if he hadn't had the address, Jack would have known this was Daniel's
apartment from the silence. Music or TV was blaring out of every
other door in the building. Sometimes both. In or out, the
residents used noise to deter intruders. Jack might not be an
anthropologist, but he knew the people who lived here, the kind who
couldn't afford to replace a loss.
hadn't even seen the apartment yet, but he was sure his unexpected
friend Dr. Daniel Jackson didn't belong here.
knocked politely. "Open up, Daniel, it's your Avon lady calling."
a soft voice called in surprise as a reassuring number of locks and
bolts were undone. The door opened, revealing a barefoot Daniel,
in Jack's Blue Dawgs hockey shirt and old jeans that were ripped across
the right knee.
lied about the Avon lady thing," Jack said cheerfully. "But I do
come bearing gifts." He waved the bag of beer and pizza
temptingly, smoothly insinuating himself into the apartment.
Saturday night," Daniel reminded Jack as he carefully locked and bolted
the door. "Don't you have something better to do with your time?"
you?" Jack retorted, nodding at the laptop and the formidable heap of
reference books and notes spread out on the kitchen table as he passed
to set the bag of takeout down on the ugly Formica kitchen
counter. At first glance, the whole apartment was ugly and small
and he was mad as hell he'd let Daniel snow him this long that he was
hunky dory, don't you worry about me, I'm A-OK, Jack.
took in the stiff set of Jack's shoulders, wondering what he'd done to
set the man off this time. "Can I help you with - um…"
can clear the table," Jack said tersely, looking around the apartment
as Daniel tidied away his work.
inspection of the sparsely furnished apartment didn't make Jack any
happier. Daniel had trashed the linoleum, leaving bare
boards. The wooden floors were orange with their ancient veneer.
Looking at them, Jack couldn't imagine what state the linoleum had been
in. The walls were painted a soft blue-grey, presumably because
of its camouflaging qualities. He could see patches of damp
spreading black blotches here and there beneath the paint.
were two glass doors to his left, each with cream fabric draped behind
the glass. Daniel's bedroom was the nearer, he presumed.
The other door had to be - he shuddered at the thought - the
bathroom. The only good thing was the late evening sunshine
flooding the apartment with light and warmth through the large windows
that ran the length of the wall behind him.
fished out the pepperoni and meatball pizzas, and the six-pack of beer,
then carried them over to the table. He deliberately took the
chair adjacent to Daniel's. "Why didn't you tell me?" he asked as
he sat down.
stilling on the pizza box, Daniel looked at Jack, puzzled. "Tell
you were living like this," Jack snapped. "I loaned you the money
to rent a place but…"
paid you back!" Daniel interrupted heatedly, going red with
mortification. "As soon as my salary came through from the
not about the money, Daniel," Jack apologised. He looked at
his friend, gentle, refined. Innocent. A thoroughly nice,
naïve, romantic do-gooder. A good man. "You don't
belong here," he said definitely.
lived in worse places," Daniel replied dryly, relaxing.
"Much. After three months in the Yucatan Peninsula, I…"
snow me, Daniel!" Jack snapped. "You got your back-pay, you paid
me back, you bought a car. Clothes. Pans.
Stuff. Fair enough." Looking around, Jack could see where
some of the money had been spent.
in this bleak little apartment that he could see, Daniel had a
presence, had tried to make a small, necessary difference. The
abstract prints on the walls weren't picture box pretty. If
pushed, Jack would say they - flowed. They were warmth and
colour. There were a couple of smart new appliances, looking
ridiculously out of place. Gleaming steel kitchen tools and few
good copper pans hung from hooks in the ceiling, vivid ceramic jars
lined up neatly on the cracked Formica counter, pots of fresh herbs
basked on the window sills. A narrow book case stood between the
bedroom and bathroom doors. There was even a utilitarian navy
whole place was - what was that his Nana used to say? Making
do? That was it. Daniel was making do. This was
strictly temporary. Even Jack could see that.
Daniel flared. "I've had some expenses," he said witheringly,
tugging at the hockey shirt he still didn't have enough clothes to be
able to replace. "It isn't easy coming back from the dead.
It took six weeks to get my bank account re-opened, longer than that to
get credit cards."
get paid more than I do," Jack reminded Daniel pointedly. "You
can afford a better place."
