Piano Lessons by babs
Friendship:  Gen stories about the friendship between Col. Jack O'Neill and Dr. Daniel Jackson, with a team focus.
Rating: PG-13.
Category: Angst.  Drama.  Hurt/Comfort.
Season/Spoilers: Season 5.
Synopsis: Memories of the past
Warnings: None, nada, zilch.
Length:  12Kb

Piano Lessons by babs

Jack let out a noisy sigh. He'd come to Daniel's apartment early, hoping to catch the hockey game before they met Carter and Teal'c for dinner. Wasn't his fault some kid had driven into a utility pole and knocked out the electric in his neighborhood. Daniel had gestured him in with a distracted wave of his hand and went right back to reading some massive, obscure book and taking notes.

"Uh, Daniel?" Jack had said not 10 minutes later. "Why can't I get the hockey game?"

"Huh?" Daniel had looked up, his glasses halfway down his nose.

"Your TV isn't working," Jack had replied with exaggerated patience.

"Yeah, I know," Daniel had responded before his attention was caught by the book again.

"What's wrong with it?" Jack persisted.

Daniel shrugged. "I don't know, Jack. " He'd gone back to his reading for a few minutes before seeming to remember he had a guest. "You can borrow a book. I have plenty."

Jack glanced at his watch. One hour down, two to go and Daniel was still engrossed in whatever he was studying. Jack shook his head. Amazing that Daniel could sit still for hours while he was reading a book and couldn't manage to keep from squirming 10 minutes into any fishing expedition Jack dragged him on. The book he'd found on Daniel's shelf was an old murder mystery he'd figured out by the third chapter. He peeked at the end to be sure he was right and set it aside. He sighed again.

"I heard you the first time, Jack," Daniel said. "I'm sorry about the TV."

"It's okay." Jack got up and wandered over to Daniel's piano. He sat down and fingered the keys. He looked down.

"Middle C," he murmured and played a simple scale with his right hand. Maybe it was like riding a bike. Maybe you didn't ever forget how to play. He certainly would never forget 5 years of torturous lessons with Mrs. Reilly.

"Hey, Daniel?" Jack twisted on the bench.

"Yes, Jack,"Daniel said with the air of a long suffering parent of a toddler. He closed the book and pushed it away.

"You ever play this thing?" Jack asked.

Daniel stood and stretched. He walked over to the piano resting his hand on the smooth wood of the side. "Once in a while. I'm not very good."

"Why'd you buy it?" Jack asked. He patted the bench and scooted over to make room.

Daniel sat down. "I don't know." He gave a shrug before placing his own hands on the keys. "My mom and dad both played."

"So how long did you have to take lessons?" Jack grinned.

"I never did," Daniel said looking at his own hands. "My mom gave up in despair after she realized I wouldn't sit still for them. I always wanted to be outside or playing."

Jack looked at him in surprise. " I would've thought you were always reading."

Daniel shook his head. "I liked reading. I just didn't want to sit still to do it. I wasn't very studious until, well until.. " His voice died off, and Jack could fill in the rest of the words. Until my parents were killed and loving books was less painful than loving someone else I might lose.

Daniel played a scale and then started picking out a vaguely familiar tune, one that Jack knew he knew but couldn't name. "Did I ever tell you how my parents met?"

Jack shook his head. He wasn't quite sure what had started Daniel on the trip down memory lane, but he sure as hell wasn't going to interrupt it.

"Mom was supposed to go to a lecture with another grad student. He got the flu and sent my Dad to take his place. When Dad got there, Mom was playing a Gershwin record. Dad loved Gershwin and when he found out Mom did too, they spent the whole evening listening to all her records."

"That's it." Jack snapped his fingers. "Our Love is Here to Stay." He pointed to Daniel's hands when Daniel raised an eyebrow. "The song you're playing."

"Yeah, I guess it is." Daniel's hands stilled. He spoke quietly, lost in memory. "Every year, on their anniversary, Dad would sing it to her and they'd dance." He shook his head. "They'd have been married 43 years this year."

"I'm sorry, Daniel," Jack whispered. He could see the slighest hint of tears in Daniel's eyes.

Choking off a small cough, Daniel got off the bench abruptly. "I'm, uh, I'm going to go get a sweater."

"Daniel?" Jack followed him, not willing to leave him alone. He knocked on the door frame, entering the room without waiting for Daniel's permission. Daniel was opening drawers, discarding sweaters and sweatshirts on the floor. "Hey, buddy, you okay?"

Daniel coughed again., trying to mask his emotions. "I never can find that sweater Sam gave me." He pulled open another drawer.

Jack grabbed a tissue from the box near Daniel's bed. "Here, Danny."

Daniel took it without looking at Jack. "Thanks," he mumbled. He blew his nose and seemed to pull himself together. He smiled briefly at Jack. "This is ridiculous. I'm 35 years old and sometimes I still feel like an orphan."

"Hurt doesn't stop because we get older, Daniel." Jack reached out and pulled Daniel close.

Daniel let him for a moment before pulling away. "Jack, I need...I just need some time, okay?"

Jack hesitated, torn between wanting to ease away the pain and letting Daniel be on his own.

"Give me 15 minutes, " Daniel said. He started picking up the clothes and folding them.

Jack nodded and closed the door on his way out, drawn back to the piano that symbolized a loss of innocence.

Jack sat waiting, trying very hard not to hear the muffled sounds coming from Daniel's bedroom. He put his own hands back on the keys remembering the smell of Mrs. Reilly's ever present cough drops, the tick of the metronome and thought of an 8 year old boy escaping into a world of books so he didn't have to deal with loss again.

