VARIEGATED GREY BY PHOENIX
Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves
Angst. Drama. Episode Tag
A Major re-telling of 'Shades of Grey'.
Grey from the perspective of one of the members
of SG-1 who was left in the dark.
|| Kb I
haven't been able to track down an original Part
0 for this one (it's old!) but it was written
some time in early 2001. I think.
of Grey' from another perspective.
believe I'm doing this.
as nervous as hell. Can't tell it to look at him, but I
know him too well to be taken in by appearances. It's nothing
he's done. He's been very well behaved since we got here.
Must be the dress uniform or something. Though he's projecting
the appearance of cool, controlled aplomb he's definitely
not at ease; I can feel the restless tension percolating
behind the calm façade of the man at my side as I try and
master my own nervousness before addressing the High Chancellor.
worry Jack. I won't back out on you. I said I'll do this,
and what's more I'll give it my best shot. I know how much
this means to you.
told me a week ago I'd be standing here in the council chamber
on Tollana preparing to try and convince our new 'friends'
to put aside their justified reservations about handing out
pop guns to a bunch of unruly children I'd have laughed in
your face. Especially as I happen to agree with them! I'm
still not entirely convinced putting an ion canon in the
hands of the US military is in the best interests of the
citizens of the entire planet. I was even less enthusiastic
about the idea when Jack first brought it to me.
I kidding? I didn't want anything to do with it. The Tollan
might seem to be arrogant and unyielding on this point, but
they have their reasons and for my money, they're damned
good ones. They've learned from hard experience. Derived
a bitter object lesson from an error in judgment which destroyed
two worlds we 'primitives' don't seem to have quite gotten
yet from similar tragic occurrences on our own planet. We
certainly can't claim our terrestrial track record to be any
better when it comes to reviewing the results of our past
attempts to 'help' those 'less fortunates' who were doing just
fine without our version of 'civilization'.
becoming involved with the Stargate program I've seen no
great indication our ventures into the universe have brought
with them any significant advancement of our species toward a
more enlightened and less self-involved and contentious state.
The truth may hurt, but it doesn't make it any less true.
We're on our way, but we've got a long way to go yet. I've
got no desire to see the Earth go up in flames as a result
of the misuse of something given to us in a well-meant attempt
to help us prevent that very thing from occurring. Neither
do the Tollan. So I told Jack he could tell the Joint Chiefs
to stuff it. They could find another messenger boy to do
their dirty work. I wasn't having any part of it.
am I here in this monkey suit preparing to do something I
swore up and down I'd never do? Damned if I know, I'm still
trying to figure out how Jack talked me into this.
not true. I know exactly why I'm here.
his argument. Which was well organized, logical and concise,
consequently surprising the hell out of me. He'd come well
prepared for my objections, moral and otherwise. But that
wasn't what did it.
his appeal to my patriotism or concern for the welfare of
Earth that won me over, nor did it have anything to do with
learning about the pressure the Joint Chiefs were experiencing
from political corners to once again pull a technological
rabbit out of the hat to justify the continued existence
of the Stargate program. Meaning the pressure was being put
on us - hence me, to try and talk the Tollan out of one of
their larger ticket high tech items. Let's give 'em one
for good ole Earth, Doctor J. Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah.
as all of these reasons were, none of them were what eventually
made me agree to go along with this. I'm here for one reason
and one reason only.
me to. It's important to him. That's all I need to know.
He needed my help so I put aside my reservations and busted
my butt trying to come up with some way of getting around
what I know will be formidable resistance to the very concept,
never mind agreement with our request. I'm pretty sure I
haven't got a prayer, but Jack asked me to try. So
that's why I'm here, fully prepared to argue myself into a
stupor even though realistically the chances of being successful
are slim to none.
doesn't happen it WON'T be because I didn't try, Jack. You
have my word on it.
and tie are choking me but I try to put my discomfort and
discomfiture aside as I address the sternly smiling woman
in front of me.
opening exchange of pleasantries. Might be a bit of a mistake
playing my biggest 'don't forget you owe us' ace at the very
beginning, but somehow I don't think opening with a joke
here we go. She's rolling up the welcome mat and pulling
up the drawbridge the second the word technology is out of
my mouth. Oh dear, this is going bad faster than I thought
it would. Talk fast, Jackson.
I understand that. However, in our culture laws can be changed
when it is deemed that the reasons for those laws are no
That was stupid. What does the way we conduct our business
have to do with the way they run their planet? I'm going
to blow this. She's telling me their reasons are still relevant
and it's going to be hard to refute this point, as I happen
to agree with her. Don't fall to pieces, Daniel. You've
made a bad beginning but if you can just keep her talking,
get her to LISTEN to you……
I really didn't want to bring the weapons thing up quite
so soon. The Tollan certainly are a 'cut the small talk
and bottom line it for me' people when it comes to negotiating.
An approach Jack certainly can relate to, and seems to be as he
abruptly takes over.
doing any better, but he's kept her talking and given me
the time I needed to adjust my approach. I know how I need
to handle this now and am just about to take control of the
conversation back when the sentence I am about to utter is
blasted out of my head by Jack's next remark.
what? Forget it!" He emphasizes the disdain in his voice
with a disgusted wave of his hand and gets to his feet.
you wouldn't give us anything!"
That's not what you said to me last week. And every day
since then! What happened to 'if anyone can pull this off,
it's you, Daniel? We're counting on you, Daniel? We'll never
know unless we try, Daniel?'
wasting a lot of time here!"
believe what I'm hearing! Over a week getting ready for
this, assembling my arguments, attending the briefings, psyching
myself up. We haven't even been here five minutes and he's
to be a mistake. He can't honestly mean we - we're just LEAVING……
serious. It's over. He's leaving. We're - we're leaving.
Just like that. He's just pitched a small fit in front the
High Chancellor of the Tollan and stomped away in an angry
huff I can no more explain or gloss over to the dignitary
he's so roundly snubbed and insulted than I can understand
it myself. There's no time to make amends. Presuming he'd
even let me.
to mumble an apology to her, try to say SOMETHING to salvage
the situation but his voice rings out angrily even as it
is swiftly receding. "Come on Daniel! NOW!"
like an errant four-year-old being called to task by his
daddy. And feel just about as small as I duck my head beneath
Trevel's piercing stare and hasten past her, painfully aware
my cheeks are burning.
no idea what's going on, Jack, but if this has all been one
sick exercise in trying to make Daniel Jackson look like a
complete and utter fool it's gone rather well.
