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

JUSTIFICATION  BY PHOENIX E


Slash:  Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: NC-17.
Category: Angst.  First Time.  Drama.  Action/Adventure
Season/Spoilers: Season 5.  Big spoilers for The Light, the First Ones and Show and Tell.  References to FiAD, Legacy, Stargate the Movie, Scorched Earth.  Crystal Skull. and Ascension
Synopsis: A tangled tapestry of events brings Jack and Daniel to a moment of truth
Warnings: Language, Major Angst, open season on OCs, plots and intrigues, sex.
Length:  215  Kb Originally completed and posted to the net 4 Aug 01.

Notes:  Thanks to Biblio for the beta.  As always.  The encouragment, threats and shameless pleading are also deeply appreciated.  First ff, I want to say I'm sorry.  I had no idea when I set out where this story was going to go, it just...went.  Extremity came out of me wondering what it would take to drive a Jack who was determined he would never reveal his feelings to Daniel into doing so.  What would push him over the edge.  And then of course  once that was written my thoughts turned to what it would take to push an equally determined to stay friends over his side of the fence.  That cogitating got me this story and some plot compications I wasn't counting on.  I have no idea what's going to happen next - or at least not much of one, at least not yet.  Don't hate me....



I haven't seen Daniel smile so much since…

Crap, now that I'm thinking about it, I don't know if I've EVER seen him smiling like this.  Like he doesn't have a care in the world and never did.  He's really cutting loose, enjoying himself.  Holy moly - having FUN!

Now there's a concept.

Daniel wearing an ear to ear grin is quite a sight to behold, just about as uncommon as a hooker at a church social, and I should be feeling a lot happier than I am to be seeing Daniel lighting up like a Christmas tree and kicking up his heels for once.  Having a good time.  I would be, if it weren't for the large, pesky, petty part of me that's feeling sorry for itself for not being able to be the one to give him what he's so obviously needed.  Which doesn't seem to be my latest Homer Simpson impression.

Everyone's a critic.

What's doing it for Daniel in spades is someone who can't do a 'D'oh!' for shit but gets as worked up over crawling around in the dirt as he does and actually understands what he's talking about. I don't get it, but Avery does. That's why Avery is getting the rarely glimpsed by man nor beast high wattage smiles and honking front row seat to a side of Daniel we hardly ever get to see.

What makes it even worse, the lucky bastard doesn't even realise just what it is he's got.  He doesn't know Daniel very well, doesn't understand he's not usually - as a rule he just doesn't go around - holy FUCK!  Laughing!  Daniel is laughing?  I might have a stroke and die, here.

It would be easier if I could hate the kid for being able to completely rock Daniel's world in a way I guess I can't, but Avery is all right.  Young, a little green, but I've been keeping my eye on him all during this trip, and for a civilian, I gotta say, he's got potential.  He's nowhere near up to Daniel's standard, of course, but he's bright, alert, a good looking kid, big, strapping, a little bit of a baby face and someone really should have told him he didn't need to make with the buzz cut, but even though he's got almost as many PhDs as Daniel, isn't anybody going to be calling him a geek any time soon.  He can handle himself pretty good for someone who's only just field qualified enough to get to walk through the gate for the first time, but he doesn't trip over his bootlaces and get the shakes if you hand him a weapon, and with Daniel showing him the ropes, bringing him up to speed…

Avery will be fine.  A credit to the team that gets him.  I can see it, and I can see Daniel is going to make it his personal mission to make sure of it.  He hasn't had a protégé specifically earmarked for an off-world team to mentor and to talk dirty with - archaeologically speaking, of course - since Rothman…

Oh, on second thought, I don't think so.  Better for everyone we just let Robert…lie.

Thinking about Rothman is suddenly making me feel uneasy, like just by doing it I've summoned his ghost, or jinxed us or something.  It's casting an uncomfortable shadow on what has been an otherwise okay day. Aside from the slight slump I'm falling into over having to watch Daniel having so much fun with someone ELSE, that is. As I glance up into the sky to check the position of the rapidly sinking sun, I'm feeling like a jumpy idiot. We lingered a little longer at the site then we were supposed to, but I kinda figured that would happen, factored it in, so even though we should have left earlier, we're not actually going to be late reporting back and we'll be at the gate and home way before it gets dark.

I long ago mastered the fine art of figuring the Daniel 'I just need a few more minutes, Jack' variable into the mission duration equation.   Or maybe he's finally succeeded in switching me over to Jackson Standard Time.  Whatever.  As long as we get to where we need to be when we need to be there I'm not going to quibble over whose yardstick we use.

Daniel and Avery are just up ahead of me, chattering away.   I'm not really catching much of what they're actually saying, not that it would mean a damned thing to me if I did, but the tone is light and friendly, even though it seems they've both latched onto some small speck of spectacular insignificance they are verbally worrying like terriers with a bone.  Probably something earth shattering like whether the unmarried males in the Yahgosueme Dipwad tribe of the Wherethefuckarewe Mountains dressed to the left or to the right during the Whogivesacrap era.  UY or FY.  I gotta admit I have a hard time believing grown men get all worked up over stuff like this, but then Daniel doesn't really think much of the thing I've got going with…

Hel-lo.  There's the clearing, just through the trees. The gate's just a hop, skip and a jump away and look at the time.  We'll be strolling down the ramp right on schedule.  God, I'm good.

I wonder if Daniel will be too busy doing the post-mission roundup with his new boy to hang out with me tonight. He probably will, but there's always tomorrow.  Perhaps.  I can dream, can't I?

Crap.  Thinking like this has just taken another edge off the day for me.  Maybe I should do myself a big favour and just stop thinking.

"I'll show you the site tapes from 827 when we get back, Matthew," Daniel says, turning back to Avery and giving me a full, unobstructed view of the excited look on his face.  Oh yeah.  No room for the colonel on Dannyboy's dance card tonight.  He's gonna be talking shop with MAT-thew 'til the cows come home.

He's been doing way too much of that for the past month. Shutting himself up in his office with MAT-thew and leaving me without someone to hang with.  I know, I know, I shouldn't be - it's great he's finally got someone he can show all his scrolls and squiggles to, who not only lets him finish sentences but entire lectures and is really applying himself to learning the ropes and getting with the program and doesn't mind pulling all-nighters figuring out what a single line of hen scratches means  -

Guess I can't compete with that. All I got to offer is beer, pizza and aggravation.

I wonder if Teal'c's got any new and interesting entertainment options to suggest.  Although any recreational diversionary activities, no matter how innovative or esoteric, are probably going to be an exercise in futility. Somehow I don't think even Jell-O is going to do it for me tonight.

Daniel keeps talking and waving the doohickey in his hand and walking backwards just ahead of Avery as we emerge into the clearing.  The shadows from the small stand of trees about fifty feet from the DHD are slanting sideways and oozing toward it, starting to obscure its edges.  A few more minutes and they'll be swallowing it whole.

Creepy…

"Admittedly diaspora aren't my field of expertise, but I think if we compare the 827 tapes with these we'll see a correlation with - ah - crap!"

Daniel's lips tighten with annoyance as the video camera he's been excitedly waving around suddenly slips through his fingers and plummets to the ground.  He and Avery both stop walking and stare at it while it drops.  I rein it in behind them and Daniel winces as we all watch the camcorder bounce a couple of times before coming to rest in the grass a little to Avery's left. "Sorry about that, " Daniel flashes a small, apologetic look at me - the first time he's looked my way in hours - before quickly bending over to retrieve it.

"Just a minute, Matthew," he murmurs as he bobs down, arm outstretched. "I'll be right - just let me get -"

I'm looking right at the back of Avery's head when it explodes.

I hit the ground before the corpse does, my P-90 up and in position to allow me to sight back along the path of the projectile's trajectory.  I'm not at all surprised to see myself looking at those trees by the DHD.  Only place the shot could have come from.

Whoever this bozo is, he might be a good shot, but he's not very bright.  He couldn't have picked a more obvious and exposed piece of cover.  If he's brought any friends with him, I hope they're just as stupid.

Daniel's on the ground to my left, lying on his stomach and mostly covered by Avery. The force of the shot that killed him also sent him toppling over right on top of Daniel, who was already on his way down for the camera.  If he hadn't been…

Mother of God, if Daniel hadn't moved, just when he did, he'd be the one sprawled face-up on the ground here with most of his brains oozing out on to the grass - and onto…

Daniel's starting to squirm, trying to get out from under what's left of the man he was talking to only a heartbeat ago. I barely have time to snap at him to stay still when I see Teal'c whirl, point his staff weapon at the trees where the sniper is lurking and let loose with a barrage of blasts.  The trunk of the first tree he whacks shatters spectacularly, belching bits of itself in all directions. As the first completely pulverised piece of timber goes timber Teal'c fires again and mows down the second one.  If I wasn't hunkering behind a dead man and trying to hold onto Daniel struggling beside me I'd really be enjoying this wholesale slaughter cum impromptu logging operation.  Not that I have anything against trees or anything, but - never mind.

Shot number three hits pay dirt.  As soon as I hear the sniper's strangled yell I quickly roll Avery's body off Daniel and grab him by the shoulder of his jacket.  We're out in the open but close to the tree line we just crossed behind us.  I want to get us both of out of any other potential assassin's line of sight ASAP and then we can further assess the situation and figure out whether or not Mr Dumb and now Dead brought any buddies along with him who also might be lying in wait intending to blow our brains out.

"I've got you covered, Sir, " Carter hisses from off to my right.  I throw a look back in the direction her voice came from.  She's managed to find a great big dead old tree to cover behind.  Works for me.  "Daniel!"  I grunt at him, giving his jacket another tug, trying to pull him in the direction I want him to go, my fingers slipping and sliding on the gore slicking the material.

He unexpectedly surges up to his hands and knees, easily breaking my already tenuous hold.  Okay, he's got the idea, he's up, he's moving.  "Over with Carter!"  I urgently instruct.  "Move fast, but stay low."

