|HOMECOMING BY PHOENIXE
||Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed
relationship, which usually involves sex.
First Time, H/C Romance A/R
||Season 5 Spoilers for SG:TM, some allusions to the breakdown
of the friendship we witnessed in season 5 but no episode specific spoilers.
||Six months ago Daniel
disappeared. Against all odds SG-1 have found him and Jack must face the
truth of his darkest desires and his fears he was responsible for driving
|| Suggestions of past nastiness but nothing graphically
explained or experienced.
||87 Kb Posted to the net 8 Oct 06
Notes: This story originally appeared
in the JD Divas Zine published by Yadda Press, accompanied by the lovely
illo below, by Biblio. An exploration of
a scenario where the SG-1 and Jack are deprived of Daniel for an extended
period of time roughly post Meridian, but where Meridian obviously did
raises his coffee cup to his lips with
shaking hands. His
eyes are averted; he's desperately
concentrating on keeping the liquid
from sloshing all over the ground while
he sips, and then sighs.
Carter bites her lip
and glances at me, her expression miserable
with concern. I
know, Major, I know. We're all worried
about him. We don't know what the hell
kind of hell he's been through these
past six months, returned to us…like
we can make a few educated guesses,
and none of them add up to him having
had a very good time.
I'm just sorry I only
got to kill that bastard once. And I didn't make
it last nearly long enough.
But that's all water
under the boat, now.
There's not a damned thing we can
do about the last six months.
Can't change it, can't make it go
All that matters right now is; we
got him back.
We got him back. Oh God, we got him
I don't even want
to think about the odds, of
how stacked they were against us for
being in the right place at the right
time, the huge cosmic coincidence
of after six frigging months of fruitlessly
scouring the goddamned galaxy, not
just us, but every ally we've got,
without seeing so much as a hair of
him, we just happened to be here,
today, enroute to Enada, and we hit that
crossroads at the same time as the Prick
and his entourage…
Lucky too we ran into
them before we'd reached the city. Made it ever so
much easier to separate the Prick from
his favourite slave – and his head
- without having to worry about pesky
laws, rules and restrictions, local
customs and taboos and ensuing messy
entanglements with the local constabulary
for having broken any or all of the
Not that I'd have
let anything, or anyone stop me from
getting Daniel back.
If we'd had to nuke the whole damn
city to get to him, hey, whatever it took.
But, fortunately it
didn't come to that.
We got Daniel back without any
casualties, at least on our side, and
we're in the clear.
Life is pretty damned good.
"I'm sorry," Daniel
blurts out suddenly, unexpectedly.
"For what?" I grunt,
kinda surprised by his outburst.
"I've slowed you down,"
he says, draining his mug with an enthusiastic
He lowers it, his hands tightly
cupped around the empty vessel, staring at
it with eyes wide with longing.
Crap. He wants more. He wants more but
he's scared to ask for it.
I wanna go screaming
back to where we left that dog dead
in the dirt and kick his goddamned,
flea-ridden carcass around the planet
'til fricking doomsday.
Not that it would make any
difference to him; you can't get any
deader than dead, but it would make me
feel so much better.
go to Enada," Daniel continues, hunching
his shoulders like he's suffering from
a sudden chill. Smooth
as a shadow Teal'c glides over to the
nearest tent, grabs a thermal blanket
and then slides back to our boy, arranging
the blanket around him with tender
You wouldn't think
someone so big could be so gentle. Well, take it from
me, when it comes to Daniel, he's as
careful as they come.
Daniel gives him a
grateful glance, nodding his head to
acknowledge the kindness. "Pada's people,"
he starts saying again. "You know they'll
– there'll be trouble. Because of – because
of me… What you had to do...to – to
Save you, Daniel?
The cost of your freedom, what it entailed? You can't even
say it, can you?
He swallows hard,
twisting the mug in his hands. I give Carter the
eye. She's closest
to the coffee pot.
She looks back at me, not getting I
want her to – come on Carter, look
at him, he's dying for more, make with the
Okay, there she goes! She's got it now. Took
her long enough.
She's supposed to be a genius and
all, well, that may be when it comes to
stuff no one can pronounce but in the
interpersonal department, at times
she's not quite so sharp.
That's okay, no one's
perfect. I think
we'll keep her anyway.
"When they find out
what's happened, the Exis will come
after you – us, " Daniel corrects himself,
watching Carter go for the coffeepot. Eyes huge, he tracks
her, licking his lips. His eyes get even
bigger as she brings it back to him,
her smile tremulous while she wordlessly
refills his mug.
That earns her the
first genuine smile we've seen from
Daniel since we first laid eyes on
him collared and leashed and being
beaten in the middle of the road by that
I'm jealous. If that makes me
a prick too, well, bite me.
"Don't sweat it, Daniel,"
I say, glaring daggers at Carter, who's
now really confused.
She was feeling all proud of
herself for having done a good thing
for Daniel, and then I go and poop
on her parade, giving her the evil
eye. She hasn't
got a clue what she's done to piss
me off, and I'm not about to explain
it to her. She returns the pot to the fire, then plops
down beside Daniel, glaring right back
She might not get
it but she's not gonna take it either. Good for you, Major.
"By the time those
yahoos stop running around and screaming
and finally make it to Enada,
we'll be well in the clear. We've got
a good head start on any possible pursuit.
If you factor in transit time to and
from the city from where we got you
back, and add the distance we've backtracked,
I'd say we've got at least a ten hour
lead on anyone who might, repeat might
be coming after us.
It's not much further to the gate
from here. It's certainly not going
to take us ten hours to walk the rest
of the way, even if we do stop here
for a bit. So
we're fine. We'll
camp here for a few hours, rest up,
and we'll have you back in the SGC
before the Exis have stopped scratching
their asses and get off them to come
"You'd be there now
if you didn't have to stop for me,"
Daniel glumly tells his coffee. "I'm putting all
of you at risk – "
"Ah! Ah!" I silence him firmly
but gently. "Don't
go there, Daniel. You're
a member of this team.
