Fall-Out by Nancy Richardson
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Category: General
Genres: Angst, Friendship, Hurt/Comfort, Missing Scene/Episode-Related, Smarm
Rated: All Ages
Warnings: None
Series: None
Summary: After killing Reece, Jack tries to make things right with Daniel.

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Author's Chapter Notes:
This story first appeared in AGX: Remember When, by Ancient's Gate Productions.
Fall-out

“Son-of-a-bitch!” Jack growled, slamming his hand into the wall.

Jack didn’t know who he was angriest with: Daniel, for calling him a ‘stupid son-of-a-bitch’, Reece, for putting a wedge between him and his best friend, or himself, for letting Daniel’s words get under his skin It wasn’t so much what Daniel had said, but the way he’d said it: with tired resignation and bone-weary disappointment. To Jack, Daniel had given up on him and that hurt. A lot.

“Crap,” Jack muttered, giving himself a mental shake. This wasn’t the time for self pity and recrimination. He had Replicators to clean up and a base to secure. His attention back on the matter at hand, Jack straightened his jacket and strode purposefully down the hall.

********

Hot tears stung Daniel’s eyes as he held Reece’s limp hand. He had told her he was his friend and would show her his world.

“Welcome to my world,” he murmured bitterly.

He was tired. Sick and tired. How could everything go so wrong? He shifted and pain flared up his arm, a welcome distraction from the pain in his soul.

“Dr. Jackson, would you like me to call the infirmary?”

Daniel looked up to see two SF’s towering over him. He hadn’t even heard them come in. “No,” he replied, shaking his head. “I’m fine.”

“I’m sorry, sir, but we have orders to remove the body.”

Daniel nodded and watched grim-faced as they took Reece’s body away. A few minutes later, he stood up slowly, clasping his arm to his chest. The room spun, and he squeezed his eyes shut. With any luck I’ll make it to the infirmary without passing out.

******

Daniel lurched to the side, narrowly dodging personnel in search for the remains of Replicators. Head down and cursing under his breath, he rounded the corner then sucked in a ragged breath as pain exploded up his arm.

“For crying out loud! Watch the hell where you’re … Daniel?” Jack cried, grasping his friend’s shoulders to keep him upright.

Daniel sagged in Jack’s arms, momentarily paralyzed by the sudden pain.

“Jesus,” Jack whispered, taken aback by the alarming paleness of Daniel’s face. “Keep your head down,” he urged, gently lowering Daniel to his knees. “Damn it, where the hell were you going so fast?”

Jack’s tone was one of concern, but in Daniel’s haze of pain all he heard was ‘damn it’ and ‘where the hell’. He pulled away from Jack, gasping as he jarred his arm.

“Don’t you have a base to secure?” he hissed.

Jack flinched at the hostility in Daniel’s voice and rocked back on his heels, a move which gave him the vantage point to notice the way Daniel cradled his arm.

Did I do that? No, I couldn’t have. Ah, crap. Reece.

“Daniel, you need the infirmary.”

“Where the hell do you think I was going?” Daniel snapped.

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t looking,” Jack said. “Come on, I’ll help you.”

“You’ve done enough,” Daniel replied, waving off Jack’s help and getting shakily to his feet.

“Fine! Fall flat on your face,” Jack retorted, stung by Daniel’s stubbornness. “Just try to keep out of the way.”

You’re a real prize, Jackson, Daniel thought bitterly, as Jack’s boots echoed down the hall. He knew his hostility was irrational and he was being an ass, but he couldn’t stop himself.

Jack got about six steps. Crap. He stopped and turned. Daniel was leaning heavily against the wall, a picture of misery, and Jack’s heart clenched. He walked slowly back to his teammate.

“Daniel,” Jack whispered.

The combination of concern and sadness in Jack’s voice turned the tide of Daniel’s anger. He looked up with tired, pain-filled eyes and nodded.

“Just take it slow,” Jack said, placing his hand on Daniel’s shoulder and gently urging him forward.

