CONQUERING NEED PART
BUSINESS BY PHOENIX E
the close friendship between Jack and Daniel.
Spoilers for Need.
||Jack discovers that Daniel has
a secret. The consequences of this revelation are
more serious than he had anticipated.
an absolutely gorgeous night. Jack looked up, taking in the
spectacular stellar panorama flaunting itself expansively
before his appreciative eyes. Funny, after all the time
he'd spent beneath alien skies in strange, new places it still
felt - odd, for the first second – to look to the
heavens and not see any familiar stars winking back at him.
Quiet. Really quiet. Yep, sure was quiet. He supposed
he should be grateful. For once, this mission had been a
walk in the park. No Goa’ulds, bug-eyed monsters, pissed
off primitives trying to take a piece out of them. Just
a whole bunch of ruined buildings and some spectacular scenery.
An archaeologist’s paradise. Calm, serene, placid.
Gorgeous. Really, really….quiet.
was bored! If he looked over Daniel’s shoulder at one more
wall with squiggles on it he was going to go insane. Jack
hated to admit it, but a part of him was desperately hoping
something would come screaming out of the blackness at them,
just to give him something to do. Besides standing around
scratching himself and going, “Uh Daniel, what the hell is
of an adrenaline junkie? So crumbly old buildings didn't
do it for him. So he's rather shoot things than dig them
up. Like thos was news. Oh well, it was a nice night.
The fire was nice. And here they all were, around the fire,
under the stars, kicking back and making nice. Carter and
Teal’c were having a good time. The captain was conversing
animatedly with their otherworldly companion, and from the
glint in his large, dark eyes, all was more than well with
Teal'c. Mind you, the man could find a way to look as if
nothing was bothering him if he was standing on the deck
of the Titanic. Some gift. More than once Jack found himself
envying that seemingly endless well of serenity Teal’c appeared
to be able to dip into so freely.
his attention to the last member of their party. Who had
been uncharacteristically quiet, almost eerily so, for the
last couple of hours. Daniel was sitting by himself, as
far away from the rest of the group and the soothing warmth
of the fire as he could manage without drawing attention to
himself. Daniel was with them, only just, and yet far
enough away to be noticeably not a part of what was going on.
Noticeable at least to Jack.
no one else had picked up on the fact all was not well with
the archaeologist, but Jack missed precious little when it
came to Daniel.
had been sitting by himself not saying a word, playing the
'pay no attention to me, I'm fine' game for most of the evening.
Jack had to give him credit; he was doing a pretty good job
at hiding just how bugged he really was. Daniel was painfully
aware how transparent he could be when he got worked up about
something, so he'd been putting some serious effort lately
into not letting anything he didn't want anyone else, most
particularly the man now studying him so intently, to see.
Mainly because he was also well aware how good his best friend
was at reading him.
had gotten pretty good at subterfuge, certainly good enough
to fool Carter and Teal'c. but not nearly good enough to
snow his CO. Despite his best efforts to put him off the
scent, Jack could still read Daniel like a book. Came from
having to consult the volume so many damned times.
was doing his best to look as if he was sitting there like
a bump on a log because he was too pooped to party. Doing
his best and not succeeding, because Jack could read the subtle
signs of Daniel's distress he'd never be good enough to
completely conceal. The tension in his jaw, the way the
muscle in his cheek sporadically twitched, the bunched muscles
beneath the hunched, rounded shoulders, the hands clenching
and unclenching around the cup he was holding. Daniel was
smart enough to keep his head down, though. Try as he
might to camouflage his body language, his eyes gave him away
every time, and Jack was betting right now those baby blues
were speaking volumes.
was eating at Daniel was major. What it could be, Jack didn’t
have the faintest clue. Except to be positively certain
for once, it wasn’t his fault. He hadn't said or done a
single thing to upset Daniel or set him off. Had he? Coulda
sworn he hadn't. Okay, there had been that crack about -
but no, Daniel had glared at him, shook his head and then
grinned a little bit. No worries there. He hadn't. This
wasn't about him. He was sure.
it wasn't him - what?
had been uneventful, a breeze. Daniel had been in his glory.