Jack snapped. This wasn't conjecture; he knew exactly what Uncle
Sam was paying his civilian consultant. Unless Daniel was into it
big time with some loan sharks the security check hadn't found, then he
could afford to move, right now, today. Jack was convinced it was
a case of wouldn't move, not couldn't. If he hadn’t been sure, he
wouldn't have come over here.
to be bullied, Daniel coolly picked up a slice of pizza, eating it
slowly, allowing himself to savour the crisp crust, oozing tomatoes and
melting cheese, the bite of the pepperoni against his tongue.
Jack wolfed down two slices of the meatball pizza, glaring at Daniel in
thwarted, intimidating silence as he chewed.
took a quick, distasteful gulp of his beer. Nursing the sweating
bottle between his hands, he glanced at his friend and sometimes
wannabe father. "I'm not a child, Jack," he said as gently as
possible. "When I want your advice, I do ask for it." He
did ask, and he listened. He needed someone and instinct took him
to Jack. Daniel glanced down self-consciously, hoping Jack hadn't
noticed he was wearing his shirt. He should replace it, give it
back, this little piece of Jack he had. He knew it was childish,
but he didn't feel so alone…the shirt was a reminder that Jack was
here, that he wasn't alone. He'd been excised from his former
life as if he'd never existed. Was it any wonder he felt
lost? He clung to what felt real to him: Jack, at his back.
well, this time you need my advice," Jack insisted, noting the mulish
set to Daniel's lips. He kind of liked how Daniel was just about
the most stubborn little scrap of humanity in the known universe, but
not when he was fighting him. "Take a look at this place,
Daniel. You're living like a student."
say that like it's a bad thing. I don't see it's any of your
business where or how I choose to live, Jack. Or what I choose to
do with my money, for that matter," Daniel said quietly, taking another
slice of pizza.
ate in silence for a while, Jack trying to come up with something that
he could use to weasel through Daniel's defences. He knew damned
well Daniel was lying through his teeth. He could afford to
move. This wasn't about money, but something else. It was
like Daniel wasn't letting himself have anything better. Like he
didn't deserve it or something. Maybe some part of Daniel was
ready to let go, maybe Daniel even knew it on some level, but that
would make the tenacious little bastard cling even more stubbornly to
this dump like his own personal hair-shirt. Jack didn't
think Daniel wanted to move on, to get settled, because if he did, that
would mean - dammit, was his brain in his ass? Daniel couldn't
quit, couldn't move someplace 'nice' because that would mean admitting
Sha'uri was gone.
his best day, Jack was no Oprah, but he figured the best thing he could
do for Daniel was help him realise that he was committed, to Jack, to
his team, to his life. It hurt him to force this, because he
could see how Daniel ached in the stubborn tilt of his chin, the
tension in the slender shoulders. The way he couldn't sit at his
ease, his hands always busy, always seeking…
here is lousy," Jack said flatly, a germ of an idea coming to
him. "Even with the extra locks, a burglar could be in here in no
time. The door is too damned flimsy. Is that your journal
from Simarka?" he asked casually, looking at the small stack of books
Daniel had moved to the couch so he could join Jack at the small table
for dinner. The 'Conquest and Culture in Mongol Eurasia' was a
bit of a giveaway. Along with 'Russia and the Golden Horde' and
the biography of Genghis Khan. Sitting on top of the heap -
Daniel's private journals were unmistakeable with their golden brown
covers and well-thumbed appearance. Jack had watched Daniel write
in them while his shiny new PC stood mostly untouched in the corner.
himself just a little, feeling out of his depth, Jack went with what he
knew. Ambush. "I'm sorry to have to do this, Daniel, but
it's my job. I'm going to have to recommend to the general that
your journals and laptop stay on base."
Daniel stammered, beginning to get really angry now. "Why -
why would you do that? What business is it of yours!"
responsible not just for the safety and welfare of my team, but to
protect the secrecy of the SGC," Jack said gently. "You signed
the same agreement." He saw Daniel shift uncomfortably, his head
been here over two months! No one's tried to break in," Daniel
you really want to take the risk, Daniel? Do you want your
journals in NID hands, thanks to a staged robbery. I could canvas
the neighbours, find out how many times their apartments have been
broken into, but I doubt it would make you any happier," Jack
offered. This hit Daniel hard, just as Jack knew it would.
