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

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS  BY PHOENIX E


Gen:  Fiction Featuring the close friendship between Jack and Daniel.
Rating: G.
Category: Angst.  J/D friendship.
Season/Spoilers: Season 1.  One month after the events in Children of the Gods.
Synopsis: Jack and Daniel have a Hallmark moment.   
Warnings: None
Length:   50 Kb   Originally completed in 2001 for Gateways 4.  Posted to the net in 2004.

 

Jack stood outside the door to Daniel's office, feeling suddenly, absurdly, unaccountably awkward.  Ill at ease, apprehensive; a combination of the sick to your stomach, 'in for it now' sensation he used to get grabbed by just before he walked into the principal's office and the 'oh boy, I think I'm going to throw up' terror that had assailed him as he'd stood on Mary Beth Taylor's stoop about to knock on the door for their first date.

Well, that was several long life times ago and a lot of water under the bridge.  He was light years away from adolescent uncertainty so he couldn't for the life of him figure out why the sight of Daniel's door had brought on this rather unexpected blast from the past.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't the door, per se.  Maybe it was more the man on the other side of it and the envelope burning a hole in his jacket pocket.  Just maybe.

Ya think?

And if this wasn't just a fine way to be wasting a Saturday night! Knock, knock, knocking on Daniel's door. It wasn't like he needed to come here or anything.  Not like he didn't have better things to do and people to do them with.  Hell, if he hadn't gotten this damned fool notion into his head instead of standing here staring at a door with a big stupid knot in his stomach he could be sitting at Clancey's right now, having a cold one with Ferretti and the boys.  Nope, not him, somewhere out there, there was beer to be had, and here he was. Here.   For crying out loud, not only did he not want to be here he didn't even know why he was here!

Well, that wasn't entirely true, he knew why he was here.  What he didn't quite know was why.

Oh, grow up O'Neill.  You've come this far, you're gonna see it all the way through.  Besides, the sooner you get it over with the sooner you can get the hell out of here.

Jack decided to forego knocking and just go for the whole grand entrance thing,  He allowed himself a sigh and a shrug, then after pasting a casual smile on his face he grabbed the door handle and let himself into Daniel's office.

The joyless, murky gloom greeting him on the other side of the door put the brakes on his bravado.  Utterly extinguishing it. Jack took a deep breath to try and recover the resolve shocked out of him by walking into the black hole that was Daniel's personal work space.  Crap, he almost needed a machete to cut through the shadows.

There was only one source of light in the entire room, and even that wasn't saying much.  A flexible lamp hovered vaguely over a work station against the far wall of the office, bathing the computer console it was somewhat pointed at in a soft, almost apologetic halo of light. The room's sole occupant perched awkwardly on a chair before said computer, hunched over and blinking owlishly at the monitor, an intense look of concentration on his face. It was clear not only was Daniel totally wrapped up in what he was doing but he also was completely unaware he was no longer alone in the room.  Jack leaned up against the door, letting the darkness conceal him, using the few seconds of cover the shadows afforded him to grab a look at an unguarded Daniel.

What he saw didn't help with the stomach problems he'd been experiencing outside the office.  Daniel just looked - so- so, and his furious, desperate preoccupation with his current task didn't absolve him of the air of blatant neglect clinging to him like an unwanted companion.  

In lieu of anything passing for the real thing.

Daniel looked lost.  The 'we're choosing teams and no one wants to get stuck with the weird kid so we'll just leave him on the bench and go and play' kind of passed over, discarded, and kicked when he was down for good measure sort of  lost.  Just about as overlooked as a human being could possibly get.  What made it even worse - Jack had the sinking feeling Daniel had been this way so long he didn't even know he'd gotten uh, misplaced.  Or maybe he was just so used to it already he'd learned how to make not mattering... not matter.

Jesus….

Daniel's head slowly, cautiously came up; Jack swore he looked about to sniff the air.  Ah, evidently it had finally registered in Daniel's consciousness he was no longer alone in the room.  Jack couldn't help but notice he didn't look too happy about it. No, happy wasn't an emotion Jack would associate with the man he was looking at right now.   More like far too tired, far too pale, and slightly confused at the unexpected entrance of another living being into his work space.  That Daniel had not expected or even imagined he would have company was plainly telegraphed by the troubled, even concerned furrowing of his brow.  The look told Jack far more than he wanted to know, both because its existence and the fact it could be there at all -  a possibility which hadn't even occurred to him.

