Colonel Jack O'Neill gazed thoughtfully at the dozing form of Dr. Robert Rothman. Rothman's words echoed in Jack's mind: I'm not good at people. They're too recent. Jack smiled to himself. Good one, Rothman. I like that.
"Rothman," Jack whispered loudly.
Groaning, Rothman turned over. "What?" he asked irritably.
"We'll find Daniel."
Rothman stared at O'Neill and saw for the first time what Daniel Jackson saw all the time. He saw a man who cared deeply about his teammates. Rothman blinked and nodded.
"You did good, Rothman," Jack assured him. "Hightailing it back to the gate as fast as you did probably saved Daniel's life."
"He's my friend," he said simply.
"Mine too," Jack replied. "You better get some sleep; we leave in a couple of hours."
"Right." Rothman turned back over, feeling a little overwhelmed and absurdly pleased with O'Neill's praise. Daniel, you'll never believe this and you better damn well be okay because I don't think O'Neill will accept anything less.
Jack stared at the lifeless body of Dr. Robert Rothman. So many bullets, so much blood, and so very dead. Dead by his hands. Damnit, Rothman. I was just starting to like you.His gaze drifted over to the injured captain and to the equally lifeless body of Major Hawkins. Goddamned snakeheads.
'They deserve a decent burial, sir,' Major Carter's grim voice said, interrupting his thoughts.
Jack met her determined look. 'Yes, they do,' he agreed solemnly.
'We'll see to it, sir. Go find Dr. Jackson,' the captain said.
'Yeah,' Jack acknowledged and looked back at Rothman. God, Danny. I'm sorry.
Dr. Daniel Jackson sat at Rothman's desk, gazing at the chaotic array of books, papers, and artifacts. Ah Robert, you picked up my bad habits. An unexpected sob escaped from Daniel's chest. Daniel propped his elbows on the desk, cradling his head in his hands. Another friend lost, another death on his conscience.
"Damnit, Robert. Why'd you come for me?" he sighed.
"Because you were his friend," Jack said quietly from the doorway.
Daniel raised red-rimmed eyes to Jack. "Yeah, right. Some friend."
"Can I come in?" Jack asked.
"Sure, why not?" Daniel said hollowly, waving Jack in.
Jack closed the door behind him and walked casually over to Daniel.
"Looks like you taught him how to file."
Daniel snorted mirthlessly. "Yeah, but I neglected to teach him how to protect himself from being infected by a goa'uld," he said bitterly.
Jack sighed and repeated the worn-out phrase; "It's not your fault, Daniel."
"Yes, it is Jack. Robert; Loder; Hawkins; SG-11. They're all dead because an Unas grabbed me. They shouldn't have come after me."
"Wrong, Daniel! Again! Loder and SG-11 were attacked, the same as you. Hawkins and Rothman were with me. They were under my protection. If anyone here is to blame for their deaths, it's me," Jack said angrily.
"Bet you're glad Robert's gone," Daniel said maliciously. Oh, God. I can't believe I said that. Horrified, Daniel looked up quickly at Jack and saw the shock and pain in his friend's face before an icy calm settled over the haggard features.
"I'm sorry, Jack. I'm sorry," Daniel said urgently. "I didn't mean that. Please believe me."
Jack knew Daniel was hurting badly and he needed an outlet. If Jack could provide that, it was the least he could do. "I know, Danny," he said softly. "Believe it or not, Daniel, I kind of liked Rothman."
Daniel smiled. "He was starting to grow on you?"
"Yeah, just like someone else I know," Jack agreed, smiling.
"Must be something about archaeologists," Daniel mused.
"Damnit, Jack," Daniel said wearily. "He was finally settling in. You should've seen him on the dig. He was so happy. He-," Daniel's voice cracked and Jack gripped his shoulder firmly.
"You gave him that, Daniel. Remember that. I'm going to remember a determined young man who was going to save his best friend, come hell or high water. He died a hero, Daniel."
"Thank you," Daniel said quietly. Jack rubbed the back of Daniel's neck in response.
"How are you?"
Smiling grimly, Jack gave Daniel's neck a final squeeze before dropping his hand. He picked up an artifact off the desk, turning it idly in his hands.
"I feel like shit, but thanks for asking," he said finally. "A lot of good men died on that planet." Jack's solemn brown eyes sought out Daniel's caring blue ones. "I killed my best friend's buddy," he said quietly.
"You saved him from a life of horror, Jack," Daniel insisted. "And your best friend thanks you for that."
Jack smiled gratefully, his eyes burning. "Uh-look, do you want some help with all this…stuff?" he asked waving at his surroundings.
"No, but thank you. I'll do it. Robert wouldn't like other people going through his …stuff."
"I understand. Well, I'll go then and leave you to it," Jack said as he made his way to the door.
"Thanks for stopping by, Jack."
"No problem," Jack replied from the open doorway.
"Leave the door open, okay?"
"Check on me in an hour?" Daniel asked sheepishly.
Jack smiled. "If not before," he promised.
Daniel smiled as he watched Jack saunter down the corridor. Sighing, he turned back to the task at hand. Picking up a photo of one of their digs, Daniel brushed his fingers lightly over the image of his friend. "Well, Robert. You did it," he said softly. "You got under Jack's skin. Told you he was a big softie."
|Genres:||Angst, Friendship, Hurt/Comfort|
|Summary:||Rothman's death affects Daniel and Jack.|