Daniel came out about 10 minutes later with a slightly reddened nose and wearing a grey sweater Sam had given him on his last birthday. He wandered towards the book on his dining room table.

"I thought we'd leave early Daniel," Jack said. "I want to swing around my place and see if the electric's back on. We can catch the rest of the game at O'Malley's." He placed a companionable arm around Daniel's shoulders to guide him towards the door.

Daniel gave him a grateful half smile and nodded. "Okay."

5 weeks later:

"Daniel," Jack said patiently. He watched Daniel nod at his name and raise a hand to shoo Jack away. Jack went closer and switched off the small lantern. "Now, Daniel. Come on, your rocks will still be here in the morning. Right now, it's time to eat."

"Uh huh," Daniel murmured, reaching out a hand to turn the lantern back on. "Ow!" He glared at Jack. "That hurt." He rubbed his hand where Jack had smacked it away.

"Eat, Daniel. Remember, food?"

Daniel sighed. "I'm not going to be able to finish this before we leave tomorrow." He tried to persuade Jack.

Jack shook his head. "Janet'll have my head if you get sick again. She only let you come on this mission because I promised her I'd make you behave."

Daniel pushed himself to his feet. "It was just the flu," he insisted. " And I feel perfectly fine." "Yes, Daniel." Jack steered him towards camp.

"Carter," Jack called as they got closer, "I hope you didn't burn supper again."

Sam ignored him and gave a smile to Daniel. "You can have seconds tonight, Daniel. Colonel O'Neill doesn't need his share if he doesn't like my cooking." Daniel let out a small laugh, as he sat down. "Well, Sam, I am hungry tonight."

"Fine with me," Jack said, taking the plate Carter handed to Daniel. "I'll just have more dessert."

"Dessert?" Daniel took his plate back. "Jack can have my seconds, Sam."

They ate companionably, Daniel sharing the impressions he'd been getting from the glyphs on the temple walls. Jack disappeared into their shared tent, as Daniel and Teal'c were taking care of the few dishes they'd used, and came out carrying his pack.

"Dessert." Jack said, opening his pack and pulling out graham crackers, a bag of slightly smushed marshmallows and chocolate bars. He laughed as Daniel's eyes widened. When it came to this dessert, Daniel rivaled any child Jack had ever known.

"S'mores," Daniel said reverently.

Teal'c gathered 4 sticks he'd sharpened earlier, and Carter came back from the stream that ran by their camp carrying a bottle of something. Daniel was already threading a marshmallow on his stick and placing it in the flames. Jack shook his head. Daniel was a "burner." He let his marshmallow catch on fire and removed it, blowing on it to quench the flames. Daniel pulled it off, cursing under his breath as he singed his fingers, and bit into it carefully. He smiled around the goo and reached into the bag for another marshmallow.

"You planning on letting us have any, Daniel?" Jack teased. He handed Daniel a pack of graham crackers and a chocolate bar.

"Sorry," Daniel said absently, focused on the marshmallow he was currently burning.

15 minutes later, filled with s'mores, Jack retrieved their mugs and opened the bottle Carter had brought from the stream. "What's this?" Daniel asked, as Jack handed him his mug.

"Sparkling cider," Jack said.

"Because?" Daniel continued.

"I felt like it." Jack answered. He held up his own mug and motioned for t he others to do the same.

"To Claire and Melbourne Jackson, for giving us Daniel." Jack toasted.

Teal'c and Sam drank their cider, while Daniel sat unmoving. He finally took a sip, and then placed the mug on the ground.

"DanielJackson, O'Neill assured us that this would please you," Teal'c said, obviously confused by Daniel's reaction.

"Daniel?" Sam asked. "We didn't mean to upset you. Colonel O' Neill..."

"I'm not upset," Daniel said softly. "I just need some... I'm going to take a walk."

Jack let him go, taking time to repack supplies.

"Why did this not please him, O'Neill?" Teal'c asked.

"I think Daniel is pleased, Teal'c. We just took him off guard," Jack answered. He placed a hand on Carter's arm when she got up to follow. "Let me, Carter."

Carter nodded. She was almost sure Daniel had been crying when he left. He'd let Colonel O'Neill near him if he was that upset, but certainly would't appreciate her presence.

Daniel heard Jack coming. Jack wasn't taking any care to be quiet. He wipe d at his face and took a deep breath.

"Hey, Jack.," he said.

"Hey," Jack answered. "You sure you're okay?"

"Yeah," Daniel nodded. "I'm fine. And I mean I am fine." He let out a long breath.

"It's funny. I can go weeks, months even, without an ache or memory, and then all of a sudden, they hit me, and I find myself wishing I could phone them and say hi to them one more time." He pulled his jacket closer and stood looking up at the stars, sprinkled so heavily they were providing their own glow to the night.

"Mom and Dad would have loved this, Jack," Daniel said when Jack expected the words were done.

"I wish they wouldn't have died, Danny." Jack said, placing a hand on Daniel's neck.

"I wish you wouldn't have had that pain."

"I know, Jack," Daniel said. "I know. That's enough." He took in a deep shuddering breath. "I really do need some time alone, Jack." He gave Jack a reassuring smile. "I'll be back soon."

Jack patted his shoulder then and gave a slight squeeze. "We'll be waiting, Danny." Daniel turned his face heavenward again, remembering a night in the desert when he lay on his cot, watching his mom and dad dance under the stars. He heard Jack's voice then, Carter's laugh, Teal'c's low rumble, and hurried back to join his family once more.

FINIS
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copyright
babs, 2002.
disclaimer
Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. These stories are for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. These stories may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author. Copyright on images remains with the above named rightsholders.
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