Jack set a slow, steady pace, his hand firmly clasped to Daniel’s shoulder. There was no conversation. Just the strained silence of two people who were afraid they had reached an abyss they could not cross; a silence shattered by the sudden crackle of Jack’s radio.

“O’Neill.”

Jack winced at the interruption, and he felt Daniel tense as he halted their progress.

“Yeah, Teal’c, what have you got?” Jack asked.

“Level 18 is secure and has been clear of the Replicators,” Teal’c reported.

“Thanks, Teal’c. Report any further updates to Carter until I get back to you.”

“Very well, O’Neill.”

The radio went silent and Jack could feel Daniel’s shoulder tense further.

“You don’t have to—”

“I want to, Daniel,” Jack said firmly. “Come on, we’re almost there.”

Jack thought they might actually make it to the infirmary emotionally unscathed, but at the infirmary door, Daniel had other ideas.

“Aren’t you going to ask me what happened?”

Daniel’s voice wasn’t quite confrontational, but there was enough of an edge to it to put Jack on his guard.

“I don’t have to,” Jack replied neutrally.

“You have all the answers, don’t you?” Daniel said bitterly.

“Damn it, Daniel. What the hell do you want from me?” Jack asked, releasing his teammate’s shoulder and facing him.

Daniel’s shoulder felt cold with the sudden loss of Jack’s hand. Worse, he felt strangely adrift.

“Nothing. Forget it,” he muttered and entered the infirmary.

Jack sighed and counted to ten before following his friend.

******

“Daniel?” Dr. Janet Fraiser asked, swiftly steering him to a bed.

“I think I broke my arm,” he murmured.

“What happened?” she asked, running her fingers deftly over Daniel’s arm. “Colonel?” she queried when her patient didn’t respond.

Daniel stiffened and closed his eyes. He hadn’t heard Jack come in. That was twice now. What good was he?

Jack glanced at Daniel who steadfastly remained unresponsive. “Reece,’ he said simply, looking back at Janet.

Janet nodded, concerned by both the look on Jack’s face and by Daniel’s reluctance to acknowledge the colonel’s presence.

“Well, I’m afraid you’re right, Daniel. You’ve definitely broken something.”

Daniel nodded and winced as her probing fingers continued their assessment.

“Careful, Doc,” Jack growled.

“Colonel,” Janet said coolly.

“Okay, okay, I’m going,” Jack said, knowing she wanted him out of her and Daniel’s hair. “I’ll check on you later, Daniel.”

Jack hoped for a response, but none was forthcoming. He looked at Janet and gave a tired smile.

Janet returned his smile and her eyes assured him she’d take good care of Daniel.

Jack glanced once more at his silent friend then turned to leave.

“Jack.”

Jack stopped and looked around to meet tired, solemn blue eyes.

“Thank you,” Daniel said quietly.

Jack smiled and nodded, his spirits lifting slightly at the simple acknowledgement.

*****

“Do you want to talk about it?” Janet asked after Jack had left the room.

“No,” Daniel replied.

“Didn’t think so. Right, well let’s get some X-rays.”

******

“Two broken bones?” Jack scowled.

“Thankfully, the breaks were clean,” Janet replied. “With time and physiotherapy he’ll be as good as new.”

“That’s something,” Jack muttered. “Where is he now?”

“I’ve sent him home. I’ve also recommended to General Hammond that Daniel take a one month sick leave,” Janet explained.

“For a broken arm?” Jack asked incredulously. “Hell, Daniel’s died and taken less than a week!”

“Colonel,” Janet said patiently, “you know this is about more than a broken arm.”

“What the hell are you …” Jack’s voice trailed off. He knew exactly what she was talking about. Daniel’s spirit had suffered a terrible blow with Reece’s demise, and he had been the one to deliver it.

“What you’re really saying is Daniel needs to get away from me.”

“What I’m saying is, he needs to be in a non-military environment for awhile,” Janet clarified.

“Same thing, Doc,” Jack said with a sad smile. “You saw how he was; he blames me.”

“On the outside, maybe,” Janet said, “but on the inside, he blames himself.”

“He told you that?”

