JD-DIVAS: STARGATE SG-1 JACK & DANIEL SLASH FICTION
BY PHOENIX E

DAMAGE CONTROL PART TWO

ALL I EVER WANTED   BY PHOENIX E


Slash:  Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: PG
Category: Pre-slash. Angst.
Season/Spoilers: Season 4
Synopsis: Daniel deals with the aftermath of the offworld incident and contemplates his future.
Warnings: Nothing comes to mind.
Length:  46   Kb  Originally completed and posted to the net 08 Sep 00.

 

My head hurts.

Getting fired at Earth through the wormhole didn't help things much. I feel disoriented and woozy as I emerge from the event horizon. Even though I try not to, I stumble as soon as my feet hit the ramp. Immediately I feel large, supporting hands on my arms. Strong hands, accompanied by the equally strong and bolstering presence of their owner. It's nothing serious, just a momentary lapse, a fleeting faltering overcome and quickly mastered with a little help from a friend.

Having someone right there to catch me should make me feel better. But it doesn't. Not that I don't appreciate the support being offered.  I do. It's just -  they're the wrong hands.

Not - not his  hands.

I haven't got time for this right now. The general is right there, at the bottom of the ramp, looking up at us, his face creased with the lightly anxious expression he's been wearing increasingly of late as he's watched the slow and relentless disintegration of what was once his 'flagship' team.

He's always there now, waiting for us when we come home. Waiting for us wearing that same tense and apprehensive face. I can almost hear the worry whirling around in his head as his eyes scan us, looking for the telltale signs of the latest disaster.

He hasn't had to look too far this time. I'm right in the forefront with Teal'c holding me up, and I must be looking pretty messed up. I'd better stop the world from pirouetting and do some quick talking if I'm going to spin this sorry mess the way I want it to go.

Jack has enough to deal with without being sent up the river for something I drove him to.

The general has taken in the state of my face and consequently taken several quick steps toward me as Teal'c helps me walk down the ramp toward him. Behind us, I can hear the gate shut down and the sound of two pairs of booted feet clumping on the cold steel.

We're here, we're back. All accounted for and just about as screwed up as we all could be.

I'm going to have to do something about that as well, but first things first.

"Dr Jackson!" the general says as he reaches my side. "Are you all right? What happened?"

I try to meet him with a cheerful front and instead wince with the pain generated by my extremely inadvisable attempt to use my abused facial muscles to force a smile.

Strategic error, to be sure, but only a minor one. I decide to try and make it work for me anyway.

"Ow!" I smile at him once more, which causes me to grimace again because it still hurts when I do that. Only I make it bigger this time. "That wasn't very smart."  I shrug, lightly touch my bruised cheek.  "The Vomar packs a hell of a punch."

My unexpected statement stops everyone in their tracks. I can feel Jack behind me, hear him clear his throat, getting ready to speak.

Oh no you don't.

"What are you saying - the Vomar hit you?" Bless you George, you're a quick study. Took up your cue like a trouper.

"Laid me out flat on my back," I return proudly, with just the slightest edge of warning to my listening team-mates.

Shut up and let me do the talking. This is what I want.

"A brief misunderstanding during the negotiation process, Sir," I continue to the accompaniment of the compliance of silence I have requested. "But nothing to worry about. Things were a little tense for a bit, but we got it all sorted out in the end.  No harm done, General."

That much at least, is the truth. Well, sort of. The Vomar didn't hit me, but he sure came close to hitting someone. He and Jack got off on the wrong foot right at the very beginning and I had to get between them more than once. I kept trying to explain to Jack he had to be patient. The vReel weren't jerking us around. They just like to do things their way. Which takes a lot of time. We'd get the treaty signed, but not until we went through all the necessary ritualistic observances. Respected their culture and customs. Gave them what they wanted in order to get what we wanted.

Toward the end of it trying to reason with Jack was like trying to communicate with a stump. He wasn't having any part of 'when in Rome.' Wouldn't see any point to doing anything but getting to the bottom line as quickly as possible and getting out. Jack just wanted to cut to the chase, and 'cut the crap' or start shooting.

It almost came to that at the banquet celebrating the successful conclusion of the negotiations. Given how close we've not been lately I'm not sure why Jack suddenly decided my business was his again and why exactly he seemed to take such violent umbrage to the fact I'd been spending a lot of time with the Vomar. Which I guess I had, but what of it? I rather enjoyed our discussions. He is a kind and intelligent man. Although admittedly a rather emotionally mercurial one as well. Not unlike someone else I know. Why shouldn't I have spoken to him a lot? At least, he was willing to listen. Besides, I didn't exactly see Jack seeming to be particularly ready to forsake Sam's company for mine.

