Daniel checked his appearance again nervously. He was still not sure about this outfit, despite the reassurances he had received from Sam and Janet that it looked all right. He had taken the women shopping with him because he didn't trust his own judgement when it came to clothes shopping. Just then, Jack came into the bedroom.
"You ready Daniel?" he asked. Daniel turned round.
"Oh Jack. Yea, I guess so," he said, fiddling with his jacket sleeves.
"You look great," Jack said, crossing the room for a closer look. Daniel's suit was a dark grey with a faint pinstripe. His shirt was pale blue and the tie a darker shade of blue. The whole outfit had cost a fortune, but Daniel spent so little, he had been persuaded it was worth the outlay. Jack was wearing his dress uniform, which was guaranteed to send most women weak at the knees, never mind the effect it had on Daniel.
Daniel smiled nervously at the Colonel. "Are you sure this looks ok?" he asked.
"For the 10 millionth time Daniel, you look great," Jack replied. He put his arms around Daniel and rested his chin on Daniel's shoulder.
"Not a bad looking couple," he murmured in Daniel's ear. Daniel smiled at him.
"I guess not," he said. Just then a car horn tooted outside.
"Come on Daniel," Jack grabbed Daniel's hand. "It wouldn't do for us to be late."
Daniel allowed Jack to tow him out of the room and down the hall to the front door. As Jack grabbed his keys from the hall table, Daniel headed down the path to the waiting cab.
The trip to the National Park was uneventful and passed quickly. The driver babbled on about the baseball season, but for once Jack didn't join in the conversation. The two men sat rigidly in the back of the cab, not touching. The driver didn't seem to notice the lack of response. Nor did he ask why two such smartly dressed men should want to be driven to the National Park and then left there.
Once at the Park, Jack slid his sunglasses into place whilst Daniel paid off the driver. The car park was half full and Jack recognised several cars which belonged to SGC personnel. Once the cab had disappeared out of sight, Daniel slipped a hand into Jack's.
"Nervous?" Jack asked as he looked at Daniel.
"Terrified," Daniel replied with a grimace.
"Everyone here is a friend, Danny, people we trust," Jack pointed out. "There's no reason to worry."
Daniel gave a small, tight smile. "I know Jack, but this is still a pretty big thing."
Jack squeezed the hand held in his. "It's not too late to back out," he said comfortingly. "I wouldn't think any less of you if you didn't want to go ahead."
This time, Daniel's smile was more convincing.
"No Jack, I won't back out on you now," he said. "I agreed to this so let's get going, or people will wonder what's happened to us."
"Ok," Jack said. With that, the two men started up the path into the Park. Because it was still early in the year, there were no tourists around. That was partly why Jack had suggested this time, and location - less chance of unwanted observers. That and the fact that he thought it was a romantic spot.
Finally, the two men reached the clearing where their friends were waiting. There were about 20 people standing chatting in small groups. Teal'c was talking to General Hammond and Sergeant Siler, whilst Sam and Janet were chatting to Sergeant Davis and a couple of technicians. Just then, Sam spotted the two men approaching and tapped another man on the shoulder. He looked round and nodded. As Jack and Daniel paused at the top of the path, the group reformed together. Most of them wore dress uniform, creating a splash of blue in the clearing.
"Ready?" Jack asked Daniel one last time. Daniel nodded firmly and so the two men started down the path towards the group.
As they reached the bottom of the path, they paused again. Daniel smiled as he looked around at the waiting group of friends. Teal'c was wearing a suit bought especially for the occasion and was getting admiring glances from several of the women present. Sam and Janet were smiling encouragingly from the front of the group. At a nod from the celebrant, the two men came forward to the front of the group. They stood facing each other and everyone fell silent. The celebrant began to speak.
"Friends, we are here today to mark a special occasion. Jonathon Graham O'Neill and Daniel Richard Jackson have requested your presence here to celebrate and acknowledge the relationship they share and what that means to them. They are also committing themselves to each other today for the rest of their lives. Each will speak vows that they have written especially for today." The celebrant nodded at Jack, who took one of Daniel's hands in his own.
