HUMBLE BEGINNINGS BY
the close friendship between Jack and Daniel.
One month after the events in Children of the Gods.
Daniel have a Hallmark moment.
|| 50 Kb
Originally completed in 2001 for Gateways 4.
Posted to the net in 2004.
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.
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.
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.
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!
that wasn't entirely true, he knew why he was here.
What he didn't quite know was why.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
of anything passing for the real thing.
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.
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
crap, kid - a sucker punch would be kinder. Not like I don't
have one coming, either.
- 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?"
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?
question, Jack. You damned well know the answer, on both
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.
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.
I'm fine, just fine.
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.
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.
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?"
Doc, I did not know that. And quit looking at me like that.
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.
Jack O'Neill. His fault. He hadn't kept track of Daniel.
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
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.
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.
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.
Now he had to see it through. Even he couldn't be
that much of an asshole.
Daniel," he grinned. "No Goa'ulds at the 'gate.
Place is deader than a doornail."
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.
nothing's wrong, then why are you here?
brushed it away as he reached Daniel's side, his hand jammed
in his pocket, fingering the envelope hidden there.
he smiled amiably down at the man whose puzzled eyes looked
back at him.
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.
like it's ever happened before, huh, Danny?
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.
instant it was almost as if Daniel was so shocked by all
of these things he almost didn't know what to do.
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.
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…"
abruptly stopped speaking, his face colouring slightly with
the realisation of what he had almost, but not quite, admitted
not like I've got anything else better to do.
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.
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."
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."
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.
just kept going and didn't look back, he'd make it. Almost
there. Hand on the doorknob. Almost home free.
what's - what's this?"
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…
he even existed?
had his hand on the doorknob. Was turning it even. There
was still time to get out. He could still make it.
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.
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
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.
from the way Daniel was touching it you'd think he'd just
been given the Holy Grail. Or something.
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.
bought me a card. You. You…"
was horrified to feel his mouth open, even more horrified
to hear words coming out of it.
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
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.
- not stupid. Not stupid at all. I just
can't…you… You of all people. That you'd remember…you
bought me a card…"
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
much, if ever at all.
cut as he realized up until this moment, Daniel hadn't been
too far from wrong.
remember," Jack said softly. "I lost someone
that day too."
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.
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."
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
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.
bought me a card…" he breathed as he clutched it tightly
to his chest.
for crying out loud, Daniel, it's just a stupid card!" Jack
snapped. "It isn't even a Hallmark!"
bobbed his head slightly, a quick, quicksilver smile shimmering
across his face before he carefully wiped it free of the
of course it is," he said, his voice light.
like it means anything… Or - or anything," Jack
shot back at him, his voice getting gruffer.
lowered his head. He was having trouble getting his reply
out. Sounding suspiciously like he was just about to…
course it doesn't."
to start…laughing. At him.
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…
gratitude for you!
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!"
nodded his head vigourously, quite beyond the ability to
hide the fact he was definitely chuckling now.
never even crossed my mind, Jack."
so we're clear on that point!" Jack finished stubbornly.
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.
struck him he'd never seen it before it also more than touched
him at how - nice - a sight it was.
also, much to his surprise, realising this didn't bother
him at all. Not one single bit.
Jack, we're clear," Daniel said quietly, and then he smiled
again. "Thank you."
seemed to pretty much cover it. He'd gone and done what
he'd come here to go and do. Exit stage right?
I guess I'll be going, then," Jack began. "Have
Daniel's parting smile to him was flavoured with more than
a hint of sudden regret. "You too."
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!
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.
Dannyboy - when was the last time you ate?"
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.
- I'm… that is… I don't…
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."
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.
seeing as how it had started this and all only fitting it
should suffer right along with him.
we going to the commissary?" Daniel queried as he fell
into step beside him.
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?"
it's been a while," Daniel murmured. "I'm
partial to Thai food, actually."
crap," Jack rolled his eyes. "How did I know you
were going to say something like that? How do you feel about
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."
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.
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."
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."
got it, pal."
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
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.
he was really lucky, maybe Daniel never would.