It had happened again. Just when he had thought things were finally going well between him and Jack, the age-old humanitarian versus soldier conflict had reared its ugly head once more. Only this time, it was more complicated than that. This time the division went deeper than the usual civilian or military viewpoint. Their latest mission had highlighted a more fundamental difference of opinion, one that Daniel wasn't sure they could get past.
Sitting in his apartment, Daniel thought back to the previous afternoon and felt the now familiar frustration swell within him. He couldn't believe that, after all this time, Jack still suffered from such a superiority complex when it came to other species. In view of his hatred of the Goa'uld and their opinion and treatment of humans, Daniel had thought Jack would be just as incensed as he was at the enslavement and abuse of the Unas. That was, in fact, the argument he had used during their eventual confrontation. After a long and tension filled debriefing with General Hammond, Jack had followed Daniel back to his office and relations between them had rapidly degenerated.
"Well, I think we can chalk that mission up in the abysmal failure category," Jack commented dryly. "'Arms dealer to the Unas' isn't exactly the job description I had in mind when I joined the SGC."
"You're such a hypocrite, Jack!" Daniel exclaimed. "If it had been a bunch of humans enslaved by a Goa'uld you would have gone in guns blazing and to hell with the consequences!"
"Oh, come on, Daniel," Jack responded, as always refusing to be swayed by the younger man's rhetoric. "You can't possibly equate the two."
"And why not?" Nobody could wind Daniel up like Jack could. "How is freeing Chaka and allowing him to lead a rebellion any different than arming the Abydonians and helping them overthrow Ra?"
"It's entirely different!" Jack, too, was starting to get riled, his voice rising in response to Daniel's anger. "The snakeheads are evil, pure and simple. The majority of the people on that planet are innocent citizens, simply leading their lives as they have done for generations. I don't agree with them keeping the Unas as slaves, but it's understandable considering their history. What we've done is effectively set an army of vicious beasts on them!"
Daniel threw his hands in the air, the wild gesticulation demonstrating the depth of his feelings. "For the last time, Chaka is not a vicious beast! He's a sensitive, intelligent being who wants to lead his people to freedom! Just because he's not human, you automatically assume he's an animal! How can you be so prejudiced and intolerant?"
That brought Jack up short. "Is that really what you think of me?" he asked quietly. Daniel simply glared at him, too angry to register the effect of his words. Jack's voice had taken on a sudden calmness, at odds with its previous emotion. "Well, then, I don't see any point in continuing with this. I'm going home." A hint of sarcasm crept back into his tone. "I leave you to your moral high ground, Dr Jackson." With that, Jack turned and left the room abruptly.
With the perspective granted by a good night's sleep, Daniel was able to view the incident more rationally. The image of Jack's face as he had walked out rose unbidden in his mind. His expression had been hurt and unhappy rather than angry and, if Daniel hadn't been so furious himself, he would have realised that sooner. As he replayed in his mind the events of the previous day, his anger began to fade away and other feelings started to surface. He shuddered at the memory of the orange light that had shone out of Jack's eyes and mouth as the Unas slaver administered his Goa'uld torture stick. He had discovered for himself shortly afterwards just how painful an experience that was, and he knew that it was his fault Jack had been forced to suffer it too. Daniel began to see that, once again, his impulsive reaction to injustice had landed the rest of his team in trouble, and stabs of guilt quickly pushed aside his remaining anger at Jack.
Daniel reached for the telephone and started to dial Jack's number, but was interrupted by the sound of the doorbell. Levering himself up off the couch, he crossed to the door of his apartment and opened it to reveal Jack.
"Hi," Jack said.
"Hi," Daniel replied. There was a brief silence.
"Can I come in?" Jack seemed hesitant, and Daniel noticed that it looked as if he was hiding something behind his back.
"Of course." Daniel stepped aside and Jack sidled across the threshold, keeping whatever he was holding out of view with difficulty.
Unwilling to play along with whatever Jack had in mind, Daniel turned and headed into the kitchen, calling over his shoulder, "Coffee?"
"Er, no thanks." Jack made his way through to the lounge and stood awkwardly in the middle of the floor. "Daniel? Can you come here a sec?"
Daniel aborted his coffee preparation and joined Jack in the lounge, seating himself back on the couch and looking up at the older man expectantly.
Clearing his throat, Jack produced a small, wrapped package from behind his back and held it out.
Daniel regarded it suspiciously; a Jack bearing gifts was not a usual occurrence in his experience. "What's that?" he asked.
"What do you think it is?" Jack teased, a mischievous glint in his eye.
Daniel frowned in consternation. "I think it's a present," he replied.
"And that's exactly what it is -- a present. For you." Jack shuffled his feet slightly and suddenly looked embarrassed. "Happy birthday, Daniel."
Now Daniel was thoroughly confused. "But it's not my birthday for..." he began, then stopped suddenly as his words to Sam the previous day came back to him. "Physically, he's fine, but I won't be expecting a birthday present any time soon." He looked up to meet Jack's hopeful gaze. "Oh..."
Jack gave him a shy grin. "This is my way of saying I'm sorry."
Daniel reached out to take the present, but Jack pulled it back from his grasp. "Um... There isn't actually anything in it," he revealed sheepishly. "It was just meant to be a symbolic kinda thing..."
Daniel burst out laughing, gazing up in delight at the anxious uncertainty on Jack's face. "Come here," he beckoned, reaching out for Jack instead of the package. Breathing an audible sigh of relief, Jack collapsed down next to him on the couch. Daniel leaned over and gave him a brief kiss on the lips. "I'm sorry too," he said. "I got carried away and let my personal feelings cloud my judgement -- again."
Jack pulled back and gave Daniel a searching look. "I'm not prejudiced and intolerant, Daniel," he said seriously, "although I do admit I have a blind spot when it comes to Unas, and particularly Chaka."
"But why?" Daniel didn't want to start up their argument again, but he needed to understand Jack's viewpoint if they were to put it behind them.
"Because he kidnapped you, and hurt you, and I didn't think we were ever going to get you back!" The words came out in a rush, Jack's usual inability to discuss his feelings making it hard for him to articulate.
Daniel smiled in sudden understanding and pulled Jack into a tight embrace. "I don't know what I'd do without you to get me out of trouble," he murmured in Jack's ear.
"Neither do I!" Jack exclaimed, resorting to humour to recover his equilibrium. Then he stood up and took Daniel's hand. "Now come to bed and I'll give you a proper present..."
Following Jack into the bedroom, Daniel smiled to himself. They had weathered another storm and come to a better understanding of themselves and each other in the process. Being with Jack wasn't easy, but it was most definitely worth it.
|Genres:||Established Relationship, Missing Scene/Episode-Related|
|Summary:||Arguments are inevitable with these two, but making up is such fun!|
Author's Chapter Notes: