CONQUERING NEED PART
RECONNAISSANCE BY PHOENIX
the close friendship between Jack and Daniel.
Spoilers for Need.
is away, Jack explores...
"In-coming traveller," the duty
Sergeant announced in an efficient voice Jack found mildly
irritating. He jammed his hands in his pockets and tried
to look as inconspicuous as possible as he paced the control
room. Waiting. Three weeks of waiting. Crap. He hated waiting.
Robert, I swear, if you've let
anything happen to him you're a dead man.
The Sergeant was speaking again,
telling Jack what he already knew. The Marines were coming
home. Bringing Daniel back with them. He'd hang here just
long enough to see everyone got home okay. Just a couple
more minutes. Couldn't spare any more time than that. After
all, there were so many important things waiting for him,
demanding his attention. Games of solitaire to be played,
paperclips to be counted.
Figures were starting to materialize
on the ramp. Quite a stream of them, loaded down with gear
and equipment. Looking tired but triumphant from their three-week
off world training exercise, happy to be back and equally
eager to be set loose. Jack smiled wryly to himself. He knew
His eyes scanned the faces of the
men who continued to come through the gate, still not seeing
the one he most wanted to see. The one he'd not seen for
three weeks. The one he had barely seen for the month previous
to that, except when it absolutely had to present itself
to his view in the line of duty.
Jack pressed closer to the glass
of the control room, trying not to become anxious. If there
had been anything wrong - if anyone had been hurt, they would
already know it. Relax, Jack, he probably just got lost
on his way back to the gate. Someone is probably rounding
him up this very minute.
That was low, Jack. You know
a lot better than that by now.
He certainly did. After three weeks
of immersing himself in Daniel's world, he knew a lot differently.
About a great many things.
Turnabout was fair play, after all.
Whatever his reasons for doing so, Daniel had been spending
a fair amount of time in another world as well. Playing in
a different sandbox with a bunch of new friends. Not with
him, but if he couldn't be there, Jack had to concede Daniel
couldn't have asked for better playmates than Makepeace and
He wasn't exactly certain how the
whole thing had started. Danny and the Marines, that is.
There was a story floating around Makepeace had broken up
a little bit of an - altercation - between Daniel and a couple
of marines down in the exercise room. It wasn't clear if
it was an actual fight and if it was who had started it,
but the upshot was Robert had taken Daniel under his wing
and next thing Jack knew, Danny was hanging out with the
Makepeace and Company. On a fairly regular basis.
Whenever SG-1 wasn't off world Daniel
was an honorary Jar Head. He worked out with them, trained
with them, from all accounts did a few other things with
them causing Jack to take more than a few mental step-backs
when he heard about them. Whatever was going on, it appeared
that Daniel was more than holding his own. Getting quite
a reputation for himself. And more than earning the acceptance
of his new buddies.
Good for you, kid. Always knew
you had it in you. Guess it was easier to find it without
someone always cutting you down.
Whatever Daniel was picking up from
hanging out with his new friends, it was sticking. Daniel's
performance during their recent missions had been exceptional.
Daniel looked like one of them, acted like one of them -
moved like a soldier. He'd definitely acquired some skills.
He didn't stick out any more, had lost that edge of uncertainty
often slowing down his reaction time. What he was doing was
becoming instinctive, a part of him.
Jack knew that this should have
made him happy. I mean, isn't this what he'd always been
pressing Daniel to become - part of the team, part of the
program? Isn't this what he'd always wanted? A more 'military'
Well, Daniel was finally doing it.
Jack had what he'd always wanted. Daniel was playing the
game and from all indications he was getting on just swell.
Why did it all feel so wrong?
It was a question that haunted him
mercilessly until he was able to get some answers. From Daniel
himself. Or rather - from Daniel's words.
The opportunity for Jack's study
had presented itself rather unexpectedly a little over three
weeks ago when Makepeace had made his request. Every six
months Robert took his boys to P2G-B7S, also affectionately
known as the 'The Playpen', an uninhabited and fairly wild
place that offered an interesting diversity of terrain features
and conditions within a twenty mile radius of the Stargate.
In fact, the place had the feeling that once upon a time
it had been used for exactly what the SGC was using it for
now: an off world field training site. In this convenient
and accommodating place it was possible to engage in any
number of battle, survival and training scenarios under optimum
field conditions and still enjoy the convenience of being
only a 'gate' away from base. Not to mention not having to
worry about their activities in any way impacting on any
indigenous population. Which gave it a hands-down leg-up over
trying to carry on in a similar way here at home.
Jack recalled that the exchange
with Robert had been more than a bit strained. On both sides.