Aww crap, kid - a sucker punch would be kinder.  Not like I don't have one coming, either.

"What - what is it?"  Daniel said quickly, his body tensing, preparing for what he thought he was going to hear.  "What's happened?  Is something wrong?"

Jack stepped forward out of the shadows, feeling more than slightly bothered Daniel would automatically assume the one and only reason anyone would seek him out after hours would be because there was some kind of crisis or emergency requiring his help.  Whose fault was that, and exactly how had it happened?

Stupid question, Jack. You damned well know the answer, on both counts.

It hadn't been deliberate.  Letting Daniel slip through the cracks the way he had.  It hadn't been an intentional omission. Or conscious neglect.  Really.  It was just - there'd been so much to do since coming back to active duty.  So much to have to deal with.  Not the least of which was what had happened to Kawalsy.  Losing Skaara.  And then there was Teal'c - fighting for the Jaffa's acceptance and getting him on SG-1, and then there was all the time and energy he felt obligated expending helping the alien warrior adjust to his new home and circumstances.  He'd been busy, looking out for a member of his team, like any good commander would.  Getting to know a new friend.   There hadn't been time for much else.  Or anyone else, for that matter.  Besides, he'd just assumed someone would take Daniel under his - or her wing.

But, they hadn't.  It seemed as if he wasn't the only one who'd had a lot of settling in to do.  Who was just too busy to spare the time and energy required for befriending and acclimatizing one transplanted and subsequently abandoned archaeologist.   Jack unconsciously clenched the hands jammed in his pockets as he tried to push aside the wave of guilt suddenly washing over him.  Okay, so maybe he should have - but dammit - it was as much Daniel's fault as anyone else's.  He was just too damned good at - dealing.  At being this silent but capable and self-contained shadow, never giving anyone cause to notice him or consider there was a whole lot more going on behind those baby blues than anyone suspected.  Too damned good by half at making like a puff of smoke as soon as he was cut loose.  Taking with him all the baggage he was resolutely toting all on his own, thank you very much.

Me?  I'm fine, just fine.

Daniel's fault he's been cut loose to fend for himself?  Sure Jack, real mature.  Blame the geek when the truth is he's just the latest victim of your not deal and run approach to life.  When the going gets tough, Jack O'Neill gets going.  Just ask the ex Mrs. O'Neill.  Not like Daniel.  The guy picks you up, dusts you off and makes you face life again and you dust him off the second it looks like he might need you to act like a human being in return.  Nice.  Not like you owe him, or anything.

Lucky for Daniel someone who wasn't busy finding other things to do so they didn't have to do the decent thing by him had finally noticed that maybe there was another someone all of them were overlooking.  Causing Jack to bristle as he realised by pointing out his glaring omission to him the doc was doing the job of  looking out for the welfare of one his teammates better than he was.  Two days ago she'd come to him voicing some very real concerns about Daniel which had made him feel more than angry with himself someone had not only picked up on the problem first but also had had to tell him about it.

"Excuse me, Colonel," the doc had said, "but were you aware Doctor Jackson has not left the base since SG-1 returned from Chulak?  I checked with the personnel records, and were you also aware Doctor Jackson has as yet not found any off base accommodation? Did you know he has been living mostly in his office for the past month?"

No Doc, I did not know that.  And quit looking at me like that.

Once Jack got over his initial 'oops, dropped the ball, Colonel' fit of pique he got all worked up again, because  he realised what had caused  the problem he hadn't clued into on his own and without having to be tipped off by ole Doc Frasier  - it was because of what he hadn't done.

Him.  Jack O'Neill.  His fault. He hadn't kept track of Daniel.

So once the Doc had put him in the frame she'd tippy-tapped off, leaving him with a big problem and a mess of guilt.  Which he'd mentally chewed around for another day while something in the back of his mind nagged him, demanding he pay attention.  He hadn't been able to get a handle on it until he was writing a memo reminding Daniel about the reports he owed him when what had been bothering him finally hit him right between the eyes.

What today was.  Or rather, what had happened today, a month ago to the day.  Definitely not the sort occasion someone like Daniel would have forgotten to remember.  It was probably all he was thinking about, thinking he was the only one who remembered or to whom it meant anything at all.