"Daniel," he began, "I pledge to you my life and soul. I promise that my love for you will never die. I will honour your work and your individuality always. Whatever difficulties and challenges we face in the future, I will always be true to you and our love. I will never compromise out of convenience or deny you out of fear. My love for you is the thing that gives my life meaning and hope. It is my honour and privilege to spend the rest of my life with you and I am happy to announce that fact to all our friends here today."
As Jack finished speaking, sniffs and coughs were audible from the watching group. No-one watching had ever heard such a long speech from Jack before, especially something so eloquent and heartfelt. He looked at Daniel, who smiled brilliantly at him, despite the tears shining in his eyes. Clearing his throat, he began to speak.
"Jack, I agreed to come here today to acknowledge publicly the love we share. You are my anchor to the world. Your constant presence in my life and your belief in me give me courage to keep going in my darkest times. From the beginning, you have supported and encouraged me, despite your dislike of scientists," a small murmur of laughter ran through the watching group at that comment. Daniel paused for a second, then continued. "I love you totally and unreservedly, and will always do so, until the end of time, even beyond death. Thank you for trusting me and believing in me, and giving me a reason to live."
As Daniel finished, the coughs and sniffs were audible once more. Jack and Daniel looked intently at one another, tears in both men's eyes now. They were both surprised and pleased by what the other had said. They had agreed beforehand not to discuss their vows with anyone else, including their closest friends, and had both been nervous as to the other's reaction to their words.
The celebrant spoke again. "In order to signify their new commitment to each other, Jack and Daniel will now exchange rings."
Cassie stepped forward from the watching group. Janet had thought long and hard before agreeing to let her participate in the ceremony, but Sam had persuaded her it was a good thing. Now that Cassie was nearly 16, she was started to get interested in boys and dating. Janet had had a long conversation with her, which had been a very honest, open discussion. Janet had explained about her relationship with Sam, and the restrictions placed on them by the military. Cassie had had difficulty understanding the institutional prejudice, which she thought was pointless. But she had eventually understood what it meant, and that there was nothing she could do about it. Once Janet had told Cassie, Sam had told Jack and Daniel that she knew. Daniel had then suggested that they should also tell Cassie about their relationship. Jack had agreed, and had suggested her as ring carrier when they had decided to have this ceremony. Daniel had been surprised at that suggestion, but had agreed immediately. The two men had taken Cassie out to dinner with Sam and Janet to a quiet restaurant to share the news.
Now, she came forward with a big grin on her face. She had blossomed into a beautiful young woman and was wearing a red dress bought for the occasion, which complemented her brown hair. It also stood out in vivid contrast to the blue of the dress uniforms most of the other guests were wearing. She carried the rings on a small silver salver, which she held out to the two men. Jack gave Daniel his ring first. They had each chosen something which did not look like a wedding band, but which was still meaningful. Daniel had chosen a silver ring with a love knot, Jack a claddaugh ring, also in silver.
After they had exchanged rings, Cassie stepped back again, standing next to Teal'c. The celebrant took Jack and Daniel by the hand, then clasped their hands together.
"Let everyone present here today bear witness to the joining together of Jack and Daniel into a joyful relationship together and the love and commitment they share. Please join me in congratulating these two friends on their decision to spend their lives together and wish them future happiness."
Everyone started clapping and cheering as Jack and Daniel hugged each other and shared a kiss. Then they started to crowd around the pair, hugging and kissing them or shaking hands depending on their inclination.
"You were great Cassie," Daniel said as he hugged the teenager.
"Yea Cass, good job," Jack echoed, picking her up and twirling her round.
"Jack!" she protested, "please put me down, I'm too old for that sort of thing." He put her down laughing.
"Sorry," he said, "I forgot you're a dignified old lady now." That remark earned him a punch on the arm. Just then General Hammond came forward, and the others fell back slightly to give them space.
"Jack, Daniel," he said, shaking each man by the hand. "Congratulations."