Makepeace had talked around his main objective for a bit;
fishing to find out how much Jack knew and then to discover
how he felt about what he was hearing. Jack didn't make it
difficult for him to ask what he wanted, but didn't give
him anything either.
In fact, the whole thing had the
rather bizarre flavour of a guy trying to figure out the
best way to ask his best friend if he could date his sister.
It took a bit, but Makepeace finally
laid it out. His team was going off world for some fun and
games and they wanted to take their new friend Daniel with
them was Jack okay with that?
Okay? He was as about okay with
the idea of Daniel being out of his sight and off the planet
for three weeks as he was okay having someone break all his
fingers with a ball peen hammer. Even if Daniel was going
to be surrounded the whole time by a pack of Marines who
liked him. But if Daniel wanted to go...
Well, the timing was certainly right.
SG-1 was definitely due for some down time. If Daniel wanted
to use his free time to play soldier, than who was he to
stand in his way? He told Robert to go ahead and make the
request; he'd add his okay to everything. Then he waved him
out so he wouldn't have to see the mixed look of relief and
anticipation on Makepeace's face as the man tried to tender
his thanks by means of yet more 'fishing' conversation.
Forget it Robert. You got your way.
You're not getting anything else from me.
Then Makepeace was gone, leaving
him in an empty office with a big, empty feeling inside of
him that only got bigger when he encountered Daniel in the
corridor a short time later.
A pretty rare occurrence these days.
Somehow they had both developed an instinct for knowing where
the other was so as to not be in the same place at the same
time. That it was actually happening could only mean that
one of them had screwed up, or one of them had wanted it
He wasn't long finding out.
Daniel stopped and drew himself
up as soon as he saw him. His expression was as guarded as
Nothing there. He could have been
asking him for directions or the time of day.
Well, two could play this game.
"Colonel Makepeace told me you approved
his request. I just wanted to say thank you."
"I wasn't aware that what you did
with your free time was any of my business," he'd immeidately
responded. Proving he hadn't lost his touch when it came
to acting like an asshole.
Crap. Well at least he had managed
to shut himself up before he'd added the "any more."
Daniel closed his eyes for a brief
second and sighed. As the sorrowful exhalation exuded from
him so did the tension in his body and he sagged with painfully
apparent resignation. When his eyes opened again they were
bleak and distant.
"Never mind," he murmured, turning
to walk away.
Say something - you idiot! Don't
let him leave like this!
He's stopped. He's listening.
He's waiting. SAY something.
"Uh - take care of yourself."
Was he seeing things, or did Daniel's
shoulders slump, just a little more?
"I will." Flat tone, emotionless.
He hesitated for a moment but didn't turn around or look
back. "You too."
That was all. Then walked away,
and Jack let him.
Hours after he'd gone to bed Jack
lay awake, staring at the ceiling, trying to understand why.
He finally fell asleep no wiser for his efforts.
Two days later Daniel was gone.
Jack had watched him go, surrounded by a throng of enthusiastic
and excited men thumping him on the back and ushering him
forward whole-heartedly into the coming adventure. He watched
Daniel walk through the gate without a single backward glance.
As a matter of fact at the time he'd been standing just about
where he was standing right now.
However, there was a huge, honking
world of difference between the man he had been then and
who he was now.
There he was with some downtime
but Daniel had gone - ditched him for the Marines. Then Teal'c
had departed to the Land of Light to spend his leave with
his family. Finally rounding out the set of deserters Carter
came to see him to inform him her father had invited her
to come for a visit and she had decided to go but before
she could take off, could she ask the Colonel to do a favour
Really, it was for Daniel, she'd
explained. Apparently she had promised him she would keep
an eye on his place while he was gone, water the plants,
feed the fish, and she'd agreed to do so before her own invite
had come through but now she had a slight problem. Seeing
as she was going to be leaving as well, she was just wondering
- since he had no plans - apparently - would the Colonel
mind very much...
The Colonel wouldn't mind at all.
Like she'd so helpfully pointed out, what else did he have
That was how, later that evening,
he found himself in Daniel's apartment. Ostensibly to feed
the fish. That took about thirty seconds leaving Jack with
a fair chunk of time left to fill.
So, there he was with nothing to do and in Daniel's apartment.
Nothing to do, nothing to do. Well, seeing as how he
was already here, maybe he should just...hang out. Why the
heck not? He'd been here one or two times, not a lot,
there were a couple of rooms he hadn't seen. Daniel had a
lot of cool stuff in the place maybe he should check some
of it out. Who would it hurt to take a look around? Yeah,
that's what he'd do, he'd hang out, look around some. Get
the feel of the place. Daniel wouldn't mind.
