Netu's Memories by Debi C
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Category: Jack/Daniel
Genres: Angst, Drama, Hurt/Comfort, Missing Scene/Episode-Related, Pre-Slash, Romance
Rated: Pre-Teen
Warnings: None
Series: None
Summary: PRE SLASH Episode tag for Jolinar's Memories and The Devil You Know.

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Jack was on his way home. It had been a long exhausting debriefing followed by an argument with his favorite doctor. General Hammond had wanted to be sure that there had been no security breach when they had been tortured by Apophis on Netu. Jacob hadn't been able to give him much insight since he'd been unconscious most of the time in their cozy little corner cell in hell.

He, however, remembered a lot. He remembered Carter's face when they brought her back. He remembered Martouf's worry about her. And he remembered his own concern. Then they had taken Daniel. God knew that the younger man carried around enough bad shit in his head to topple a proverbial elephant. And Apophis was probably the man topping the list of his ''most hated and wanted to see him roasted in his own juices'' people. Daniel was a man of peace and wisdom 99.9 percent of the time, but even he had limits . . . and those limits were broached by the Goa'uld that had taken his Sha'uri away from him.

It had been bad enough for him to see Charlie's image and have him say that it had been Jack's fault that his son had shot himself. Jack couldn't even conceive what Apophis had done to his friend. It had to have been about Sha'uri . . . or maybe even Ammunet. Had his friend been shown a vision of his beautiful dead wife in the arms of Apophis? Or maybe he'd been forced to relive witnessing her death at the hands of Teal'c. Either or, it would have been bad, very bad.

But Daniel had not only withstood the torture, he'd managed to palm the communications device so they could make contact with Teal'c. He knew now that Carter had jerry-rigged a steam vent to blow the door and that Daniel had carried him to the ring device where Teal''c was able to intercept their being beamed about Sokar's ship. His team had done well, working together like a well-oiled machine. They had also managed to pull his sorry ass out of the fire one more time not to mention the two Tok'ra operatives, Jacob and Martouf. Hell, they should have just left Marty behind in Tok'raland and gone in after Jacob themselves. Then they wouldn't have had to put up with Aldwin's sorry 'always say die' performance. Thank God for the T-man and his warrior stubbornness!

After putting his office to rights and changing into his civilian clothes, Jack started heading up top and out of the mountain for a long weekend. It had taken some fancy talking to get Janet to release him on his own recognizance with the staff weapon wound in his leg, but he'd managed to convince her that all he was going to do was eat, sleep, watch some TV, and then eat and sleep some more. She finally had let him off the hook with a stern warning and a bag of pain pills.

As he limped down the hallway to the elevator, he saw the two Carters standing together. His Captain was smiling and flushed with pleasure to be actually talking with her dad again. They had been lucky to get Jake back in one piece all right. He knew that they were going spend some time together for a few days. It would be good for both of them. He hoped Selmac, Jake's snake, didn't interfere with their reunion.

Then his thoughts went to Daniel. The younger man hadn't said anything about his plans for the weekend and Jack figured that he'd go by and check on his best friend. When he entered the elevator, Jack hit the button for level 18 and Daniel's office.

Sure enough, when he'd hobbled up to the door the light in the library office was still shining out from under the closed door. Jack tapped his shave and a haircut tattoo on the grey steel door and pushed it open without waiting for an invitation.

"Hey, Daniel, whatcha doing?" He started as he entered the room, then he paused in his greeting. Daniel was sitting at his work table, leaning heavily on his left hand while supporting a pencil with his right hand. His glasses were askew on his face and his eyes were closed. It looked like he'd started to do some work and his exhaustion had not only caught up with him but had put him down for the count.

Jack entered and gently laid his hand on the slumped shoulder. "Daniel," he said softly in what he hoped was a non threatening voice. "Daniel? Wake up, buddy."

The bleary blue eyes blinked and looked up at him in confusion. "Wha . . . what's going on?" The pencil dropped to the floor and Daniel pulled himself up on his elbows.

"Easy there, buddy. Nothing is going on," Jack replied soothingly. "Nothing except you sleeping on your desk instead of heading home like a good archaeologist should."

"Hum, what? Oh, yeah." The younger man rubbed his eyes and peered through smudged glasses. "I was just going to finish this translation for SG 8. They've got . . . "

"They've got until next week until 'their' social scientist needs to figure out what that says." Jack shook his head at his friend's obvious exhaustion. "C'mon. Let's go and take a break for the weekend."

