Category: Pre-Slash, Angst, Drama, H/C of the Mental Kind, Smarm, Missing Scene/Epilogue
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Spoilers: Cold Lazarus
Written: July 29-31, August 5-6,14, 2005
Summary: Unity is more than energy. In other words, Jack and Daniel, before, during, and after the mission where they meet the energy crystals.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
2) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: Linda, QuinGem, Claudia!
“Daniel!” Jack knocked on the door to the spare room. He
looked away for a moment, shaking his head. “DANIEL!” he shouted,
banging on the door more forcefully. ~He wouldn't know daylight
if his life depended on it.~ Opening the door without invitation,
Jack chuckled lightly. ~If I were a woman, I'd say he was
cute.~ Jack grimaced. ~What the heck am I saying?~
Daniel was sprawled out over his bed, resting on his abdomen, his head turned to the side. His shaggy hair covered almost all of his face, and as he breathed, wisps of the silky hair moved with every breath. The sheets had mostly come off, and his bare feet were dangling off the edge of the king-size bed. His pajama top had become scrunched up around his chest, and his bottoms hung low, revealing skin along his backside. His left arm was curved so that his hand rested near his chin. In fact, Daniel's thumb was so close to his mouth that for a split-second it looked to Jack as if the younger man had been sucking his thumb.
“Rise and shine, Daniel!” Jack said in another effort to wake the young man. When there was no response, he shouted, “COFFEE'S ON!”
“Wha...what?” Daniel mumbled, his eyelids fluttering open.
“Coffee's on. Get up!” Jack said as he gently tapped Daniel's arm.
“That's my name. Now, what's yours?”
Daniel blinked as he attempted to process the question while waking up. It wasn't working.
Jack laughed, sighing as Daniel's eyelids closed again.
“You leave me no choice, Doctor Jackson.” Jack walked out of the spare room, returning a minute later. Staring at the archaeologist, he said, “This will help you more than it will me!” Laughing, he poured the cup of water on Daniel's face.
“WHERE'S THE FIRE?” Daniel shouted as he jerked up, turning over. As he surveyed his surroundings, his breathing settled and he pulled his legs up to his chest, moving to sit at the center of the bed. Wiping the water from his face, and trying to remain calm, he asked, “Jack, why did you do that?”
“Coffee's on.” Leaning over and slapping Daniel on the thigh, Jack said, “Take a shower, and get dressed. We have a mission today.”
“You know - when we go through that round, circular thing; takes us to other worlds. The Stargate?” Jack teased.
“Oh, yeah,” Daniel replied weakly as he struggled to deal with a 5 a.m. wake-up call.
Jack laughed heartily as he walked out of the room.
“Coffee,” Daniel grumbled as he walked into the kitchen.
“Right there in the coffee maker, Danny,” Jack informed the still-groggy archaeologist.
“Oh, yeah, right. Gawd, who created this time of day?” Daniel asked rhetorically.
“That's up for debate, but if you really want to discuss it,” Jack teased as he put the toast onto a plate.
“Jack, don't be glib,” Daniel responded as he sank down onto one of the table chairs.
Daniel closed his eyes and savored the aroma of the coffee. Slowly, the waking man brought the cup towards his lips, sighing with pleasure as he ran the cup along the length of his mouth. With great care, Daniel moved the cup up to his nose and inhaled deeply. He smiled, and finally, he opened his mouth to take a sip. Daniel ran the liquid around his mouth his tongue, relishing the taste. He let out a little moan as he lapped up another sip. At last, he took a long swallow, then another, and then one more. He let out a contented and long-lasting sound. With a nod of his head, Daniel then drank the entire cup of coffee.
“Gawd, that was good,” Daniel sighed contently.
Flexing his shoulders, Daniel looked up at Jack who was standing completely still, staring at him. In each of Jack's hands was a plate, full of sausage, eggs, and toast, but at the moment, the older man seemed to have forgotten he was even holding anything. Jack was as still as a statue.
“For crying out loud, Daniel, you'd think you'd just had the most erotic night of sex you'd ever had in your life. It's a blasted cup of coffee, not a pair of ..”
Jack put the plates on the table and sat down, still not sure what to make of Daniel's coffee obsession.
“I know you like coffee, Danny, but that was ... was ...”
“Was what?” Daniel asked innocently.
“Never mind. Geez!”