As for what happened next, well I'd rather not think about it. It's hard enough to deal with the fact I'm lying to the general to protect the man who really hit me without going into a post mortem of why he did it.

Especially as, to be honest, I know the whole thing was my own damned fault. What did I say to him again? Maybe he needed to take a few more courses in basic diplomacy before our next mission? Oh yeah, and let's not forget the 'why don't you stop trying to impress everyone by waving your big gun around and try thinking first for a change' crack.

Classy, Daniel. Really classy.

The general seems to have accepted my explanation for the condition of my face and hearing we'd successfully acquired the mining rights to all that trinium has made him a happy and relieved man. Well, why not? We haven't had a mission go down so smoothly in a long time. SG-1 made it home, everyone accounted for, ambulatory and not too badly bent or bruised, and we managed to accomplish what we were sent out to do without shooting or blowing anyone up.

Or completely disrupting their way of life.

Given our less than stellar performance out in the field over the course of the last few months this has to be one red-letter day for George indeed. He's probably optimistically and entirely erroneously thinking we've worked through our 'slump' and he's getting his team back again.

I hope he doesn't think too unkindly of me when I have to disappoint him.

He's sent us off to the infirmary and set the debrief for two hours from now. Which suits me just fine. I want to get it over with. I need to do some thinking. I knew things were getting bad between all of us, but I never dreamed it would come to this. I…I can't have this. I can't be the cause of this. I can't ruin Jack's career or come between him and Teal'c. Or Sam. I was able to talk us all out of some serious trouble this time, but I might not be so lucky next time.

So, there can't be a next time. There just can't.

All I ever wanted was to be close to him. That's all. I never meant for any of this to happen.

 


 

Janet fusses and tells me I'm going to have a hell of a bruise and a lovely headache to go with it, but nothing's broken and nothing vital has been too badly rattled. Daniel Jackson's legendary thick skull to the rescue again. Lucky me.

Don't worry about it, Janet, and keep your pills. I won't need them. I'm starting to feel so numb inside I soon won't be feeling much of anything at all.

She doesn't miss much; I'll give her that. She's brimming with unspoken questions as each of us submits to the usual post-mission medical folderol. Nothing we haven't all been through hundreds of times before, and yet this time, everything is strained and surreal, as if we're in a room full of strangers.

Teal'c barely allows himself to be taken far from my side. He sticks to me like glue, keeping a reproachful watch on Jack at the same time. Who's putting up with the procedure with uncharacteristic docility and silence. As set apart from half of SG-1 as Sam, who is also very quiet, solitary and unwilling to make eye contact with anyone.

Oh you don't need a Ph.D. in Psychology to figure out things aren't exactly rosy in SG-1 land. You don't even have to know how to spell it.

I'm guessing George's euphoria at the successful conclusion of our mission is going to be a little bit blunted by our doctor's report.

Just -  hold onto it for a little while, Janet. You won't need it. I'll be solving the problem for you very soon.

Jack hasn't said a word or looked at me once since we got back. I don't know whether to be sad or relieved. I'm sorry, Jack. All I ever wanted was to be near you. I didn't mean to become such a problem or annoyance. I certainly didn't mean to make you hate me.

You never would have known. I never would have made you feel uncomfortable or threatened. Being close to you was enough. Would have been enough. I'd have made it enough.

You never would have known I love you.

There's a big, black, numb hole inside of me getting bigger and blacker with every breath I take. I know this, oh God, I know this. This is what it felt like when I lost Sha'uri. The yawning pit of loneliness and pain I fell into when she was taken from me. When my world was taken from me. I fell hard and would still be falling if Jack hadn't reached in and pulled me out.

Giving me so much to fill the void inside me. Jack's friendship warmed the cold places inside  Sha'uri's loss left me with. It started out as friendship. But somewhere along the way, it changed. At least for me. I don't know where and I don't know when, but it changed.

I didn't realize how until I saw that once again, someone I loved was going away. I didn't realize I loved Jack until he turned his back on me and turned to Sam.

I've lost you, Jack, and it feels just like it did when I lost her. No, that's not true. It feels worse. Much worse. I was never alone with that loss. Never had to find my way back by myself. You were there, when she was taken from me, and when she died. You held on, you were there. I had something to come back to.

Someone.

I need you now more than ever to help me get through losing you. Isn't that the funniest thing you've ever heard? See how much I'm laughing?

Well why not? It always comes down to the same thing. The joke's on me.

