Title: Accepting The Sky
Pairing: Jack and Daniel.
Category: Angst. Drama. First Time. Romance.
Season/Spoilers: Late Season 2, set after “The Fifth Race” and “Holiday.”
Synopsis: Jack and Daniel are flung clear across the universe to an alien world where the only enemy is red tape.
Length: Novella; 89 pages; 37,440 words.
Formats: Word 2003, PDF, RTF.
Cost & Download: $5 US. PayPal should provide a link to the download page after purchase. Email me if it doesn’t.
Extract: Read the rest of this entry for an extract from Accepting The Sky.
“I saw a star, I reached for it, and I missed. So I accepted the sky.”
Daniel glanced up with a quick smile as Jack strolled unhurriedly into his lab.
“Is this the gizmo Carter was telling me about?” Jack asked curiously as he pulled a tall stool across to the lab bench, already stretching out inquisitive fingers as he sat down.
Daniel smoothly lifted the artefact out of reach, blandly ignoring Jack’s indignant expression.
“Leave it alone, Jack,” he instructed. “It’s a machine of some kind and we have no idea what it might do.”
“According to Carter, it doesn’t do anything,” Jack sniffed, pouting.
He liked toys.
“It hasn’t done anything yet,” Daniel countered.
“Then how do you know it’s a machine and not just a fancy paperweight?”
“It’s emitting a low-level energy reading.”
Jack looked unconvinced.
“We did find the artefact among Ma’chello’s inventions,” Daniel reminded him with some vehemence. “Look how well those worked out for us.”
“But didn’t you steal this gizmo from Carter on the pretence that it’s not like the other gizmos we found in Ma’chello’s lab and that, on the balance of probability, the old bastard didn’t rig it as some kind of booby trap?” Jack reminded Daniel in his very best approximation of a reasonable tone.
“Your objections would be a lot more convincing if you weren’t cuddling the thing like a baby,” Jack pointed out.
Slightly embarrassed, Daniel put the artefact back down on the bench between them.
Jack promptly reached out to put both hands on it, pantomiming an outrageously exaggerated electric shock.
Daniel glared at him.
Nothing else happened.
It continued to not happen.
Daniel continued to glare.
Thwarted of entertainment, Jack eventually sat back, visibly disappointed.
“My interest is in the inscriptions,” Daniel informed him a trifle coolly. “If you’ll look at them?”
He emphasised look.
Jack interpreted this to mean touch.
“You’ll see the inscriptions are familiar.”
Jack didn’t see anything of the kind, even when he turned the artefact upside down then around and around.
“I think they’re in the language of the Ancients,” Daniel explained, although even he wasn’t sure why he was taking the trouble.
“Ooo-kaaay,” Jack drawled, prudently deciding to give up on aggravating Daniel for the moment. An Ancient device had worked out about as well for him as Mach’ello’s had for Daniel. He put his always restless hands safely in his pockets. “Can you read what it says?”
“I’m working on it.”
“Which means no.”
“Sam and the R&D team only declared the artefact safe and let me take it this morning,” Daniel explained with dignity.
“So, basically, its function right now is to sit there and look decorative?” Perking up, Jack scented a new avenue of annoyance. “Like, say, a paperweight?”
“It is beautiful,” Daniel agreed quietly, his eyes tracing the soft, organic curves of delicately sculpted white metal surrounding a darkly golden opalescent sphere suspended in the centre.
One of its mysteries was how the globe supported itself – the encasing metal didn’t touch it at any point. The inscription flowed along the curves of metal, rising and falling in an intricate spiral.
“I’ve only just determined where the writing starts,” he murmured. “Starts and stops. It flows back on itself, ending exactly where it began, coming full circle. It’s fascinating.”
“I’m glad you got something out of the old goat in the end,” Jack said frankly. “I know how much it was pissing you off Ma’chello stole your body and then it was Carter who got to play with all of his cool toys.”
“Ma’chello was an engineer, not a historian,” Daniel reminded Jack. “I’m disturbed you think I was looking for some kind of payoff from his death.”
“Not from his death, no. Just from his attempt to take your life,” Jack countered unsympathetically. “And look how close he came to getting away with you.”
