Tin Hearts

Author: Orrymain
Category:  Pre-Slash, Drama, Missing Scene/Epilogue
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  1
Spoilers:  Tin Man
Size:  26kb, ficlet
Written:  March 21,23, April 1,5,18, May 18, 2005
Summary:  SG-1 awakens to see themselves.  Do the two Daniels have something surprising in common?
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) This story is 'by request' for Teri who wanted to see a pre-slash story where Daniel knew about Jack's feelings and was dealing with while they were 'best friends'.
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Claudia, QuinGem, Tamara, Ali, Cassie, Allexandrya!

Tin Hearts
by Orrymain

“So you know everything I know?” Daniel asked the being who looked exactly like him.

“Yes, everything.  Um, about my, uh, I mean your parents, Egypt, being broke and laughed at; you know, uh, all the fun stuff, along with all that education,” the look-alike stuttered.

“Oh, that's, uh ... gawd.”  ~What do I say to him?  I mean it's fascinating, but it's ... weird.  He's me, but not … oh gawd.~

The two Daniels were still in the same room where earlier the real SG-1 had been knocked unconscious and held by Harlan, an upbeat synthetic being who had maintained a huge underground complex by himself for many thousands of years.  Radiation poisoning had contaminated the surface of his world, Altair.  Their advanced technology had ultimately been their downfall, destroying the biosphere which protected their world.

From what Harland had told SG-1, approximately one thousand of Altair’s survivors had moved underground, taking on synthetic bodies in order to survive.  Eventually, the remaining population either left to explore other worlds through the Stargate or had died on the surface.  Harlan had been running the underground facility single-handedly for roughly eleven thousand years.

However, keeping the huge complex functioning was getting to be too much, especially as the ancient system had begun to break down, requiring more and more maintenance.  When SG-1 had arrived through the Stargate, Harlan took advantage of his good fortune, seizing the opportunity to knock them out and create synthetic copies who would be able to assist him in the upkeep of the complex.

The copies, so like their human counterparts, hadn't even realized they weren't human until they returned to the SGC.  While their synthetic bodies made them stronger and probably smarter than their human equivalents, the doubles had limited reserve power capabilities, meaning they needed to remain in the underground facility on Altair to survive.  As a result, the copies were only able to leave the area for a few hours at a time.  Otherwise, their power would be depleted, and they would cease to exist.

Eventually, Harlan's plan had been unearthed, and he took the synthetic doubles to see the real SG-1.

It was an unnerving experience for the four teammates, awaking in a strange place, only to be staring at themselves.  Synthetic Jack had almost immediately exited the room, needing time to himself to adjust and think.  The two Carters began chattering away about the facility and the amazing possibilities that the duplication technology opened up.

Daniel was still sitting up on the slab where he'd been confined since Harlan had debilitated SG-1 upon their arrival through the Stargate.  Synthetic Daniel was seated in the middle of the cold slab, staring at himself.

“This is weird,” Synthetic Daniel said.

“Yes, it is.  Uh, so you know everything I know,” Daniel said again, waving his hand between the two of them.

“Everything.”

“Do you feel, too?” Daniel asked, his curious nature suddenly taking over.

Synthetic Daniel stared at his image and nodded.

“We didn't even know we weren't real until we went back to the SGC.  I felt ... feel human.”

“I'm sorry.”

“We have to stay here forever,” Synthetic Daniel sighed.

“It, uh, sounds a little like a death sentence.”

“Hmm, Harlan needs our help.  I'm sure we'll keep busy.”

Daniel snorted, then said, “You're an archaeologist.  There isn't really a lot you, I mean, me ...”  He shook his head.  “Running this place takes a mechanic, not someone like ... us.”

“It won't be so bad.”

“It won't?”  ~Sounds pretty bad to me.   Me?  A mechanic?.  I don't even know how to fix my car when it breaks down,~ Daniel thought, shaking his head.

Synthetic Daniel looked around, a small smile appearing on his face as he noticed Synthetic Jack had just returned.

“No, it won't.  Jack's here.”

“Jack,” Daniel said softly, looking up at his best friend, or, rather, the copy of his best friend.

