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Fanfiction: Acceptance

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S1 Thor's Hammer
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Jack/Daniel friendship.  Daniel/Sha're.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.  Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

Acceptance

Daniel Jackson pulled the blanket back over his head and let the hot tears slide down his cheeks and onto the pillow. He didn’t make a sound just lay there and cried silently in the dark of his bedroom. It didn’t occur to him that his stillness and the quiet were unnatural. His childhood had honed his crying technique; a geeky child grieving for his parents was an easy target for bullies. No, better that no-one knew how sensitive he was or how much pain he was in, even now he was an adult and was alone in his own apartment, in his own bedroom where he had crawled fully clothed into his bed as soon as he had arrived home. He closed his eyes and another scalding set of tears tracked their way down his face.

It had been a bad day.

Understatement, thought Daniel as he pressed his face into the bedding. It had been a truly rotten day. It had hit him in the middle of the debriefing about their visit to Cimmeria just how rotten it had been and it had sent him scurrying from the SGC early for the first time since the Stargate programme had been up and running. He had simply filed his mission report and fled. It had begun so well, he mused absently, the tears soaking the cotton under his head. For the previous two weeks Jack O’Neill had been confined to base until his appearance was back to normal after the whole Argosian nanocyte thing and while Daniel had felt for the older man, the time to research had been a Godsend – literally. He had delved into every mythology and legend of the world and had been struck by the stories of the Norse Gods. He had made an intuitive leap that they were friendly Gods, enemies of the Goa’uld – and he’d been right. Teal’c’s confirmation that the Goa’uld had forbidden travel to a planet with the mark of Thor’s hammer had made it all worthwhile and to get the opportunity to travel to the planet in question had been the icing on the cake.

Of course, that was when it had all gone wrong. They couldn’t have known that the hammer was an actual protective device that guarded the planet’s Stargate from the Goa’uld. When the blue beam had zapped Teal’c and Jack, who had tried to push the Jaffa out of it, for a horrifying moment Daniel had thought they had been killed; all the stories indicated that the hammer was a weapon. Captain Carter hadn’t been so quick to jump to that conclusion, Daniel thought, his tears abating as his mind travelled over the events of the mission. Sam had stuck fast to the notion that their two team-mates were simply missing and the arrival of Gairwyn with her story of Kendra had backed up Sam’s proposition that Teal’c and the Colonel were alive.

Gairwyn had taken them to the former Goa’uld host and Kendra had told them of the labyrinth; of the doorway at the exit which had freed her of the Goa’uld symbiote. Daniel wiped at the dampness on his cheeks. He had been so excited. It had partly been because they had established that it was very likely Jack and Teal’c were alive but he quietly admitted to himself, his excitement had been mostly down to his joy that he might have found a way to save his wife.

Sha’re. He conjured up the image of her in his mind; her soft dark hair, her sweet face, the curve of her body and her eyes, always shining with love for him. The ache of missing her shook his body from head to toe and brought another wave of tears that cascaded down his face. She had been gone for months, captured by Apophis from Abydos and taken as a host for the Goa’uld Ammonet. His fault. He had unburied the gate and allowed Apophis to come through. A wave of self-hatred burned through his gullet and he suddenly swept the blanket away and stumbled into the bathroom to retch into the sink.

The sickness left him clinging onto the porcelain and shuddering. He turned on a steel tap with a shaking hand and cleaned the sink before he reached for his toothbrush. The journey to the labyrinth had taken a long time but Daniel hadn’t minded. He had enjoyed the opportunity to get to know Kendra and learn of her experience. It had filled him with hope. He had dared to believe that perhaps finding Cimmeria, finding a device that allowed a host to become free of the Goa’uld, that it was his redemption for his earlier mistake at unburying the gate. He had found a way of saving Sha’re and not only Sha’re but her brother Skaara who had also been taken.