“Jack, what's wrong with you?” Daniel asked as he got up to refill his coffee cup.
“Me? I'm not the one who treats a cup of coffee as if it was an orgasm.” Jack heard the crash and knew Daniel had just dropped his coffee mug, breaking it. “The broom and the dust pan are in the corner, by the other door. I had to sweep up some crumbs this morning.”
“Sorry, Jack,” Daniel apologized.
“It's just a cup.”
When Daniel was done, he sat back down at the table and looked at the plate of food in front of him. He smiled.
“Danny, you're supposed to eat breakfast, not admire it. Then again, a man who treats coffee like ...”
“Jack, forget the coffee already,” Daniel warned.
Jack laughed and nodded as Daniel began to eat his food.
“Thank you, Jack,” Daniel spoke appreciatively.
“It's just food.”
“It's Belgian waffles; my absolute favorite. Thank you.”
“You're welcome,” Jack replied, eating another bite himself. ~Orgasmic coffee. Geez, we need to get Sha're back. This boy is in trouble!~
“Daniel, you're late,” Jack chided at the base of the ramp.
“Sorry,” Daniel apologized. “I had to ... I was ... I ...” Seeing Jack's glare, Daniel uttered a meeker, “Sorry,” once again.
“One of these days, Daniel, we're going to leave you here.”
“Better here than on the planet,” Daniel retorted with a smirk and a smile.
“Don't tempt me,” Jack replied, not missing a beat.
“Colonel, what's the delay?” Hammond asked over the PA system as he stood watching in the control room.
“Just reviewing the game plan, Sir.”
“Move out,” Hammond ordered.
“You heard the man, Daniel,” Jack said, extending his arm towards the Stargate.
“What's so funny?” Jack asked his smiling 2IC.
“Nothing, Sir,” Sam answered as she walked up the ramp.
Seeing Teal'c, Jack just shrugged and said, “After you!”
Teal'c raised an eyebrow, but moved forward. Jack looked up at Hammond and made a small saluting motion with his hand, and then followed his teammates through the Stargate to P3X-562 for a standard recon mission.
“Welcome back SG-1,” Hammond greeted the returning team. “Debriefing will commence at 0900.”
The team members made their way to the armory to return their weapons and then to the shower area and, ultimately, the locker room to change their clothes. After a quick stop by the infirmary for the usual post-mission physical, Daniel, Sam, and Teal'c headed for the conference room.
When Jack didn't step up to be examined, the doctor on duty glanced at the clock on the wall and reluctantly sighed, “All right, Colonel, we'll postpone your exam until after the briefing.”
The infirmary was shorthanded today as a number of the medical staff were attending a special training seminar, learning how to better deal with some of the unusual situations that occurred at Cheyenne Mountain.
Jack nodded and walked out. He slowly made his way towards the briefing room, taking in each corridor and object along the way.
Just before entering the conference room, Daniel hurried out, bumping into his friend.
“Hey, Jack. Be right back.” Seeing Jack nod in a trance like fashion, Daniel asked, “Are you okay?”
“I am fine.”
The monotone answer Jack gave did little to reassure Daniel, but his friend certainly looked okay.
“Uh, listen, I thought tomorrow morning I'd treat you to a steak omelet for breakfast. A, uh, sort of thank you for the waffles this morning.”
“A ... steak omelet,” Jack echoed slowly.
“Yeah. Anyway, it was just a ... a thought. If you'd rather not ...” Daniel stared, his concern rising as Jack looked at him blankly. ~He's probably just tired.~ “Well, I'll be right back,” the archaeologist said, wanting to check in briefly with a member of his staff before the debriefing commenced.
After the debriefing, Daniel and Sam set about their work, trying to learn more about the crystal samples they had brought back from P3X-562. They had just discovered the apparent sentient quality of the crystals when their investigation was interrupted by blaring sirens, indicating an unscheduled off-world activation of the Stargate.
Within seconds, Daniel and the others were standing in the control room, waiting to see who would walk through the Gate. The fact that the unknown person or persons had the SGC iris codes wasn't reassuring.
“Heads up, People,” Hammond warned over the PA.
~This should be interesting,~ Daniel thought as he waited. When the traveler came through, he stood in stunned silence. ~Okay, that's a little more interesting than I anticipated.~
A very unimpressed Jack O'Neill yelled towards Daniel, Sam, and Teal'c in the control room, “Hey, what are you guys doing leaving without me?” Jack looked around and saw all the Marines with their weapons aimed at him. Removing his sunglasses and walking a few steps down the ramp, Jack asked, “What's with all the ordinance?”