Miles and miles of chicken scratches and he'd had all the
time in the world to look at them. Three solid days of mind-numbing
boredom for Jack. Manna from heaven for Daniel. Daniel had
been the happiest camper in the universe, and Jack had been
forced to admit a little boredom was worth it to see his
friend like that, and now – this?
Daniel was in had started late in the afternoon. Jack had
left Daniel happily cavorting in his little fixer upper and
had taken a much needed time out from playing his game of
'connect the dots on the nearest stone pillar' so he could greet
Sam and Teal’c when they'd returned from their leisurely tour
of the perimeter. Jack had come back into the tumble-down
temple to find Daniel sitting sprawled on the ground, his
head bowed over something he was tightly clutching to his
got there?” That’s all he'd said. Really. Nicely too.
He wasn't trying to pry; he was just being polite. He'd
assumed Daniel was getting all orgasmic over an unidentifiable
piece of crap he'd just found, as per usual, and knowing
how much Danny loved to spread his happiness around he was
offering the kid an opportunity to share the joy. He wasn't
looking to start anything or get his head bit off; it wasn't
his fault no one had informed him asking a simple question
had suddenly become a major felony.
head had shot up and he'd looked at Jack like he'd had just
ripped the heart right out of Daniel's chest. Jack had been
so startled by the completely unexpected reaction he had
taken a step back as if Daniel had just punched him right
between the eyes. Instantly an impenetrable curtain had
veiled Daniel’s face; he'd guiltily jammed the trinket he was
trying to hide into his pocket, scrambled to his feet and
started to rush past Jack muttering, “nothing. It’s
nothing. Just something I found.”
grabbed Daniel's arm as he'd tried to sidle by him, and that's
when he'd been totally blindsided by the LOOK.
none of your business. I don’t want you here. Don’t ask me.
Leave me alone.
hadn't said a word, but those cold, stubborn blue eyes bore
into him, freezing him out and warning him off at the same
time. There was no mistaking the meaning of that angry,
adamant expression. Move it or lose it.
let go of him, stunned absolutely speechless. Stood there
gaping after the man who had just so resoundingly blown him
off and was now making like a puff of smoke after making
Jack feel like a criminal for having dared to give a damn.
done was - and then Daniel had… Crap. What had just happened
here? He'd just been stonewalled. Given the gate. Shut
out, locked and barred. What the hell…?
gotten much of a look at what had seemingly upset Daniel
so much before he'd made it disappear, but from little he
had been able to see he didn't get it. It looked like a piece
of jewelry. Something metal, with set stones. Could have
been a necklace, a bracelet, maybe. It was hard to tell.
But it definitely was jewelry.
was bugging him, Daniel had immediately gone underground
with it. Jack had to admire the thoroughness with which
Daniel set about not only avoiding him, but also keeping
all indications of his true inner state hidden from his other
teammates. His portrayal of the happy-go-lucky archaeologist
was flawless as he enthusiastically pitched in and did his
share of the camp duties while the day wore into evening
and they all sat down to the family dinner under the stars.
was definitely getting good. Sam and Teal’c didn’t notice
anything was amiss with their archaeologist. Although there
damned well was! Jack could see it plain as day, even though
Daniel was probably hoping he couldn't. He also couldn't
help but notice Daniel didn't leave him any openings for
more private conversations. No fishing expeditions tonight.
So, he had no choice but to leave it alone.
no justifiable concerns with regards to the mission giving
him the excuse to press Daniel about his distress. They
were in no danger, Daniel had done nothing wrong, and his
being in a bad mood was no problem for anyone except himself.
No grounds there. Daniel had emphatically slammed the door
against his only other avenue of approach. The desire to
help a friend. His help was apparently not wanted.
circumstances been different, Jack knew damned well he wouldn't
have let this second barrier stop him. But Sam and Teal’c
were here; there were witnesses. Jack had a funny feeling
whatever was eating at Daniel was the kind of dirty laundry
he would want aired around as few people as possible. Even
Dannyboy, we’ll play it your way for now. But this isn’t
over. Not by a long shot.
and slowly stood up. “Well kids, I think it’s time to turn
in. We want to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning.