“He'll bore me forever with hockey tales and fish that never were.  We'll pretend to pig out on pizza and, uh, watch the stars.  We like doing that, don't we?” the double stated inquisitively.

Daniel stood up and, without realizing it, walked to the corner of the room and self-hugged.  Synthetic Daniel followed and turned.  Both now faced the others in the room, though they were several feet away.  Synthetic Daniel put his hands in his pant's pockets.

“Do, uh, you really ... feel everything?” Daniel wondered.

Synthetic Daniel nodded, saying, “I'm in love with Sha're, but at the same time, I sure like being with Jack.  Is that what you meant?”

“Jack, he, uh, I mean ...”  The archaeologist's face resembled that of a guppy, mouth hanging open and his eyes wide open in shock.  ~No, I didn't mean that.  Of course, that's not what I meant.  I just ... I only meant he's my friend.  I, uh, I care about him be...because he's my friend.~

“He loves us.”

“A...apparently,” Daniel stuttered.  “At least, that's what he thinks ... uh, says, but, uh, you know he was married.  I think he just misses Sara.  He loves her, you know, but he's too afraid to try and get her back.  I think he, uh, probably, isn't sure she's really forgiven him, and he couldn't take being hurt.  He's probably just misinterpreting his feelings for me, uh, you, us.”

“Sounds logical,” the double agreed, though a tone of disbelief was in his voice.

Daniel stared at the synthetic double and asked, “Don't you think so?”

“I think if I were you, I would,” the other Daniel answered, a brief sad smile crossing his synthetic lips.

“I don't understand.”   ~Me?  Why not him?~

“Daniel, you're going home, to Earth, to the apartment, your work, and even to the fish.  I’ll never have that again, ever; I'm staying here where it's always going to be dark.  I won't be able to do my work anymore.  I can't hide behind my studies or countless translations.  Oh, sure I can maybe see if there is anything to learn about the people who lived here, but why?  I mean, who would it be for?  Who could I tell?”

“It sounds lonely,” the real Daniel responded dejectedly.

“We've always been lonely; we just hide it well.  It's one of the things we do best.”

“I'm, uh, not sure I like you knowing me so well,” Daniel said uncomfortably, glancing round the room to make sure no one had heard.

“This really is fascinating.  It’s a great opportunity to learn.  We can draw parallels to things happening on Earth.  I mean these people exterminated themselves with their own technology.  Think about it, Daniel, we've been dealing with a 'Future Shock' culture for two decades or more.  There's so much to learn, and the more we build, the more we grow technologically, it seems the less we really do learn. That's what the Nox were trying to tell us, too, that the very young do not always do what they are told.  I love the Nox. Lya's sweet.  I've often wondered how their civilization began.  Maybe they came to Earth before, too, although they didn't know English.  They remind me of children's storybook characters, but I guess that's neither here nor there, and I, um, gawd, I'm rambling.”

“Jack calls it prattling.”

“He likes it,” Synthetic Daniel said, grinning.

“He hates it.  He's not even fond of scientists.”

“Except for you, and, well, he tolerates Sam, even likes her sometimes when she isn't going on with explanations that give him a headache,” Synthetic Daniel argued.

“He's not dumb,” Daniel said, annoyed at the colonel's constant act.

“He's wants everyone to think he is,” the double remarked.

“How are you going to survive?” Daniel inquired, wanting to change the subject.

Synthetic Daniel sighed sadly as he leaned back against the wall.  Suddenly, he went into a self-hug that mirrored the real Daniel.

“I love Sha're, Daniel, but she's gone now, and there's a part of me that's curious about Jack.”

“He's not an experiment.  Don't hurt him!” Daniel ordered his double.

Daniel's copy smiled.

“You care,” he accused.

“Of course, I care.  He's my best friend, which means he should be your best friend, too.  Jack's a good person.  He's my teammate and my friend.  Please don't hurt him.”