“Who are you?” was Hammond's reply from the control room.
The gapes in the control room were noticeable, as standing below them in the gate room was someone who looked and sounded exactly like Jack O'Neill, only it couldn't be Jack -- could it?
In disbelief, a bewildered Jack asked, “What do you mean, who am I? What the heck's goin' on here?”
~Sure wish I knew,~ Daniel thought.
“Good question. Take him into custody,” Hammond ordered the SFs in the gate room. To SG-1, he said, “Briefing room -- now!”
“That can't be the colonel, can it?” Sam asked.
“It does indeed look like O'Neill,” Teal'c observed.
“Acts like him, too,“ Daniel noted. “Of course, uh, looks can be deceiving, and we know Jack came back with us.” Daniel stopped suddenly as an element of doubt crept in. He reached out to tap on Sam's elbow, stopping her as well. “Don't we? I mean, uh, Jack did come back with us. Right?”
Sam shrugged, saying, “I guess we'll find out.”
“That didn't help,” Daniel whispered to no one and then hurried to catch up.
“Daniel, what's going on?” Jack asked harshly as they walked to the infirmary.
Jack had been kept in a holding cell and observed by Hammond, SG-1, and others. From his actions, those watching him had all been of the opinion that he definitely acted like the Jack they knew. As a result, Hammond had ordered a full medical exam be carried out, and it was Daniel, accompanied by two SFs, who was ordered to escort Jack to the infirmary.
“Uh, if I knew, Jack, I'd tell you.”
“That's not very informative,” Jack stated agitatedly.
“Maybe not, but, uh, it's all we know.”
Daniel looked behind them at the two guards. Quietly, he said to his friend, “Uh, Jack, about the waffles ...”
“Waffles?” Jack looked at Daniel in shock. “Listen to me, Daniel. First, I get left behind on a planet by *my* team without so much as a 'by-your-leave' and then I come back here and get tossed into a cell. Now, I'm about to let Little Napoleon pick and poke all over my body. Tell me how waffles play into this?”
“Well, it's just, I thought tomorrow, or ... whenever we get out of here ... that, uh, well, I'd treat you to a steak omelet to say thanks for making the waffles this morning.”
“That's kind of you, Daniel. Have it delivered to my cell,” Jack said snarkily.
“So ... you remember the waffles?” Daniel quizzed.
“So I ... Daniel, have you fallen off your rocker?”
“No,” Daniel smiled shyly. “You're you.”
Jack shook his head as they took the turn into the infirmary and snapped, “Wanna tell that to the Doc?”
“Sorry,” Daniel said with a shrug. “Actually, I have some things to do.”
“Well, Colonel, I understand you're all mine for a while,” Janet said.
Jack sighed, “Doc, just remember one thing.”
“What's that, Colonel?” Janet asked as she put on sterile gloves.
“Jack?” Daniel said as a sort of warning as he stood by the doorway.
~Yeah, I guess I shouldn't annoy Little Napolean just before she gets to poke and prod me all over.~ The colonel sighed, “The name is O'Neill. Two L's.”
As he hopped onto an exam table, Jack could hear Daniel chuckling all the way down the hall.
After Janet's report confirmed that Jack was Jack, much to Jack's smug delight, the team set their sights on determining who, or what, had returned through the Gate with SG-1.
“The EM energy in the one intact crystal we brought back from P3X-562 may hold the key to this,” Sam suggested.
“Explain,” Hammond ordered.
“The electromagnetic energy in the crystal has the ability to mimic things,” Sam stated. “It recreated Daniel and I. It cloned us *electronically*, at least part of us. It seemed to read our thoughts and speech and mimic them, too. Now, what if the other O'Neill is energy just like the thing Daniel and I found in the crystal, only a more powerful, more evolved form of it, one powerful enough to copy a whole person and not just faces?”
~That makes sense because I know this is Jack O'Neill in the room with us,~ Daniel thought quietly.
After some discussion, Sam approached one of the crystals they had brought back from the planet, trying to discover more about the alien entity. Successfully opening a dialogue with one of the crystals, they learned that the crystals were energy and needed to return to the planet in order to survive. They also discovered why the energy being had been afraid of their Tau'ri visitors.
