Summary: Eggs, bunnies, and Easter egg hunts help to unite two very different men as their friendship grows and evolves.
It was Easter week, not that Daniel Jackson had thought about it. Holidays were just regular days to him, and it had been that way for years. Sure, on Abydos he'd taken part in a few Abydonian celebrations, but even there he mostly stayed on the sidelines, smiling and following Sha're's lead.
The archaeologist looked around, getting his bearings. He'd only been back from Abydos for a month and a half and sometimes when he awoke, he still reached over for his wife, only to find her gone. Then he'd realize he was resting on a manufactured mattress and that would bring him crashing back to his current reality.
~I'm at Jack's. I wonder why he hasn't kicked me out yet.~
Daniel stood up, yawning as he stretched. Jack had done all he could to make his younger friend feel welcome, but since practically no one on Earth had made him feel that way since the death of his parents, it was hard for the young man to believe that he wasn't a nuisance. Not even the fact that Jack had happily ensconced Daniel in the spare room was enough to overcome his feeling that his presence was a burden and a bother to the colonel.
After a visit to the restroom, the sweatsuit-clad, shaggy-haired scientist headed downstairs, barefooted. He was still half asleep and it hadn't occurred to him to put on any other clothes.
As he approached the kitchen nook area, Daniel blinked a couple of times.
~Okay, that's officially strange.~
"Decided to get up and see the light of day, did ya now, Dannyboy?" Jack chirped in his best Irish brogue while wearing a huge grin. He watched as Daniel yawned and continued to stare at the objects on the table. "Haven't you ever seen eggs and baskets before?"
"Daniel; and, uh, not that many and not in one place. Jack, what are you doing?" Daniel asked. Reaching a hand to scratch his head, he just continued to blink at the display. ~It's not like he's ... playing with bullets. That I might understand, maybe.~
"It's Easter, Danny."
"Easter," Jack affirmed. "Daniel, Easter. You know, Peter Cottontail, big ham dinners, and Easter egg hunts."
"Easter egg ... <yawn> ... hunts?"
"Come on, Daniel. You're younger than me. Remember scurrying around the backyard, looking for eggs in all sorts of crazy places?"
"No, not really. Egypt, remember?"
"Are you really gonna stand there and tell me that your folks ignored holidays just because you lived in sandy land?"
Jack laughed as he stood up. He walked over to his teammate, pulled out a chair, and practically forced him to sit down.
"Holidays are great," the colonel proclaimed as he headed for the coffee pot and poured a mug full of hot Folgers coffee. "So no Egyptian egg hunts?"
"I don't know," Daniel sighed. "I don't remember all that much."
Jack looked over at Daniel and just observed the younger man.
~There's a lot of hurt in you, Danny. There is in me, too. Maybe that's why we've bonded. Geez, we certainly don't have a lot in common, but we need each other, don't we?~ All of sudden, Jack realized what he'd just thought. ~I'm out of my friggin' mind.~
"What if the eggs break?" Daniel asked innocently, eyeing the eggs currently in a basket in front of him.
~Okay, he really doesn't remember anything about Easter,~ Jack opined. "They're hard-boiled."
"Oh, okay, that makes sense," the archaeologist returned, nodding as he folded his arms across his chest, his naivete over the eggs causing him to feel out of place yet again. ~Good one, Jackson.~
"I'm glad today's an off day. It gives me a chance to get these done," Jack stated as he placed the coffee mug along with a plate full of food on the table in front of Daniel. Seeing the younger man just staring at the breakfast sausage, hashed browns, and muffin, Jack just shook his head. "I get that Easter baskets may be foreign to you, Daniel, but this is something a little more identifiable -- food. Eat it."
"I, uh ... how'd you fix it so fast?"
"Magic," Jack deadpanned. Then he laughed, "The grill keeps anything good and hot. Eat."
"Coffee," Daniel insisted, though after he drank his first sip, he grimaced.
Seeing the frown, Jack stated forcibly, "Daniel, there's nothing wrong with that coffee."