Jack parked himself on Daniel's
sofa, surveying the quiet, pleasantly appointed room, feeling
the essence of the man who lived here seeping into him from
the residual 'Daniel-ness' tangibly permeating the very air
he was breathing. Even though the owner of the apartment
was millions of miles away - literally - Jack could still
feel his presence. But then, Daniel always seemed to make
wherever he was a little better for having been there. Even
long after he'd gone. Back home on his own turf Jack had
frequently noticed after those time Daniel had paid him a
visit and hung out for awhile his presence would still subtly,
lingeringly remain, like he'd imprinted part of his spirit
on the place, long after he'd gone. That warm sense of 'Daniel'
in the air even though he was absent was then, as it was
He didn't feel like a stranger or
an intruder here. There was a feeling of acceptance in the
place wrapping around him, a comforting rightness at being
in Daniel's space embracing him. Even though Daniel wasn't
even here, for the first time since he and Daniel had fallen
out, Jack felt good.
It was right about then that he
noticed the note. He couldn't understand how he hadn't seen
it before, lying as it was, in plain sight, on the coffee
table before him. If it had teeth, it would have bit him,
for crying out loud.
No salutation, no signature. But
definitely written in Daniel's distinctive, slightly flamboyant
Make yourself at home
My place is your place.
Beer's in the fridge.
Try not to kill the fish.
Deeply confused, Jack put the note
back down on the table. Seeing as how Daniel had left custody
of his fish to Sam, then the note he'd just read must have
been for her. But it didn't sound like the kind of parting
instructions Daniel would have left for Sam. Especially the
killing the fish bit. That sounded like it was directed at
someone who most assuredly wasn't Sam.
Three guesses who, Sherlock.
Jack got up and went to the fridge
to get one of the beers he'd been promised, starting to suspect
he was a victim of a conspiracy.
Well, if he had been set up he fully
intended to spring the trap. My place is your place, huh?
As far as he was concerned he'd
just been given carte blanche to do pretty much whatever
he pleased, here. So, if he pleased to do a little snooping
around in Daniel's digs he could proceed without guilt or
responsibility because he'd been given the green light to
make himself at home from the man himself.
Daniel didn't honestly think he could throw him a bone like
this and not expect him to run with it?
Of course it also occurred to him by sniffing the bait he
was doing exactly what Daniel wanted him to do which caused
him to further wonder - why? Why had Daniel arranged for
him to be here and then practically dared him to pry into
his life behind his back? Something he would normally never,
ever want Jack to do, never mind encouraging him.
Why indeed? So many questions, so few answers. And
why the heck was he standing here asking himself stupid question
when he could be prowling around, poking and snooping?
At first Jack contented himself
with surface snooping without digging too deep. Looking,
touching, peeking into nooks and crannies. Inspecting the
various curious treasures he unearthed in the process. However,
as he started delving deeper he began to find interesting
curiosities tucked away out of sight in some very unusual
places. Which of course prompted him to start searching
even farther off the beaten track and that's when things
started to get really interesting.
Daniel was a ticket stub/matchbook/meaningless
but meaningful souvenier/momento saver. Not that Jack was
surprised to learn this about him. Archaeologist, after
all. They went nuts over other peoples' garbage so it wouldn't
be a stretch to presume they could be a tad anal about hanging
onto their own. That probably had a lot to do with not only
why Daniel saved all this junk but why he took the further
interesting step of caching and concealing his treasures
as well. Or not. Whatever Daniel's reason for this bizarre
behaviour, while it made for an interesting exploration rapidly
turning the whole enterprise into a treasure hunt, Jack couldn't
help but wonder at the inner workings of a mind apparently
compelled to so thoroughly secret the physical reminders
of its most cherished memories, hiding them so effectively
and completely they were barely accessible even to the one
for whom they had meaning.
It was almost as if - while Daniel was unwilling to let
go of even the smallest tangible piece of his past - while
he wanted to have it he also didn't want to be reminded
Daniel had stuff hidden - everywhere.
From poems secreted between the pages of a book to a lock
of thick, curling raven hair carefully preserved in a beautiful
silk hand-embroidered bag placed in an envelope taped to
the bottom of a drawer. Jack started to see a pattern emerging
in the type of objects that were the most concealed and how
difficult it was to find them.
Personal mementos and 'pieces' of
the people in Daniel's life. That's what he was hiding.
The more important they were to him, the more profoundly
they were hidden away. So far, Jack had not found anything
that could be said to be something Daniel was saving that
related to him. That meant either he meant an awful lot to
Daniel, or he meant nothing.