"But, but, Jack . . . "

"No. No but, but Jacks allowed." O'Neill smiled fondly down at Daniel. "Look, I need a hand at home anyway. Doc said if I was on my leg too much it would get all swollen and sore. I need someone to stay with me." He smiled sweetly at his still out-of-it companion. "Carter's spending time with Jacob and Teal'c is kelnoreeming his little heart out. That leaves you."

"But . . . "

"Uh uh uh . . . come on . . . give in to the logic of it."

Daniel sighed and pushed his glasses back up to their proper position. "Uhm, okay. I guess."

Jack picked up the receiver on the office phone. "Look, I'm gonna call and order some take out. What do you want?"

"Uhm, I think I want you to leave me alone."

"Not gonna happen. You want Moo Gu Gai Pan?"

Daniel looked at him as if he expected Jack to disappear in a puff of smoke. "Huh?"

"Okay, Lemon Chicken it is." He grabbed his friend's elbow. "Come on, you can ride with me."



Jack had just finished cleaning up the kitchen table where he and Daniel had eaten their dinner. The other man was sitting on the couch flipping through the television's channels. He'd protested Jack doing the cleaning up, him being injured and all, but the older man had promised to just be a minute, then he would come and relax as well.

He wasn't sure what he wanted Daniel to do. Well, he knew that he wanted them to talk, but should he ask? Or should he just sit and wait patiently for the other to offer what had happened to him in Netu's Office of Hell. Was he tortured with the memories of his lost love, or was he drugged? Did Apophis even recognize Daniel as the man who had been married to his queen's host? Did he even care? In the end Jack came in, limping heavily, bearing two beers and sat down next to his friend on the couch. Daniel fussed at him for overdoing it and then they settled down to watch some television.

Finally, after a long pregnant silence, Daniel glanced over at him. "Okay, what do you want to talk about?"

Pleased that at least it was now out in the open, Jack put his almost empty bottle down on the coffee table. "Well, I'm concerned for you but I'm not sure how to start."

"Start what?" the younger man replied. "Janet cleared me. I'm fine, other than some bruising and dehydration." He looked pointedly at Jack's leg where it was propped up on the ottoman. "You're the one who was hurt."

"I mean I'm concerned about your interrogation by Apophis."

"Oh, that." Daniel put his bottle down. It was still almost full. "It wasn't too bad actually." He looked up at Jack.

"What did he say?"

"What could he say?" The younger man shrugged. "He wanted to know where Sha'uri's baby was."

This puzzled Jack. "Really?" They sat there a moment. "So he didn't show you Sha'uri?"

"No."

"He just asked about the boy?"

"Yes, wanted to know where he'd been hidden . . . like I would tell him anything."

"So, you didn't," Jack said with satisfaction.

"No. No, I didn't." Daniel looked at him grimly. "He wants the boy as his new host. I wouldn't give him the satisfaction."

"Good."

"Why do you ask?"

Jack only shrugged. "I was worried that he'd hold her out to you as bait."

Daniel looked at him in confusion. "Hold her . . . you mean show me a vision of Sha'uri?"

"Yeah, he . . . he showed me Charlie, so I thought he'd try to get to you that way."

Daniel looked at him, no emotion showing on his face. "No, he didn't show me Sha'uri."

"So, who was it?" Jack knew he was pushing but he felt his friend needed to talk.

"Who was what?"

"Who did Apophis make you see?"

"Oh, that."

"Daniel?"

"Jack."

"Daniel."

Daniel smiled slightly. "No, it was you, Jack."

"Who was Jack?"

"That was who Apophis made me see. It was you."

"Me?" He was surprised. "You saw me?"

"Yes, he tried to represent himself as you. You, or rather he, asked me where the boy was."

"You didn't . . . of course you didn't." He nodded at his friend. Daniel had seen him? Why him?

"No, I just tried to make him mad and tried to get out of there as quickly as possible." Daniel smiled self-effacingly. "I seem to be rather good at making Goa'ulds angry."

"Jeez, Daniel . . . ya think?" O'Neill rubbed his head, then smoothed down his ruffled hair. It was true. The man had a talent for pissing off egomaniacal aliens. "Is that when he belted you?"

"No, actually that's when I saw the communication device on the table. I hit the Jaffa . . . then the guard hit me." Daniel picked up his bottle and smiled at it. "I fell across the table and I grabbed it." He shrugged. "I stuck it in my pocket and they brought me back to the cell."

