See Chapter One for story information.
Chapter Two: Clarifications
When Tony finally came to, he wasn’t immediately sure where he was at. Laying still with his eyes closed, he took a moment to try and place the sounds that he could hear. It was the steady beep of the heart monitor he was hooked up to, and the distinctive smell of every hospital type room he’d ever been in that convinced him that he was in the safety of Doc Frazier’s medical rooms. Slowly, he opened his eyes and saw the room was mostly empty of anyone not in a bed beside one solitary nurse who seemed to be checking on someone in another bed.
Looking around, he eventually found every member of his team. Although, he had to guess that Spencer was the one in the bed that the nurse was attending to as he was the only one he didn’t see. He refused to believe that his little brother in everything but blood was anything but alive. Satisfied that things were as ok as they could get and too tired to keep his eyes open for no reason, he let them shut as his mind wandered. He wasn’t really surprised when it decided to focus on one Colonel Jack O’Neill.
Calling things between himself and the Colonel complicated was something of a huge understatement. The fact that Tony was madly in love with the older man was anything but a secret at least to his team. Leyak often called him a fool and seemed to feel the need to make sure that Tony didn’t forget Jack was his greatest weakness. Love was frowned upon by her father’s people where she’d grown up. It was a weakness that was only a danger that could be used against you, and therefore if you ever found the person that was to be your mate, it was anything but a happy moment. Often one mate killed the other, and from that point forward the survivor referred to the dead as their Greatest Weakness.
For Leyak, it was a somewhat complicated notion. Because her mother was a different species and had come from an entirely different planet even, her idea of love didn’t fully match that of her father’s people. It was one of the things that had put her life in danger. So, while she still labeled the person you selected as your life mate as being your Greatest Weakness, she had no urge to kill them. Which was fortunate for Teal’c because Tony was fairly confident the big Jaffa and the smaller petite Demoness were about as close to in love as either of them would admit.
For Tony, Jack O’Neill was certainly his Greatest Weakness. Once upon a time when he’d first met John Sheppard he’d thought maybe they could be something more than friends. Only, then John’s family took Tony in as a son and brother, and any kind of sexual thoughts completely vanished from his mind. Over the years, he’d wondered if maybe he’d missed something with John. Like, maybe his buddy had been his one chance at happiness, and he’d thrown it away to be a part of the other man’s family. That was until he laid eyes on Jack O’Neill for the first time. In that very second, he knew without a doubt that John Sheppard was not his mate, Greatest Weakness, or anything else romantic or sexual. Jack though… Jesus.
Tony had such a hard-on for the older man both in the physical and mental sense. Over the handful of years, they’d been working together at SGC, Tony had grown to know him quite well, and found they complemented each other quite nicely. It was just so easy to be with Jack, and if he weren’t so sure that the man was horribly in love with Sam Carter, he would have made a move years ago.
Or Daniel Jackson….
He could be in love with Daniel. Tony wasn’t quite sure which one it was. He just knew that he’d seen Jack look at each of them with something more than friendship in his eyes, and talked about them with a level of affection that to Tony suggested he felt something more than just a team. He’d tried to explain it to Leyak once, but she’d just looked at him as if he was a complete moron, before stomping off muttering about stupid humans.
“Hey,” he heard and quickly opened his eyes to see the man who was on his mind standing next to his bed with an expression on his face that Tony couldn’t read.
“Thanks for coming,” Tony said softly rolling his head towards Jack so that he could look at him better.
“I’ll always come when you need me,” Jack replied with a quiet earnest that made Tony frown as he once again couldn’t read his friend as well as he normally could. Before he could question the man though, Doctor Frasier came over interrupting them and giving Jack a reason to escape.
“Lt. Commander DiNozzo, I’m glad to see you finally awake,” Frasier greeted with a smile he always found comforting. Doc Frasier was one of his more favorite people in SGC. She may not be a demonic type warrior like Leyak, but she was badass in her own right. He’d seen her take on both Hammond and O’Neill if she felt her patients needed it, and more often than not she came out on top. At that particular moment though he wished that she had given them a few more moments though. For some reason, he just felt like something had been about to happen, but her arrival had effectively shoved it back into a box to be stored somewhere.
