Jmas Fan Fiction

Title: To Endure Burning
Date: May 18, 2002
Status: Complete
Author: Jmas
Category: angst, h/c
Rating: PG13
Email: jmasg1@bellsouth.net
Archive: Stargate Fan, Heliopolis, Belle, Place of Our Legacy, Comfort Zone, AlphaGate
Spoilers: The Light, most of the karmic madness that was season four
Summary: Three weeks can make or break a friendship…
Author's note: This story first appeared in volume 4 of the zine Gateways, love and hugs to Joyce for seeing me through it and so much more.
Disclaimer: The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa’uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.


To Endure Burning
“tag to The Light”
By
Jmas

~*~
What is to give light must endure burning...
-Victor Frank
~*~

Daniel’s head was bowed over the city in silent grief Jack could read even from the balcony doors, deep, profound, an encompassing and familiar pain Jack remembered all too well.

I tried…

It just goes away....

None of it means anything....

It just goes away...

We can’t get it back...

It just goes away...

You don’t even know what I’m talking about....

It just goes away...

....goes away...

Daniel looked over his shoulder, a single tear slipping down his cheek, draining the light from his eyes. Without a word the hands gripping the rail let go and Daniel fell away even as Jack flew forward, hands grasping at the air where his friend had just been.

Too late, too late.

Jack couldn’t look down, refused to see Daniel’s broken body lying on the pavement below. How could he not know Daniel was feeling this way? Why didn’t he put together the signs he should have recognized so easily?

Daniel was gone, slipped into the darkness of his own pain without so much as an acknowledgement of the friendship that had come to mean so much to Jack. Too many times when words could have been said, gestures given, support offered had gone by without notice, lost in the rush of the job, the missions, or the exhaustion of the day.

Daniel was gone.

And now it was too late....

>>>>*<<<<<

Jack woke in a cold sweat, thoughts still locked on the image of Daniel letting go of the railing, committing suicide right in front of him, while he stood and watched helplessly, unable to move fast enough.

God, it was too fucking close...

A vision from the past had been revisited, so similar to the whole nightmare surrounding Charlie’s death. The feelings, the smells, the sounds....

Shuddering against the coldness threatening to send him into dark places he had no wish to revisit, Jack looked over where Daniel now lay sleeping, still looking pale and drained by the light, the mysterious goa’uld force that had nearly killed him, and in an all too similar position as he had lain in the infirmary when the first seizure hit. Jack remembered hating all the tubes and wires snaking around the other man’s body leading to machines recording for posterity the gradual decline of his friend into death.
Shit, it did kill him. He was flat-lining before I carried him through the gate and he sure as hell wasn’t breathing when we got here.

Jack had to close his eyes against the sound-memory of that final steady beep which so incongruously indicated the utter lack of a pulse beat. The whoosh of the gate had overridden it, promising the hope Janet Fraiser could not.

The run through the gate had been a nightmare, or more like a continuation of the one that had begun on Daniel’s balcony and still wasn’t over.

“Damn it,” Jack whispered, letting his hand slip down to seek the pulse beat at Daniel’s throat. A strong and steady rhythm, slowed with sleep, but reassuringly there and constant, a reaffirmation of life returned once again against the odds. Jack remembered not feeling it before, remembered the chill of Daniel’s skin against his futilely seeking fingers, the long seconds of doubt and uncertainty about what to do.

Hell, he had been trained in emergency procedures and had used in them in the field countless times...

But not with Daniel.

It had been Daniel’s lifeless body under his hands, a concept so foreign as to be beyond comprehension. Daniel couldn’t die; he’d proved it over and over again. Jack’s mind had refused the possibility even as his hands presented him with proof. No pulse. No breathing. No life. Loran had gone for help Jack already knew in his gut wouldn’t be coming. He had finally snapped out of his own shock to get Daniel into position for CPR when he’d heard the small breaking sigh of breath resuming.