Jack nodded. "That was nice work, by the way. That device saved our asses . . . again."

The younger man shrugged. "Sam did that, with the geyser cannon . . . then Teal'c intercepted the particle beam. They did the hard work."

Jack had to chuckle and shake his head. "Only you would get beat up by a Jaffa and say they did the hard work."

Daniel tipped his bottle back. "That part wasn't very hard Jack."

The two sat together in companionable silence for a while, then O'Neill spoke softly. "Why do you think you saw me?"

Daniel looked over at him. "What do you mean?"

"I saw Charlie. Carter saw Jacob. Martouf saw Jolinar" he answered in a soft voice. "So why did you see me?"

"I don't know why Apophis made me think of you."

"No, it wasn't Apophis doing it. He didn't know about Charlie. We saw people we knew or have known. Why me?"

"I know you Jack," Daniel answered, nervously picking at the label on the beer bottle.

"C'mon Daniel, why me? Why not Sha'uri? Why not Kasuf or Skaara?" he pressed. Daniel wouldn't look him in the eye, but just kept peeling the paper off the glass. Jack reached over to touch his friend.

The younger man stood up, reached over, and picked up Jack's now empty bottle. "I'll get the room cleaned up, okay. Then I'll take you up to your bedroom. It's getting late."

Jack watched his friend as Daniel carried the beer bottles into the kitchen. Glancing at the clock, he realized it was only 2130. It was hardly late. However, he did have to acknowledge that he was tired, sore, and once he took the doc's happy pills he would be asleep in no time at all. Besides, it seemed that Daniel needed his space for a little while.

Daniel was through making noises in the kitchen when Jack decided to try to go up the stairs that led to the bedrooms. His leg had stiffened up since he had sat down but he managed to successfully hobble across the living room and looked speculatively at the stairs as his friend reentered the living room.

"What are you doing, Jack?" The anxious voice approached him from behind.

"Going to bed." He looked over his shoulder at Daniel's worried face. "I am tired, you know. A staff weapon blast always has that effect on me."

"Well, you should have called me. You might have fallen."

"I was waiting for you to come back," Jack pointed out innocently.

Daniel looked at him askance and frowned. "Well, I'm here now. Let me help you up to bed."

Once Jack was tucked into his bed, Daniel made sure that his friend took the pain pills that Janet had sent home with him. It had been relatively simple. Jack had decided to forgo the sweat pants and sleep in just his boxers to save dragging the pants up over his leg injury. The younger man had puttered around, ostensibly bringing him a bottle of water and picking up stuff from the floor. In a few minutes he was rewarded by the sound of Jack's soft even snoring. As he left the room, he stopped to look back at his friend.

Jack was lying on his back, propped up on his pillows. The moon was filtering in through the partially open Venetian blinds to illuminate the silver hair and the tanned, lined face. It was a good face, a strong countenance that reflected the inner strength of the man who wore it. A man worthy of his affection and, yes, his love.

Why had he thought of Jack when he was being interrogated by Apophis? It should have been his wife, his beautiful dead Sha'uri, or even his parents. Why was it Jack? He shook his head in confusion and went to turn off all the house lights downstairs and get ready for bed himself.

The next morning came early for Daniel. He'd been in a deep sleep when he heard a thumping noise through the wall. Groggily he crawled out of bed, hiked up his sweat pants and went to see what was making the noise.

Going down the hallway he realized that the noisy wall was the one that connected his room with the master bedroom. Turning the corner and stepping through the doorway he saw Jack sitting on the floor. Immediately awake he hurried over to his friend's side.

"Jack? Are you okay?"

The older man was sitting on the floor, hunched over, head down, with his injured leg extended out in front of himself. He silently shook his head to the negative.

"Jack . . . " Daniel reached out a tentative hand to Jack's leg. The bandage was slightly off kilter and stained red with drainage from its injury. "Jack, what happened?"

Raising his head Jack leaned it back against the wall. He squinched his eyes shut in pain. "Fucking fell," he answered in a tight voice. "Tried to get to the john."

"What can I do?"

"Give me a minute, then help me."

Daniel crouched down next to his suffering friend allowing guilt to wash over him. "I'm sorry, I should have checked on you earlier."

The greying head rocked back and forth against the cream- colored wall. "Not your fault. Damn leg gave out on me. Should know better." Finally, Jack opened his eyes. There were tears of pain and embarrassment there.

