Jmas Fan Fiction

Poetry and Hums
By Jmas

Poetry and Hums aren't things which you get; they're things which get you.
And all you can do is to go where they can find you.
~Winnie-the-Pooh

 

“Why in hell did I ever come back?”

A stupid thing to say and one Daniel regretted as soon as the words slipped past his brain and out of his mouth. But it was true all the same.

Over the past six months since his return to Earth after a year of residence among the beings known as Ancients, Daniel had worked very hard to regain his identity, his memories, his life and his friends.

“Three out of four isn’t bad, I suppose…” he muttered, clamping down on the threatening bitterness as he jabbed the elevator button that would take him to the surface and out of the suddenly stifling confines of Cheyenne Mountain.

After his slip of the tongue while arguing with Jack over, of all things, the Kelownan delegation, he had to get out into the sunlight. Had to remind himself of at least one thing that was worth coming back for.

Daniel smiled a little thinking about how he seemed to crave the feeling of the sun on his face now. He always had, to some degree, been a child of the desert who’d never completely adapted to the changeable climate of the Northern Hemisphere even after a couple of decades. But now, now it was almost a hunger. He’d even bought a house, something he’d never wanted – before, and he’d based his decision largely on the size and privacy of the back yard.

He wondered what his team would think if they knew that the sheltered garden he was learning to tend so carefully contained a small grotto near the currently fish-less pond where he regularly lay nude in the sun. Would they be shocked at their mild-mannered geek? Would they laugh? Would they even care at all?

As the doors slid open to reveal the mountain top, Daniel flashed his ID badge to the two SFs on duty and walked quickly into the trees. He needed privacy and needed it fast.

As he walked, his mind replayed Jack’s words to him earlier in the day, as he and Teal’c had left Daniel essentially alone to arbitrate – read referee – the Kelownans/Langharans/whatever-the-hell-they-were-calling-themselves.

‘You’re on your own, Daniel.’

clipHe remembered thinking as he turned away from the closed elevator doors that being ‘on his own’ was nothing new to him. It was in fact part and parcel of his new life. The first glow of homecoming had faded fairly quickly and it was soon just like he’d never left. His team still ignored him for the most part, kept secrets from him. Oh, there were flashes now and again where he actually felt they were glad to have him back home, but those moments were few and far between flashes of other things. Secret smiles, lingering looks that bespoke things Daniel wasn’t allowed to know or share.

But he did know.

Jack’s behavior when the Prometheus was missing had been Daniel’s first clue something was going on with his friends that he was not intended to be aware of. It had been a true blast from the past as he’d glimpsed a hint of the bastard Jack he’d tried to talk sense to on Abydos so long ago. He’d walked away from that conversation in the elevator straight into a flood of memories of a room and a conversation he was never supposed to know about, but, inevitably, he had. It was the beginning of the end of his close friendship with Jack, who drew further and further away even as he got closer to Sam, but did nothing about either situation. How could he not remember?

Daniel knew that military regulations concerning unprofessional feelings, and while he didn’t agree with a lot of them, well most of them actually, that one he understood on a very personal and painful level.

Inappropriate feelings between Jack and Sam had eroded SG1 bit by bit. They had eventually divided into an unequal balance of three and one, those who knew and he who wasn’t supposed to. By the time Daniel had leapt into the middle of the Kelownan’s little science project, they’d been a team in name only for all intents and purposes. Was it any wonder, when the time came, that he had been able to convince himself he could do more elsewhere?

Finally stopping on the crest of the ridge at the very top of Cheyenne, Daniel threw out his hands in a gesture of bitter appeal.

“Why did I choose to come back, Oma? For this? Why?”

 

 

Jack watched from the shadows of the tree line a few hundred yards away from where Daniel stood; the picture of desperate entreaty. Jack couldn’t erase the memory of what Daniel had said to him, “Why in hell did I ever come back?”

Surely Daniel knew they wanted him, needed him. He had to know how incomplete the team, the command, and Jack had been in that year Daniel had been gone. But…

It was pretty clear Daniel felt like an outsider. Just like he had when….

Well, just ‘when’.

Jack had done a lot of thinking during the time Daniel had been gone. Thinking about why the two of them had seemed to be at odds so often near the end. About why their former closeness had eroded away until Daniel believed Jack didn’t trust him to the point where he could just walk away into the unknown with Oma without a backward glance.

No.

Shaking his head at his own unfairness, Jack knew he was far from blameless in any of it. He’d never once asked Daniel to stay. Never once told Daniel what their friendship had meant to him over the years. Never once thanked the man as he lay dying for the acts of bravery, courage, sacrifice and loyalty he’d shown over the years. Never once apologized for the fact that, more often than not, Jack had taken those things and so much more about Daniel for granted. He’d let that secret drive a wedge between them, the strength of which he was just beginning to understand.

Carter’s recent disappearances, both of them, Janet’s death and the events surrounding it, hell, even Carter’s – and Daniel’s – reaction to the rescue mission to South America, it all had started adding up for Jack over the past few months. As a result, he applied himself to making a concerted effort to dissuade Carter from acting out on her feelings the way she had been for far too long.

