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Fanfiction: A Tale of Two Charlies

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S2 Show and Tell
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Jack/Daniel friendship.  Jack/Sara.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.  Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

A Tale of Two Charlies


Tok'ra Base

‘I’m not sure this was a good idea, Selmak.’ Garshaw looked at the small boy asleep in the bed. He was such a tiny bundle underneath all the blankets.

Selmak followed Garshaw’s gaze and smiled reassuringly. ‘The blending is going well, Garshaw, and Belian is one of the most compassionate amongst us.’

Garshaw sighed. ‘You know the Council is questioning the decision to bring him here.’

‘We were his only chance of survival, Garshaw,’ Selmak pointed out calmly, ‘and we are in need of hosts.’

‘Some on the Council believe you are being unduly influenced by your host, Selmak.’ Garshaw said gently.

Selmak snorted. It was a brief, dismissive sound that summed up how she felt about the Council’s opinion.

‘Jacob is a parent, Selmak.’ Garshaw sighed. ‘The Council believes that your decision to bring the child back was motivated by that.’

‘Garshaw,’ Selmak rejoined, ‘you can inform the Council that it was I who offered to save Charlie. Actually, Jacob did not consider it a good idea; he believed it was unfair to make Charlie a host when he is too young to make that decision for himself.’

Garshaw stared at Selmak who stared back resolutely.

‘Jacob has been quite vocal about returning to Earth.’ Garshaw tried another tack.

‘Only because we discovered the Council had sent Martouf when it was discovered that Sokar was threatening the Tau’ri.’ Selmek retorted. ‘One of the reasons for Jacob’s and my blending was for us to provide a liaison between our two people, and at the first opportunity you send someone else. Jacob did not understand and neither did I.’

‘We have apologised.’ Garshaw said. ‘With no disrespect meant to Jacob, Selmak, his questioning of everything we do and how we do it has been…unusual.’

‘Perhaps we should get used to it.’ Selmak said brightly. ‘I find it invigorating.’ She gestured at her old friend. ‘We have been stagnating for too long, Garshaw. We need new passion and fire in our belly. Jacob has that; all the Tau’ri do.’

‘Perhaps.’ Garshaw allowed. ‘But surely you have to agree that we have always done well with our own approach, Selmak.’

Selmak bowed the head of her host slightly. It wasn’t an outright agreement but it wasn’t a dismissal either.

‘Let me know when the boy awakens.’ Garshaw swept out of the room.

Selmak watched her go with a sigh and, at the internal mental prod, she let Jacob resume control of the body they shared. Jacob wandered over to the chair by Charlie’s bed and sat down.

Well, that went well, Jacob noted mentally.

Selmak took note of the smug note in Jacob’s internal voice. Saying I told you so is beneath you, Jacob.

I wasn’t…

You were, Selmak sighed, and you were right; the Council blamed you for my decision.

Jacob took note of Selmak’s disappointment. They don’t know me or my people yet. It’ll take time to build trust. Isn’t that what you said when I was furious with them about the Sokar thing?

Repeating my own words back to me will not win you any…she searched for words and grabbed the ones that popped into Jacob’s mind…brownie points with me. There was a mental frown. What are brownie points?

Selmak.

OK, OK. Selmak said grumpily.

Perhaps a more softly, softly approach with the Council is required, Jacob mused. Maybe if I’m not making waves about taking more direct action against the Goa’uld, maybe they’ll get used to us a little more quickly. Maybe even start trusting our judgement.

They should trust us anyway, Selmak argued, I am the oldest among them. Still, it is a good strategy. She sighed again. It’s been so long since my people have challenged the Goa’uld directly, I think we have forgotten how. We are too used to our covert work and staying hidden.

Maybe your people have a point, Jacob noted. It seems to me that this guy Sokar is gaining power because my people took out Ra and Apophis, and that’s not a good thing.

That is true. Selmak agreed. You are right. We will wait and the Council will trust us, she concluded.

By the way, Jacob began a little tentatively, you didn’t mind me referring to you as male, did you?

It is less confusing for your people; I understand, Jacob. Selmak’s inner voice was coated with amusement and it reassured Jacob.

Charlie stirred grabbing both of their attention and Jacob reached out to gently tuck the blankets back around the small child.

Perhaps I should not have brought him, Selmak murmured wistfully.