"Jack, please, let me help you."

Finally the older man nodded. "Okay." He took a deep breath and looked trustingly up at Daniel. "I still gotta go to the john."

Shifting closer Daniel reached out to his friend, locking arms with him and pulling him gently to his feet. Jack gasped as his weight came down on the injured leg.

"Should you be out of the clinic?" he asked as he supported O'Neill the few steps to the bathroom.

"Didn't hurt this much yesterday."

"Do the words pain meds mean anything to you?"

Jack tossed him a look as they reached the bathroom. "I got it from here."

"No, I've got you from here," Daniel insisted. "I'll hold you, and . . . "

"Yeah, yeah, I'll hold the little colonel. I got it. I got it."

Assisting Jack, Daniel supported him into the bath just off the bedroom. As they approached the commode, he shifted his position to one right behind his friend. He wrapped one arm around Jack's shoulders and another at his waist, offering support, trying to be discrete at the same time.

He could smell the sour aroma of urine. To avoid it he leaned his face into the back of his friend's neck. There, he could smell the clean odor of shampoo and Jack, he could feel the muscles of his ass flex, and he could feel his own groin tingling at the sensations. 'Stop it,' he warned himself. This is not the time or the place. And what the hell are we talking about here anyway?

Jack finished with a sigh and leaned back slightly into his arms. "Sorry."

Daniel tightened his grip momentarily in a kind of hug. "No problem. Are you sure you're not hurt?"

"Just my pride." The other man shook his head. "Bed."

"Bed it is, and pain pills, and more sleep."

"Yes, Doctor Jackson."

"Of Archaeology."

"So you say."

They moved back to bed, Daniel still assisting Jack. There, once getting Jack down in a comfortable position, Daniel tipped the pills out of the bottle and handed him the tepid bottle of water from the previous night. He presented them to Jack with an unwavering frown of insistence.

"If I take these on an empty stomach, I'll get nauseous." Jack looked at the pain meds unenthusiastically.

"I'll go get you something from the kitchen. What do you want?"

"A toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a glass of milk."

"Interesting breakfast."

"Not too much but it's okay for this." Jack handed the water bottle back to him.

Daniel nodded. "I'll be right back."

"I won't run away."

Daniel sat the bottle back down on the night stand and headed downstairs. He located the bread and put it in the toaster, then opened the refrigerator to locate the other ingredients to Jack's request. The milk still appeared good and the peanut butter and jelly were there so it was an easy fix. But his mind kept turning what had happened over and over.

He didn't understand. He'd fooled around in high school and college with some of his close male friends. Had even gone on a date or two with a gay pal, but by and large he'd always been drawn to women for any sort of relationship. Admittedly, he was not terribly experienced with either. His time and energies had always been spent in pursuit of his degrees and then later for funding for his research grants. In fact, that was why Sarah had left him. He had no interest in furthering their affair. The sex had been nice, but he'd had a tendency to be too tired, too wound up or too unavailable to sustain their affair. She'd finally given up on him all together.

And Daniel had always had a sneaking suspicion that he bored Sha'uri to tears at times. But the Abydonian wife's role was to support her husband in his endeavors. She played the role of the good spouse but he knew she had often been disappointed in his dedication to his work of discovering and translating the ancient writings in the pyramid and at the cartouche room. But she would have stayed with him, had children by him, and loved him mentally, physically and sexually because that's what she was supposed to do. She would never have betrayed him or left him and he never would have strayed either. Of course their life together had been interrupted by Apophis. It had been one more failure on his part that he hadn't been able to protect her and their 'what might have been' life. So he'd lost the only 'happily ever after' he was probably ever going to have.

Carrying Jack's breakfast, he went back up the stairs to the bedroom where his friend lay drowsing. His eyes were closed and his face was turned into the early morning sunlight. The hair, originally a dark golden brown, was beginning to get a sprinkling of silver strands. The face, actually quite fair, carried a heavy tan that was fading to pallor from his injuries. The scar across the left eyebrow and up into the forehead was delineated by the light. The laugh lines bracketed the expressive eyes. There was also a very faint mark on the strong chin and an almost imperceptible line around the throat. Daniel guessed that he'd always assumed it was an age-related wrinkle, but in this light he could tell it was a scar. Sometime, somewhere, Jack had been garroted but lived to tell the tale. There were probably stories for every mark on his body, stories that were buried in the recesses of experiences that were best forgotten. Stories that he, Daniel, would never learn.