Frowning, he watched Jack slip out of the room after making his excuses. It was only when Frasier spoke that he turned his attention back to her. “He was here almost the entire time you were out.”
“What?” Tony asked focusing his gaze on her.
“Colonel O’Neill,” she clarified as she took his blood pressure and then checked his pupils. “He was at your bedside almost the entire time you were out. If General Hammond hadn’t called the two of us to his office, he would have been here when you woke up. Well, you look mostly ok, but I would feel better if you stayed here overnight. It’s late anyway. Why don’t you go back to sleep, and if you still check out ok in the morning I’ll let you go.”
Nodding, Tony closed his eyes and tried to find a reason why Jack would spend hours at his bedside if they were nothing more than friends. When his mind finally became quiet and still as he slipped into sleep, he still hadn’t come up with anything.
Two weeks later, Tony was making his way up the steps to Jack’s front porch with a bakery box in one hand with a grocery bag hanging from his fingers on the same hand, and a six pack of Jack’s favorite local brew clutched in his other hand. Lifting the six-pack, Tony used one of the bottom corners to push the doorbell, as he tried to swallow down his nerves. Not for the first time that day, he had to tell himself that he was doing the right thing. He’d been over what Frazier said hundreds of times and just couldn’t find a reason why Jack would spend what he’d found out was nearly 20 hours almost non-stop at his bedside in the clinic if he thought of Tony as nothing more than friends.
Before he could drive himself mad with another round of questioning himself in his head, Jack opened the door of his house with a frown and a lifted eyebrow. “AJ?”
“I thought we should celebrate,” Tony said lifting his various offerings higher as if Jack couldn’t already see them.
“Umm,” Jack said as he poked his head out the doorway and looked around. “Am I being punked?”
Tony snorted and tired of standing on the porch, shoved his way past Jack and into the house. Having spent quite a bit of time there watching hockey games, college football, and basketball games, or just shooting the shit in the backyard, Tony was very familiar with where everything was and therefore headed right to the kitchen.
“Sure, come on in. What are we celebrating?” Jack asked trailing after him.
“That depends,” Tony hedged as he put the ice cream in the freezer, and the steaks he’d brought to grill later in the refrigerator along with one of those bags of salad and the beer. That just left a couple of potatoes, which he put on the counter. Turning back to the fridge, he pulled out two of the bottles. Twisting the caps off, he turned back around and handed one bottle to Jack who was watching him with a slightly confused expression on his face.
“The backup answer is National Pie Day,” Tony said carefully before taking a long swallow of beer while Jack continued to study him.
“And the…. Not backup answer is?” Jack prodded in that way of his where he acted like he was less intelligent than he was. Tony though practically had a masters in the same thing, and for that reason had never bought Jack’s dumb routine.
“The fact that my Greatest Weakness saved my life and the lives of my two brothers in everything but blood.”
Jack’s mouth opened, but immediately shut as he stilled before taking a long swallow from the beer bottle himself. Finally, though, he must have decided it was safe to prod further.
“Greatest Weakness with lower case letters as in some weird friendly insult, or capital letters like Teal’c uses when he talks about Leyak?”
“Capital letters,” Tony confirmed as he smiled slightly unable to hold it back any longer. “Definitely capital letters.”
“Huh,” Jack said after taking another swallow. He then moved to set the bottle on the counter just before moving into Tony’s space. “So, does that mean we’ve moved to the portion of the program where we’re asking and telling?”
Tony’s lips twitched again as he looked directly into Jack’s brilliant blue eyes as the hope began to bubble inside of him. “That stupid rule was gotten rid of a while back, remember?”
“Vaguely,” Jack said as he moved to put a hand on the counter on each side of Tony. “Does this mean you’re not harboring some long-distance love for John Sheppard?”
