THE ANCHOR HOLDS BY DARCY


Slash: Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: PG
Category: ER, angst
Season/Spoilers: None
Synopsis: What would happen if the guys were found out? This is a worst-case scenario.
Warnings: None
Length: 45 Kb
Notes: This fic is written as a follow up story to Ozy's short and powerful fic, 'Two Tragedies'. Her story grabbed me and wouldn't let go. 'The Anchor Holds' is written with her complete knowledge and permission. Although it is not absolutely necessary to read her fic in order to understand this one, I would highly recommend it. It can be found here http://www.area52hkh.net/ozymandia/2tragedies.php.

 

Three months had passed since the never-ending nightmare began.

Daniel scrunched his eyes closed at the headache threatening to overwhelm him. Had it only been three months since he and Jack had been forced to leave their lives and the SGC behind? It already seemed like a lifetime. They’d gone from highly trained defenders of the planet, confident in themselves and their love, to this miserable state of limbo that Daniel, the world’s leading linguist, had no name for.

And Jack... Jack could barely stand to touch him or be touched by him.

The embarrassment, the forced retirement, it had all come to a head this past weekend and Daniel was relieved to being flying back to the dig site for another week of relative peace. He pinched the bridge of his nose and leaned back against the headrest as the small, twin-engine charter flight left Cairo, and Jack, behind.


Daniel rubbed at his temple; his head had been throbbing for the past two days, ever since Sunday night’s confrontation with Jack. Working himself to exhaustion didn’t seem to help this time. Today, he hoped to remedy the problem by scheduling himself to work in the tomb for the remainder of the week. The comfort of the dust pit, his personal sanctuary more commonly referred to as Site B, would alleviate the incessant pounding. As soon as Daniel started the climb down the ladder the tension began to ease. A sense of relief washed over him as his eyes blinked furiously to adjust to the dim, generator-powered lighting at the bottom of the hot, dusty tomb.

Hours passed, mercifully blurring the boundaries of time and space and circumstance. The sharp ache faded to a dull hurt as Daniel willed his mind to drift into the ancient past in order to escape the painful present.

He’d been working at the site for eight weeks, having swallowed his pride and accepted an assistant job at this remote dig, a hundred miles from nowhere. Dr. Thomas Emerson Blake was the archaeologist in charge. Dr. Blake knew of Dr. Jackson’s genius and of his checkered past, and Daniel was grateful Blake had hired him in spite of his tarnished reputation.

So far, the dig had turned up some interesting, although not remarkable finds... gold leaf fragments, Egyptian blue pottery, faience ‘curls’, and a couple of carnelian beads.

The multitude of tasks and responsibilities that came with being in charge of Site B kept Daniel's body worn and his mind occupied. When he wasn’t in the tomb he was taking measurements, logging finds, filling in context sheets, plotting the location of ‘finds’ to scale on graph paper and making notations in the Site B journal. All of the work was imperative, an important part of being an archaeologist, but none of it compared to squatting down on the floor of the shaft, covered in dust, trowelling back debris to unearth treasures that hadn’t been seen or touched in three thousand years.

“Dr. Jackson!” It was Ahmed, Daniel’s assistant, the tenor of his voice leaving no doubt he’d found something.

Daniel reluctantly forced his mind back to the present. He had forgotten he wasn’t alone. Ahmed and Moshe had been silently trowelling beside him. Ahmed held up the ostraca, a piece of limestone that looked to have been part of a royal cartouche. Daniel carefully took the piece from his helper and held it under the glare of his flashlight. Instead of being enclosed in the usual oval, it was surrounded by the coils of a snake. Daniel involuntarily shivered in the hundred degree desert heat.

“It is a good find, yes?” Ahmed asked.

It took Daniel a few seconds to regain his balance. “Yes, it’s a good find. Bag it and catalog it.”

The headache reasserted itself almost immediately. Daniel informed the men he would be going up top to catch up on his notes and paperwork. He ignored the looks of surprise on their faces as he scrambled up the ladder, anxious to be alone. It was rare for an archaeologist to give up a scheduled day in the tomb for paperwork. Rarer still, to do so moments after a discovery. He didn’t care. It wasn’t the limestone that bothered him. Snakes were not unusual on Egyptian artifacts. It was the memories the snake invoked that caused the sudden chill, the Goa’uld, the system lords, the Tok’ra, Sam, Teal’c... Jack.