“No, but we both know how Daniel operates, and frankly, Colonel, I haven’t seen him this low since Sha’re died. It’s like he’s ready to give up and that scares me,” Janet admitted.

“Tell me about it,” Jack murmured, rubbing the back of his neck. “So, this sick leave thing, does he know about it?”

“He doesn’t know the duration, but he didn’t put up a fight if that’s what you’re asking.”

“When would it start?” Jack asked.

“Effective immediately, upon General Hammond’s approval.”

“Immediately? For crying out loud, don’t I get a say in this?” Jack groused.

“To be blunt, Colonel, no,” Janet answered.

******

“Colonel, is it true? Daniel’s leaving for a month?”

“Yes, Carter, it’s true,” Jack replied, dreading the ensuing interrogation.

“Do you think that wise, O’Neill?” Teal’c inquired.

“Not my call,” Jack said.

“You’re not going to let him go, are you?” Sam pressed

“Carter, what the hell do you expect me to do? Fraiser said he needs the time and General Hammond authorized it. End of story,” Jack said, feeling his hackles rise.

“Have you even talked to Daniel about Reece, sir?” Sam challenged.

“Major,” Jack said quietly, letting his tone warn his second that she was bordering on insubordination.

“I’m sorry, sir,” Sam said, softening her tone, “but you’re his best friend and—”

“Carter!” Jack interrupted, his voice and expression telling her to go no further.

Sam looked at Teal’c for back up, but Teal’c was watching Jack, his expression sublime.

“Teal’c?” she said.

“I believe we should go, Major Carter,” Teal’c said.

Sam looked between Jack and Teal’c and frowned. Clearly, she had missed something.

“Dismissed,” Jack said quietly.

*****

“What was that all about?” Sam whispered once she and Teal’c were out in the hallway. “Why didn’t you back me up?”

“There was no need, Major Carter. Colonel O’Neill will not allow Daniel Jackson to leave without speaking to him first,” Teal’c explained.

“How do you know that?” she asked.

“I saw it in his eyes,” Teal’c said simply.

Sam looked doubtful. The only things she’d seen in the colonel’s eyes were irritation and anger.

“Trust me, Major Carter,” Teal’c said.

“Okay, but this must be a guy thing,” Sam muttered.

Teal’c quirked his eyebrow and bowed his head.

“Indeed.”

*******

Jack studied the shelves, wondering what the hell to buy for someone who probably hates your guts right now.

“Can I help you, sir?” the young male barista asked.

“Uh, yeah, I’d like a pound each of your two most exotic blends. The stronger, the better,” Jack said.

“That would be our Insomniac’s Delight and Cosmic Orgasm,” he said helpfully.

“Cosmic … sounds, um, good,” Jack said, frowning.

“You’ll love it; it’ll keep you up all night,” the barista said with a wink. “Would you like them ground?”

“No, just the beans,” Jack replied, anxious to leave before any other customers showed up

*****

Jack parked in front of Daniel’s building, pleased to see lights on in his apartment. He debated calling ahead. He knew it would be the polite thing to do, considering Daniel was probably doped up with Tylenol 3 and trying to sleep. He also knew it would be too easy for Daniel to reject his company, whereas showing up unannounced would give Jack a pretty good indication of Daniel’s current state of mind. Daniel had an expressive and honest face. If he was angry, pissed, or disappointed, Jack would know.

Well, if he doesn’t like the sight of me, he’ll at least like how I smell, Jack thought ruefully as he got out of his car with his aromatic peace offering tucked securely under his arm.

******

The dull ache in Daniel’s arm mercifully subsided and he stretched out on the couch. Maybe now he could sleep. Slowly, he began to drift then jerked awake at a sudden, yet familiar, knock on the door. Go away, Jack.

*******

Jack stood in front of the door, wondering whether to knock a third time. Crap, he’s probably asleep, or trying to, he thought guiltily. He leaned in and listened for any sounds of life. He winced at a muffled curse and then jerked back as the door opened.

“Hey,” he said, as a rumpled-looking Daniel appeared. Jack breathed a little easier at the sight. Daniel looked like hell, but he looked like his friend, not someone who’d rather have a root canal than look at you. “Did I wake you?”