This has to be the biggest joke of all.

We all leave the infirmary together. Well, sort of together. Jack and Sam are a little behind us. We haven't travelled far down the corridor before it happens. Jack finally speaks.

"Daniel - "

I turn on them, cutting off the rest of whatever it was he was going to say.

"Stick to the story," I begin in a firm voice that won't brook any more arguments than I will at the moment as I look at each one of my team-mates to underscore my determination. "What I told the general is what happened and what's going to go on the record. No arguing, just - do it. As for what really happened, it doesn't matter. Just go with the program and don't worry about it."

No one says a word. I can feel Sam and Teal'c's eyes on me, the mixture of the dismay and apprehension in their expressions swirling about me as Jack tries not to look at me and fails. I can't read him. I see plenty on his face, but I don't know what I'm seeing.

Suddenly I'm so weary I can hardly stand. I know I can't bear to look at him. It hurts too much to look at him and realize how much of a fool I am. Because I can't help hoping I'll see something in his eyes I know I never will.

The special 'something' that's there now when he looks at Sam. Just once, I want him to look at me like that. God, I'm an even bigger fool than I thought I was.

I've been lying to myself. Being close to him wasn't all I wanted at all. I want more. So much more. Oh… God. Oh, Jack…

No doubt in my mind now. I have to go. After admitting this to myself, there's no way I can possibly stay.

After mumbling something about seeing them at the debriefing I turn - and run. Intending to run all the way to my office in order to hide there while I wait to complete my last official obligation as a member of SG-1. Typing up my resignation should use up some of the time.

I guess I should have realized this day had to come. Since my 'quests' have been concluded and all my reasons for needing to be on the team in the first place have been resolved, I haven't really had a 'purpose' for being here. Or a legitimate excuse for staying.

Other than Jack. He was the only reason I needed to stay. The only reason I wanted to stay. But now that justification has been taken away from me as well, and my selfish refusal to see this has only caused strife and dissension in the team ranks.

I guess the Fates have been telling me it's time to move on and I haven't wanted to see it. But I can't ignore the signs any longer. I'm doing more harm here than good. Wearing out my welcome here is only causing pain to the people I care about. I didn't mean to mess it all up by trying to hold onto something long past the point when I should have let go. All I ever wanted was to be a part of something, to have some sort of place I could call home. For a little while, anyway.

That's not so bad, is it?

I guess it is. 'Cause all I'm doing by hanging on is destroying the very thing that means everything to me.

I guess it's time to try and find something else to be a part of. Maybe it will work out next time.

There's a whole, vast universe out there. People to help, good to be done, other ways to work in the SGC that don't involve staying on Earth or being a part of SG-1. I'll speak to the general about joining one of the aid teams working off world. Or maybe, take the Vomar up on his offer. He was quite persuasive in trying to get me to volunteer to be the resident diplomatic liaison between Earth and dUrmir.

I'm sure I'll be able to come up with something else to do.

I'm startled by a knock on the door. I don't want to see or talk to anyone, but have said, 'Come in,' before I have a chance to call the words back. Part of me foolishly hopes it's Jack, and I chide myself at the small, expectant thrill of hope racing involuntarily through me at the mere thought of the unlikely prospect.

Teal'c has the grace to pretend he doesn't see the disappointment I know is written all over my face.

"Hey, Teal'c." My lame greeting sounds thin and unconvincing. It's the best I can do.

"I wish to speak with you, DanielJackson," he announces as he closes the door and strides to the desk.

"Oh?" I'm a veritable fount of verbal brilliance today. Positively scintillating.

"I do not approve of your decision to exempt Colonel O'Neill from the consequences of his actions." Teal'c sternly informs me as he looms over me, bathing me in his disapproving shadow.  "His conduct was dishonourable. I do not condone his behaviour. I am not pleased at being made to appear as if I support what he has done by being compelled to abet the deception."

Oh Teal'c, I so do not want to get into this with you right now. But I don't have any choice. The rigidity of your worldview is an impenetrable wall of thorns hemming me in on all sides. I can only escape it by trying to get through to you.

"I won't be the cause of Jack's undoing," I start to say as I get up and walk around the desk to stand in front of him. I need him to understand how important this is to me and to support me. There won't be any point in leaving if Jack gets into trouble over this anyway.

"Please, Teal'c," I say with all the earnestness I can muster as I look up at him. "I can't allow something which was mostly my fault to hurt him. I'm prepared to do anything to stop this from happening. It's what my  honour demands. I know it's terribly unfair of me to ask you to compromise your principles to help me, but I'm asking you anyway. Please, I'm begging you, back me up in this. I'll never ask anything of you again."