The Unity crystal explained, “The Goa'uld came to our planet long ago. We were not afraid then, and we tried to greet them. One of them touched us as you did and was destroyed by our energy.”
Given that there was no way for the crystals to differentiate the Tauri from the Goa'uld, the Unity crystal's fear made sense.
The Unity crystal continued, “They gathered all the Unity in one place and ended it.”
Daniel realized the crystals they had found gathered together were actually in a type of mass grave, not a ceremonial pit of some kind as he had originally theorized.
As usual, Jack was still a little unsure of the energy beings and their response. Of course, his reticence was understandable. After all, he'd almost been killed when he reached out to touch one of the crystals and was zapped unconscious, only to be replaced by a duplicate.
Being able to 'walk' in the 'shoes' of the crystals, the anthropologist challenged, “If ... you thought that your entire race was destroyed by the Goa'ulds as punishment for harming one of them, what would you do if you thought it was going to happen again?”
“By the way, just where is this other me?” Jack asked.
“That's a good question, Colonel,” Hammond stated, motioning to a couple of SFs to find the duplicate Jack. “Let's meet again in twenty minutes in the briefing room. Find Colonel ... find him,” Hammond said, struggling with what to call the duplicate.
“Daniel, are you telling me no one noticed the difference between that thing and me?” Jack asked as they walked out of the lab.
“Uh, apparently not.”
“That's not comforting, Daniel.”
“Well, it's just, he was so quiet that I think people enjoyed the change of pace,” the archaeologist quipped jovially.
Jack stared at the smirking archaeologist who simply gave him a teasing smile and went on his way.
At the briefing, Sam reported the results of some testing she had done on the crystals. She summed up with the fact that, “Whatever the energy inside the crystal is, it's starting to decay. It's ionizing particle radiation.”
“Nuclear radiation?” Daniel responded, standing in alarm.
Sam's concern was obvious as she explained that, while at the moment the amounts emanating from the crystal weren't dangerous, if the duplicate of Jack began to break down, the amount of radiation from that more powerful crystal might well be lethal to anyone in the nearby area.
“Uh, something else,” Sam stated. “I've been thinking about where it went. Sir, it was in your locker, looking through your personal stuff, pictures of your family ...” Sam trailed off as Jack headed for the phone and dialed his wife's phone number.
“Come on, Sara, Come on,” Jack urged, hating it when Sara's answering machined kicked on. ~Crap!~ Hanging up the phone, Jack said, “I gotta get there.”
Jack walked out of the room, closely followed by his teammates.
Having changed into the appropriate gear and gathered together the needed equipment, SG-1 headed for the elevator.
“We checked with the local police,” General Hammond told Jack as they walked. “No one's at your wife's house. One of the local hospitals admitted a J. O'Neill less than an hour ago.”
Hammond then turned his attention towards the Jaffa, saying, “Teal'c, you'll have to leave that here.” Having watched the news on television, Teal'c was hesitant to relinquish his staff weapon, but General Hammond insisted, reminding his flagship team that, “You, all of you will be operating in public so you can't do or say anything that reveals the existence of the SGC or the Stargate.”
Hammond wished them luck, and five minutes, later they were on their way to the hospital where the duplicate of Jack had apparently checked in.
In their vehicle, Daniel glanced over at Jack, wishing he could say something that would make him feel better. Yet, he knew there was little he could say. Jack's wife was in danger.
~I know how that feels, and, whether you admit it or not, Jack, you're still in love with Sara.~
“Where is she?” Jack said, entering the hospital looking all around. Spotting his wife, Jack made his way to her. ~Sara. Geez, she's beautiful, and she's scared. She's so scared.~
Spotting Jack, the blonde was stunned as she moved to face the man hurrying towards her. She had spent the day with her husband, so she had thought, but now, here he was, just a few feet in front of her.
“Sara! Are you all right?” Jack asked as he put his hands on Sara's shoulders. For a moment, he just looked into her eyes. ~Gawd, Sara.~ In an instant, Jack embraced his wife, his right hand holding her head to him. He whispered, “This is my baby.”
Both were gasping in shock and surprise, clinging to each other. Just before pulling apart, Jack kissed his wife on the cheek.
“Jack,” Sara spoke in amazement, not really sure what to say.
Then Jack asked again, “Are you all right?”
“Yeah,” the confused woman responded.