‘Took you long enough to catch the clue bus, O’Neill.’

No, he was hardly blameless in the mess his team had become; Jack knew it all too well. He had, after all, been the one lapping up the attention of his beautiful second in command; hell, he’d reveled in it like a cat with the whole damn dairy at his disposal. He recalled more than one inappropriate invitation, how he had let his mind wander and his mouth take over when it had no business being in charge. How his libido had overridden his brain, his sense, and his integrity on way too many occasions. He had been selfish, both of them had, and SG1 had suffered for their conceit in ways he was only now beginning to completely comprehend.

Jack had neglected his duty, had outright lied to Hammond, more than once, had made decisions based on emotional needs and not what was right in a situation since the day they had both promised to keep certain feelings in a certain room for the good of the team and the command.  Only one person was still alive who heard what was said there aside from Carter and him and, despite one worrying lapse into Cupid-ism, Teal’c had kept his own counsel about his feelings on the matter.

The fact was, while he was flattered as hell that a woman like Carter would even look twice at a comparatively dumb jock like him, he also knew they would drive each other up the proverbial, if not literal, wall within a week. Tops. In his heart he knew the simple truth was that he was safe for her and she was out of bounds for him. She looked like Sara, sure, but the iron core that had kept Sara with him, and him with Sara, right up until she watched him walk away to what they both understood was meant to be his final mission. Carter – well, Carter just wasn’t made of the same stuff. Brave and loyal to a fault, yes, but Jack didn’t think she would ever have it in her to stand up to him, or for him, where it really mattered the way Sara had, even the way Daniel did. The year Daniel had been gone proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt. The kicker for Jack was how obscenely relieved he had been when Carter met Pete and they seemed to hit it off so well.

The ultimate eye-opener was the mission where Janet had died. Dixon’s report laid it all out in painfully neat black and white. Dave was too good a man and too good a commander to fail to report Carter’s actions after Jack went down. She’d thrown protocol out the window, left her position without even trying to call for cover, passed three other guys – including Dixon, who automatically became ranking field officer when Jack was out of commission and therefore the man to ask before moving off the battle line – and didn’t cover him or even herself once she’d reached him. She just crouched over him for way too long while their line took more hits. While a Jaffa got through to Janet and Daniel’s position - and Janet had died. It was only because Jack had asked a commander to commander favor that Carter didn’t have a letter of reprimand or worse in her personnel jacket.  Jack had promised Dave that he’d take steps to make sure the situation would be rectified and he’d been keeping that promise for weeks.

The blow up with Daniel was entirely his fault, Jack knew that. What the hell was he thinking leaving Daniel alone to deal with those people? The same people who had virtually burned Daniel in effigy for their own stupidity and never once said they were sorry for the agonizing death he’d suffered as a result. And Jack expected Daniel to play diplomat in yet another of their selfish squabbles? Stupid, short-sighted, insensitive. Just plain dumb.

Well, no more.

One way or another, Jack was going to fix his broken team and do whatever it took to get SG1 back where it belonged. Together.

 

 

They barely cleared the event horizon when Sam asked, “Are you sure this is such a great idea, Colonel?”

Daniel tried to suppress a wince at the plaintiveness of Sam’s tone, then swallowed down hard on his reaction. He would not allow himself get caught in the rut of analyzing every word and deed between Sam and Jack. Sam’s commitment to Pete Shanahan notwithstanding, she and Jack were both adults and if the two of them wanted to play at being special friends or over aged star-crossed lovers, then it was none of his business. Not anymore.

If it came down to it, Daniel agreed with Sam. A week of team maneuvers on P4X768 sounded as much like the fifth level of hell to him now as it had when Jack had first suggested it. Days would be fine, they would be busy. But there would be too many nighttime hours of needing to get along, run the camp, prepare meals, sit around the fire pretending everything was normal. He just wasn’t sure he had in him to play the ‘I’m okay, you’re okay’ game for an entire week when they were clearly so far from okay it was almost pathetic.

“It’ll be fine…” Jack assured her, maybe all of them given the looks he was shooting them.

Barely restraining a snort of disbelief, Daniel moved off the gate platform toward the pre-selected campsite near the trees at the edge of the clearing. Teal’c was only a few steps ahead, but Daniel could see the glimpses the big man was casting over his shoulder at him and the other two behind them. It was hard to tell what Teal’c was thinking on a good day. But good days had been sadly lacking for a while now.

Secrets. Way too many secrets. They all knew too much of some things and not enough of others. Unfortunately, no one had bothered to pass out crib notes to keep them up to date on what they should or should not know, what they could or could not talk about. Was it any wonder they couldn’t really talk to each other anymore?

It was going to be a hell of a long week.

 

 

As team building experiences went, Jack was pretty sure this one ranked right up there with, oh, maybe the Alamo….

Carter seemed unable to get more than ten feet away from him for more than a minute no matter how many hints he dropped. Daniel, of all people, was barely communicating at all. Teal’c was more inscrutably silent than ever, not even lifting an eyebrow at his jokes all day. They were sinking fast and it hadn’t been twelve hours yet.