He looks at me hard as he weighs his decision.

"I will comply," he finally replies in a deep, bass rumble. "For your sake, not for his."

"That's all I want," I mumble, trying to conceal how violently grateful to him I feel. He's still looking at me, and he's starting to see too much. I lower my head and start to back away, but he suddenly, unexpectedly grabs me by the arms.

Startled, I look back up at him. His dark eyes are blazing with alarming intensity.  Quite alarming, actually....

"Daniel, do not do this. Do not leave SG-1."

I've barely recovered from the shock of hearing him call me 'Daniel' when the rest of what he is saying hits me right between the eyes. Damn him and his insight, how has he figured it out?

"I have to, Teal'c. It's the only way to save the team. All I'm doing here is pulling all of us apart. And there are other reasons why… why I can't stay any more."

"You are wrong," he retorts stubbornly. "No good will come of this. For any of us."

"I'm sorry, but I really believe it's for the best."

I do.  I really do.  I'd give anything to be wrong, but I'm not.

"I cannot dissuade you from this unfortunate decision?" he queries softly.  He looks utterly devastated. Someone who doesn't know him would look at him and see only a seemingly impassive visage, but I've studied him long enough to be able to read the subtle nuances of expression very much there for those who care to take the time to notice them.

I see I've hurt him and I want to scream.

"No. I'm sorry."

He smiles sadly at me as he cups my cheek almost tenderly in his huge hand. Then without warning he sweeps me into a bone-crushing hug. The feel of his powerful arms around me drives the sorrow of his words straight into my heart.

"I will miss you, Daniel."

I'll miss you too.

He continues to hold me and I want him to let go because I can't deal with the vehemence of his concern and his overpowering desire to comfort. It's crushing me. I can't breathe. If he doesn't let go of me I won't be able to survive the sudden burden of his friendship.

Somehow he knows this and releases me just in time. I can feel something terrible welling up inside me as he pulls back from me. I don't want to see it, don't want to let it go. I haven't got time to fall to pieces. I still have a few more loose ends to tie up.

A little bit of deep breathing restores my control. Teal'c continues to study me with his patented Jaffa omniscience and I'm apprehensive he's not quite done with me yet.

Ooops.  Called that one right, all right.

"O'Neill does not deserve the esteem with which you hold him." he intones severely, his voice harsh with disapproval  His stony, stern utterance not a question, but a blunt statement of fact.

God.  I might be leaving, but I can't leave it like this.  I have to try - for Jack's sake.

"Give Jack another chance, Teal'c." I don't know quite where the words are coming from, but they're calm and they feel right, so I just let them happen. "He's still the Jack we know and love, he's just a little lost. You'll see, once I'm gone, he'll get back on track again. I'm really hoping you'll help him. He needs you. He needs your friendship. Give him a chance, you'll see."

"And what about you?" Teal'c asks gently.

Great. I hate it when he does this. Think. Think fast, say something. We're almost through this. Convince Teal'c you don't need anything or anybody and you're out of the woods.

"You know me." I hope the smile on my face is convincing. "I'll be fine. I always manage to be somehow in the end, right?"

Not buying it, he's not buying it shit damn hell…

"You are the bravest man I have ever known, DanielJackson. This will not be forgotten."

I'm not really sure what that means, but it looks as if I've been saved by the bell. Sam picks that moment and bless her big time for it, to poke her head in to tell us it's time to get to the briefing.

I've made it this far. I only have to hold it together a little while longer and then I'm home free.

Homeless, friendless, just me and the big wide, lonely universe again.

Can't wait.

 


 

My head still hurts.

Some bastard with a jackhammer is standing behind my eyes trying to bore a hole right into the middle of my brain. Add that to the fact I'm sitting here numbed out and stupid from lack of sleep and what you basically get is Daniel Jackson doing his best imitation of an inanimate object.

I think I can stay awake long enough to get through the rest of this briefing but the jerk with the jackhammer has definitely got to go.

I have Jack to thank for the slightly narcoleptic state I find myself in at the moment. The scene he caused in the Vomar's sitting room last night was really something. I'd actually been almost on the point of calling it a night and was taking my leave of the Vomar when Jack came storming in equal parts of pissed and incoherent. Pissed as in both drunk and angry, and incoherent because he was yelling at the top of his lungs.

It was pretty embarrassing. He was almost too drunk to stand, but that didn't stop him from grabbing me by the scruff of the neck as if he meant to haul me bodily from the room. I thought the Vomar was going to kill him. The condition Jack was in, he could have done it.