"No, no, of course ... not," Daniel lied, not wanting to seem ungrateful for Jack's kindness and courtesy.
"You don't need that premium stuff all the time."
"No, I guess not," the younger man agreed, looking apprehensively down at the mug in his hands, containing so-called coffee
"It won't kill you to drink it. It's better than what you'd get at the mess."
"That's not saying much," Daniel responded dryly about the commissary's coffee at Cheyenne Mountain.
The still yawning scientist took another sip from his mug because any coffee was better than no coffee. The next few minutes were quiet with the archaeologist slowly eating the food Jack had given him, but mostly drinking his coffee in order to wake up and stimulate his genius brain, though he tried not to think about just how intelligent he actually was. The more the seconds ticked away, the more entranced he became in Jack's project. He watched as his friend diligently went about his task of decorating the eggs.
"Why what?" Jack asked, glancing up briefly to look at Daniel.
"Why are you doing ... that?" Daniel asked, pointing at the egg Jack was currently coloring.
The colonel took a breath and looked at the egg while continuing to paint it.
"Sometimes I help out at some of the children's shelters in town. There's one run by a sweet Irish doll. I talked to her the other day and she said they had enough funds to give the kids either a good ham dinner for Easter or a fun egg hunt, but not both, so I told her to get the ham, and I'd bring the baskets by so they could have a hunt on Sunday. I want to get these done tonight since we have a mission tomorrow; just to be safe."
"That's really a ... a nice thing to do."
Jack glanced over at the counter where he'd placed the last O'Neill family photo that was taken before his son, Charlie, died.
Daniel followed his friend's gaze, realizing the little boy's picture was now on the counter. He'd noted before that Jack moved it around a lot. He was never sure where the pictures, one of Jack with his wife, Sara, and Charlie together, and one of Charlie alone, holding a baseball bat, would end up being at any given moment.
~Maybe it's his way of remembering his son,~ the archaeologist supposed inwardly.
Quietly, the guilt-ridden father replied, "It makes me feel more connected; Charlie got a kick out of trying to outsmart me on where the eggs were hidden." Jack took a revitalizing breath, not wanting to get caught up in the massive amount of regret that he carried with him 24/7. "Molly's kids will find the eggs and end up with a big basket and a ... crap."
"You're giving them crap?" Daniel teased, earning him a glare from his SG team leader.
"I forgot to buy bunnies. You can't have a proper Easter without bunnies."
"Jack, what are they going to do with rabbits?" Daniel asked as visions of rabbits and children running wild danced before him.
"*Stuffed* bunnies," Jack clarified, shaking his head at the odd question.
"That puts me off schedule," Jack sighed, quickly looking down at his wristwatch as he contemplated his next move. "I still have time. I'm not dropping them off until 2200 hours anyway."
"Twenty-two ... ten?"
"Good, Daniel. There's hope for you yet." Jack resisted the urge to reach over and pat Daniel's head. ~He's gotta be joking with me.~
Both men smiled slightly, aware that, indeed, the archaeologist had just been teasing.
"Why so late?" Daniel questioned.
"We don't want the kiddies to see what the Easter Bunny is bringing," Jack explained. Having finished his latest egg, he stood up and went to the sink. Washing his hands, he stated, "I'd better go get the bunnies now."
Just as Jack was headed out the door, the phone rang. It was Sergeant Davis, notifying the colonel that he was needed on base to assist with some team reassignments. It was the price Jack paid for being General Hammond's second-in-command, especially in these early days with personnel still arriving and procedures being scrutinized and finalized.
"Crap!" Jack exclaimed as he hung up the phone. "This could take hours." He stared at the baskets and the dozens of unpainted eggs. "Well, there's an 'or' out there somewhere and I'll just have to find it before 2200. Later."
Two hours later, Daniel, now dressed in a baggy plaid shirt and equally baggy pants, stared at Jack's unfinished project. He picked up one of the decorated items, his blue eyes boring into the brightly painted egg.