I am now
convinced I'm going crazy. There is no other logical, rational
explanation for what I am seeing right now.
raving mad. I have to be, because I CANNOT be watching Jack
O'Neill, one of the most strongly principled and honourable
men I have ever known, clawing the protective panel concealing
the Tollan security device off the wall prior to reaching
in, grabbing and pocketing said device. Brushing aside
our objections with uncharacteristic, angry callousness.
Showing no concern or remorse about his actions or our reaction
told me to shut up. He's NEVER, ever said that to me before.
The whole time we have known each other, I'm sure there have
been many times when he's wanted to, but he's never said
those words to me.
than he's ever given me any reason to believe he'd ever be
capable of any of the things I've just watched him do.
at Sam and Teal'c tells me the same things are going through
their minds. They can no more believe what's just happened
than I can. We're all of us too stunned to say a word as
we bleakly straggle toward the Stargate in the wake of the
swiftly striding stranger who seems to have supplanted the
identity of Colonel Jack O'Neill.
something very, very wrong, here. Horribly wrong. Whatever
it is, I'm going to get to the bottom of it. Make no mistake
about THAT, Jack!
it, sir," Jack announces casually, like he's just told Hammond
he's going for a stroll around the block.
For a few completely awful seconds it looked as if he wasn't
going to own up to it, was going to force one of US to explain
what happened on Tollana. The actual theft was bad enough
without compounding the wrong by seeming to be okay with
passing the accountability over onto our shoulders. Fortunately
although it looks as if Jack has slipped quite a ways down
the slope he hasn't fallen THAT far yet.
it?" Hammond looks like we feel. This isn't happening.
Jack did NOT just say what he did. This is a joke, right?
Jack reiterates with painful pride.
George. No joke. Apparently no remorse, either, if the
extremely smug smile accompanying Jack's admission is any
indication of the state of his conscience.
it?" Hammond looks at Jack with earnest incredulity. Clearly
floundering beneath the enormity of his disbelief. You think
THIS is bad, George, try being there for the actual event.
to think of it as borrowed," Jack returns nonchalantly.
Yeah, I'm sure you do. Semantics is our friend? A euphemism
covers a multitude of sins? Oh, apparently he's not finished
with his creative suggestions for putting a different spin
on the events.
Carter can figure out how to reproduce it; we'll give it
nuts. Jack did NOT just say that. I'm hallucinating, been
infected by some alien virus again. I'm seeing things, hearing
things, stepped through the looking glass. All of the above.
Any of the above.
looking at us with that SMILE saying as far as he's concerned
there's no problem. He's offered the perfect explanation
and solution to all of our silly concerns. He didn't STEAL
the device, he just BORROWED it without their permission.
As long as they get it back, it's not wrong.
come right out and SAID this, but it's plain in his expression
as he looks expectantly at all of us. Expecting us to agree.
Not a hint in his aspect or manner to suggest he thinks he
should expect anything else.
we won't sanction either his actions or his attitude because
he clearly doesn't feel he's done anything wrong.
If I previously
had ANY doubts there was something seriously strange happening
here this last little piece of business has removed every
single one of them.
this man grinning at General Hammond and all but boasting
about his actions on Tollana is - he is NOT Jack O'Neill.
Oh, he is, I'm not suggesting an 'Invasion of the Bodysnatchers'
scenario or he's undergone any sort of mind altering procedure.
Nothing like that. He's Jack O'Neill.
believe what I'm hearing!" The utter astonishment in Hammond's
face emphasizes the utterance. He's the first one to put
into words what all the rest of us are feeling.
to the club, George. You've just become our official spokesman.
No one here wants to fight you for the honour.
Jack carefully as he maintains his demeanor of unconcerned
jocularity. Gazing benignly at Hammond almost as if he feels
the General should praise him for his initiative rather than
continuing to harp on a technicality he doesn't feel anyone
needs to be bothered with.
your team stole an alien device from an extremely advanced
alien culture." The general is recovering from the initial
shock and shifting gears rapidly into 'extremely displeased
with the inappropriate behaviour of a subordinate' mode.
'You HAVE done wrong and you are going to catch hell from
it' is plain in his tone.
won't retaliate, if that's what you're worried about," Jack
offers, to soothe the worries of his commanding officer.
"Not their way, right, Daniel?"
to me, flashing me a smile, clearly expecting me to back
him up. Like he's looked to me so many times in the past
to talk him out of some fix he's gotten him or us into.
Help me out, here, Daniel. You can talk George into
just about anything.
time, Jack. Not if you got down on your knees and begged.
away from his entreating eyes, feeling both hurt and dismayed
he would do this to me. Try to trade on our friendship in
this shoddy fashion, try to enlist me as an accomplice in
justifying his wrongdoings.
O'Neill I know wouldn't do this. Couldn't do this. Who the
hell are you, and what have you done with my friend?
command has already been accused of stealing from several
other alien cultures, Colonel," the general continues, his
tone becoming more and more official and severe. "Until
now, we've denied it. Perhaps that was a bit premature.
Dare I ask, how many other items you've stolen?"
a terrifying thought! But surely, surely...not...
This is the first," Jack answers with an ingenuous smile.
Butter could melt in his mouth.
you don't seem to understand how SERIOUS this matter is.
You and your team have committed a court martial-able offence."
Hammond is becoming more and more exasperated with Jack.
Jack's NOT getting it. Not getting what he did was wrong,
not getting he's in VERY deep shit. None of us can understand
the profundity of Jack's studied and determined ignorance,
most especially the man charged with holding him responsible
for the consequences of his actions.
fair, general, I did it. Carter and Daniel protested. And
Teal'c - well he didn't really SAY anything but I could tell
he was opposed to my actions by the way he...cocked his head
and sort of raised his eyebrow - "
even more nuts. Now Jack is trying to make a joke of the
whole thing. Hammond is NOT amused.