"DanielJackson!"  Teal'c's warning shatters the menacing stillness.  He's already figured out what I'm just getting around to putting together.  Not that it matters, we're both too damned late to stop Daniel from booking.  In the wrong direction.

He's scrambling to his feet, whipping around, tearing toward the DHD.  Jesus!  Look at him go!  Sometimes it all but drops me in my tracks how fast that boy can run,

Daniel zipped right on by Teal'c before the big guy even had time to think about moving to cut him off.  Teal'c drops to one knee, staff weapon at the ready, scanning the perimeter as he tries to locate any other potential hostiles and cover both of us at the same time.

Yeah, both of us.  I'm on my feet myself and thundering after Greased Lightning, who's already - unbelievably - at the DHD frantically whacking away at the chevrons.  I pound relentlessly toward him, every step I take out in the open a nerve-wracking exercise in gut-wrenching anticipation. I grit my teeth and keep running, the spot between my shoulder blades starting to itch with the creepy-crawly feeling of waiting for the shot that's gonna blow one or both of our heads off, all the while alternately swearing at Daniel for taking off like that and putting both our asses in a sling and praying to God there's no one else out here but us and they're not actually - slung.

However, I do know a certain someone's ass is going to be BOOTED just as soon as I get a hold of him, presuming of course I'm still alive enough to be able to do it!

My mind is spinning and sputtering, trying to get itself around what it has just seen.  What the hell is up with Daniel - why did he bolt like that?  He knows better.  I've got one eye on him and the other frantically scanning the perimeter as I continue to run toward him.  He's finished dialling, now he's fumbling with his GDO, cursing his clumsiness because his hands are shaking so bad.

What am I seeing, here?  Daniel panicking?  Running scared?  No - it can't be.  He can't be - he's not losing his head and bailing on us and scampering like a shit-scared bunny for home.  Not Daniel!  NO way!  I'm not seeing what I think I'm seeing.  I can't believe that - I WON'T believe that about Daniel.

One little bit of good news here.  So far, neither one of us are dead.  No one's shooting at us.  Maybe the guy lying in several large pieces at the base of that tree was the only unfriendly after all.

Not going to hang around here an instant longer than necessary testing the premise, though. Or our luck, for that matter.

Daniel has finished with the GDO and is running again, but NOT toward the event horizon, much to my relief.  He's galloping madly, blindly, straight toward me, making a beeline back…

He smacks right into me about the same time the reason why he's running does.

Oh crap!  Daniel, it's too late. You just did a spectacularly brave and really stupid thing and you did it all for nothing.  None of your heroic disregard for your own safety is going to do Avery any good.  He's gone.  Gone before he even hit the ground.

"Let me go, Jack!" Daniel pleads frantically as he struggles against my restraint, his wide, desperate eyes staring beyond me, locking on the still remains of the man he just recklessly and pointlessly risked his life for.  "We have to HELP him!  Let me go!  The gate - the gate's open, we have to get him back!"

I grab his face in my hands, trying to get him to look at me, to stop him from looking at Avery. The blood slicking my left palm smears across his cheek as my hand slides over it, I have to dig my fingers into the flesh to get a proper hold.  The vehemence of my clasp startles him, but the slight pain is also a helpful goad, working for me, jolting him out of the shocked trance he's in, making him finally see and hear me.

His troubled, wild eyes focus, he stills and stands panting and trembling in my grasp.

"You can't help him, Danny," I tell him slowly, distinctly.  "Listen to me, buddy.  Avery is dead. There's nothing more you can do for him."

"Noooooo…" the soft, despairing sigh of denial seeps out of him as he locks his hands around my wrists and tries to wrench his head from my grip, wanting to look back, but I won't let him.  I keep him focussed on me as I start moving him forward, hustling us both toward the gate.  He still doesn't want to accept what I'm saying but he's got a banner of blood and brains marring his face which pretty much speaks for itself, if only he could see it.

I can see Carter and Teal'c out of the corner of my eye, moving quickly up behind us.  Carter is loaded for bear and ready to pop the first bush that so much as twitches, the business end of her P-90 sweeping the clearing the whole time as she covers our six.  Teal'c's got what's left of Avery draped over his shoulders, but that won't stop him from returning fire if necessary. So far, it hasn't been. Let's hope our luck holds.

Time to get the hell out of Dodge.

Daniel's protests cease when Carter and Teal'c draw level to us.  I give them a nod, grab him by the arm and we all sprint like mad for the waiting gate.

 


 

Quite a grim-faced and apprehensive group is standing in the gateroom waiting to greet us.  Going into our fifth year of doing this, those who also stand and wait have developed this uncanny knack of knowing they'll be needed, when what's going to be coming out of the puddle isn't either good news or simply the end of another routine stroll around the universe.

Hammond, the Doc and her entourage are standing behind the obligatory line of SFs.  Janet's steely mask of professionalism cranks up a notch as she sees we have a casualty; she brusquely motions to the medics to follow her and shoulders abruptly past the two bruisers blocking her path like they're nothing.

The general's face just sags as he sees Avery, getting heavier with the weight of another soul in his care who's come to harm.  Sometimes I wonder how everything he's carrying around doesn't break him.  We might be the ones going through it out there, but he's the one who has to live with having made us.

"No rush, Doc," I stop her from storming up the ramp with a sad shake of my head.  "Nothing you can do for him now."  Hammond's shoulders droop, his head drops sorrowfully.  Janet's eyes widen in momentary grief and then flicker questioningly, anxiously over the rest of us, coming to rest on Daniel.

"It's all from Avery," I tell her for Daniel as she registers the blood on his face and his jacket.  "The rest of us didn't get a scratch."  Janet's relief visibly clashes with her regret.

"Even so, Colonel," she says softly, her eyes never leaving Daniel's pale, shocked face, "I want all of you - " but no question she's aiming this straight at Daniel - " to report to the infirmary immediately."

I hear ya, Doc.

I walk Daniel down the ramp. He doesn't say a word as I head toward Hammond but he's turning around, his head craning back, his eyes following Teal'c's every move slowly, reverently lowering Avery's body to the waiting stretcher.  I suddenly feel the suppressed surge of anger and grief for his loss I wouldn't - didn't have time  - to let myself feel while we were in the middle of it out there.  It's still not time for it.  I have to answer the questions in my CO's eyes and see to the rest of my team before I can let myself get eaten up from watching a bright, promising kid I was only seconds earlier resenting the hell out of for only being what he was get senselessly snuffed out right in front of me.

The kid sure didn't deserve to get his ticket punched like that.  What a fucking waste.  Not the first time I've ever seen it, certainly won't be the last, but it still makes me a little crazy every time I watch someone go in quite this futile a fashion.  Every loss we suffer out there is a tragedy and a waste but there's just something even more cruel about this kind of a stupid, senseless exit. When the death serves no purpose, counts for nothing  - when it's just so goddamned pointless and unnecessary.

Makes me want to kill something.  There's a proportional response, for ya.

There's another aspect to this incident lurking in the dark spaces of 'I don't gotta go there if I don't want to' but I'm just going to pretend I can't see it until it gets tired of waiting for its chance to pop up and blind-side me and goes away.

I let go of Daniel's arm and Carter and the Doc step immediately up to either side of him to lead him out of here.  He balks for a minute at the sudden loss of contact, finally tearing his obsessed gaze from Avery and transferring it to me.  He doesn't want to go without me, and I note with some alarm he's actually hovering on the brink of panic at the prospect.

"I'll be right there," I tell him quietly, but firmly.  "It's okay.  Gowan, now you don't want to keep the Doc waiting, do ya?"

I flash a reassuring smile at him.  His mouth gapes open and his eyes are blank.  Looking at me, but he's seeing nothing.  I'm starting to get a little concerned but again, it has to wait for just a tad.  The colonel is still on duty, and right now he's got a report to make.

Daniel finally nods faintly, lowers his eyes and turns his face away. His head ducks as Carter gives his arm a gentle pull and he starts shuffling out of the gateroom in response to the directive.

Crap.  He hasn't made a damned sound since we got here, hasn't said a word.  Oh boy, we got some stuff to deal with, but I can't right now.  Priorities.  I've got the general in my immediate future and he's a man with a very unhappy face screaming he'd rather hear ANYTHING than what I've got to tell him, but he's wearing a uniform just like me says he's got to suck it up and do what he has to no matter how he feels about it. Ditto, George.  Right now we might both hate our jobs with a passion, but that doesn't mean we're not going to do them.

The very least we can do for the kid we just carried home.

I take a deep breath, meet Hammond's sorrowing eyes and start to tell him how we lost Matthew Avery.

 


 

Every time I look at Daniel's dark and shuttered face I get that creepy-crawly feeling again.  This is just a routine exam, the Goa'uld check, the once over and probably at least one jab in the end - and I do mean MY end - but the longer it takes, the worse he gets and the more unsettled I'm feeling.

I'm trying to work out WHY he's so damned closed up and scary.  It's not like this is the first time he's ever seen someone killed right in front of him.  He didn't head into himself and start my warning lights flashing so bad when Sha'uri died and she was his WIFE.  He was broken up, yeah, but he didn't do this 'dead man walking' thing he's got going right now.

He didn't go into a denial coma over Sha'uri, and yet he's doing it for Avery, a guy, who he might have been simpatico with, but let's face it, he didn't even really know for very long, or that well?  Rothman didn't even rate such a severe reaction, and he WAS Daniel's friend.  What the hell is going on here?  What's this all about?  What I want to know most of all, is how concerned should I be, and how closely should I watch him in the next little while.

I'm floored and a little terrified to realise as I'm sitting here watching him passively - numbly - submit to the Doc's exam I have NO idea what's going on in his head or what it's going to drive him to do next.  I don't know what scares me more, what he might do - or that I don't KNOW what he might do.