“Jack, this isn’t … a good …,” Daniel’s voice trailed off as his eyes and nose were drawn to the bag dangling from Jack’s hand.

“I’ll make a pot?” Jack suggested, holding up the bag, smiling tentatively. Please let me in, Daniel.

Daniel hesitated. Back in the gateroom he had basically accused Jack of destroying the one opportunity they may ever have of stopping the Replicators. Was it fair? Of course not, but he’d been hurting, and he’d lashed out at the only person who would allow it. The only person he felt comfortable enough with to show his weakness and his failings. Daniel stepped aside.

*****

“What did you get?” Daniel asked, rifling through the bag on the counter before Jack could answer. “Cosmic orgasm?” he queried giving Jack an odd look.

“I asked for something exotic and strong,” Jack shrugged, his neck flushing. “Uh, which one would you like?”

“Well, I haven’t had an orgasm in awhile,” Daniel murmured.

“Me neither,” Jack muttered, but he smiled as he picked up the package of coffee and opened it.

Daniel leaned over the open bag and breathed in deeply and rapturously.

“Um, I think the orgasm is supposed to come after you drink it,” Jack said, suppressing a grin.

“I take them when I can,” Daniel replied.

Jack laughed and felt a pleasant warmth blossom in his stomach. He also felt a deep stab of guilt. He couldn’t remember when he last shared a joke with his friend. He could remember teasing Carter and ribbing Teal’c, but with Daniel, he came up blank and that was inexcusable.

“Listen, Daniel,” Jack said quietly.

Daniel looked up warily. He did not want to talk about Reece. Not yet.

“Things haven’t been that great between us and—”

“Don’t.”

“We need to talk, Daniel,” Jack insisted. “We need to talk about the other day.”

“Why?” Daniel retorted. “So you can feel better?”

“No, so you can feel better, and if I get something out of it, too, is that a crime?” Jack demanded.

“I’m not ready,” Daniel said, turning his back.

“Since when have you never been ready to talk? It’s what you do,” Jack insisted. “Or is it because you’re not ready to stop being pissed at me?”

Jack knew he struck pay dirt when Daniel’s back stiffened.

“That’s it, isn’t it?” Jack pressed.

“Yes!” Daniel said, whirling around. “As long as I’m angry at you, I don’t … I don’t …,” he said, his voice fading.

“You don’t what?” Jack asked gently.

“Nothing,” Daniel muttered.

Jack shook his head and grabbed the coffee pot. “This is what’s going to happen, Daniel,” he said, turning on the water. “You are going to go into the living-room and get comfortable. I am going to make us some coffee and then you are going to tell me what is going on in that scary brain of yours.”

“You won’t like it, but then you don’t like most of what I say,” Daniel said quietly.

It was Jack’s turn to stiffen, and he had trouble looking Daniel in the eye.

“I didn’t mean it when I said that,” he said. “That whole Replicator thing threw me for a loop.”

“It’s not just the Replicators,” Daniel said quietly.

Silence hung heavy in the air as Jack grappled with the truth in Daniel’s words.

“No, it isn’t,” he agreed quietly.

Daniel nodded sadly and rubbed his arm absently.

“Just … go and sit down,” Jack said. “I’ll bring the coffee.”

*******

Daniel slumped on the couch and rubbed the ache between his eyes; the inevitable headache that always accompanied a confrontation with Jack. When he wanted to talk, it was a door in the face. When Jack wanted to talk, it was push, push, push until he talked. It was always the way. Daniel knew it. Jack knew it. Daniel closed his eyes and breathed in slowly to abate his anger. He’s trying to help. Remember that.

“Daniel?”

“Sorry, “Daniel mumbled as he opened his eyes to see Jack standing in front of him with two mugs of coffee. He took the proffered mug and sipped the coffee. “Positively orgasmic,” he murmured

Jack smiled and settled in the chair opposite Daniel. He took a sip of his own coffee and swallowed with difficulty. “Smooth,” he choked.

Daniel smiled and took another sip.

“So, I understand you’re going to be off for a month,” Jack said, wincing as Daniel tensed.