Daniel? You're gonna be able to wrap it up tomorrow?”
me. Let me see your eyes.
to happen. Daniel kept his head down, his answering response
quick and bright. A little too much of both. Careful, kid,
almost gave it away.
Jack. No problems.”
Danny, you’ve just lied to me.
I guess that’s…that…then," Jack tried to keep the disappointment
out of his voice as he looked at Daniel to see his friend
staring stonily, deliberately away from him. "Teal’c," Jack
announced gruffly. "Your turn for first watch. Now, lady
and gentlemen, if you will excuse me, I think I need to take
Mr. Happy for a walk. Back in a shake.”
chortled as Jack melded into the night. She looked at the
men who remained with her, each in their turn, and then started
to laugh again.
is so amusing, Captain Carter?” Teal’c asked.
you guys do that? Give pet names to your – ah – side arm,
DanielJackson would be a better one to ask," Teal'c replied
smoothly. "This custom is not practiced amongst my people.
We do not feel the need to address our body parts.”
him a look, trying to divine from his expression whether
he was having her on or not. No joy there, Teal'c face was
as enigmatic as ever. She gave up and looked to Daniel to
take up the game.
where he'd been sitting was empty. The archaeologist had
slipped away and now appeared to be busying himself with
his sleeping bag. He was gathering it up, taking it out
of the tent. Sam continued to watch him, a little puzzled,
as he walked out of the tent with a wad of bedding in his
arms, crossed to a clear place on the ground about ten feet
away from the fire, and then started laying it all out.
She questioned gently.
to flash her a sheepish smile. She thought for just a second
it wavered and looked forced, but realized it must have been
the way the uncertain light from the fire flickered across
his features. She'd been seeing things. Hadn’t she?
such a nice night,” he explained. “I just feel like sleeping
under the stars tonight. It'll be like being back home again…”
trailed off. He looked back down at what he was doing.
Sam felt a sudden pang of compassion as she realized when
Daniel had said ‘home’, he hadn’t been referring to Earth.
She glanced over at Teal’c, who gave her a slight nod to
acknowledge he'd come to the same conclusion. Sam sighed,
wishing she could think of something, anything to say that
would maybe make Daniel feel a little better. Some things
there just were no consolation for.
dreams, Daniel," she said gently, then got to her feet and
set off to get ready to bed down herself.
been on his way back when he saw what Daniel was up to.
He hung back, letting the mantle of the night conceal him
while he stood and watched and waited.
it’s THAT bad, is it Danny? So bad you have to take yourself
away from us? Don’t trust what might come out of your mouth
in your sleep? Maybe Sam bought that ‘sleeping under the
stars’ crap, but you’re not fooling me. Not throwing me
off the track that easily either.
using the darkness as cover Jack crossed quietly over to
where Teal’c had taken up his watch position. Signaling
to the Jaffa he had returned and was accounted for, Jack then
ghosted back until he found a comfortable spot of night not too
far from where Daniel was now cocooned in his sleeping bag.
Jack settled himself on the ground and took up his own vigil,
fully aware of Teal’c's eyes on him through the blackness.
It wouldn’t take the Jaffa long to put it together, especially
as soon as what Jack knew was going to happen – started to
happen. Well, maybe they could keep Carter out of it at
Daniel's bad dreams held off until Jack had changed watches
with Teal’c. As soon as the troubled sounds indicating what
he'd been waiting for had started Jack stole silently toward
his slumbering quarry, feeling like an intruder as he crept
toward the man who was tossing and softly muttering in his
sleep. As much as he hated ‘eavesdropping’ on his friend
like this, Jack needed information, and this just might be
the only way he was going to get it.
it was impossible to make out what Daniel was saying and
Jack inched carefully closer, straining to turn the snatches
of sounds into words. At last, one tore free, louder than
the rest. Distinct. Unmistakable. The last thing
the shock aside, and continued to listen. There was more.
A lot more. Oh God…
– please don’t! I can’t - it's not right…you don’t understand…no
– no wait. I didn’t know he was hurt. I - I - all right.