Which was what had brought Jack here, with what he hoped was an adequate way of showing Daniel he wasn't the only one who remembered.  Or cared.  Well, remembered anyway.  No need to get carried away with this or anything.  Just a little something to cheer the geek up. No need to call the media.  Besides, he still hadn't done anything, other than walk through the door.  He still had time to deny everything, cover with a joke and then get the hell out of Dodge, his 'don't give a damn' cover safely intact.  Daniel would never be the wiser.  He'd never know how close Jack O'Neill had almost come to doing something really, really stupid.  Yeah, there was still time to call this whole deal off.  He could just - go.

He could.

Only one thing wrong with this plan. Maybe Daniel wouldn't ever know what he should have, almost, but never did.  But Jack O'Neill would know.  And Jack O'Neill had rather gotten used to finally being able to look at himself in the mirror again.  Mostly due to the man he was contemplating booking on.  Yet again.  Jack O'Neill liked being friends with his mirror once more.   Made shaving a hell of a lot easier.  As well as a lot of other things.

Crap.  Now he had to see it through.  Even he couldn't be that much of an asshole.

"Relax, Daniel," he grinned.  "No Goa'ulds at the 'gate.  Place is deader than a doornail."

"Oh…" Daniel replied softly, looking even more confused.  He didn't say it out loud, but the man who was walking toward him could plainly see the query in his eyes.  It hit him like an accusation.  Not that Daniel had intended it that way, not at all.  Still it was one, all the same.

If nothing's wrong, then why are you here?

Jack brushed it away as he reached Daniel's side, his hand jammed in his pocket, fingering the envelope hidden there.

"Whatchadoin?" he smiled amiably down at the man whose puzzled eyes looked back at him.

"Just…catching up on some of my paperwork," Daniel replied in a slightly cautious tone, his eyes searching Jack's face for some clue as to not only why he was here, but also why he was expressing any interest in his activities.

 Not like it's ever happened before, huh, Danny?

Jack could see his presence was definitely unnerving Daniel.  As was the fact he was listening to him.  Paying attention to him.  Looking for him to elaborate on his statement.

For an instant it was almost as if Daniel was so shocked by all of these things he almost didn't know what to do.

Daniel's utter, dreadful confusion hit Jack's gut like a sledgehammer.  Visceral comprehension of Daniel's aloneness twisting inside him like a demented blender on puree.  One thing to realize it had been happening but now - to be here, to see it - to really feel  it.

He felt sick.

Daniel smiled slightly, shyly, then looked away back at the screen.  "Ah…uh…I've been getting a little behind on my report writing.  A fact I was reminded of yesterday by a couple of polite but pointed memos from my commanding officer."  He paused, darting another look at Jack to verify the man standing beside him understood he'd meant the comment in good humour.  Evidently reassured by Jack's expression he shrugged slightly and continued his explanation.  "I figured this was a good time to get it cleared up. It's quiet, nothing else pending and besides…well…"

Daniel abruptly stopped speaking, his face colouring slightly with the realisation of what he had almost, but not quite, admitted aloud.

It's not like I've got anything else better to do.

Unspoken, but clearly heard and understood by the man now leaning up against the side of the desk with his guts in knots, who suddenly wanted nothing more than to do what he had come to do and get the hell out as soon as he possibly could.

"Uh, well, I just thought I'd stop by and see how things were going," Jack began as he reached inside his pocket and deftly removed the envelope, placing it on the desk, relying on the barrier of his body to cover what he was doing.  Mission accomplished.  "But I see you're busy, so, I, ah, I guess I'll be going now."

The faintest flicker of disappointment arced across Daniel's features, gone as swiftly as it had ephemerally existed.  "Oh," he said again.  "Well, I guess I'll get back to it then.  Thanks for stopping by."

He was already gone before he'd finished speaking the sentence.  Eyes back on the screen, back into himself, voice growing more remote with each advancing syllable.  Knowing he should stay, say something and yet not knowing how or what, Jack lingered a moment, looking at Daniel, cursing himself for the coward he was.  Then he turned on his heel and made swiftly for the door.

If he just kept going and didn't look back, he'd make it.  Almost there.  Hand on the doorknob.  Almost home free.

"Wh - what's - what's this?"

It wasn't the words that caught Jack, holding him fast.  It was the way they were spoken.  In such utter and obvious surprise.  Like this was the first time anyone had ever…

Noticed he even existed?

He still had his hand on the doorknob.  Was turning it even.  There was still time to get out.  He could still make it.