He entered the room, intentionally scuffing his feet on the carpet to alert his friend that he was back. Daniel smiled as the sleep ruffled head turned toward him.

"Hey."

"Hey, how do you feel now?"

"Doped to my gills." Jack shifted in the bed and grimaced at the pain the movement cost him. "Doc's happy pills 'er doin' their job."

"Well, good." He sat down on the edge of the mattress. "Here, eat something and then get some more sleep." He sat the plate down on the bed and handed a quarter of the already cut sandwich to his friend.

The older man obediently took a bite of the food and looked at him sleepily. "What cha' gonna do today?"

"I'm going to go to the store and get some fresh food for the weekend and then I'm going to finish this translation for SG 8."

"Didn't cha ever figger out what the term down time translates as? It means to rest and relax, Daniel. Not just change your work location," Jack slurred a little bit around the sandwich then took a drink of the milk.

"Yes, Jack. I know. But I'm almost done and there's a program on the television that I want to watch tonight," Daniel assured him with a grin. "It'll keep me occupied, don't worry."

"Can I watch it too?"

Daniel smiled at his tough military colonel who was trying to stay awake like a little boy who needed a nap. "Yes, you can. In fact . . . " He gestured to the TV sitting on the dresser " . . . I'll watch it in here with you if you want."

"Okay, that'd be good. What's it about?"

"A show about whether or not King Tutankamon was murdered."

"The Goulds did it."

"Okay, Jack. If you say so."



Jack woke up early, his leg throbbing and pressure on his bladder making him uncomfortable. He glanced over to the other side of his king-sized bed and realized that he wasn't alone this morning. Last night Daniel had brought their dinners up to the bedroom on trays so they could watch TV together. It had been nothing fancy, some soup, sandwiches, milk and pudding, but he had appreciated the effort his friend had made on his behalf. Daniel knew how he hated to be excluded from anything and had gone the extra mile for Jack.

They had begun to watch the television show together and he had dozed off half way through due to his pain meds. Daniel must have followed closely behind because he was still lying on top of the covers dressed in his T-shirt and jeans. The two trays were sitting neatly on the dresser next to the television.

Postponing the inevitable trip to the bathroom, Jack rolled slightly on his side to watch his friend sleep. The morning sun was peeking through the blinds and one strip of sunshine was catching Daniel full in the face. The younger man looked tired. It was no wonder he had fallen asleep. He'd been tortured by Apophis, beaten by the Jaffa, had taken care of him on the Tel'tac, and now was caring for him at home. The lines by his eyes that weren't normally visible showed clearly in the early morning light. The small indentations on his cheeks that were dimples were etched a bit more deeply. The furrows in his forehead were plainly in evidence. They didn't detract from the man's beauty, but they delineated it. Daniel looked exhausted even though he was sound asleep. And Jack knew that most of it had been on his account.

They had come a far distance in their relationship since that first trip to Abydos four years ago. They hadn't even liked each other then. The disenfranchised Archaeologist and the bitter military goon. Even his men hadn't figured out what had been wrong with their Colonel. Kowalski had an idea that there had been something not quite right, but even Feretti hadn't caught him in his suicidal ideation. Only the civilian, who had his own share of loss, had grabbed the clue. Perhaps it had been his attachment to Skaara that had pointed it out to Daniel, or perhaps because the young man had been in his situation before. Losing the family that you depended on, having the ones you loved ripped away from you by some unsympathetic fate. Then, a year later, they had both connected again, tragedy binding them together in the search for both Sha'uri and Skaara, making them allies in the quest for their release.

Jack had known that they'd find them; had a gut feeling that there would be an ending for their search; but his fear that it would not be a happy ending for Daniel and his bride had come true. Her death had almost broken her husband. But he also realized that even if she had been returned to Daniel, the innocent girl would have been irrevocably changed by her experiences. Even if she had still loved Daniel, Jack had doubted that they would ever have had a 'happily ever after' life. She had seen too much horror, experienced too much pain, to ever be the same. Her death at the hands of their teammate had probably been a blessing in disguise. He looked sadly at his young friend and pitied him.

Daniel sighed and shifted on the bed, then he opened his eyes and gazed sleepily at his friend still in that dreamlike state between sleeping and waking.

"Hey," Jack said softly.

"Hmm?"

"How're ya' doing?"

"Good, and you?"