I know what Daniel wants before he even does, I can tell what mood he's in by the way he stirs his fricking coffee or quirks an eyebrow.  I finish his goddamned sentences for him when he's not finishing mine and most of the time I know what he's GOING to say and what he's thinking before he even opens his mouth.

I know what he does, where he goes, what he's about to do, what he won't do, I know him inside and out, up and down, backwards and forwards like he's - he's -

But right now,  I don't know him at all.  That's scaring me worse than having to go one on one with a whole battalion of Jaffa trying to sell me life insurance.

"Are you done?" Daniel breaks his silence for the first time to suddenly demand of Janet in a crisp, cold voice that's as much unlike him as he's been ever since we got back.  Before she can finish her affirmative response he swings his head my way and frosts me with a frigid, determined stare.

"I want to see him," he stonily informs me.  His tone and expression clearly saying 'I WILL see him and it will happen now and this is not negotiable'.

No need to inquire who 'he' is.

"Daniel, I don't know if - " Janet begins uncertainly, definitely knocked off her usually unassailable medical pedestal by the unsettling, unexpected vehemence of Daniel's announcement.  She can't get out the rest of the sentence as the harsh look he hurls at her knocks her even further out into left field.

"It's okay, Doc, I'll take him," I tell her as I get to my feet and stride over to Daniel's side, letting her know at the same time I'm also taking over, and taking responsibility for whatever happens next.

"Very well, Sir," Janet responds quietly, acquiescing quickly with a meekness she seldom demonstrates.  She's shocked right down to her itty bitty shoes, and isn't dealing with the current bizareness that is Daniel much better than I am.

There isn't a particle of gratitude in the icy blue eyes swinging my way; just the unnerving assurance if I hadn't seen it his way it wouldn't have stopped him.  He's allowing me to come with, just barely, but he wouldn't have permitted me to stop him.

I flip Janet a slight nod as I hustle out after Doctor Doom.  I know she's going to do it anyway, it’s protocol; she has to inform Hammond if she has concerns about anyone’s state of mind.  It’s not her fault she and Daniel have  - ah -  history.  The Doc is just doing her job so I might as well cut her a break and let her know it's okay. She's already picked up on it and is running to pick up the phone before we've cleared the room.

By the time Hammond gets to the morgue Daniel has been staring at Avery's waxy, bloodless face for almost ten minutes. Except for the small, precise hole in the middle of his forehead the kid looks…

Nothing like he did when he was alive and breathing.

I have no idea why people do this, where this need to stare at a dead body comes from.  When life goes, everything that ever mattered about that life goes too, and what's left is a poor substitute to hold in your memory when what you're hoping to still be able to see in a dead lump of flesh you will never, ever see again.

Avery isn't here, Daniel.  There's nothing to be learned from a corpse, no consolation in cold clay, only more horror and food for the things that breed in your mind and make you wake up screaming in the middle of the night. Trust me, I know. Why are you here, staring into the face of a dead man, imprinting it into your consciousness so now whenever you think of him, you won't see him as he was you'll see - this.  It won't help him, it certainly won't help you and for God's sake the last thing you need is another damned ghost crowding up your nightmares.

Absolutely no good is coming of him being here and I'm racking my brains trying to figure out what to say to him to bust him out of this funk he's in when Hammond puts a careful, gentle hand on his shoulder.  Daniel blinks, gives his head a little shake and then turns toward the general, a softer, slightly bemused expression on his face.  As he looks at the general I get the feeling he's moving back into the driver's seat for the first time, waking up and finally registering what's going on around him and realising he's not been with us for the past hour.

"It should have been me," he says finally to Hammond in a soft, shamed voice.  "I'm sorry."

Oh no. Oh God.  I was hoping he'd stay too damned shocked to work that out.  Forgot who I was dealing with.  He's too stinking smart for his own good.

"You have nothing to feel sorry for, son," Hammond tells him kindly in a soothing, paternal voice. "You've done nothing wrong and you're not to blame."

Daniel makes a small movement of protest but stills as Hammond gently pats his shoulders.  "You need to get some rest.  We'll talk about all of this - later, when you've had a good night's sleep.  Jack," he says without looking at me, "I want you to take Daniel home."

"Yes, SIR," I respond quickly and fervently.

The sooner the better.

 


 

"Jack, the general told you to take me HOME," Daniel complains as I hustle him through my opened front door.

"I did," I return, doing my 'dense' routine while I close the door and lock it against the chill autumn evening.

"I'm sure he meant MY home," Daniel mutters as he strips off his jacket with an annoyed air he's making no effort to disguise.

"Maybe he did and maybe he didn't," I shrug, "but as he left his instructions open to personal interpretation I acted on my own initiative."

Which I know is pissing him off, but I didn't have any other choice.  If I'd taken him back to his place he could have shut me out and sent me packing, and I wasn't willing to risk it.  The last thing I want is to leave him alone right now and I definitely don't want to leave him alone in an apartment that's on the eighth floor with a balcony - not that I think he WOULD  - do I?  A few months ago I would have laughed at the notion.  Never believed it in a million years but that was before…

I DON'T believe he would, I really don't and yet -  I can't take the chance.

Why is he looking at me like that, what's with the face, like he's just gotten a whiff of something that really smells…awwww crap!  He's in my head again, he knows…

He sure does, and from the way his eyes are flaring, shoulders snapping back like he's just been whacked he doesn't think too much of what he found there.

"Well, that's certainly giving me a lot of credit," he snorts disdainfully as his disappointed eyes turn away from me just before he does.  "Nice to know exactly what you think of me," he mutters as he starts to shuffle down the hall.

"Where are you going?" I hastily call after him.

"Relax, Colonel, I'm not off looking for the first convenient way to do myself in."  His voice is like an accusing knife ramming straight into my gut, and then he twists the blade until I want to scream. "I'm not THAT much of a flake, your assessment of my precarious emotional state to the contrary.  I'm following orders.  Going to get some sleep."  His voice is dead and distant.  "That okay with you…'Sir'?"

"You know where everything is."  I answer him meekly.  There's not a whole lot else I can say.  Not right now.  Trying to apologise would be a waste of time, he wouldn't hear a word I'm saying.  I'll just have to hope he's feeling a little more reasonable when he's had some sleep and then I can try to EXPLAIN to him why I thought, when I don't really think - not the way he thinks I think - he's thinking I think about him.

I think I need a drink and my head examined.   At the very least someone should explain what's going on in it to me so I can explain it to him.

I've got some serious grovelling in my future.  I have no idea how I'm going to make this up to him.  He's extremely touchy lately, about even the slightest suggestion he's less than mentally or emotionally stable.  Guess he's just about had his fill of being treated like - well, he's a breakdown just waiting to happen. The guy's got a spine of titanium.  He's pulled himself through a boatload of shit the past few years with no help from any of us and yet we still handle him with kid gloves and 'humour' him.  And think he's gonna throw himself off balconies the first chance he gets.

Crap. He's disappointed in me, well, I'm a little disappointed in myself. I know him, I should know better. He would NEVER -  He didn't.  Even when that planet had completely screwed up his head he hung on. He brought himself back.  He didn't…he wouldn't.

Oh man, do I feel like a schmuck!

I pour myself three fingers, pick up the glass and wander on over to the couch.  I park myself and stare at the twilight outside the plate glass windows opposite me. The whiskey bites the back of my throat as it slides down. This wasn't exactly the kind of evening I had in mind when I was sulking on the way back to the gate and wishing Daniel would ditch Avery instead of me.

Guess what, I got my wish.  Here he is.  Hey, I win!

By default.

I know he was pissed when he got here and then I pissed him off some more - it's a gift, what can I tell you - but I wish he hadn't shut himself up like that.  And now he's settling in for the night and he hasn't even eaten - I missed him at lunch so I don't know if he made it, then we were off-world and well, now we're back.  I know damned well he didn't have lunch, I should - I should make him a sandwich or something.  He should eat something.  Maybe some soup.

Ah, he'd just throw it right back in my face. Leave him alone, Jack. He's a big boy, if he wants to go to bed with no supper that's up to him.

He doesn't need you fussing over him and badgering him, making a big fucking fool out of yourself because you're just so goddamned glad he IS in that room right now, mad at you or not.

Hell, he can spit right in my eye if he wants to just so long as he's actually still here and able to do it.

I have to put the glass down on the coffee table for a minute.  My hands are shaking.  I lace my fingers together, clasp my hands tightly in my lap and try to make it stop. I WILL - make it stop.  I refuse to let this latest close call get to me.  Besides, it's not like the both of us haven't been down this road before.  More than once.  I've watched him die - more than once, left him for dead, almost sent him to his maker myself riding a souped up Naquadah reactor. It comes with the territory.  Every time we walk through that ring we do it knowing we might never come back. The risks are just part of my job, I have to take them.  But he takes them by choice.  He doesn't HAVE to go out there and put his life on the line, but he does.  He could stay behind, where it's safe, and sometimes - hell a LOT of the time I wish - I wish he would.

But I gave up that idea a long time ago.  Daniel isn't one to take the safe and easy path.  Any more than I am.   We're both kinda alike that way.  One of the reasons I guess we get along so well. Most of the time.

We do.  You wouldn't think so, we're so damned different in a lot of other ways.  But somehow it works.  We balance each other out.  The ying and yang thing.  I'm an ordinary Joe, he's a genius. I wanna blow all the bad guys up, he wants to try to talk to them first.  I'm down to Earth, he's got his head in the clouds half the time. He's a pain in the ass, and so am I.  Guess that one has to go in the 'things we have in common' column.

We meet in the middle.  We balance.  It works.  I don't know how, it just does.  What I do know is I NEED him. I can't do my thing out there without him to make everything make sense and this side of the gate gets too wide and lonely when he isn't around filling up the spaces.  Nobody else fills in the gaps in my life the way he does.  I can't lose that, I can't lose HIM.

This is nuts.  I don't even know what I'm saying  - what AM I saying here? You know what, I don't know and thinking like this just gets me all screwed up so I'm just gonna sit here and drink and not think and, maybe listen to my hair turn grey or something.