After about ten minutes of profuse apologies I decided it was best to take Jack to his room. Thanking SG-1's guardian angel all the while the Vomar was persuaded to accept my abject grovelling on Jack's behalf and he didn't rip up the treaty right there and then and toss us all back into the wormhole after telling us to never darken their gate again.

Getting Jack back to his room and getting away from him afterward were two different things. We fought for most of what remained of the night. I'm still not exactly sure about what, or why. All I do know for sure is neither one of us got much sleep. Or any.

Which I am sure was a major contributing factor to the fun which followed on the way home.

Wow. Tough room. I've attended happier funerals. Which were way more fun. We're quite the glum bunch all around. George is looking decidedly less happy than he was before as he surveys the circle of long faces ringing around the conference table. The bare bones, 'nothing but the straight facts' accounting we are giving of ourselves doesn't provide any sort of explanation for what you'd have to be blind not to be able to see.

Something's wrong with SG-1. The air in the room reeks with it.

Oh dear. There it is. George is giving Jack the 'we need to talk' look. I know what Jack is going to be doing after class. Having a little chat with the principal.

I guess that means I'm going to be carrying my own books home from school again. So, what else is new?

Daniel, Daniel, you need to get some sleep. I'm just this side of starting to giggle I'm so buzzed. As soon as we get out of here I'm going to my room and crashing. Trying to drive home is quite out of the question. I wouldn't make it a mile down the highway before I plowed into something. Oh look, Ma, didn't that fireball used to be an archaeologist? Might be one way to get Jack to notice me, though.

Nah. As satisfyingly melodramatic as it sounds, it's not my style.

We're almost done and everyone has stayed away from the subject of how I got my shiner. Which is really all I care about. I've gabbled my two cents worth, Jack and Sam have basically come out with a whole bunch of 'what he saids' as their sparkling contribution to the effort and Teal'c has just been sitting there glaring at me. When he hasn't been staring daggers at Jack and Sam.

Please, please, please let me out of here now.

 


 

I'm not sure how I found my room, never mind the energy to get here. I'm also not entirely convinced I didn't make the last few feet of the journey on my hands and knees. It takes me about thirty seconds to kick off my boots, shuck my shirt and drop my drawers. Then it's just me and my BVDs as I hit the sheets with every intention of becoming instantly unconscious.

Damn, I've forgotten to turn out the light. Oh well, I'm going to have to live with it. The switch is much too far away. I close my eyes and try to think of nothing. I know about ten more seconds of peace before I hear the knock on the door.

I'm instantly alert, sitting up like a shot in response to the sound. Tired? Who's tired? There's someone at my door. Someone on the other side, looking for me.

Jack?

"Daniel?" Sam's voice. Sam. Not Jack.

"Daniel, can I come in? I need to talk to you."

She sounds upset. Really upset. Aw, Sam, what's happened? What's wrong? Only one way to find out. I quickly get up and rush to the door.

She comes barrelling in, taking me by surprise with the forcefulness of her entrance, and doesn't stop until she's banged into my chest and thrown her arms around me. I barely manage to get the door closed behind her before she's putting a squeeze on my ribcage which would give Teal'c a run for his money. As if this kind of greeting wasn't out of character enough, I'm getting more than a little bit concerned as I realize she's shaking and close to tears. Then what she says kicks me instantly from concerned into worried.

"Oh Daniel," she quavers. "I'm so sorry. I've ruined everything. I've done something awful. Made such a terrible mistake."

I have no idea what the problem is and am also confused by her evident distress. Sam isn't one to do the hysterical female. Ever. She seems to have this strange idea showing any sort of emotion is a Bad Thing. It has to have something to do with the whole military thing, growing up with it and then choosing it as a career. She beats herself up if she gets misty-eyed at the movies. I've tried working on with her all the time we've known each other, but old habits die hard.

She certainly doesn't seem to be holding anything back now, though. Which has to mean whatever it is that's got her so upset, it's major.

I hug her back and am in the middle of trying to ask her what's wrong when she lets go.

"Daniel, please don't leave," she sobs.

Okay, that's it. Next time I see him I am going to kill a certain Jaffa. Whatever happened to 'my lips are sealed?' I will die before I breathe a word of this to anyone? You secret's safe with me?

You picked a damned fine time to decide to become a gossip, Teal'c. Honestly, you can't trust anyone these days!

"Don't be angry at Teal'c," she sniffles. "When I looked in on you in your office earlier I knew I had interrupted something. I could see how upset you both were, and had a feeling it wasn't just because of - well, you know. I had to know, Daniel. I made him tell me."