"Well, sleeping beauty, I need to go pee and after yesterday's experience I guess I need a hand to get there."

Daniel sat up and looked around the bedroom, running his fingers through his hair. "Oh, I guess I fell asleep."

Jack smiled at him. "Ya' think?" He also sat up and pushed the bed clothes off of himself. "Looks like you needed it."

The younger man swung his long legs off of the bed and got to his feet, stretching his arms above his head. "Well, let me go first, then I'll help you up."

Jack nodded. "Hurry up though. Time and tide wait for no man."

Daniel flashed him a grin and headed into the bathroom.



Later that morning, Daniel helped Jack down the few steps into the living room. He planted his friend firmly on the couch and went into the kitchen to start their lunch. Jack clicked on the television and started to surf through the channels, finally settling on the X- Files. Scully and Moulder were once again chasing down space aliens. Daniel brought in some plates of franks and beans with a side dish of macaroni and cheese. They watched as the cigarette smoking man gave Scully a warning shrouded in innuendo.

"You know if all FBI agents looked like her it wouldn't be so bad," Jack commented during the series of commercials that divided the program into segments.

"Or Moulder for that matter." Daniel shot a glance at Jack to catch his reaction to the leading comment.

"They are rather pretty for the bureaucratic types aren't they." Jack returned his look, "What? I'm just saying . . . "

"I know what you're saying. I'm just surprised that you can appreciate male beauty."

"Why? I can see attractive when it's right there in front of me," Jack grouched. "Though neither of them are my type."

"Oh, and pray tell what is your type?"

"I've always liked tall blonds." Jack took another bite of his lunch. "Like Sara . . . you know . . . tall, fair skinned, blue eyed."

"Really?" Daniel seemed to be thinking his revelation over. "I've always preferred brown eyes and a dark hair."

"I've noticed."

"What?"

Jack looked at him. "Well, Sha'uri was a dark beauty, and then there was Shyla."

"Actually you'd be surprised. I've dated tall willowy blondes, too."

"Hum, like Carter?"

"Well, yes, as a matter of fact. But I think Janet is beautiful as well."

"Yes, short but pretty." Jack glanced his way. "So, you going to ask either of them out?"

Daniel shook his head and said quietly, "Too soon for me."

Jack caught his friend's meaning. "Oh, sorry. Of course it is, I don't mean to push you." He felt like an ass. Daniel was newly widowed. Of course he wouldn't want to date for a while yet.

"I know." They both lapsed into an uncomfortable silence. Finally, the younger man stood up. "Let me get your tray, Jack. Do you want to go back upstairs or stay here?"

"Here I think. The bedroom walls were beginning to close in."

Daniel nodded and headed into the kitchen with the dirty dishes.

Later that afternoon, while Daniel was making dinner for them and the unwatched TV droned on, Jack sat thinking about his verbal faux pas. Of course Daniel didn't want to date. And he didn't think it would be Carter or the Doc anyway. They were too close, like family. But then Daniel didn't have the same constraints as he did since he wasn't military. He could date whomever he wanted to. Not like Jack, who couldn't date a subordinate, or a co-worker, or a man.

The thought stilled him. A man? Why did he think that Daniel would want to date a guy anyway? He'd certainly shown no proclivity in that direction. Of course, he'd not actively sought out a date with anyone. He'd been married. He'd just been widowed, for God's sake.

And he himself had never really tried to date a man either. He'd done some experimenting back in high school. Hadn't everyone? Love the one you're with, as the song went. But he found he preferred girls. He'd gotten married . . . then divorced. He hadn't actively dated either. So what the fuck was he thinking anyway? It was none of his business if, when, or whom Daniel dated anyway.

But Jack knew that there had been a few who had actively watched Daniel . . . wanted him. He'd seen the signs; he wasn't naive. Davis, for instance. He watched Daniel all the time, sought him out in fact. Then there was Rothman, Daniel's old college buddy. How close were they, working late, always together at the office?

Stop, just stop! Davis was in the Air Force, for crying out loud and Rothman was Daniel's old friend. What was wrong with him anyway? Daniel wouldn't want to go there. . . not his buddy. Daniel liked girls. Sha'uri, Shyla, even Kera, all were women. Definitely female. And he liked girls, so why did Jack feel this disappointment when Daniel liked them, too? When he had friends, when he didn't like Jack in the same way? What was up with that anyway?

"Hey, you're awfully quiet." Daniel had come back into the living room. "Are you okay? Do you need something?"