"Danny, it's the Easter Bunny," an excited voice rang out in his head, only he couldn't quite make it out. The sounds were light and airy. ~Female,~ he thought. He frowned, not able to distinguish more sounds and sights that were jumbled in his mind. "Wow, that's a lot of eggs, Son."
That was a male voice. It had to be his dad, but it had been so long since Daniel had heard the sounds of his parents in his mind. So many years had gone by since he'd been a happy little boy, loved by Melburn and Claire Jackson. He struggled to bring the memory out, but he couldn't do it; at least, not all the way. What he did remember, though, was running through a tomb one morning, excavating for eggs.
~Gawd. That must have been Easter.~
Putting the decorated egg back, Daniel reached for the instructions on how to prepare the eggs and then how to paint them. He'd never done it before in his life; at least, not that he could recall. Slowly, he silently began to bridge a gap between his childhood and the loneliness he had felt ever since his parents died.
It was after seven that night before Jack returned home, carrying with him bags full of stuffed bunny rabbits.
"Daniel, a little help here," the colonel called out as he kicked the door close.
"How cute," Daniel chuckled as he approached the entranceway and saw bunnies sticking out of bags.
"Just grab of couple of the bags, will ya?"
"I thought you would have been back hours ago," Daniel stated as he took hold of bags.
"There was a bunny shortage," Jack explained. "I think I've been to every store in Colorado Springs." As he placed the bags on the sofa, he added, "I need to rock 'n' roll to get those eggs ..." As he'd turned to face the kitchen, he was surprised to see dozens of decorated eggs lining the lengthy counter. "Someone's been busy."
With a shrug, Daniel explained, "Children are often disappointed. I figured Easter shouldn't be another one of those times."
Jack smiled and nodded at his friend, before turning back to pick up a bag of bunnies.
"Okay, one bunny to a basket, and make sure you take off the tags," Jack instructed as he turned and handed the archaeologist one of the bags.
For a second, both men held a handle of the bag and they smiled, a silent acknowledgement of understanding and awareness of both their differences and how together they were about to help some orphans have a happy holiday.
When the friends were done with their task and the Easter baskets were complete, Daniel helped Jack load them into the truck. Though Jack asked him to accompany him to the shelter, Daniel refused, citing only that he was tired and giving no other reason for not going.
"Thanks for the help," Jack spoke as he slipped onto the driver's seat.
Right on time, Jack drove away, happy that he was able to make his Easter delivery.
Easter morning, Daniel arose about ten o'clock to the aroma of bacon. After showering and dressing casually, he entered the kitchen, smiling at Jack who was standing in front of the stove, perfecting his dishes.
Jack looked over and smiled as he greeted, "Good morning, Dannyboy."
"Daniel," the archaeologist corrected. ~Why does he keep doing that?~
"Great," Daniel replied dryly, though he headed for the coffee pot. With his mug full, he sipped his brew. "Hey, this is good."
"It's your fancy favorite," Jack responded.
"Thank you, Jack."
"I had a weak moment," the older man teased. "Breakfast is about to be served. Have a seat."
"You know I'm really not that ..." Daniel stopped, seeing dark brown eyes making a stern order. "Actually, I'm starved."
After a hearty breakfast, or perhaps brunch would have been a better word for it, the friends kicked back for a while. Jack put on some opera music and just settled back in his chair, occasionally glancing over at the picture of his family back when he had a family.
Meanwhile, Daniel was deep into a book about the Mayans. He only stopped reading when he needed a coffee refill.
Shortly before three in the afternoon, Jack stood up from his chair, rubbed his hands together, and called out, "Danny, it's time for the Easter Bunny."
"Excuse me?" Daniel asked, looking up from his book and not that eager to leave his comfortable spot on the sofa.
"It's a beautiful day outside."
"It's not exactly Egypt," Daniel returned about the fifty-seven-degree outdoor temperature. "It's usually in the low to mid seventies there right now."
"Don't worry," Jack responded. "You'll warm up."