Colonel!" he snaps impatiently. He's done playing around.
He'll deal with Jack later. Right now there's a much more
important matter to be addressed and attended to.
Jackson," Hammond begins, turning his attention to the rest
of us, "Major Carter and Teal'c, you will return this device
IMMEDIATELY to the Tollan and hopefully smooth over what
must be some very ruffled feathers."
Sam speaks for all of us as she responds to the order in
a barely audible voice.
Jack's snarls suddenly, bitterly, the resentment and rancor
in his voice a startling contrast to his formerly festive
mission is to go through that gate and find technologies
we can use to defend against Goa'uld incursions," he snarls
at Hammond. "Am I right?"
frighteningly indignant, 'man with a cause' fervor and fire
blazing in his eyes. Just as vehement and outspoken as he
has been every other time I've seen him fighting for something
he really believes in.
terrifies me more than I can say.
bordering on insubordination!" Hammond yells right back at
him. "We do NOT steal from 'Friendlies.'
today, that is.
not finished and he's not taking the hint, either.
with NO due respect, General, that's just plain STUPID!"
Hammond shouts at him warningly, stunned by sheer effrontery
of his last statement. Not to mention the blatant disrespect
for him in the utterance.
NEVER spoken to him this way. He's really racking up a lot
of 'firsts' today.
seems he's still shooting for a new personal record. He keeps
right on going with his hateful harangue, hollering almost
incoherently over several of Hammond's attempts to silence him.
the Pentagon won't approve our backup program we have no
choice - "
- do NOT go there!"
NO CHOICE but to take whatever steps we need to GET what
and Teal'c are horrified by the torrent of ugly, bitter words
pouring out of our friend. He's completely unrecognizable
in his rage, his furious face as twisted and odious as the
alien filth he is spewing.
is giving Jack back as good as he is getting.
as I am in command of the SGC we will hold ourselves to the
HIGHEST ethical standard…"
up the rest of the general's sentence and spits his invective
straight into George's face.
the Goa'uld WIPE US OUT because we have NOTHING with which
to DEFEND ourselves I'm sure we'll all feet GREAT about ourselves
and our 'high moral standards'!"
the last three words as if doing so will subsequently require
him to wash his mouth out with soap.
finally too much. Even from Jack.
O'Neill!" Hammond thunders with the clout of the stars on
his collar duly emphasizing the 'official' force of his righteous
indignation. "You are OUT of line, now STAND DOWN!"
NOT a request, Jack. Or a suggestion. One more word out
of you and you might find your plans for the next few years
being made for you.
at Hammond as if he's considering mouthing off again, but
Hammond isn't kidding and finally, thankfully, Jack seems
to be clueing into SOMETHING.
say a word. About time he shut up. He doesn't need to dig
the hole he's in any deeper. He won't be seeing the light
of day for years as it is. If the look on Hammond's face
is anything to go by, Jack is through.
O'Neill, I am hereby relieving you of your command. You are
to report to the infirmary and stay there until I send for
There it is. Hammond's said the words. Looking like the
Right Hand of God as he passes judgment on the unworthy who's
left him no choice.
cell, SIR?" Jack sneers in response.
God! Did you leave your brains as well as your conscience
back on Tollana?
could very well be your next stop if you say another word,
it, he means it, shut up Jack! Don't say another word. Enough,
at him, still obviously furious, but mercifully, he stays
rises. He's calmer, his tone warmer as he addresses Jack
once more. Still the commander in chief, but one trying
to be a friend.
get down to the infirmary and submit yourself to a complete
examination. Teal'c, escort him. "
himself to his feet, his face dark and foreign with simmering
rage and barely suppressed attitude. He doesn't even flinch
as he hears Hammond tell Teal'c he is no longer under Jack's
command - the final insult to his former authority. He
snorts and turns away from us without a word,
to keep my own reactions under control as I watch him stalk
arrogantly from the briefing room, Teal'c in tow. Without
a backward glance or any sign he's at all sorry for anything
he's said or done.
the opposite, actually.
cannot accept what I have seen. I know I've seen it, but
I can't accept it. Won't accept it. The Jack O'Neill I have
been to hell and back with more than once over the course
of the last three years simply is not capable of being the
man I have just watched him be. I'd stake my life on this.
Have - have staked my life on it. More than once.
there it is. This is NOT Jack, and yet he is. Or rather,
SEEMS to be. Seems to be. Seeming is not the same as being.
Doesn't make it so. There has to be a REASON for what seems
to be, but can't possibly be.
I'm not making a whole lot of sense when any further opportunity
I might have had to start making some has to wait. The warning
klaxon penetrating the chaos in my head tells me the Stargate
Sorry, Jack, You're going to have to wait. I don't know
what this is all about, but believe me, I'm going to find
out. Just as soon as I can. That's a promise.
right now I'm going to have to put this puzzle on the back
burner. Leave it simmer for later. We've got a more immediate
problem to deal with. The Tollan are coming to call and
I'm guessing they're pissed.
know how Judas felt.
laid my best friend on the sacrificial altar of the Tollan's
demand for explanations and satisfaction. Hung him out to
dry. Gave him up. Spilled the beans. Left him holding the
matter it was the right thing to do. Or that he more than
has it coming. Doesn't matter he deserves it, or that he's
guilty. Or has no one to blame but himself. It STILL feels
like I'm betraying him. Selling him out for the sake of
the restoring amity between Earth and Tollana.
of thirty pieces of silver.
an anxious moment as Trevel considers what I have just told
her. Hammond is silent, his usually warm face grim, humourless
and dangerously serious as he spares me a tight nod both
acknowledging what I have done and thanking me for it. He
knows what coming clean is costing me. Costing both of us,
for that matter. But we've got no choice. It has to be
done. Some things are more important the mere personal considerations.
This is one of them.
Jack! How could you do this? How could you do this to yourself?
How could you do this to your friends?
this isn't right. Not. Not not not right. Not happening,
it's not happening.
Chancellor is dissecting me with her cold, glittering eyes.