"What? No, I'm fine." Jack smiled up at him. "Just thinking."

Daniel sat down next to him on the couch. "Need some pain meds?"

"Nope. I'm fine."

The silence stretched between them.

"What are you thinking about?" Daniel finally broke the silence.

"Nothing." Jack looked up at him. "Just stuff."

"Jack?" the younger man asked hesitantly. "Did I do something wrong?"

"Wrong?" He looked at his friend in surprise. "What could you possibly have done wrong?"

Daniel looked discomforted. "I'm not sure, but you're acting odd."

Jack smiled at the man at his side. "In case you haven't noticed, I am a bit odd." He shook his head. "No, I'm not mad or anything. Just sitting here feeling stupid."

"Stupid? Why?"

"Stupid leg, getting shot for no good reason, leaving my team to handle things while I sat there and did nothing." He shrugged. "Now I'm sitting here thinking stupid thoughts about stupid things. You know, stupid."

"Jack," Daniel leaned over and touched his forehead, as if checking for fever. "You're not stupid. You're the smartest, bravest man I know." The discerning blue eyes met his. "Come on, you're tiring yourself out. Let's get you up to bed and give you some more pain pills."

"Okay, maybe you're right," he groused. "It does hurt a little."

The younger man smiled at him. "Come on then, let's get you comfortable."



Daniel pulled the door closed behind himself. Jack was already asleep. For all his protestations, he knew from personal experience that his friend was still in quite a lot of pain. A staff blast was like being struck by lightening, powerful, burning and penetrating. He could also tell by Jack's manner that something was bothering him. At first, he had thought that he'd overstepped Jack's personal boundaries by falling asleep on the other man's bed. But Jack hadn't acted that way. In fact, he'd seemed content for him to be there. But after Jack had spent the morning on the sofa thinking, there had seemed to be an unspoken barrier that had come up between them.

Well, it was almost time for him to go back to work anyway. By tomorrow Jack would be well able to take care of himself and Daniel had that translation for SG8 almost finished. Their social scientist was not particularly adept in translation. The man's forte was anthropology and that worked well within structure of the team. So Daniel had often assisted him with the linguistic work. He settled down on the kitchen table to do some work on the text.

Several hours later, he looked up to the clock on the kitchen wall and was surprised how much time had gone by. Guiltily he got to his feet and went to check on Jack. As he entered the bedroom, Jack managed to open one eye to peer sleepily up at him.

Daniel came into the room and sat down next to him. "Hey, you need something? Bathroom, water, pills?"

Jack shook his head slightly and patted the empty side of the bed with a lax hand. "Comp'ny."

Daniel smiled. "I don't know if you need any, you look really comfortable there."

"Lon'ly. Lay down next to me for 'while."

"Uh, I don't know . . . "

"Don't worry, can't reach ya. Hurts too much." Jack yawned, covering his mouth with his hand, then dragged it through his hair.

"I'm not worried, Jack."

"Lie down then, keep me comp'ny."

The younger man acquiesced, walked around the bed, and stretched out on his side looking over at Jack's relaxed features. "Jack."

"Hmm?" He continued to lie there with his eyes closed, totally relaxed and drifting off into sleep.

The dream began with a firefight in the desert. He was running across the sand, running toward the tent. He'd seen Daniel go into the colorful shelter to be closely followed by Teal'c. Then, he heard the sound of a staff weapon. Carter caught up to him as he got there. He could smell the odor of burned flesh. They shared a glance and they entered the tent together. There, lying on the ground was Daniel. He was facing his dying Sha'uri, he with a ribbon device burn on his forehead, she with a burned hole in her chest. Jack vaguely heard Carter's gasp. The young man reached out his hand for his dying wife. Her eyes glowed once more then faded . . . forever. Jack could see the devastation in his friend's eyes, the loss of hope, and the death of faith.



Just as Daniel was about to doze off, he heard Jack begin to mumble in his sleep. He was evidently dreaming, his eyes moving under their lids and his arms were twitching slightly. He couldn't make out exactly what his friend was saying. Jack's hands flexed and moved on his chest as if he were reaching for something or someone.

Daniel immediately reached out to his friend and gently shook his arm. Jack's whole body jerked one last time in a dream spasm and his eyes snapped open. "Hey," he spoke softly to the older man. "You okay? You were having a dream."

