My ending to MoBS2 from S8. Timed out from Pretense, 2005 zine.

 

The Pond With Three Fish

By: Joana Dey

"I’m retiring." Jack let the words hang in the air between them as they stood together watching Carter and Teal’c drive away from the cabin.


"I don’t see what that has to do with—excuse me?" Daniel blinked. And blinked again. As Jack turned to go back inside, Daniel grabbed hold of his arm. "What do you mean ‘I’m retiring.’"

"What I said." He gave a gentle pull on his arm and Daniel let go, following him inside.

"Are we going to talk about it, or having dropped your bombshell, now you’re done for the night?" Daniel left Jack in the small mudroom and headed into the main cabin. Dusk was falling and it cooled off quickly here in the mountains. A fire would be needed before much longer and he may as well get one started. Daniel had an idea they were going to be in for a long night.

A hand patted his conveniently posed ass as he bent over to arrange the wood. Jack had obviously moved into the room. "Of course we’re going to talk—although you know just how much I enjoy the art of talking—this concerns you too, you know, cupcake."

"Cupcake?" Daniel stood up, slapped at Jack’s hand and glared. "Cupcake?

Jack grinned, unrepentant. "Just trying to lighten the atmosphere, sweet-cheeks."

"What you’re trying to do is change the subject, get me pissed off and then start some make-up sex going, hoping I’ll forget all about your statement, which would be rather difficult for me to do since I’d be sure to notice your retired absence when I get back—"

"Christ on a crutch, Daniel, take a breath!"


"Well? Am I right? Or am I right?" Daniel pulled the mesh screen across the front of the growing flames. "Jack?"

"Can we eat first?"

"We just had dinner, so no."

"Sex?"

"You’ll be sleeping on the couch for the rest of the week if you don’t start talking." Daniel plopped himself down on said couch, pulled his feet up under himself and got comfortable.

"I’ve been sleeping on the couch all weekend," Jack pointed out. "You and Carter had the two beds. Thank god Teal’c prefers the floor or my back would have been a mess and sex would be—"

"Jack."

"Beer."

"Coffee for me, thank you," was followed by the quick blink of one blue eye.

Jack trudged off into the small kitchen, his attempt to look put upon and pathetic ruined by the grin he threw back at Daniel. "Have I told you lately that I really hate you?" he called out.

"Twice yesterday and once today. All three times after I caught and re-caught what is probably the single fish in your pond. And then you made me throw it back, each time, which I feel was a terribly unfair order on your part."

Coffee preparation noises emanated from the kitchen, followed by the smell of dark roast and Daniel’s nose twitched appreciatively. Jack stuck his head around the door jam, a cold beer in his hand. "That is the only fish in my pond. I should know, I put it there the last time I was up here."

Faced with Daniel’s resultant burst of laughter, Jack disappeared back into the kitchen. Daniel could barely control himself. "You salted your pond? You salted your own pond? With one fish? Why? And don’t think I’ve forgotten about the retirement thing, because I haven’t," he added quickly.

"Why did I salt it, or why only one fish?"

"Both!" Daniel spluttered.

"Why shouldn’t I, it’s my pond. And I actually dumped in three of them. Don’t know what happened to the other two."

"Okaaaay, " Daniel said before continuing slowly as though speaking to a dim-witted child, "why did you only salt three fish instead of thirty?"

There was the sound of a mug being set down on the counter with a little more force than was necessary and soon Jack was returning to the living room, coffee in one hand, beer in the other. After handing the hot mug to Daniel, who was still a bit pink in the face from laughing, he settled himself in the other corner of the coach. Taking a long drag from the bottle, he wiped his mouth and set the beer down.

"Thirty," Jack explained, his face serious, "would have been too many to suddenly appear in a pond with no fish."

"I…have no answer for that," Daniel said. "Now, about this retirement business?"

"I’m old, my knees hurt, the paperwork’s driving me nuts, there’s fish in my pond now—"

"Jack!"

For a long moment Jack simply looked at Daniel, a pained expression on his face. Jack really did hate to ‘talk.’ Daniel simply waited him out, sipping at his coffee. Finally, with a heavy sigh, Jack submitted.

"When we started this relationship, we both agreed the second it started to screw up the job, we’d quit. Quit the job, I mean. Transfer, do whatever, right?"

"Yes, but I haven’t noticed ‘us’ impacting anything at the SGC. Especially now that you’ve been promoted, " Daniel protested.

"That’s because you’ve been off-world while I’ve been stuck on base. You haven’t seen me—"

"Is this about wanting to go off-world with the rest of SG-1?" Daniel interrupted. He didn’t think it was, but you never knew with Jack.

"No," Jack frowned, starting to look exasperated. "It’s not just about that. It’s complicated."

"Okay, explain it and I’ll listen."

"You were off with Carter, Teal’c and Bra’tac, then suddenly you disappear—poof—off to the land of Replicators and straight into that Carter’s hands. Nobody knew where you were, how you were, hell, IF you were still alive."

"We’ve been facing those situations for—"

"Uh! You said you were going to listen."

"But—"

"Listen."

"I’m listening, Jack, talk."

"The whole time you were missing, and it wasn’t just this time, it was when you were stuck on that damn planet that was at war, P-whatever—

"P3X-259."

"Thank you. So, while I’m a little worried about being missing, everyone still expects me to be The Man. I gotta be the General when I want to be out looking for your miserable hide. Because for some dumb reason you’re more important to me than plants that grow too fast, or stupid countries on other planets that keep fighting each other, you getting my drift, Daniel? Because I’m really baring my soul here for you."

"Let me see if I have this straight." Daniel set his now empty coffee mug down on the floor and inched across the couch to settle in next to Jack. A little judicious wiggling and he was comfortable nestled against Jack’s arm, his hands curled around a tense bicep. "What happens to me off-world, or on for that matter, impacts your ability to do your job properly. Because you’re so worried about me you can’t think straight and give orders at the same time. So for this reason, or reasons, you want to give up the Air Force, the SGC and retire."

"Yes."

"Just like that?"

"It’s not like I’ve never done it before, Daniel."

"I’m not arguing, I’m not even disagreeing with you, Jack. I understand completely where you’re coming from and why you feel the need to do this."

"Daniel, do you have any idea how hard it was for me to keep from showing how damn important you are to me to everyone on base clear down to the grunt who cleans the toilets? I wanted to shout and—you understand?"

"Yes, Jack, I understand. And I agree."

"You agree."

"Yes. And—do you want me to stop going off world?"

A loud pop from the fireplace made them both jump and they watched as the wood settled and sent sparks up the chimney. Daniel waited patiently as the wheels in Jack’s head turned.

"Noooo," Jack finally said. "If you want to stop, I’ll back you up, but if you want to keep going off world…it would be just like it is now, you go off without me. I trust Carter and Teal’c to watch your six, but I hate that I can’t be there, so unless you really hate the thought of not going off world, then I wish you wouldn’t. But it’s up to you."

"Well, that was clear as mud." Daniel smiled and locked his fingers with Jack’s. "I’d like to keep going, there’s still so much to see out there. A few more years? And then I’ll stay on base and work from there."

"Two years from when I retire, okay?"

"I can do that. Relationships are all about compromise, Jack. You retire, I’ll stay on SG-1 for two more years—at the most—and at that time we can reassess the situation and decide what I’m going to do and where."

"Great. It’s settled then? I can stop with the soul baring?"

Daniel chuckled. "Yes, Jack, you can stop. I’d hate for you to spontaneously combust from too much baring."

"Now can we have sex? It’s too dark to fish."

The End

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