You did the right thing saving him, Selmak, Jacob comforted her. He brushed a finger over Charlie’s cheek. He kind of reminds me of my kid.

Selmak saw a flash of a young blond boy in pyjamas decorated with strange pictures of a man in a red cape, being tucked into bed by Jacob. His son, Mark, Selmak realised. The memory was suffused with nostalgia and regret.

You rarely talk about your son, Selmak noted.

Nothing to talk about, Jacob returned stubbornly.

The mental door slammed shut and Selmak sighed. Jacob’s unresolved feelings for his son would have to be addressed at some point.

Samantha seemed well, Selmak noted, moving on to Jacob’s other child.

She’s doing great, isn’t she? Pride swelled Jacob’s chest. Did you see how my little girl dealt with that Retu?

She seemed concerned for Colonel O’Neill, Selmak remarked.

Sam said he lost his own kid, Jacob reminded her. Sorrow and pity for the other man’s loss flitted through him briefly. He smoothed a hand over the child’s head before he settled back in the chair. Despite the protestations of the Tok’ra Council, they had at least kept their promise to Jack O’Neill, he mused; this Charlie would grow up; he would live.

o-O-o

The cemetery was filled with a reverent hush that stole over Jack O’Neill as he made his way through the rows of headstones. A brisk, cold breeze lifted his grey hair and brushed over his skin as he finally found the marker he was searching for; a simple white headstone and a brass plaque that was engraved with his late son’s name; Charlie O’Neill and the words ‘Our Beloved Son.’

Jack felt his heart seize briefly in his chest at the visible evidence of his son’s death before it slowly carried on beating. He blinked back the sting of tears and placed the flowers he carried on the ground gently, if awkwardly given one of his arms was constrained by a sling. He stepped back and shoved his good hand further into the deep pocket of his jacket. He cleared his throat unsure where to begin or how to start.

‘Hey, Charlie.’ His throat closed up and he had to take a deep breath to steady his voice. ‘I know I haven’t visited for a while.’ He winced; he hadn’t been since the day of the funeral. ‘Well, ever really.’ He stared at the headstone sightlessly. ‘It’s not that I haven’t wanted to just…’ he sighed, ‘it’s difficult but I guess you know that.’

He looked away from the grave and cast his sad, brown eyes heavenward instead. He took in the blue sky and wondered at the bright sunshine so at odds with his own mood. He shifted his weight slightly as his attention was drawn back to the headstone. He hadn’t chosen it and he couldn’t remember if his ex-wife Sara had even discussed it with him. Maybe she had tried and he hadn’t listened. He’d spent so much of his time in an alcoholic stupor that most of the month following Charlie’s death was a blur; a dull, hazy blur. She’d made a good choice, he thought whimsically. It was small enough not to be ostentatious; large enough to mark the grave as important.

Jack shoved his hand through his hair; he hadn’t visited Charlie to make a judgement about the headstone, he considered irritably. The thought prompted the reason why he had finally made the pilgrimage to his son’s grave and he let out a long deep sigh. ‘I met someone, Charlie.’ He wet his lips. ‘Another little boy. He wanted to be called Charlie too.’

The image of a small boy with a bald head and big, brown eyes assaulted Jack for a moment and he briefly closed his own eyes as though it would erase the mental image. ‘I think you would have liked him, Charlie.’ Jack said quietly. ‘He’s very brave, very…strong.’ He gestured at the headstone. ‘A good kid.’

He paused again. ‘He came to warn us about some…’ he searched for an alternative word to aliens, ‘people who wanted to hurt us and we stopped them.’ It was such a simple sentence given the events of the previous day; the warning of invisible creatures called the Retu, contacting the Tok’ra and the return of Jacob Carter; the mission to check out the intel, the sweep of the base and the final shoot-out. He found himself sub-consciously reaching out with his good hand to rub at the wound on his arm and he jerked it away, stuffing it back in his pocket.

‘He was going to die, Charlie.’ Jack said softly. ‘And he’s so young.’ His jaw clenched and he pressed his lips together. ‘The Doc told me there was nothing she could do and it was…it was just like back in the hospital when we got the news…when you…’ he turned away briefly.