Daniel slowed in the action of brushing his teeth. All that hope had been destroyed when Jack had told him they had to destroy the machine for Teal’c to leave. He spat out the toothpaste and rinsed his mouth with water. Teal’c had offered to stay in the labyrinth but deep down Daniel knew it wouldn’t have been fair to expect the Jaffa to make such a sacrifice even if part of him, a part he didn’t like to admit existed, thought there was a justice to it given Teal’c’s involvement in what had happened to Sha’re and Skaara. Daniel threw the toothbrush into the glass at the side of the sink. It wasn’t Teal’c’s fault that he couldn’t leave the labyrinth and he had been unusually visibly upset at what had transpired.

He gripped the side of the sink hanging on for dear life as he stared unseeingly at his reflection in the mirror. In his head he could hear the shot leave the staff weapon and see again the energy ripple over the machine. When they left the planet, he had thought he was OK with destroying the machine but it had hit him in the middle of debriefing. He had destroyed a machine that could have saved Sha’re. He sank onto the tiled floor and covered his face with his hands and when that didn’t stop the tears, he wrapped his arms around his head, pressed his face into his knees and rocked silently back and forth.

Daniel almost didn’t hear the banging on the front door of his apartment. He lowered his arms slowly to check and the noise came again. He got to his feet and swiped at his face using the sleeve of his shirt to rub away the traces of tears as he headed out to answer the insistent summons. He grabbed his glasses on the way. Probably some door-to-door salesman, he mused tiredly; nobody had his new address. He’d get rid of him and go back to bed. He slid the chain back, unlocked the door and swung it open. His blue eyes widened in shock at the sight of a rumpled looking Jack O’Neill standing in front of him.

Jack charged straight into the apartment, thrusting two pizza boxes into Daniel’s arms. ‘Tell me you have a TV.’ He demanded.

‘Well, yes…’ Daniel said bemused noting Jack had kept hold of a pack of beer.

‘Great.’ Jack headed down the stairs for the living area, leaving Daniel to shut the door and trail after him. He found Jack in the middle of the room staring at the crush of unopened boxes and unpacked belongings that littered the space.

Daniel flushed self-consciously. ‘I haven’t really had time to unpack.’ He hadn’t wanted to, he realised, because unpacking meant that he accepted that he might be staying on Earth, that he wouldn’t be returning to Abydos with Sha’re anytime soon.

‘That’s OK.’ Jack said throwing his jacket on a box. ‘Where’s the remote?’

‘Jack, look,’ Daniel waved the pizza boxes as the other man searched, ‘this really isn’t a good time…’

‘Ah, found it.’ Jack pressed the ‘on’ button, shoved a box off the sofa and sat down. The screen changed rapidly from a documentary on Hitler to sports. He reached down, grabbed a beer and settled back. His brown eyes glanced to Daniel before moving straight back to the on screen action. ‘Are you bringing those pizzas over or what?’

Daniel felt a surge of resentment and closed his eyes. For a brief moment, he hated the other man. Maybe if he wished hard enough Jack would just disappear. He sighed and reopened his eyes. Nope, it definitely wasn’t his day. Jack remained seated on the sofa, sipping a beer and watching the TV. ‘What are you doing here, Jack?’

‘My TV’s broken,’ Jack said without looking at him, ‘and I really wanted to watch this. It was the only thing that kept me going in that labyrinth.’ His eyes flickered away from the screen and met Daniel’s. ‘You don’t mind do you?’

Daniel opened his mouth to reply that he did when he caught the anxious hope in the depths of the brown eyes looking back at him. He sighed and gave in ungraciously. He plonked the pizzas onto the coffee table and pushed another box out of the way to take a seat next to Jack. ‘You got another one of those?’ He asked gesturing at the bottle.

Jack silently handed him a bottle and reached for a slice of pizza. Daniel took a gulp of beer and snagged his own share of the food. For a long while there was nothing but the quiet chatter of the TV commentary, interspersed with chewing and gulping. Daniel let his eyes fix on the screen. He didn’t recognise the game on the screen but then he wasn’t exactly into sport. He swallowed another gulp of beer.