Or something.

I pick up my glass and sip and listen to Daniel bumble and bang about in the spare bedroom.  Lots of loud and pointedly unhappy Danny noises coming out of the room but after a sufficient interval of telegraphing his annoyance and making me suffer, the sounds cease.  He's in bed now.  Probably not asleep, but tucked in for the night.  I should think about doing the same.

I might think about it, but I'm not going to do it.

 


 

The sense of wrongness in the air wrenches me awake.

He's gone.

I jerk abruptly back into awareness to find myself still slumped on the couch where I must have dropped off for a bit, but I'm up now.  Up and moving because Daniel isn't in the house, I can FEEL it, and because I can  I'm  awake and I have to find him.  I didn't hear anything, but I know he's not here.  The place feels different when he's here. Fuller, somehow, better, and missing that sense of - him - here -  when he's supposed to be   - something's not right in my world, and I know it and that something is Daniel not under my roof.  No way I can sleep through that.

My certainty he is in fact missing wavers as I run up the stairs and see his shoes by the door.  And his jacket not far from them where he must have dropped it.  That stops me for a bit.  Where would he go without his shoes?  Or his jacket?

Maybe I'm wrong, I'm jumpy, imagining things, he hasn't gone anywhere and if I just take a peek in the bedroom I'll see him safely tucked in and snoring.

So much for that idea.  A quick check of his room doesn't turn him up and neither does a rapid circuit of the entire house.  He is NOT HERE.  Nothing wrong with my instincts, it would seem, but I'm not exactly in the mood for patting myself on the back because this is one instance when I'd really much rather have been wrong.

Daniel's not here.  Which means he has to be somewhere - out there.  Without his shoes or his jacket.  Or his clothes, his wallet, his keys or his glasses, which I couldn't help noticing were all still in his room. And I haven’t missed just how quiet he had to be to get past me.  I need to find him.  NOW.

Daniel's running around outside in his jammies.  At least, I HOPE he's slipped on one of the pairs I leave there for him for whenever he succumbs to an impromptu impulse to stay over. Along with the spare toothbrush and other…stuff, he might need.  I hope he's wearing something.  The neighbours are doing enough gossiping about me as it is.

A blast of cold air smacks me in the face as I rush out the front door.  Christ!  It's FREEZING out here.  The wind's really picking up and it must have dropped ten degrees since we got home. The bite in the air tells me there's going to be frost on the ground in the morning.  I'm glad I've got my jacket on, so if Daniel is out here in his jammies he must be freezing his nuts off right about now.  Which only makes the idea of him being out in the first place - somewhere - not dressed for the weather seem even more insane.

Why would he  - where would he - ah crap, I know where he is.  He isn't far.  Not far at all.  All I have to do is look up.

I get to the top of the ladder leading to roof to see him standing on the platform, slightly leaning against the rail and staring raptly up at the sky.  He's only wearing the bottoms of the jammies and in the cool, stark moonlight his naked torso gleams white and ghostly, making him look like some perfectly carved marble apparition.  He's motionless, almost surreal, seemingly oblivious to the cold and the wind whirling around him - so oblivious he's scaring the crap out of me.

"Daniel," I say cautiously as I gain the topmost level.  "Whatcha doin'?"   I want to run right up to him, grab him and make him come down from here, make him come inside but I can't move, can't bring myself to get any closer to him.  All of a sudden I'm standing in another place, watching him poised on another edge he only barely managed to come back from and I'm scared if I say or do the wrong thing I'll push him over this time.

"Jack?"  he murmurs in a distant, dreamy voice. "Why am I here?"

O-kay, this is a loaded question if ever I heard one.  I have no idea if he's asking me why he's standing here, or why he's here, here, if I should be thinking existential or making with the jokes.  It's cold enough to freeze the tits off a titmouse but I'm sweating bullets 'cause I have a horrible feeling he's pulling me into 'meaning of life' territory and I so suck at this stuff.

He half turns his head to look back at me, a faint smile on his face. "I mean - why me," he explains.  "Why am I still here, when - when - "

Avery isn't?

" - when so many others, so many good people…"

Oh, oh.  Not just Avery.  I knew there was more going on in his head than just Avery.  I'm on a roll with this being right stuff tonight and it couldn't be happening at a time when I want to be more wrong.

" - why am I still here - why do I get to live and they didn't?"

If he's waiting for me to give him an answer we're gonna be here all night.  I've got nothing.

"Did you know Matthew had a fiancé?"  Daniel continues on in the same, slightly spaced voice that's making my skin crawl.  "Her name is Eleanor.  Pretty.  He showed me a picture.  They were going to be married next month.  His family lives in Utah.  Mother and Father, two older brothers and a kid sister. She's going to start college next year."

Oh my god, if he tells me Avery had a dog too I just might lose it.  I'm a little surprised to hear how much Daniel knows about him though. I guess they talked about more than I realised.

"No, I didn't," I tell him honestly.  Feel like I should say something, and this sounds safe enough.

"Well, he did," Daniel retorts quickly.  "He had a place in this world, people who loved him - people who will miss him - he MATTERED, Jack. He'll be missed."

Oh crap, I so do not like where this is going.  Daniel still isn't moving, he's staring straight ahead again, but the anguished agitation in his voice is notching up.  He's about to lay it on me, what's been eating at him all this time.

"I'm not saying I want to die," he blurts out suddenly, dropping his head.  "I'm not saying that at all, believe me, I don't - I DON'T want to die, but I should have, today, not him - it should have been me lying on that slab, we both know that.  If I hadn't dropped the stupid CAMERA and moved out of the way just in time, it WOULD have been me."

"Why wasn't it?"  he cries.   "Why was I spared, picked to be the one who got to live instead of him?  I don't understand why the grim reaper keeps passing me by, why I keep getting all the breaks, all the second chances, the last minute reprieves, when so many others…  Why me, Jack? I'm not special.  I don't deserve to be here over any of those people who weren't as 'lucky'," he spits out the word, his voice dripping with disdain, takes a deep breath and then continues. "Lucky.  Yeah, that's me.  I'm just so damned lucky.  Matthew wasn't very 'lucky', was he Jack?  Oh sure, he had a place and a home and a family, something to live for, people who CARED about him Jack, who, who LOVED him.  Really, really LOVED him…"

Daniel's voice breaks with the weight of the word, and the sound splits me.  I never knew he felt like this, never realised how it's been for him, how hard it is for him to be the way he is.

Alone.

He catches himself quickly, swallowing his hesitation, bleakly ploughing on with his merciless recitation. "When it came right down to it he might have had everything, but he didn't have the one thing he really needed.  He wasn't 'lucky'.  Not like me.  I've got nothing but luck.  Lots and lots of…luck."  His voice falters, and he's quiet for a minute.  "I've got no one," he starts speaking again, his voice growing harsher and colder,  "but I'm still breathing, and I guess as consolation prizes go, it's a pretty good one.  Not complaining about the breathing part, you understand," he says with a bitter bark of a laugh, "but back there, when they had to decide which one of us got to live and picked me over him, I think maybe this time they might have screwed up."

That hurts even worse. Now he's saying Avery was 'worth' more than him because he had a family, something fate and a selfish old bastard cheated Daniel out of, and as for the rest of it…  It's breaking my heart to hear him talking like this, thinking about himself like this, especially when he's so goddamned wrong.

But dammit, it's what he believes.  He really thinks he's got no one  -  that he isn't…  He wouldn't have said it if he didn't believe it.  That's what's really bothering me, that after all this time, after - everything - he could believe no one cares.

No one means me too.  Well I could stand here and be all hurt and insulted and wouldn't that just do us both a world of good.  Not.  No, I'm thinking  it's just about time to leave off with the thinking and get down to the doing, namely doing what I do best. Blowing his worldview right out of the water.

He gasps with surprise as I come up behind him and wrap my arms around him.  God, he's so cold!  His flesh is like ice beneath my fingers and I try to warm him as I pull him in tightly to me, rubbing my hand along his arm.

I hold him for a bit; it's better to let him get used to it before you start talking.  Danny's really funny about being touched.  It's not that he doesn't like it, he's just not used to it, and he won't take it from just anyone. He's adjusted to my touchy feely side; he's had no choice.  I can't help myself, it's just the way I am.  Besides, I've never met anyone in my life who looked like he needed it more.

He is used to my hands on approach now.  I think he even likes it.   He still can't give it back, or ask for it, but I've learned how to read him pretty good.  He holds himself a certain way, gets a little twitchy, gives me a look, I'm in there with the pat on the back or the slap to the back of the head, sometimes more, if he really needs it, and he's better.

He's getting the full body special tonight.  I took him by surprise and given his mood I was expecting him to put up a bit of a fight before he settled in and let me hold him.  But he didn't.  He gave a little shudder when I first grabbed him but he didn't push me away. I stroke him slower, harder and he's going boneless against me in a way I wasn't quite expecting, but he seems to be calming down, not minding it.  Not minding it at all.

He sighs deeply as I start to move my hand over his chest, trying to get a little blood flowing.  It's too freaking cold for this.  I'm getting worried about him being out here half-naked, and I want to talk him down and inside soonest.  Being so close to him I'm transferring a little body heat, warming up the backside but the rest of him is just too damned cold, even with me trying to rub him better.

Shaking now, he's started shaking.  Come on Jack, make the mouth work.

"Don't do this to yourself, Danny," I say softly into his ear. "You want to talk, we'll talk, I'll listen, whatever you need, I promise, but not here, okay?  It's cold.  Let's go inside, what do you say?"

"Don't!"  Daniel gasps and drops his head against my shoulder. "Don't go!"

"I'm not, Daniel, I'm not leaving you," I try to reassure him and not let his reaction throw me.  "I want you to come with me, we'll go - we'll go together."

"Together," he says in a funny, wistful voice.  "That would be nice."