"Why doesn't that make me feel better?" Daniel questioned rhetorically, watching as his friend walked over and literally grabbed the book from his hands. "Hey!"
Sensing he had no choice, Daniel gave in, followed Jack outside, and then questioned, "Okay, why are we out here in the cold?"
"Even number; the number of hours in a day; some say it means a person is emotional and ingenious, though actually they usually just say eccentric; biblically ..."
"Daniel, stop your brain," Jack ordered, resulting in several blinks of consternation from his archaeologist. "I'm guessing that your parents did something to celebrate Easter, which means you've gone twenty-four years without searching for eggs."
"Jack, I'm not going to look for eggs." Daniel saw his friend's smirk. He wasn't going to get out of this. "Fine."
As Daniel headed down the couple of deck steps, Jack called out, "Daniel."
Daniel turned in time to see Jack reach over for a woven object.
"Gawd," Daniel sighed, taking the basket and stepping down into the yard. ~This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever done. I'm a grown man and I'm searching for freakin' eggs in another grown man's backyard; and he's a colonel in the United States military.~ He stopped dead in his tracks and nodded once. ~That explains it all.~
"Cold!" Jack called out, causing Daniel to turn back in confusion. "You're cold. Nothing there."
~A child. He's a grown up child. He's leading us to strange worlds all across the galaxy, and he's nothing more than a child,~ Daniel observed to himself.
"Hot, baby. Oh, yeah, burning up," Jack called out.
Daniel's head dropped. He just couldn't believe he was doing this. Never the less, he stooped down and picked up the egg that he could see peeking out from beneath a plant. Jack's home had a lot of plants all around it, giving it a very country feel and also a ton of privacy from the neighbors. It was a large lot, too, so there were a number of places where the eggs could be hidden.
~We'll be out here all afternoon,~ Daniel groaned.
By the time he had found his sixth egg, however, Daniel had ceased his internal griping and was getting more into the spirit of the game. He hadn't let go of his resistance; rather, it had just transitioned to fun, though he hadn't fully realized that as yet.
"Jack, where is it?" the archaeologist asked, feeling helpless. "Are you sure you put twenty-four out here?"
The hunter had been looking for his final oval prey for over fifteen minutes, and he'd already combed the entire yard in the processing of finding the first twenty-three.
"Daniel, I hid twenty-four eggs for a reason, one egg for every missed year," Jack stated confidently. "Keep looking."
The egg hunter was doubtful, but once again he knew he had no choice but to keep looking. Fifteen more minutes passed, and Daniel had retraced his steps.
The colonel walked out onto the lawn, claiming, "It's there." It was beginning to cool down and he started to put his hands into his pocket. "I know that it's ... oh."
"Oh?" Daniel questioned.
Slowly pulling his hand out, the colonel revealed the last egg and explained sheepishly, "I remember now. I heard one of the neighbors and put the last egg in my pocket."
"You've had an egg in your pocket all this time?" Daniel asked incredulously. "You mean, while you were listening to Tosca, you had an egg in your pocket?"
"Yep," Jack confirmed.
"A half-hour out here in this, this refrigerated air, and you had that last egg in your pocket the entire time?"
"Yep," the colonel reaffirmed. "Well, Dannyboy, good ... Daniel, what are you doing?" Jack began to back away. His friend was walking purposefully in his direction, and he'd just grabbed an egg out of his basket. "Danny, they're ..."
"Hard-boiled, like your head, O'Neill," Daniel claimed strongly as he threw the egg towards Jack's chest, knowing the hard-boiled missile would bounce off the other man's sweater without actually harming him. Seeing the result, he blinked in surprise. "Jack?"
Jack stared at the broken egg that was dripping down his brand new pullover sweater.
"I didn't have time to cook them," Jack replied tersely. "Couldn't you tell when you picked them up?"
"I ... well, I just ... ah ... Jack!"
Jack leered as he began to go after the other man. Daniel began to back up, but he was unprepared for the attack and found himself on the ground and with not one, but two of his eggs pressed into his shirt.
