Yellow Brick Road

Pairing: Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson
Category: Established Relationship, Fluff, Romance, Ascension
Rating: G
Summary: A little stroll inside Jack's mind
Notes: Answers to FNF challenge No. 20 "Jack, why don't you go to *your* happy place..."

Jack hid his face in the safety of his palms. Wasn't the day over yet? Wasn't his latest assignment with these... recruits over yet? He was well aware of his inner voice whining. But he really, really, *really* wanted to go home... now... please?

It wasn't that they were *that* bad, but he could think of a lot of places he'd rather be than on a rainy planet with a shit load of trees. Grumbling, Jack checked his watch. He could justify turning the recruits around now and double time it to the 'Gate. No one would be able to blame him. It was raining and the past three days had been hell on his knees and back and basically, on the recruits as well. They'd been through the necessary drills already, but they had been told they could take it easy on the way back, they could justify another night on this godless planet... That had been the orders, but Jack knew no one would think less of them if they came back already.

'Think happy thoughts, Jack, happy thoughts,' he told himself. As he watched the recruits get ready to return home, he smiled at the flash of a memory. What was that he'd told Daniel before the trouble with the Unas? "Daniel," he whispered, "go to your happy place." Chuckling he ignored the looks the nearest recruits shot him. They'd done what they'd been told but apart from that they'd steered clear of the grumpy old Colonel. It paid off to have a rep like Jack's.

As the men and women reported back that they were ready, Jack gave them a smile. Finally, they were going home... and in Jack's case it meant going back to his own little happy place. 'Jack, why don't you go to *your* happy place,' whispered a familiar voice in his mind. Standing back to let the recruits take the lead; he let part of his thoughts drift a few months back. He hadn't been happy back then. Too many losses, too few gains. With an inward snort he scolded himself. The time where he hid his feelings from himself were over. Daniel hadn't allowed it once he'd come back... once his memories had returned to him.

Another chuckle escaping him, Jack looked up into the sky. A few hours until dark and they should be at the 'Gate well before that. Then, one step through a shimmering surface and Jack would be light years closer to home. He loved the SGC, but it wasn't home to him... at least not all the time. It depended entirely on who was there. More specifically, if Daniel was there.

Oh yeah, just like Jack knew how to send Daniel to his happy place with a few words and a light touch, he knew where his own place was. And so did Daniel, because without the other man that place wouldn't exist. Or rather, it hadn't existed for more than a year. Before Daniel had ...left, Jack hadn't allowed himself to admit that he was only ever truly happy around Daniel. After the man had ascended, well, by then it was too late and every attempt to deal with his emotions had only caused Jack to spiral further down into darkness, so at some point he'd stopped.

It had torn at him to see Daniel again while Jack was imprisoned by Baal. And yet it had nudged at something inside Jack, something he'd continued to bury in the deepest, darkest part of his heart. Especially when Daniel had left him again. They each had a path to walk and it hadn't been the same... not anymore. Then Daniel had meddled once too many times. Because he cared... because Jack had asked him to. And somehow what might have been conceived as punishment had turned to out to be the greatest gift Jack could ever have imagined. They'd gotten Daniel back. True, at first it had stung that the younger man hadn't recognized them... hadn't recognized Jack.

Jack looked at the sky once again. It had started raining again. Nothing much, just a drizzle and Jack didn't mind that much anymore. He was going home and if he was lucky, he'd be out of the mountain in no time. Checking his watch he did his calculations. It'd be nearly midnight by the time they'd get back and he knew that Hammond wouldn't expect a debriefing and a report until the next day. The man wasn't unreasonable. Jack knew he'd have a few days to do the actual report and evaluation of the recruits.

Now, if he knew Daniel right, he'd be at Jack's house when he returned. A few weeks earlier and Jack wouldn't have been that sure about it, he might not even be capable of admitting that that was what he wanted. Now? Well, thanks to the fact that both men had realized what a precious second chance Daniel had been given, they'd fessed up.

It had been nothing like Jack had expected it to, nothing like he'd imagined a million times. Sometimes he'd dreamed of telling Daniel how he felt, sometime he'd imagined the other man opening the conversation. But it had always involved talking, because that was the way Jack expected Daniel to want it. It had, however, been a little different. Jack wasn't complaining and at the moment, as the drizzle became lighter and the sky almost seemed a little clearer, he could admit that the memory was one of his happy places.

To think that he, Colonel Jack 'hard-ass' O'Neill had tried to talk and Daniel, the man who could talk for hours about everything and nothing, had leaned over and shut him up with one kiss. Granted, not exactly a light kiss as neither man had surfaced for minutes. The kind of kiss that Jack would never forget. The kind of kiss that poets would write about. Firm lips, warm, roaming hands pulling him closer... into arms as strong as his own. He wasn't fool enough to disregard the risks, but at the point in his life where he was now... he felt like being a little reckless. Felt that they deserved a little happiness. Besides, it wasn't as if they flaunted it all over the place. They still bickered like they'd used to, before Daniel had... left, before Jack had become even more private and secluded than he'd been before. Even his team hadn't been able to get through to him.

Daniel had... once he'd returned, once they'd admitted to what they'd both wanted... needed, but never really found in anyone else after they'd started their mad adventures across the Galaxies. Jack smiled to himself. There were days where he wondered how they'd ever dared step through the 'Gate the first time. Why they hadn't dismantled it after the first trip, or the second... or the third... The Universe was a dark and scary place with very little light to shine on a little man and his happy places.

As the skies parted a little and a few single rays of the setting sun managed to get through, Jack watched the light flicker across the 'Gate in front of them. Letting one of the recruits punch in the address for Earth, Jack stepped forward and send the IDC. Watching the kids disappear one by one until he was the only one left, Jack finally took the last step up the dais. Turning around, he took one last look at the place, smiling as he watched the light from the sun glittering in the drops of water caught by the leaves of the trees around the 'Gate.

Taking a deep breath he returned to the shimmering light that was the way home. His yellow brick road that would lead him to his home and his happy place. Because these days? It was one and the same place.

The End