"Um…yeah," I'm suddenly not sure what he means, and he must be hearing it in my voice because he abruptly laughs, a harsh, cutting sound.

"You don't even know what I'm talking about," he says bitterly as he tries, abruptly, to work himself free of my hold.

That's the SECOND goddamned time he's said that to me. He's right, I've got no more of a clue now then I did then, and frankly I'm a little sick of being in the dark.  Whatever this is that's bothering him, it's hurting him down deep and I've had just about enough of standing around like a clued out doofus watching him bleed.  He's going to share if I have to rough him up a bit to make him do it.

I clamp onto him again and haul him on into me.  He's gonna talk, and I'm gonna listen.

"You're right, Daniel I don't know," I hold him tight as I try to make him listen to me. "I don't know squat.  I don't know why Avery died instead of you, I don't know why a lot of things happen, but one thing I do know, whatever you think, he wasn't worth more than you.  You've got just as much as he had, maybe more, you've got a place, you've got family.  Maybe we're not blood, but you couldn't be more a part of us if we were.  And don't you ever think for one minute we're all not damned glad for your 'luck', that you are still breathing.  There's a lot of people who are sorry Avery is gone, but if it HAD been you, Daniel, well, sorry for the way it sounds but we'd be missing you a hell of a lot more.  Me for one. I'd miss you something awful.  I know THAT'S not saying much but…”

"You would?" he says quickly in a small, uncertain voice.

He doesn't believe me!  Now I'm REALLY hurt.

"Of course I would!" I chide him gently as I pull him closer and continue to try to work some warmth into his chilled body.  He's relaxing again, slumping against me, his head nestling in the hollow of my neck as my hand sweeps over the cold skin of his chest.  "What, you think I don't care about you? Well, I like that!  You think I'd sit through three hours of hysterical, snot-nosed kids draped in white sheets for just anyone?"

I thought that at least would make him laugh, get some sort of a rise out of him. God knows I’ve never let him live that Greek tragedy – and tragedy was the word, I missed five minutes of the Simpsons - down, but he just sighs against my neck and shakes.

"What is it?"  I don't know anything else to say.

"Never mind," he murmurs as he nuzzles his cheek against my shoulder.  "It - it doesn't matter.  Just give me a minute.  Just a minute…"

His voice trails off and turns into a low moan. His eyes are tightly shut, mouth slightly open, he's panting, trembling like a leaf.  I thought it was the cold making him shake like this but I see him gasp again, bite back a moan and move to press into my hand as it glides over his chest.

Me.  My god, it's ME.

He's shaking so bad I can hardly keep my hold on him. His cold hands are clutching my arm, but his breath is fast and hot against my neck.  I suddenly feel him so - intensely.  His reality is shattering, his heavy, gasping weight in my arms, the soft, needy sounds he's trying to stop me from hearing yet can't help himself from making because I'm touching him. Me. The way his skin feels, under my fingers, the softness of it, cold and yet burning my palm as I move it across, lower, tracing the muscles in his abdomen, feeling how they work and move as he bucks and moans from me rubbing my hand across his stomach.

Because I'm touching him.  Me.  Whoah…

He's sinking into me, shuddering as I stroke him, burning with what he wants and yet is so terrified of feeling.

Me.  He wants me to touch him. Not just - touch him…but…TOUCH him.

Oh god, Daniel, my poor Daniel.  This must seem to you to be the cruellest joke life has ever played on you.

Believe me, I'm not laughing.

"How can I help?" I ask him, knowing exactly what I'm saying.  The why has hit me a dozen times today, from when Avery first fell to when I woke up just now and knew Daniel had left me.

If anything - ANYTHING happens to him, hurts him, I'll die.  No one is ever going to hurt him.  Not even me.

"I don't know," he moans softly.

"Yes you do, yes you do," I urge him gently, rocking him in my embrace, rubbing my cheek against the top of his head. "Tell me."

"I want.." he sighs, struggling with himself. He licks his lower lip and then bites down hard on it, starts to turn his head away from my neck but I shift him, tuck him in closer.

"I want…" he breathes tremulously as his chest heaves with terror beneath my hand. Say it, I want him to say it, try to will him to just let the words go and flow out of him.  Not because I need to hear it, not for me.  I know what he wants, he doesn't have to say it for me, he has to say it for him.

It's okay to want, Daniel, okay to admit it to yourself, to me.  It is me.  You're safe.  Let it go.

Tell me.

"I don't want to be alone," he whispers.  Close enough.

And I don't want to be without you.  Ever.

"So don't be."  I press my lips to the top of his head. "You don't have to be.  If you need a reason to be here, be here for me. I'm here for you," I offer quietly.

He goes deathly still in my arms and for a terrible second I think I've gotten it all wrong and then suddenly he gives a choked cry and twists about in my embrace.  His arms are wrapping around me, threatening to crush the life out of me and he's pressing against me, rampant, hard and throbbing.  I've never felt anything so strange and yet so exciting but the night's far from over and he's not quite finished blowing MY worldview from stem to stern.

Next thing I know my hands are on his ass, his lips are locked tight with mine and his tongue is in my mouth. All I can say this wasn't what I was expecting  when I first came up here, but….

I'll kiss now and think later.

 


 

He's almost comatose from the cold by the time I finally strong-arm him back into the house.

"You are one stubborn, dumb dirt boy, Daniel Jackson, you know that," I scold him as I try to hustle him along the hall.  I'm not sure how I managed to get him down the ladder without both of us ending up as twin, stunned heaps on the lawn, but now we're actually in the house I want him warmed up as quickly as possible and trying to get him to co-operate…

"Not dumb," he slurs as he staggers into me and knocks me off balance.  He's hanging off me like a very determined leech so comes happily along for the ride as I go reeling into the wall.  "Not dumb," he pants between the kisses he's planting all over the side of my neck.  "That's your department," he snickers.

"Oh yeah?" I playfully snark right back at him. "Thanks so much, I love you too."

His face crumbles and he collapses so unexpectedly he's almost to the floor before I've caught him under the arms and hauled him back up to me.

Aw crap - what - what did I - WHAT?

His arms are wrapped around my neck, his face buried in it, but the next words out of him are so angry and impassioned I don't have any trouble hearing him.

"Don't SAY that!" he cries.  "You don't have to, I'm not a child, I know how it is…"

Okay, that SO fucking does it!  I'm not quite sure what kind of a prick Daniel thinks he has for a friend but if he thinks I would mess with his head OR his heart like this just to get a piece of his ass - I'm nipping this CRAP in the bud right here and now!

His eyes go wide with shock as I grab him by the shoulders and slam him up against the wall.

"Okay, you listen up and you listen good because I'm only saying this ONCE," I snarl at him as I take his face in my hands.  "You listening?"

His eyes are huge, staring, stunned blue pools, startled eyebrows already halfway up his forehead and not looking like they're making the return trip any time soon, but he's not making a sound and I'm reasonably sure I've got his undivided attention.

I kiss him hard and fast on the mouth just once to be sure.

Yup.  He's listening.

"I'm not good at this shit but the last thing I want is for you to be thinking I'm messing with your head or taking advantage of your 'precarious emotional state ' here - or -  Ah!" I admonish him by stroking my thumb across his lips as he tries to interrupt.  "Ah!  I'm talking here!  You're listening, remember?  "Or," I continue on smoothly from the point where he tried to butt in like nothing happened, "throwing you a bone to get you over a really rough patch."

I stop as the sight of him biting his lip to hold back a smirk and realise what I just said.

"I guess I coulda put that another way," I admit sheepishly.

"It'd be a hell of a favour for a friend, though," he's trying really hard not to burst out laughing.

"Wouldn't it, though?"  I crook a smile at him and keep on caressing his cheek. "Mighty big of me?"

"Definitely goes way above and beyond an open-air revisionist interpretation of ‘Oedipus Rex’ for the Oprah generation," he says with a sly smile.

"You're TALKING!"

"Sorry," he shrugs,  "I'm shutting up.  You don't have to tell me twice. You want me to shut up, I'm shutting up.  I'm not the kind of guy who doesn't know when to shut up when he's been told to shut up, and just keeps right on talking when he should be shutting uMMMPPPPHHH!"

I shut him up.  He doesn't talk for the next ten minutes.  He's making a lot of noise, but none of it is talking.  Okay, I'm hearing my name a lot, interspersed with some 'oh god's, a couple of 'shit's' and a HELL of a lot of moaning.  But nothing that could be even remotely construed as coherent communication.

This is pretty interesting.  Works like a charm.  I'm going to have to remember this the next time I want to shut him up. Or make him do the shimmy in my arms the way he's rubbing up and down and all over me. Purely tactical, you understand.

Right.

"You were saying?"  He gasps into my ear when I finally decide I'd better come up for air or -

I pull back so he can see my face before I lay it on him.  "I'm saying - I love you too.  I mean it."

Holy buckets, that wasn't hard.  Happens to be the God's honest truth too, and I don't know who is more amazed to hear me saying it - him or me.

He's looking pretty stunned again, and just as I'm figuring he's finally gotten one shock too many tonight his eyes change, get soft, light up, and I can see clear as clear just how much and how deeply he believes me. He sighs and melts into me and these kisses are as sweet as the last set were stormy and I'm definitely starting to feel not only like I'm on top of the world, but getting rapidly too big for my britches.

Exponentially. Oy! Mister Happy hasn't answered the call with quite this much alacrity or enthusiasm since Pontius was a Pilate. Seriously aroused, here.  Feels like I've got company.

I've managed to screw up just about everything I've ever touched, but for once in my life I've gotten lucky tonight too.  I didn't screw this up.

And I'll be leaving the land of sap and double entendres, I've got a cold, horny boy here needs warming and 'unstressing' and come to think of it, I wouldn't mind a little 'stress' relief either.  I'm doing some reciprocal suffering myself, and it ain't from being chilled.

"Still cold?" I murmur in the midst of lunching on his lower lip. Quite a mouthful.  Nice entrée.  I'm itching to unwrap the main course.