Camp had been established in short order, they always had been good at getting a camp together, but afterward Jack had been forced to delegate chores to keep them all busy instead of them working effortlessly together as they usually did, each one finding a place to fit into the process without needing to be told what that place was.

Daniel looked tired to Jack, and not just physically. Tired and so damn distracted Jack was sure that at any moment he would cut a finger off instead of the vegetables meant for dinner and wouldn’t even notice. Carter was supposed to be helping, but had, yet again, found an excuse to move closer to Jack, and away from Daniel. Her disregard for her team and his orders were bad enough, but her persistent attempts at buddy-buddy conversation were getting more than a little unnerving. Where had she gotten the idea he wanted to be her best friend and confidante?

‘From you, you dumbass…’ his conscience informed him, sounding ridiculously like his fifth grade math teacher. Without the bad language, of course. While Mrs. Merkle might have thought Jack a dumbass, she would never have let the words pass her lips outside of the Eighth Street bar where she was known to hang out for her a daily pint or two or three.

He knew that he had gone over the line where Carter was concerned. He had wanted to be friends with his team; they were some of his favorite people. But there was a line between he and Carter that didn’t exist for Daniel or Teal’c and Jack had made the grave mistake of forgetting, or moving, the line too often. He was her commanding officer in the eyes of the United States Air Force. Chain of command regulations demanded that they keep a professional distance and it was his duty to maintain that distance even if she couldn’t. He had failed in that duty as well.

He had no doubt Carter wondered why he kept interrupting her when she tried to get too personal. The answer was simple and even she had to know it on some level; once they spoke the words out loud, once the feelings thing was more than just an idea, Jack knew he would have to do something neither of them would be happy about. Transfer or reprimand. It was all fun and games until one of them broke a reg. Because he sure as hell was not about to quit the SGC for her, no more than she would for him As if by mutual agreement, they had been trying to have their cake and eat it at the same time. But Jack had never agreed to forget his team or his friends, and he had to stop it now before they were all destroyed in the process.

If it wasn’t already too late.

A hiss to the right drew Jack’s attention, and, sure enough, Daniel had just sliced the knife across his palm. Teal’c was there in moments, appearing out of the tent as if physically drawn to Daniel. Carter hadn’t even noticed, still prattling on about…whatever it was she was talking about.

Jack rose and went over to Daniel even as the younger man drew the bandanna off his head to wrap around the bleeding mess he had made of his hand and moved away from the table so as not to contaminate the food there. Teal’c announced that he would retrieve the medical kit with the gentle air of a priest granting a blessing, his eyes soft and sympathetic on Daniel’s bowed head as he walked away. Carter was still talking to herself as she worked, oblivious to the entire situation.

“Daniel?” Jack approached the man as he would a skittish dog, reaching out one hand slowly, encouraging Daniel to offer up his injury for inspection. It was impossible to miss Daniel’s quick glance toward Carter – in another day and time, she would have been the first in line to help – but he had no idea what Daniel was really thinking.

Oh, yeah, SG1 was in so much trouble.

 

 

The desert heat was like a woolen blanket, enveloping, smothering, rasping abrasively against his skin like a thousand needles pricking him at once. The flat sandy terrain twisted into a surreal parody by the endless waves of heat rising and blending into the cloudless sky.

He could barely feel his blistered feet as he trudged along, first one step and then another, over and over, no longer a conscious act. There was no memory of why he walked or where he was bound. There was only the heat, the nothingness and the walk.

He barely noted the sky changing in front of him. The way the brilliant blues and golds of melded desert and sky slowly darkened. How the horizon dimmed and focused into a pinpoint of darkness that was coming closer and closer until there as nothing but the darkness and he could no longer walk…

Couldn’t breathe.

Couldn’t scream.

“Daniel!”

Jack’s voice in the semi-darkness of the tent, comfortingly real. Jack’s hand on his shoulder, steady and solid.

“Jack?”

Groping blindly, Daniel’s fingers met the other man’s shoulder, grasping tightly onto firm muscle and cloth as he fought his way back to reality.

A dream. Just a dream. And yet….

“You okay?” Jack sounded concerned.

Daniel nodded, not really caring if it was seen or not. Only knowing he was unable to speak coherently just yet. His head knew what he had just experienced was only a bad dream, but some other, deeper, part of him was inexplicably on edge. It was almost like the memory of Bra’tac and Ry’ac in the slave camp he had worked so hard to remember, but different as well. This one was almost like a warning.

“Want to talk about it?”

Having only just gotten his breathing under control, Daniel nearly lost it again at the unexpected question…and the emotion he thought he could hear behind it in Jack’s voice. He wished he could see more than just a dark shape against fire lit tent canvas.

Realizing he still had a tight handful of Jack’s shirt, Daniel made an effort to relax and let go, patting lightly once in thanks for the unexpected support.

“Just a dream,” he whispered. “About the…desert.”

Daniel felt more than saw Jack’s nod. The hand on his shoulder mirrored his own pat of moments before, but lingered a moment longer.

“You know you can talk to me if you need to, right?”