‘I should have done it.’ Jack’s quiet words drifted across the sofa and settled somewhere between them in the tense silence.

‘Why?’ Daniel asked finally with a sigh, unsure what to think or feel with the assertion that Jack should have destroyed the machine. ‘What difference would it have made?’

‘I shouldn’t have put it on you.’ Jack insisted his thumb rubbing at the label on the bottle almost unconsciously.

‘Why?’ Daniel asked again. ‘So I could be mad at you or at Sam for destroying the machine instead of being mad at you for making me do it?’

‘So you are mad at me.’ Jack seemed incongruously satisfied by Daniel’s answer and the archaeologist shot him a bemused look.

‘Of course I’m mad at you, Jack.’ Daniel blurted out angrily. ‘You made me destroy the only thing we’ve discovered that gave me a chance of saving my wife.’

‘And Skaara.’ Jack noted. ‘We could have stayed.’ He sighed. ‘We could have camped out in that room; Carter might have worked out how to switch the thing off in a controlled way.’

‘Didn’t Sam say the technology was way more advanced than the Goa’ulds at the debriefing?’ Daniel said. ‘She didn’t sound like she could have figured it out in a couple of days. You probably would have just delayed the inevitable.’ He gestured. ‘Besides, I know why you made me do it.’

‘You do?’

Daniel nodded. ‘You didn’t want to burden Sam with it and if you had done it, Teal’c might have thought that I was still mad at him, that my acceptance of him up till now was just an act. I get why it had to be me.’ He winced at his own bitterness.

‘Daniel…’

‘I’ll be fine, Jack.’ Daniel said sharply.

‘I’m still sorry.’

The sincere apology startled Daniel into looking at him again. ‘Did you just apologise?’

Jack’s eyes slipped away from the TV and met Daniel’s squarely. ‘I did.’ He paused. ‘Look, whatever my reasons for asking you to do it and no matter how justified they were, I know destroying that thing was hard for you and it was unfair that you had to do it. So I’m sorry.’

Daniel stared at him for a moment before he broke the intense eye contact. His self-righteous anger drained away suddenly and left him uncertain. He looked at the beer he held miserably. ‘It’s not your fault, Jack.’ He rested his head against the back of the sofa. ‘I’m the one to blame.’

‘I’m not sure I follow you, Daniel.’ Jack said wondering what crazy thought process the other man was following.

‘We wouldn’t even have needed the device on Cimmeria to save Sha’re and Skaara if I’d just left the gate on Abydos buried.’ Daniel confessed.

Jack looked at Daniel’s pale face at the red, puffy eyes and silvery tracks that told of a crying jag. ‘You have to stop blaming yourself. The only person to blame is Apophis. He’s the one who stole Sha’re and Skaara from Abydos and he’s the one who had them implanted with snakes.’

‘He wouldn’t have even been looking in Ra’s territory if I hadn’t killed Ra.’ Daniel argued.

‘If we hadn’t killed Ra.’ Jack corrected him. ‘And if anything that’s more on me than you; I triggered the nuke.’ Daniel went quiet and Jack gave a humourless smile. Got you there, didn’t I, Danny? He thought sadly.

‘I just want her back.’ Daniel said eventually. He sounded weary.

‘We’ll get her back.’ Jack said with a confidence he didn’t feel but that he knew the younger man needed. Leadership, he mused, sometimes the appearance of confidence was more important than the truth.

‘Every time I go through the Stargate, Jack, I think is this the time? Will I see her this time?’ Daniel gulped down more beer. ‘And this one time I think, OK, I haven’t seen her but maybe I’ve found a way to save her…’ His throat closed as tears threatened again.

‘I know, Daniel.’ Jack said sympathetically. ‘It sucks.’

Daniel forced back the urge to cry. ‘I miss my wife.’