“He was a very sad man,” Daniel said quietly. “And a desperately lonely one, with a brilliant mind and will trapped in a frail shell that was failing him. For a short time I knew how terrible that was for him. I guess I don’t blame him for what he did to me so much as I pity him for what he did to himself.”
“I almost got my head shaved by Teal’c, you know,” Jack reminded Daniel tartly. “Pity is a stretch.”
“Then can you at least accept Ma’chello died knowing what — and who — he was fighting for all these years? And that he believed his terrible losses worthwhile?” Daniel urged Jack to understand. “He lived my life long enough to connect with people again and to make peace with his own life. I can be glad he was able to let go in the end.”
“The old goat didn’t let go!” Jack objected. “Carter pried you out of his dying carcase.” He shook his head in despair. “See? Stuff like this is why you’re the nice one.”
“Don’t worry about it, Jack. If my knees were as old and creaky as yours, I’d be crabby too,” Daniel said sweetly.
“I’ve been inside you too, remember?”
Jack let out a muffled snort but refused to explain what was so funny.
“I’m not even starting on the state of your back,” Daniel needled.
“It’s glowing,” Jack snapped, breaking in on Daniel’s teasing with startling abruptness.
Daniel was thrown by the complete non-sequitur as much as the change in Jack’s tone.
“This!” Jack stabbed a finger at the artefact.
Daniel straightened up, mirroring Jack’s alarm as tiny points of light began to flare inside the golden sphere. “Let’s get Sam,” he decided, grabbing for the phone.
“Let’s!” Jack agreed emphatically, picking up the artefact and heading at speed for the hallway. “Tell her to meet us in the gateroom.”
“You’re sending it through the gate?” Daniel confirmed, rapidly dialling Sam’s lab.
“You bet your ass I am! Remember what happened with the last shiny ball we brought…OW!” Jack howled, trying to throw down the now smoking sphere.
“Is it hot?” Daniel dropped the unanswered phone and rushed to help Jack as he staggered. “Are you hurt?”
“Cold!” Jack ground out, clearly in pain. “It’s stuck to my skin. I can’t let go of it.”
Daniel immediately punched out at the alarm to sound the base red alert, then took Jack’s shaking hands in his to help steady the artefact and see what could be done to free him from it.
Two SFs burst into the lab at a dead run, their side-arms drawn. Jack ordered them to get Captain Carter to the gateroom ASAP, and they put out an immediate alert over their radios before they took off to clear the way.
With Daniel helping to support Jack, they headed as fast as they could towards the elevator while the machine’s reaction intensified exponentially.
The dazzling golden flares now bursting from the sphere hurt the eyes and Daniel, battered by the unearthly staccato strobing, thought he saw the white-hot pricks of light begin to wheel.
“Oh, crap!” Jack breathed in horror as they pulled up short in front of the elevator doors. He saw it too.
The sphere was spinning inside its maze of metal, gaining tremendous momentum so rapidly, it appeared to be standing still but for the deepening whine of building energy and Jack’s shuddering pain as the cold ate into his flesh.
The wheeling lights punched out, the concussion buckling the elevator doors in eerie, muffled silence. The walls crumbled, the ceiling crumpled down and the floor fell away from them.
They fell into searing light and cold, liquid and burning.
Pulverised and blinded by light, unable to breathe, Daniel held on to Jack as hard as he held on to life, feeling only his stuttering heart and iron, gripping fingers. He fought not to fail as pain splintered, cracking him open to strangling dark.
He fell clear.
Hit a hard surface from some height, debris showering down as his body heaved, his first choke of air bitter with bile as he vomited.
He held on to Jack.
Retched and groaned and wracked up his lungs.
Held on to Jack.
His eyes were open long before his vision cleared. He could move only so far he found Jack, found a feeble pulse, cradled him.
When Daniel could see, when he could see more than Jack’s white face, he saw the sphere fall from Jack’s raw, bloody hands and roll away, a burnt-out husk. He saw a streak, a spattering of dirty, broken grey. Concrete. Walls and floor and ceiling ground down to dust.
Wavering, still feeling as if he was falling, Daniel sat huddled and tried to breathe, and he held on to Jack.
Everything was white. White and light and silent.
He didn’t know this place, he couldn’t think, and the dark rose again to strangle him.