What ever you want. Whatever you say, just - just promise
me he’ll be taken care of, please? Whatever you say I’ll
do it – I’ll do it - just promise me…
hear any more. Couldn’t listen to another word. White-hot
rage boiled up within him as he realized what Daniel was
saying. What it meant. What he'd been hiding from him.
lying BITCH. Some nice piece of work you almost threw everything
away for, Danny. Yeah, she was really worth all the pain,
all the anger, and all the mistrust. Almost dying for.
Really worth it. Especially way she repaid you for saving
but you know all this now, don’t you? You know getting us
captured for the sake of that - that - COW was a bad call
- even though trying to save her life seemed to you to be
the right thing to do at the time. You made a mistake.
It happens. It worked out all right in the end. But that's
not the way you see it, is it?
us all in danger. You. You're not laying the responsibility
for what happened at anyone's door but your own. Daniel
screwed up. That's all you can see. That’s why you’ve never
said. That’s why you’ve kept this to yourself. You figured
you didn't deserve any help because what happened to you
was your own fault. So you've been trying to deal with this
on your own because - aw geez, Danny - because you figured
you had no one to blame for it but yourself. And you didn't
figure we'd disagree with you. Crap!
agitation was increasing and he was getting louder. Jack
hated to wake him up, but knew that if he didn’t he’d soon
be drawing a crowd. No doubt that was the last thing Daniel
would want right now.
him by the shoulders and shook him gently. “Hey, easy there,”
he whispered. “Wake up, you’re scaring the horses.”
eyes snapped open, his hands flew to Jack’s wrists. For
a confused second Daniel clung to the familiar anchor of
Jack's nearness until the return of full awareness brought
memory to bear as well. The instant his anxious blue eyes
met the concerned ones of the man bending over him Daniel
realized - Jack knew. His shameful little secret wasn't
a secret any more. Damn Jackanyway! Why couldn't he, just
this once - let things alone?
cried out at the eyes meeting his, so full of self-loathing
and shame. Livid with anger. Anger at himself and anger
at the man who had ferreted out his carefully guarded secret.
shoved Jack away from him. Hard. Just as violently he turned
away, concealing himself within the folds of the sleeping
bag, hoping no doubt, Jack would take the hint and go away.
his jaw firmly. When pigs could fly. Daniel figured he
was going away and he had known him, how long?
Jack whispered to him again as he leaned over him. “Talk
voice was shaking with emotion. Jack could hear him trying
to rein himself in with every syllable he forced out. “Just
– leave it alone, Jack. Go away. Please. I’m begging you.”
Can’t do it.”
it. I’m fine!" Daniel protested in a strained, shaking
voice. "I don’t need anything from you. I don’t want anything
from you. Go away.”
is what you call – handling it?” Jack asked gently.
I do!" Daniel snapped. "I’d mostly managed to forget. It
was the necklace. It caught me by surprise. Brought it
all back. It looked just like the one she was wearing the
first time – “ his voice broke as he choked something back.
Jack held his breath and waited for him to start talking
did I say?” Daniel’s voice was steadier, sadder. “How much
do you think you know?”
Jack admitted. "More than enough to make me want to wring
her neck if I ever get the opportunity to get my hands around
it. I don’t like it when someone uses me to hurt a friend.
Jesus, Danny, what did she make you do?”
emitted a harsh, mirthless laugh. “What do you want me to
do, Jack, draw you a picture? Spell it out for you? Do you
want every juicy little detail? So you can know how much
of a fool I was? Do you need to hear me say it? Well, don’t
worry - I was an idiot. I know. So do you. Happy now?”
flung his anger at him, hitting him squarely in the chest
with it like twin granite fists punching right through him.
Jack said nothing. He knew Daniel was trying to goad him
into adding his personal condemnation to his own unforgiving
self-assessment. Jack knew this game. They had played it
once before, a long time ago, only back then, the roles were
to know something really funny?” Daniel laughed again, but
it was a joyless humorless sound. “I couldn’t . Not the
first time anyway. But that shouldn’t come as any surprise
to anyone. I can’t hold my end up in the field when people
are counting on me, couldn’t - couldn't get it up – anywhere
else - when it mattered. She put me back in the sarcophagus.
After a couple more times in that baby it was a different
story, Jack. I more than did what was expected of me. Performed
above and beyond the call of duty. I did SG-1 proud!