We look after our own.
All for one and everyone into the
Daniel thinks about
this for a minute, frowning and clutching
at the blanket, drawing it tighter
around his thin frame.
Which is way too thin.
Whatever that prick was feeding
him, it wasn't nearly enough.
Daniel looks like a good stiff wind
could carry him all the way back to
Only one of the many
on a very long list of transgressions
against our boy that asshole has more
than answered for.
"I am?" he finally
murmurs, shooting me a sudden, sharp
"Am what?" I blink.
"Part of the team…still,"
he says uncertainly.
"Well, yeah!" I'm stunned he should doubt this. And
then again, come to think of it, maybe if I were him, and
my last memories of my team, and my best
Yeah, I can see where
he might have a few problems with the
"I mean, I'm just
surprised you haven't…" he starts to
stammer, his eyes glistening. "It's been so long
– I'm not exactly sure how long but
– but – after awhile I – "
God, Daniel, oh God,
say what I know you're going to say. Please, not that. I don't want to
know you were out there, on your own,
Thinking no one was
coming for you, no one…
"I figured you'd…
given up," he admits, in a barely audible
voice. "I kept
on hoping for the longest time, and
then, I – I realised it wasn't going
to happen. I
knew you'd try, but it's a pretty
big galaxy, where would you look?" He shrugs and takes a swipe at a devil-may-care-grin and
only succeeds in looking like he wants
to throw up.
Hey, he's not the
"That's life, right?"
he says, his face bleak. "Sooner or later,
you'd have to - to move on, replace
me - "
Now that hurts!
"You see anyone else
but us sitting here, Daniel?" I indignantly
"No, but – I – I –"
"Oh Daniel, we never
gave up on you!"
"Not for a minute! We never stopped
looking, the Colonel – the Colonel
he wouldn't let anyone -"
Shut up, Carter.
"You do not wish to
know the fate of the last individual
who was temporarily assigned to SG-1. O'Neill was most insistent there would never be
Et tu, big guy!
"He did?" Daniel looks at me again, greedy hope written all over
"You looked for me – the
I really need him
to understand what I'm about to say.
We've got a lot of bridges to rebuild
between us, probably a few more now
because of everything that's happened
to him, but I want him to know, now more
than ever, he's always been the
most important thing in the world to me.
And all the time he's been gone
finding him was the only thing
I cared about.
"I made you a promise
years ago I wasn't able to keep. I couldn't save
her for you, but that was the last
time, Danny, the last time I was ever
going to let you down.
Every single time I went through
that gate I was looking for you, and I
wasn't going to stop until I brought you
"This promise, I kept."
Because I care, Daniel,
not because – because of what happened
that last day. It's
you; it's always been you, driving
me onward, not the other…thing.
"Yeah," he says, his
Then, he smiles. And suddenly I'm
not begrudging Carter her little grin.
His whole face is glowing and the way
he's looking at me, it's like we're
the only two people in the whole frigging
The only two that
Yeah, I can get behind
And then I remember,
no, I can't. Because
the only place any more of this can
go is down a path I'm not allowed to
tread. Not now
any more than I could all those months
ago when it first hit me why my heart
turned over like a freaking pile driver
every time he looked at me.
Just like this.
I got him back, but
I still can't have him.
"Of course, since
we broke the law here by shooting up
several…travellers…it's probably safe
to assume the negotiations are officially
a no go," Carter suddenly blurts out,
and then looks like she wants to kick
herself when she realises, just a little
too late, what she's just said.
Thank you, Carter! If I'd sunk any
lower there I'd be fit for nothing
but blowing my brains out, but your
peerless people skills have pulled
my chestnuts out of the fire.
I also think I'm way
ahead on points now.
"Your mission!" Daniel groans. "You
were here to trade for Viradon.
Or Bakkti crystals."
Whoa. Daniel might have
spent a lot of time chained to a post
in the Prick's back yard, but he obviously
had his eyes and ears open the whole
time. He knows
an awful lot about Enada and what they've
got we could possibly want. If he knows about
Enada and why we're here, then he probably
knows a lot more about other places
where the Prick did business we might
not even have heard of.
Where the Lord taketh
away, he also giveth backeth. On a number of different
Daniel back has cost us the deal in
Enada, but maybe we'll be able to make
up for it later.
Not that Daniel's
not worth it, even if we don't.
"The moment we became
aware of your presence, the mission
became irrelevant, DanielJackson,"
Teal'c's deep, dark voice bongs behind
me, scaring the crap out of me. He's so damned quiet,
you forget where he is!
"Maybe to you guys,
but I doubt General Hammond is going
to feel rescuing me was worth – "
"You are mistaken,"
Teal'c continues, relentlessly steam-rollering
"I have no doubt the general will approve of O'Neill's
decision to abort the original mission
to effect your rescue and will also
concur the necessity of returning you
to your home and family took precedence
over any other consideration. You forget; we do
not leave our people behind."
Hey, I was gonna say
"Especially not you,
Daniel," Carter softly adds. "General Hammond
will be so pleased to see you. And so will everyone
else at the SGC – Janet and Siler,
Walter, Ferretti, Robert, he's been
looking after your office for you –
oh Daniel," she pauses, takes a deep
breath, her voice getting shaky. "You
just don't know – you have no idea
how happy everyone is going
to be to see you!"
No, Carter, I can
tell from the horrified look on his
face, he really doesn't.
For once you got something right
and you can't even see it.
Daniel can't deal
with this right now.
He's only just getting used to the
idea we didn't immediately write him off
the second he was out of sight, but the
concept of being loved and mourned and
desperately missed by a whole mountain of
people, a lot he doesn't even know…
That's a little more
rocking than his current worldview
can stand. We
load him up with any more of this emotional
stuff right now his head might explode.