Raking them over me with merciless precision as she scans
every particle of me, sparing me nothing in her visual evaluation,
comparing what she sees with what she has just been told.
every confidence in the accuracy of Doctor Jackson's report,"
Hammond gently ventures in a deeply conciliatory tone. "If,
however, his account is not satisfactory, you are welcome
to question the other members of SG-1 for corroboration."
He makes an open-handed gesture toward her, his tone as accommodating
and soothingly persuasive as he can make it.
Eminence, I cannot emphasize enough how deeply distressed
we are by this incident. Nor can I sufficiently stress how
much we regret its occurrence. Colonel O'Neill's actions
in no way reflect the policy of this command, or are representative
of the regard and respect with which we hold your people
and your customs. We wish you would give us the opportunity
to demonstrate our sincerity. What do you need from us,
Your Eminence? What can we do to regain your trust?"
formidable stare shifts over to the general and for one heart-stopping
second I'm afraid she's going to demand we turn Jack over
to her for punishment. She'd certainly be within her rights
to do so, and after what Hammond's just told her he could
hardly refuse her if this is what she does, in fact...want.
it as well as I do. What's more, if handing over Jack is
what it's going to take, he's not even going to blink while
my breath waiting for the next words out of her mouth feeling
suddenly, strangely, as if my life is literally hanging in
holding Colonel O'Neill accountable for his actions and dealing
with him appropriately?" She asks Hammond coolly.
well." The vastly dark and assessing eyes swing back to
me. "We are satisfied with Doctor Jackson's word the colonel
alone is accountable in this incident, and that he was acting
entirely of his own volition. As we are not in the habit
of interfering with the way other worlds conduct their own
internal affairs," she pauses, and for a brief second the
irony fleeting in her gaze does not escape me, "we are content
to leave the matter of the disciplining of Colonel O'Neill
to your discretion. The return of our property and your
apology will be sufficient reparation."
formally to me as she begins to rise. "You have my thanks,
Doctor Jackson, for your complete cooperation in the face
of what must have been for you a personally trying experience.
You are to be commended for your integrity."
could have done without that last bit. I'm feeling a lot
of things right now, but full of integrity definitely isn't
one of them.
is shaking her hand, making with the last minute pleasantries
and I'm contenting myself with standing here trying to become
invisible. Or absent, as soon as possible. I've done my
bit, did what I was supposed to do, everything's okey dokey
now. Tollan are happy. George is happy.
Daniel isn't happy. Daniel wants to go. Daniel has some thinking
to do and can't to it standing here. Done here, done now.
Can I leave?
I have to escort Her Eminence and Company to the gate? Why
can't someone else... Okay. All right. Fine. The things
I do for the SGC. You'd think, for once, someone else could
it always have to be me? Daniel Jackson, poster boy for 'Diplomacy
me to cancel my subscription.
not to slip into sulking as I open the door to the general's
office and wave Trevel and her travelling companion out.
I instantly want to run back inside and close and bolt the
door as a familiar voice rings out.
In a completely
unfamiliar tone of voice which is becoming distressingly
MORE than familiar……..
look who's here! Come to retrieve your vastly superior STUFF?"
Jack's sneer is so tangible you could spread it on toast.
he's not done and there's no way to avoid having to run the
women through his gauntlet of contempt. I try to rush them
past him as quickly as possible so the whole thing isn't
quite as horrible as he's evidently going for.
look at him as I pass him, but I can feel his dark eyes boring
into me as we sweep by.
be a lot more superior if it wasn't so easy to STEAL!"
what's WRONG with you?
horizon shimmers placidly behind the High Chancellor as she
stands beside me at the base of the ramp.
unfortunate incident almost made me forget I wished to tell
you how much I regret having to disappoint you in the original
reason for your visit."
Eminence?" I'm confused, now, both by what she's saying and
the sudden switch in her aspect. Her tone is warmer, fonder,
and I'm quite astonished when she puts a hand on my arm before
you to understand my refusal to grant your request was motivated
solely by law, and was no reflection upon my personal regard
for you as an individual."
negotiations! I'd completely forgotten about them. I wish
she hadn't reminded me. If not for that stupid, misguided
attempt I knew had no chance of succeeding we wouldn't even
have been on Tollana in the first place! If not for that
exercise in futility none of this would have happened.
this would have happened...wait a minute...
at her in utter confusion. She's still talking but my brain
is otherwise engaged trying to latch onto what it KNOWS is
something important. Significant.
every scrap of self-control I have to stop myself from pushing
her up the ramp and shoving her into the event horizon.
Nothing personal, I just have to get her to shut up. To
let me alone to track this mental thread before I lose it
a great deal of respect for you, Doctor Jackson. I am confident
that although you were acting on the behest of your superiors,
you do understand why what you were asking of us was impossible."
Your Eminence," Still not entirely sure what she's saying
to me, but when in doubt, smile and nod.
my face in her hands and looks intently at me. An answering
smile so warm her eyes glow flows up to meet me. I'm pierced
by its intensity, and the fervour of her words.
feel optimistic for the future of your race. That it boasts
flicker briefly, darting up toward the glass windows of the
briefing room, then quickly back to me once more.
very highly for what it has the potential to become. We
are encouraged by what we have seen. Hold fast to what you
are, and know."
me, bows, and then strides up the ramp, followed by her silent
escort. Just before she reaches the rippling surface she
turns and looks back at me once more.
seems sad. I am WAY past able to keep up with any of this.
tell you how deeply sorry I am for what has happened. You
came to us with only the best of intentions, and now through
no fault of your own you must bear the consequences of being
involved in circumstances you have done nothing to create,
but will nevertheless bring you deep, personal suffering
you do not deserve. My apologies for what must be."
sorrowfully at me and turns away. I can only stand there
and gape after her as I watch her being absorbed by the cool
what I just heard her say, but there was something else.
Some other message embedded in the words now ringing in my
head. She was trying to tell me something.
What was she saying? Hold fast to what I know? What? What
do I know?
frozen to the spot trying to get what just happened when
the gate shuts down, leaving the room darker and somehow
smaller in the absence of its light.
team, from the SGC, from the Air Force, from the base.
Can't do this, can't - can't go there. Isn't happening.