There was such a tone of earnestness and need in Jack’s voice, Daniel couldn’t answer anything but yes. He couldn’t help thinking though, as Jack withdrew to lie back down on his cot, that while once Jack’s statement had been true, Daniel hadn’t been quite so sure since his return, well before then if he was being honest. Maybe Jack had changed, gotten over whatever it was that had kept them so separate all these months. But the fact was at this particular moment the last thing Daniel wanted was to revisit his dream. Maybe tomorrow. If Jack was still willing. Maybe.

 

 

It took all of Jack’s resolve not to say anything when Daniel, after tossing and turning another hour after waking from his nightmare, got up early to go relieve Carter on watch. Listening, Jack heard their brief exchange and the quick willingness with which Carter accepted Daniel’s offer. Where once she would have stayed to keep Daniel company, understanding that his offer reflected some deeper trouble that had him avoiding sleep, now she just left him alone in the night and retreated to her own tent.

This had to stop and it had to happen soon. Maybe he was just an emotional coward, but he realized now that he should never have allowed it to get this bad in the first place. SG1 was as far from a traditional team as any could be, but they had always worked, and worked well.

In the past, Jack had to admit he had been short-sighted and short tempered on more than one occasion with his scientific contingent, but he hoped he’d been fair about considering both Carter and Daniel’s viewpoints equally, recognizing their distinct contributions fairly, and provided guidance and support in a balanced way. He hoped, but he was far from sure.

Deciding he wasn’t going to get any more sleep, Jack flipped on the lantern resting on the trunk beside his cot. There was a file case under the cot containing copies of each of their personnel dossiers. While he had definitely been an active participant in their lives and careers for the past seven years, Jack was aware, much as it pained him to admit paperwork was good for anything, that sometimes the cold hard facts could provide a necessary perspective living in the moment couldn’t. Pulling the case out, he grabbed the first folder he came to – Teal’c’s – and the blank legal pad and pen he’d included so he could take notes. It was going to be a long night.

Four hours later, Jack closed the last file and placed it back in the case. In his other hand was the notepad, now nearly full of scrawled notations on each of his team members. The marathon paperwork session had indeed proven enlightening in more ways than the expected one. He needed to do a lot of thinking about what his studying had revealed, and even more about making it right.

Boy, had he screwed up. Again.

 

Nursing the dying warmth of his third cup of coffee in as many hours, Daniel nodded to acknowledge Jack’s exit from their tent. He had been aware that Jack was awake for some time, but a peek inside earlier had revealed Jack hard at work with some files so Daniel had refrained from interrupting; figuring it was probably some of the perpetually overdue reports Jack never seemed to have time to catch up on.

With a universal gesture that was also somehow quintessentially Jack, the older man made Daniel aware of his intent to visit the latrine facilities. Daniel smiled a little, hoping Jack didn’t drop his notepad in while he was taking care of his business. It was no secret how Jack regarded paperwork.

Knowing there was less than a cup of coffee left in the pot, Daniel got up and poured it into a mug for Jack, then prepped the pot to brew again. Morning wasn’t that far away and Jack had already been awake for some time without benefit of caffeine. Looked like neither of them was going to get any more sleep.

 

 

Thankfully, the dream had faded as Daniel had kept his watch, stargazing and thinking about… things. If nothing else, the relative peace of this training mission might just allow him to come to grips with some of the things that had been plaguing him lately. He’d spent the last hour chastising himself for letting the fact that his world had gone on without him in his absence get to him so badly. Another hour or three and maybe he could even reach a place where he could accept the fact with reasonable grace. Anything was possible.

Reaching for a piece of wood to add to the fire, Daniel winced at the stretching of the cut across his bandaged palm. He’d almost forgotten about the injury.

“You okay?”

Jack’s voice startled Daniel, so caught up in his thought he had not heard the other man returning.

Flexing his hand, Daniel nodded. “It’s fine.”

Jack took his seat and accepted the offered coffee with a grateful smile.

“Thanks. Remind me to check that in the morning. Don’t need to get an infection out here.”

They both smiled a little sadly, remembering Janet and the dire threats that would once have been included in that kind of admonition.

“Yeah…” Daniel whispered, forcibly blocking out the sights and sounds that still, inevitably followed on the heels of memories of Janet.

He could feel Jack’s gaze on him and looked up to find warmth and understanding there. And…regret?

“Daniel, I…I wish….”

With a nod, Daniel accepted what he believed Jack was trying to say. He wished Janet hadn’t died, wished he’d been able to stop the Jaffa from breaking through the lines, wished Daniel hadn’t been the one who…

Jack shook his head. “No, I mean…that too, but I wish I’d done a lot of things differently these past few months. Years, really.”

Daniel was perplexed. It almost sounded as if….

“What are you saying, Jack?”

Taking a deep swallow of his coffee, Jack took a deep breath. “I’m saying… What I’m trying to say is –“

“Colonel? Daniel?”

Both of them jumped at the sound of Sam’s voice, hands going toward their weapons as she pointed sheepishly toward the first glow of sunrise above the trees.

“I was just going to say ‘good morning’”

 

 

Dammit.

