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Title: Straight Across The Desert
Author name: Icarus
Author email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sub Category: Angst, understated humour
Pairing: Jack/Daniel Summary: Jack hoped the road was in flames, burning a beacon to right here. Yeah, that's right. Start your stopwatches, Joint Chiefs. This is gonna be a long night.
DISCLAIMER: The characters and universe contained in this story are Copyright MGM, Showtime, Gekko, Double Secret. No infringement on their copyright is implied, and the author relinquishes all right to litigation should a future storyline coincide with this story in any way (and in fact I would be quick pleased if the Jack and Daniel relationship developed in this way - though I doubt the Air Force would be thrilled). Copyright © 2004 by Icarus Ancalion. All rights reserved. This story may not be reproduced in whole or part without the author's explicit permission. Ask, guys. I'm easy to reach and usually quite generous.
Author notes: Thank you to Cyanei for the beta review, and for helping me rebel. Welcome to my new addiction, space-fans.
Straight Across The Desert
He left a stripe of burning rubber all the way from the SGC to the Daniel's apartment. Jack yanked the steering wheel left as he almost missed the turn-off, cut through two lanes of traffic, and flipped off someone who got in his way. They leaned on their horn. Morons, clear out. You can all fuck off. Now.
No prizes for guessing what they lip-synched behind windshield number two.
The tires squealed as he pulled into Daniel's drive. He hoped the road was in flames, burning a beacon to right here. Yeah, that's right. Here. Start your stopwatches, Joint Chiefs.
The fanbelt still hummed as he slammed the door and jogged, almost-ran, to the irritatingly slow elevator. He smacked the button for Daniel's floor and paced. He was still in his dress blues, hat left wherever he'd flung it, ready to do damage.
Upstairs he had to knock twice, pounding with his fist, pissed that it didn't open right away.
God help him, if Daniel wasn't there….
But the door opened to a blinking nonplused Daniel wearing -- what the hell was he wearing? Never mind.
"Jack?" Daniel said, his mouth working with unspoken words. He tied the blue-patterned whatever-it-was around his waist, fumbling a bit. "What? It's ten o'clock… after, actually…."
Jack slammed the door open and pressed Daniel's shoulders to the wall, locked him in a soul-devouring, career-ending, fuck-it-all kiss. He'd anticipated a struggle, maybe being thrown off -- Daniel was pretty strong -- possibly they'd even break some of these expensive doo-dads Daniel had around the place. Would've been fun.
But he didn't expect this total, dead-fish, cold-mouthed... non-response. Daniel's shoulders slumped. Jack backed up an inch or two to face a steady, blue-eyed glare. Maybe he'd misread… things?
"Don't -- You're not going to do this."
Jack backed up a step, his plan blown to bits.
"Maybe we should shut the door?" Daniel suggested after a breath, calmly folding his arms about himself, though his voice shook a bit.
Jack stepped away a few feet, enough to let Daniel swing the door shut, and rubbed his face with his forearm. The little Turkish throw-rug on the tile slid underfoot. Someone was gonna kill themselves on that thing.
He jammed his hands in his pockets -- in dress blues they were in the wrong place to be exactly comfortable -- and stared around at the alien place Daniel had made of a perfectly normal apartment. Weird masks stuck onto walls and old, dusty things that probably went bump in the night once you shut off the lights. And just who kept a scull in their living room? Hamlet?
"I've got leftovers in the fridge. I think," Daniel offered, as if this were a perfectly normal thing to say right now. After… well, after that. Jack let out a breath.
"Will they serve themselves?" Jack took his cue. He could play 'normal.' Normal was good.
"Then let's order Chinese."
"Oh I dunno, Jack…."
"Mmmm… MSG… it's good for you," Jack said. "Go ahead. I'm buying. I obviously forgot to pick up a bottle of wine on the way here."
Daniel spluttered a laugh and rewarded him with a grin over the shoulder as he dug around in the junk drawer for the take-out menu. At least he was normal enough to have a junk drawer. Jack relaxed under the glare of the overhead light in Daniel's kitchen. There were some weird Abydonian pots and pans about, but for the most part, Daniel's kitchen looked like anywhere.