"Oh…"

The soft sigh bordering on a sob cut right through Jack, making him gnash his teeth and curse himself seven different ways from Sunday for having yielded to the stupid, uncharacteristically considerate impulse now putting him in this position.  He had done something nice.  Damn.  Was in it up to his neck now.  Couldn't leave.  Had to turn around now.  Look at Daniel.  Maybe, have to talk to him, even.

Crap.

Making a mental note to remind him to shoot himself the next time he got any more ideas like this, Jack heaved a deep sigh, reluctantly let go of the doorknob and even more reluctantly turned around.

As he'd pretty much surmised, Daniel had found the card.  He was holding it, head and shoulders hunched over it, keeping it close to his body as if to protect it.  Or ward off any attempts to take it from him.  With his head lowered the way it was Jack couldn't see Daniel's face, but his eyes were drawn immediately to his hands and the object they tenderly cradled.  Long, sensitive fingers lovingly stroked the embossed surface as if caressing a woman's smooth cheek, minutely tracing the letters composing the message within as if to completely absorb whatever hidden meaning they might contain.

Man, from the way Daniel was touching it you'd think he'd just been given the Holy Grail.  Or something.

Jack became aware Daniel was murmuring something very quietly.  Almost inaudibly.  He had to strain to catch it, even in the almost complete silence of the room.

"You…you bought me a card.  You.  You…"

Jack was horrified to feel his mouth open, even more horrified to hear words coming out of it.

"Well, I know what today is.  A month since you…lost her and all.  I figured you might be feeling bad.  Thought I'd get you a little something to cheer you up.  Stupid idea, I guess…"

Daniel was shaking his head, but he still wasn't looking up.  Still stroking the card as he turned it over in his hands as if he couldn't bring himself to believe it was real.

"No…not - not stupid.  Not stupid at all.  I just can't…you…  You of all people.  That you'd remember…you bought me a card…"

"Hey, Daniel," Jack murmured, a little cut at the way what Daniel had just said revealed what he believed others thought of him, most particularly the man standing in the room with him.

Not too much, if ever at all.

Also cut as he realized up until this moment, Daniel hadn't been too far from wrong.

"I remember," Jack said softly.  "I lost someone that day too."

Daniel's head shot up swiftly at that; his expressive face deeply etched with concern and contrition, blue eyes overbright with a conflicting flood of emotions not being allowed the fluid release they were clamouring for.

"Of course you did, of course you did," Daniel blurted out, the compassion for him in his tone almost overwhelmed by the self-castigation the remark also carried.  "That was thoughtless of me, Jack.  I'm really sorry."

Jack mentally kicked himself around the room several times.  Damn!  How does he always manage to DO that!  Shift the blame so it's always resting firmly on his shoulders.  Give him a little more rope and he'll find a way to make the whole reason he's here in the state he's in now all his fault and no one else's.

Not going to happen.

"Listen, Daniel…"

Jack's voice trailed away.  Daniel was staring at him, a fierce, happy light in his eyes, like something important, earth shaking, life-transforming had just hit him right between the eyes, and he was just this side short of calling the press to tell the world about it.

"You bought me a card…" he breathed as he clutched it tightly to his chest.

"Oh, for crying out loud, Daniel, it's just a stupid card!" Jack snapped.  "It isn't even a Hallmark!"

Daniel bobbed his head slightly, a quick, quicksilver smile shimmering across his face before he carefully wiped it free of the expression.

"Yes, of course it is," he said, his voice light.

"Not like it means anything…  Or - or anything," Jack shot back at him, his voice getting gruffer.

Daniel lowered his head.  He was having trouble getting his reply out.  Sounding suspiciously like he was just about to…

"Of course it doesn't."

…about to start…laughing. At him.

Which wasn't precisely the reaction he'd been going for, but seeing Daniel snickering was definitely better than seeing him the way he'd been before.   Still - laughing at him…

There's gratitude for you!

"And don't go getting any bright ideas like this means I wanna marry you or start hanging out with you or anything like that.  Hell - we both know I don't even like you!"

Daniel nodded his head vigourously, quite beyond the ability to hide the fact he was definitely chuckling now.

"Thought never even crossed my mind, Jack."

"Just so we're clear on that point!"  Jack finished stubbornly.