“Okay, I wanna hear all about it, but not now. Are you okay?” Jack asked again. ~You feel so good, Sara.~
“Yeah,” Sara repeated, knowing her husband needed to take care of whatever it was that she had helped admit to the hospital earlier. ~He looks just like you; he sounds like you. I wanted him to be you.~
Jack and Teal'c hurried off to the room where the duplicate was reported to be, while Sam and Daniel escorted Sara to a safer location in the opposite direction.
“Daniel, hold on a second while I adjust this,” Sam said as she fidgeted with a piece of equipment.
“Right,” Daniel responded as he guided Sara to a bench. Crossing his arms as he stared at Sara, Daniel smiled, quietly saying, “Uh, I'm Daniel Jackson.”
“Sara O'Neill. What's going on? That ... that was my husband, but I've ...”
“Daniel, let's go,” Sam called out, rushing back towards the corridor where the duplicate was.
Daniel smiled warmly at Sara and promised, “Jack will be okay.”
Sara nodded and watched Daniel disappear. Silently, she thought, ~Which Jack?~
“You have come to destroy me,” the duplicate Jack accused a bit later as Jack attempted to communicate with it.
Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c looked on at the strange unfolding of events.
“No, that's not true,” Jack denied, explaining, “I know you weren't trying to kill me back on the planet. The Goa'ulds, the people who destroyed your race, they're our enemies too.”
“I understand. Thank you,” the duplicate replied.
After his double accepted his statement, Jack inquired, “Why did you come here?”
The duplicate was losing its energy, the breakdown continuing to occur.
It answered, “When my energy hurt you, I tried to heal you, but I did not understand your injury, so I looked into your mind. I saw the mind of a warrior.”
~That's the colonel,~ Sam thought.
The energy continued, “I feared it, as I feared those who destroyed my race. I tried to make you well before my mistake was discovered, before the others returned to destroy me. I understand now. Your deepest pain was not the physical injury I had caused.”
~Don't say it,~ Jack silently begged. ~I don't want to think about it, about him.~
“Your pain,” the duplicate Jack stated solemnly, “was from an empty place in your heart where Charlie once was.”
~Wow! I still can't believe I never knew anything about the colonel being married, and a son? It's so sad, but ... I can't believe he kept that from us, I mean, me,~ Sam thought. ~Sara's a pretty woman, too.~
Duplicate Jack ended by saying, “I thought if I could bring Charlie to you, it would make you well. I did not understand his death meant he could no longer exist as flesh and blood. Physical death does not have the same meaning to us.” Jack tried to tell the image of himself that Charlie was gone, but the double argued, “No. He's ... in here.”
As the duplicate talked, he had also reached out with his hand to touch Jack's chest, and just before making contact, the energy's image changed to that of Jack's deceased son, Charlie.
~Charlie? My Charlie,~ Jack said to himself before speaking the word out loud.
~Oh, gawd,~ Daniel thought as he watched the emotional scene play out. ~Jack, I'm so sorry.~
The image of Charlie spoke, saying, “You cannot change what happened that day, just as I cannot change the day that the Goa'uld destroyed my world. I'm showing you what of Charlie is still there, inside you.”
Sam looked at her instruments and informed them that it was time to go if they were going to save the energy being from dying and possibly others from being injured if the energy blew up. Quickly, they made their way to the exit of the hospital.
When Sara saw her son, she thought she'd collapse, but she couldn't. She missed him so much. It was hard to take her eyes off of the image of her son, even as Jack told her that it wasn't really Charlie, something the woman knew deep down in her soul.
From the entrance door, Sam looked back and thought, ~They do look good together.~
Daniel glanced back as well, thinking, ~She loves you, too, Jack,~ before following Sam to the helicopter that was just landing to rush them all back to the Mountain.
“Sara, I have to get him back,” Jack told her about the energy being that was currently holding his hand in Sara's.
Nodding, Sara surmised, “To the Stargate.”
Not really surprised by her comment, and unable to lie to her anymore, Jack said, “Yeah.” Tears welling in Sara's eyes, Jack embraced his wife. ~I've missed this. I've missed you. Geez, Sara, I made a mess of things. I goofed up big time.~
Not aware of Jack's silent confessions, Sara spoke of the Stargate, saying, “Whatever that is.” After a moment, as they continued to hug, Sara asked, “The other guy, you know what he said?”