An hour later, they sat at Daniel's counter and poked around their Chinese dinners -- with chopsticks in Daniel's case, and a nice easy fork in Jack's. They ate straight from the containers which, Jack insisted, was the traditional way to eat Chinese food. Daniel gave a slight smile but didn't argue. Jack swiveled in the stool and stared out the black window as he took a pull at his beer. No stars tonight. Just wet streets shining under the streetlights below.
Daniel sat back in his stool with a satisfied sigh, tipping back against the wall. He leaned on part of an art calendar, which was open to the wrong month, a testament as to just how busy they were at the SGC.
Jack's eyebrows raised at him, glancing up over the beer. It looked like they were going to have 'a conversation.' That couldn't be good. He continued to stare out the window, but the impatient tilt of Daniel's head was reflected too clearly in it, now that he was looking.
"Hmm," Jack said, hoping to deflect the inevitable conversation. What would it be? 'It's not you, it's me'? Or 'I'm sorry, Jack, I'm straight, and I thought you were, too'? Great.
"So. What did the Air Force do?"
Jack turned towards him in surprise. "What makes you think it was the Air Force?"
Daniel spun a little in his barstool. The clock on the stove ticked, and Jack noticed that it was an hour off. "I dunno. Possibly because they're the only people who could piss me off enough to want a court martial."
Jack smiled. He was right about that. He made his face as neutral as possible and took a breath, the one they told you to take before you passed a lie-detector test.
"General Hammond will tell you about it in the morning." He drummed his fingertips on the countertop. Loud. "Sorry. It's his announcement to make."
Daniel frowned, chin lowered as he thought.
Then he looked up, eyes wide with shock. "They've canceled the Stargate program."
Jack whistled inwardly. Let it never be said the kid didn't earn those Ph.D's: that took all of ten seconds. He saw no reason -- or way -- to deny it. He waited for the big blow-up, a full-blown Dr. Jackson hissy-fit, but Daniel just sat there staring at the counter, obviously not seeing it.
"They can't do that," he finally said, toneless.
"Ooooh but they can. New president, new rules." Jack made a fist to keep himself from punching something. "Obviously we have more important, more immediate threats than all that's out there." He waved vaguely at the window. "Terrorists! That sort of thing." Jack spread his hands, unable to say more.
"Um. No. Unless they're being supplied by Heru'ur, I don't think so."
But Jack wasn't finished. "You're going to be packed off to some college…" he could barely say it, "daycare, teaching the kiddies how to read hieroglyphs with no clue it's really Goa'uld. Sam's gonna be stuck pretending NASA's state of the art -- and God knows what they're gonna do with Teal'c. And me? Me, I'm gonna be off defending the country from its least important threats. Maybe knock off a third world dictator or two. That'll be satisfying."
"Can't General Hammond…?"
"He's pulled out all the stops. You have no idea -- he's done a lot. A lot." He gave Daniel a level gaze and put all the weight he could into those two words.
Daniel's chest expanded and he chewed his upper lip. He let that breath out slowly. Those bright eyes, angry now, locked on his. "We'll have to make this good then."
Oh. So Jack hadn't misread the signs.
"I didn't bring the wine."
"I might have something." Daniel smiled grimly as he stood. "Where'd you park?"
"Right out front."
Daniel nodded, obviously not surprised by the stupidity. "Move your car first; no one can know you're here. Pretend you're having an affair."
He was having an affair. As of now. But he didn't say it. That would make it too real.
"Sort of defeats the purpose." Jack shrugged, buttoning his jacket. The dress blues had never felt so tight. "Court-martial, you know? Sayonara? The big fuck off?" But he no longer thought it was a good idea, and Daniel shook his head, on the same page as usual.
"We need at least one person who's not an idiot in the Air Force. In case something knocks some sense into them."
"Like a Goa'uld mothership 'beaming them up'? We should be so lucky." Jack snorted. "So I take it I'm not the idiot in your book."
"Well. These things are all relative," Daniel explained in a patient voice, the smile teasing at his lips.
They chuckled and Jack stood in Daniel's kitchen, ready to put on a good show of going home. Daniel touched his shoulder, making him shiver unexpectedly. Yeah. That's what they'd been feeling.
"Jack," Daniel said, very serious, hand still on his arm. "We'll think of something. Even if we all have to defect to Russia. It's not over."
Atta boy. Jack broke into a smile. He knew he could count on Daniel to never say die.