Or he had gone through and destroyed
everything already. Now that was a depressing thought.
Then Jack found them. Sitting in
a neat pile on the bedside table as if they had been placed
there especially for his convenience. Daniel's journals.
Without the slightest qualm, Jack picked up the top volume,
walked back out into the living room, put his feet up, grabbed
his now warm beer and began to read.
Promptly discovering where Daniel
had been hiding his 'pieces' of Jack O'Neill.
It had taken a very long time to
read all the way through the pile of volumes. Almost all
the time he had been allotted to do it in. It had not been
easy to do. Many times he only been able to read a brief
passage before overwhelming emotion had caused him to put
the book down, get up and just go. Jack had done more reading,
walking and thinking in the past three weeks than he'd had
occasion to do in quite a long while. Also a fair amount
The man he encountered in those
pages was one he had always known. What he hadn't known was
how much more there was of what he already knew. Daniel
spared himself nothing in his frank personal revelations.
In fact, for the most part he was far more unkind to himself
than he needed to be. As well as far more forgiving than
most people realized. Himself included.
One thing for sure - Daniel had
one hell of a nerve accusing him of an overdeveloped
sense of 'responsibility'. From what he'd seen in those journals
Doctor Jackson had a guilt complex only slightly smaller
than the known universe. As soon as he had enough time to
get around to it, Jack was sure Daniel would find a way to
take the blame for original sin.
He had no doubt in his mind Daniel
had meant for him to do this. The amount of personal courage
that decision must have taken astonished Jack, for the stark
and uncompromising honesty of the revelations entrusted to
him left very little of Daniel not laid open to his full
view. It also left Jack with the complete freedom of choice.
What he made of what he had learned and what he opted to
do with it - up to him.
For even though he had most of it,
he didn't have all of it. The last journal, the one that
dealt with what had happened that night, and the time since
then, was not there. Of course it wasn't - it was the most
recent one. It was the one Daniel had with him.
Daniel may have opened himself up
to scrutiny but he still wasn't going to make what was happening
now any easier. What Jack did next was completely in his
own hands, and completely up to him.
Daniel had made the first overture.
What was Jack's response?
For starters, he was standing in
the control room, still waiting for the man to come through
the damned gate already!
Suddenly, two men walked through
the event horizon. One man had his arm around the shoulders
of the other. Makepeace. And Daniel! Jack clamped his jaw
shut just in time to avoid actually shouting out his name.
Which would have been a really bright thing to do considering
it was not like Daniel could have heard him or anything.
Jack hugged himself, unable to suppress
a surge of pride at the sight of the triumphant returning
'warrior' Makepeace was escorting down the ramp into the
arms of his waiting companions. Jesus. Look at him!
Daniel was - glowing. Not just because
of the fact that his hair was near bleached blonde by the
sun and his skin was burnished golden no doubt by the same
influence. He was radiating self-confidence and overwhelming
happiness to the extent that he was an incandescent, noticeable
presence in the midst of men who crowded around him; vocally
affirming he was indeed one of them.
That was his boy. Making friends
wherever he went. Well, why the hell not? Who could get to
know this man, and not love him?
Jack stood silently, watching as
the Marines cheered and applauded Daniel's arrival. Watched
as he looked visibly touched and pleased by their approval,
and not a little bit embarrassed. Saw unmistakable proof
of how happy he was.
And could not help but notice that
Daniel's present condition had absolutely nothing at all
to do with anything having to do - with him.
Right up until this moment Jack
had been unsure of what his next move was. Now, looking at
Daniel, he thought he had his answer.
Daniel didn't need him any more.
He had worked it out, had moved beyond him. He had new friends
now. From the looks of things, they were much better friends
to him in the short time he had been in their lives than
Jack O'Neill had ever been.
Time to let Daniel go and somehow
try to go on with whatever was left.
His heart a lump of lead inside
him, Jack was preparing to turn away, when suddenly, as if
he had only just become aware of the eyes upon him, Daniel
looked up and saw him.
Jack froze; not wanting to see the
last rejection he knew was coming, and yet unable to look
Eyes that were impossibly blue and
clear against the glowing, golden skin looked at him and
shone. It didn't seem possible, and yet the man who was already
aglow with contentment suddenly blazed all the more brightly
with a joy spontaneously arising within him in response
to Jack's presence. Daniel saw him and smiled. Not just smiled.
Beamed like a lighthouse beacon. Right into his eyes, straight
to his heart, everything Daniel was. Which was all pretty
damned glad to see him, apparently, and not at all caring
who saw or knew.
The feeling is mutual, Danny.
Maybe he should just rethink that
'letting go' stuff..
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