Then there had come another.

Then another.

Relief had washed over him as Daniel had roused slowly, looking up finally in pained confusion. They had simply looked at one another for long moments, Daniel clearly not understanding what happened but knowing where he was.

Jack had helped Daniel to stand, keeping his voice soft and gentle, somehow hoping to ease the transition back to life. He had hung on when the dizziness hit, then helped the younger man to sit on the Stargate dais steps with his head low to stave off the stated desire to pass out. Jack remembered the panicked laugh he’d given and the wave of fear he’d felt at the prospect. He had been viscerally certain Daniel needed to stay awake. Or maybe he had simply needed it to reassure himself Daniel was well and truly alive and on his way back, to be able to believe Daniel was no longer the same distraught, disconsolate person standing outside a balcony rail eight floors above the pavement.

Jack sighed and closed his eyes against the too-vivid scene, knowing it was going to be a very long time before it failed to cause his breath to catch when it sprang into his mind. The nightmare - both the waking and the sleeping variety - were still too fresh.

Janet had said the light enhanced and intensified feelings already present. Did that mean that somewhere under Daniel’s usual mask of emotional silence lay a darkness that might someday get the better of him and send him out to his balcony for a one-way trip down? What if next time – God forbid there would ever be a next time - no one came?

Daniel was murmuring in his sleep, shifting restlessly. The withdrawal seemed to be hitting him hardest, but then, of SG1, he’d been exposed the longest. Carter’s last check of vitals had indicated a low-grade fever, and Daniel had admitted earlier to a headache which meant it must be pretty bad; even Loren, who had lived here for years, was not showing such symptoms.

He looks like shit, actually. Maybe just a cold…hanging off a balcony first thing in the morning is bound to…

Suppressing a shudder as the images flashed in his mind again, Jack moved a quick hand to the younger man’s forehead to discover his fever had risen. Daniel shifted a little, turning toward the touch but didn’t wake.

“Crap. When are you going to catch a break here, Daniel?” Jack muttered.

So much had happened recently. Too many changes. The Harsesis had rocked Daniel’s world with his little ‘teaching dream,’ an experience Daniel had yet to discuss with anyone except to say it was a real eye-opener and he had a lot of thinking to do. Jack wondered if that ‘thinking’ had anything to do with the attempted suicide, the light’s effect somehow intensifying the ‘lesson.’

God knew, Daniel had reason enough to be depressed given the events of his life over the past four years - it had always amazed Jack his friend stayed so sane - but the distance that had risen up between them, a distance Jack had only recently realized was there, told its own story of how Daniel was coping. Jack had thought they had all gotten closer than that, had come to expect Daniel to turn to him or one of the others when things got too real, but a subtle and indefinable change had occurred somewhere around the time Jack had been isolated on Edora following so closely on the covert mission to capture the rogue SGC team and later the separation as Jack and the others had defeated the replicators while Daniel had been recuperating from his burst appendix had only served to increase the divide.

Early on in their acquaintance, there had been many long nights when Daniel was still finding his feet and staying in Jack’s spare bedroom while the United States Air Force had gone through its expectedly long and convoluted process of reviving the supposedly dead Doctor Daniel Jackson, PhD extraordinaire, and getting him placed on the payroll for a top secret project under its direction, Jack had come to realize Daniel was, and likely had always been, a loner. Before the first mission, Jack had studied Daniel’s file, but his own mindset at the time had been skewed. He had read it again one night while waiting for his unlikely houseguest to finish up some piece of work deemed vital by Hammond. The file had read like a piece of tragic fiction, orphaned too young, fostered out, boy genius heading into college at sixteen on nothing but his determination, scholarships and the strength of his own intelligence, an intelligence which had led him to theories outside the accepted norm, and a stubbornness that wouldn’t allow him to keep it hidden from his peers. Out of that information, Jack had gleaned a measure of understanding for his unorthodox teammate and friend, an insight into ways that often infuriated him early on because Daniel was so closed off to them in so many ways.

