|Friendship:||Gen stories about the friendship between Col. Jack O'Neill and Dr. Daniel Jackson, with a team focus.|
|Synopsis:||Jack and Daniel on the beach.|
|Warnings:||None, nada, zilch.|
Jack O' Neill picked his way carefully over the rock strewn shore, heading towards a figure of dark green and light brown currently leaning back against a boulder. "Shit," he said, as cobblestones spun out under his boots, and he twisted an ankle.
The figure moved to look at him.
"You okay, Jack?" Daniel asked in alarm.
"Yeah," Jack grumbled. "Damn rocks." He reached Daniel's side and eased down next to Daniel, propping his feet on the rock in front of him. "What about you?"
Daniel turned his gaze back to the sea. "Getting there." He leaned his head back against the rock, still warm from the sun that had been shining all day and gazed at the waves, well aware that Jack was going to stand watch. He took in a deep breath and held it to a count of 5, then let it out slowly. 'Listen,' he thought. He felt the ache that had been in his chest for weeks start to dissolve, felt his mouth curving into a small smile. 'So,this is what it feels like to relax. Strange, I'd forgotten.' Daniel let the warmth of the rock, the warmth of Jack's presence seep into his bones.
Jack sat waiting, his eyes not on the sea, but on his best friend. The tiredness that had lined Daniel's face after their last 4 missions was easing. Janet hadn't been too happy about letting Daniel come on this assignment. He was exhausted, she had argued. He'd been driving himself too hard for too long. Jack had countered that this mission was just what Daniel needed.Five days on an uninhabited planet with a temple filled with all kinds of scribbles that Daniel wouldn't be able to resist. He needs time to be an archaeologist, Jack had countered to Hammond and Janet. He needs time to do what he loves, not just what we want him to do. That had won the argument, because Janet and Hammond had seen the signs too, the slow retreat Daniel took when things got too harsh, the leaching away of enthusiasm, of passion, of joy in what he did.
Jack considered the fact that the planet had a sea near the Gate an added bonus. He wondered if it was growing up in deserts that had made Daniel love the sea. For Daniel did love the sea, and the wilder the shore the better. It had been an accidental discovery on Jack's part.
Daniel had asked him to get a book off one of the shelves: third row from the top and Jack had pulled it out, accidentally knocking over a small box. It had spilled onto to Daniel's carpet, sea shells of all sizes. Daniel had come over, helping to pick them up one by one, naming them for Jack as he returned them to the box: angel wing, scallop, cowrie, frilled dogwinkle, lightening whelk, jingle shell, his hands gentle in returning them to their nest in the box, and he'd given a small embarrassed laugh as if to discount his love for their beauty. Jack had called him on it and drawn him out, listening as Daniel talked about oceans and shells and sailing ships.
The sun was just beginning to set on this world, turning the sky a lavender and rose color that was rare on Earth. Daniel's breath came out in a rush. Jack thought for a moment that Daniel was going to speak but realized that words weren't going to come this sunset, that they would sit in silence and have a different conversation.
When Daniel and he were first beginning to work out the rhythms of their friendship in those first awful weeks after Daniel's return from Abydos, those silences had scared Jack. Daniel would talk a mile a minute on base, hands flying to punctuate the words he so desperately needed people to understand. But in the evenings when Jack would drag him away, take him to dinner and an apartment filled with a few unpacked boxes, Daniel would grow silent. A beer or two would serve to loosen Daniel's tongue, but Jack soon recognized the unfairness of that. Daniel was comfortable in silence. It wasn't his fault that Jack wasn't. There'd always been a need to fill silence before Daniel.
His relationship with Sarah had taught him that silence could be used as a weapon, to wound a soul. Jack had been as guilty of it as Sarah. He'd refuse to talk about the things that mattered; she'd refuse to talk at all. Jack would fill the silences that he grew to hate with words that meant nothing, that filled the void with empty sound. Daniel had unknowingly taught him how to listen to the silence, to recognize its beauty. He'd learned more about Daniel in the silences than in all the words that were spent between them.
Jack turned his own gaze back to the sea and listened. The cobblestones chinked against one another as the waves moved them grinding them slowly to sand. A thousand years, ten thousand, and this beach would still be here on this distant world, circling this distant sun. The waves pounded, one after another, unending, in time with his own heartbeat. A bird cried as it circled before diving for whatever passed for fish on this world. He heard Daniel's breaths, slow and even. He glanced back to his friend wondering if Daniel had fallen asleep. When had Daniel gotten those first stray strands of silver, Jack wondered. How had that happened and Jack not noticed?
Fog was beginning to roll in, changeable weather on this planet, and beads of water were beginning to be trapped in Daniel's hair. He reached out, shook Daniel's shoulder gently, smiling when Daniel rubbed at his eyes sleepily.
"Fog's coming in for the night," Jack explained. He stood, reaching down a hand to help Daniel stand.
Daniel took it and stood, moving to walk beside Jack. He never told Jack how much he needed the silence, but Jack had learned. Much as Daniel used words, loved language, there were times when words frightened him. He'd learned early how words could betray. 'Don't worry, we will keep you safe,' words his parents had spoken, promises shattered. 'We're glad you're here, this is your home,' words he'd heard for eight years as he moved from house to house, dreams broken. So he'd learned that silence could be a friend, a haven from fear, a place to dream. Words were his inheritance and he'd learned to spend them sparingly, unable to bear losing them.
He stopped as Jack's hands came to his shoulders and turned him to face the sea once more. Jack had taught Daniel the shorthand of friendship,taught him that saying his name could convey a wealth of meaning. It was Jack who understood that sometimes the words became too overwhelming, who didn't push for them when he couldn't give them. It was Jack who understood that words had to be spent carefully when the soul was involved. Daniel blinked rapidly, trying to keep the tears filling his eyes from spilling. He couldn't have begun to find words for this moment in this place, the fog hushing even the sound of the waves, the tinkling of the small stones as the water spun them under his boots, the echoes of the people who'd once lived here and loved here and died here. He bent down, fingers just touching the edge of the wave that had come to their feet. He flattened his hand pressing down onto the stones, feeling the pulse of this world. He heard Jack's feet shift and straightened once again.
Turning to Jack, Daniel smiled, sure that Jack would see it through the fog and twilight. Daniel started walking again, Jack by his side. They'd learned it together, the secret of silences, the language of love that needed no words at all.