This is NOT happening.
it, Jackson. Keep saying it; maybe you'll actually believe
two simple words have punched a hole into the centre of my
existence big enough to drive a Stargate through. I'm a
whole bunch of things right now. Shocked, stunned, confused,
angry, bewildered, HURT, but what I am, most of all, is damned
determined I'm going to find out WHY.
Count on it.
night. I'm off duty. I don't have to show my face around
here for the next two days. Guess... I guess I should go
home. Might as well. Nothing for me here, now.
night. It's Friday night. Jack and I, we usually - but
we didn't, not for tonight. Not any formal plans, anyway.
W e weren't sure how long we were going to be off-world,
whether the business on Tollana would wrap up soon enough
for us to get back in time to do the usual Friday night pizza,
beer and fight over what we weren't or were going to watch
on television, thing.
even though it turns out we're back in plenty of time, I'm
thinking I still have no plans for the evening.
been and gone. She came primarily to pass on Jack had passed
all Janet's tests with flying colours. Whatever's up with
him, it hasn't got a physiological cause. At least not one
showing up in any tests known to medical science.
was as much as I was expecting. I'm not sure how or why
I know this, but Jack's not sick. He's also not crazy, no
matter how things look.
had a bit of a run-in with him just before his attempt to
make a lasting impression on the High Chancellor. Sam didn't
want to let on, but it upset her. I wasn't much help. She
wanted me to be able to tell her I knew what was happening,
and I couldn't.
stopped by to tell me Jack had left the base. He'd accepted
the general's 'offer' of early retirement, had packed up
his goodies and gone. Just - just like that. No words.
No explanations, no good-byes.
be going too.
Teal'c expect me to handle it. Find out what's going on.
Fix it, even. I wish I could say I felt as confident about
my abilities as they are.
hell I'd never even heard of Tollana. Or their stinking
at the machine on my way to the kitchen. No blinking lights.
No messages. It's Friday night. I wonder what Jack is doing
right now. What is he thinking? How is he taking all of
this? It's my turn to pick the pizza place. Damn, I was
looking forward to that. I bet he's gone ahead and ordered
from Gonzo's again. He knows I hate that place. The crust
is way too greasy. He does it just to annoy me. Also knows
it's my turn, the selfish bastard. Selfish, self-absorbed,
inconsiderate...bastard. God, I hope he's okay. Maybe...maybe
I need coffee. That's what I need. I need...I - I need....
know what's wrong with me, but I have to sit down because
all of a sudden I'm having trouble breathing. It feels like
there are huge steel bands constricting my chest and if I
try walking I'm not going to make it because I suddenly can't
see. Everything's blurry.
need to sit for a minute. Just a minute. Take deep breaths
and this shaking will go away. Rub my eyes for a minute
or two and they'll be fine. I'm okay. I'll be fine. I'm
not going to fall to pieces, here. There's a reason why all
of this is happening. A logical explanation for everything.
There is. There has to be. I just need to keep my head,
and use this preponderance of grey matter I've been given
to work all of this out.
Daniel. Think. Jack says you're always doing it too much
and now when he most needs you to, you're choking.
sissy boy, stop snivelling and THINK!
- define the problem. Jack. Not being Jack. So not being
Jack it's a wonder the world isn't spinning madly on its
axis. As out of control as my personal universe has suddenly
Daniel. Stay with it. No digressing off into irrelevant
asides. Not now.
has he done? Stolen technology from the Tollan. Did the
deed, admitted it, proud of it, seemingly prepared to do
it again. He's been dangerously insubordinate to General
Hammond. Belligerent and rude to the High Chancellor and
her aide. Cold and callous to his team mates. Gone and
left us. Turned his back on the Stargate program, his entire
life, his friends.
a day's work, even for Jack.
I know? I know Jack O'Neill. Jack O'Neill is not a thief.
He's not a liar. While at times the power of his convictions
has taken him close to the line, he is not deliberately or
carelessly inconsiderate of his duty, his colleagues or the
people he answers to. Most particularly the man we all answer
to at the SGC. Jack is not a rude or thoughtless man, nor
is he needlessly cruel and provocative to those who are different
from him, whether he agrees with them or not.
he may ACT like a jerk at times, but that doesn't MAKE him
one. Any more than acting like a thief...
is a man of honour. At least, until today. So it would
appear. But appearances can be deceiving. And in this case,
especially, they have to be. Because Jack O'Neill is no
more the man he is trying to appear to be than he is capable
of….oh god, I don't know, stealing a blind man's cane. Or
a lollipop from a kid. Pulling the wings off flies.
I'm doing it again. Cut it out, Daniel. Focus.
what he did and said today. No matter what he's said since
to the contrary. Therefore, there is another reason for his
behaviour. SOMETHING is MAKING him behave the way he did
the only possible explanation for what has happened today.
The only one there is. The only one I will accept.
start with door number one. Something. Some sort of influence
affecting his behaviour.
We've pretty much ruled that one out. Jack's been gone over
within an inch of his life and physically, he's perfectly
fine. So says Janet. So, that one's out.
Thinking about this one. He wasn’t too happy about having
to do it, but he went through quite a battery of psychological
tests when we got him back from Eudora. He came through
those fine as well. There didn't seem to be any time bombs
lurking in his psyche. Nothing hiding down there waiting
to bite him in the ass when he wasn't looking. Certainly
nothing that would explain his current behaviour.
he was as well adjusted as one could reasonably expect a
former Special Ops Air Force Colonel who's blown up 'gods'
with nuclear weapons, goes across the galaxy to go to work,
who's been shot up, Goa'ulded, killed for the cause, nearly
frozen to death, had to watch his son die, watched his best
friend turn into monster and die, lost his wife, briefly
almost lost his mind courtesy of the Ancients and been to hell
and back - literally...to be.
there are dark places inside him. He's not the only one.
But he knows what he is, he knows what he's done. He's never
shied away from facing any of it, not as long as I have known
him. And I've known him for most of it.
pretty confident in ruling out the psychological factor as
well. Not because of the opinion of the dedicated mental
health professionals who checked him over and pronounced
him fit to go out and start saving the universe again. I'm
saying I know Jack's mentally sound because I know something
about Eudora. I know what he never told them. I know what
really happened and how he really feels about it.
days after he got back he called me in the evening. Barely
coherent, but in an evidently drunkenly companionable mood.