‘So, anyway, we have these new…friends. And they were able to save him.’ He gestured again at the headstone. ‘Which is good, right?’ He took a deep breath. ‘Because he can grow up now. Only,’ Jack sighed, ‘I had to say goodbye to him because these friends live very far away and…’ It had been more difficult than he had imagined for him to say goodbye to the little boy, to hand him into the care of Jacob and watch him disappear into the wormhole.

‘I guess having him around made me realise, not how much I miss you because I miss you every day, you have to know that, Charlie,’ he took a breath, ‘I mean there’s not a day when I don’t…’ his voice broke and he had to stop for a moment.

He reached out and touched the headstone. ‘It’s just…it made me realise how much I miss being a Dad.’ He gave a small humourless laugh. ‘I know I wasn’t around a lot. I was gone most of the time you were small.’ There had been too many missions, too many dangerous assignments away from his family. ‘I know I realised that too late, Charlie. I should have been there for you more.’ His hand fell away from the marble. ‘I’ll always regret that. I just…I just wanted to tell you that.’

He didn’t know how long he stood there; the wind ruffling through his hair, the sun slowly descending as he remained pinned to the same spot, his eyes locked on the marker in front of him.

‘Jack?’

He recognised the incredulous voice as Sara’s before he turned around to look at her. ‘Hey.’

‘It is you,’ Sara said cautiously, ‘isn’t it?’

Jack nodded sheepishly. The last time he had turned up unexpectedly, he’d actually not been himself; he’d been an alien. ‘Sorry, I just…’ he waved at the grave.

‘No, no,’ Sara hastened to reassure him as she laid her own bouquet in front of the headstone, ‘you have every right to be here. I was just surprised.’ She straightened to look at him. ‘I didn’t know you visited.’

‘First time.’ Jack admitted.

Sara nodded as though the thought had occurred to her. Her blue eyes scanned over him. ‘You’re injured.’

Jack’s eyebrows rose a little in bewilderment before he suddenly realised remembered his sling. ‘Yeah.’ He gave a quick, half-smile. ‘Flesh wound.’

‘But you’re OK?’ Sara asked, shoving her hands in the pockets of her denim jacket.

‘I am.’ Jack confirmed. He rocked back on his feet a little. ‘You?’

‘Great.’ Sara nodded.

He noticed her hair had grown out of the short style she had sported the year before. ‘I like your hair.’

‘Thanks.’ Her hand crept up to touch one of the golden locks before it fell away again. ‘Actually, it’s the weirdest thing.’

‘What?’ Jack asked.

‘Well, I come here sometimes to think something over in my head and today,’ she smiled ruefully at him, ‘I came to think over whether I should call you.’

‘Oh.’ Jack’s eyes widened. ‘Well, that is weird.’ He felt a flutter of uncertainty in his belly. After the incident with the alien who’d pretended to be him the year before, they had divorced and even through all of the proceedings they’d had no contact. He wondered what Sara wanted to talk to him about.

‘Do you have time for a coffee?’ Sara asked.

He was going to refuse her but his eyes caught on the hope in hers and he sighed. ‘How about a walk in the park?’

She smiled tentatively at him. ‘Sure. Do you want to follow me in your truck or…’

‘I don’t have the truck.’ Jack admitted, interrupting. ‘I caught a cab here.’

‘I can drive.’ Sara offered.

‘OK.’ Jack followed her back through the headstones to where she had parked. He frowned; she’d changed her car. ‘New car?’

‘Dad insisted,’ Sara said as he settled into the passenger seat. She gunned the engine and drove out onto the main road.

There was silence in the car and Jack debated whether agreeing to talk with his ex-wife was such a good idea; he was still struggling to come to a conclusion when she stopped in front of the park near Jack’s house and got out. Jack let her lead the way. Finally, they sat down on a wooden bench and Sara went to get coffee from a vending cart. She returned with two polystyrene cups of coffee and handed one to her ex-husband.

Jack fidgeted with the cup, resting it on the bench beside him. ‘So…’ he said.

‘So.’ Sara smiled tightly. ‘You’re probably wondering why I wanted to talk to you.’

‘A little.’ Jack gestured at her. ‘We haven’t really spoken since that day at my house after the thing with the…uh…other me.’

‘We said goodbye, Jack. I didn’t think there was anything else to say,’ Sara admitted.

Jack nodded. It was only the truth.

‘Are you still…’ Sara grimaced, realising she couldn’t ask him out loud.

‘Yes.’ Jack answered hurriedly. ‘Still working in deep space telemetry.’