After that, it didn’t really matter. I'd already
betrayed you, betrayed Sha’uri. I couldn’t take that
back, so what did it matter what happened to me next? If I was
already damned, I might as well make it worth the trip! Do the
job and do it right, eh, Jack? I did whatever Shyla
wanted me to do. Whenever she wanted it. Going back into
the sarcophagus just made it easier and easier not to care.
Easier to – do it. I told you I felt like I could do
anything? Hah! You have no idea. You can’t even
begin to imagine what I could do. What I…did. But
hey, it was worth it. It kept you all alive, didn’t it?”
What a mess. How had this happened? How had this happened
to Daniel - and he'd never known, never even suspected? That
entire mission hadn't exactly been their finest hour, from
start to finish. Jack had to admit he'd first been so pissed
at Daniel and then so worried about him once it was all over
and Daniel was himself again he'd tried not to look too much
at what had happened since. He'd actually done his best
to put the whole thing behind him and not think about it
at all. It was over, they'd all made it through fine. Daniel
was fine. Forget about it. Best not to pick at old wounds.
Daniel wasn't fine. They'd all been so concerned about his
physical distress and getting him through the addiction what
had had gone down between him and Shyla while the rest of
SG-1 was slumming it in the mine - Jack had never asked and
of course Daniel had never offered. Maybe a part of him
had always suspected, feared if he went looking he'd find
exactly the kind of trouble he'd just stumbled into and he
hadn't wanted to know.
back further than that, though. How long had he not been
looking, not been seeing? How long had someone who'd formerly
been claiming to be able to read Daniel like a book been
deliberately blind to a truth that had been staring him right
in the face?
hadn't needed Carter piping up with her weird-ass Jolinar
comments to tell there was something very, very wrong with
Daniel the second time he'd come to see them in that mine.
Sure, he'd been plenty pissed at Daniel for seemingly abandoning
them - abandoning HIM, but one look at the wild-eyed stranger,
higher than a kite on SOMETHING, lashing out at him...
What had Daniel said to them? What had Daniel said to him?
me to marry her. That’s
what Daniel had said to him, with that strange, whacked out
and yet haunted look in his eyes. Daniel had been trying
to tell him – and he hadn’t understood. Hadn't understood
- or simply hadn't wanted to?
didn’t work. Now I’m handling it. He’d
said that as well. Daniel had told him exactly what he was
doing, as best he could. Told him and he hadn't understood.
Jack felt sick. This was just getting worse and worse.
he heard himself blurt out. “I didn’t know.”
supposed to know!” Daniel practically spat the words at
him. “Nobody was supposed to know. Nobody…”
voice fell away as the anger suddenly drained from him, to
be replaced by shame and grief. He drew himself up tightly
and the sleeping bag encasing him began to shake. Jack reached
out and put a hand on Daniel’s shoulder, hoping that a small
gesture of support would do – something - to help.
The cry erupted from Daniel as he twisted violently out from
under Jack’s hand, fighting with the sleeping bag and trying
to escape from it in order to pull away from the man beside
him. “Just – don’t. I haven’t needed your help so far.
I don’t need your pity now.”
what you think this is?” Jack asked softly. “Pity? Daniel?”
abruptly sat up. Jack could feel him trembling with renewed
anger across the ever-widening space between them. “And
I don’t want THAT from you either," he hissed. "Your all-consuming
need to take total responsibility for everything that happens
on ‘your watch’. Your guilt for not being omniscient, or
'O'Neill on the spot' - there in the nick of time to save
poor, dumb, naïve Daniel from himself, yet again. I know
what you think of me. I know what ALL of you think of me.
I'm not nearly as stupid or naïve as you think I am. So
why don't you leave me alone and go beat yourself up over
not being 'there' for me to save me from myself? You're pretty
good at that, and it'd be a much better use of your time,
Jack began, not even sure what he was about to say next.
He never had the chance to find out. Daniel ploughed stormily
onward, his tirade unaffected by the slight interruption.
save me from this one," Daniel continued bitterly. "Don’t
lose any sleep over it, Jack, I didn’t need you to. I handled
it. Yeah, I screwed up. I let the whole team down and put
you all in danger. And I paid for it. Oh, I paid. But I also
did my duty. I did everything I had to do to make it right.