He anted some company, could I come over and while I was
at it, could I bring some more beer.
fact he was drunk was enough to tell me I needed to go over
there. Sans the beer. Contrary to popular belief, Jack doesn't
drink a lot. Certainly rarely ever to excess. Hardly ever
to the degree he'd been imbibing that night.
control thing. Jack's got a lot of stuff on his plate.
An awful lot of stuff he doesn't like coming out and saying
'hi' when he's not prepared for company. So he very rarely
ever gives it a chance to take him by surprise.
doesn't make him forget - it makes him remember.
the door almost as soon as I hit the buzzer and stood there
wavering in the entranceway, his clothes disheveled, hair
not much better, beer bottle in his hand, a gooney, shit-eating
grin spreading even further across his slightly flushed face
as he looked me up and down and yelled, "DANNY! My FRIEND,
I knew I was hauled into the house and enveloped in one of
Jack O'Neill's patented full body hug specials. If you've
never tried it, I thoroughly recommend it.
pressed up so tightly to him I could barely breathe. A cold
beer bottle chilling the small of my back as Jack's free
hand cupped the back of my head and cradled it in tight against
the side of his. Thinking about it now, it's almost like
being back there again. Remembering the familiar,
comforting mixture of the smell of his aftershave lightly
accented with shampoo and a heavy chaser of beer. Feeling
the way his stubble rasped across my face as he rubbed his cheek
against mine. Holding me and hugging me longer than he'd
ever done before. Tighter, closer, like he wasn't ever
going to let go.
Danny, " he chuckled and rumbled in my ear before finally
pulling back until he could look me in the face, but still
not releasing me from his embrace. "Where ya been, Danny?
Missed you. Missed you lots. Lots and lots."
about then I was trying to figure out how to get him to let
go of me so I could get him to a chair before he fell down.
He was loaded. Drunker than I had ever seen him. That's
the only explanation I have for what he did next.
my cheek in his palm, burped loudly in my face and beamed
proudly at his accomplishment. "My friend!" he announced
extravagantly. 'My Danny."
which he sighed happily, applied his lips to my other cheek
and planted an enthusiastic and rather noisy kiss on it.
Then he patted my face, peered at me with bleary expectation and
to again as I was laying him out on the sofa. I was leaning
over him, just about to straighten up when his eyes opened,
his hands clutched at my jacket and he pulled me down on
top of him. Once again I found myself unable to move as
his arms wrapped around me and crushed me implacably to him.
don't go!" His voice was raw and laced with fear. The pain
in it alarmed me. "I'm really sorry, I shouldn't have done
it. It wasn't right. Wasn't fair. She's a good woman,
but she wanted... I couldn't give her what she deserved.
I shouldn't have, but I thought I'd never see you again.
You won't go, will you Danny? You won't leave me?"
making any sense but he was clearly upset about something.
I couldn't imagine why he thought I'd leave when I'd only
just gotten there. He couldn't think I was upset about the
condition he was in. I've seen Jack drunk before. He's seen
me drunk before. We've seen each other in far worse shape
for various reasons than he was at that moment.
particular can claim to have the advantage of me when it
comes to not being exactly at my best due to mind altering
to reassure him and also tried to get him to let go of me,
but he wouldn't. Not that it bothered me to be close to
him. Somehow, in that moment I was drawing as much comfort
from his complete proximity as he seemed to be deriving from
mine. Probably for the same reason.
the only one who thought he'd never see his friend again.
Never get to be with him again. This way, or any other way.
months can be an eternity when you don't know for sure if
someone you care about is alive or dead. It's true the Tok'ra
ship would have gotten to Eudora in a year. But until we
did, we didn't know for sure Jack had made it to the caves
and had survived the meteor shower. We didn't know a damned
thing until Teal'c broke through.
needed me to be there with him; I was happy to be. So I
lay there quietly in Jack's arms and let him talk. He needed
to do that, as well.
all about Eudora. Jack told me everything. Maybe it was
the beer and maybe it wasn't, but he opened up and told me
everything weighing on him. He talked until he fell asleep,
still not letting go of me, and after a while I fell asleep
as well. Several hours later I was awakened by his dulcet
tones in my ear. Jack complaining rather loudly and completely
unfairly I should learn to hold my liquor better or go on
a diet before I passed out on him again. We traded a few
more insults, got up, teased the shit out of each other and
talked some more.
without the beer.
time I left the next evening Jack was okay with Eudora.
Okay with a lot of things as well, most especially Jack O'Neill.
days later he came to me needing this favour from a friend.
And, here we are.
not suffering from stress, nor is he mentally unhinged.
Whatever's making him act this way, it isn't a some…..thing.
my head is splitting and I need to lie down. I can't do
this anymore right now. I don't want to remember. I need
to rest, just for a little while. Things will be clearer
if I rest.
you weren't going to give us anything.
wasting a lot of time, here.
us a nice fruit basket, though.
has already been accused of stealing from several other alien
to what you are, and know.
has already been accused of stealing……
I am confident
that although you were acting on the behest of your superiors,
you do understand why what you were asking of us was impossible."
it was impossible. It always WAS impossible. There was
no way I could have succeeded. I wasn't supposed to.
mind racing, heart pounding with excitement. So simple.
It's just so simple. The trip to Tollana was for one purpose
and one purpose only. To provide Jack with the opportunity
to steal the device.
about trying to get ion canons for Earth. Wasn't even about
Jack O'Neill trying to make Daniel Jackson look like a horse's
ass. It was about trying to make Jack O'Neill look like
accomplished. Jack's done the deed, and been cast aside,
branded a thief, a pariah, disgraced, dishonoured. And I
helped. Set the stage for him, gave him his shot and then
gave him to the Tollan.
the one who asked me to get involved in the first place.
Asked me to do a favour for a friend.
The whole thing was a set up. Jack set me up. Set me up
to take him out. Why?
the couch, pacing, so furious I don't know whether to laugh
or cry. Right now I hate the fact Jack O'Neill knows me
better than any person alive. Bastard! You low-down, scheming,
manipulative BASTARD! USED me! My so-called best friend
USED me to help him look like a thieving piece of trash.