"All right, okay,
I think that's enough for now, kids,"
I say, slapping my thighs and pushing
myself to my feet.
"Daniel, you need to rest. We'll stop here
for four hours and then pack up and
head for the gate.”
Daniel nods wearily,
and looks up at me.
"Thanks, Jack," he murmurs. "Four hours should
be just fine.
I'll just – I'll just – "
Before he can utter
another sound he's got a Jaffa on one
side, a major on the other.
His fond look at both of them as
they help him to his feet would melt the
heart of an IRS investigator who's been
freeze-dried on Venus for a hundred years.
I don't even want
to tell you what it's doing to mine.
Carter clutches, gazing
up at him. If
her eyes had teeth they'd be chewing
up huge chunks of him and swallowing
them down whole. Her expression is like nothing I've
ever seen before, her features bunching,
mouth twisting, like someone is about
to take her whole face and crush it
like a used up post-it note.
I'm wondering if she's about to
have a seizure or something then I see the
big, fat tears flooding her eyes and I get
"Oh Daniel, I missed
you so much," she chokes, burying her
face in his neck as the sobs start.
Holy crap. Carter is – is crying! Not just crying,
but sobbing, weeping, wailing, slobbering,
snorting and if she doesn't let up
on Daniel's ribs she might pulverize
one or two. I
know I've got my mouth open, but I
can't help it; I've never seen her cry.
I know she must do it; she is a
woman, after all, though you didn't hear
it from me, so yeah, I'm sure she does,
It's just; she never
has in front of me.
The sight makes me
feel kinda weird; I dunno how to explain
it, I'm swinging between embarrassed
and envious and I don't know where
to look. I cut
my glance over to the big guy, seeking
some moral support, I guess, only to
find there's no help there either.
I don't know if my
system can take many more shocks like
this, but there is the original man
'o stone, older than the hills and
three times as impassive, hanging onto
Daniel like he's the answer to a prayer. There's an almost
maniacal gleam in his bottomless black
eyes, burning pits of unfathomable
devotion aimed straight and unswerving
I think I'm seeing
things, I have to be, but no, I'm not,
that vast, dark visage appears its
but you can't believe everything you
face is wet, a single, betraying damp
contrail blazing fearlessly down the
unexplored country of his countenance,
marking it with the moist evidence
of its solo flight.
My kids hold Daniel
tight, enveloping him in their love
and relief and I can't do a damned
thing but stand here, my hands screaming
weights hanging off my wrists, fingers
aching to reach out…touch.
I'm dry-eyed, dry-mouthed, stupid
with need and crazy with envy watching
them – and him - and what this fierce
infusion of love is doing to him; he's
helpless to stop himself from absorbing
what they're giving him even as the sheer
weight of it breaks him. He needs it so much
and yet he can't take it; his eyes
squeezed tight, damming back the flow
he hangs his head, making a strangled
sound before his legs give way.
And here's me on the
outside, excluded, left out, shut out
nowhere near him and I want to be,
I want to be there, with him, the only
one with him, want to crush him in
my arms, hold him, smell him, snort
him like a hundred pounds of cocaine
I want him, I want him but I can't, I
can't go there, can't, can't let him see,
can't let him know…
Carter and Teal'c
feel him go, and they've caught him,
they're taking him away from me, slumped
heavily between them, guiding him toward
the tent. It tears my guts out with
each step he takes away from me, and
yet I let him go, I have to, it's for the
best. I just have to…a minute more, two tops,
he'll be gone, safely tucked away,
out of sight, though never out of mind,
and then I'll be able to, get a handle
on this, just another minute, hold
on for another minute, hold back, don't
look, never touch, this - this will
pass, and then I'll be fine.
They're turning, moving
away, and Daniel’s head comes up, turns,
he's looking back, craning desperately
over his shoulder trying to see, to
Blue eyes blazing
with need so consuming, primal, terrifying
slam me head-on, rocking me down to
the ground. I can't move, I can't think, but I can
feel how much he wants me, how desperately
he’s looking for some sort of sign,
something, anything, even the slightest
indication I – I…
It's not possible,
I don't believe it, but those eyes
don't lie. As
much as he's getting from Carter and
Teal'c, now when he's shattered and
laid bare, bleeding and wanting –
they're not what he needs.
Not what he really wants.
He's never been this
open or desperate, maybe never will
be again. And
what it's costing him…
It scares me. He scares
me how much he wants, and how little
he cares if it shows.
He's not said a word
but he's asking all the same. This is way
bigger than another cup of coffee,
he couldn't ask for that, but
he's all but on his knees and begging
for even the smallest scrap of affection
I've turned to stone
and I want to die.
His eyes lock with mine, deep,
desperate and pleading, I feel my blood
freeze, my heart stop. Every cell
in my body is screaming at me to run to him, hold
him, give him everything he wants but I
can't – I can't give him anything,
can't let him know can't – can't…
Forgive me, Daniel,
I'm a coward and a fool, I know that,
but I am…what I am.
I know you’ll hate
me for awhile, possibly forever, even,
but trust me, this is for the best.
I harden my heart,
my face giving nothing away; I push
back the light and the hope from his
glorious, pleading eyes.
There's nothing here for you,
Yeah, sure, I'm glad you're back,
it'll be nice to have three kids again
instead of two, and no one reads those
crooked lines and squiggles better than
you do, but more than that from me, you
Not from me.
Don't go knocking
on this heart, there's no one home.
I see it, the instant
he gets it, the second he believes
me; nothing has changed between us
and he hopes in vain and I watch as
it all shrivels up inside him, the
need, the hope, all his dreams, the
whole lot gets yanked back, stamped down
deep. Something in his soul goes quiet,
dark and still, his eyes empty, turning
sightless and blank away from me.