Jack.

Daniel had little doubt Jack would be gone when he returned to the apartment in Cairo this weekend. He bit his lower lip and blinked back unwanted tears. It’s not worth tears, he admonished himself. The last few months had plunged them into the depths of hell and there was no going back. Jack could barely stand to be near him. Daniel closed his eyes as a few tears escaped unchecked and then took a deep breath to combat the pain that settled itself like a weight on his chest.

Despite his protests to the contrary, Jack blamed him for all he’d lost. Daniel was sure of it. Although his mind assured him Jack’s leaving would probably be for the best, his heart cried out in silent protest.

Daniel removed his glasses and lay down on his cot, his headache returning with a vengeance. They had never talked about what had happened, not once, but if this was the end, he needed to examine the horrific memories, no matter how shattering, before accepting the fact his life with Jack was truly over.

Who knows how or where it had started? Maybe they had been under surveillance and someone had seen them, or maybe someone had simply guessed. They both had enemies. What difference did it make now?

It had not taken long for Kinsey, Earth’s self-appointed watchdog of ‘good old fashioned American values' to bring Jack down. The fall was as spectacular as it was painful, leaving them both stunned by its swiftness. One day they went to work and gated to other worlds in search of alien weapons and technology to battle the Goa’uld. They were members of the premiere team of the SGC, the guardians of the world, Earth’s last line of defense. The next day they were sitting at home, stunned by a public outing that left them humiliated and stinging from the lack of support.

Daniel had turned to archaeology, finding comfort in his field. He still managed to find joy in his work no matter how insignificant the dig.

That was the point Jack had been trying to make Sunday night. Jack had no work and therefore no joy. Jack wasn’t Jack anymore.

The tears flowed freely as Daniel forced himself to relive that last painful day three months ago.

“Colonel O’Neill, it is my sad duty to inform you that you have been charged with conduct unbecoming an officer.” The shock and disappointment in General Hammond’s voice was unmistakable. The relationship between his second in command and the SGC’s top archaeologist was something the genteel family man from Texas would never be able to comprehend.

Jack didn’t insult the man with a denial. He was an officer, a full bird Colonel, and a man General Hammond had considered a trusted friend. Even if the General had been able to accept Jack was in a homosexual relationship, the fact the relationship was with a team member, a subordinate, was something the military man in Hammond could never condone.

Daniel recalled how Jack had stood at attention, rigid and unwavering before his CO, friend and mentor.

It took action by the President of the United States to keep Jack out of jail. If Colonel O’Neill left quietly and ‘disappeared’, he could simply walk away a free man and keep his pension. It was obvious the General had pulled quite a few strings to get that sweet deal. Jack’s face flushed in embarrassment at the General’s generosity despite his obvious disappointment.

General Hammond had the decency to shake their hands and wish them luck, the sorrow and confusion in his eyes expressing more than his words.

Daniel barely had a moment for a last glance at the Stargate, the Chappa’ai, the Circle of Darkness, the Stone Ring, the Annulus... the wonder had been both a blessing and a curse. The ancient gateway had the power to change their lives, as well as the power to destroy them. He had silently cursed it as he took one last glimpse at the imposing piece of alien technology and decided it had brought far more heartache than joy.
 
Next had been the humiliation of being escorted off the base like common criminals. Having every last box searched and then, to add insult to injury, having themselves thoroughly searched as well. Daniel recalled the last painful walk down the corridors of the SGC. He had periodically glanced around and noted the eyes of every airman were filled with either scorn or pity. Jack was grim, his posture straight and stiff, proud to the end. For once, the dancing dark eyes were still, devoid of emotion, staring straight ahead. His demeanor reminding Daniel of the phrase, ‘dead man walking’, the bearing of a man attempting to appear unperturbed as he soundlessly marches to his doom.
 