Played me like a violin. Set me up, cut me off at the knees
and then walked out on me.
was here right now I'd smash his double-dealing face in!
Daniel, calm down, it's not like that and you know it. This
is still Jack we're talking about. Whatever he did, he had
a good reason. That's what I have to do, focus not on WHAT
he did, but WHY he did it.
I'm hurt he didn't trust me enough to let me in on it. Maybe
he thought I wouldn't be convincing enough to the Tollan
if I knew the whole thing was a lie. I'm not known for being
very good in the lying department. That's probably why
he figured he couldn't say. Whatever he's involved in, it
HAS to be important. Had to be absolutely sure it looked
right. Couldn't take the chance the Tollan wouldn't buy it.
The Tollan, and whomever else he's trying to convince with
his macho asshole, 'I'm just in it for the big guns' act.
brings us right back to the 'why' - doesn't it?
seems to be coming back to technology. What I was supposed
to try and get from the Tollan, what Jack stole, what he
sat there and screamed we should be trying to get for Earth
no matter how we had to get it.
ELSE was mentioned in that briefing. Something the general
said. Had it, had it just a minute ago.
The fact the SGC has been accused of stealing. Oh yeah,
remember how good THAT felt during the business with the
Touchstone. To be branded thieves by people who had trusted
us. Being accused of stealing didn't go over any better with
Jack than it did with the rest of us. We got to the bottom
of it, got the Touchstone back for the Medronans, and cleared
ourselves and the SGC. The real thieves were a rogue group
using the second Stargate. No one directly involved with
group that got away. Escaped through the gate, right under
our noses. That's still out there, somewhere.
to feel a lot better about this and am on my way to turning
the coffee maker on to brew up a little aid to further contemplation
when the phone rings.
a little guilty I didn't let on to General Hammond I've figured
out what's going on. He seemed to be so concerned about
how I was taking all of this, and I'd like to set his mind
at ease about me, but I've put a few other things together
during the ride over to Jack's place making me glad I held
trust. Jack didn't just cut me out of the loop, he's left
Sam and Teal'c and the general in the dark about what's really
going on as well. So there may be more to this than I realize.
Having to do with what's happening at home as much as what's
going on out there on the other side of the gate.
I think the general or my friends are involved in anything
shady. Not at all. They'd no more be capable of dishonest
dealings than, well - Jack! But until I get more of the
picture from Jack, I'm not going to unintentionally blow
his cover by mouthing off to the wrong people. Or anyone,
for that matter.
picked an interesting time to call, though. He sounded a
little surprised I didn't know anything more about how Jack
was doing. Funny, never realized it before, but when it comes to
Jack, everyone assumes I'm the resident authority.
The one to come to if they need up to date information. Or
explanations. I guess he just took it for granted I would
have already called or dropped by.
need the excuse of promising to furnish him with an 'update'
to be making this trip today. I'd already been intending
to go over to speak to Jack. Now that I've put it together.
We'll be able to sit and talk in private, and once he knows
I know, I'm sure he'll come clean and tell me the rest.
be able to get the full story and allay as much of the general's
concern as the situation will allow me. Two birds, so to
believe how much better I feel now I KNOW why Jack has been
acting the way he has.
Not exactly the first ring this time. Far from it. Strange.
I've stood at this door hundreds of times, waiting to be
allowed admittance, and this is the first time I find myself
suddenly feeling as if I'm……not welcome.
say I'm thrilled with the sensation. Nor am I exactly sure
where it's coming from. No reason for it, it'll be fine,
I know what's going on, I'll tell Jack I know, we'll get
it all cleared up. I know it'll be okay, but all of a sudden
I've got this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and I'm
just about to lose my nerve and turn tail and run when the
door finally opens.
is there in the doorway, beer bottle in hand, not a shit-eating
grin in sight and while he may have been drinking, he's certainly
not been overdoing it.
is standing there, glaring at me, not only in total control
but so deeply hidden behind his stone-cold face I almost
don't recognize him.
do you want?" he mutters at me.
really sure, to tell you the truth."
is the truth. I'm totally stunned by this less than warm
reception. While I wasn't exactly expecting a brass band,
surely after three years and a few billion light years Jack
could manage a slightly friendlier greeting than this. What's
with the stonewalled, shut out routine, Jack? You don't
have to play the asshole now, not when it's just the two
I want? I want to let my friend know he's still got one!
here to talk, I guess." Well, I did.
not moving, still not inviting me in. Okay, well maybe he
figures I'm still buying the act and mad at him. He doesn't
know yet, I haven't told him. No wonder he's being less
than forthcoming. He's got to think I think he's pond scum.
that really were the case, Jack, I wouldn't be here, would
I? The fact I am should tell you something. Let down the
walls. I'm your friend, remember? Said so loud enough,
right here, not so long ago. Let me in.
a swig from the bottle and glares at me. Still not moving.
Looks like I have to ask, he's not offering.
another one of those?"
You're going all the way with this. Going to make me beg?
he moves away. Lets me walk through the door. I enter and
close it behind me as he heads toward the kitchen. It feels
about ten degrees colder in here than it does outside. The
air in the house is positively glacial on my skin as I move
through it and walk downstairs. Feeling more and more like the
unwelcome, unwanted intruder.
disquieting, unsettling feeling. Disconcerting. When we're
back on Earth I probably spend more time in this house than
I do in my own place. Jack finds it hard to relax at my
place. Always afraid he's going to break something. This
is practically my second home, and now I feel awkward, out
of place, afraid to sit on the furniture, even.
do you feel about all this?" I call out to him as I move
restlessly about, still uncertain as to what to do with myself.
I can tell you how I feel, Jack. Confused. I thought I knew
what was going on, but now I'm here, nothing feels right.