"A little," he whispers as he does some nibbling of his own. "Warm me up?"

"Bed?"  I suggest hopefully.

"Yours or mine?"

"Technically, they're BOTH mine."

I can't believe how fucking sensual his mouth feels gliding over mine as he talks and touches and teases. Sighing, darting his tongue out to sample me, licking the taste of me from his lips before he brushes them against me again.  My hands keep running over him like they've got a mind of their own, they're tingling, hungry, insatiable, soaking up the sensations, I've never felt anything so incredible, so smooth and sexy and there's just so MUCH of him to explore.

So why the FUCK am I standing here like a dick with a swollen dick when the pair of us could have been horizontal and heaving a half a dozen smart comments ago.

"You picked a fine time to get technical," he pants.

"I don't care. Flip a coin."

"Heads or tails?"

He squeaks as my hands dive under the waistband of his jammies, greedily cupping his tight, twitching ass.

"Don't make me hurt you," I smile at him sweetly as I provide him with conclusive proof Mister Happy is getting hysterical.

"You wouldn't," he murmurs quietly as he suddenly hugs me hard and fast.  "I know that now."

 


 

I'm not exactly sure how we got here, but I do know I never want to leave.  I got worked up so fast my dick bypassed my brain so I'm already here naked and 'Doing with Daniel' before I've had time to worry about exactly what 'Doing' might entail.

Mechanics be damned.  I didn't have a clue which end was up the first time I scored a home run with Mary-Beth Taylor but adolescent bravado and a heat seeking pecker got me across the plate eventually. And that was a thirty second hump and a pop, the pair of us romping around in the back seat of my father's Buick, two clueless kids with more hormones then sense and scared shitless we were going to get rumbled any second.

If I managed to work it out then I'm fairly confident I'll be able to figure my way around Daniel as well. Just give me room to work, I'm more than up for trying.

I'm also a whole lot older, not much wiser, but what I do know is making all the difference now.  Something Mary-Beth never got to know her first time, and I'm sorry I can't change that for her, but there is a difference between fucking and making love.  Whatever we 'do', Danny and me, we can't possibly do wrong because it's us, we're right, and so is this.

And right now what he needs the most is to forget. Shed the years and the pain and the guilt, the grief, the loneliness and the emptiness, lose himself in so HAVING what he wants he can't do anything else but lie here and drown in ecstasy.

Let's see what I've learned since the backseat of the Buick.

He's fire beneath my hands, a fever coursing in my blood as I stroke him and feel him singing inside me.  All this time I thought every time I touched him I was doing it for him, he was the one who needed it, but I was wrong.  It was me, always me, I needed to have him, know him, I need him, the way he feels, smells, oh god tastes, I need all of it, filling me, I know that now. As my senses overdose on him, I drink deeper, pushing my synapses to overload and then - take in more, just a little more, I can do it, but  it's not enough, I can handle more, it will never be enough.

I want more, Danny, give me more!  He's going, slipping, blitzing on O'Neill-induced ecstasy and I ram into him, throw back my head and roar at the joy of his complete and utter capitulation to his own pleasure.  Got you, got you now, I ride him relentlessly, without mercy, watch his glistening body undulating helplessly beneath mine, jolting in time  to my repeated thrusts. Slipping, sliding, over him, he's hard and throbbing against my stomach, sweat courses from me in rivulets as I rock and glide, mingling with the perspiration sheening his bucking, writhing body. I drive into him and he arches his neck, the tendons standing out as his face distorts in a rictus of release and a bubbling groan oozes out of his gaping mouth. I feel the tightening against my belly and quickly reach down between us, grab and stroke him, holding both of us as he comes, and comes and comes.  He keens high and long, sobbing and panting and streaming all over himself, my hand, my dick, my chest, it feels so incredible, so hot and sticky and oh, fuck, it feels good and I don't know if he's ever going to stop or if I even want him to.

He's still howling as I finally lose it and make it a duet.

I drag myself back from limbo, resisting the urge to just fall into a post pop coma right on top of him.  It isn't easy, I think I lost a couple of quarts of precious bodily fluids myself and getting there has more than taken a round out of me, but I can't crap out on him, not quite yet.  He blew off most of the horrors of the day when he made like Vesuvius, but while he's like this, still wide open from being laid bare I've got to help him the rest of the way.

He's stopped shaking with the aftershocks and started trembling with trying to shove down the ensuing emotional tide.  I reach up and brush his forehead clear of the wisps of sweat-soaked hair plastered to it, wait 'til he opens his eyes and looks at me.  They're wide and pooling, but he's fighting it -  he's gulping and swallowing, and trying to bring himself back under control.

"Still think it should have been you?"  I ask him softly as I close on him.  "I hope not.  I hope you've got something to live for now.  I know I do."

I brush a gentle kiss on his lips and he breaks. I gather him into my arms and hold him close, rocking him, soothing him as he sobs all of that shit right out of himself.

I'll be right here with him, as long as it takes.  When he's done, he'll be able to accept the grace he's been granted. He'll be able to sleep.  And finally, so will I.

 


 

Epilogue

I'm striding toward Hammond's office and I'm not a happy camper.  Of course, I can't let on to my CO I'm annoyed because his early morning phone call pulled me out of a very warm, cosy, Daniel-filled bed and I wasn't too crazy about the idea of having to haul BOTH our asses out of it and over to the mountain so soon after…everything, but I wasn't exactly given the option of refusing for either of us, so there you go and here I am.

Unfortunately.

I left Daniel in the commissary, drowsy, dishevelled and still fairly astonished with the concept of consciousness, trying to work out the baffling logistics of getting his cup of coffee from the table top to his mouth.  It should keep him nicely occupied for the next half-hour. My poor Danny doesn't do mornings.  Especially a morning following the first ride on the orgasm express he's had in a while and only three hour's sleep after.  Me, I love mornings. Mornings provide me with conclusive proof what goes around comes around; for the duration of the brief twilight zone interval he falls into between when his eyes open and when his brain actually kicks in and starts working I'm smarter than he is. It ain't much, but it's mine.

It killed me to walk out on him; he's so cute when he's confused.  And I could definitely live with seeing a lot more of that completely bewildered and shyly sated, 'Wow, I got the top of my head blowed off last night' expression on his face knowing I'm the one who put it there.  He's still too sleepy, self-conscious and incredulous for smug, but when he finally has the confidence to show me a shit-eating grin I'll be right behind him.

He's looking so much better.  I'm not saying mind blowing sex with Jack O'Neill is the cure for everything what ails you, but in Daniel's case, a little bit of love goes a long way.  He thinks last night was pretty amazing, well, I've got news for him.  He hasn't even begun to get what I've got to give to him.  By the time I'm through with him, which will be never, he won't even remember what it felt like to be the way he was.

If I accomplish nothing else in this life, I'm going to make damn certain of this.

I put on my best 'colonel' expression as Hammond waves me into the office.  "Have a seat, Jack," he instructs gravely.  Oh, don't like that face.  That's his 'The Colonel is so not going to enjoy this', face.

Crap.  What the hell have I done now?  Besides THAT. Don't get twitchy, Jack, let the man talk.  He can't POSSIBLY know about that!

"General," I smile warily at him as I slide into the nearest seat.

"How is Doctor Jackson?" he says conversationally.

Loved within an inch of his life, Sir?  And mighty damned happy about it, last time I saw him?  Even if he wasn't quite all there yet.

"He's fine, Sir," I reply.  "He was upset, when we got back to my place, but I got him to talk about it.  He got a lot off his chest.  I'm confident he's put the incident in it's proper perspective.  He got a good night's sleep." That could be stretching the truth just a tad, but he did sleep.  A little. "He's in the commissary having breakfast."

If he isn't sprawled out and snoring all over the table, that is.  Which is a distinct possibility.

Hammond gives me a 'well-done,' nod.  "That's good, Colonel, I'm extremely relieved to hear this.  I was concerned. However, I was also confident you would be able to handle him."

George, you have NO idea.

"However, Doctor Jackson's emotional state is not what I called you in to talk about."

Oh?

"Oh?"

"Some rather disturbing facts have come to light in the course of the investigation into the attack upon your team and the murder of Doctor Avery.  This incident could have further ramifications for Doctor Jackson, and there might be remaining issues around his personal safety, not to mention the security of this organisation."

OH?

"How is that, Sir?" Calm down, Jack, keep your cool, let the man talk, let the man talk.

"I realise the incident happened rather quickly, but given what you observed, do you think Doctor Jackson is possibly correct in his opinion he was the intended target?"

Hammond's face is getting grimmer and I'm not exactly feeling cheery myself.  I don't want to think about this, don't want to face this possibility, but the general wants a straight answer and I owe it to both him and Daniel to give it to him.

"There is a certain margin of uncertainty," I begin slowly, looking down at my shoes,  "but given the timing of the attack and it was a pure fluke Daniel bent over and out of the line of fire almost simultaneously with the occurrence of the shot - yes, Sir, I'd say there was a very good chance Daniel was the intended target all along."

It's all coming back to me, again, just how damned close he came to being killed, and suddenly I want to puke.  But I get over it quick, because what Hammond is getting me to say scares me even more.

Someone tried to KILL Daniel on 483 and got Avery instead.  Someone we got back, but did it end with the assassin?

"Did you retrieve the assassin's body, Sir?"  I ask quickly.  And from the way his frown deepens I guess we're finally getting to the part I'm really going to hate.

"Yes, we did.  It was Major Burton."

WHAT DID HE JUST SAY?

"B - Burton?"  I stammer.  "Major Burton?  As in the CO of SG-15 BURTON?!"

"The same," Hammond shakes his head.  "When his identity was ascertained we immediately sent a team through to P9G-335, where SG-15 had been deployed two hours after SG-1 departed, in order to determine their status.  SG-11 discovered their bodies just beyond the gate."

