Welcome Home, Daniel

ALF January 02,2002

I sit in Jack's armchair and look at him sipping beer sat on the couch opposite me. He has just told me about how his wife had left him during our mission to Abydos. He is showing a vulnerable side which I was privileged to see during that first mission. It is something I can guess he is not used to showing, being career military. But I think he felt obliged to share after all the angst I've being sharing about the loss of Share. That's Jack for you. He cares a lot more than most people would be willing to give him credit for. I put down my bottle of beer and go to sit next to him on the couch. I want to share his pain, much as he has been sharing mine. The loss of Charlie, followed by Sarah leaving has hurt him a lot. I wonder how he has coped during the last year, whilst I was busy trying to love Share and live up to the expectations of the Abydonians.

As I sit beside him, he turns to look at me, puzzled by my sudden move. I put a hand on his shoulder, and he doesn't pull back.

"It's ok, Jack," I tell him. "I understand how you feel."

"Isn't that supposed to be my line?" he asks, trying to joke his way through the moment.

I shrug, "Whatever," I reply. "But we're friends and we can comfort each other. That's what friends do after all. I'm here for you."

He looks at me, curious, and I look back steadily, wanting him to understand what I'm trying to say, but unable to come right out and say it. I want to give him room to back off if this isn't what he wants, but I saw it all there in his eyes, when he brushed past me to greet Skaara. That move was a deliberate one, to give him a chance to display his emotions in an acceptable fashion. Share had also seen it, and understood. That was obvious from the way she kissed me before we left to look at the cartouche room.

Suddenly, Jack moves forward. His lips meet mine and I feel a jolt of electricity run right through me as we make contact. Our lips are dry and we peel apart slowly. Jack is breathing heavily and his eyes are wide open, pupils dilated. His hand comes out to cup my face and I lick my lips slowly, suddenly shy. Jack's fingers brush across my lips and I close my eyes. The touch is feather light and I swallow, choked with emotion.

Jack's lips move forward again and meet mine. This time we kiss for longer, and Jack's tongue suddenly probes my mouth. I open my mouth and accept him inside, the kiss deepening between us.

Finally, we break apart in order to breathe. I open my eyes, and find Jack's eyes gazing back at me. We are barely inches apart. My head drops to rest on Jack's shoulder, the emotion is almost more than I can bear. Tears run from my eyes, surprising me. Jack rests his chin on my head, his arms going around me and he holds me close.

I cry for a long time, until gradually I become aware of my surroundings and myself again. Jack is rubbing his hands across my back and whispering nonsense to me. I wonder if this was how he comforted Charlie when he was alive. I pull away from the embrace and sit up. Jack hands me a box of tissues, and I dry my face and blow my nose. Jack is watching, a look of tender concern on his face. He hands my glasses to me, and I put them on, I hadn't even registered losing them.

I look up at Jack, embarrassed by my display of emotion, afraid he'll think I'm regretting the kiss, that I was missing Share.

"I'm sorry," I start to say. He reaches out to touch my lips.

"Don't apologise," he says. "I understand. You needed that. It's ok."

I look at him, and see tears glistening in his eyes as well. I hand him back the box of tissues, and he takes one, blowing his nose hard and wiping his eyes dry.

"We both needed that," I say. He nods agreement. "So what now?" I ask, almost afraid of the answer.

"That's up to you, Daniel," he replies. "You only lost your wife today. I don't want you to feel obliged to do anything."

"This isn't a rebound thing," I interrupt, feeling a spurt of anger inside me. He looks at me, surprised.

"I wasn't going to suggest it was," he replies. "I know you felt the same thing I did today on Abydos, it was as if the last year had never happened. But all the same, you have just lost Share, so I don't want you to feel you have to do something you're not ready for."

"Let's go to bed Jack," I say, giving him a smouldering look. He gives me one right back and then he gives me something even better - his heart as he welcomes me home in the best way imaginable.