Okay, maybe I won't kill him. Just won't speak to him for the rest of my life.

We're still standing here clinched, she's still crying and my chest is getting pretty wet. Something occurs to us about the same time.

She stops crying and looks up at me, a slightly puzzled expression on her tear stained face.

"Daniel, did you know you're standing here in your underwear?"

"You noticed," I grin at her. "I'm thinking right about now both of us should be grateful I don't sleep in the nude."

Her face starts to crumble again. "You were trying to get some sleep? And I just barged in on you. I'm sorry for disturbing you, I'll leave you alone - "

I hug her closer, trying to reassure her. "It's all right, Sam, you can barge in any time you want. Door's always open for a friend. Thought you knew that."

She sighs unhappily, but doesn't pull away. "I did once. But I've let too many things get in the way. And I sure haven't been any sort of friend to you lately. Certainly not the kind of friend you deserve." She sighs again, a much happier sound as she snuggles her head into the hollow of my neck. "I can't even remember the last time we did this. We used to hug a lot. I'd almost forgotten how good it feels. How appreciated YOU make me feel, Daniel. I can't believe how much of a fool I've been. Why did I let all that garbage come between us?"

I just hold her and say nothing. She's starting to talk, so I shut up and let her. I know how difficult this is for her. She's no more comfortable talking about her feelings than she is expressing them. Or experiencing them.

I can relate to some of that myself.

"You know what's really funny?" she chuckles into my neck. "Us. Here like this. Do you have any idea how many women would kill to be in my shoes right now? Yet it's nothing like the way it looks."

She's got a point. Nothing like the way it looks. Nor has it ever had been. But we'd both be hard put to get anyone walking in and seeing us like this to believe us.

"I can think of one man who probably wouldn't be at all pleased by the way it looks."

I don't know what made me say that. I could kick myself, that was so stupid and insensitive.

But it's okay. She's laughing. She's… laughing?

She lifts her head up to look at me, and she's got a big grin on her face. Huge. I'm starting to get confused again.

"You're quite right about that. That 'one man' wouldn't be too happy to see us like this at all."

Now she's giggling and I want in on the joke.

The fit of giggling is bringing on more tears. I lead her over to the bed and set her down on it. After locating my robe I shrug it on and sit down on the bed beside her.

Not getting modest, just chilly.

She gives me a little nod of thanks as she accepts the Kleenex I hand her and then leans back against the wall studying me while she daubs her eyes and wipes her face.

"Don't hold back, plenty more where that came from," I tease her as she finally, shyly, blows her nose.

"Don't leave, Daniel," she says in a small, plaintive voice. "I know the way I've been treating you lately I wouldn't blame you if you told me to get out right now, but I want to try and explain."

"There's nothing to explain," I reply, looking down at my hands. 'Besides, my decision has nothing to do with you. It's time for me to go. Believe me, it'll be better all around if I do."

"That's not true," she snaps, her response laced with more than a hint of self-loathing. "If anyone goes, it should be me."

"No - Sam! Why would you say that?" I wasn't expecting that!  However, her alarmingly out of left field comment doesn't rattle me half as much as what she follows it up with.

"Because everything the colonel said to me on 705 after he...hit you... was the truth!" she snaps, giving her head an impatient toss.

Whoa! More than a hint of self-loathing now. As well as a whole lot of anger.  Oh dear, there's more....

I don't know if I can - she needs me to listen to her and I want to, I want to help and understand what's troubling her but...tired.  I'm just so tired....

"I haven't been acting like an effective member of the team lately," Sam continues, a small, deeply unhappy frown marring her features.  " And I sure haven't been honest with myself or anyone else. I've been making a fool of myself trying to be what I thought he wanted me to be just to get him to notice me. That's bad enough, but it's not half as bad as what I've been doing to you."

"Doing - doing to me? You haven't been doing anything to me, Sam."

I'm genuinely confused.  I have no idea what she's talking about and whatever it is, I wish she wouldn't.  Now now.  This isn't a good time for me.  I try to focus on what she's saying but her words are like buzz saws slicing through my brain.

"Oh no?" She gives an ugly little laugh that makes my skin crawl. "How's trying to come between you and your best friend for starters? Criticizing everything you say, challenging every recommendation you make, even when I've known you were making sense? Sniping at you, turning on you, trying to make you doubt your own convictions, siding with the colonel whenever the two of you had a disagreement even when it was clear he was in the wrong and you were right? Backing up every course of action he decided to follow without question no matter how ill-advised it was? Even though I knew I should say something, and didn't? Any of this starting to sound familiar yet, Daniel? Still feel like being my friend? I won't blame you if you say no after I tell you what I did to you last night."

