The Hours in Between...

Pairing: Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson
Category: Romance, First Time, First Kiss
Rating: PG
Summary: It's night and Jack's trying to get his thoughts into some kind of order
Notes: In answer to the FNF challenge #23 -- Singing the blues -- One comment is inspired by Sonnata's livejournal icon. Oh, and I think I might have killed a couple of clichés in the making *g*

The night air is like a cool touch to my skin as I sit on the window sill. I watch the moon high in the sky, her eerie blue light giving the night a strange bluish feel. In a way, it's very fitting for my current mood. Somehow the night seems to enhance every sense and it is as if I can hear the other heartbeat in the room, the slow and steady breathing of sleep.

Blue... do I feel blue? Yeah... in some ways I do. Or rather, I did. Whether it will return depends on dawn... depends on the man on the bed behind me. I feel... and *have* felt almost every emotion for this man through more than seven years...

Contempt... pity... annoyance at first. A know-it-all geek who got us to the stars but failed to know the one thing that would bring us back. Bring my team back... because I had no intentions of returning with them... That it ended with me going back to Earth was unforeseen... that is, by the way, his fault... the bastard. I smile fondly at the memories softened by years of friendship.

The smile turns a bit sad as I remember leaving a man behind that had proved to be able to do what family... friends and therapists had failed at. They'd all gone at it with something akin to sledgehammers where this man... well, he merely gave me a look... a touch... and every god damned wall crumbled. *Poof* Nothing but dust and me in the middle.

Then... a year later he returned to Earth, to stand by our... my side -- against the rest of the universe and sometimes our own kind. I almost turn as I hear a light rustle of sheets, but I can hear from the steady breathing that he doesn't wake.

I was drawn to him from day one. Brilliant, hard working and so damned resilient that you wouldn't believe it. A stubborn streak a mile wide. I think that's what I liked about him as I got to know him better. No matter how many times the Universe knocked him on his ass; he just got up again, dusted himself off and got ready for the next round.

Then came the time I ran from him. Hid behind even thicker walls. And this time he didn't manage to tear them down. I wouldn't... couldn't let him. I almost resented him for being... well, for being who he was. With a sigh I scold myself. Really, it wasn't his fault, but all mine. It was just easier to blame him than to admit to myself how I felt... how he made me feel.

Then came the short busts of hatred, resentment... then sadness and longing. All of it because he left us... left me... went away. A year later and he returns... at first I was so glad to have him back that I had no idea what to do... how to show him. A long forgotten memory of a hug in the 'gateroom makes me smile... albeit a little sadly. I think if I'd tried anything like that when we first saw him on that planet... he'd probably have decked me. Don't think for a second that I didn't feel the twitch in my arms... the urge to hug him, pull him tight was overwhelming. But I've learned over the years to read his body language and what I saw... no, it wouldn't have come across well and might have done more bad than good.

As we learned he couldn't remember I thought... for a traitorous moment only, that if he couldn't remember, we could launch our friendship from even ground... from ground zero. No memories of arguments, of lack of understanding on my part, and too much curiosity on his. No hurtful words to follow us from the past. All that went through my mind for a split second and boy, did I hate myself for it afterwards... I felt guilty every time he looked at me... every time I watched him.

And trust me, I watched him. I couldn't take my eyes off him. Had such a hard time accepting that he was back... in the flesh. For a while I thought about pulling back... keeping my distance. He didn't need me around. I almost laugh at the thought now. Somehow it worked the opposite way with him. The further I ran, the faster he pursued me. I can still remember Carter's words. She'd meant them as a joke but they burned into me.

Two nights ago we had a team night. Hung out together, the four of us, like we used to in the good old days. Daniel has long since gotten his memory back... and against all odds he doesn't resent me, hasn't turned his back on me. We were all joking around... well, the three of us were and Teal'c simply seemed to enjoy the merriment, silently approving of his little make-shift family. I understand him completely. I don't think I felt complete until Daniel was back. I hadn't even truly admitted to what was missing in my life.