For himself, Jack had been gifted with a year to come to terms with his loss, his place in the world, and the act of a certain oddball archaeologist whose actions had given it to him. He’d never expected to see Daniel again but had spent a lot of time during the year Daniel was on Abydos - and they all had grown complacent about what lay beyond the Stargate - in making peace with Daniel’s sacrifice and his own state of mind during that mission. He liked to think he’d become a better man at the end of it all. Daniel had come to rely on that man, and Jack had found a distinct pleasure in the friendship they forged. Events had brought them even closer, testing and stretching the foundations laid on solid stone but never breaking them.

Somewhere along the road from losing the Harsesis child to finding him again, Daniel had relearned his old ways, once again throwing up the mental distance that might just as well have been as wide and deep as the Grand Canyon for all the connection Jack was able to establish. Then things had gotten busy - crazy really - and time just never seemed to be there to put the effort into fixing it.

Daniel moaned a little in his sleep, whispering words Jack could tell were not English but had no way of deciphering.

The provisions sent by Hammond were stacked neatly in the corridor so Jack ducked under the blanket Carter had hung there for privacy and headed straight for the medical supplies. Fraiser had okayed acetaminophen for the headaches of withdrawal, so Jack assumed it would be equally safe for fever reduction. If there was no improvement by morning then they could call Fraiser and see what else could be done.

This was the second night of their enforced stay and their fourth on the planet. From the very first night there had never been a question that Daniel would be billeted with Jack. Carter and Teal’c had set up two cots in this room, implying in the action their understanding of how very much needed mending between the two of them. Daniel had been too exhausted to even notice where Jack steered him to bed. The second night he had merely nodded, collapsing onto the bed without a word.

Daniel claimed not to remember the days between his return to Earth and slipping into unconsciousness on his way back to the mountain; Jack hoped not. Jack had barely hauled Daniel’s trembling body back across the railing when the first wave of pain had hit, physically drawing the younger man in on himself to huddle moaning and shuddering on the floor. Jack had gotten Daniel wrapped in a coat before the second attack, into the car before the third, but halfway up the mountain the fourth and last had struck Daniel with a force that had brought him upright in his seat, screaming in a way Jack hoped never to hear again. The screams had ended with a choked gasp, and Daniel had fallen limply over in his seat, head barely missing the dashboard. Jack remembered helplessly hanging onto Daniel, drawing the lax body down against his hip, hands reaching for a pulse even as his foot floored the gas pedal knowing Janet Fraiser was Daniel’s best chance for survival in any given situation.

Fraiser, however, had been less than hopeful, unsure why Daniel was slipping away from them. Jack had taken it upon himself to go back to the planet, sure any answers to be found would be on that planet and to follow-up on Teal’c’s certainty that someone else had been there. They had found Loren, the strangely shy boy who claimed no knowledge of the light or its effects on SG5 and Daniel, but before they had been able to question him, Hammond had called with the news that all of SG5 was dead - and Daniel was dying. It had been like a punch in the gut, a feeling all too similar to the one he had experienced on Daniel’s balcony - too near to the specter of death for his mind to accept in relation to Daniel.

Carter and Teal’c had gathered Fraiser’s samples as fast as humanly possible, but it hadn’t been nearly quick enough for Jack. It had seemed an eternity of waiting until he could return to Earth to know if his friend lived - or had died while they tested everything in the palace for possible contagions. He hadn’t been able to read Fraiser’s face as he descended the ramp, and only when he drew closer, seeing her gaze light on the sample cases he held, that he was sure there was still hope for Daniel, a hope he felt drain away with every increasingly slow beat of his friend’s heart.