He had been so close to really reaching out to Daniel, and getting Daniel to reach back. Carter couldn’t have waited five lousy minutes to state the obvious?

Jack had seen the way Daniel had shut back down and withdrawn both emotionally and physically when they had been interrupted. When Carter had interrupted them. Not that he hadn’t already guessed, but at least now Jack knew for sure that Daniel was fully aware of the feelings thing. Probably had been well before he’d…left. There was no doubt he felt the effects of it, from both Jack and Carter.

His reading had put a lot of things into perspective, and revealed even more home truths than he initially suspected.  He had really dropped the ball where Daniel was concerned, they all had. And Jack swore he was going to do his damnedest to see that neglect was corrected.

Starting with Carter.

 

 

The pseudo bad guys for the day’s exercise, Daniel and Teal’c, were hidden beyond the ridge where Jack and Carter paused before launching their surprise attack. Intars set to low stun had taken the place of their usual arsenal, but none of them particularly wanted to get hit. Even a low stun hurt.

After breakfast, Jack had taken it upon himself to change Daniel’s bandage before heading out, figuring the other man might not welcome Carter’s attention so soon after their talk had been short-circuited. Considering how closed off Daniel had become when he announced team deployment for the day, Jack knew he had been correct. What Daniel was unaware of was that, for the first time in too long, there was a method to Jack’s madness that would benefit SG1. He hoped.

Carter had clearly been pleased and was still showing signs of cat and canary syndrome, but Jack knew that would soon change. Part of him regretted the necessity; the rest of him knew there was no other way to save his team. It was way past time for him to draw some unmistakable lines in the sand. He had to get his team back and if it took a little tough love to do it, so be it.

Signaling for Carter to flank the right of the hillside, Jack whistled beneath his breath knowing Teal’c would hear and understand.

Ready or not, it was show time.

 

 

Teal’c was acting… weird.

After catching the big man’s pained glance in his direction for what seemed like the tenth time, Daniel just came out and asked, “What?”

Teal’c just shook his head, and lied. “I am merely concerned for your state of readiness, Daniel Jackson.”

Years of searching for nuances in Teal’c’s formerly inscrutable face told Daniel he was being deceived. The tretonin Teal’c now relied on as a replacement for the symbiote that had once served as his immune system had done more than just free Teal’c from goa’uld dependence; it had added layers to the man’s personality, made him freer to express himself. But this was the first time Daniel could recall being directly and obviously lied to by his friend.

Something was up.

Before he could pursue that train of thought, a snapping in the trees redirected Daniel’s attention and he raised his weapon in readiness. Unless he missed his guess, Jack’s mock attack was about to commence.

With a glance toward his partner in temporary crime, Daniel took cover in his pre-selected position, behind a rock below and to the left of Teal’c. A brief glint of sun off a bit of blond hair peeking from beneath her cap helped Daniel locate Sam and he signaled Teal’c toward her position. The other man nodded approvingly and motioned to their right where Daniel could hear nothing, but eventually saw a branch dancing unnaturally in the non-existent breeze. Jack.

Teal’c raised three fingers, indicating they should both fire on his count. Daniel nodded and targeted Sam since she was closer to him. When Teal’c’s last finger disappeared, Daniel fired, and saw Sam rise out of cover, enveloped in the energy signature of the intar’s beam. At the same moment, Teal’c fired. Only his weapon rang out with the unmistakable retort of a percussion weapon firing a bullet. Teal’c’s gun was real, and Teal’c never missed.

For a long moment, Daniel could see nothing in the bushes where Jack had been, but then a rustling sound reached his hearing and Jack’s limp form rolled down into the clearing. Daniel started to move out of his position to go to Jack, but a hand on his arm held him still.

“Wait.”

Wait?

Sam’s voice rang out then, “Sir!” and Daniel saw her drop her weapon before taking off at a run across the open field to where Jack lay, skidding to a halt on her knees, just staring down at him.

The moment seemed to last inordinately long and Daniel was just opening his mouth to argue with Teal’c, demand that he let go, when Jack suddenly sat up, clearly unhurt, and waved them over.

“What the…?”

Teal’c grimaced in apology and removed his hand from Daniel’s arm. Together they got up and walked toward Jack and Sam.

By the time they reached them, Jack was on his feet, staring down at Sam with a look of intense disapproval and resolve on his face.

“Jack?”

The other man just shook his head, cutting off discussion. “We’ll talk back at camp. Carter? Your weapon.”

Shakily, Sam got on her feet and started walking to where she’d tossed down her gun without so much as a glance at any of them. Daniel just waited as Teal’c came up beside Jack.

“Got a little close there, big guy.”

Teal’c managed to look supremely inscrutable as he answered with a simple “Indeed.”

He had no way to be sure, but Daniel had a feeling neither man was referring to Teal’c’s aim.

What the hell was going on?

 

 

Jack could see Carter connecting the dots in her head as she walked ahead of them. He was hoping she would end up with a complete picture before they got to camp or he would be forced to lay some pretty ugly cards on the table.

They were both adults, more they were both oathbound members of the United States Air Force. They had both crossed the line in different ways, but Jack had to make her see how badly they needed to make the decision to uncross them and put the team first once again.