Daniel's head finally came up.  He wasn't laughing anymore, but he was definitely smiling.  It suddenly occurred to Jack he'd never seen Daniel smile before.  Not like this.  Unguarded, open, honest.  Not a touch of self-consciousness.

As it struck him he'd never seen it before it also more than touched him at how - nice - a sight it was.

Finding also, much to his surprise, realising this didn't bother him at all.  Not one single bit.

"Yeah, Jack, we're clear," Daniel said quietly, and then he smiled again.  "Thank you."

That seemed to pretty much cover it.  He'd gone and done what he'd come here to go and do.  Exit stage right?

"So, I guess I'll be going, then," Jack began.  "Have fun."

"Yeah," Daniel's parting smile to him was flavoured with more than a hint of sudden regret.  "You too."

There it was again - that damned look.  How in the hell had Daniel managed to stay alive this long when he couldn't seem to hide anything?  All the stuff just pouring out of his eyes all the time like - like now - half the time it made you want to kill something - or him even  - just to make him stop doing it!

How'd he get this far walking around looking at people making them feel - not even on purpose, even - without a damned keeper?  Not right, just not right he should be looking like that.  Crap!

"So, Dannyboy - when was the last time you ate?"

Daniel blinked in confusion, reeling back slightly at the last thing he'd been expecting.  Jack grinned inwardly at the reaction, and the way he'd gotten it.  Aha!  Ways to knock the boy off balance.  Going to have to start making some notes.

"Ah…ah…I'm - I'm… that is… I don't…

"Wrong answer!"  Jack barked out in full commanding officer mode.  "You're part of my team now, and it's my job to make sure all my kids are healthy and up to strength.  Stow the paperwork.  You're coming with me, and you're going to eat a proper meal, and that's an order.  Get your coat.  We're blowing this joint."

"Okay Colonel," Daniel grinned, his eyes brimming with happiness and excitement.  Jack shook his head as he watched the archaeologist practically do himself an injury while he scrambled to extricate himself from the chair and fetch his coat in the shortest possible period of time.  He also couldn't help but notice Daniel still had not let go of the card.  Guess it was coming along for the ride too.

Well, seeing as how it had started this and all only fitting it should suffer right along with him.

"Are we going to the commissary?"  Daniel queried as he fell into step beside him.

"Hell no!"  Jack laughed.  "Way more to see on this side of the gate than this damned mountain.  In case you've forgotten.  There's a whole world of gastronomic delights out there, and I know a couple of good places.  What do you feel like?"

"Oh wow, it's been a while," Daniel murmured.  "I'm partial to Thai food, actually."

"Oh crap," Jack rolled his eyes.  "How did I know you were going to say something like that? How do you feel about pizza?"

"Ham and pineapple?"

"Christ!  I know what planet you've been living on lately, but what one were you born on?  You do not put fruit on perfectly good pizza!  You taking notes here? I can see you're gonna need some work.  An awful lot of work."

Daniel simply smiled, and they continued to walk toward the elevator.  He didn't seem to mind it, and Jack didn't find it odd as he settled a companionable arm around his shoulders.

"And Daniel?"

"What, Jack?"

"What say afterwards we grab a paper and check out some of the ads.  Start looking into getting you a place to live.  You've gotta be awfully tired of hanging out here."

"Yeah, I guess I am, come to think of it," Daniel nodded.  "I've just been so busy, it didn't seem important enough somehow to bother doing anything about.  But I sure would appreciate - the help."

"You've got it, pal."

Okay, that was fine.  That was good.  It was settled, then.  Daniel needed a little hand, he was going to get one.  He'd just said - hadn't he?  Besides, what would it cost him?  Over and above the price of a card he already had invested, just a little bit of his time.  He could think of worse ways of spending it.  But hardly a better reason.  Daniel - needed someone.  He did.  Couldn't let him keep wandering around like he'd just escaped from the 'Lost and Found'.  Someone had to watch his back.  Make sure he didn't  - disappear - again.   Besides, if they both had nothing better to do, only made sense they should do it together.

But first, he was so going to make Daniel pay for laughing at him.  Jack carried that happy though smugly inside him as he smiled warmly at the man walking at his side who had no idea what he was about to be getting himself into.  If he played his cards right it would be years before Daniel figured it out.

And if he was really lucky, maybe Daniel never would.

FINIS

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copyright
PhoenixE, 2001-9.
disclaimer
Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate Productions, Sci Fi Channel, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. These stories are for entertainment purposes only 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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