Tony couldn’t help but let out a bark of laugh at the notion of him loving John in that way. Long gone was the insecure boy who’d thought maybe he could love the man who was a better brother than he would have made a lover. “Yes,” Tony confirmed carefully as his lips twitched again. “Does this mean you’re not harboring some lust for Captain Carter or maybe Daniel Jackson?”
This time it was Jack who let loose a chuckle. “Couldn’t make up your mind?”
Tony just shrugged as he forced himself to be brave enough to settle his hands on Jack’s hips. “More like I couldn’t figure out how you feel about them. You look at them with something more than friendship or just a team. I just wasn’t sure what it was.”
“Well, I mean, they’re family, DiNozzo,” Jack pointed out. “My team is really the only family I have. I imagine I look at Sam, Teal’c, and Danny the same way you do Aiden and Spencer Sheppard.”
Tony made a quiet oh sound before Jack got impatient with waiting and leaned in for a kiss. Not wanting to ask more questions now that he was finally getting what he wanted, Tony curled his arms further around Jack’s waist pulling the older man in closer to him. Tilting his head slightly so that he could deepen the kiss, Tony let his mind go quiet as all of his attention shifted to the gloriousness that was the moment he was living.
Later that evening, Tony found himself settled on Jack’s couch with his back resting comfortably against the older man as they watched Ottawa play the Blackhawks. Every so often, Jack would put a kiss on the crook of his neck making Tony smile. During one of the commercial breaks, Tony decided to breach a subject that had been on his mind since he’d gotten a text from Patrick during dinner.
“So, is SG-1 still on stand down?”
“Yup,” Jack confirmed resting his chin on Tony’s shoulder. “You guys are too, right? Teal’c said that he was taking Leyak to Chulak to meet his son and Master Bra’tac.”
“Yeah,” Tony confirmed and decided to just bite the bullet and ask. The worst Jack could say was no. “I don’t suppose you’d be willing to go home with me?”
“Home?” Jack repeated questioningly. “Where is that, exactly?”
“The East Coast,” Tony offered pulling away slightly so that he could turn and look at Jack. “Virginia specifically. Patrick asked if I’d accompany Spencer and Aiden home.”
“Patrick Sheppard?” Jack questioned looking a little uncertain. “I knew you were close with the Sheppard’s, but I didn’t realize you were that close.”
“Patrick Sheppard is basically the father I never had,” Tony explained carefully as he chewed on his lip for a moment. “When Senior basically tossed me into Military School and forgot about me, Patrick picked up the slack. John’s been my best friend for years, and the other three boys, David along with Spencer and Aiden are basically my brothers. I haven’t actually seen John since we left Remington Military Academy for various reasons, but Patrick wouldn’t let me fade into the background. The first Thanksgiving at Ohio State University I didn’t go back home. So, when Christmas break came he made sure to send someone to get me. I owe him a lot, Jack.”
“That’s who you were texting at dinner?” Jack questioned even though Tony guessed the older man was fairly confident of the answer already.
“Yeah,” Tony replied before shrugging. “We’ve been mostly playing phone tag for the last two weeks. He asked that I come home because he wants to make sure I’m ok. When I told him about you he… He just wants to meet you. Patrick is… protective. It’s a little weird.”
“Weird how?” Jack asked leaning back against the corner of the couch and Tony leaned against the back as he tried to figure out how to answer. “No matter how many years it’s been since I’ve seen Senior, it’s always odd to me that some kind of father figure cares enough about me that he worries when I’m hurt and wants to meet the man I love. I don’t… I don’t always know how to take it. Fortunately, Patrick is used to it by now and has never been anything but patient.”
“So, this is basically the meeting of the parent?”
“Basically,” Tony confirmed smiling, “but I’m fairly confident you’ll survive.”
“Any man who can save the planet on multiple occasions can survive Patrick Sheppard’s parental protectiveness.”
“Says you,” Jack grumped before nodding as the game resumed. “Book us tickets. Guess it’s time I meet the great Patrick Sheppard.”
Smiling big, Tony leaned in and kissed Jack’s cheek before he turned back around to get comfortable again. He’d tell Jack in the morning that they were taking the family jet.