At first it used to annoy me.
Maybe that's an understatement - it used to bug the hell out of me! I mean, what did he think he was doing? I'd survived perfectly well without his help for the first thirty-something years of my life without his help, so what was to stop me from carrying on the same way?
At first, it felt like he didn't respect me, didn't trust my ability to look after myself, and some might say that was with good reason.
I never meant to get myself killed. I suppose very few people ever do, if you think about it - I'm not talking about being suicidal, I'm talking more about the 'oops, I never thought that would give way' sort of thing.... And I was definitely in the latter category. Every time I've died has been the result of a misjudgement in some way or other and absolutely unintentional.
So I guess Jack has good reason for acting so protective of me.
If I hear the words 'Daniel, you're with me' once more, I'm not sure what I'll do.
I try to tell myself that Jack has my best interests at heart, that he only wants to make sure I'm safe, so I can do my part of the job and get the hell out of wherever we are, but that doesn't make it any less annoying.
Not that I'm complaining about the opportunity to be near Jack. No, that's one of the few benefits of this 'protecting flaky scientists' campaign that Jack seems to be the founder member of. The way his eyes rake over me, assessing me, warming me in a way I never thought I'd experience ever again.
And since I realised that he feels the same way about me as I do about him, that kind of makes his mile-wide protective streak a little more bearable.
It all started soon after Apophis attacked Earth.
Those days were some of the worst I'd ever lived through, worse at times even than losing my parents, or when Apophis took Sha're from me. There was so much going on, it seemed as though I experienced every emotion at least once, and some of them were so painful, feelings I'd never thought I'd experience again.
I'd been denying my feelings for Jack to myself for so long, my conscious mind telling me we were just the best of friends, that the look I saw on the face of the 'other' Jack, when I ended up in another reality, cut me so deeply I felt numb.
That Jack didn't know me, had never known me, and for some reason I didn't have time to think about back then, that hurt. It felt wrong, more wrong than anything else in that reality - I had to stifle a surge of jealousy when Catherine told me that this Jack was engaged to Sam Carter, a feeling so primal I was a little embarassed at it.
So, when I finally got back, having somehow persuaded another Jack to trust me, the way that 'my' Jack then wouldn't back me up when I told him what I'd seen... Well, that was another betrayal of sorts.
I'd always known that I craved Jack's approval, that a word of praise from him (all the more valuable because of it's rarity) could make me grin like an idiot, so it was painful for me when I realised that he didn't really believe me. That it took the combined persuasive powers of the three of us rankled with me - I wanted him to trust me like I trust him, like I've always trusted him.
It took me a while to recover from that mission. We came close, closer than I even like to contemplate, to complete disaster, a repeat of what I'd almost lived and died through in the other reality. And for a while, after I came back from being presumed dead again, even though I managed to cling onto life with the most tenuous grip possible this time, I couldn't escape from my friends.
It was like they didn't want to let me out of their sight, in case they somehow woke up and discovered I wasn't really there after all. The other times it's been similar, I suppose, so I try to bear it with as much resignation as possible.
Jack was the worst offender, though I guess that was only to be expected.
Every time I thought back to that mission, all I could think of was him bidding me goodbye silently, his hand lingering on my cheek. And the strangest things made me remember it.
We were having a barbecue, a few weeks after we got back. This was just after Sam had been taken over by that Tok'ra, and so we were all spending a little more time together than usual, trying to make her feel like she was accepted, that we still considered her a part of us.
It was the smell of the charring meat that made that particular flashback happen. Jack had took his eye off the grill and the steak he had been cooking had caught alight, that peculiar sweet smell of charred flesh and meat.
And all I could think of was being hit by that staff weapon on Apophis' ship, feeling the blast slam me against the corridor wall, the way the MP5's bucked in my hands as I fired them, and calling for Jack.
I must have blacked out for a moment, there in Jack's back yard, as the next thing I recall is lying on my back, all three of my teammates looking worried as they loomed over me. Then Jack's touching me, his hand on my face once more, the warmth of it reaching straight through to my heart, his eyes full of the emotions he had yet to share with me.
In the end it was the sarcophagus that brought it all about....
I was an idiot, though I didn't see it at the time. I was so swept up in what I was feeling that I forgot all about my friends, and even when I could see the pain I was causing, I was too high to care.
That experience was the final straw, in so many ways.
I couldn't expect that Jack could ever trust me again, even agree to let me off-planet. He would have been well within his rights to do what General Hammond had wanted from the start and ground me, keeping me as a consultant to the SGC. I would have hated it, hated the feeling of impotence that it would have given me, when I had clung to looking for Sha're as a reason for going on.
And maybe Jack knew that.
Whatever his motivation, he looked past what I'd done, even managed to look past our little confrontation in the storage room, trusting me again when he had no idea what I would do.
Considering some of the experiences that Jack has lived through, that makes him a better man than I am. I'm not sure I could have trusted him again had the tables been turned. Still, the time between my coming down from the sarcophagus-induced high I was on, and going back to Shyla's planet, I did a lot of thinking. That decision of Jack's made up, for me, for the betrayal I'd felt when Kinsey came and tried to close us down.
He told he had been worried that I was getting sucked in by Shyla, and that was before the sarcophagus really started to have an effect on me. And then he laughed, saying that curls really didn't suit me. I wish I knew what the hell that meant!
Not that things have all been plain sailing since then.
It took me a long time to admit to Jack how I felt about him - screwing up my courage to tell him was the most terrifying thing I've ever done, and I've had some scary experiences. Even knowing how he feels about me didn't seem to make it any easier. And he keeps telling me, one way or another - Jack's not always the most vocal of people, able to say a lot without saying very much at all where his emotions are concerned.
So I live with being told what to do, tolerate Jack needing to protect me, even when it annoys me greatly, because now I understand the motivation that lies behind it. He wants to protect me, like he wants to protect Sam and Teal'c, because we're his responsibility. And he wants to protect me, because he loves me, and he wants the best for me, even though that might mean that he has to suffer to ensure I'm safe.
I don't like it, but I've learned to live with it. I figure that at least this way, we have a chance of seeing our way through all of this and coming out the other side.