All I Have to Do Is Dream

Jack sighed as he walked up the steps to his front door, resisting the urge to rub his face and head directly for the fridge for a beer. Technically, it was after work so there was no reason why he shouldn't -- but it was also 7 a.m. and he always felt a little weird having beer before noon.

Unless of course he'd been up all night drinking, and how many years had it been since he'd done that, anyway? Too many. Maybe when Justin had gotten himself engaged to be married and they'd all headed down to the bar for a few rounds. Jack vaguely remembered getting home that night while the sun was coming up.

So, maybe not years then, since Justin's party had been last November. But still. No beer at home before noon unless the shift had been a bad one.

Administrative headaches did not count as bad ones.

Jack made his way into the kitchen and opened the fridge, taking out a slice of pizza, resolutely ignoring the six pack. He could hear Sam's voice in his head, arguing that who cared if it was seven in the morning when you'd worked the last 24 hours.

Nope, Jack thought. Not gonna do it.

He closed the fridge door and considered warming the pizza up, then just took a bite and carried the slice with him to the living room. He got halfway to the couch when he stopped, and smiled. Walking quietly towards the couch, he peeked over the back at the figure lying on it. Daniel was sound asleep, glasses still perched on his nose, the book he'd been reading lying on the floor where it had fallen out of his hand.

He started to reach out and shake Daniel gently awake when he caught sight of the book's title: Perspectives on Jungian Dream Psychology.

"Oh for crying out loud, Daniel!"

On the couch, Daniel started, then opened his eyes, sitting up and looking around, half-wildly. He saw Jack and narrowed his eyes in confusion. "Morning, Jack. Thanks for being the alarm."

Jack ignored his irritation and gestured at the book. "I thought you weren't seeing T anymore."

Daniel looked even more confused, then he glanced down and his face cleared. That expression was one Jack knew far too well. Daniel never could pull off the innocent look. "I'm not, I'm just reading up--"

"I'm not going to ask him again," Jack warned. "You and all his other doctors said he has a clean bill of health. The nightmares stopped, Brae is fine, T is fine, everybody is fine." Jack gave Daniel a challenging stare.

Daniel stood up, adjusted his glasses slightly, then opened his mouth.

"No," Jack said.

Daniel blinked in surprise, then visibly struggled to control a smile. Jack waited until Daniel got his 'determined' face back on, and let him get as far as "Jack, I just want to know more about--"

"He said no, Daniel," Jack said, for the fifth or twentieth time. "Can't you psychoanalyze one of your real patients' dreams?"

Daniel nodded, and Jack had a feeling that several of Daniel's regulars had been doing dream analysis lately. He didn't know whether or not to feel sorry for them. Daniel was -- as far as he'd ever heard from anybody -- a brilliant psychiatrist. But he did tend to get a little... obsessive at times when something caught his interest. He didn't think a little dream journal whatever would hurt anybody who voluntarily went to see Daniel, but T had stopped visiting him, and had expressed no interest in resuming the visits.

Jack wondered sometimes if he were supposed to be on Daniel's side, what with Daniel being his boyfriend and T just being a friend. But he happened to agree with T on this one -- and besides, Daniel always seemed to enjoy arguing with him. As long as it wasn't about who stole the damn blankets, Jack rather enjoyed it, too.

Because Daniel was the one who stole the blankets. Every single time. And no amount of photographic evidence had persuaded him. Explaining why he'd wanted a camera set-up in the bedroom had been a conversation he'd never expected to have with Sam, but so far she'd kept the secret.

He'd had to give her a copy of the photos, Daniel sound asleep, wrapped up in three blankets. Hopefully Daniel never figured out why Sam was always on the verge of giggling when she saw him.

Jack realised Daniel had been arguing for the last few minutes, and tuned back in.

"...if I could just ask him a few questions. This other world his mind created is really fascinating, Jack." Daniel paused for a breath and Jack interrupted, trying to sound like he'd been listening the whole time.

"And he said no, Daniel. That's the final word."

He half-expected Daniel to finally concede defeat. Instead Daniel just nodded. "But doesn't it make you wonder? If a dream seems real, then how do we ever really know what's a dream and what isn't? How do we judge something if the only perspective we have -- or can have -- is within our own minds? How can you step outside--"

Jack held up a hand. Daniel stopped, surprised. "Breakfast?" Jack asked.

"Um. OK, sure. Unless you're asking me to cook, in which case I just woke up, rather rudely as a matter of fact. And I'm pretty sure it's your turn, anyway."

"I was thinking pancakes," Jack said, heading back towards the kitchen. Daniel was really wound up this morning, and Jack had been living with him long enough to know that he'd just have to ride this one out.

And that was going to require more breakfast than one slice of cold pizza.

"All right." Daniel followed him, then sat down on the barstool beside the counter. Then he took a breath and dove back into his lecture.

Jack half-listened as he got out the pancake mix and griddle. Most of the Daniel's words made perfect sense, until you strung them together the way Daniel was doing. Then they became long, complicated academic phrases which probably meant lots of things to other psychiatrists. Jack just nodded occasionally and said "No, Daniel" every time he heard his name and the words 'could you just.'

Enough did sink in, however, that Jack found himself interrupting again. "So if you can't tell what's a dream and what's real, how do you know that this isn't a dream?"

Daniel grinned, triumphantly. "Exactly! Dr. Phedmyer has a theory that it's all a matter of perspective, but that's exactly my point. How do you get outside your own perspective, your own mind, to see what's real and what's a dream?"

Jack waited, then asked again. "So how do you know this isn't a dream?"

Daniel shrugged. "You don't. Not really. Not until you wake up."

Jack laughed. "If this is a dream, then I should be able to fix the back porch by just thinking it, right? I don't have to call Davis down here and argue with him about how many days it takes to nail a few boards together."

"Sure," Daniel said, in a tone that said he was indulging him. That was a tone Jack knew far too well -- along with everything else about Daniel, he thought. They'd only been living together about five years, maybe six, but sometimes he felt like he knew Daniel better than anyone else he'd ever known.

Or maybe it was just that they fit together so well. Very few people knew about he and Daniel, Sam and a handful of others. They weren't even really living together -- Daniel maintained an apartment in town and spent the night there every so often. Less often lately, Jack realised. Jack tried to remember the last time Daniel had spent the night at his own place.

"Hey," Jack said, interrupting Daniel again. Daniel paused, and Jack wondered vaguely what he'd been yammering about. "Whose dream is this, anyway? Yours or mine?"

Daniel paused, and there was a soft, and very strange smile on his face. "I think it would be mine," he said, then he reached over for the plate of pancakes Jack was holding and set it down, picking up a fork and he began to eat.

the end