Twice Carter had let her emotions override protocol in nearly the same way. If anything, today’s little episode had been worse for reasons too numerous to count. This could not happen again. Ever.

When they reached camp, Jack asked Daniel and Teal’c to take care of dinner and motioned for Carter to follow him out of earshot, while staying close enough that the others could see them talking. Jack felt it was important for the rest of his team to see him dealing with the situation even if they didn’t exactly have front row seats.

Carter understood enough of the situation to bring herself to painful-looking attention before him. Taking her lead, he drew himself up before her in his best no nonsense ‘Colonel’ stance.

“Report, Major.”

Jack was strangely pleased to find she had the moxie to look him in the eye. “I reacted badly. Sir.”

“Elaborate.”

Carter looked down at her feet for a long moment, then back up at him. “I saw you go down, almost like on 666 and…”

“And what, Major?”

“I reacted emotionally. Again. Sir.”

That was what Jack needed her to understand. Now he needed her to see something else. “What should you have done?”

“Assessed the situation, been sure of whether it was Teal’c or Daniel firing or not. None of us were supposed to have real weapons. I knew that.”

Jack gave her a curt nod. “That’s right. It could have been an unknown out there, and you left yourself and your other team members unsupported. What about 666? What should you have done there?”

Swallowing hard, Carter blinked and drew herself even further upright. “I should have held position and assessed the situation, weighed the Jaffa offensive against the risk of getting you under cover. I should have asked Colonel Dixon’s permission and requested covering fire. Or….”

“Or left it to someone closer to me?” Jack prodded, not unkindly.

“Yes, sir.”

“So what have we learned today, Major Carter?”

“Permission to speak freely, sir?”

Not sure if he was prepared to hear what Carter had to say, Jack took a deep breath and nodded his permission anyway.

“I learned, sir, that I’ve been letting my emotions determine my actions too often, and I really don’t like it. I learned that I haven’t quite gotten the handle on things the way I thought I had. I learned that I’m perfectly capable of letting SG1 down and I don’t like learning any of it. Sir.”

Sighing, Jack nodded again and relaxed a little. “So what corrective measures do you think should be taken to ensure nothing like this happens again?”

“Getting my head out of my ass would probably be a good start, sir.”

‘That makes two of us, Major,’ Jack thought to himself. ‘That makes two of us.’ But what he said was, “So we’re agreed that SG1 remains our top priority?” It was as close as he could come to spelling out to his second that any fantasy of a future relationship between them had to end, right here and right now, or Jack would have no choice but to take action to get one or both of them removed from the team. He had no doubt they were both dedicated to SG1 and the SGC, but Jack had to know without question that it would not affect her duty again. God knew they were both old enough to either control their emotions or admit defeat. Playtime was over, should never have existed, and there could be no more skirting of the rules to keep up the façade that there could ever be a ‘them’.

By rights, Jack knew, he should submit himself to Hammond for disciplinary action. He had lied to Hammond at least once when asked about his feelings concerning his second in command. He had permitted his team get to the point of fracture.

When it came down to it, Carter was lying to Pete Shanahan if she was still entertaining the dream of a relationship with him while pursuing an actual, healthy, physically romantic relationship with Shanahan. And if there was one thing Jack had never considered Carter, it was a liar.

“We’re agreed, sir,” she said with a deep sigh. “Permission to take a walk?”

Jack inclined his head and Carter moved off to stow her gear before heading into the trees. He was more hopeful now than he had been an hour ago while lying on the ground faking injury to test his second. Unless he missed his guess, based on seven years of close observation, that was one problem down on his list which left one more, immediate, one to go.

Daniel.

 

 

Daniel was more than confused.

First there had been the added scenario in their morning exercise that no one had seen fit to inform him about, and now Jack was being all big, bad Colonel with Sam in a way Daniel hadn’t seen since their earliest days as a team.

He knew Sam had overreacted during the exercise and it had surprised him more than he wanted to analyze, but what really shocked him was that not only had Jack instigated the scenario, but he had also done something about it.

Very strange.

Taking the pot of chili off the heat, Daniel set it on the table then went to retrieve the dishes they would need to eat. Teal’c had already sliced some cheese, and was now putting out corn chips for Jack and crackers for the rest of them. He had to smile at the way they knew each other so well.

“Something funny?”

Somehow Jack had once again gotten close without Daniel being aware.

Shrugging, Daniel said, “Just thinking about us. How we were…are….”

Jack sat down on his campstool, hesitating only a moment at Daniel’s unintentional use of the word ‘were’. “And how is that?”

Daniel shook his head, moving to his own seat opposite Jack. “I mean… how many people, not related to you, know how you like your chili?”

To Daniel’s surprise, the other man nodded in understanding. “Or how you like your first cup of coffee in the morning.”

“Or how Teal’c peels an orange.”

“Now that’s just strange,” Jack offered, deadpan.

Daniel laughed softly. “It’s almost like being married,” he said, remembering more than just his own brief marriage.

“Almost,” Jack agreed, looking directly at Daniel now and growing serious. “But not quite. In a lot of ways a team is closer. In other ways, they never will be.”