Suddenly I'm really
scared, shitless, like I've never been
before, and the fear comes screaming
up my throat, crowding out every other
thought in my head.
I stand there and stare at Daniel's
retreating back, watching Carter and
Teal'c mother hen him into the tent and
I'm cold, cold and scared because I've
seen something bad, something really,
really bad and the reason it's there,
rooted and sprouting inside him, tainting
Daniel's soul, it's my fault.
Several short hours
ago I killed a man.
Shot him dead without a qualm
because he was a stinking piece of pond
scum and he deserved to die. He'd hurt Daniel. Starved him and
beat him and kept him a prisoner.
For six months that piece of shit
held my friend against his will and did
stuff to him no one should ever have to be
put through, hurting him in ways we'll
probably never know about or understand.
And yet, in several
short seconds I've done more to damage
to Daniel than the dead prick did during
the whole time he had him.
Which means, by rights,
I should shoot myself, too.
Fair is fair.
At the very least
I should put an end to it, one way
I don't know how long
I've been rooted to the spot here,
rummaging around in my scruffy, useless
soul for the vestiges of my conscience,
but obviously it was long enough for
Carter and Teal'c to have finished
tucking Daniel in.
Carter pokes her head out of the
tent, gets a visual fix on me, then I
swear to God she huffs, charges out and
starts storming toward me.
If she was a torpedo
and I was a destroyer right about now
I'd be telling all hands to abandon
I don't know what
happened in there, there's no way Daniel
would say anything but I guess the
dead eyes thing is a dead giveaway. Carter, being a
math whiz and all, must have added
two and two and came up me.
Yanno, this insightful
streak she's having, I wish she'd knock
if off already. It's
proving to be damned inconvenient. I've got to pull
my shattered nerves together and figure
out what the hell I'm going to do about
Daniel, and I can't concentrate if
she's beating me around the ears with
It's a damned good
thing we're not married. Or ever likely to
be. What, are
you kidding, I'm gonna give up the
only leverage I've got? I don't need
to outsmart her as long as I outrank
her. These birds
are all the protection I need against
what's headed my way, full head of
I can shut her down
faster than you can say, "I'm Colonel
O'Neill, and you're not."
It's the only edge
I've got and I've no problems using
it if I have to.
In fact, I give it
enough gas, I don't have to say a thing. I see her snarl,
raise her a growl and stomp off in
the opposite direction. She doesn’t
want to, but she gets the unspoken
order, as well as the warning and lets
Problem solved. At least that one,
anyway. As for
the other, the only one that really
matters, well, I’ll deal with it, but
not right now. The coast isn’t quite…free
of obstructions. Teal'c
is still in there with Daniel; I'll
just patrol the area awhile until he
clears out and clears the way.
Or maybe I'll just
keep walking, and consider my options.
Ponder exactly how it is I’m going
to fix this…thing between me and Daniel. Without making it
even worse. Heck, I ought to be able
to come up with something in say, a
year or two.
Way to go, O'Neill,
man of straw with big, clay feet and
a hole where your heart should be. You know damned
well what you should do, you've known
it for years, and if you were a better,
braver man –
suffered greatly, O'Neill," Teal'c's
dulcet tones batter my ear. I kiss ten years
of my life good-bye and narrowly avoid
a shock-induced coronary.
How the hell does
he do that?
"Yeah," I grunt as
the big guy falls into step beside
me. "I'm sure
he has, but that's all over now."
"Is it?" he purrs. "He bears many wounds
none can see. The ones that burn the
deepest were inflicted long before
the visible hurts.
The surface scars will heal, with
time, but as for that which sears soul
deep without ceasing – who can
Yanno, when it comes
to cryptic, no one can hold a candle
to my Jaffa friend.
"No one's ever gonna
mess with him again as long as I'm
around," I snap. And
I can't do much else for Daniel but
"And who will save
him from the greatest threat of all?
This Pada oppressed him, held him prisoner
in body but his soul has long been
shackled to another.
That one alone has the power
to truly hurt, or heal."
Ummmm Carter, you
still want a piece of me? Right now going
a few rounds with you sounds like way
more fun than Jaffa Roast.
Teal'c stops walking,
rounds on me, his eyes so dark and
discerning I want to run screaming
to Mommy. Not that it would do me any good, she'd
whup my sorry ass and send me right
back here to take what's coming to
My mother is no fool,
which is why I could never figure out
how she managed to raise one.
"This must never happen
again, O'Neill," Teal'c looms. I listen.
Trust me, you would
My mind is sputtering. I know exactly what he means, now, not a shadow of a doubt,
but what I don't know is how he - knows! My God, I thought
we were alone in the suite that day,
but if we weren't, if Teal'c had come
back without either of us realising
it, sure, it's possible, he's damned
quiet enough to have been in there
without us knowing, but come to think of
it we were both doing so much yelling…
God, I guess anybody
passing within a half mile of the palace
probably heard us.
From the way Teal'c is glaring at
me, I'm guessing he heard something.
What, what did he
hear, and how much?
Oh God, he knows,
All this time, my
dirty little secret, kept so closely
guarded, under wraps, tucked away out
of sight all these months we were looking,
searching, running down the faintest
rumour, lie or fairytale, the fear
driving me, the uncertainty, the gnawing
suspicion I was the one responsible
for – for…
"You will ensure this,
Nothing cryptic about
that, at all. He
didn't lay the unstated 'or' on me,
but that too, is perfectly, mutually
"Major Carter and
I will secure the area," he announces,
then stalks regally away.
Knowing full well
I'm living on borrowed time, I slink
over to the tent. I'm
trying not to think about what I just
learned as I poke my head inside.
Worrying about what the other half
of my team thinks of me should not be my
primary concern. The man
lying swaddled in the sleeping bag before me deserves
as much of me as I can give him.