Daniel’s reaction to Jack’s degradation was fierce anger. Anger at the Air Force and at all of their so called friends and colleagues. A few airman saluted and said ‘Good luck, sir’, but they had been a very few. Earth’s citizens may be unaware of the sacrifices made by Colonel Jack O’Neill to save their sorry ass’s, but these men and women knew, they knew, and still they gawked and whispered. Daniel hated them. Hated every last one of them and wondered if the last seven years of their lives had been worth it. Had their home world been worth saving?
 
Daniel had felt an insane urge to grab Jack’s hand in a final act of defiance. He refrained, reminding himself Jack had put twenty-five years into the Air Force, the last seven risking life and limb, going where angels feared to tread. There was no anger or fire burning in his lover’s eyes, only deep hurt buried beneath a mask of indifference. Daniel bristled at the dishonor and the lack of respect as Kinsey lead them down the bustling corridors of the SGC during the busy mid-afternoon shift change. Colonel Jack O’Neill, the hero of the SGC, the savior of the world, reduced to a sad curiosity.
 
They emerged from the tunnel for the final time at Cheyenne Mountain to a clear blue sky and brilliant sunshine. That’s what Daniel remembered. That’s what had shocked him the most. It should have been gray and bleak. The rain should have burst forth from the heavens accompanied by screaming claps of thunder with lightning bolts flashing angrily across a dark sky. Mother Nature herself should have raged at the grave injustice. Instead, the sun shined down as if nothing had changed, when in fact, everything had.

The only bright spot had been Sam and Teal’c. With his eyes closed, Daniel could clearly envision their faces, and he ached for the company of his friends.

The day Kinsey had started the process Jack had called a team meeting at his house. He wanted to be sure they heard the news directly from him. It was too late. “We know, sir.” Sam had quietly said. In the span of one afternoon they had heard at least ten different rumors and versions of the rise and fall of the great Colonel Jonathan O’Neill.

It had taken Jack two hours to convince both of them not to hand in their resignations.

Tears continued to stain Daniel’s dirt streaked cheeks as he thought back to the four of them crying and clinging to one another in Jack’s living room. The knowledge they would never again go through the gate together was overshadowed by the knowledge they would never again be as close as they were at that moment. The fact that the demise of the legendary SG-1 was brought about not by a Goa’uld, but by one of their own people, was an overwhelming sorrow that was almost too much to bear.

A month later, Daniel learned Teal’c had indeed retired from the SGC and kept up the good fight by working full time with the rebel Jaffa. To the Air Force’s great displeasure, Sam had flatly refused to take command of SG-1, opting instead to wait for another SG command to open up. A month later she had been rewarded, becoming the first and only female team leader... of SG-5.

God how he missed them. Daniel stood up and made his way over to the basin to splash some water on his tear-stained face. His throat was sore from the lump that had sprung up with the pain of the memories and the nagging thought that maybe Jack had been right. Maybe the colonel had lost more.

They had only been home a week when one of the neighborhood kids had informed Jack he was no longer allowed to play street hockey or football with him. For a man as private and proud as Jack it was the ultimate humiliation. Most of the neighbors stopped waving ‘hello’. One night as he fumbled with the key to the front door, a group of teenagers yelled, “queers,” as they passed by the house. Daniel recalled how he had placed a hand on Jack’s shoulder to calm him should he attempt to confront them. Jack had shown no reaction at all, and Daniel found himself wishing for the anger.

Even old Mrs. Henderson had notified them she would no longer be in need of their services. Jack had been shoveling her walk and periodically picking up groceries for her off and on for the past four years.

Within a month of his forced retirement, Jack put his beloved home up for sale.

Daniel toweled his face dry and flopped down heavily on the cot.

Aside from Sam, no one called, no one cared and Jack suddenly seemed eager to leave it all behind and accompany him to Cairo.

The dig had been a godsend for Daniel but Jack had quickly tired of the small apartment. He was alone in a foreign city all week long with nothing to do and no one to talk to... he didn’t even speak the language.