‘I miss mine.’ The words slipped out unintentionally. Jack glanced at his beer and wondered if it was affecting him more than usual.

Daniel suddenly focused on him. Jack had been separated from his wife Sara for a while. ‘Have you spoken to her since…?’

‘Since an alien turned up at her house pretending to be me?’ Jack finished. ‘Can we not talk about it?’

‘Sure.’ Daniel went to tip his beer back and looked at the empty bottle puzzled. Jack handed him another one. ‘Thanks.’

They watched the game for a few more minutes before Jack sighed heavily. ‘Sara came to the house.’

‘She did?’ Daniel was surprised. ‘When?’

‘The morning after.’ Jack said. ‘Before you guys showed up.’

‘You didn’t say anything.’ Daniel noted.

‘There wasn’t anything to say.’ Jack said simply. ‘She came to say goodbye. We’re divorcing.’

Daniel viewed the other man’s grave profile, the sadness lurking in the depths of his brown eyes. ‘I’m sorry, Jack.’

Jack shrugged. ‘At least we said goodbye this time.’ His eyes slid to Daniel’s. ‘I should thank you for giving her the address.’

Daniel blushed. ‘Ah…about that…’

Jack waved away the apology he was certain he was about to get.

The archaeologist frowned suddenly. ‘Talking about addresses, how did you get mine?’

‘Sam gave it to me.’ Jack said.

‘Sam?’ Daniel’s frown deepened. ‘How did Sam get it?’

‘I’m not sure.’ Jack admitted. ‘I didn’t inquire too closely.’

‘She must have hacked into the personnel files.’ Daniel mused oblivious to Jack’s visible wince. ‘Couldn’t she get into serious trouble for that?’

‘Yes, Daniel.’ Jack said with exaggerated patience. ‘Which will be why I didn’t inquire too closely and why I didn’t hear you just say that.’

Daniel blinked. ‘Why would she do that?’

‘She was worried about you.’ Jack said with an exasperated sigh. ‘We all were.’

‘You were?’

‘Daniel, you disappeared off the base without a word to any of us after a particularly difficult mission for you.’ Jack pointed out. ‘Of course we were worried.’ He didn’t mention the level by level search they had instigated when they had realised none of them had seen Daniel since the debriefing; or how deeply upset Sam had been – he wasn’t sure he wanted to see that look in her blue eyes ever again – or how devastated the usually impassive Jaffa has seemed. The two of them had been eager to come with him but he figured if Daniel was mad at them for what had happened then he should take the brunt of it; it had been his decision, after all.

‘Oh.’ Daniel shifted a little uncomfortably. He was swamped by another feeling of guilt. He knew the others had also been upset by what had happened in the labyrinth. Teal’c had been uncharacteristically visibly upset and Sam had been unusually silent during his discussion with Jack over destroying the machine. Knowing how quick Sam’s mind was and what Kendra had told them, it was likely she had worked out they were going to have to destroy the device to save Teal’c long before they had reached labyrinth. He sighed. He couldn’t believe she had risked her career to find his address for Jack.

Daniel wondered at his decision not to give his team the address. Had he been unconsciously keeping them at a distance? His eyes landed on the unpacked boxes. Or maybe it was just another part of his denial, he thought sadly. He hadn’t wanted to think that he’d be staying at the apartment long enough to require telling them. He frowned. Sam had found the address for Jack but she hadn’t come with him; Jack had come alone. Thinking of the team again, Daniel thought. He probably didn’t want Sam or Teal’c hurt by anything an emotionally upset archaeologist might say in anger. His eyes flickered to Jack. The military man had made a hard decision in the labyrinth but he’d made the one that he thought worked best for the team as a whole. Jack didn’t have the luxury of only considering how one person felt…he had to consider them all.

All of which, Daniel concluded, meant that Jack’s visit wasn’t an accident. ‘Your TV isn’t broken, is it?’ He asked idly.

