JUSTIFICATION BY PHOENIX
Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves
First Time. Drama. Action/Adventure
Big spoilers for The Light, the First Ones and
Show and Tell. References to FiAD, Legacy, Stargate
the Movie, Scorched Earth. Crystal Skull. and
tapestry of events brings Jack and Daniel to a
moment of truth
Major Angst, open season on OCs, plots and intrigues,
Originally completed and posted to the net 4 Aug
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
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…
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
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
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
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.
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
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…
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."
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
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
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
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
"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."
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
Time to get the hell
out of Dodge.
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.
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
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,
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
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.
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
"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
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
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
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.
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
"Where are you
going?" I hastily call after him.
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 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
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
Guess what, I got
my wish. Here he is. Hey, I win!
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
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
I might think about
it, but I'm not going to do it.
The sense of wrongness
in the air wrenches me awake.
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.
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
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.
he murmurs in a distant, dreamy voice. "Why am I
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 - "
" - 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
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.
didn't," I tell him honestly. Feel like I should
say something, and this sounds safe enough.
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."
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
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.
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
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?"
Daniel gasps and drops his head against my shoulder.
"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."
says in a funny, wistful voice. "That would be
I'm suddenly not sure what he means, and he must be hearing it
in my voice because he abruptly laughs, a harsh, cutting
"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
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…”
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
"What is it?"
I don't know anything else to say.
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
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
"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
If anything - ANYTHING
happens to him, hurts him, I'll die. No one is ever
going to hurt him. Not even me.
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
"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.
"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,
I'll kiss now and
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.
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
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.
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.
"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.
though?" I crook a smile at him and keep on
caressing his cheek. "Mighty big of me?"
way above and beyond an open-air revisionist interpretation
of ‘Oedipus Rex’ for the Oprah generation," he says with
a sly smile.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
I murmur in the midst of lunching on his lower lip. Quite
a mouthful. Nice entrée. I'm itching to unwrap the
"A little," he
whispers as he does some nibbling of his own. "Warm me
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
George, you have
Jackson's emotional state is not what I called you in to
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."
"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
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
"B - Burton?"
I stammer. "Major Burton? As in the CO of
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."
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
"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
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,
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
"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."
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.
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."
"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."
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."
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?
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."
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
I feel like I want
to be sick again. "That's why they tried to kill
Daniel," I croak. "Whoever the hell THEY
"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
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.
understand, Jack," Hammond smiles faintly.
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
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.
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
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
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,
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
"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.
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
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
"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
"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
"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 -
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."
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.
Colonel," he says curtly, if you will excuse me, I have
some very unpleasant duties to perform."
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.