"Last - last night?" I'm staring at her, floundering for the words. I feel like I'm drowning. She looks like she wants to die.

"God, Daniel, I'm so sorry," she looks away from me and bites her lip as the tears start spilling down her cheeks again. "What makes this so awful is as soon as I'd done it I realised what a terrible mistake all of this has been. I was so wrapped up in wanting him to pay attention to me I never stopped to consider what I was doing to you. I wasn't thinking about you at all. I really didn't mean to hurt you. I just wanted him to notice me once in a while."

She's making no effort now to stem the sorrow streaming down her anguished face.  I can't think of a thing to say, can only stare dumbly at her as her bitter self recriminations shatter through my skull.

"I haven't been thinking straight for a long time," she tearfully continues.  "I've been so damned jealous of you because it's just all so easy for you. You're so amazing. You really are, you know. You don't back down, don't back away, you're you and you don't let anyone take that away from you. You don't care what people think about you. I'm nothing like you and I so want to be."

No you don't Sam.  You really -  you don't.

"All I've done all my life is worry about what other people think about me. And I've spent most of my life trying so hard to be the best so people will like me and need me. So I wouldn't disappoint them. I've done it even if trying to please means I have to close my eyes to things I know I shouldn't. Especially lately."

Sam...I - I don't want to hear this.  I can't help you.  Can't even help myself.  That's why I have to go...

"You don't do that. You don't compromise. People love you. They look to you. He looks to you. I wanted him to look to me, too. But not the way, not the way you think, Daniel."

My head is splitting and the blood is pounding through my skull so loudly I can barely hear what she is saying over the din.

Oh God, she's not done yet.

"Dad always loved Mark best," she sighs sadly. "That sounds stupid, I know, but I've been caught in this 'no matter how good I am it's never good enough' thing since I was a kid and started believing it wouldn't matter if I was the first woman on the moon, Mark would still matter more to Dad simply because he was a boy. Maybe it was true and maybe it wasn't, but it felt like it was, for most of my childhood. I grew up, I went into the military, still trying hard to impress, still trying to be the best. It was working. I was okay. I thought I'd kicked it, and then the Stargate came along.

"Then you came along."

What?  Wait a minute, Sam - what are you saying?

"Being a part of the Stargate program and then SG-1 was so important to me. Impressing the colonel was important to me. I wanted to be the best. I tried so hard. But - there you were. This totally amazing person who had come out of nowhere. You weren't even in the military, didn't even belong here. And yet - you did something I couldn't do after all that time of trying to be the best.

"You made the damned gate work. Twice. You were better."

My God, that goddamned Gate!  Is that what this is all about?  Sam, has this been bothering you this much, this long?  I had no idea.  Really, I didn't know.  I'm so sorry....  I didn't mean to make you feel this way about yourself.

"There you were, Daniel. Being better, no matter how hard I tried. Being better without even trying. There wasn't a damned thing I could do about it. Funny as it might sound, it made it even worse I liked you so much. You were a better person than I was in that way, too."

No Sam, not better.  Not better at all.  Trust me on this.

"You were the one he liked the best. The one he turned to, listened to, trusted. You were his friend, not me. I wanted it to be me."

She stops talking, waiting for me to look at her. I don't know if I can. I don't want her to see how terrible I feel to find out she's been feeling this way and I never realized it. Oh Sam, I know how much it can hurt to want someone to notice you. To want it so much you can't think about anything else. I wish I'd known. Maybe we could have helped each other. Before it all came to where it has come.

I can feel her tensing up beside me.  Oh no, she's got more. But she won't go on until I look at her. So I do. Oh Sam, this is going to be pretty bad, isn't it?

"Listen to me, Daniel, this is important," she tells me earnestly as she captures my glance and refuses to release it as the next terrible admission come tumbling out of her.  "You have to understand this. I've messed everything up and I never meant for it to happen. I didn't understand the way it was between you and the colonel, and how much harm I was doing to both of you trying to get between you the way I have been. Now you're leaving because of what I've done and I don't want that to happen. Things aren't the way you think they are. They aren't, Daniel, not for me and I'm pretty sure not for him, either. I don't love him. I want his approval, yes. I want to be his friend. I want him to like me. But I don't love him. Not in the 'be my one and only and I'll forsake all and everyone for you' kind of way. I'm not ready to be that way with anyone yet. But I wanted him to love me. Just so he'd like me better than you. I'm sorry. I'm really sorry."