‘And your team?’ Sara inquired gently. ‘Doctor Jackson and Captain…I want to say Cartwright but that’s not right is it?’

‘Carter.’ Jack corrected her. ‘Yeah. I’m still working with them.’

‘That’s quite unusual, isn’t it?’ Sara noted. ‘To still be working with the same team.’ She pulled a face. ‘Although, I guess it’s an unusual job.’

Jack smiled but he didn’t answer.

‘I wanted to call you because I had some news.’ Sara’s finger traced around the rim of her cup.

‘Oh?’ Jack blew on the hot liquid and took a sip.

‘I…well, I, uh…’ She gave an apologetic smile. ‘I can’t believe how difficult this is.’

‘Why don’t you just spit it out, Sara.’ Jack advised, vaguely amused by her discomfort.

‘I met someone.’

‘Oh.’ Jack’s eyes widened and he set his cup down. She’d found someone else. Well, of course, she’d found someone else, he berated himself harshly. She was an attractive woman, a very attractive woman who was no longer his wife and he had no right to feel like he had any right…he realised belatedly that she was waiting for him to say something other than ‘oh.’ He waved his hand at her. ‘That’s…great.’

‘He’s a good man, Jack.’ Sara said, softly. ‘You’d like him.’

Jack squirmed and picked up his cup again. ‘Does he make you happy?’

‘Yes. He does.’ Sara nodded.

‘That’s all that matters then.’ Jack smiled sadly.

She picked up her cup. ‘There’s more.’ She took a gulp of her drink. ‘He’s asked me to marry him.’

‘And you’ve said yes.’ He read the answer in the slightly guilty flush that stole over her cheeks.

‘Not yet.’ She smoothed the skirt she wore and avoided Jack’s eyes.

‘Why not?’ Jack asked taken aback.

‘He asked me because,’ she blushed furiously as she stared at the ground, ‘well, I’m pregnant.’

He was stunned into silence.

‘I know, I know.’ Sara said, gesticulating wildly. ‘The doctors said it would be difficult after Charlie’s birth and I know we tried for years for another child and it didn’t happen but…Jack…’ her eyes gleamed at him awestruck, ‘a baby.’

Jack shook himself and ignored the pang of envy that tugged at his heartstrings. ‘Congratulations.’

‘I feel like I’ve been given another chance, you know.’ Sara continued. ‘After Charlie…’ tears sprang into her eyes, ‘I never thought I’d be a Mom again.’ Her eyes met his anxiously. ‘I’m so scared, Jack.’

Jack reached across the space between them and took hold of her hand. ‘You’re going to be fine.’ He assured her confidently. ‘You were a great Mom. Are.’ He corrected as he squeezed her hand.

She smiled at him tremulously. ‘Thank you.’ She gently returned his squeeze with one of her own. ‘I think I needed to hear that from you.’

‘I don’t know why,’ Jack said bemused, ‘you were always the one who was there for Charlie; not me.’

‘You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself, Jack.’ Sara looked at him intently. ‘You have to know by now that what happened wasn’t your fault.’

Jack ignored her reassurance and withdrew his hand slowly. He picked up his cup again and took a big gulp of the semi-warm liquid.

She sighed at the guarded look in his eyes. ‘So, what about you?’ She gestured with her own cup. ‘Are you seeing someone?’

Jack hesitated for the briefest of moments before he shook his head.

‘But you’re interested in someone.’ Sara suggested, her eyes narrowing on him.

An image of Sam popped into his head and he resolutely pushed it away. ‘Nope,’ he said out loud.

‘Which means yes.’ Sara contradicted him. ‘Come on, Jack, I know you.’

He sighed at the knowing look in her eyes. ‘It’s complicated.’

‘How is it complicated?’ Sara questioned him.

He shrugged. ‘I work with her.’

Sara looked at him intently and for a long moment he thought she’d guessed he’d meant Carter. ‘You deserve to be happy, Jack,’ she said kindly. ‘Don’t forget that.’

He gave a huff of laughter.

‘This is weird, huh?’ Sara laughed. ‘You and me sitting here talking about being involved with other people.’

‘Weird.’ Jack agreed. ‘So, when do you think you’ll marry this guy?’