Daniel suddenly felt ashamed. What had he expected from Jack? Daniel could lose himself in the hard work and hot sun and forgot about his other life for hours or even days at a time. He worked himself into exhaustion. Only then could he forget about other planets and cultures and aliens and system lords. Only then could forget the deep pain in Jack’s eyes and the accusation in his voice.

Daniel realized Jack didn't have such a luxury. The broken ex Colonel sat in the stifling apartment day after day, no doubt miserable and alone, wondering what the hell had happened to his life.

The bickering and sniping eventually turned mean and personal. Last weekend Daniel had exploded. “You think you’re the only one that lost something here, Jack?” he had shouted. He was hot, tired and fed up with Jack’s deep depression and constant bitching. “I was the head of a department. I traveled off world too. Now I take orders from Blake, a man who wouldn’t even be considered for a position at the SGC. Then I come home every weekend to put up with you and your fucking attitude. You blame me for your life, Jack. You blame me and I’m sick of it.”

“I don’t blame you.” Jack had replied, surprisingly calm.

Daniel had laughed at that. “You do blame me. You can’t even admit it. Every time you look at me you blame me. You can’t even stand to touch me. You’re a selfish bastard. You’re not the only one suffering here.”

“You’re still an archaeologist.” Jack had quietly pointed out.

“Fuck you, Jack. Just... fuck you.”

That had been Sunday night and Daniel’s hands suddenly shook with the certainty Jack would be gone before the week was up.

His headache retreated and Daniel had a moment of clarity that broke his heart in two. Jack had lost more. Jack had lost everything and was ill prepared to handle the emptiness. Daniel’s life had always been full of ups and downs, highs and lows. It had been empty before and Daniel never expected the joy of the past few years to last forever. There was always a price to be paid for any bit of happiness; he had learned that as a child. But he had always found a way to cope with whatever fate had in store.

Jack had joined the Air Force at eighteen years old. It had been his home, all that he knew. The Air Force defined him, not only as his occupation of choice, but as a man.

Daniel’s heart pounded and he felt weak from the revelation. They had risked it all and lost. The question was why? Why had they risked it all?

For sex? No. It was never about sex. Companionship? He had that before the sex, so that wasn’t it. What had it all been about?

Love. It was about love. Everything had changed, but nothing had changed. It was still about love. The risks had always been worth it because it was Jack.

The Jack who sat in a hard plastic chair in the infirmary for hours on end holding his hand when Daniel was injured. The Jack that held him close at night to chase away the residues of his nightmares. The one who made him soup when he was sick and coffee when he was well. The Jack who always came back for him and saved him from the evil false gods and the real live monsters.

A lifetime ago, they had sat down and weighed their love against the risks and their love had always come out on top, the clear winner.

Nothing had changed. They hadn’t lost everything. Not yet.

Daniel dropped the wet cloth he’d been holding to his temple and ran to the main tent. He switched on the radio; a flight for Cairo was leaving in less than an hour. If he signed out the jeep and drove like a bat out of hell he could still make it.

He jammed whatever was handy into his duffel bag and took off at a run towards the vehicle. “Dr. Jackson, wait!” It was Blake, panting and out of breath, his eyes wide with excitement.

Daniel brushed him off. “I need some time off. I don’t have time to explain.”

“Dr. Jackson, WAIT! You were right. We found this at the secondary site.” Blake produced a cracked jar that immediately caught Daniel’s interest. It looked remarkably similar to the Osiris jar except the seal was broken. He knew there would be no snake inside.

Blake was studying him impatiently. “Do you recognize the writings? There are more pieces at the site with the same odd markings.”

Daniel froze at the sight of the Goa’uld inscriptions. He never expected to see that particular writing again. A million thoughts raced through his mind. ‘There are more pieces at the site with the same odd markings’. He could call Hammond and insist on being in charge of the dig. He could request Teal’c be recalled to help him translate. Whatever he decided to do, this ‘find’ would give him leverage.

“Dr. Jackson? Do you recognize it?” Blake’s voice was impatient and alive with the thrill of discovery.

Daniel checked his watch and made his decision. “No, Dr. Blake, I’m sorry, I don’t.” The man’s face fell in disappointment as Daniel carefully handed back the jar and ran to the jeep.