"Thank you sir," Jack said.
"Yes, thank you General," Daniel said.
The decision to tell the General about the relationship had not been an easy one. It had been the subject of several long conversations between the two men. In the end, they had agreed that after the business with the General's forced retirement and all that Jack had done to get him re-instated, it was worth the risk of telling him. After all, he had told Jack that he owed him big time for what he had done. So Jack had gone to see him quietly one day, early in the morning when there were few people around.
He had been pleased by the General's reaction - he had been supportive and agreed that as long as the relationship didn't interfere with the operation of SG1, he would turn a blind eye.
"The two of you are too valuable to this program to risk losing you over something so petty as military prejudice," he told Jack. So when they had decided to have the affirmation ceremony, they had decided to invite the General.
"Where are we going now?" the General asked now. The invitations had specified a party, but not where it would be held.
"Ginettis," Daniel said, naming an exclusive local restaurant. A few eyebrows were raised at that. "Jack knows the owner," Daniel explained.
"Who are the two of you riding back with?" Janet asked, knowing that the two men had come in a cab because neither had wanted to drive to the Park.
"Siler and Jenny," Jack said. "They brought Teal'c and they have the extra space to take us back as well."
Just then, a loud crack of thunder sounded overhead and it suddenly got very dark.
"Let's get going!" Jack said, looking skyward, then at Daniel, who hated thunderstorms almost as much as he hated heights. Everyone set off quickly for the walk back to the car park. However, before they had got very far, everyone was soaking wet as it was raining quite heavily now. A particularly loud thunderclap made Daniel jump in surprise. Jack could see how white he had gone even in the twilight caused by the dark clouds. He put his arm around Daniel and led him to Siler's jeep.
Just then a bolt of lightning illuminated the scene, the afterglow dazzling in its intensity. Daniel moaned and Jack looked around for the Sergeant or his girlfriend. Teal'c suddenly loomed up beside them, startling them.
"Christ Teal'c!" Jack said, "you startled me. Do you know where Siler and Jenny have got to?"
"The Sergeant is just coming O'Neill," Teal'c replied. And just then, he did indeed appear by the car.
"Sorry to keep you waiting sirs," he said, unlocking the car. They all got in quickly, glad to be out of the rain. Jenny appeared at that moment.
"Cassie fell over," she reported.
"Is she ok?" Jack asked, starting to get out of the car again.
"I think so," Jenny said, "she slipped on some leaves coming down the path. Janet and Sam were right behind her though.
"I will go and see if they need assistance O'Neill," Teal'c said. Just then, the rain stopped as suddenly as it had started. Everyone got back out of the car. Sam appeared just then, supporting Cassie who was limping heavily and covered in mud. Janet was just behind, looking stern.
"Is she ok?" Daniel asked anxiously.
"She bumped her head, but wasn't knocked out," Janet reported. "She also has a sprained ankle, but it's nothing too serious."
"I'll be fine," Cassie said, a stubborn set to her jaw.
"Of course you will, sweetheart," Janet said. "But let's get you home so you can change. You don't want to go to the party covered in mud do you?"
"I guess not," Cassie said. So Janet took her off home to change, whilst Sam got a ride with General Hammond to the restaurant.
Once at the restaurant, Antonio Ginetti greeted Jack personally. He led them to a private room where chilled champagne was already waiting. Antonio kissed Jack exuberantly on both cheeks, then did the same to Daniel, who blushed.
"Congratulations, my friends," he said with a big grin. "Let me pour you some champagne." He signalled to a waiter who came forward with a bottle and some glasses. Antonio opened the bottle himself, then poured a glass each for Jack and Daniel. He then passed the bottle back to the waiter to continue pouring. Once everyone had a glass, Antonio looked around.
"Who will propose the toast?" he asked.
"I guess that's my job," Sam said stepping forward.
"Oh no," Jack groaned theatrically, hand to his head. Everyone laughed except Sam. "Sorry Carter, carry on," he said, grinning at her.