Okay, he deserves
way better than any of me but
I quietly park it
on the other side of the tent. I really shouldn't
be here right now, Daniel needs to
sleep, and it looks like he is, so
I'll be quiet so I don't wake him up. I'll just sit here,
not make a sound and watch him sleep,
and hopefully, seeing me just being
in here, with him will be enough to
mollify the Jaffa/major lynch mob and
let me keep breathing for another day.
I’ll do it, I will,
I’ll…fix it. When
it’s a better time.
God, it feels so good
to just listen to him breathe! I don't think I've
had a full night's sleep since he disappeared,
spending every night lying awake wondering
where he was, what was happening to
him, that was bad enough, but not nearly
as bad as not knowing for sure, not
"It wasn't your fault,"
Daniel quietly murmurs, his voice eerie-creepy
dull and dead in the silence.
Dammit, how did he
know? I can't believe this! I don't believe him!
The first thing he
does, the first moment we're alone
together; the time and hurt and distance
haven't made a dint in his ability
to somehow know, when it really counts,
what I most need from him.
after all this time and hurt and distance,
I have to wonder why he'd still care
enough to make the effort.
He takes a deep, sighing
breath, lets it out again and keeps
right on talking. His
voice quiet, detached, monotone, emotionless.
"It had nothing to
do with you at all. What happened to
me, I mean. I just wanted you to know
that. It occurred
to me, after a couple of weeks… I was doing some
had lots of time to think," he says,
A short, sharp bark. Creepy sound.
Time. I had lots of time
on my hands too. Time
to sit and stew and imagine all sorts
of horrible things, time to do nothing
but worry and wonder, were you still
alive, would I ever see you again?
"I was thinking, and
it occurred to me, you might have thought,
because of the way…what I said…"
Yeah, I had lots and
lots of time. But
the only time I really wanted was the
moment you walked away from me.
I wanted it back, wanted to go
back, to shut my goddamned mouth, swallow
my stupid pride and stop you from walking
out that door.
"This'll make you
laugh," Daniel says dully, in the most
un-funny voice I've ever heard. "The whole thing, why it happened, it was a really big
piece of bad luck.
Huge. A wrong place at the wrong
What makes it even funnier, when it
happened, I was on my way back to
"I never made it. Someone saw me, but I never saw him, and the next thing
I knew, I was trussed up like a plucked
turkey and on a ship bound for the
Daniel stops, shivers, burrows
deeper into the sleeping bag. "Not a nice place,"
he whispers. "Wouldn't
put it on a Cook's Tour of the Galaxy."
This time he doesn't
laugh. Me either.
"Yeah," he says, still
"It's a pretty rough place. Hazardous to your
health. As the
bounty hunter found out."
Bounty hunter? What?
"Oh, sorry, did I
Then he goes silent,
and I wait, wondering if he's done. Said too much, or
has too much to say.
I can't believe he's already
told me what he has.
He hasn't moved since
I got here, he's still lying on his
side, his back to me.
He's shaking, and I should…I
should do something.
I know him, I know him so well, can
see the signs, he's getting shocky, I know
what he needs, but God, I can't, I can't
move. Part of me wants
to hear more; the other part hopes he'll
stop talking, stop shaking, go to sleep.
Sleep, that's what he needs.
Go to sleep, Daniel. Forget about this for awhile.
"Yeah, a bounty hunter
grabbed me on the way back to the palace,"
Daniel starts speaking again. "I'd gone over to
Marda's, you remember the place, to
sit, have some busga, clear my head."
Yeah, I remember. It's the first place
I looked. Not
soon enough. Not
"That's where he saw
me. Now we're
getting to the funny part. He was after someone
to pick up some other poor soul and
saw me instead. Whoever
other this guy was, he was got really
lucky, because apparently the bounty
the Goa'uld placed on me was three
times what the hunter was hoping to get
for his original target.
So, he decided to trade up. Just
think, if I hadn't been there right then,
and the hunter hadn't kept current on his
'Galaxy's Most Wanted' list, none of this
would have happened.
How's that for irony?"
Oh God, Daniel, I'm
"Like I said, I was
heading back," Daniel continues his
recitation with frightening detachment,
like all of it happened to someone
I wish it had. He probably does
"The streets were
pretty crowed, it was the height of
the trading interval in the Kabaat. I was getting knocked
about a bit, in the crowds, you know,
uncomfortable but no big deal, and
then I felt this pain, in my arm, and
He stops again, for
"I don't remember
much, after that. Until
I woke up on the ship, that is."
So that's how it was
done. The guy
followed him out into the street, drugged
him, then got him to his ship, and
then off-world. The
hunter was there with the express intention
of bagging someone, so he already
had his moves, including how to safely
cut his target out of the herd and
get back to his ship, all planned.
Changing victims wouldn't have
changed any of his original get out of
Dodge with the goods arrangements. Even if
Daniel was stumbling around, trying to
fight off the drug, in that crowd no one
would have looked twice at them and
if they did, they'd only have seen
a guy helping his friend home who'd
had a bit too much to drink. We were
all dressed in the duds the Vangar
insisted we wear, so there was nothing
to make Daniel stand out, no reason
for anyone to have noticed him.
No wonder no one saw
anything, knew anything. No wonder
it looked like Daniel had just vanished
into thin air. Or
slipped out of the city, gone to the
gate and made himself…disappear.
God, Daniel! Bad luck? That doesn't even
begin to cover it.
The odds against
something like that happening were
astronomical. Almost as unlikely as us being in just
the right place at just the right time…
To get you back.
But still, odds or
no odds, you wouldn’t have been in
that place, out on those streets –
alone - for a bounty hunter or anyone
else…if we hadn’t – if I hadn’t…
This is all my fault. But then, I knew that all along.
