I’m whistling. No particular song, just tuneless whistling.
More than one person has told me it’s an annoying habit, but I enjoy
it, so until Hammond tells me to stop, everyone else will just have to
put up with it.
I have a secret. As a matter of fact, it’s the biggest, best
kept secret in the universe. No, it’s not the Stargate. In my book, the
word ‘secret’ is a misnomer with regards to the Stargate. The Russians
have known about it for years. The Chinese, the French, and the Brits,
heck an old man in a bar in the Artic mentioned it to me. Not to
mention the Asgard, the Tok’ra, the Nox, the Tollan. Well, you get the
idea. And that doesn't even include the list of snakeheads that know we
have a Stargate. My point is, even though the average Joe on the street
is ignorant of its presence, the Stargate is not the big, bad, top
secret, secret it’s cracked up to be. My secret is much bigger, much
badder and definitely more hush hush than the Stargate itself.
My relationship with Daniel is my secret. We’re not just best
friends; we’re not even best friends having sex. We’re best friends in
love, making love, and that fine line makes all the difference. It's
the kind of love that can cause a cranky old soldier to whistle in his
office while buried under mounds of paperwork. No one in the universe
knows about us. None of the afore mentioned countries or alien allies
and certainly none of the damn snakeheads. Carter and Teal’c are still
happily clueless, General Hammond is in the dark, and even the scourge
of the infirmary, good ol’ Doc Fraiser is still, mercifully, unaware.
She’ll probably find out sooner or later, but as of now, our secret is
It’s been three months and I still have to periodically pinch
myself to be sure it’s true.
The blaring of the klaxon signaling an off world activation
jolts me back to reality as I jump up and make a run for the control
room. The elevator doors open and I find myself face to face with my
“What’s going on, Jack?” Daniel is anxious and pale and it
takes me a second to understand. He has spent the last five days and
nights, to my complete frustration, hunched over his computer with a
stack of books and a pile of photographs for companions. He has been
working on translating the correct protocol for SG-7 to meet with an
odd race of people residing on P2X... something or other. SG-7 left
early this morning to attempt to put Daniel’s findings into practice.
They are the only team off world and their scheduled check-in is hours
“I’m sure they’re fine, Daniel.” His only response to my
attempt at reassurance is to pound a fist against the wall of the
elevator urging it to go faster than its normal capability. When the
doors finally open on the 28th floor, he bolts out at a dead run,
leaving me jogging after him.
General Hammond is already in the gateroom room along with
Carter and Teal’c.
“SG-7?” Daniel is breathless, staring at the shimmering event
“Yes, it is,” Hammond confirms nervously.
Daniel’s face lights up in hope as SG-7 emerges through the
wormhole. The hope fades just as quickly as it sinks in that Major
Jeffery is carrying his civilian archaeologist over his shoulder.
Daniel is in the gateroom before any of the medical staff. “Is
he alright? What happened?”
I don’t have to ask. I’m a CO, and the Major’s body language
tells me everything I need to know.
The soft spoken, well-liked Major turns on Daniel. “No, he’s
not alright. He’s dead, Dr. Jackson. You tell me what happened.”
“Come on, Daniel.” The gateroom emptied out a while ago except
for my secret lover, who seems to be lost in his own thoughts. My soft
words have failed to rouse him.
“Time to go.” This time I grasp his shoulder firmly and squeeze.
He pulls away from me and brings his index finger to his lips.
“I’ll figure this out, Jack. I’ll figure it out and I’ll go back there
myself. I’ll straighten this whole thing out.”
“No one’s going back there. Hammond’s taken it off the list.”
The blue eyes flash and then plead with me. “No. He can’t do
that. Talk to him, Jack. I’ll figure it out. Otherwise, Kiner’s
death... otherwise, it’s all for nothing.”
“Come on, Daniel, let’s go home.” Grabbing his elbow, I steer
him towards the door. I don’t think he’s aware I’m leading him until
we’re in the corridor.
As soon as he breaks out of his trance, he pulls his arm out
of my reach and announces he’s not going home, he’s going to his
office. His stiff back and rigid body language leave no room for
Eight hours later Daniel is still holed up in his office. The
inevitable briefing has been postponed until tomorrow morning to give
Jeffery and his team a chance to recover.