Daniel caught Jack’s glance off into the trees where Sam had gone. What was Jack trying to tell him without actually ‘telling’ him? That he and Sam ‘never would be’? And what exactly had brought about this sudden shift in circumstances?

“I, uh, guess that’s a good thing, right?” Daniel asked, not really knowing what he was referring to either.

Jack shrugged, scooping up a big dollop of chili on a chip. “Probably. I mean, who could I ever find who can make chili as good as yours?”

Unsure if he really saw Jack wink, Daniel nonetheless felt a loosening in his soul and spirit that had him grinning like an idiot as Teal’c joined them. It was almost… normal. Something he had missed for quite some time.

It was good.

 

 

‘Making a list, checking it twice…’  Jack hummed to himself as he looked over his notes and jotted down additional comments in the margins. Having opted for first watch in order to review the day’s events and his work from the night before, Jack was feeling rather pleased with himself.

Carter had finally shown up for dinner, quiet but back with them. It seemed to Jack as if her thinking had gone well and he had almost cheered when she excused herself after helping with the dishes so she could write a letter to Pete.

Teal’c and Daniel lingered a while after dark and the three of them had chatted about Daniel’s continuing renovations to his house, Cassie’s senior play, Jack’s termite problem with his back deck and other things that were both of no real consequence, but at the same time were somehow precious and new because it had been so long since they had just talked. Teal’c reminded Daniel that his bandages needed changing and they had all agreed the cut was healing well enough not to need more than a light strip of gauze to keep it clean.

 Daniel had bid them goodnight afterward with a hesitant air. Jack understood the reluctance; it would take time before Daniel regained his faith in the simple expectancy that the team would remain the same from one day to the next. The sad fact was, it had taken years to deconstruct the easy camaraderie of the team and it was going to take more than one night to repair it. But Jack was more hopeful now than he had been in a long, long time.

Teal’c had stuck around a little longer, expressing approval of the day’s work in his own inscrutable way. Jack knew that Teal’c valued SG1 as much as he did and would do anything to protect it and all its members. While the big man had been aware of the situation between Jack and Carter longer than just about anyone, Teal’c was also as aware of the ill effects it had manifested among the team members as he was. While Jack was fairly sure Teal’c would have supported whatever decision he made, he got the distinct impression Teal’c was glad Jack had decided to fish or cut bait at long last.

With a sigh, Jack looked at the last page of his work. A rough outline of a proposal he intended to give Hammond as soon as possible. Daniel had been wrongly overlooked throughout his seven-plus years of service to the SGC and Jack intended to set that situation right as well. The archaeologist/linguist/ambassador extraordinaire had decoded the mystery of the stargate, found the key to other worlds, had died for the cause of the SGC and humanity throughout the universe way more times than Jack cared to tally, and had lost his wife and family after sacrificing his own needs repeatedly.

clipJack remembered seeing Carter’s interview with Bregman. She said Jack had given up more than anyone for the Stargate program, but she was wrong and Jack had told the man to remove it from the final version. It wasn’t just that Carter came off like a gushing school girl with s severe case of hero worship, but Jack knew it wasn’t true. People like Janet Fraiser, like Rothman, like Eliot, like … Daniel, had given up more, much more.  Sure, Jack had died a few times himself, but, hell, Daniel had stepped between Jack and a weapon within days of their first, less than genial meeting. A defining act in both their lives which had jarred Jack out of his self-enclosed world of grief and suicide to the point where he was willing and able to embrace life again.

They said heroes were born not made, and Jack knew from experience that both were true. Heroes came in all shapes and sizes and all the training in the world would never make a hero of a man who couldn’t feel beyond his own skin. Training mattered little when it came down to a choice between saving your own life and helping others. It was the heart and the soul that mattered the most and every ally the Tau’ri had recognized the promise of humanity in the person of Daniel Jackson.

Just like Jack had fond hope in him back in Ba’al’s prison. A hope born of the certain knowledge that Daniel would never abandon him. And he never had. Some note comparison with Teal’c after the last Abydos mission convinced him that the glowy Daniel he had been so angry with in that cell, had orchestrated the events leading to his rescue. Jack had never been a big believer in coincidence and, though Daniel had slyly denied it, Jack knew he owed Daniel his life, his sanity, his soul, and his freedom several times over. It was way past time he was given a proper thank you.

“Jack!”

 

 

Daniel shot up in his bunk, trying to breathe through the nightmare images still playing in his head. He knew now that what he’d been seeing wasn’t just generic 

“Daniel?”

Somehow Jack was beside him and the tent was now lit. The other man was rubbing Daniel’s shoulder with one hand and trying to make Daniel turn his face to make eye contact.

“Look at me, Daniel! It’s okay, you hear me? Just a dream…”

All Daniel could do was shake his head as he bit down hard on the panic threatening to overwhelm him. Not a dream…God, if only it was….

A bottle of water appeared in his hand and Daniel took a long drink before pouring some out into his palm to douse his face, hoping against hope to shock himself into wakefulness where the images still burned into his soul. Swinging his feet off the bunk he realized Sam and Teal’c were there too.