"Now we're even," Jack said with a grin, patting Daniel's cheeks with the palm of his hands, leaving a gooey trail as he stood and headed for the house.
"Ah, Jack," Daniel called out as he got up, covertly picking up one of the eggs in the process.
Daniel walked up to the colonel until he was in his personal space. With their eyes connecting, the archaeologist pulled his friend's belt towards him, while sliding an egg between Jack's pants and underwear.
"You wouldn't dare," Jack challenged.
"Oops, sorry," Daniel mused after smashing the egg.
"You're so dead," the colonel threatened as the chase started.
It was a messy and wild time as the two grownup friends played, destroying all but one of the eggs in the process. They laughed and completely wore themselves out in their friendly chase.
"Geez, Danny, that was fun."
"Yeah, it was," Daniel admitted. "But we're a mess."
"You want the shower first?" Jack asked.
The country-style home might have had a huge backyard, but it was an oddity inside, including the fact that there was only one bathroom, and that was also where the lone shower was located. Naturally, it was in the master bedroom. Jack had never understood why the house had been built that way, but then again, it hadn't ever been a problem, either, seeing as he had only ever lived there by himself and until Daniel, no one had ever gotten any further than the entranceway and, occasionally, the living room.
"It's your house."
"Go on," Jack instructed.
"No, really, it should be you," Daniel returned. "That has to feel weird," he said, staring at Jack's crotch.
"Actually, it has potential."
Daniel just stared at Jack in disbelief and replied, "I don't want to know."
Jack chuckled, patted Daniel on his back as he walked by, and said, "Give me ten minutes. While you're showering, I'll check on dinner."
"Check on dinner?"
"We're having an Easter feast, Dannyboy," Jack explained with a grin.
"Da... okay, Jack," Daniel agreed, giving up on stopping Jack from calling him 'Dannyboy', at least for today. It was hard enough for him to get used to someone calling him 'Danny' again, but 'Dannyboy' was just not acceptable. He thought they'd already worked this out last month, too, but apparently, Jack had other ideas. ~A child: he's just a child in a man's skin.~
As Jack walked towards the patio doors, he thought to himself, ~He's got spunk, that's for sure. He hides behind that shy exterior, but there's a lot more going on inside Daniel than he wants me, or any of us, to know. I'll get it out of him one of these days. Time, and a few more egg fights, should do it.~
Late that night, after they'd finished a scrumptious Easter meal, the friends had enjoyed watching a classic movie, "Easter Parade." Now they were sitting back in the living room. Jack was in his chair, but he was seated sideways, his legs over the right arm of the furniture. He was drinking a beer, the perfect way to top off most any evening in his opinion.
Daniel was on the sofa, lying down and staring at his Easter basket, empty now except for one blue bunny that Jack had placed inside it earlier and the lone decorated egg that had survived the Easter egg bash fest. He felt a little funny as he stared at the stuffed animal. Apparently, Jack had made a special shopping trip to find it, something Daniel was sure of because he didn't remember seeing this particular stuffed animal when they'd put together the Easter baskets for Molly's shelter.
"I think I remember," Daniel stated softly after some more quiet time had passed by. "They hid eggs in the pyramids and the tombs, and sometimes just in the sand. I don't remember the details, but I can feel it. I think I remember."
"Happy Easter, Danny."
Daniel smiled over at his friend and replied from his heart, "Happy Easter, Jack, and ... thank you."
"To the Easter Bunny," Jack returned with a smile, holding out his beer bottle towards the sofa.
"To the Easter Bunny," Daniel agreed, reaching for his beer and pretending to tap Jack's bottle.
Easter 1997 had been a warm one for the two men who were so opposite and yet who were bonding more with every passing day. Perhaps Jack was right and they were united now because they were lonely and needed each other. Whatever the reason, Jack and Daniel were becoming closer as their friendship evolved and solidified and both believed that was a very good thing.
~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
Author's Note: Please feel free to email me with your comments or suggestions; constructive criticism, things you'd like to see, etc. A chronological listing of my universe is at http://orrymain.com