“Janet thinks I need the time,” Daniel replied neutrally.

“What do you think?” Jack asked carefully.

Daniel looked up. “I think she’s right.”

Jack nodded. “Are you going to go anywhere?” he asked, taking another sip of coffee.

“Janet wants me to stick around for a few days to make sure I’m doing my exercises correctly, but then I’m free to go. I just haven’t decided where to go yet.”

“Somewhere warm?” Jack guessed.

“You have to ask?” Daniel countered.

Jack smiled and leaned back in his chair, wondering how long they were going to do the old song and dance before tackling the real problem. Well, I’m the one who barged his way in.

“I had to shoot her, Daniel. I had no choice.”

Daniel flinched, and Jack felt an immediate drop in room temperature. He watched as Daniel’s knuckles whitened around his mug.

“I didn’t have a choice, either,” Daniel said evenly. “I had to try to save her.”

“Or die trying,” Jack added. “Stalemate.”

“Again,” Daniel agreed.

Crap, this is going nowhere fast, Jack thought.

Jack sat down his mug and leaned forward. “You’ve hit the brick wall of the military before. Why is this one eating you up? Is it because she was young?”

“Are you implying I wouldn’t have tried as hard to reach her if she’d been older, or male?” Daniel queried, his voice low.

“No, of course not,” Jack said, “but it’s always harder losing someone young.”

Daniel closed his eyes. Jack was right, and he, of all people, knew the pain of losing someone young. He put his coffee down and stood up, pacing slowly.

Jack watched him carefully, but waited, deciding keeping quiet was now the best way to get Daniel to talk.

“I don’t know what I’m doing here,” Daniel finally said.

Jack’s stomach rolled at the heart-felt words. “Here being?” he prodded, dreading the reply.

“The SGC,” Daniel replied.

“Saving the world isn’t enough for you?” Jack asked, wincing at the implied flippancy and callousness of his words.

Daniel looked sharply at Jack, his body tense.

“We need you here, Daniel,” Jack said quickly. “Remember that alternate reality? If you hadn’t convinced us of our impending doom, none of us would be here today. We need you to pull our asses out of the fire.”

“That alternate reality was years ago,” Daniel said dismissively, his posture sagging.

“If you want examples, I can give you examples,” Jack said. “Hell, just pick any planet we’ve gated to.”

“I’m not saying I haven’t made a contribution,” Daniel sighed. “I just don’t seem to have made much difference.”

“I’m not buying that, Daniel. You’ve made more of a difference than the rest of us put together,” Jack insisted.

“What’s changed?” Daniel challenged. “The Goa’uld are still out there, the Replicators are still out there. Wars are still raging on various planets.”

“For crying out loud, you can’t save the whole fucking galaxy and no one expects you to, except yourself, obviously.”

Daniel sighed and sat down heavily. “You don’t understand.”

“I’m trying to, but you’re not making any sense,” Jack complained. “I know you’re upset about this whole robot thing—”

“Reece,” Daniel interrupted. “Her name was Reece.”

“Reece,” Jack corrected. “I know you’re pissed off at me for killing her, but I did what I had to do.”

“I was getting through to her,” Daniel insisted.

“Damn it, Daniel, we were out of time! You were hell bent on trying to save her, and that’s all very noble, but I was trying to save the damn planet.”

Daniel looked up sharply. “Is that what you think?” he asked, his voice cold.

Goddamnit, this isn’t going the way I planned.

“The auto-destruct was on. The time for negotiation had passed,” Jack said.

“You didn’t answer my question.”

Jack sighed and rubbed his forehead wearily. “Okay, to be honest, I don’t think you fully appreciated the immediate danger we were in. You saw a scared, lonely, girl and wanted so badly to help her. I saw the creator of the Replicators and it was like looking death in the face.”

“You didn’t trust me,” Daniel said flatly.

“Who the hell said anything about trust?” Jack cried, “and for the record, I do trust you. I trust you with my life. I always have, starting with that first mission to Abydos.”

Daniel visibly slumped and his features softened at the unexpected declaration.