Sitting in the infirmary, watching the monitors and wires tick off the erratic activity of Daniel’s eerily still form, Jack had felt the anger and helplessness build up within him. All the shared joys and pains, the lost opportunities, and the distance that might never have a chance to be bridged again had swirled through his mind with the force of a tidal wave, and he had lashed out, the light’s effects intensifying the emotions raging within but not causing them. Jack knew all too well he had slack off on his job as Daniel’s friend lately; he had let the distance happen. Seeing Daniel so far gone from them on that infirmary bed, knowing he might never have a chance to put things back again had hit Jack like the proverbial ton of bricks. Things had shifted out of focus in their friendship and Jack couldn’t even say he didn’t know.

Oh, no, I knew it. As far back as Euronda when Daniel flinched away when I yelled at him, I knew it. He hadn’t done that in a long time, knew me well enough not to be so sensitive to my words…pretty much had my number after a while. He’d come to know me and meet me head-on, and both of us were better people for it. But that... that was a shocker.

Jack had let the situation get the better of him, had said way too many hurtful things without even realizing his anger had nothing to do with Daniel, despite his words to the contrary after the confrontation in the Eurondan council chamber. He had apologized at the DHD, verbally for once, but the entire situation had started him thinking about too many times in recent months when there had been so many words left unsaid, or said that never should have been.

The need for the SGC to complete its core mission, the upper-level demand for technology that had grown increasingly difficult to meet, had overwhelmed Jack. Pressure had been coming down from the money people; pressure Jack now knew was part of the hidden agendas of the people behind Maybourne, Kinsey and Bauer. Once that faction had been exposed, at least privately, the pressure had eased. After Jack had secured the evidence that had brought Hammond back to the SGC and silenced the wolves, things had relaxed...but by then the damage had been done.

Refocusing on the present, Jack found the acetaminophen in the kit and headed back to Daniel. He hated to wake the younger man but knew they’d both rest easier if Daniel was not suffering. Stopping by the food supplies, Jack snagged a bottle of water before ducking back under the blanket to their room.

To find Daniel gone.

“Shit,” Jack cursed under his breath, eyes scanning the room to confirm Daniel was indeed missing.

Bathroom?

The mundane word barely applied to the gaudy and ornate facilities down near the great hall. The goa’uld evidently approached lavatory design much as they did everything else - big and loud. Approaching the golden door, Jack listened. Nothing. Knocking tentatively, he entered to find a big, empty room. No Daniel.

A clattering sound drew Jack back to the main entry, a cool breeze and the smell of salt told him someone had just entered the palace - or left it. Snagging a zat from their supplies, Jack moved cautiously toward the door, opening it to reveal - Daniel.

The moons were more than bright enough to show him the figure huddled on the place steps. Drawing closer, Jack could hear Daniel’s deep gulping breaths and see the glittering moisture in eyes bright with fever - and maybe something more.

“Daniel?”

A shaking hand raked hair back and supported Daniel’s head as he glanced up at Jack with a sigh. “Jack...”

Jack took the brief nod as an invitation, moving forward to sit close enough that he could feel the heat emanating off Daniel’s body in waves.

“Whatcha doin’ out here?” The question really wasn’t necessary, Jack could see Daniel’s wandering eyes looking out over the ocean, knew all too well the diversionary tactic for what it was. When Daniel wanted to hide things, he hid his eyes. From the deep breathing and shakes, Jack figured Daniel’s dreams had intensified while he’d been searching for the meds. “Nightmare?”

Daniel nodded shortly and laughed, an empty sound that caught on the wind and echoed against the facade of the building behind him. It sounded familiar to Jack, so much like the hollow aching tone which had accompanied Daniel’s words out on that balcony.

‘You don’t even know what I’m talking about...’

Jack slid closer to the shivering man, slipping an arm across the bowed shoulders, extending the invitation and waiting....

Jack felt the shoulders stiffen, edge away slightly, and slid his hand down to rest against Daniel’s neck. They used to be good at this; offering without words, opening to one another with a look or touch that spoke volumes because they came from such similar places as far as pain and loss were concerned.