"God!" The expletive rips out of me.  I can't believe what I'm hearing.  Four people killed by one of our own?  What am I saying, not one of ours, some cold blooded, murdering bastard who betrayed our trust and turned on us.

Wait a minute, wait a minute, maybe that's what it looks like, but Burton? Rewind and reconsider for just a second.

I didn't know the man very well, he's only been here for six months but his record has been outstanding. We tend to take that sort of performance for granted because we only get the best, here, but he's never - I mean - last week the man held off a dozen Jaffa in order to let the rest of his team get to the gate and almost didn't make it himself.

And yet yesterday he blows away those same guys he almost died for?  Is it just me, or does this make no sense whatsoever? What, on my way over here, I take an unscheduled trip through a mirror I didn't see to a parallel universe?

I'm already feeling like I just took one on the chin, but Hammond looks as if he's only getting warmed up.

"Burton must have killed SG-15, gated to 483 to take up his position, and then simply awaited your return.  We discovered the weapon on his body.  The autopsy report reveals it was used to kill the members of SG-15 as well as Doctor Avery."  Hammond pauses for a moment before continuing.  "It was alien technology, Jack, something we've never seen before."

"Perhaps he picked up it at a yard sale on Tollana."  The quip is out of my mouth before I can call it back. George's less than kind opinion of the comment is written all over his face.  We'll hold the jokes for the duration.

"No, I didn't think so either," I offer apologetically.  "Leaving off with the levity, we're still left with the problem of where and how he got it."

"Based on your report of the incident I believe there is another consideration as well," Hammond amends.

Oh crap, I know where he's going with this.  "All this doesn't let him off the hook for being a turncoat and a traitor - not like it would be the first time we had a traitor hiding in our midst…"

It could be.  It could be.  He could have been a bad apple.  We didn't exactly see Makepeace coming either.  "But because the unprofessional nature of the attack, given Burton's training, would seem to suggest his judgement was impaired, or over-ridden, and you're thinking  - some kind of mind control."  Shit, shit, fuck I don't even want to SAY this word.  "Are we talking Zaytarg here, Sir?"

I hate this shit.  But it's the only thing that makes sense - what else would drive a man like Burton  - who wouldn't be caught dead doing something so stupid if he was in his right mind -  to try and become a contestant on Ted Mack's Amateur Assassin Hour?

"Anise was called in to consult on the autopsy, but based on the information the examination provided she concluded Burton was not subjected to the procedure."

Anise?  Ew, that means Freya as well.  I stir a little uncomfortably in my seat as I recall a certain incident I'd rather not remember.  "Anise," I croak.  "She's not still, uh, hanging around, is she, Sir?"

Hammond allows himself a faint smile at that. "No Colonel, she's returned to the Tok'ra base.  She wanted to conduct a few more tests we don't have the facilities to allow for."

"Because…"  I prompt.

"Although according to Anise there was no indication Burton was subjected to any level of mental tampering the Tok'ra are currently aware of and can detect, the negative results do not preclude the possibility the Goa'uld have refined their techniques, thereby rendering the programming undetectable by the methods the Tok'ra are presently employing."

That's a distinctly unsettling possibility. But I'm getting a little confused, here.  Maybe Burton was a Zaytarg and maybe he wasn't but there was still something wrong with him - something making him do what he did.

"However," Hammond continues as he opens the file folder sitting on his desk, "due to what was discovered during the course of the autopsy on Doctor Avery there is some doubt the Goa'uld are involved in this business at all."

Say what?

"This just keeps getting better and better," I smile weakly at him.

Hammond nods in sombre agreement before continuing as he slides the folder toward me.  "I don't know what we had in that morgue, but it wasn't Doctor Matthew Avery."

Had?  What?  Huh?  "I beg your pardon, Sir?"  I bleat.

"As soon as Doctor Fraiser began the autopsy it became immediately apparent what she was dealing with wasn't the body of Doctor Avery, but some kind of exact physical duplicate.  A clone.  I say it was immediately apparent because the body began to rapidly degrade and deteriorate as soon as the autopsy commenced.  As if it had been programmed to fall apart when interfered with in order to frustrate any attempts to study it."

Crap.  Burton turning murder/assassin wasn't bad enough now Avery wasn't even Avery?  Daniel was beating himself up and grieving over a carbon copy? If the whole thing wasn't so creepy I'd be killing myself laughing at the irony.

What did Hammond just say?  'Avery' was a clone?

"Clone, huh?"  I endeavour to stamp down my growing dismay and say something intelligent.  "I guess that lets the NID off the hook as the criminal masterminds behind the whole thing.  They'll be relieved."

Hah Hah.

George is very patiently listening. He doesn't laugh, but he is making allowances for my reaction.  He's had a little longer to come to terms with all this stuff but I'll try harder to catch up.  I'll start by backing up and taking another run at intelligent again.

"So, who can do it?" I ask.  "The cloning thing, that is.  "We know the Ree Tou can.  What about the Goa'uld?"

George shakes his head. "Anise thinks it's unlikely either the Ree Tou or the Goa'uld are responsible. According to the information the Tok'ra possess about the current level both have managed to achieve in cloning technology neither one of them would have been able to produce a clone of Avery's sophistication.  They simply haven't mastered the process well enough to be able to exactly produce a being in such a short period of time without the clone having noticeable genetic flaws and abnormalities."

Like Charlie.

"Which the clone didn't have, I presume," I add softly.  Charlie. Not - not MY Charlie, his namesake.  Thinking about that kid still gets to me.  Last I heard he was doing fine, but still, there's times…

Stow it, Jack, on duty, here.

Hammond looks me over quickly then looks away, a slightly tighter set to his mouth. "Whoever made that clone and substituted it for the real Avery only had a window of two months from the time the doctor was contacted until he reported for duty, and even if the switch was made after he arrived at the mountain, Anise was of the opinion that additional amount of time still wouldn't have been enough for the Ree Tou to have produced a clone of Avery's calibre. She and Teal'c both agree it's unlikely the Goa'uld are responsible for it either.  Strangely, the Goa'uld aren't all that interested in cloning.  They are aware of it but they aren't expending much time or energy attempting to develop the science."

"Too busy oppressing the universe, I guess," I snort.

"I'm not in a position to speculate." George allows himself another faint ghost of a grin.  "Bottom line, Jack, neither the Goa'uld or the Ree Tou could have made the Avery clone and it goes without saying the added detail of having it go to pieces… "

"So, not the Goa'uld."  I mull over this little piece of information for a bit, adding it to Burton being possibly, maybe an artificially created homicidal maniac but not a Zaytarg.   We hope.  No to the Goa'uld on both counts. Somebody else, then?  Somebody - worse?  Oh yeah, that's me.  Mister Positive.

My mind is starting to boggle

"This - this is a little hard to take in, Sir," I'm stammering again.  "Whatever this - he - was, he sure fooled me.  Fooled Daniel too.  He knew his stuff.  He could keep up with Daniel with the shoptalk, and that couldn't be easy to fake for any great length of time.  So he must have known what he was talking about.  If he was a clone only recently created, how is that possible? The way I understand it, copying the body doesn't copy the stuff in the brain as well."

"Well, it isn't possible, "Hammond confirms, "not for us and not for the Tok'ra either. However if these aliens were able to create a perfect physical clone of Matthew Avery it would only stand to reason they'd have the ability to imbue it with his personality and expertise.  How, we have no idea, and neither do the Tok'ra, but it obviously is possible."  Hammond explains. "We've seen it with our own eyes. Given the scrutiny the clone was subjected to here on a daily basis as a functioning member of the SGC he had to be perfect.  And he'd have to continue to be so if the duplicate was to have any hope of being successful in replacing Doctor Jackson and continuing on in the SGC in his stead," Hammond finishes grimly.

I feel like I want to be sick again.  "That's why they tried to kill Daniel," I croak.  "Whoever the hell THEY are."

"That's what we think, Jack."  Hammond says gently.  "Whoever is behind all of this wanted Doctor Jackson dead and their version of Matthew Avery to take his place."

"But why?" I throw up my hands helplessly.  "Why Daniel?  If all they wanted was to get someone on SG-1 - why not me?  "Over the hill Colonels are a dime a dozen. It would be easier to find someone to replace me - than - than Daniel."

Hammond leans forward and rests his forearms on his desk. "You understand this is all just a theory, Jack," he tells me in a slightly soothing voice.  "We've got no proof we're reading the chain of events correctly or if any of our base assumptions - including the one of Doctor Jackson being the intended target - are in fact correct.  However, given what has happened and the concerns suggested by the events, we are proceeding, for safety's sake, as if Doctor Jackson was the intended victim of the attack and the motive for it was to enable the clone to take his place.”

"Whoever is behind these events, we believe their plans went a little further than simply trying to get an infiltrator on SG-1," Hammond says as he clasps his hands together and studies them for a moment. "Doctor Jackson has proven himself to be an invaluable asset to your team, and I wouldn't even consider assigning as a permanent replacement someone who didn't approach his level of expertise in the field; however his primary value to this organisation does not rest with his status as a member of your team, Jack.  His most important contribution to the SGC is in a support capacity, in his role as the senior civilian consultant with the talents he brings to bear in his supervisory capacity as the co-ordinator of the cultural, anthropological and linguistic support branch of the SGC - whoever replaced him would automatically…"

"Get the whole ball of wax," I finish stonily.  "Be responsible for overseeing and evaluating all the stuff Daniel gets now.  Everything that comes through.  Holy fucking CHRIST. Ah - pardon my French, Sir," I hastily add.

"I quite understand, Jack," Hammond smiles faintly.

Hammond steeples his fingers and stares at the space between his hands.  "What makes this entire incident even more alarming is the manner of its execution suggests a highly technologically advanced and potentially hostile alien agency possesses a level of awareness of our activities which creates a serious security concern.  And not only that, Jack, the real irony is, if we are correct in our assumption of the intentions of that agency, in trying to arrange things so he was 'replaceable' Doctor Jackson was very nearly directly responsible for his own demise. He provided the these aliens with the perfect opportunity for implementing their plan."