All by myself. End of story. I finally did the right thing,
Jack. Give me a little bit of credit and leave me the hell
alone. I don't want anything else from you. Not your pity,
your guilt, or even your contempt. All I want now is for
Sha’uri to find the grace to forgive me when I have to tell
will tell her, won’t you?
glad that the darkness hid his face from Daniel. His shock
and utter dismay at what he'd just learned and what he was
hearing now had to be plastered all over him. He knew he
had to get a grip on it, had to figure out something to say,
but Daniel’s rage was almost like a living thing – a
monster. How long had this rage inspired beast been living
within his gentle and forgiving friend, lurking unsuspected in
the hidden parts of his soul, squatting in darkness, building,
growing in the secret places, waiting for the time when it
could come out fully furled and uglier than his worst nightmares?
How long had it been there, and how much had he done and
said, to feed it? To help it grow.
a bit of it in the mine, but hadn’t recognized it for what
it was. He could only pray the price for his blindness was
not more than he was willing to pay.
he started uncertainly. “Listen to me. I want – “
Jack, too late. He’s not listening any more.
what you WANT!” Daniel was gone. There was only the monster,
and it was not his friend.
flashed him a nasty smile made even more unpleasant by an
eerie flare of the faltering fire. “You want me to smile
and say, ‘It’s okay, Jack. I don’t mind that you shoved
your nose in where it doesn’t belong. I don’t mind you didn’t
listen to me when I asked you to leave me alone. I don’t
mind that you spied on me and pried into something that was
none of your business.’ I’ll just forget all that, and be
your good little Dannyboy again. Forgiving everything, just
– letting it slide like it was nothing. Like I always do.
That’s what you want. Well, you’re not going to get it.
Not this time, Jack."
see that Daniel. Right now I'd give anything if I couldn't.
you to leave it alone, Jack," Daniel continued in a cold,
relentless voice. "To leave me alone. I begged you. But
no, you wouldn’t. You had to keep coming and coming and
coming. You wouldn’t listen to me. I needed you to do that.
I needed you to be my friend and understand. That’s all
I wanted from you. Just to LEAVE ME ALONE.”
tumbled from Daniel’s lips, low and hot with rage. A torrent
of fury battered Jack as he crouched numbly beside the monster,
dumbly allowing it to sear him to his soul. There was nothing
else he could do.
no business here," Daniel raged. "No business prying into
this. I didn’t ask you to. I warned you. God! I warned
you! Why didn’t you listen? Why didn’t you respect my wishes?
This is MINE, Jack. My problem. My secret. My shame.
Mine! I didn’t want you to have any part of it.
Ever! Your clout won’t help you now, Colonel O’Neill,
Sir! You might be able to order me around out there,
but you can’t order me now. You can’t force me to change,
you can’t make me be what you want or make me do what you
want. You can’t make me give this up and I won’t. It’s mine.
Mine. It might be the only thing I have left that really
is. I don’t want you here. I don’t. I - I don’t – “
voice broke, finally. His head fell into his hands. A ragged
whisper issued from behind them. “I betrayed you back then.
You’ve betrayed me now. Guess that makes us – even. I don’t
want to talk about this anymore. Please, just – go.”
between them yawned, seeming to span the entire universe.
It was so vast; Daniel was so far away. Jack tried to reach
across it, one last time, to see if Daniel was willing to
meet him at least part of the way. “All right, I’ll go.
But if you need anything…you know where to find me…”
hold your breath waiting.” Daniel's voice was as cold as
the fear clutching Jack's heart.
to his feet, forced back by the harsh emptiness of those
words. This was bad. This was really bad. That felt –
final. Oh God, what had he done?
dropped to his sides. He was having trouble seeing. He
knew he should do something – but…
you done enough damage for one night already?
to do anything else, Jack turned and slowly walked away,
trying not to hear the muffled sounds of weeping behind him.
Jack let the night wrap around him as he stood on the edge
of the camp, looking at nothing, keeping a futile watch over
the ruination of his world.
On to Interlude Daniel