~Gawd, yes.~ Jack buried his chin against Sara's neck and answered, “I have a pretty fair idea.”
~It's over. I don't want it to be, but it is.~ With more tears rolling down her face, Sara emotionally said, “We were pretty great together, weren't we?”
“We were the greatest,” Jack admitted. ~I blew it. I'm so sorry, Sara.~
As they gazed into each other's eyes, Jack brought his hand to her face and caressed her cheek. Hating himself for hurting her and ruining their life together, Jack moved away. He took the energy's hand, and headed for the door.
Desperately trying to keep herself from falling apart, Sara turned to watch them leave. For the first time, she accepted that her marriage was over, though she also knew one thing -- she would never stop loving Jack O'Neill.
“Take care of yourself, Jack,” Sara whispered.
“Let's go,” Jack said as he entered the copter. Still holding the boy's hand, he looked out through the night at the hospital that was looking smaller with each second. ~Be good to yourself, Sara. You deserve better than me. I hope he said what I ... what I can't.~
“How'd it go?” Daniel asked when Jack returned from returning the energy being to its world sometime later.
“He made it. He'll be okay, for energy,” Jack answered quietly.
“Jack, are you okay?”
“I'm just peachy, Daniel,” Jack responded, walking away.
“Sir,” Sam said, entering the gate room. “Is everything okay? I mean, did things go as planned?”
“Yes, Carter, the crystal is back with all its other pieces. Everything is just fine,” Jack snapped as he continued for the gate room exit.
“Uh, Colonel,” Sam said nervously. “About your wife and son ...”
“What about them?” Jack barked even more harshly.
“I just wanted to say I'm sorry. I mean when Daniel told me how Charlie died and ...”
“Daniel told you?” Jack asked, glaring at the archaeologist.
“Um, Jack, it's just, when the duplicate you was going through your things, Sam was ... curious. She ...”
“Thank you, Daniel, for sharing my life with the entire world.”
Jack turned and hurried away.
“Jack?” Daniel called out, but the older man moved away quickly, storming down the corridor, actually reaching out and banging his fist against the wall once as he walked.
“I guess he didn't want me to know,” Sam lamented.
Daniel stared at her, not sure what to think.
“He's just upset at losing Charlie again. Excuse me, Sam,” Daniel said, hurrying after Jack.
A bit hesitantly, Daniel walked into Jack's house. He'd been staying there ever since his return from Abydos. Even though he knew it was time to find his own place, he hadn't yet been able to force himself to start looking in earnest. Holding his keys in his hands, Daniel stepped into the living room.
Jack was seated in his favorite chair at the end of the living room. A bottle of beer was dangling from his right hand as he held it over the arm of the chair.
“You had no right to tell anyone my private affairs,” Jack said, standing.
“I'm sorry,” Daniel apologized. “I really didn't think it was a secret.”
“Excuse me? I must not be hearing right,” Jack said harshly as he took a few steps towards the younger man. “Did you just say it wasn't a secret?”
“Was it? Look, Jack, I know ...”
“No, Daniel. You crossed the line. I told you something in confidence that was supposed to stay between us, not be blabbed all over the SGC.”
“I didn't blab it all over the SGC, Jack, I told Sam. That ... thing was looking through the cigar box at the photos of Sara and Charlie. Sam saw it. What did you want me to do, lie to her?”
Jack began to back off, shaking his head just slightly as he turned around and took a swig of his beer.
“You didn't have to tell her how he died,” Jack challenged.
“No ... no, I didn't. I just ... I thought ... I mean, Sam, she's ...” Daniel sighed, feeling guilty. He'd added to Jack's hurt, though it hadn't been his intention. He truly believed that Jack wouldn't object to Sam's knowing the truth. After all, it was easily discovered by checking the records, and nevertheless, they were teammates and good friends. “I'm sorry.”
The sound of the keys in Daniel's hands was the only noise heard for a moment.
“Do you want me to leave?” the younger man asked quietly.
Jack let out a groan, answering, “Crap, Daniel. Don't pull this argument thing again.” He turned to look at his friend and teammate. “People argue. We argue. It's normal.”
“No, I ... I just meant ... do you want to be alone?”
“What I want is to get drunk; very, very, drunk. Care to join me?” Jack asked as he went to the kitchen to get more beer.
“Um ... Jack, I think it would be better if we talked about it,” Daniel suggested, sighing as Jack disappeared from his view.