Daniel has sought refuge from his feelings and misplaced
guilt in his sanctuary on the 18th floor. Predictably, he’s sitting in
the dark, staring at his computer screen, no doubt searching for
answers and absolution.
I’m standing in his doorway waiting for an acknowledgement,
not sure if he’s intentionally ignoring me or is simply oblivious to my
presence. My mind is racing, using these few silent minutes to figure
out what to say to convince him to come home and get some rest. This
will probably get worse before it gets better with the funeral just a
few days away.
Though the sorrow of a loved one’s death is no more or less
emotional for a civilian family than for a military family, the stunned
disbelief is a little more pronounced with the civilian families. The
percentage of archaeologists who die working in the field is a
relatively small number. That percentage greatly increases for
archaeologists working for the SGC. None of the families are aware of
the occupational hazards.
As if reading my mind, Daniel’s head jolts up. “I have to go.
I have to inform Kiner’s family.” The bright blue eyes are tinged with
“The Air Force will do that, Daniel.”
“I’m his supervisor. I’ll do it.” He switches off the computer
and I let him. It’s at least a start. I turn on the small desk lamp or
we’d be in total darkness.
“Eight hours have passed. Major Jeffery has already done
that.” The slump of his shoulders tells me he considers this another
failure on his part. “Ready to go?”
He doesn’t bother answering me. Daniel is very expressive and
the look he shoots me conveys exactly what he thinks of my idea. His
eyes turn to the blank computer screen but before he can switch it back
on I position myself behind him and rest my hands on the tense, knotted
“Don’t, Jack.” The pleading in his voice is not a tone I’m
familiar with. “I need to do this.”
“I know, but it’s late and you need to rest too.”
“I suppose I could take it home,” he concedes, as he pops out
the disk and starts gathering up books he might need.
I’ll be damned if I’m going to let him sit up all night
torturing himself over this but I’ll agree to just about anything to
get him off the mountain. I don’t have the heart to tell him no matter
what he figures out, or what went wrong, it won’t change the fact that
Stewart Kiner is dead.
Somewhere between CNN and my shower I lost track of Daniel and
I find him staring once again at the computer screen. Getting him to
bed is not as easy as I had hoped. His insistence turns to annoyance,
which in turn sets off my own anger at his stubbornness.
I close my eyes, count to ten and try again. “Hey, what do you
say we call it a night?” I’m beside him but not touching, doing my best
not to crowd him.
“Don’t, Jack.” His answer is the same as it was this
afternoon in his office.
“Don’t touch me.”
“I wasn’t touching you.” And I wasn’t. My hand was at least an
inch from his shoulder.
His anger blazes at any hint of perceived kindness. “And don’t
tell me to call it a night,” he suddenly yells. “If you would have left
me alone last week I wouldn’t have fucked this up!”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” I’m stunned at the
“You know exactly what it means.”
“No, I don’t. Explain it to me.”
“Okay.” He stands up to face me, folding his arms across his
chest. “You practically dragged me to bed every night last week.
Obviously, I missed something because of it.”
The anger surging through me is so strong I don’t trust myself
to speak. After mentally counting to twenty I manage to spit out,
“Fine, sit at the damn computer all night.” I have every intention of
walking out of the room, but something snaps before I reach the doorway.
“You wanna blame me for Kiner’s death, that’s fine, Daniel. I
can take it. It makes about as much sense as you blaming yourself. If
it makes you feel better, then you go right ahead.”
His arms are still folded in front of him, but his head is
bowed, averting his gaze. He forces himself to look up, the anger of a
few seconds ago is completely gone, replaced by a faint blush of shame.
“No,” he says quietly, obviously regretting his outburst. “It’s my
fault. I must have missed something.” He runs a hand through his hair.
He needs to work this out on his own. I want to help, but the
best I can do for now is to stay out of his way. “It’s okay,” I mutter,
my own anger dissipated in the wake of his awkward apology.
Making Daniel coffee is about the only thing I can come up
with to show him how much I care without pissing him off, so that’s
what I do. I return with the steaming peace offering and kiss the top
of his head goodnight. I’m rewarded with a weak smile and a soft,
“Thank you, Jack.”