‘Are we so damn far gone we can’t do it anymore?’

Daniel just sat there poised between flight, fight, and giving in; the internal struggle was plain to see as it played across his face in the moonlight. Daniel’s body tensed, gathered, stood and moved off across the beach before Jack could react.

“Damn it...”

By the time Jack caught up to him, Daniel was sloshing through the water at the shoreline, head down, so obviously gone within his own thoughts Jack knew he wasn’t seeing anything.

Grabbing Daniel’s arm, Jack pulled. “Daniel, stop...”

The arm jerked away as Daniel eyes flashed, index finger raised in warning. “Don’t, Jack. Not now...” The voice was tight, too controlled, then Daniel was off again.

“I’m getting too old for this,” Jack grumbled, thoughts scattering over Daniel’s words and actions, seeking sense out of the confusion. Daniel was angry. Daniel didn’t want to be touched. Daniel couldn’t or wouldn’t accept the comfort Jack offered.

What the hell was going on?

Jack stood still a moment, looking after Daniel’s retreating back, noting the defeated slump of the shoulders and the almost desperate rhythm of Daniel’s footsteps...and suddenly understood what Daniel’s nightmares must have been about.

“Aw, dammit, Daniel...” he muttered to himself as he broke into a jog, determined that this time Daniel wouldn’t face his demons alone. Not this time.

Jack came up alongside Daniel, matching the driving pace, searching the pale face beside him for some clue or opening to just get the other man to stop and listen. They were nearing the place where he and Carter had first felt the withdrawal hit that first day, and Jack was sure the effect of the light would soon make itself known if they didn’t head back.

“Daniel, wait..”

Daniel glanced over, his steps slowing.

“Just go, Jack...”

“Like hell I will, Daniel...” Jack couldn’t help flashing on Loran’s words about his parents heading off into the water, driven into the ocean - to death - by the absence of the light. The thought clenched in Jack’s gut and reflexively he reached out and grabbed Daniel’s arm.

With a sudden moan Daniel was on his knees in the water, palms pressing hard on his temples against the pain. Jack cursed again, hauling Daniel up the beach and onto the dry sand. Daniel didn’t even seem to notice, moaning harshly as one hand slid over his eyes.

“Daniel?” Jack pressed a hand to the back of Daniel’s neck, feeling the shuddering tightness of pain being repressed only by force of will. It seemed Daniel was doing a lot of that lately. Holding back, holding apart, holding in. It had become a pattern, a pattern that should never have been allowed to form and a pattern Jack intended to break.

They were a team…More, they were friends…and Jack would no sooner leave Daniel here in his physical pain than leave him to face the demons and ghosts that seemed more and more to lurk in Daniel’s life. Disregarding Daniel’s ‘don’t touch, I’m closed’ body language, Jack bent over the younger man and put both arms around him, drawing him close and bracing for a fight.

Expectedly Daniel stiffened, pain and shock warring with an expression of utter sadness. Jack just waited, looking down into the eyes searching his so warily...

C’mon, Daniel. We can do this...

Jack tried to let everything he was thinking and feeling show through his eyes. It wasn’t too late for them to fix this. It couldn’t be...

Slowly, agonizingly slowly, Daniel’s hands came to rest on Jack’s chest, clutching double handfuls of his shirt just before sinking against the older man with a choking sound. “It hurts, Jack...”

“I know...” With a wave of relief, Jack pulled Daniel closer, rocking the shuddering body in his arms.

On a level that didn’t need explaining Jack knew Daniel wasn’t just talking about the pain of withdrawal. The loss, the death, the changes, the distance...all of it rose in Daniel’s choked breath and bubbled out in great gasping sobs which shook both men.

And Jack held on. Rocking, soothing, aching along with Daniel, Jack held on.

‘We can fix this...’