“Daniel?” It was Sam’s voice, soft and hesitantly concerned.

“Gimme a minute,” he gasped out. “Just gimme a minute…”

“This is no ordinary dream, Daniel Jackson.” Trust Teal’c to understand. Of course, Teal’c had seen Daniel this way before.

Shaking his head, Daniel stood, accepting Jack’s steadying hand with a grateful nod.

“I need some air… “ he muttered and led the way outside. What he really wanted to do was run and keep on running until the stuff of his dream dissipated into the night like all dreams were supposed to do. But he knew running wouldn’t help, wouldn’t make the reality go away.

Daniel let Jack lead him to a chair near the fire while Sam poured him a cup of coffee and added a shot of something out of a decidedly non-regulation flask. As his team, his friends, gathered around, waiting with such concern on their faces, Daniel searched for a way to tell them what he knew they needed to know. What they had to know while there was still time.

“Anubis…” he began in a whisper.

“You were dreaming about him?” Sam asked.

“Abydos,” Daniel confirmed. “More specifically, my last visit to Anubis’ ship before he…”

Before Abydos blew all to hell and Daniel was ripped away from stopping him by Oma Desala.

“I, um, I remember.”

“What?” Jack asked gently.

“Everything. Coming to you in the elevator, finding the tablet, thinking I could really defeat Anubis, Oma pulling me out before I could even try…”

“So that’s what happened?” Jack wasn’t really asking. “I figured that must’ve been it. I knew you’d have done anything to save Abydos and if you didn’t.. it was because you couldn’t.”

Daniel felt the sudden sting of tears in his eyes at Jack’s simple faith in him, faith he’d thought was gone forever.

“Yeah, it seemed I crossed too many lines and killing Anubis would have brought the Others down on Oma’s plans. So she ran around ascending the Abydonians and found time in her busy schedule to grab me along the way.”

“Bet she was pissed,” Jack quipped.

Daniel nodded sheepishly. “Pissed isn’t the half of it. But not as pissed as I was. I didn’t just choose to come back… I demanded it.”

 

 

Jack grinned. He’d been on the receiving end of a pissed off Daniel enough times to understand the probable facts behind Daniel’s massive understatement. Jack almost felt sorry for Oma. Almost.

Daniel was talking again. “Too many times of ‘No Daniel, you can’t help those people’, ‘No, Daniel, we mustn’t interfere’, ‘No, Daniel, you can’t comfort your friends’, ‘No, Daniel, we can’t even whisper a word of what we know to those who can help. What if the Others find out?’” Daniel almost growled in disgust.

“So that’s what your dream was about?” Carter asked gently.

Shaking his head, Daniel paused to take a long drink from his mug before continuing. “No. The dream just unlocked that memory, along with… Let me start at the beginning. I challenged Anubis on his ship. I was ready to do anything to save Abydos at that point. I remember Anubis was egging me on, trying to get me to ‘cross that line’” Daniel smiled at Jack, telling him he remembered that conversation too. “ Anubis said he knew me, knew who I was, but that I didn’t know who he was. I guess my subconscious has been putting all these clues together and the dream was just my head’s way of working it out.”

Jack sat up straight. “You know who Anubis is?”

With a visible shudder, Daniel nodded. “I know. And that isn’t all. I know he has a personal grudge against us. All four of us. He’s been working for over a year to undermine SG1.”

“What? How? Who?”

Daniel shook his head. The ‘what’ and ‘how’ are long stories. The who is… Apophis.”

“What?” Jack knew they were all staring at Daniel with identical, open-mouthed disbelief but… “Apophis?”

Nodding, Daniel took another long swallow of his doctored coffee. “When Apophis took over Sokar’s domain, he found out Sokar was obsessed with the Ancients. Technology, writing, ascension. Everything he needed to know was there and he studied it. When his ship was going down over Delmak, he had no other choice to try… or die.”

“But he didn’t quite make it?” Carter asked quietly, for once not questioning Daniel’s story.

And it made a strange kind of sense to Jack. Apophis was one goa’uld who never seemed to want to stay dead. Jack could see the pompous snake doing anything possible to stop it from happening again.

“No. The Others tried to reverse his ascension, but no goa’uld had ever ascended before so they didn’t take the influence of the snake into account. Apophis used his host; it was the host who released his burdens and earned ascension. That’s why Apophis couldn’t be made human again, the host truly had ascended, so…”

“No body to go back to?” Jack guessed.

“Right. It seems Anubis really is a bag of gas just like you thought, Jack.”

They all smiled at the small joke, but Jack knew they were all keenly aware that this was no laughing matter. Apophis hated SG1 with a vengeance. Apophis with ascended knowledge and technology was a threat on a level Jack could barely imagine.

“So now we know who. It bites, but we know. How has he been undermining SG1?” Jack saw Daniel’s head duck, a sure sign he was about to say something he knew they wouldn’t like. “Daniel?”

Looking up to meet Jack’s gaze, Daniel sighed deeply. “You, Jack. And Sam.”

On to part 2

 


 

 

 

 

 

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