"Thank you, sir," she replied. "I'd just like to say it was a privilege and a pleasure to be present today to see the two of you commit yourselves to each other, and I wish you both many years of happiness together. I just hope it means that our future missions will be more peaceful as you'll give up arguing with each other. To Jack and Daniel."
Everyone was laughing as they raised their glasses. "To Jack and Daniel," they echoed. The two men looked at each other.
"To us," Jack said softly, touching his glass to Daniel's.
"To us," Daniel agreed, smiling at Jack, "but don't expect me to stop arguing with you."
Jack smiled back. "Don't worry Space monkey, I don't," he said.
Everyone stood around drinking and chatting as the waiters started to lay out the buffet on the tables around the edge of the room. Janet arrived a few minutes later with Cassie, who was clean again, but still limping. She had changed into a skirt and blouse, and the bandage on her ankle was clearly visible.
"How are you feeling Cassie?" Daniel asked as the two of them joined Sam, who handed a glass of champagne to Janet.
"I'm ok," she replied, "but I guess I won't be dancing tonight."
"Never mind, Cass," Jack said. "We'll take you out dancing another time."
"Thanks, Jack" Cassie said. "Do I get some champagne?"
"You're too young," Janet promptly replied.
"I brought you some orange juice," Sam told her, holding out the glass.
Cassie pouted at that. "Can't I even have a sip?" she asked.
"Go on, Janet," Jack said joining in the argument. "One little sip won't hurt."
"You shouldn't encourage her," Janet said. "But ok, just one little sip, just this once." And she handed her glass to Cassie, who swallowed a mouthful, then handed the glass back.
Just then, Antonio came over to join them. "The food is ready, Jack," he said.
"Thanks, Antonio," Jack replied.
The meal was a great success - lots of traditional Italian fare, with plenty to drink as well and heavenly desserts. Afterwards, a DJ arrived and the rest of the restaurant closed. The party now began in earnest and the noise level rose as people began to dance and laugh together.
Jack and Daniel took it in turns to dance with most of the women present, oblivious to the fact that a lot of them were sighing over the loss of what had previously been considered the two most eligible bachelors on Base. They also danced with each other, ignoring the envious looks they were getting because they were so obviously happy together.
After a while, General Hammond went up to speak to the DJ, who nodded and let the current record fade to silence. Everyone stopped dancing and chatting and looked up to see why it had gone quiet.
"Ladies and gentlemen, if I could have your attention please," the General said.
"Don't tell me, there's an emergency back on Base," Jack said.
"Don't even say that as a joke," Daniel protested.
"If I may continue?" the General asked. Jack gestured apologetically for him to carry on. "Thank you. Now I know the two of you said that you didn't want any gifts, but we decided to have a collection for you anyway, and got you this." He pulled an envelope from an inside pocket and held it out to Jack.
"Not a court martial notice, I hope sir," Jack said, handing it to Daniel. That comment earned a few strained laughs. Daniel opened the envelope, glaring at Jack as he did so. Inside were two air tickets.
"You're both due some leave," Hammond told them, "so we thought you'd like some time away together."
"We're going to Greece, Jack," Daniel said excitedly, handing the tickets to his partner. "Thank you, General." He went over to shake hands.
"Sweet," Jack commented, looking at the tickets. "Thanks, sir." He too shook hands with Hammond.
"Speech!" someone called out, a comment which was quickly echoed by several other voices.
"Say something, Daniel, you're the linguist," Jack said.
"Not this time, Jack," Daniel replied.
"Ok then," Jack said. "Just a few words. Thank you all very much for coming today and making this such a special day for the two of us, and thank you for such a great gift. I can promise you that Daniel will have a great time studying all the ancient stuff in Greece."
Everyone laughed at that. "Actually, there's only one ancient thing I'll be studying, Jack," Daniel said. That got an even bigger laugh, and Jack actually blushed.
"The Acropolis!" Sam called out, to more laughter.