“Daniel, if anyone could convince Reece to turn herself off, it would be you. Of that, I have no doubts whatsoever, but I couldn’t give you the time. That was a risk I wasn’t willing to take, not even for you. I’m sorry it ended badly and I mean that.”

“I’m sorry, too” Daniel said, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose. “Everything gets just so damn tiring.”

“One step forward, two steps back,” Jack commiserated.

“Something like that,” Daniel murmured.

“Fraiser’s right. You need some time off,” Jack said. “Hell, we all do. A little time to relax, reflect, regroup, then return to the fray.”

“That’s a lot of ‘re’s’” Daniel muttered.

“Shall I reiterate?” Jack inquired, quirking his eyebrows.

“Ah, no, that won’t be necessary,” Daniel replied.

“Refill?” Jack asked, gesturing to Daniel’s empty mug.

Daniel groaned and held out his mug. “Are you done?”

“Regrettably, yes.”

“Thank, God.”

. ******

Jack returned to the living-room with fresh mugs of coffee to find Daniel once again looking pensive. He sat down and looked intently at his friend.

“Daniel, I know what you’re going through, but it will get better,” he said sincerely.

Daniel looked up into concerned, dark eyes to see honesty, friendship, and love. The openness in Jack’s face and eyes gave him goosebumps.

“I’ve been where you are right now,” Jack continued, pushing Daniel’s coffee towards him. “What the hell is it all for? Why is it nothing I do ever makes a difference? Crap, I think of all the dirty little covert ops I’ve been in, and did any of them make a difference? Hell if I know. Certainly not as much as I wanted them to, or thought they would,” Jack said solemnly.

“What kept you going?” Daniel asked quietly, his coffee forgotten.

Jack smiled, but there was sadness in his eyes. “That’s easy: a wife and a child. You’re the most important thing in their life and they make you feel on top of the world.”

Jack took a sip of his coffee then wrapped his hands around the mug, staring into its contents. He laughed humorlessly and placed the mug down. “Then just as suddenly, life shoots a hole in your heart.”

Jack’s words stuck home and Daniel closed his eyes in shared loss, sorrow, and respect.

“But, just when you think you’ve lost everything and life isn’t worth living,” Jack said softly, “someone comes along who changes your life in a way you could never imagine.”

Daniel opened his eyes and looked up.

Jack gazed intently at his friend’s eyes and said gently, “You’re that someone, Daniel.”

Daniel’s eyes widened in disbelief and his mouth opened in protest, but he didn’t know what to say. He closed his mouth and shook his head.

Jack smiled sadly. “The fact this surprises you speaks volumes. I’m afraid you got the short end of the stick in this friendship, Daniel.”

“Don’t say that, Jack,” Daniel whispered, shaking his head vigorously.

“We both know it’s true. I saw it in your eyes after I shot Reece,” Jack explained.

Daniel’s face blanched. It was true he’d been angry and basically fed up with Jack and the whole SGC, but it wasn’t Jack’s fault. Things had just come to a head.

“Jack, I’m sorry I called you a stupid son-of-a-bitch. I didn’t mean it, and you didn’t deserve it,” Daniel said. “I was angry and upset, and you were a handy target. It’s been a bad year. Nothing seems to have gone right, but with Reece I felt like I was really accomplishing something. I was gaining her trust. God, Jack, we might have been able to learn how to stop the Replicators, or at least control them.”

“And I effectively killed that,” Jack sighed.

Daniel bowed his head, partly in weariness, partly in shame.

“No, you did what you were supposed to do and what you always do,” Daniel said, looking up. “You watched my back and everyone else’s. You were right, Jack,” he said sadly. “I was trying to save one person while you were trying to save the planet.”

“No, you’re wrong, Daniel, and so was I for saying that,” Jack insisted. “We both tried for the same thing.”

“But your way was the right way,” Daniel said.

“No,” Jack corrected, “but under the circumstances, it was the only way.”

“I know that, Jack. I do. I just … I just need some time to think,” Daniel said, waving his hand listlessly. “I have to be sure.”

Jack nodded and picked up his mug. He looked down and slowly swirled the coffee.