He made the flight to Cairo with three minutes to spare then caught a cab and burst into the apartment, eager to share his epiphany, praying Jack had held on for one more week.

Even as Daniel frantically raced from room to room, in his heart he knew the truth... the apartment was empty and Jack was gone. All that was left of seven years of intimate friendship was a small yellow note stuck to the bedroom mirror... ‘Daniel, we both know this is for the best. We don’t want to end up hating each other. Take care, Jack.’

Daniel slumped down on the bed, set his elbows on his knees, rested his head in his hands and wept for what they had and for what they’d lost.


It had taken Daniel two weeks to tie up loose ends in Cairo. To Dr. Blake’s great displeasure, he left the dig a month early to come home in search of Jack. Jack’s cell phone number was no longer in service and the cabin was the only place Daniel could think of to look. If Jack wasn’t there, Daniel was afraid he’d never see the man again. His palms were sweating in nervous anticipation as he turned the rented SUV off the main highway for the six-mile ride up the narrow, lonely dirt road that would hopefully lead to Jack.

Relief washed over him at the sight of the familiar Avalanche parked haphazardly in the yard. He pulled into the driveway and turned off the ignition. There was no sign of Jack.

Daniel had no idea what he wanted to say. He only knew after seven years he needed more than a post-it note to prove it was really over. He took a few deep breaths and found himself standing outside the door, gathering up the courage to knock. The main door was open so he tried calling Jack’s name through the screen. There was no response.

Daniel walked around to the back of the cabin and found Jack sleeping in a lawn chair. From the bottles surrounding him, ‘passed out’ might be more accurate. It was barely noon. “Oh, Jack,” Daniel whispered. The neat, precise, military man was unshaven, his clothes were dirty and he smelled of booze and a body odor Daniel didn’t recognize as Jack.

“Come on.” Daniel pulled the semi-conscious man to his feet and guided him back into the house. Jack wasn’t very helpful but didn’t protest as he stumbled blindly to the sofa. Daniel stuck a pillow under Jack’s head and covered him with a light blanket, wondering if he had spent the night outside.

“Daniel? Is that you?” Jack croaked out once he was situated.

“Yeah, it’s me,” Daniel answered quietly, pleased Jack sounded happy to see him.

Jack reached for his hand and gripped it tightly. “Take Teal’c with you and for god’s sake don’t touch anything.”

Daniel’s face fell as he realized Jack’s level of consciousness was nowhere near reality. “Go to sleep,” he whispered, gently running a hand through Jack’s filthy hair. “We’ll talk later.”

Daniel opened his eyes, wondering how long he’d been asleep in the worn, comfy recliner. The sofa was empty and after taking a moment to adjust to waking, Daniel was surprised to find it was almost dusk. He made his way to the kitchen, realizing it was the smell of coffee that had roused him.

He was relieved to see Jack standing at the counter, showered and shaved, and looking like Jack again. Daniel guessed the fastidious Colonel in Jack had been embarrassed to be found in his previous condition.

He crept up behind Jack, positive the ex Special Ops military man was aware of his every move. When he was close enough, Daniel whispered in his ear. “You want to drink coffee and watch the sun set?” Daniel reached for a cup on the counter and wondered if it could be this easy.

“What do you want, Daniel?” No, of course not. Jack wasn’t smiling. The hostility in the familiar voice surprised him.

“I-I wanted to see you,” Daniel stammered, his heart sinking. If Jack really blamed him for the loss of his career then there was nothing left to save. He hoped Jack’s rage was misplaced anger.

“Why aren’t you in Egypt?” Jack’s voice remained neutral as he poured himself a cup of the steaming coffee and leaned against the counter, his steel gaze never leaving Daniel’s eyes.

“I left early... I had to see you,” Daniel said quietly, his heart suddenly hammering. “We never said goodbye.”

Jack took a sip of coffee. “Okay. You saw me. Goodbye.” His voice revealed no hint of emotion as he turned toward the door.

“Jack.”

“It’s over, Daniel,” Jack said pausing at the sound of his name. “Leave me alone.”

“It’s not over.” Daniel took a step towards his retreating ex lover.

