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This was inspired by a prompt at the 2013 [community profile] jd_ficathon Prompt-a-thon: any season 10 episode: missing scene, tag, etc.

I chose The Shroud, and then waited six months to finish writing the fic. Oops.

This tag picks up right where the episode ends. It's rated PG for a bit of language. ~1700 words.


Cherry Blossom Time

We may have made things worse right now…

Mitchell's words seemed to echo on the otherwise silent Odyssey bridge, as Jack watched the seven Ori ships jump into hyperspace and disappear. Oh, yes. Just how much worse remained to be seen.

He scanned the faces of his companions one by one. Mitchell looked thoughtful, Carter a little sick, Vala resolute. Teal'c looked…concerned. But not about the Ori. "Whoa!" Jack moved at the same instant Teal'c did, reaching out to support Daniel, who suddenly looked about as pale as he had when he was Prior-itized. "Daniel?"

Somehow Mitchell smoothly inserted himself into the picture, taking Daniel's slightly-sagging weight from Jack's arms. "Somebody belongs back in bed. Teal'c?"

"You must return to the sickbay, Daniel Jackson. Come."

Daniel went, muttering about "a fuss over nothing."

Vala trotted after the trio. Fussing.

Jack felt empty-handed. He stared after them until they disappeared around the bend of a corridor.

Carter made the smallest of sounds behind him. Jack cleared his throat and turned.

"I'm sure Daniel's just worn out, sir. He's been through a lot."

Jack's mouth twitched. "It's Daniel, Carter. I'm sure he'll be just fine."

Carter grimaced. "Ouch."

"Yeah, I've heard that one before, too," Jack sighed. He waved a hand encompassing the bridge. "You good here on your own?"

Carter looked at him inquiringly, and then amusement crept into her expression.

"Right." Jack lifted his chin, trying to look hurt. "Fat lot of use I'd be. Carry on, then, Colonel."

"Sir," Carter agreed, barely suppressing a snicker.