He was sorry when he saw something close to panic on Daniel's face,
realising it was capitulation. He knew he was robbing Daniel of
one of the few things that brought him solace. He'd seen the boy
reading; he lost himself in his books, his imagination. Jack felt
terrible, but unless Daniel moved some place the Air Force approved as
secure, he would have to give up his journals.
need to work, Jack," Daniel whispered.
Jack asked gently. This, he remembered. Evenings stretching
away from him, jumping out of his skin, his mind skittering…he'd do
anything, anything to fill his time and his mind, to exhaust his
body. He'd fall into bed, leaden and numbed and still his mind
would race, and he would remember…
need - I - " Daniel shook his head helplessly, glaring at Jack,
his eyes huge and wounded.
much goddamned time on your hands," Jack said, his voice rough with
have to work, Jack, I have to." Daniel laid his hand on Jack's,
close to pleading. "Jack." He had to make Jack
understand. He could only lose himself in the work, in his
books. Sometimes it felt like he could only think with his pen
stuttering over the page, pouring into words what he couldn't - it hurt
too much to feel, he had to channel, to distance himself. Had
to. He could take anything but the strained silence and his
images, the memories he couldn't let go of and couldn't afford to hold
onto. Sha'uri, her laugh and the sound of her voice, her quick,
light footsteps. The oil she rubbed into her skin, even her
thick, rarely washed hair…The taste of her, the giving heat as he moved
inside her, her fingers clawing into his buttocks, pulling him into
her, deeper, harder…her guttural cries as she came and the salt tang of
cold and proud, ready to die for her lord and nothing of Sha'uri in her.
he could see.
hurts," Daniel whispered.
know," Jack said simply. "That's why I try to forget."
can't. Sha'uri is out there, Jack. I can't let go of her, I
can't. She needs me. She trusted me, they all trusted
me." Daniel's voice broke. "It was my fault."
you took us to the cartouche?" Jack snapped.
I opened the gate. I couldn't leave it alone, Jack," Daniel
confessed, his voice harsh and choked with his misery. He looked
around at his journals, his books. The passion of half his life,
stronger than the passion in his marriage, stronger than
anything. He could never know enough, he always had to learn
more, see more, he ached for it, like he was aching for his wife.
The thrill of discovery was greater than his guilt. It had cost
him his wife and he took pleasure in it. It was who he was.
How could he not hate himself for that?
Jack stood, pulling Daniel to him, he went blindly, shivering
convulsively, clinging to Jack's heat and solidity. Jack hugged
him and said nothing, went on saying nothing, letting Daniel shake and
shiver like it was perfectly fine.
can't be afraid all the time, Jack."
just caught the words breathed into his shoulder. "It's all about
firsts," he sighed. "First time I slept through the night."
comes," Jack promised, his hand rough with affection at Daniel's nape.
pulled away suddenly, clumsily taking off his glasses to dash a
trembling hand across his wet eyes. Suddenly awkward, they each
looked away, taking an abortive step or two. There was really
nowhere to go, nothing to do but sit again at the table and pretend
Daniel wasn't raw.
tossed back the rest of his beer, then started grimly on another.
"Spit it out," he ordered brusquely.
know to the minute how long it was the first time I smiled," Daniel
said dully. "Since…you know. The first time I
laughed. The first time I forgot Sha'uri and just…" He
looked across at Jack and found understanding if not reassurance.
"Stayed in the moment."
understood better than Daniel knew. There was a terrible symmetry
here. The first time Jack had been shocked into feeling anything
after Charlie died because of him was when Daniel Jackson died for
him. It tore him apart, opened him up, hating it, hating
himself. The risk he took trying to take out Ra, Jesus, he knew
he had no chance, but he hadn't cared about the lives of his men, or
Daniel, he was in the moment, he was ready to die. Fear, fury,
guilt…in the hours he huddled with his men, he'd felt alright. He
shook and shook and hated Daniel Jackson for taking his life like
that. Hated him more for seeing right through him, for seeing
everything and caring. In the long months after he left Daniel
behind on Abydos, there had been so much Jack needed to forget, just to
get by, but he'd remembered Daniel and those memories got easier.
want to know what I learned after - well…" Jack rolled his beer
bottle between his palms, staring blankly out the window. "Not
being happy isn't the same as being unhappy. Not being happy is
doable. It's doable every damn day. I fucking hate it," he
hissed with quiet venom.
decided it would do neither of them any good to say most of his life
was 'doable'. Being happy, being wanted, loved - belonging…he
couldn't even touch that, not now. Not Abydos. He felt the
need, though. He was no one's husband, no one's good son or
brother. All that feeling - it hadn't been enough. He
unburied the gate, he needed to have possibility in his life, the
chance to be part of something greater than himself, to connect not
just with other worlds and other people, but with the past, and with
himself. With Jack.
up at his friend, Daniel admitted to himself he hadn't been able to
resist the lure of friendship. Jack understood Daniel in a way no
one had. No one, not effortlessly, not without words. He
trusted Jack in a way he'd never trusted anyone, not since his
parents. Jack's friendship - it was part of who Daniel was.