Daniel had said something to her and she'd ended up almost snorting her beer. As she'd finally managed to recover, she'd slapped him on the arm and said 'That's so grand coming from the man who told me he returned for the Colonel.'

We all laughed, but I could almost fell the heat from his blush across the coffee table. And his eyes when he finally looked up at me. I hadn't known. I mean... he came to be at my side when I was a prisoner of Baal... Like the time I was fighting with the knowledge of the Ancients he wouldn't leave my side... wouldn't leave me to face it alone. And in the end... I suspect that when I asked him to use his power against Anubis I was in that same request asking him to give up his life as an Ascended. An Ancient... But he did do it and now he's here... literally here in my bedroom.

After the other night we both made sure to stay out of each other's way. Not hard with us having four days of downtime. You should think that we wouldn't see each other until Wednesday morning when we were due back at the Mountain. But no.

My mind drifts for a moment. He came around earlier tonight... last night... I have no idea what time it is right now. It's the blue zone between evening and dawn, known as night. The time of the day where everyone is supposed to be sleeping. Well, not me, because my mind has decided to catch up on a little thinking. Not that I don't ever think, though some may claim the opposite. This is the kind of thinking I tend to bury underneath tactical considerations, threat assessment... The kind of thinking that makes me feel uneasy.

It would seem he'd been thinking too. Had in fact come to the same conclusion I had. So, you might ask, what is this great epiphany that both old worn-out Colonel Jack O'Neill and the brilliant Dr. Jackson had both had? I strangle a chuckle in the making, not wanting to wake up the man in my bed.

I finally give in and turn my head, the shape on the bed beckoning for me to join it by its mere presence. I slide down off the window sill and turn to look up at the milky white moon, coloring the night sky blue. As cheesy as it may sound, this great epiphany is that life is simply too short and the Universe too vast for repressed thinking, for military regs... for not admitting your feelings to someone you could end up losing tomorrow. For someone I already lost more than once. I don't need any more chances... who knows, maybe the next time there won't *be* another chance.

We didn't do much tonight... We're both learning, trying to find each other's boundaries... Something tells me we'll be searching for long before we accomplish that. Part of me kinda hopes it'll never happen, that we can keep pushing each other, exploring and that it'll never get old. Somehow I think we're in luck. After having had taste of the possibilities... well, let's just say, I ain't letting go of him anytime soon.

There is movement behind me and I smile as strong arms wrap around my chest and the hard, flat planes of a fit body press against my back. No, I'm not risking this chance just because I was unable to express my feelings in the past. It's amazing that we haven't done this before, yet his touch feels so... right.

"Missed you." The words are breathed against the skin of my neck and I can't help but shiver with the pleasure it instantly sparks in me.

So much in that one sentence.

"Missed you too." My words are a mere whisper, but they feel like I just shouted them out to the world. "No one gets left behind..." I suddenly understand just how much that sentence means to me. How it has carried me through the last few years and how amazing it is, that after I've had to leave this man behind more than once... he still loves me. I feel small and insignificant. I feel so damned blessed and humble.

"Ohana," he whispers sleepily into my hair as he hands stray down over my chest and abs.

My muddled brain takes a moment to catch up. "Ohana?" That's it. I'm not letting him catch up on anymore Disney movies if I can help it. I don't care if he's been gone for a while, those movies are off-limits.

A snigger tells me he knows what I'm thinking. Shaking my head I give the moon one last look. She may turn the night blue, but it's got nothing on the dark eyes I look into as I turn around inside the strong hold. I don't have to have light to know that they are an even deeper shade of blue. I grin and shake off the night's contemplations.

He cocks his head and gives me a soft smile, visible in the light from the moon. "Come back to bed."

It's not a question, not a request, just... fate. My smile widens as I follow him. A sigh of contentment escapes me as we curl up under the sheets, arms and legs entangled, the light from the window coloring the room in shades of soft blue and darkness as I let myself drift off to sleep, listening to the steady beat of the heart under my ear.

The End