|Slash:||Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.|
|Category:||Angst. Drama. Friendship.|
|Synopsis:||Daniel muses about his job, Jack reflects on Daniel.|
|Warnings:||None, nada, zilch.|
Daniel put his notebook aside and picked up a small clay mug in his hands. He rubbed a finger gently over the reddish surface. Countless centuries ago someone had held it in their hands, and now he a traveler from a distant world, a distant time, held it in his. Sometimes it awed him, the fact that he could touch, could breathe in, the atmosphere of worlds light years away, that he could hold something so ancient in his hands. He wondered whose it had been, what the person who used it had drunk from it. Once upon a time people had walked here, lived here. People who laughed and cried, made love and had babies, people who had families and who saw those they love die. Sometimes, when he listened hard enough, he could hear the echoes of them.
He'd finished filming and copying the temple writings earlier in the day, the fact that he was standing here was due to Jack. Jack understood the need he had sometimes, to absorb the past, to touch it, to just breathe it in. There were other items in the chamber before him, pieces of jewelry, baskets, and huge earthenware jars he suspected had been filled with food and wine for the journey to the Land of the Dead. But it was the cup that had drawn his attention. He held it closer to the light, able to see the faint lines of the potter's fingerprints. He put one of his fingers over the marks. He replaced it in the same spot he'd found it in and murmured an apology to those who lay here. He picked up his notebook and flashlight and headed back into the sunlight and Jack.
Jack watched Daniel emerge from the small chamber and squint as his eyes readjusted to light. Daniel was smiling that enigmatic smile he had sometimes, the smile that Jack had figured out meant Daniel was holding some silent secret close to his heart. He waited until Daniel approached him.
"Hey, Daniel," Jack said softly. "Find anything interesting?"
Daniel just shook his head, and Jack frowned. Daniel seemed way too subdued for his liking. So he took his usual approach, speaking of inane matters as they headed towards the camp, knowing that Daniel would talk when he was ready. Their supper was filled with more of the same kind of conversations, Carter talking about the flora and fauna she'd been cataloging, Daniel giving brief descriptions of the temple writings, Jack and Teal'c asking appropriate questions at the appropriate pauses and being suitably quiet and attentive when required.
Jack stirred the fire and watched Daniel take off at a brisk pace as soon as he'd finished washing the dishes. Jack motioned silently towards Daniel's retreating back to Carter and Teal'c. They both nodded, and Carter drew unconsciously closer to Teal'c, seeking the warmth of his larger frame. Jack followed Daniel and found him sitting on the ground at the bluff, looking towards the sunset over the distant mountains. "I love this time of day," Daniel said quietly as Jack settled beside him.
"Yeah," Jack agreed. "You okay, Danny? You seemed kind of quiet at supper."
"Just thinking," Daniel murmured, still watching the sun slipping down behind the mountains.
"Thinking," Jack echoed., nudging Daniel with an elbow.
"Deep stuff, Jack," Daniel said, shooting a sideways glance at him. "You know, the what- does- it-all- mean stuff."
"Oh, that stuff," Jack smiled. "You need to talk it out?"
Daniel had turned back to watching the sunset. He shook his head. "Not yet, Jack." Daniel pulled his knees close to his chest and rested his chin on them.
Jack waited, the chill of the ground starting to seep into his bones. He watched Daniel gazing at the sunset. For someone who complained about the cold of winters in Colorado and insisted on turning Jack's thermostat up at least five degrees every time he spent the night, Daniel never seemed to mind sitting on his butt on cold rocks. The sun was reflecting off Daniel's glasses, twin sunsets that nearly hid his eyes.
"Are you ever in awe of all this, Jack?" Daniel gestured suddenly, his arm sweeping to take in the sunset, the mountains, the alien sky.
Jack took in the view once more before returning his eyes to Daniel's. "I think what we do is pretty amazing, so yeah, I guess I am." He wasn't quite sure where Daniel was going with all of this.
"This afternoon I stood in a burial chamber God only knows how many light years away from Earth and held a mug that was at least a thousand years old in my hand," Daniel spoke quietly. "Once upon a time there were people here, Jack. There were people who stood here and watched this same sun set over those same mountains." He shook his head. "It just hit me how absolutely wonderful this is. I mean, I could be stuck at some university, lecturing kids who wouldn't give a damn about what I was talking about, worrying about grants that might or might not come through, sifting through miles of red tape to be able to fund a dig. And instead of all that, I'm here. I'm standing on an alien world doing the job I love." He turned to Jack with a big grin. "That is just, " Jack leaned back as Daniel gestured broadly again "just amazing." He laughed.
Jack closed his eyes a moment remembering, scenes racing across his consciousness. The archaeologist he'd first met all those years ago who gave small shy smiles in apology. The heartbroken man who'd lost his home and his wife in an instant who smiled rarely and laughed with no soul. The grieving widower and abandoned grandson who didn't smile for months, despite the affection and attention of his teammates. The private lover who smiled and laughed with abandon. Jack remembered the first time he'd heard Daniel laugh. Not the small polite laugh reserved for company, but a full fledged belly laugh. Daniel had been at Jack's house watching an old Abbott and Costello movie while Jack was cooking supper. He'd heard a strange choking sound and almost dropped the pot he was holding. Jack had nearly run to the living room but had stopped before Daniel saw him, afraid to shatter the moment of seeing Daniel so relaxed and happy. Daniel was sitting on the couch, holding a pillow to his stomach while he laughed over the voices of Abbott and Costello doing their familiar routine of Who's on First. What had been a vague sort of feeling before had coalesced into certainty at that moment. Jack knew without hesitation that he was totally and completely in love with Daniel Jackson. It had taken all his self control not to just go over and kiss the man senseless.
Jack pulled himself back to the present. Daniel had moved closer, putting a hand on Jack's arm.
"We are so damn lucky, Jack," Daniel said softly. "I am so lucky. I guess I just realized that today."
"I don't think it's luck at all, Danny," Jack shook his head. "I think it's a certain stubborn linguist I know just taking all the right turns in the road as he came to them. And I, for one, am extremely grateful you took them, Daniel."
Daniel stood abruptly, turning to face the sun as it slipped below the horizon. "They are real to me, Jack. These people...they mattered to someone."
"I know, Daniel," Jack reached out a hand for Daniel to pull him up. "You matter too. You know that, right?"
Daniel smiled that same enigmatic smile he'd worn when he'd first come out of the burial chamber. "Yeah, Jack. It took a while, but yeah, I do know it." He glanced at Jack with a wicked gleam in his eyes. "Race you back to camp. Last one back takes third watch," he called and took off.
Jack stood a moment longer, looking at the stars that were just beginning to appear. "Thank you," he whispered to the universe. "Thank you so much." He took his time heading back to camp, knowing full well he wouldn't be sitting third watch alone. A certain stubborn linguist would be keeping a very, very lucky Air Force colonel company through the darkest part of the night. Tonight, and, hopefully, many more nights yet to come.