The morning briefing is a disaster. Daniel questions the
remaining members of SG-7 in every minute detail of the mission, every
word spoken, every voice inflection, every gesture, down to the
smallest insinuation. Major Jeffrey handles it far better than I would
have but the man has his limits and finally snaps.
“Dr. Jackson, my team and I familiarized ourselves with your
report to the best of our ability. We’ve answered all of your questions
and explained exactly how everything played out. To be honest, I don’t
know if I smiled when I said ‘hello’. I don’t remember if Kiner bowed
slightly or bowed at the waist. I don’t know if we did something to
spark the attack or if your protocols were wrong, and frankly, I don’t
Daniel doesn’t seem to understand Jeffrey’s annoyance and he
tries to explain himself. “I’m not accusing anyone, Major. I’m asking
questions to try and understand what happened out there. The more we go
over this the more likely it is one of you may remember something else.
I would think you’d want to understand the reason for Kiner’s death as
much as I do.”
Daniel is pushing and I can see the anger flash in Jeffrey’s
eyes. His voice remains amazingly calm. “It’s all in our mission
reports, Doctor. General, are we dismissed? My team and I are flying to
Massachusetts for the funeral and we need to get ready.”
“Yes, Major, take all the time you need,” the General sympathetically
At this point, Daniel started to protest and I had to jump up
and run interference, grabbing his arm and leading him out of the room.
The tenseness is vibrating through his body as I hustle him into to the
privacy of his office.
“Let go of me!” He squirms out of my grasp and once again
directs his anger at me as I close the door behind us.
“You went too far.”
“Why, because I want to find out what happened?”
“Daniel.” He stiffens at the sound of his name, determined not
to accept any sympathy, especially from me. “We all want to know what
“Then why didn’t you support me in there?”
“Because you went too far. They told you everything they
remember.” I stop myself from adding ‘three times’. “You were
practically accusing them of purposefully omitting something.”
“I wasn’t accusing anyone of anything. I was hoping to get
more details.” His arms are once again folded in that all too familiar
pose that shows me how upset he is. The one that screams ‘don’t touch
me’ when all I went to do is throw my arms around him and hug him into
“They have a lot on their minds.”
Daniel closes his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose
before responding. “I know that. So do I.”
“Do you want to get something to eat?” He barely ate a thing
yesterday and I know we didn’t eat breakfast this morning.
“You can go, Jack. I have a lot of work to do.” He actually
laughs at my suggestion before dismissing me.
The funeral isn’t much better. One minute Daniel is putting as
much distance between us as possible. The next, he’s seeking me out and
sticking to me like glue. It makes me nervous. Sometimes, when Daniel’s
upset he forgets we’re a closely guarded secret. There’s nothing I hate
more than having to remind him by backing away.
I’m not inexperienced at this. He acted the same at Rothman’s
funeral. He’s angry at the Air Force and sometimes that filters down to
me. At the same time, he’s desperate for a reassuring smile or the
subtle, familiar touch only I can provide.
Both Daniel and Major Jeffery are speaking at the service.
Daniel has adjusted his tie and pushed up his glasses so many times
I’ve lost count, his nervous fidgeting a gauge that tells me exactly
how he’s coping.
Stewart Kiner was not married so as Daniel stands at the
podium he looks directly at Kiner’s parents and tells them we not only
lost a trusted colleague, but a kind and decent man as well.
Personally, I barely knew Kiner. All I know is what Daniel has told me,
the archaeologist was quiet and serious, and a hard worker. From the
length of the eulogy and the personal stories, Daniel knew much more.
When the service ends, the Kiners search Daniel out and Mrs.
Kiner hugs him tightly in her grief. My trained eye can see the tension
in Daniel, but the Kiners don’t seem to notice, they have other things
on their minds. With tearful eyes they thank Daniel for the beautiful
words and then invite us back to the house for a gathering of close
friends and family. Time to step up and rescue my beleaguered lover. I
interrupt to quietly remind Daniel he’s needed back on the base. He
apologizes to the Kiners and throws me a grateful nod and then mouths a
relieved ‘thank you.'
Daniel had insisted it wasn’t necessary for me to accompany
him to the funeral, assuring me he was 'fine'. I ignored him and went
anyway. Now I’m glad I did. Happy I could do at least one thing he
needed and was grateful for.