“I won't.  I'm you, Daniel, but at the same time, my world and my existence has just changed.  Everything I knew has been destroyed, and there aren't a lot of options left.  There's Sam, of course, but, uh, well, I'm sure she's not interested, and Teal'c's a good friend, but no way.  That leaves one choice to be made: celibacy or ...”  The synthetic's eyebrows raised as he motioned with his head, but Daniel didn't respond.  “Look, imagine yourself on an island.  There's no hope of rescue, not ever, and the only two people on that island are you and the colonel.  Wouldn't you be tempted to let go of what you know, of Sha're, and latch on to what's there?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

Daniel hesitated, suddenly feeling very uneasy.

“Why not, Daniel?” the synthetic copy persisted in asking.

“Because he loves me, and I just couldn't hurt him like that, by ... by having a ... it wouldn't be right to get involved with him just because he was the only option.  It ... it wouldn't be fair, and it would feel like betrayal.”

“So you believe he loves you?”

“I told you he did.”

“And that you thought he wasn't in touch with his emotions.  You said that, too.”

“He's in the military.  He's gone through a lot of traumatic events.  Besides, he's...he's...he's...” Daniel struggled to say what he meant, his eyes closing shut in annoyance.  ~Why can't I just say what I think?  I mean it’s me, for crying out loud!~

“He's a he.  Is that what you're trying to say?” Daniel's look-a-like challenged with a smile.

“I've never thought about it before.”

“So you have now?”

“Gawd, you're infuriating,” Daniel exclaimed, totally exasperated by the barrage of questions aimed at him.

“Daniel, I'm you,” the mirror image of the archaeologist replied.  “Look, all I'm saying is that maybe you need to rethink your world view a little.  Jack's going to get Sha're back.  We both know that.  He made you a promise, and he takes that promise seriously, but you're selling him short if you don't take his feelings seriously.”

“I don't know what to say,” Daniel answered quietly.

“Nothing to me, and nothing to him, but just don't lie to yourself.  It's not easy for him, and I just don't think you're allowing yourself to understand that little fact.  The Friday night ritual hasn't missed a beat.  He's your best friend, and that's killing him.”

“He said he wants us to ... to keep hanging out, I mean to spend time together, alone, I mean; oh, I don't know what I mean.”  ~Am I really hurting him that much?~

“He loves you, and if he has to be your best friend to spend time with you, he'll do it.  That's his choice, and if you cut him off like I know you're wondering if you should do, you'll only succeed in making both of you miserable.  He loves the ritual, and everything else you two do, including listening to you prattle,” Synthetic Daniel laughed fondly.

“I know you're me, but you're wrong.”

“I guess we've been hurt too much growing up to believe he could really care, and when it comes down to it, Daniel, that's what scares you.”

“I'm not scared.”  ~Who are you kidding, Jackson?  You’re petrified that Jack’s gonna get tired of you, and then you'll be alone again.~

“You're scared to death.  You don't even believe your wife loves you; she was a gift, right?  Right.  And speaking of your marriage, what exactly happened that year on Abydos, when you had your wife, your in-laws, and a planet of friends?  What happened during all those months?  How'd you spend your time?  Making love to your wife?  Holding her hand?  Watching the stars with her?  And when you did, what were you thinking about?  No, make that who?  Sha're and her beauty?  Or ... maybe something, someone, else?”

Daniel's breathing had gotten heavier.  He felt like he was talking with a psychiatrist who could see deep down inside him.  The problem was that he just wasn't ready to look that far inside himself.  His world was safer now than it had ever been now, and he didn't want to mess that up.  He couldn't afford to do that; he needed it too much.

“I think when Harlan makes the copies, that there is a degree of uniqueness or margin of error; that would explain our differences.  You aren't really me,” Daniel said hopefully, even though deep down, he knew he was wrong.

“If that's what you want to believe,” the synthetic being sighed, wondering how his counterpart could be so blind.  ~No, I know why.  He's going home to a world where he's been abused, abandoned, and shoved aside.  He just can't believe Jack really cares, and when it comes down to it, he can't open himself up enough to take a chance that maybe, just maybe, he cares, too.  He still has Sha're to consider.  She's out there, somewhere, but while she's beyond me now, she's not beyond him.~

“It's the truth, because I do love Sha're, and I can't wait to get her back and have a family.  I love her.  Jack, he's ... he's my best friend.  Someday, he and Sara will get together again.  He'll be happy.”