“Talk about what?” Jack called out from the kitchen, feigning ignorance of the obvious.
“Oh, I don't know. Sara?”
“Like I said, I'm going to get drunk and sleep it off for at least a week,” the older man said as he gathered a supply of beer and other liquor.
“We have a mission in four days,” Daniel reminded.
“Then I'll sleep it off in three days,” Jack quickly responded.
An hour later, Daniel stepped onto the roof deck. He wasn't surprised to find that his friend wasn't the least bit drunk. Sure, he'd had a couple of drinks, but alcohol wasn't the answer for Jack anymore.
“Hey,” Daniel spoke quietly as he walked over and sat down next to his friend. Jack's head was bowed, and he said nothing. “Jack, I am sorry. I should have known better; it's just ... I'm starting to think of SG-1 as ... as ...”
“A family,” Jack completed for him. Seeing Daniel's nod, Jack nodded, too, and let out a sigh. “It's okay, Danny. I'm not mad at you; I'm mad at myself.”
“You should call her,” Daniel suggested.
“No, she ...”
“She's still in love with you,” Daniel told Jack as their shoulders touched.
“That duplicate told her things I should have,” Jack lamented, continuing, “things I should have told her a long time ago.”
“You can tell her yourself, now. All you have to do is pick up the phone.”
Jack shook his head as he said, “And what do I have to offer her, Danny? More secrets? I'm not ready to give up the Stargate, and I'm not sure I could lie to her anymore about what I do.”
“Maybe, uh, maybe ...”
“Danny, she's better off without me. We've both moved on; it's better we leave it at that,” Jack spoke decisively.
“Is it?” Daniel asked pointedly, resulting in Jack turning to face him in a long, drawn out stare.
“Have a beer,” Jack said, handing Daniel a beer. “Come on, Danny, unity and all of that.”
Daniel nodded as he opened the drink and took a sip. He wet his lips as the liquid moved down his throat. Looking over at Jack, he could see the pain and desperation on his friend's face.
“All I'm saying, Jack, is that you have a chance. I ... I don't. If I ... If I could have that chance with Sha're, I'd jump at it. I guess I don't understand why you aren't even trying to reconcile with Sara.”
“Don't you get it?” Jack intoned agitatedly. “I'm not good for her. Our son died, Danny, because of me, because of my gun. Maybe she's not angry anymore; maybe she could forgive me; but it's no good. I can't be the person she needs and deserves. I owe her this.”
“Owe her what?” Daniel asked softly.
“A gift,” Jack replied equally quietly.
“What gift, Jack?”
Jack sighed, “The gift of letting go. If I call her for a reason other than to explain about the nightmare she just lived through; if I waltz back into her life, she won't give up on us, so ...” Jack took a drink of his beer. “So I have to let go of her.
“Sounds, uh, noble,” Daniel said, though not really buying it.
“There's nothing noble about it. When I walked into that hospital and saw her standing there, there was a part of me that thought time had stood still, and we could just hug and kiss and start living our lives together again.”
“And the other part?” the younger man inquired.
“The other part knew I wasn't ready. As much as I ...” Jack trailed off, unable to say the word he knew was truth.
“The word is love, Jack,” Daniel said for the anxiety-ridden man sitting next to him.
Jack closed his eyes and continued, “My son is dead because of me. I took Charlie away from both of us. Maybe Sara can forgive that, but I can't.”
“Jack, it wasn't your fault.”
Jack nodded, “Maybe if I tell myself that enough times, it'll be true.” Jack drank some more beer. He looked over at Daniel who was fidgeting with his practically-full bottle. “Danny, drink up.”
As Daniel drank a sip, Jack leaned his head back against the wall of his house. He looked up at the cloudy sky, only a handful of stars shining through.
“She is beautiful, isn't she, Danny?”
“Yes, Jack, she is,” Daniel answered as he brought his beer bottle to his mouth to take another sip. ~Hate this stuff.~
“I remember when we met; never thought I had a chance with her.” Jack was smiling, lost in faraway thoughts he wasn't sharing verbally. “Loved her smile. Charlie had her smile.”
“I, uh, saw that,” Daniel observed.
“Letting go is hard,” Jack admitted, swallowing as he tried to cover up his emotions.
“I know, Jack,” Daniel responded emotionally.