"The bounty hunter
was pretty pleased with himself," Daniel
starts up again after another one of
those silences. I
think he's waiting for me to say something. Or walk out on him. I can't do either;
nothing I could say could even begin
to make up for what I've done to him,
and as for the bailing option, well,
that would make things a lot easier
on me, to not have to know, but
I forfeited the right to spare myself
six months ago. All
I can do, the least I can do
for him right now is to keep my stupid
mouth shut and make myself listen to
as much of the sordid story as he's
willing to share.
The irony of this
situation has not escaped me, by the
way. No matter
what happens to him, Daniel is usually
tighter about keeping all the gory
details close to the vest than Scrooge
can't get him to talk about squat
about himself. At best, for all your
digging you get a hearty 'I'm fine,' and
then he's off and dealing, leaving you in
the cold tearing your hair out because you
don't know what the hell is wrong and you
don't know how the hell to fix it.
That's the way he
is, usually, but not now. Now, when
the last thing I want is to listen
to any of this, he won't shut up. He
must be so close to the edge he's about
And he's talking to hold the
hysteria at bay.
This premise gets
more and more likely as the talking,
and the shaking continue.
Faster, it's coming
out faster now. He’s
still speaking in a cold, dead voice,
but the delivery is definitely picking
"Yeah, he was really
patting himself on the back," Daniel
rapidly drones on. "Couldn't wait to
cash in on my misfortune. Me on the other
hand, knowing I was headed for a System
Lord, I figured my future wasn’t looking
too good, or too long. That is, if I got
lucky, it wouldn't last too long."
You mean, the best
you were hoping for was they'd kill
you quick and only once. Leave you
"But then I caught
a break. The
bounty hunter had someone after him,
and they caught up with him on Urgani,
before he could close the deal with
the Goa'ulds. Whatever
he did, it sure pissed some people
off." Daniel shrugs. "I'm a little
fuzzy on the details, it got…confusing."
And probably a lot
"So anyway, this guy
kills the bounty hunter and takes me
to recoup his losses.
I change hands a few more times,
three, maybe four, I'm not sure, but
eventually I end up property of Pada.
Which, while it still wasn't
exactly my first choice, was a hell of a
lot better than going to the Goa'uld.
So, I got lucky again. At least I was still
alive, which was way more than I was
expecting to be."
And where there's
life, there's hope, Danny?
"So you see, Jack,"
he says, fighting the words out. He's shaking so
badly now, his teeth are starting to
wasn't your fault.
Just bad timing.
Could've been any of us, anywhere,
it just so happened it was me."
You're wrong, Daniel,
oh, so wrong. It
was my fault, all of it.
I never should have let you leave
me, never should have made you…
"Anyway, it's over
now," he gasps, his voice wavering
slightly for the first time. "It turned out all
right in the end. Besides,
it wasn't so bad."
Suddenly Daniel isn't
the only one who's shaking. I'm usually not
given to having premonitions, but the
second those words leave his lips a
cold, dark chill shimmies up my spine. I have a horrible,
sick feeling if I thought what he'd
already told me was bad, I ain't heard
"I got used to the
beatings after awhile," he chatters. "It's not that hard,
you just have to keep telling yourself
it doesn't matter.
Besides, I brought it on myself. I wouldn't stop
trying to escape. Pada
couldn't kill me, he'd paid too much
for me, and what I knew was far too
useful to him to waste, although he
did threaten to cut my legs off once, but
I told him if he separated me from any of
my body parts he'd never make another dime
off me or my expertise. Did you know all
the years I've spent out here rooting
around in alien garbage dumps hasn't
been a total waste of time? I've gained enough
knowledge to become something of an
expert in alien artefacts and antiques. Pada certainly made
a pile buying and selling based on
the advice I gave him. He was doing
very well for himself.
Hey, when you were looking for me
I'll bet you never even considered
searching the galactic equivalent of yard
sales, back-street bargain bazaars and
No, Daniel, we didn't.
"No, he'd beat me
and starve me, but he didn't dare do
anything else to me," Daniel mutters. "He knew me well enough by then he was well aware
there was no way he could force
me to advise him on his deals if I
didn't want to.
Yeah, I had him right where I
wanted him, all right," Daniel
finishes, emitting a short, eerie giggle.
God, Daniel, why did
you do it? Thinking
how close he must have come to being
maimed for life scares the crap out
of me – why didn't you just lie low,
bide your time, make him think you
were beaten, had accepted things, and he
didn't need to watch you all the time?
You're smarter than that; know
better than to draw attention to yourself
Why did you take such a terrible
"I had to," he babbles. "I had to get away. I had tell you –
I knew you'd be thinking I – I'd run
away because… It
wasn't like that, it wasn't like that
at all, Jack, I wasn't even mad
anymore, well, yeah, I was pissed at the
whole…slave…thing, but not at you.
I wasn't mad at you, Jack, I wasn't
and I didn't want you thinking – didn't
want you blaming yourself…"
He's gulping and shaking,
curling in on himself like a shocked
snail, still babbling, the words tumbling
out of him in a tangled torrent, most
of it unintelligible. I watch him curling
and jerking, trying to compact himself
into the smallest space possible and
it hits me – finally - what I'm really
Yeah, I know at first
I thought it was shock, and there is
some of that to what's happening to
Daniel right now, but that's not all
of it, not even the biggest part of
Strange as it may
sound, Daniel is in withdrawal. I know what I'm
talking about; I've seen him this way
really weird though, I know you're
not going to believe this part, that
is, what he's in withdrawal from.
Believe me, I'm having
a hard time getting my head around
it myself, but it makes sense, and
if you knew what I know about Daniel,
you'd see it too.
A few years back the
guy lost his wife and his family on
Abydos, got dragged back through the
gate with us, ending up lost in the
shuffle in the corridors of the SGC
like a fish without its barrel.
So, I took him home with me, put
him up until he got his act together and
got a place of his own.
Least I could do, considering the
guy had saved my life, a couple of times,
and we were friends.