“Will you?”

“Daniel, time to go,” Jack called out from across the room.

“Coming.”

Daniel stared at his copy for a moment, and then, without another word, walked out of the room, away from the truth of what he couldn't yet let himself believe.

A few minutes later, SG-1, the real SG-1, returned to Earth, leaving their duplicate-selves behind.

====

“Danny?  I thought I heard you.  Why didn't you tell me you were here?” Jack asked as he climbed over onto the roof deck from the ladder in his backyard.

It was a few weeks after the mission to Altair, on the eve of their next mission to P3R-233.  It was late, about ten o'clock, and Daniel had used his key to gain access to Jack's house, intending to find his friend and suggest a late night pizza party since he couldn't sleep; but when Jack hadn't been downstairs, Daniel simply walked through the living room and went outside, climbing the ladder to the roof deck.

Daniel was sitting on the deck, his back touching the house, and his knees drawn up partially.  His hands, however, were in front of him, fidgeting slightly.

“I was going to, but I just ...”  He shrugged.  “I just came up here.”

“Are you okay?” Jack asked as he moved to sit next to his friend.  He sat close, gently brushing their shoulders together as he sat down.  “Danny?” ~I wonder what’s up; something’s definitely bothering him.~

“Jack, I think our synthetic doubles are, uh, um, well, I think maybe they might, uh, you know,” Daniel stuttered, a blush creeping up his face.

“Might what?”

“They might ... you know,” he said, gesturing, his hand pointing towards the star-blanketed sky.

“Daniel, I have no idea what you're talking about.”

Daniel looked at Jack and smiled.  Speaking personal truths had never been easy for him.  He could respond to them, to an extent, but taking the lead was a challenge.  Tonight, the need to say the words overtook the fear of saying them first.

“You're my best friend, Jack.”

“That's good to know.”

“Is that all you're going to say?”

“You know I hate that obligatory thing.  One person says something, so they expect the other person to say it.  It's really not fair.  People should say things when they want to, not when they have to.  You know what else, Danny?  I think at least half of those obligatory comments couldn't hold water.  It's ...” Jack babbled.

“Jack!” Daniel interrupted.  “Who won the game?”

“What game?”  ~The game!  Ah, something I know.~

“I have no idea, but there's always a game,” Daniel said jovially.

Jack chuckled, then answered, “The good guys, of course.”

“Of course.”

“So what do you think about this mission tomorrow?” Jack asked.

“There's always something to be discovered.”

“Yeah, like a big honkin' space gun we can use to destroy the Goa'uld.”

Daniel chuckled as he shook his head which he then leaned back against the house as he faced Jack.

“Is that all you think about, Jack, big honkin' weaponry?” Daniel teased.

“Hey, what else is there?”

Silence filled the night air, and after a moment, Daniel sighed as he released a breath.

“Maybe we'll find something new that we can use to discover a cure for the common cold, or maybe something to help us understand ourselves better. I think, uh, sometimes, we have a lot to discover about ourselves that we just don't want to,” Daniel said, trying not to think about Altair.

“You could be right.  Looking inside is not always easy, trust me.”   ~The hardest thing I ever did was accept that I love you, Danny.  Man, I turned myself inside out for a long time on that one, but it's the truth.  If wishes were horses ...~

“I do, Jack.  Hey, I'm hungry.  Let's order a pizza!”

“You're on!”

Daniel stood and headed for the ladder.  From his seated position, Jack called out, “Danny.”  He waited for the younger man to turn around and face him.  “You're my best friend.  In fact, I've never had a friend like you before.  It feels good.”

Daniel couldn't stop the smile.

“That's, uh, how I feel, too, and, no, Jack, that wasn't obligatory.  It's how I feel.”

~Geez, I love his smile.~  Jack stood, his own smile adorning his face.  “Maybe we should get Chinese,” he suggested, wanting to see Daniel smile again.

“Let's get both,” Daniel compromised.

Jack put his hands on Daniel's shoulders and grinned.

“That's what I like about you, Danny, you're always able to negotiate a peaceful solution.”

“We weren't fighting.”

“That makes it even better, or we could fight.”

“I don't want to fight.”