“So there was this one time when we went to Chuck E. Cheese, Sara, Charlie, and me. What a day that was,” Jack said, getting lost in his unshared memories again.
“I'll bet it was,” Daniel agreed as he took another drink.
Jack drank, too, and then said, “And that time Charlie broke his arm. He was only three. She was something when she was pregnant. I remember ...” Jack closed his eyes, taking another drink. “Letting go is hard.”
“I know, Jack,” Daniel said, nodding and making sure Jack knew he was there by briefly rubbing their shoulders together, something Jack had done in friendship on Daniel's first night back on Earth.
The next morning, Daniel stood smiling in the doorway of Jack's room. He had knocked on the door, but when he barely tapped on it, the door swung open.
Lying diagonally across his bed, Jack's fist was against his open mouth.
~Any closer, O'Neill, and I'd say you were sucking your thumb,~ Daniel silently chuckled.
Jack's hair was all spiky, something that was easy for Daniel to see since Jack was sleeping with his head to the foot of his bed. His other arm was flung limply along the side of the bed. He wasn't wearing pajamas, but instead, just boxers and a tee-shirt.
Daniel laughed softly as he thought, ~I bet Sara loved these mornings. I still think you should call her, but it's your decision, Jack. You could have her back, if you wanted, and what I don't understand is why you don't. I mean, I know you love her. Pride? Is that it? Military bravado? Could that be the reason you won't try and work it out, doing all you can to put your marriage back together? I just don't get it, Jack. I bet Sara would know how to wake you up right now. Well, I know how to wake you up, too. Paybacks and such.~
Daniel walked gingerly across the room to the bathroom and filled the cup. When he returned to the bedroom, he stopped, startled.
“Jack?” The colonel had disappeared. “Jack, where the ... GAWD, JACK!”
Jack now stood in front of Daniel grinning, an empty cologne bottle in his hands.
“You have to get up pretty early in the morning to pull one over on this colonel, Dannyboy, and trust me, you'll never be up that early, not even when I have a, geez, hangover!”
“What is this? Gawd!” Daniel said, putting the half-full cup of water down on the dresser.
Though he had intended to douse Jack the same way Jack had done the day before, Jack had outmaneuvered him. While Daniel had been in the bathroom, Jack quietly stirred from his bed, grabbed the only thing he could get to quickly on his dresser, and then ducked behind the side of the bed.
When Daniel had walked out and crossed the floor, Jack jumped up, tossing the cologne all over the younger man, who jumped, causing much of the water to splash on himself, and the carpet.
“Just some cologne, Danny,” Jack answered, pleased with himself.
“Oh, geez, Jack, next time buy something a little, uh, more appealing, will ya? No wonder the recruits run the other way when they see you coming!”
“Hey, that's good stuff. I buy it at Kmart.”
“Ktrash is more like it,” Daniel whined as he removed his shirt. “I'll be right back. Gawd,” he continued to complain as he walked to his bedroom, smelling much more aromatic than he ever wanted to in his life.
“Danny, this is nice,” Jack said when Daniel entered the kitchen a few minutes later.
“I just wanted to say thank you for the waffles.”
Jack took a taste of the steak omelets and moaned, “Mmm-mmm.”
“Orgasm, Jack?” Daniel asked with a tiny smile.
Jack smiled as Daniel moved by him to dish up their breakfasts, delivering it to the table where Jack sat, dressed in his old, gray sweats.
“Danny,” Jack said as he looked at Daniel who was now across the table from him, “thank you.”
“Listening; not trying to change my mind,” Jack responded.
“I think you're wrong, Jack, but it's your choice,” Daniel stated, unable to totally keep his feelings quiet.
“Yes, it is, and that's why I'm thanking you,” Jack said as he took a bite of the omelet. “Good stuff, Danny.”
“Then why are you thanking me?”
“Because you stayed; because you're here now.”
Daniel smiled as did Jack. They disagreed on what Jack should be doing about Sara and their marriage, but both knew the decision was Jack's. Still, the two men were united on the most important thing between them -- they were friends, best friends, and, no matter what, they'd always be there for each other.
The two men shared a unity and a bond that would strengthen in ways neither had yet imagined, and when it did, it would take them to places far beyond the recesses of their minds, beyond the furthest planets of the Stargate, and beyond the realm of what both believed was possible. For Jack and Daniel, the best was yet to be.
Feedback Welcome - click here to email the author