Daniel slumped in his seat, Jack relaxed and took some more
pizza. He still felt crappy about the tough love thing, but
he honestly believed Daniel needed to move on. Jack bitterly
regretted his arrogant, impulsive promise to find Sha'uri. Not
that he thought Daniel should forget about her or that they wouldn't do
whatever they could for her. Daniel couldn't live on what if and
coulda-woulda-shoulda. He needed to deal with what his life was
now, needed to know he was already committed, to Jack, to SG-1, to his
friends and his work here. Daniel needed to live, not
exist. "It gets better, Daniel. With time."
looked at him then. "I don't want time, Jack," he said
simply. "I want my wife back. Every time I go through the
gate, I'm hoping - not that I'll see her, that's…" Daniel pulled
months with nothing," Daniel said softly, hanging his head, his hair
falling forward over his face. "I forget," he confessed. "I
get excited," he admitted self-consciously. "About the work - the
people we meet, the cultures I've only experienced vicariously, only
imagined." Try dreamed. Even talking about it, Daniel was
- er - I notice that. From time to time," Jack said
lightly. It was the innocent vulnerability, that child-like
openness of Daniel's that the parent in Jack responded to, time and
again. "You can't just exist, Daniel. You can't close
yourself off. If you did, you wouldn't be the man Sha'uri knew,
the man who might reach her. It's okay to live your life, to love
parts of it. That isn't taking anything away from Sha'uri.
It's about you. It's human."
doesn't have that choice, Jack," Daniel said bitterly. "I don't
know - they said nothing of the host survives, that it's only her body,
a shell. I can't believe that!" he said passionately. "I
can't!" He had to have hope. To balance out the guilt, and
not just for unburying the goddamned gate he'd needed more than his
wife in the first place. He had to believe there was something
left of Sha'uri to save, for her sake and his.
needed that belief for the times he would suddenly remember Sha'uri,
his excitement seeming suddenly obscene in light of her suffering, his
passion, his work dimmed by loss and something too close to resentment.
- it had to be hard on him. He couldn't understand this, but he
did feel it. Deeply. He needed it to be hard because the
further he moved into this life and engaged with the people around him,
his friends - his team - the more he loved it. "It fits," he said
softly. "I don't - I - I want to believe Abydos is still home,
know." Hearing the pleading note in his friend's voice, Jack
wondered if he was being selfish, trying to get Daniel to commit to
what he had, to focus on the here and now, not on what ifs and
maybes. He just couldn't bear to see Daniel hurting and not try
to fix it, not when he was further up this particular learning
curve. "Look around you, Daniel. You need to move on, part
of you is trying to do that. The answers you need are on the
other side of the gate. You need the team. You need us."
looked at Daniel's face, his bleak, wordless pain. He realised
then that Daniel knew it all. He knew the cost of commitment was
Sha'uri and Skaara. All Jack knew was that Daniel's joy at
exploration touched his friend as deeply as his love for his wife, and
that Jack knew better than anyone the cost of closing himself off.
it will help, I can lend you the money for the security deposit on a
new place," Jack offered woodenly, not looking at Daniel. "A more
secure place. Somewhere you can work." He'd already forced
Daniel into a choice he wasn't ready to make. He owed it to him
to ride this out with him.
understood that Jack wanted the best for him. Sometimes, though,
Jack's affection for him hurt. Jack took the power and
responsibility of a parent, but it wasn't softened by a child.
Charlie was dead, and Sara was gone, and part of Jack would never move
on. Oddly, it comforted Daniel that Jack shared this, that he
didn't have to talk or explain. He was so tired of fighting and
Jack needed him to lean so badly - it was his faith in Jack the parent
in his friend responded to. Maybe he could lean. A little.
help you look," Jack offered. It was way too much to expect
gratitude, but Daniel surprised him with a small, tentative smile.
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