I was going to come out and tell him everything I'd figured
out but now I'm caught in this pocket of awkward and I'm
coming up empty. I'm still hesitating, trying to figure
out what to do and say when his next words send me spinning
even further into the realm of uncertainty.
the beer. NO to the feelings," he announces as he joins
me and hands me a beer. I seat myself, twist the cold bottle
in my hands and try to get a grip on myself.
if he was trying to tell me the Jack O'Neill emotional shop
was closed up for the day he couldn't have been more direct.
himself in the armchair across from me. Just for an instant
I'm remembering another time, the first time Jack and I shared
a beer in this house. Seated exactly where we are right
not right. We're in the same places we were that night.
But our positions were reversed. Oh god, Jack, in more ways
- that's too bad because I really don't like beer." One
of us is going to be honest, here. Might not be a soul shattering
revelation, but at least now he knows I've been humouring
him for the last three years.
your worrying. I'm fine." Obviously my stark admission
didn't elicit any reciprocal inclinations to opening up.
Sharing still only extends to the beer, it would seem. I
don't understand why he's being so cold. Why he's still
keeping up the act. It IS an act, isn't it, Jack?
more unsure of myself by the second. I'm not sure what's
going on. We're alone. It's me. Danny. Why is he still
be wrong about this. About him? Can I? All my plans to
dazzle him with my brilliance are falling around me. He's
staring at me like I'm some sort of bug under a microscope.
idealistic idiot taking up his precious time.
That's funny, because I didn't figure you for the early retirement
type anymore. There's another reason you're angry, isn't
there is. I know there's a reason for everything you've
done. Help me out, here, Jack. Tell me I've got it right.
This is where you put aside the stone face and start being
JACK again. I'll tell you I'm with you, I'll tell you you're
not alone with this, I'll tell you I understand -
we go, Pop Psych 101, right?" he shoots at me in a disgusted,
like I'm floundering in an ocean of his disdain. Maybe I
have got it wrong, maybe there is something else, some other
reason for the way he's been acting. Maybe he ISN'T pretending,
he really MEANT those things he said in the briefing. But
- but why? How could he have - what would have made him
FEEL this way?
didn't I know? Why didn't I see this coming?
at straws now, for some sort of explanation that will make
even the SLIGHTEST shred of sense. Something he mentioned
in the briefing.
we were in the briefing you said something about the Pentagon
not giving us the back-up we requested. What were you talking
first time since I've gotten here something in him appears
to soften. He seems regretful, looks away from me and his
voice is low and quiet as he answers me an almost apologetic
and I were planning a secondary SGC base off world. It was
going to serve as a backup in case ours was attacked. I
was going to command."
Jack? Planning to leave SG-1 and tie himself to a desk?
Not even in SG Command HQ, but in some outpost out in the
stars? JACK? Now this is just NUTS. This is his explanation?
He's pissed because the Pentagon wouldn't let him set up
a place for him to be bored out of his skull?
Pentagon pulled the plug. So you're acting out because you're
hurt, and you didn't get a command."
myself saying the words but I'm so not buying what I'm saying.
me a break, Daniel," he snaps at me. "Their denial of the
program was just another indication that they're not serious
about attaining our goals."
you think is obtaining new weapons and technology." Pardon
me for being dense, here, Jack. I'm just trying to understand.
angrier, colder, stranger. And it's scaring me. Way more
than hearing what he was saying yesterday. That was an act.
At least, I thought it was.
not in the briefing room now. Now, it's just the two of
us. There's nothing stopping him from being straight with
me. From telling me the way he really feels.
guess - he is.
no choice. I have to know how bad it is. How far it goes.
I have to understand what's really going on with him so I
our mission also about establishing and maintaining diplomatic
relations with other cultures?"
that was the MAIN point to what we were doing out there.
Making friends, securing allies, expanding our knowledge
of the universe, and joining the galactic community. That's
what it's all about, Jack, isn't it? At least, that's what
I thought it was all about. Thought you saw it the same
the point if we don't gain anything to help our other interests?"
interests, Jack? What other interests? What are you talking
there's a lot we can learn from people like the Tollan that
has nothing to do with technology and weapons."
start behaving like more reasonable beings, for starters.
that interests people like YOU, Daniel, not people like me."
He hurls the words at me as he jabs an angry finger in the
air. "I want to see TANGIBLE gains from our efforts, and
if people like the Tollan don't want to SHARE, we should
just - TAKE."
words hang in the air between us, like a noxious cloud polluting
the strained silence. I can't look at him for an instant
as the shock of what he has just said to me starts seeping
into my consciousness.
mean this. He - he can't. Not...Jack.
the words slowly, feel them being pulled out of me. I don't
want to say them but I have to. I say them so he'll have
a chance to deny them. He HAS to deny them. Tell me I've
misunderstood what I've just heard. Clarify the whole thing
sweet and nice isn't going to stop three or four Goa'uld
motherships if they decide to come back again. I'd rather
be a thief and alive than honest and dead. It's a cliché,
but there it is."
no regrets, no remorse. He snarls out the sentences with
a kind of ugly pride and defiance. Being sweet and nice -
ergo stupid and naïve - not to your liking, Jack? Like me,
you mean, Jack? Honest and dead? Me again? Thanks for
the vote of confidence, but I'll keep my principles and take
it is? Indeed.
really believe that, I guess...I guess I never really knew
you at all."
but I did. I do. I've heard what you just said and I still
on. You're a bright guy. You had to sense...SOME of this."
I never did. Not once. Not - not this. I trusted you, Jack,
believed in you. You've always been my hero. Would rather
have died than tell you, but maybe - maybe if I say something
now, maybe if I tell you, we can still….
say something, but I'm too - can't find the words... I can't...
is soft again, almost gentle as he holds the knife to my
no. I guess you couldn't relate to me any more than I could
feel the cold steel of his contempt pressing against my heart.
There's still time to save myself. Deflect the blow. Walk
away before I let him do me in.
be crazy, but even now, I still want to give him the chance
to stay his hand. He has to realize he can't do this to
me. To us.
friends. If I've ever been sure of anything in this life,
I'm sure of this. Whatever else he's ever been, Jack is
my friend. Stake my life on it. Have.
ah, this whole friendship thing we've been working on for
the last few years - "
even get a chance to finish the sentence.
not much of a foundation there, huh?"
he has the decency to look away as he drives the knife home.
to Part Two