‘I guess as soon as possible.’ Sara pulled a face. ‘I don’t want a bump going down the aisle.’ There was a ringing noise from her purse and she drew out a cell phone with an apologetic smile. ‘Hi. OK. No, I’ll be right there. Sure.’ She closed it up.

Jack looked at her questioningly.

‘Sorry, Dad’s broken down. I’m going to have to…’ She was already getting to her feet.

‘Sure.’ Jack said immediately.

‘Do you need dropped somewhere or…’

Jack waved away her offer, leaning back on the bench and settling in. ‘I’m OK. I’ll call the base to send a car to pick me up.’

‘OK then.’ Sara hovered for a second before she moved suddenly. She hugged him briefly and kissed his cheek. ‘Thank you.’ She whispered in his ear. She straightened and he caught hold of her arm.

‘Good luck.’ He said sincerely.

‘You too, Jack.’ She squeezed his hand and he let go of it.

He watched her walk out before he reached for his own cell phone and flipped it open. He pressed a button and his speed dial kicked in. He raised it to his ear. ‘Hey. It’s me.’ He closed his eyes at the reply. ‘I know I was just…look, I’m at the park on Baker’s Avenue. Can you pick me up? Yeah. Thanks.’ He shut the phone and picked up his coffee.

Twenty minutes later, he saw the car pull up in front of the main entrance and he walked out. Daniel Jackson got of the driver’s seat and walked around to the passenger side. He opened the door for Jack who climbed in without a word.

Jack let his head fall back on the seat and closed his eyes as Daniel got back in and started driving. He let the rhythmic noise of the engine soothe him.

‘Are you OK?’ Daniel asked, his words coated with concern.

‘Peachy.’ Jack said tersely.

‘You know Sam, Teal’c and I stopped by your place earlier,’ Daniel continued, ‘you weren’t there so Sam took Teal’c back to the base.’

Jack stayed silent.

‘We were worried.’ Daniel said finally.

Jack sighed exasperated even if he was touched that his team had checked up on him. ‘I’m fine.’ He looked over at a sceptical Daniel. ‘I’m fine.’

‘We know it wasn’t easy for you,’ Daniel said, ‘saying goodbye to…to Charlie.’

Jack was silent for a long moment as he turned over Daniel’s words in his head. It hadn’t been easy saying goodbye to Charlie – either one of them; his son and the young Retu boy. ‘I saw Sara.’ His eyes widened at his admission. He wondered if he had actually said it out loud.

‘Your wife?’ Daniel clarified.

Crap. He had said it out loud. ‘Ex-wife.’ Jack corrected tiredly. He caught Daniel’s quizzical glance. ‘We ran into each other at the cemetery.’

A look of understanding flitted over Daniel’s intelligent face. ‘How is she?’

‘Pregnant.’ Jack said bluntly.

Daniel’s head snapped back to him in shock and Jack read the conclusion the other man had jumped to in his blue eyes.

‘It’s not mine!’ He denied hurriedly. ‘She’s met someone else. She’s getting married.’

‘Oh.’ Daniel sighed.

‘That’s what I said.’ Jack noted, thumping his thigh gently with his good hand.

‘How do you feel about that?’ Daniel asked.

‘How do you think I feel, Daniel?’ Jack asked angrily. ‘I’m thrilled.’

Daniel concentrated on driving and there was silence.

‘Sorry.’ Jack said eventually.

‘That’s OK.’ Daniel lifted a hand off the wheel momentarily. ‘It must have been a shock. I mean I know you guys have been divorced a while but still.’

‘Yeah.’ Jack nodded. ‘She seems happy.’ He stared out of the windscreen. ‘That’s all that’s important.’ He sighed and brushed his hand through his hair. ‘How’s Carter doing? She OK after seeing her Dad again?’

Daniel nodded. ‘I think it’s helped reassure her that she did the right thing suggesting he take Selmak.’

‘It saved his life.’ Jack commented dryly.

‘I think she was worried he would regret it or that the Tok’ra had lied.’ Daniel remarked.

‘I know the feeling.’ Jack said, his mind once again drifting to the young boy who bore his son’s name.

‘Charlie will be fine, Jack.’ Daniel reassured him as though he’d read his friend’s mind. ‘Jacob and Selmak will take care of him.’

Jack looked unseeingly out of the window at the passing scenery. ‘I hope so, Daniel.’ He replied out loud. ‘I really hope so.’

fin.
 

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