, stopped the scientist for only an instant. He held up the paper "What is it?"
Daniel looked vague. "Oh... just something. You'll see." He turned and with that disappeared from sight down the corridor.
Hmm. Carefully Jack unfolded the paper... then stared. His jaw dropped.
The slow alarming sound of a bomb dropping seemed to go off in his head.
On the page he held in his hands, of which Daniel had given him, the eight damning words that made up the title grinned cheerily up at him. He read them, almost disbelieving. Only the sick feeling in the very pit of his stomach assured him that they were real.
'...To make Love or not to make Love.'
'Oh... my gosh, he's....' Frightened O'Neill looked up, tearing his eyes away from those words. "... DANIEL!!!"
Dedicated: To Phoenix, for the wonderful laughter her poem gave me while
I was stressing over my "Hamlet" final.
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