Jack had offered those words on the balcony in confusion and the desperate need to help. Daniel had been right; Jack hadn’t known what Daniel was talking about. The Grand Canyon had worked in both directions; the division had come about through both their actions, and only the two of them - together - were going to be able to fix it. Tightening his hold on Daniel’s grief tensed body, Jack knew the bridge they had almost instinctively learned to rely on was being repaired - or maybe even rebuilt, stronger and more solidly affirmed - even now.

From Sha’re’s capture, to her death, to all the large and small hurts and losses of the past four years, Daniel had held strong. Kept it all inside, relaxing the stranglehold on his emotions only in moments of greatest vulnerability, moments Jack had taken time to encourage whenever possible.

Before.

Before Edora, before Euronda, before the replicators.

Just before.

While he hadn’t exactly failed as a friend, Jack knew it had been a very close thing...as close as the three steps across Daniel’s balcony, as close as a single word calling for help in a voice both plaintive and telling. Standing on the edge of eternity and six inches of ledge, Daniel had reached out...and Jack had listened.

Thank God...

The moon shifted several degrees before Daniel grew still and silent, but Jack was in no mood to rush his friend. They had time, all the time in the world. The future he’d glimpsed out on that balcony was not happening here. Not anymore. Never again. Jack would make sure of it.

Daniel sighed, weight slipping deeper into Jack’s embrace. “I’m sorry...”

No explanation needed. “Me, too...”

“I remember it, Jack. All of it...”

Crap. Guess I knew he had, just wish he didn’t have to.

Jack nodded his head against Daniel’s, not trusting his voice.

“Glad you came.”

“Me, too. Sorry it took so long...”

Daniel snuffled and nodded against Jack’s chest, understanding Jack wasn’t just talking about the balcony. The waves breaking against the shore seemed almost muted by the sound Jack was sure had to be audible, the sound of reconnection. Daniel was still shivering, clothes wet from his dip into the ocean, and Jack knew they should go back to the palace...but it was too soon. The connection was still fragile, and Jack was in no hurry to move and test its limits.

They could wait a while.

>>>>>*<<<<<<

They had stayed out on the beach until almost sunrise, talking softly of the trials of they had both faced, of the reality both had gone through alone on each side of their emotional divide. Then not talking at all, just sitting side by side, Jack’s arm draped around Daniel’s shoulder and supporting the younger man as he dozed off with a final whispered apology.

There weren’t many occasions like this, times when barriers broke down and they were able to communicate so clearly with a minimum of dialogue. Their friendship had been tested by the fire of complacency, forged and reforged to tempered solidity until they were more ready than they had been in many months to stand together against the trials that might come in the future. Hindsight being what it was, Jack was sure they might occasionally forget the lesson of the ‘light,’ but he swore to the descending moon and the stars slowly fading into the grey of dawn that he would do his best to remember.

SG1 was the flagship team of the SGC, and of the four of them Jack firmly believed Daniel was still the conscience, still the alternately reluctant and stubbornly tenacious guiding light that inspired, cajoled, or mulishly pushed them beyond the limits of the other teams to achieve what they did in the universe. Daniel was also the one among them who had been asked to pay some of the heftiest prices for the privilege of continuing to ‘make things happen’.

The bonds between the members of SG1, between Jack and Daniel, had been stretched over the previous months, but had not broken. Watching Daniel sleep, all dry now in clean Air Force-issue rough textured pajamas, on an Air Force-issue lumpy cot, huddled under Air Force-issue scratchy blankets, still looking as out of place among the military accoutrements as he had five years ago on the first mission, Jack smiled. Surface changes, some deeper adjustments in the way he carried himself and the way he coped, but Daniel remained essentially unchanged.

‘Except for the hair, can’t forget the hair...’

Still just far enough out of the mainstream to not completely belong among the military spit and polish, still so far beyond the speed of his archaeological peers as to have left them in the theoretical and literal ancient dust, still very much his own person – conviction and moral direction personified but tempered now by hard-won wisdom that told him all battles could not be won, still open-hearted and open-minded to a fault though wiser in regards to where he placed that trust.