‘Nope.’ Jack admitted cheerfully.

‘So this game we’re watching?’ Daniel asked.

‘I have no idea what it is.’ Jack said. ‘But I’m pretty certain the guys in white are losing to the other guys in white.’ He frowned. ‘Or maybe the other way around.’

Daniel picked up the remote and changed the channel. He flipped to a movie; the Cowardly Lion ran across the screen.

‘Cool.’ Jack said reaching for another beer.

‘You have to have watched this a million times.’ Daniel complained even though he threw the remote back down on the cushion between them.

‘It’s a classic, Daniel.’

The two of them bickered happily as the Lion joined Dorothy and they set off to see the Wizard.

o-O-o

Sunlight streamed through the living room windows. It settled on the sofa and its two occupants. Daniel felt the warmth of it on his face as he came awake. He frowned. He was lying at an odd angle and the cushion under his head seemed very solid. His eyes snapped open and he winced at the brightness. Suddenly the ‘cushion’ stirred. Daniel gave a yelp of fright and leaped away from the sofa dislodging Jack who gave a startled cry as he fell on the floor. He got stiffly to his feet and glared at the archaeologist.

‘Sorry.’ Daniel mumbled willing his heartbeat back to normal. ‘It’s just…’ he gestured at the empty sofa, ‘you moved.’

‘I moved?’ Jack bit out rubbing his ribs where Daniel had unwittingly elbowed him in his haste to get up.

Daniel folded his arms across his chest. ‘We must have…uh…fallen asleep.’

‘Ya think?’ Jack glanced back at the sofa unwillingly and rubbed at the ache in his neck. His eyes caught Daniel’s. ‘This is…’

‘Never mentioned.’ Daniel completed.

‘Ever.’ Jack stressed. He grimaced and looked around. ‘I need a bathroom.’ He took a couple of steps towards Daniel before skirting him and zipping down the hallway.

Daniel took in the debris of the evening; the empty bottles and leftover pizza. He picked up a cold slice and munched on it hungrily. He was licking the tomato sauce from his fingers when Jack wandered back in and grabbed his discarded jacket. Daniel noticed Jack’s short brown hair was damp and figured the other man had dunked his head in cold water – his cure for a hangover.

‘You want some breakfast?’ Daniel asked. ‘I have leftover pizza.’

‘Nah,’ Jack stuffed his arms into his jacket, straightened the collar and gestured back toward the door. ‘I should probably get going.’ His guarded brown eyes met Daniel’s. ‘Although if you want,’ he said casually as he waved at the boxes, ‘since we’ve got a couple of days on leave, I could stick around, help you unpack.’

Daniel shook his head. ‘Thanks but I think it’s something I need to do myself.’

Jack nodded. ‘OK. Well.’ He rocked back on his heels. ‘I’ll just…’ he indicated the door.

‘Yeah.’ Daniel followed him out. At the front door he cleared his throat awkwardly. ‘Jack?’

The older man turned and looked back at him. ‘What?’

‘Thanks.’ Daniel said softly.

Jack nodded and left.

Daniel closed the front door and wandered back into the living room. He sighed. He had forgotten SG1 had two days off while the technicians ran a gate diagnostic. Maybe he could head back into the base and apologise to Sam and Teal’c. He could continue with his research there, he mused. Maybe find another planet that might be linked to the Norse Gods – after all, if they had created a device like the one on Cimmeria once, they might have done it again. He could find one that was intact, that could help him save Sha’re…

His fist landed on the top of a tall box by his hip.

Daniel looked at it for a long moment. Maybe, he considered sadly, it was time to accept he wasn’t heading straight back to Abydos with his wife. He swallowed hard against the lump in his throat as his hands reached out and tore the tape away. He reached in and pulled out an old wooden statue. For a moment he battled against the urge to run away to his bedroom and hide back under the blanket. He slowly loosened his grip and set the figurine aside, reached back into the box. It was time to unpack.

fin.


 

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