Jack lifted a heavy hand to cover his eyes. After a moment he lifted the other and wiped away the moisture that was seeping from beneath his eyelids. "Yeah, I'm okay. Just . . . just give me a minute."

"Sure, take your time." He rolled off the bed and went into the bathroom to retrieve a damp wash cloth. "Here." Jack dropped his hands to look at his friend and the younger man gently wiped his forehead for him. After a moment, Jack took the cloth from him and scrubbed his own face vigorously.

Daniel sat down on the edge of the bed and looked at him in concern. "Dreaming of Charlie?"

"No, actually . . . of you."

"Me"

"Yeah, you and Sha'uri, when we found you two after . . . "

"Oh."

"I'm so sorry, Daniel" Jack managed to say in a choked voice. "I never wanted . . . Teal'c never wanted . . . "

"I know, Jack. I know that."

Taking the cloth, Daniel got up to put it back in the bathroom. Jack thought he was leaving, but the younger man came back around to the other side of the bed and curled up on the side he'd been lying on. Jack rolled over onto his stomach, careful not to involve his injured leg, but wanting to see his friend's face.

The two men lay there for a long while facing each other, just looking, watching each other's expressions. But soon the pull of the pain medication began to take its toll and Jack began to drift off again.

Daniel was surprised at the subject of Jack's dream. He was warmed by the concern and emotion that the older man showed for him. He'd never realized how his wife's death had affected Jack before. He knew that Jack had regretted not being able to save Sha'uri but hadn't seen the empathy as he wallowed in his own grief. Daniel could only hope that they could somehow manage to find and free Skaara.

"I failed you Daniel," the soft voice spoke, breaking through his reverie.

Daniel shook his head against the pillow. "No, Jack. You tried. You really tried . . . and I appreciate that." Their eyes met. "Ammunet was going to kill me. She couldn't prevent it." He broke eye contact and bent his head. "It's not your fault. It's mine. I shouldn't have gone in there alone without back up. I knew better, but I had to try."

"But it doesn't, didn't, make it any easier to see . . . you . . . like that."

"You have nothing to be sorry for Jack," Daniel said determinedly. "Sha'uri is gone. You did everything that you could for her. You did everything and more for me. You tried. I tried. She understood. I understand." He reached for his friend's hand. "And now, she understands this." He reached out and began to very gently rub the shoulder closest to him. It was a contact that they needed, just to touch. He began to stroke the broad shoulders in small gentle circles. It was a warm, relaxing act and it connected them.

Jack tried to watch Daniel's face. It had been a long time since he'd allowed someone to comfort him. It had been a long time since he'd had anyone he'd wanted to be comforted by. He looked into Daniel's eyes.

The younger man had shifted closer and when their eyes made contact it was as if a warm current had been created. When Daniel saw Jack was falling asleep he drew his hand away.

Jack blinked at the loss. "Don't go."

"I'm sorry," Daniel said softly.

"For what?"

"I don't know why I did that."

Soft brown eyes looked at him. "I hope it was 'cause you . . . like me."

"No, I don't like you."

"You don't?"

"You're the most important person in my life," Daniel said softly as he lay his head down on the pillow next to Jack's. "I think I love you."

Jack looked at him in surprise. "I uh . . . you do? "

"Jack." Daniel pressed his fingers gently against Jack's mouth. "Don't say anything, please. I'm sorry I screwed up."

"Daniel?"

"Yes?"

"You didn't screw up. I feel the same way." He reached over and touched Daniel's cheek. It was prickly with a light growth of beard. "I haven't felt this way in a long time . . . warm . . . like someone cares for me."

"I do care, Jack. I don't want to lose you."

"You won't."

Daniel pulled away from him, rolled over onto his back, and stared at the ceiling. "It never lasts for me, Jack. Something always happens to people I care about."

Jack watched him. "I know." He sighed and reached over to touch the other man's hand. "I can't promise to be invincible, Daniel, but I'll try my damnedest. I don't ever want to hurt you or leave you."

Daniel sighed. "I'm just . . . "

"I know, Daniel, I know." He sleepily closed his eyes again.

Daniel turned to look over at the older man. Jack was drifting off to sleep, worn out by the emotion of his dream and the effect of his pain medications. "I love you, Jack." he whispered. He reached for the hand that was still extended toward him. When he touched it, the fingers curled around his own hand instinctively. Then he finally closed his eyes. As Daniel began to doze off, he heard Jack's voice whisper, "I love you too."

fin
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