“What don’t you understand? It’s gone. It’s all gone. We gambled. We lost.”

“Don’t you see, Jack, we gambled because we're worth it.” Daniel wasn’t willing to give up without a fight.

“Apparently, we weren’t.” Coffee cup in hand Jack eyed up the door as his means of escape.

Daniel took a deep breath. He knew he had to say what he had traveled halfway around the world to say. “I still love you.”

Jack paused for a second at the words then dropped his head and stormed outside, slamming the screen door behind him.

Daniel stared after Jack O’Neill, the most prideful, stubborn man on the face of the earth. If it was over, Jack was going to have to prove it with something other than anger. He gave the man a few minutes to calm down and then grabbed his coffee and walked down to the dock. Jack was sitting on the end of the wooden walkway with his cup in hand, his feet dangling over the side. Daniel flopped down as close as he dared without touching his silent friend. They both sipped their coffee and watched the sun set magnificently beyond the horizon. It was Jack who finally spoke, the anger replaced with resignation.

“You love the Colonel, Daniel. He’s not here. He’s gone. Don’t you get it? There’s no one here for you to love.”

“I don’t believe that.”

“Believe it.”

“No. You don’t get it, Jack.” Daniel longed to touch Jack’s face but was afraid of his reception. “It was you. It’s always been you. It was never him. I never called you ‘Colonel’.”

Jack interrupted. “Do you want to know what I see when I look in the mirror?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “I see an old man, a foolish old man who wasted his entire life trying and failing to protect the people and things he loved.”

“Jack...”

“Let me finish.” Jack raised a finger to stop the interruption. “I lost Charlie, I lost Sara and I lost... you. And then I was banished by the very people I was sworn to protect. I’m a joke, Daniel. My whole life is one big, fucking joke.” Jack slumped forward and dropped his gaze, choosing instead to stare steadfastly at the cold coffee in his hand. Even sitting as close as they were, Daniel had to strain to hear the soft words. “I never protected anyone at all.”

Daniel risked a touch to Jack’s hand and gently removed the mug, setting it down on the dock beside them. He intentionally inched closer to Jack until their shoulders brushed lightly. “That’s what I’m trying to tell you,” he said firmly. “You didn’t lose me. I’m right here.”

Daniel tentatively reached for his lover’s hand. He could see the effort it was for Jack not to flinch from the touch. When their fingers interlocked, Daniel was overcome with the warmth and love he’d been missing. Jack must have felt the same as he squeezed Daniel’s hand so fiercely Daniel bit his lip to keep from crying out.

Jack only resisted for a moment when Daniel pulled the beloved gray head to his chest and ran his fingers through the short silver strands. He felt Jack’s arms wrap securely around his waist as the battered old soldier surrendered completely, trembling against Daniel’s wildly beating heart.

It had been dark for quite awhile. Daniel wasn’t sure how long he’d been hugging Jack and he didn’t care. He’d hold on all night if that’s what Jack needed.

“Danny,” Jack finally whispered. “What am I going to do?” Strong arms squeezed his waist.

Daniel smiled in the darkness, happy Jack was thinking about the future. “There are lots of things you can do. We’ll figure it out together.” With the promise, he placed a kiss on the top of Jack’s head, the way Jack had on his a million times before.

Daniel whispered a confession. “I wouldn’t change what happened even if I could. Not if it meant giving you up.”

Jack barely hesitated. “No, I wouldn’t either, Danny.”


FINIS

The title of this fic was inspired by the song, ‘The Anchor Holds’ by Ray Boltz.

This is the refrain for those interested...

The anchor holds, though the ship’s been battered,
The anchor holds, though the sails are torn.
I have fallen on my knees as I faced the raging seas,
The anchor holds, in spite of the storm.

Feedback makes the difference between writing and posting; please contact me at darcy3011@yahoo.com

  Copyright
Biblio, PhoenixE, babs, Brionhet, Darcy, Devra, Fabrisse, JoaG, Kalimyre, Marcia, Rowan and Sideburns, 2001-2008.
Disclaimer
Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate Productions, Sci Fi Channel, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. These stories are for entertainment purposes only. 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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