Daniel picked up his own mug and stared at it.

“Daniel,” Jack said, looking up, “are you thinking of leaving the SGC?” He didn’t want to say “SG-1’. That was too close. Too personal.

Daniel glanced up at Jack then looked away.

Crap, he can’t even look at me.

“Daniel, if—”

“Jack,” Daniel interrupted, “I need some time.”

And you can’t do that with me in your face.

“Then you should take the time. You’ve certainly earned it, and if you need more time, Hammond won’t stand in your way.”

“Thank you for understanding,” Daniel said quietly, “and thank you for the coffee,” he added with a small smile.

“Hey, I don’t give orgasms to just anyone,” Jack quipped.

“Glad to hear it … I think,” Daniel said then yawned hugely.

“Time for weary archaeologists to get some sleep,” Jack said, taking his cue and draining his coffee. “I’ll leave you with the dishes. No, stay there,” he said as Daniel started to get up, “I know the way out. Is there anything I can get you before I leave? Tylenol? Aspirin? Water?”

“No, I’m fine, thanks.”

“Okay, well, I’ll see you then,” Jack said.

“See you.”

Jack strode quickly to the door. He grasped the handle and hesitated.

“Forget something?” Daniel asked when Jack returned.

“Yeah. Daniel, I don’t want you to think for one second your contributions are wasted or meaningless,” Jack said sincerely. “What you’ve done for the SGC, the planet, hell, the damn universe, is immeasurable. But from where I stand, all that pales in comparison to what you’ve done for me, and in spite of my less than stellar behaviour and asinine comments, your opinion, and especially your friendship are beyond value. Now, get some rest.”

Daniel stared in astonished silence and only came out of his stupor at the sound of the door closing. Tears welled in his eyes.

“Damn you, Jack,” he muttered, but his heart swelled with love and gratitude for his friend. Jack hadn’t let him down. In fact, he came through like he always did which, usually, is when Daniel least expected it. Like now. Jack was the last person he wanted to see right now, let alone talk to, but he was the only person who could truly help. Sam, Teal’c, Janet, even General Hammond had said all the right things and been supportive, but it was Jack’s words he needed. Daniel often wondered if he meant as much to Jack as Jack did to him. He didn’t have to wonder any longer, and that in itself, was better medicine than any amount of leave time.

******

“Hey.”

Jack looked up to see a very welcome sight: Daniel looking bright and alert.

“Hey yourself, how’s the arm?”

“Janet’s given me the green light,” Daniel said, flexing his hand.

“Good, that’s good. I guess that means you’ll be leaving soon?”

“In a few hours, actually. General Hammond pulled a few strings,” Daniel smiled.

“That soon? Where are you going?” Jack asked, trying to sound enthused.

“The Cook Islands. I’ve never been there, and I hear it’s supposed to be quite restful,” Daniel replied.

“Yeah, I’ve heard that,” Jack said, nodding.

“Um, General Hammond mentioned you’re taking a week off at the end of the month?”

“Yeah.”

“Fishing?”

“Haven’t decided,” Jack shrugged.

“Maybe, somewhere warm?” Daniel suggested.

“Maybe,” Jack pondered.

“I hear the Cook Islands are pretty nice. Restful too,” Daniel smiled.

Jack’s eyebrows arched. “Is that … is that an invitation?”

Daniel shrugged. “I figure I’ll need someone to drag my ass back here.”

Jack’s face lit up. “I accept your invitation,” he said magnanimously. “Unless … you’re not asking me because I bring good coffee?”

“Well, now that you mention it.”

Jack smiled and wrote ‘orgasm’ on a piece of paper. “Anything else I should bring?” he Jack asked with a martyred sigh.

“Just yourself.”

“You sure about this?” Jack asked, looking concerned. “We tend to, well, get on each other’s nerves … sort of … sometimes,” he said, waving his hand vaguely.

“Ya think?” Daniel quipped.

Jack grinned and threw his pen half-heartedly at Daniel.

“Book me, Dan-O.”

“What?”