She finally lowers her eyes, looking down at her hands fumbling in her lap, her cheeks aflame.  Well, okay, we both want Jack to notice us, not quite for the same reasons, that's true, but okay, this isn't so bad, not the end of the world, I'm not quite sure why she thinks I'd think she's  -  we can talk about this, deal with this - what?

"Last night I wanted to find out how he really felt. That's why I told him you were with the Vomar. After I explained to him what it meant when he gave the chadas to you."

Oh! Well, that explains a lot! Good grief. I don't know whether to be flattered or insulted by Jack's actions now. Surely he didn't think I was that naïve or clued out I wasn't aware of the Vomar's interest. Or after having spent the amount of time I had immersing myself in vReel culture and customs I wouldn't know what the giving of the chadas meant. Requiring the intrepid team leader to come rushing in to save the unsuspecting innocent from being ravaged by the Vomar.

Geez! When is he ever going to let me grow up?

"Poor Jack," I make myself laugh. "Defending my honour! How refreshingly medieval of him. I guess you forgot to tell him I didn't accept the chadas. Well, maybe some day he'll give me a little credit for being able to take care of myself. I didn't need him to barge in and 'rescue' me. The Vomar was disappointed I didn't want to sleep with him, but he respected my decision, and he respected me. Which is more than I can say for Jack."

She's staring at me, a really funny look on her face. "You don't get it, do you, Daniel? You really don't know."

"I don't know much of anything right now, Sam," I smile ruefully at her as I press a hand to my aching forehead. I'm not going to last much longer. I'm so tired I'm starting to see double.

"Can you forgive me?" she asks in a small, tentative voice as she darts a glance at me and then looks away again.

"Can you forgive me?" I answer her as I touch her lightly on the shoulder.

"For what?" She puts her hand on mine, but still won't look at me.

"For not asking you what was wrong when you started drifting away. For not making you feel you could come and talk to me about it. For not noticing you needed a friend."

"Stop trying to make this sound like it's all your fault," she scolds me as she squeezes my hand.

"Okay, let's not start splitting hairs. Why don't we forgive each other, call it a day and start over."

At last she looks at me. Her smile is so brilliant it's blinding.

"Oh, I want that so much! I want to be friends again. I want to start over. Please say you'll stay."

"I - I don't know, Sam," I start to stammer. "I'm just so tired right now, I can't - I can't...

Can't think, can't talk.

She reaches out a kind hand and feathers her fingers lightly through my hair. "Sleep on it, okay?" she gently entreats. "Don't do anything or say anything to anyone about leaving until you're feeling a little better and we can talk about it again. I haven't told you everything yet. Promise me? Promise me, Daniel?"

"Okay, I promise," I mumble.

She beams at me again and then darts quickly forward to place a light, sweet kiss on my lips. "Good. I've been a pretty shitty friend lately, but believe me, that's going to change. Besides, you'll have to stick around just so you can see the look on the colonel's face when I start standing up to him. And if ever I slip back into Major 'Whatever You Say, Sir' I'd appreciate if a friend would let me know about it. Okay?"

You know, Sam is really hard to say no to when she looks at you like that.

She can see I'm pretty much done in. She frowns at me and gets up, shaking her head. "Enough of this, you look like hell. Let's get you to bed."

"How's the bruise developing?" I murmur as I let her pull me to my feet, help me off with the robe and plant me back under the covers again.

"It's impressive," she laughs as she sits back down beside me and starts gently stroking my head. "This has to be the best one yet. You've almost got the entire spectrum of colours happening here. Some really interesting shades as well."

That's nice. I've always wanted to have a Technicolor face.

Her hand is soothing, as is the sound of her voice. I close my eyes and drift away.

I'm having such a wonderful dream. Someone dear to me is close. So close. I've been feeling so alone, so lost lately. But that's all over. My dear one is here, now.

I can feel a wave of love wash over me as a hand softly, gently touches me. Brushes through my hair, across my face, gliding down the skin of my neck in the most intimate and loving of caresses. It's not a soft hand, nor a small one, but I know it and have needed to feel it tenderly touching me for such a long time. I try to move up into it, closer to its reality, try to shake off the tendrils of sleep, but the Sandman is quite covetous of this particular prisoner. He's not letting me go. He pulls me back down into the deeply dreamless depths of profound slumber, but not before I hear the faint, receding sounds of the voice of the one I love.

I know it's only a dream, but his voice sounds so real. As he says the words he would only say in a dream.

"I love you, Daniel."

 

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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 and no money exchanged hands. 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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