“What do you have against fighting?” Jack asked.

“Geez, Jack,” Daniel said, turning to climb down the ladder.  “Sometimes, you're so infuriating.”

“I like to keep you guessing,” Jack teased, following Daniel down the ladder.

“Guessing?  It's a freakin' clueless nightmare with you.”

“You'd hate it if I agreed with you all the time.”

“What it would do is scare me, mainly because it would mean you were using your brain, something I know you hate to do.”

“Danny, Danny, Danny,” Jack said, picking up the phone.  “Anchovies?”

Daniel laughed, “No, I don't think so.”  ~But I will take your friendship, Jack. Infuriating or not, you are my best friend.  I just hope I'm not hurting you by being here so much, but my double was right about one thing: I do like being here.  I feel more ... at peace here than anywhere else.  I think it's the view, with the stars and all the greenery around.~

“No, we want the large mooooo gooooo.”

Daniel chuckled.  Jack hated Chinese, but some nights, they got both foods, and each had some of the other.  Actually, they usually ended up stuffing themselves.  Obviously, this was going to be one of those nights.

~Yeah, I like being here.~  He watched as Jack ordered his favorite Chinese foods, obviously having memorized what they were.  ~Okay, maybe it's the company.  Maybe, uh, there's no maybe about that.~

“That's done.  Twenty-five on the Chinese, forty on the pizza.  How about a beer while we wait?”

“My favorite appetizer,” Daniel replied, knowing it was a little fib.  He didn't like beer that much, but Jack did, and that was what mattered.  A minute later, Jack returned, handing a beer to Daniel.  “Jack, what's this?”

“Beer.”

“Yeah, but it's not your usual.”

“I thought you might like to try that.  It's one of those fancy imports.  You tend to like that kind of thing.  Give it a shot.”

“Jack?”

“What?”

Daniel shrugged as he sat down and then said, “So, tell me how the good guys won the game.”

“Ah, Danny, it was great.  You should have seen ...”

Two best friends spent the next couple of hours talking and sharing about things they cared about jointly and also about things that mattered to each of them individually.  Jack was having a great time, enjoying Daniel's presence, and Daniel?  He wasn't sure what was going on inside him, but what he did know was that he was lucky to have a best friend named Jack O'Neill, even when it meant listening to tall tales about fish that didn't exist and sports that Daniel still didn't comprehend.

====

On Altair, in a quiet little room away from the others, Synthetic Daniel approached Synthetic Jack.

“Hey, Danny.  Adapting well to the idea of living forever?” Jack asked jovially.

“I've been thinking about that,” Synthetic Daniel said, moving to stand just a foot or so away from Synthetic Jack.

“Thinking can be dangerous.”

“Jack, we're going to be here forever.  This is our world now.”

“Yeah, so?”

“So for all intents and purposes, we're all we have, and that's, uh, not a bad thing.”

“Danny, what are you trying to say?” Jack asked, sitting up straighter.

“I'm Daniel, but this is a whole new ... ballgame,” Synthetic Daniel said, smiling.  “Jack, what I'm trying to say is, well, I'd like to, uh, I mean, if you're interested, I'm open to ... discovery.”

“Discovery of what?”  ~Okay, breathe.  Oh crap, I don't do that anymore; he’s not saying what you think he’s saying.~

“Us.”

“Us, as in ... us?”  ~Holy cow, he is?  Okay, just breathe.  I don't care what anyone says, I'm human, and I'm breathing, and my pants are getting too tight.  Whoa ... calm down.~

“Oh, for crying out loud, this is what I mean ...”

Free from the constraints of a world of abandonment and hurt, Synthetic Daniel dove in to taste the man who wasn't a man, and yet was; the man who wasn't Sha're, and yet, made him feel ... alive.  He wasn't in love yet, but he was open, and so was Jack.

“Daniel's missing out,” the synthetic version of Daniel said sadly.

“He has Sha're, and that Jack isn't free.”

“We're free.”

“I love you, Danny.”

One day, Synthetic Daniel vowed he'd repeat those words, but for now, he let the discovery of himself, and his new lover, flow through him.

It was a brand new world, and he liked it!

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
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