“Never mind,” Jack sighed. “Come on, I’ll buy you lunch. We’ll rustle up Carter and Teal’c. You’ve got time for that, right?” he asked as he steered Daniel towards the door.

“I guess so. I’m already packed and someone’s picking up my bags.”

“Good. So,” Jack said, clasping his hand warmly behind Daniel’s neck, “they have television where we’re going?”

“Um, oh, God, look at the time!” Daniel exclaimed staring at his watch.

Jack laughed and squeezed his friend’s neck. “Okay, okay, we’ll have a great time even without TV.”

“If we don’t, I’ll never let you forget it,” Daniel warned.

“Trust me, you’ll be begging Hammond for another week,” Jack teased.

“No, no, I think one week will be quite enough. You know what they say about ‘too much of a good thing’.” Daniel said.

“Too true,” Jack agreed, nodding sagely and ignoring Daniel’s smirk.

*******

Lunch was good, boisterous and much too short to anyone’s liking.

“I’m going to miss you guys,” Daniel said.

“Hey, you’ll see me in a couple of weeks,” Jack exclaimed.

“I’m really going to miss you guys,” Daniel repeated, looking meaningfully at Sam and Teal’c.

“Same here, Daniel,” Sam said, embracing him warmly. “Have a wonderful time and get lots of rest. You’re going to need it,” she added in a whisper.

“See what I get to look forward to?” Jack groused at Teal’c. “It’s like I’m not even here.”

“You say something, Teal’c?” Daniel asked, turning around.

“Your absence will be keenly felt, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c said, bowing to mask his amusement.

“What about my absence?” Jack cried. “Isn’t anyone going to miss me?”

“Of course, Colonel,” Sam said quickly. “Always.”

“Indeed,” Teal’c agreed.

“Okay, that’s better. Well, come on everyone, say your goodbyes. I promised the general Daniel wouldn’t miss his ride.”

“Uh, Jack, I think we already said our goodbyes,” Daniel said.

“Then what are we standing around for? Hammond doesn’t pull strings for everyone. Let’s go,” Jack demanded, snagging Daniel’s arm.

“Bye!” Daniel shouted over his shoulder as Jack dragged him off. “Wish me luck!”

*******

"You sure you’ve got everything you need?” Jack asked as they entered the motor pool.

“Jack, I know how to pack. I’ve been doing it all my life,” Daniel said.

“Toothbrush? Toothpaste?”

“Yes.”

“Socks, undies?”

“Yes, Jack,” Daniel sighed.

“Any extras in case I forget mine?”

“Oh, God, did I say a week?” Daniel lamented.

“Yeah, and it was your idea,” Jack grinned.

“It must’ve been the drugs,” Daniel murmured.

“Your car is ready, Dr. Jackson and your bags are in the trunk,” the sergeant said, lifting the trunk so Daniel could double-check.

“Thank you. Well, I guess this is it,” Daniel said, looking at Jack.

“You are going to call and let me know exactly where you are, right? I don’t want to spend my week tramping all over the island looking for you,” Jack said.

“I’ll be in touch,” Daniel promised.

“Good. Well, I’ll see you then,” Jack said, holding out his hand.

Daniel grasped the proffered hand firmly. “See you.”

Jack glanced warily at the sergeant waiting to drive Daniel. “What the hell,” he muttered and pulled Daniel into a tight embrace.

“Take care of yourself,” he murmured.

“You, too,” Daniel replied, surprised, but returning the hug with enthusiasm.

Jack stepped back and straightened Daniel’s jacket.

“Don’t forget your exercises and don’t overdo anything,” he said.

“Yes, dear,” Daniel muttered and slipped into the car.

“And don’t drive like an asshole,” Jack growled at the smirking sergeant.

“No, sir!” the sergeant replied, saluting sharply.

“Jack,” Daniel admonished.

Jack winked at Daniel then stepped back. “Enjoy yourself,” he said and waved as the car drove away.

Jack waited until the car was out of sight before turning and heading back to work. Two and a half weeks. Two and a half weeks without Daniel Jackson. Two and a half weeks without arguing, sniping, and baiting.

“Crap, I miss him already.”
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