"Back to the party, everyone," Jack called out, signalling to the DJ, who quickly started another record. People started dancing again, but Jack and Daniel went to sit in a corner. Janet followed them over.
"We're heading off now," she said. "It's way past Cassie's bedtime. We'll drop Teal'c off at the Base on our way."
"Thanks for coming," Daniel said, hugging her. He hugged Sam and Cassie as well, then Jack did the same.
"Thanks ladies," Jack said. He shook Teal'c's hand and so did Daniel. "Thanks for coming buddy," Jack said.
"Thanks, Teal'c," Daniel said. "The suit's great."
"Thank you Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said. "Congratulations to both of you."
"It was a great day," Sam said. "I hope you enjoy your trip." The group left with a wave, followed soon afterwards by General Hammond.
"Do you want to leave yet?" Jack asked Daniel.
"One more slow dance," Daniel said, as another tune started up. It was "Without You" by Nilsson. Daniel held out his hand to Jack and they moved onto the dance floor together, arms around each other. The lights in the room were very dim and other couples also swayed slowly to the music too.
Daniel rested his head on Jack's shoulder, arms around his partner. Jack rested his head against Daniel's, stroking a hand down his back at the same time. As the song came to an end, the lights went out completely. The two men took the opportunity to slip out the door unseen. Once outside, they kissed passionately, both aroused by the intimacy of the dance they had just shared. They quickly headed for the exit, not wanting to be stopped by anyone before they got home.
They strolled up the road together hand in hand, heading for Jack's house, enjoying the cool, quiet night after the noise and heat of the restaurant. It was quite late so the town was pretty deserted.
Eventually, they reached Jack's house. As Jack searched his pockets for his keys, Daniel pulled him in for a soft, slow kiss. Jack pulled away long enough to unlock the door and for them to get inside. Shutting the door, Jack pushed Daniel up against it for a more searching kiss.
"Let's go to bed, Jack," Daniel said, his voice hoarse with passion, when they finally paused to breathe. Jack nodded his agreement and Daniel grabbed his hand to pull him down the hall to the bedroom. As they went, they stopped several times to kiss and start removing each other's clothing.
By the time they reached the bedroom, they had left a trail of clothes behind them and both had only their boxers left on. Pushing the bedroom door closed, Jack pushed Daniel against it for another deep, passionate kiss. Then he picked Daniel up and carried him over to the bed, more than ready to consummate their partnership now it was "official". Daniel was just as eager, and they both stripped off their boxer shorts.
"Inside me," Jack ordered, pulling Daniel on top of him.
"What about lubrication?" Daniel said, pulling back.
"Not now," Jack said.
"But I'll hurt you," Daniel protested.
"I don't care," Jack replied, "just do it." He grasped Daniel's cock and started to massage it. "I can't wait any longer." He spread his legs wide, and looked up at Daniel impatiently. Daniel sighed. When Jack got this impatient, he was difficult to argue with.
"All right then," he said. He put two fingers in his mouth, coating them with saliva, then plunged them deep into Jack, who arched up against him involuntarily. He was in fact, more than ready, he was desperate. Daniel withdrew the fingers.
"Make me wet Jack," he said, moving so that he positioned himself over Jack's mouth. Jack worked his mouth full of saliva, and then let Daniel's cock slide inside him, making it wet. Daniel then withdrew from his mouth, and moved down to Jack's spread legs. He carefully thrust inside Jack, who cried out as Daniel penetrated him. Daniel stopped immediately, but Jack just grabbed him by the hips and pulled him forward, forcing Daniel deeper inside him. Daniel adjusted his position so that they were both comfortable, then started to thrust against Jack's prostate. At the same time, he took Jack's engorged cock in his hand and started to pump him in time to his thrusts.
Both men were so wound up that they climaxed quickly and loudly. Afterwards, they snuggled together, kissing and stroking each other. The second time, they made love more slowly and tenderly, but just as passionately. Then they wrapped their arms and legs together and fell asleep entwined both physically and emotionally, the rings they both still wore a symbol of their new, joined lives.
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