Served himself up on a silver platter? I'm getting that queasy feeling again.

"Doctor Jackson is acutely aware of how - indispensable - he has become."  Hammond continues   "And he was taking steps to ensure if something happened to him we wouldn't be left high and dry. Recruiting Avery - the real Doctor Avery was his idea. He handpicked him, recommended we approach him and recruit him, intending all along for him to be his back-up.  He was grooming Avery as his potential replacement so the Doctor could step into his shoes if circumstances dictated."  Hammond scowls and brings his gaze back to me.  "Doctor Jackson was keeping me apprised of Avery's progress. He was extremely pleased, quite confident he would be able to handle the responsibility. I WOULD have given it to Avery, based on Doctor Jackson's recommendation."

If the assassination attempt had succeeded.

I tend to forget just how much Daniel does for us - how important his contribution is to the overall effort.  I kid him about the geek thing, but the number of things he's figured out, the lives he's saved through his efforts, the stuff he's discovered and the strides he's been able to help us make, all through pouring over bits and pieces, scratches on walls and mouldy old scrolls and working out this means this and that means that and that funny looking thing is just a harmless old pot but this dumb looking doohickey is actually a piece of something else that'll blast a really neat hole in the wall or your head if you put it all together right…

He made this place happen in the first place and he's largely responsible for making sure it keeps on going.

Holy fuck.  Jesus Christ.  If someone ELSE was took his place,  did that job, someone who was working not for our good, but for an agenda we can't even begin to guess at…

We'd be so screwed it doesn't even bear thinking about.

"I guess we got lucky all around Burton blew it," I say softly.  I'm thinking about Daniel.  What he was saying last night about his luck.  Talking about it like it was a curse.  Well, his 'luck' might just have stretched a lot further than he figured.  In somehow managing to beat the odds yet again Daniel might have saved the SGC from a bottom-feeding impostor who would have sold us down the river while he was pretending to be on our side.

How's that for measuring how much you're 'worth'?

I'm having another unsettling thought. "So, what are the chances we've got more of these knock-offs running around?"  I ask as I glance at Hammond.

"That's impossible to say," George retrieves Avery's folder and snaps it shut.  "Avery's clone could have been a unique effort to infiltrate this organisation. We hope that is the case but again…" Hammond gives a weary shrug.  "Anise informed us the resources required to produce such a clone are prohibitive, so it's unlikely there are a lot of others running around. Unfortunately 'unlikely' does not necessarily mean…"

I catch his desperately unhappy expression.  I feel for him.  This kind of implied, unfocussed and yet very real threat to his command and the people he is responsible for - he's taking it better than I would.

"Still, it's not the kind of loophole you want to leave anyone," I add lamely.

"No," George shakes his head again.  "We have a completely unacceptable security situation on our hands, but thankfully the Tok'ra can come to our assistance.  Anise was able to stabilise a sample of the clone's tissue long enough to transport it back to her base to determine if it technology they currently possess is capable of differentiating between 'real' and 'manufactured' genetic material."  Hammond cracks his first real smile since I sat down.  "Major Carter accompanied Anise in order to offer technical support during the process."

Polite term for protecting our interests?

"We received a report from her just before you arrived.  It's good news, Jack."

Way to go, Dorothy.  I knew Carter would get into the middle of this somehow.

"The Tok'ra have come up with a clone detector?"  I grin right back at him. "Peachy, we'll take a dozen."

"So it would seem.  Don't ask me how it works. - "

Don't worry, I won't.

"Major Carter is being instructed in its use.  She should shortly return with the means and method for verifying the identity of every soul in this mountain.  For starters."

So I guess Carter didn't have time to get much knitting in last night.  For once I'm glad she doesn't have a life.

It's suddenly hitting me how tired Hammond looks.  Especially as I realise with everything I'm only just finding out went down since Daniel and I left, he's been here, at his post, the whole time and he's just passed one long, tense and sleepless night.  It doesn't always rock to be the boss and this is one of those times.

"I'm recalling all the off-world teams, closing down the gate and restricting everyone to the mountain until all personnel are screened and cleared," Hammond informs me in a weary voice as he stifles a yawn.

Grounded.  Damn. I'm also guessing my plans for spending the rest of the day in bed with Daniel have just gone out the window.  I realise given the gravity of the situation it's pretty petty of me to be thinking like this but I never claimed to be either perfect or a paragon.

Just really disappointed he's suddenly hands-off again when I've only just gotten to start handling him.

"We have to find out who's behind this, Jack," Hammond continues, completely oblivious to the fact my train of thought just went down a salacious side-track. "Not just for the sake of protecting Doctor Jackson, and ascertaining the true facts of the situation, but the potential security risk this fortunately aborted attempt to infiltrate our organisation represents…"

I hear you, George.  And I'm with you all the way.  I just wish I knew where to start looking.

"So, what about Daniel?"  I ask him, trying to keep the extra edge of anxiousness out of my voice.  I'm duly concerned about threats to the Earth and the SGC, but threats to my archaeologist I tend to take VERY seriously and extremely personally.  "Was he the target, is he a target, do you think whoever these goons are, they're going to try this again?"

"That's a very good question, Jack," Hammond says as he gets to his feet to signal the end of the briefing.  "I only wish I knew.  This whole damned business is extremely perplexing.  We're proceeding on the assumption Major Burton's actions and the attempt to insinuate the duplicate into our organisation are connected and were initiated by the same agency, but that's still an assumption.  We've got no proof they're connected although it seems one plan was put in motion to assist the other - "

Oh, I dunno about that, George. Avery's assassination revealed the substitution.  That's kinda different from acting to assist it.  Something's nagging at me, bugging me. I wish I knew what it was.

"For two parts of the same plan the M.Os. are so dissimilar," I'm thinking out loud as I rise.  "The part involving Avery suggests careful, long term planning and deliberate, calculated execution.  If the dupe hadn't gotten whacked we never would have discovered the truth. And yet the thing with Burton was clumsy and stupid.  Amateurish," I frown at Hammond as he walks around his desk.  "Odd timing, too. If Burton was wound up and set loose to take out Daniel, why now - and why have him do it in such a ham-fisted fashion?  And take the chance he'd screw it up and  - kill the wrong man.  That's if he really did…kill the wrong man."  I finish uncertainly.

Burton, Burton, I'm thinking about Burton again.  The more I compare the man he seemed to be to the one who died on 483 I'm wondering if the stupid way he tried to take out Daniel wasn't more due to him than what he was being driven to do after all.  Say he WAS mind-wiped and wound up to lie in wait for us and kill Daniel.  It's likely he wasn't supposed to let us take him - that would have made us ask the same dangerous questions we're asking now,  but he was also meant to succeed. I'm just guessing here, we'll never know for sure, but I'm wondering if the reason why - why he was waiting in that stupid tree where we could easily get him and stop him was because a part of him was still in there fighting the programming, and by obeying the spirit of the programming but not the letter he set himself up and enabled us to do exactly what he wanted us to do.  Stop him.

Even though he'd been turned into a weapon being used against us part of him was still loyal to the cause right to the end, and fighting to do his duty.

We'll never know for sure, but this take of the events is the one I'm going with.  Burton was a good, brave man, and I prefer to believe he continued to be one to his dying breath in defiance of what he was being forced to do.

And what's more, I hope he rests in peace.

Hammond puts his hand on my shoulder as he ushers me out of the office. "As much as I hate to say it we're in the Tok'ra's hands now. Without them providing us with a way to detect these things…"

"There's no way of knowing if ANY of us are who we really claim we to be," I finish with a frown.

Which suddenly makes me wonder if they could do what they did with Avery, make a copy of him, that is, why they even bothered. If the idea was to replace Daniel, why didn't they just copy - him?

Are we missing something?  Is there something else going on here?

I catch myself zoning and come back to Hammond moving me toward the door.  "I'm pleased Doctor Jackson is coming to grips with yesterday's events," Hammond says sincerely.  "I'm hoping learning of the true state of affairs will help to ease the guilt he must be feeling.  I'll leave it to you to fill him in."

Oh, I will.  Not sure when or how, but we'll get around to it.

"I'm sorry I had to call you both back to the mountain," Hammond tells me as we reach the door.  "I know this is probably the last place Doctor Jackson wants to be at the moment - "

"No need to explain, Sir," I assure him.  "And I'm sure Daniel will agree he's probably safest right here until we give everyone the once over. I just hope we don't have to keep worrying about those bastards trying it again."

"Agreed, Colonel," he nods.  "Hopefully the actions we're taking are sending a clear message to whoever is behind all of this we're aware of their methods and intentions and it would be unproductive of them to mount another attempt to remove Doctor Jackson and replace him.  I fully intend to do everything in my power to make this avenue of approach, and any others, for that matter, unavailable to them."

"I appreciate that, Sir," I tell him as we stand in the doorway. He meets my eye with a serious look he underscores with a slow, solemn nod.  We understand one another.

"Now, Colonel," he says curtly, if you will excuse me, I have some very unpleasant duties to perform."

Fuck.  SG-15.  And the clone Daniel thought was worth more than him.

"What about real Matthew Avery, Sir?"

"I'm not sure how to proceed," Hammond sighs.  "I think it's reasonable to assume he is dead, but again, that's an assumption.  His next of kin believe the man we thought was Avery -  is Avery.  I'm awaiting further instructions as to what to inform them and when. For now, we wait. Keep an eye on Doctor Jackson," Hammond tells me in parting.

Oh, you can count on it. George.  I'm not letting him out of my sight.  Something else I know for sure.  I don't care who's squatting in the middle of this sordid spider web, when they painted a bulls-eye on Daniel's back, they made a big mistake.  HUGE!  And when I run them down, and believe me I will, they'll wish they were never born.

FINIS?

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Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate Productions, Sci Fi Channel, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. These stories are for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. These stories may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author. Copyright on images remains with the above named rightsholders.
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