Funny, he'd already gotten so
far under my skin by then I never even
stopped to consider how odd it was
I already knew so much about him, considering
I didn't really know him.
That's right, I didn't
really know him at all. But I did. I still
don't understand how after that first
mission on Abydos we'd gotten to be
tighter than I've ever been with guys
I've known half my life, when I barely
knew a thing about him.
We'd only spent a couple of days
together, during which we were both too
busy dodging staff blasts, getting killed
and resurrected, married, leading a slave
rebellion and blowing up scum-sucking
oppressing aliens to have much time for
engaging in getting-to-know-you stuff,
even if I had been in the mood to make
his more intimate acquaintance, which
I have to confess I really wasn't at
the time. Then
we left him behind and I didn't see
him for a whole year, so by the time
we got to where I found him that night,
up on my roof and staring at the stars,
alone and silently bleeding all over
the deck, there wasn't any way I'd
had the time or the opportunity to get to
know him well enough to know what
But I did.
In fact, I didn't
even have to stop and think about what
I did, I just did it. It wasn't until
afterwards – days afterwards - when
I started really watching him and getting
he had a bit of a touch taboo…
You don't have to
be a genius to read Daniel's body language
and when I finally had the time and
leisure to study it I got quite an
made me wonder what in the hell I'd
been thinking that night, doing what
But I did. I'm shit with words;
when I can manage to anything to say
at all, it's usually totally stupid
and absolutely the wrong thing, and
right then, Daniel didn't need empty
clichés and platitudes, he needed a
So, I gave him one. I just walked up to him, put my hand on his shoulder and
Not only did he not make strange or
shrug me off, he came the rest of the
way on his own.
I held him and hugged him for a
long time, and when he was ready, he
pushed himself away, said thank you,
and left me and went back inside and
straight to bed.
We never said a word the whole
time, never mentioned it again, but
then, we didn't have to. What I did for him
did the job; it was exactly what he
he still wasn't great, but he was better. That's all that
Like I said when I
started figuring out he wasn't the
sort of guy to let anyone get too close
to him physically, I wondered what
made me different.
Because I obviously was, he'd let me
touch him, whenever, and that body
After awhile I'd catch the signals
he'd send me, not even realising he was
doing it, when he wanted me to
And all the time I was doing it the
reason why, why he would turn to me
and no one else; I completely missed
I always thought it
was simply about the basic human need
for contact thing.
We all need it, even someone like
Daniel who's spent most his life, 'cause
he's had to, convincing himself he
All this time I thought it was
about the touch, and Daniel accepting it
from me and pretty much only me in those
early days because I was the only one he
trusted enough to let get that close.
As time went by and
he mellowed some, he gradually expanded
the circle of people he'd allow casual
physical intimacies with, so this seemed
to reinforce my erroneous assumption
I was no more special than anyone else.
It was the touch,
any touch from anyone,
and nothing more.
I was wrong. Oh God, I was so
human contact was only a small, small
part of it, it wasn't the touch Daniel
craved, it was me.
It was me, it was
me, all this time, that's what he's
wanted, that's what he's needed, it
all makes sense now, what he was saying
back in that room, what he was trying
to tell me, why he was so desperate
to make me understand by cutting him out
of my life and backing away I'd cut him
off from something he needed as much as
But I couldn't hear
him, couldn't afford to listen, I was
fighting my own battles with cravings
clawing out my insides, they were bad,
bad enough when he was right there,
and at least I could see him
even if I could never allow myself to touch…
But when he was gone,
I was alone with it, the burning, aching,
emptiness, a hunger gnawing at your
guts there's no answer for. I swore to myself
when I got him back I'd never hurt
him again, even if it meant I had to
burn in my own self-made hell for the
rest of my life to keep this thing
inside wanting to possess him from ever
Now I understand if
I don't let it out, give in to it,
and give him what he wants, I might
as well shoot him now.
It'd be kinder.
Irony again. What
I thought was the vilest part of me;
the thing I needed to protect him from
at all costs is what he wants from
me the most.
Crazy world, isn't
rambling cuts back across my awareness
as a couple of particularly distressing
phrases suddenly come clear.
"It didn't matter,
none of it mattered, everything that
happened to me, I didn’t care about
any of it, the beatings and the threats
and the – the – I
didn't care, didn't I just kept…I knew
I'd get back to you, I'd find a way,
no matter how long it took no matter
– and then – and then…"
He stops, sobs and
I'm reaching toward him.
he savagely spits.
"I know it was stupid to think
– to-to-to hope – nothing's changed,
nothing it's – you – don't – I might
as well have saved myself the trouble. What does it matter
if I'm here – or – or still there,
it's all the same.
All the same. Nothing's changed. Nothing."
He chokes on the last
word, and finally falls silent. His body shakes
with grief; he folds in on himself,
desperately stifling the sounds of
You're wrong, Daniel,
everything's changed, but as usual,
I can't think of a single thing to
say to convince you.
That's okay, because
I don't have to.
I'm already propped
up on my side, directly behind him. All I have to do
is reach out my hand…
"Daniel," I whisper,
my hand closing gently on his shuddering
he stills, the sound of his panicked
breathing swirling around us.
I squeeze lightly, but he still
doesn't move, then I pull, and draw him
unresisting against my chest.
He doesn't move, doesn't
shake, doesn't even breathe while I
wind my arms around him. He lies unresisting,
totally inert in my embrace, but the
heart beneath my hand is pounding frantically.
"Why are you doing
this?" he finally whispers, his voice
thin, needy, scared.
Slowly, he snakes his hands
up 'til he's clutching my arm, holding
it tightly to him.
He's torn in two, can't believe,
after everything I've done to convince
him otherwise, this could actually
be happening and yet he wants so much
for this to be real.
Can’t imagine why,
but if he really wants me, he can have
I pull him tighter,
rub my cheek against his and he sobs
again, struggling weakly to move away.