Jack squeezed her shoulder and turned to slowly start down the corridor. He'd find the sickbay eventually. There was no hurry. Daniel wasn't going anywhere. His brow puckered as he walked.

~~~~

When Jack arrived at the sickbay, Daniel was tucked into bed and Mitchell was sitting on the edge of the bed talking to him. All very cozy.

"Where's T?"

Mitchell stood up promptly. "I had him haul Vala away, sir. Our boy Daniel needs his rest, and Vala's not exactly…"

"Conducive." Jack nodded. Truer words… "Better check in on Carter. She didn't seem to want my help."

Daniel, whose eyes had been closed since Jack first spoke, opened them and looked at Jack narrowly.

"Sir," Mitchell said, and began moving toward the door.

"I'll take over here." Jack didn't even try to keep the smugness out of his voice.

Daniel rolled his eyes and closed them again.

Jack waited until Mitchell disappeared, then pulled a chair close to the bed. "How are you feeling?"

"Tired."

"Yeah."

"Exhausted. Not really up for talking."

Jack considered that for half a second. "That's a first, then."

"Jack." There was a warning in there, even if the eyes didn't open to glare at him.

"So. You know how sometimes things go wrong, and it really isn't anybody's fault in particular?"

Now the eyes opened and blinked. "Are you talking about today?"

"No."

Daniel looked blank. "Things go wrong, and it's nobody's particular fault."

"Sometimes," Jack reminded him.

"Sometimes." Daniel stared at him. "And the other times?"

"It's all my fault." Jack couldn't stop the catch in his voice. He saw Daniel register it. He also saw the gleam that entered Daniel's eye and tried to head him off at the pass. "Oh, come on; I've made mistakes before."

"Yeah, but I don't think I actually remember you admitting it before."

It was a fair accusation. "Possibly I'm indicating that I'm capable of change."

Daniel looked wary. "And what has brought on this sudden willingness to learn new tricks?"

Jack let the 'old dog' allusion slide. "Things. Events. Occurrences."

Daniel's lips twisted. "Stuff?" His eyelids drooped.

Jack decided to take umbrage, mainly because it would postpone some of the more delicate minefield traversing that lay just ahead. "Do you have to treat it like a suspicious circumstance?" There was that damn catch in his voice again.

Daniel's eyes shot open wide. "I do now!"

Jack stood and paced away, hands shoved into his pockets.

"Jack."

Jack turned to face him, removing his hands from his pockets and throwing his arms out wide. "Fine! You wanna make me say it?"

"Yes, I want to make you say it!"

"Fine! All right! You! Missing! Again!"

Daniel turned his head away, moistening his lips.

"Again," Jack repeated. He sank back down into the chair and inspected his hands to see if they were shaking. Maybe a little. He shoved them underneath his thighs and exhaled. "And me halfway across the country."

"Well…"

"I know. You were halfway across the galaxy. Colorado Springs or D.C. didn't actually amount to a gnat's worth of difference." Jack had had a good long time to keep telling himself that, as he slowly lost his mind. Well. Lost it more completely. Slowly went bugfuck, apeshit nuts, to be more precise.

"Except that it did."

Jack tried to read whatever was in Daniel's voice, wishing he could see more of his face. "Yeah."

"And then they found me."

"Which was a questionable improvement on the situation," Jack pointed out. "All things considered."

"Sure," Daniel said, still not looking at Jack. "So then they called you."

"Then they called me." He could see Daniel's throat work.

"And you came." So, so softly that Jack had to lean forward to hear.

"I came." Jack freed a hand and scratched his ear. "I would've liked to see anybody try to stop me."

Daniel rolled so that his face was even more hidden from Jack. "Is this conversation headed anywhere in particular, or are you just rambling?"

He sounded so tired that Jack ached for him. "I had an idea that I wanted to run by you."

Daniel waved a hand, indicating that he should go on.

Jack reached out to capture it. "You're going to need some time off after all this. You're entitled to it, you need it, and you're going to be made to take it. Two weeks, minimum." Daniel's hand twitched, but he didn't try to pull away. "Come to Washington. I might need a couple of days to clear my desk, but there are more than enough museums to keep you occupied while I'm doing that. When you're not sleeping, that is. You can sleep the entire first week, if you want. I don't care."

"I can sleep for a week at home." Still not pulling away.

"Then you'd miss the cherry blossoms."

Daniel rolled onto his back and looked up at Jack with shock. "How long have I been gone?"

Jack held Daniel's hand in both of his. "Too long. I thought we'd established that."

"It's really spring?"

"According to the calendar, yes. D.C.'s on board. Spring in the Springs, however, not even remotely."

"No." Daniel blinked. "No, of course not."

Jack swallowed. "So anyway, what do you think of my plan?" And…there went the hand. Jack released it immediately and braced himself.

"You want me to come stay with you."

"Yes."

"Why the hell would I want to do that?" Daniel's voice was perfectly flat.

"That's a fair question," Jack admitted. He'd hurt Daniel badly before he'd left for D.C. "I can only think of one reason."

Daniel looked at the ceiling. "Insanity?"

Jack winced. "Two reasons."

"What's the other one?"

That was his cue. Time to put his heart on the line. He cleared his throat. "If you love me as much as I love you."

Daniel's lips parted, then pressed together.

"Which I know I don't deserve."

"My love," Daniel began. He stopped and swallowed. "My love didn't seem to mean all that much to you when you left me in the dust and hared off to Washington."

"One of the biggest mistakes of my life."

Daniel finally tore himself away from the fascinations of the ceiling and locked gazes with Jack. "That's what you have to say?"

"I regret it. And I apologize for it. I'm sorry for the pain I caused you."

Daniel's brow furrowed as he bit his lip.

Jack shrugged carefully, and offered, "Insanity?"

The brow cleared. Daniel shut his eyes. "That would probably explain it."

"It explains most of the things I do."

Daniel nodded against the pillow, his lips curving.

"I could show you some of my favorite restaurants. And there's a bunch of fancy places I haven't been to yet. Or we can stay in and I'll cook us something. Whatever you want."

"I'll be recuperating. Your cooking might not be in my best interests."

"Hey!"

"We shouldn't run out of restaurants in two weeks, anyway."

"Actually," Jack began, then hesitated. Daniel opened his eyes and looked at him questioningly. "I thought we might spend some of that second week at the cabin." Daniel's eyes went unfocussed. Yeah. Lots of memories there. Their first time among them. "Just laze around the fireplace."

"We might need three weeks." Daniel yawned hugely.

Jack began to smile. "The Ori can wait. We'll be available at a moment's notice if they show their ugly faces in this solar system."

Daniel frowned. "Ori."

"Followers," Jack said hastily. "The Ori are kaput."

"So, vacation." Daniel looked like he was trying to translate a foreign word.

"Long vacation."

Daniel closed his eyes and sighed.

Jack put a hand on his shoulder. "Good plan?"

"Mmm."

Jack leaned closer. "If we weren't in the infirmary where anyone could walk in, and if you weren't three-quarters asleep, I'd show you just how happy I am right now."

"Down, boy," Daniel murmured, his face going lax.

Jack tugged Daniel's blanket up a couple of inches. Which reminded him… "So. Daniel."

"Hmm?"

"'Sunshine'?"

One blue eye half opened. "I'd better not find out that all of this is just because you're jealous."

"Moi?"

"Toi."

"I assure you that is not the case," Jack said haughtily.

"Good." The eye shut.

"I've got no reason after all. Right? Mitchell doesn't mean a thing to you. Right?"

Daniel was silent.

Jack drummed his fingers on the bed covers.

More silence.

Jack waited for it.

Daniel snored.

Jack smiled. He'd missed that sound. "Right," he said softly.

He clasped his hands in his lap, tucked his chin into his chest, and closed his eyes. Sitting here in this uncomfortable chair, he was about to get the best sleep he'd had in weeks. Months. More than a year.

So much wasted time. That was all about to change. Jack smiled again, and slept.
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