Stewart Kiner has been in the ground for three weeks and
things are slowly returning to normal. The first few days were quieter
than usual, but life has a tendency to go on and Daniel has two new
archaeologists to break in. Kiner’s death slowly fades to the
background in the halls of the SGC.
At home, it’s another story. Daniel spends every night going
over his translation and the protocols he had outlined for SG-7 to
follow. I’ve given up trying to coax him to bed at a civil hour. He’s
exhausted and I’m worried. He refuses to talk about it. 'I’m fine',
that’s all I get from him. Daniel is in his own private hell; one he
staunchly refuses to let me share. All I can do is set up the coffee
pot for him and leave out an occasional donut or a comforting piece of
chocolate. It’s not much, but at the moment, it’s all I’m allowed.
Everything else is off limits.
I set a mug of his favorite adrenaline booster beside him and
turn from the doorway when I hear him whisper something I don’t quite
“Did you say something, Daniel?” I freeze in the doorframe not
wanting to move and break the moment for fear he’ll shut down again.
“I can’t find it, Jack.” He swivels the chair around to face
me. His eyes are red and puffy from lack of sleep and the perpetual
dark circles that have marred his face for the past three weeks seem a
bit more pronounced than I remember.
His voice sounds lost and far away. “It’s all there. I can’t
find anything wrong. I’ve been over it and over it and the translation
is flawless. Maybe Jeffrey is forgetting something. If I could talk to
him again...” He balls up his fists and scrubs at both heavy eyes.
Tonight he stands to face me and I’m across the room in an
instant, instinct telling me Daniel is at his breaking point. His index
finger unconsciously taps his lips out of habit. “If I could interview
SG-7 one more time, maybe...”
“Enough.” My finger replaces his, tapping the full lips to
shush him. That he doesn’t resist the gesture is a true measure of his
“Daniel, listen to me.” With a concerted effort the bloodshot
eyes focus on mine.
“What if you’re right and your translation is flawless?” His
mind is working at my question behind heavy, guilt-ridden lids.
“Then SG-7 must have unintentionally misspoken or...”
My finger again goes to his lips to silence him. “What if they
didn’t? What if SG-7 followed your outline to the letter? What if they
did everything perfect?” He looks at me with a dull, wide expression,
hopeful I have a solution to this puzzle that will provide the key to
his self imposed prison.
Encouraged by his silence I continue, “What if the natives on
P2X-708 were murdering bastards who killed Kiner simply because they
wanted to? What if they killed him regardless of what procedures were
or weren’t followed?”
Daniel’s eyes stay locked on mine, processing my proposed
scenario. Then his chin drops to his chest and I barely hear his
defeated whisper. “Then Kiner died for nothing.”
Two of my fingers go to his chin and gently lift his head.
“No. Kiner died doing what he loved to do.”
Daniel slumps back down in the chair, his brilliant mind
working behind furiously blinking eyes. He wants to figure this out;
Daniel needs answers. I wonder if it would have been easier for him if
he had made an error in the translation. His need to know is that
He looks up at me, resigned. “So, there may be no rational
explanation and we may never know.”
“That’s right, we may never know.” He takes off his glasses
and sets them beside the keyboard and rubs again at his tired eyes. His
headache must be fierce.
I decide to test the waters. My hand goes to his neck and for
the first time in three weeks he doesn’t flinch from my touch. He leans
into the gentle massage I’m administering to his tight muscles. When
I’m finished, I reach for his hand and he supplies it willingly.
“Come on. Let’s go to bed. I’ve missed you.”
Accepting my hypothesis is not an easy thing for Daniel. He’s
a genius at working out puzzles and solving mysteries. He’s not used to
conceding victory to the gods of chance and circumstance, but short of
going back to the planet, there’s nothing more he can do.
He’s finally reached that realization and he squeezes my hand
in agreement. “Yeah, I missed you too, Jack.”
Tonight I relax and selfishly thank the powers that be Daniel
was not the linguist assigned to SG-7’s ill-fated mission. Closing my
eyes, I fall into a light sleep, comforted by the fact that the
universe’s best kept secret is snuggled safely beside me.
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