He was Daniel.

Friend, philosopher, sometimes mentor, oftentimes pain in the ass...

For all the craziness of life under Cheyenne Mountain through the Stargate and to the worlds beyond, to the simple pain of existing and surviving the sometimes surreal experiences that visited their lives as a result, Jack knew he wouldn’t change anything. He was fairly sure Daniel wouldn’t either.

They played with fire every day of their lives. They did good work, work that could, occasionally with alarming regularity, come back to bite them on the ass. It was part of the game life had dealt them and they’d accepted when they’d signed up; a game measured in sweat, exhaustion, adrenaline, tears and even blood. Some hands got a little too real, cut a little too deep, but they always came through.

This time had cut the deepest way possible, but Jack couldn’t help but think it was going to turn out for the best in the end. As shocking as the balcony revelations had been, as frightening as it had been to come so close to blowing it, Daniel was back. Weary, that seemed never to change, but back and remembering he wasn’t alone anymore.

Jack looked over one last time at the tired face barely visible beneath the olive blankets.

Daniel wasn’t alone. Neither of them were, and that was the best thing to come out of this latest in a long line of bad hands. They had almost three weeks ahead of them in a palace by the beach. Three weeks to rest, recoup, maybe do a little fishing. There were worse places to get away from it all and Jack was determined Daniel was not going to spend every waking hour studying the interior of the palace. Once he had rested, Jack decided Daniel was his project for the duration.

Hey, every good friendship needs a little quality time...

Jack grinned and slipped back onto his own pillows.

“Wonder if I can talk Hammond into sending through a little of my fishing gear?” Jack mused.

“No.”

The muffled voice sounded tired but there was definitely a smile on the pale face that had shifted the blankets down to look over at Jack.

Grinning over at Daniel, Jack stretched. “C’mon, Daniel...”

“Even if you caught something, you couldn’t eat it, Jack.”

“It’s not the catching, Daniel, it’s the...”

“Act of fishing itself,” Daniel finished tolerantly. “I know.”

“Guess I must have mentioned that, huh?”

Daniel nodded, yawning broadly and rubbing at his eyes. “Um hm...”

“You okay?”

Jack watched Daniel consider the question carefully. “I think I will be. It’s hard to think about.”

There was no doubt what ‘it’ was. “For me too.” Jack admitted, forcibly forbidding his mind to go back there.

“I’m sorry, Jack...” Daniel whispered, looking up to meet Jack’s eyes.

Jack shook his head, “No, I’m sorry. Even with the light to blame, I should have seen what was happening.”

Daniel raised up a little on his pillows. “I let it happen, didn’t fight it....”

Within the security of their rediscovered connection, Jack was very much aware they weren’t talking about the suicide attempt anymore.

“It’s worth fighting for, Daniel.”

Bright blue eyes looked up quickly, turning brighter when they met Jack’s. Daniel nodded once, gaze never wavering, and promising in the gesture not to forget it again.

Jack’s mind turned back a few days to the balcony, to the words from the depths of Daniel’s darkness and couldn’t help but add, “It means everything. You know that, right?”

The memory replayed itself across Daniel’s face, fading it even paler than it had been. With a sigh, Daniel nodded. “Most days I do. Sometimes it just gets...lost.”

And that was easy enough to understand. A lot of things got lost in the darkness of life, Jack knew that better than most.

“Then we find it.” The words carried more than a simple admonishment and as Daniel sighed and closed his eyes to sleep, Jack felt the last remnants of his fear slip away.

The words of an old poem came to mind, something he’d seen once on a calendar Sara kept stuck on the refrigerator. Something about lighting candles. In a very real way, that’s what they did...SG1...lighting candles in the darkness of the galactic mess the goa’uld had created for centuries. Sometimes that light required some personal burning, but they were strong enough to endure it.

As long as they remembered to do it together.


~*~
fin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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