"Don't," he pleads. "Don't do this. I don't need your
pity – just - just leave me alone,"
he begs, breaking.
"Just – just...go…"
I don't understand,
this isn't going the way I thought
it would, this isn't supposed to be
hurting him, he's supposed to – all
I've ever had to do was hold him and
he – he gets it, he gets better…
Pity? Daniel thinks I…
Oh God, oh God, I've
screwed it up, I've screwed us both,
I did my job too well.
He bought the act, hook line and
I'm here, for real, not pretending,
not pushing him away, I'm here to give
him what he wants – everything he
wants. It's too late. He doesn't believe me. He'll probably never
I've got no right
to stay and yet I can't let him go. I should, I've already
hurt him enough but if the only thing
I have to give him, if he doesn't want
it – want me…
I slam my eyes shut
but it's too late, not fast enough. I can't believe
this. Bawling? Me?
Jesus, what next?
I gotta get out of
here but I don't know where to go. I've got
nowhere to go; all my roads have led
right here, from the first moment I
saw him, I think. I've
wasted so much time running around
in circles, trying to go anywhere but
here, and now I've finally faced my
own best truth and come crawling to the
only place I want to be…
Daniel, I'm so sorry.
I'm startled by a
light touch to my cheek.
Gentle fingers ghosting across the
damp symbols of my stupidity.
I crack my eyes open,
ashamed to meet the ones I'm going
Daniel has twisted
around in my arms so we're now face
to face and I was so sunk in my own
self-pity I didn't feel him do it. He's gazing at me,
wary, concerned, definitely confused. His glance cuts
to the tips of his fingers, back up
to my face, astonishment widening those
clear, blue eyes as he sees mine are
Not a damned thing
I can do to stop them at the moment
– something else I can't believe. I don't cry. Ever. Okay, maybe I have
sort of…misted… a couple of times over
the last few years, but it wasn't –
Not really, there were circumstances.
I lost it when that
orb…thingee pinned me to the wall of
the gateroom. The
big guy was the only one who saw that,
although considering the fact I was
pinned to the gateroom wall like a plucked
duck, I think he cut me some slack.
I got a little upset when we
thought Daniel had died on that fish guy's
planet, but that was probably mostly
due to getting our brains messed around
for the outburst I had in front of
Janet just before Daniel flat-lined
in the infirmary and I had to take
him back to the Goa'uld disco ball
My brain was screwed
up. That's why I got weepy.
That's what I told myself at the
Worked for years, too.
So what was my excuse
for the night Daniel disappeared? Waking
up in the dead of night, night after
night, my face wet?
What about now, tough guy?
So, I guess there's
another theory that won't hold water.
Daniel is in my arms,
his wide, searching gaze missing nothing
and there's no getting away from it,
no getting away from him this
ain't misting there are huge,
honking tears rolling down my cheeks,
my chest is heaving, my nose is running,
I can't stop it, can't hide it, aw
crap, can this day get any worse?
"Not…not pity?" Daniel says slowly, his eyes still trying to make sense
of what he's seeing.
Which is my stupid face, so
I wish him a lot of luck.
I shake my head, hideously
self-conscious about my dripping nose.
"Then – what?" Daniel asks softly, again, not taking his eyes from my
face while he slips his hand into the
pocket of my vest where I keep the
It's a habit I got
into, back at the beginning of SG-1's
career, of carrying around a packet
of tissues, just in case Daniel forgot
his, which he usually did.
And still does.
He used to have a problem with
allergies when we first started going
through the gate and would honk his head
off half the time.
And he'd almost never have
something to blow his nose with.
I got tired of watching him use
his sleeve. He
seems to have grown out of the whole allergies thing, but
I still carry them, just in case he needs
to wipe his glasses or something.
You never know.
Yeah, I still carry
them, have been carrying them all this
time even though…
He's pulled the tissue
out and is wiping my nose, and I see
it hit him at the same time it hits
me. What he just did.
He reached in, expecting
to find them, and did, but he shouldn't
have, they shouldn't have been there. I've had no reason to carry them, not for months and months,
and they still shouldn't have been
there today because when we kitted
up this morning I didn't know we'd
find him, but we did, and I had what
he needed, and expected to find, even
though there was no possible way I
could have known he'd be here today
to need it, so I should have it.
And I did.
"Why?" Daniel asks,
looking down at the used tissue in
his hand, a soft, gentle smile on his
"Why are you still
I can see he already
knows, the presence of a couple of
pieces of unexpected cellulose in my
pocket have spoken more for the truth
of my intentions than a ton of hearts
and flowers, but he did ask, and very
nicely too, so I figure I should give
him an answer.
I hope he likes it. I've been dying to be able to give it to him for ages.
From all the moaning
he's doing into my mouth I'd say he
likes it very much.
I give the kiss all
I am, and it's sweet, so sweet, tender,
and I wish it could last forever, but
at last he sighs and pulls away and
when I open my eyes I see I'm not the
only one whose face is wet.
He's weeping, but
they're happy tears.
His eyes are swimming with love and
hope and every good thing I ever want to
see in them.
Thank crap I've finally
done something right.
"You do?" he sniffs.
I nod and do some
snorting myself. But
no talking. Keeping my lip zipped has been working
so far; I'm not about to mess it up
"Me too," he sighs
happily, nestling into me.
I hold him tight and
stroke him, letting him rest. He's not shaking
now, and now he knows I'm here, I'll
always be here, he's safe…
"Jack," he murmurs
against my chest.
"Shhhh," I hush him,
kissing his hair.
He needs to rest. I've kept him awake
long enough, we still have a few hours
hike ahead of us before we get to the
gate and are truly home free.
"Rest," I tell him. "We'll talk later."
"Oh," he groans, pulling
back so he can see my face. "Do we have to?"
I say before fitting my mouth over his. "No, we don't."
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