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Fanfiction: Too Close for Comfort

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S1 Fire and Water
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Daniel/Team friendships.  Mild Sam/Jack UST.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.  Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

Too Close for Comfort

Colonel Jack O’Neill bounded up the stairs to General Hammond’s office not caring that he was wearing a grin as wide as his face.

Life was good.

SG1 had recovered Daniel Jackson from the fish-like alien, Nem, and brought him back very wet but very alive. The archaeologist was sleeping off his experience in a side-room in the infirmary with the other two members of SG1 watching over him. Captain Carter had set up shop with her laptop on the desk and the Jaffa, Teal’c, had surrounded himself with candles and was meditating by the side of the bed. Jack smiled wryly. The set-up kind of reminded him of how the team had closed ranks after his own experience on Argos. The smile faded a little.

The team had promised each other after Argos that they would never leave someone behind. On one level, Jack could accept their leaving Daniel had been unavoidable; they had been made to believe he was dead after all. On another, he was having difficulty forgiving himself for the lapse even if Daniel had understood it. But then only Daniel, thought Jack with more fondness than he ever would admit to having for the other man, only Daniel could make friends with the fish alien who’d held him prisoner and propose they try an alliance once everyone had recovered from the events of the previous week.

Well, Daniel might have understood Nem’s motives and forgiven him but Jack wasn’t Daniel. He could understand Nem’s original belief that they served the Goa’uld; he could even forgive him for taking them hostage, for wanting an answer on what happened to his mate; what he couldn’t forgive was the fake memory that Nem had implanted in his head of seeing Daniel engulfed in a volcanic explosion after crying out to Jack for help. Jack hadn’t only left Daniel behind, he’d believed he was dead. In his book, Nem’s actions were unforgivable.

He knew Teal’c, the Jaffa, felt the same way; he’d said as much at the briefing when Daniel proposed the alliance; Sam had been silent on the subject which in itself spoke volumes. Daniel seemed a little bemused by their lack of support for his idea but then, Daniel hadn’t spent the better part of a week grieving for one of his team-mates. Jack felt a twinge of guilt; Daniel had spent the time alone, trying to survive and placing himself in danger in order to get a resolution. They had come too close for comfort to losing him for real. He sighed.

Jack figured it was a toss up which of the experiences was worse. They were all going to have deal with what happened and move on, he thought firmly, as he crossed the briefing room. No doubt that was why he’d been paged to see the General. Doc Fraiser had probably recommended they have some kind of psych exam. Crap. He really hated those things. Jack rapped on the door and entered at the brisk order to do so, closing the door behind him. He stood at attention in front of the desk.

‘General.’

Hammond couldn’t stop the smile that tugged at his lips at the cheerful and slightly irreverent tone as he glanced up from the report he was reading and settled back in his red leather chair. ‘Colonel, at ease.’

Jack adjusted his stance. ‘Sir.’

‘How’s Doctor Jackson doing?’ Hammond asked folding his hands across his stomach and regarding the younger man with a piercing blue stare.

‘He’s sleeping, sir. Captain Carter and Teal’c are with him.’ Jack said. ‘The Doc says he should be good to be released tomorrow morning if there’s no reaction to the memory device.’

‘Good, good.’ Hammond gestured across his desk at the Colonel with a pen. ‘Doctor Fraiser has recommended that SG1 attend a team session with Doctor Mackenzie to discuss everything that has happened.’ He began. He saw the faintest hint of disgust glimmer in the brown depths of the Colonel’s brown eyes before it was carefully suppressed. Hammond understood how the Colonel felt. He was an old school soldier himself. ‘I’ve decided to hold off on that recommendation for the time being.’

Jack couldn’t repress the grin. ‘Thank you, sir.’

‘Don’t thank me yet, Colonel.’ Hammond said. ‘I’m simply giving you and your team an opportunity to work this out yourselves. If I, or Doctor Fraiser, determine there is a problem I will reconsider my decision.’

‘Understood, sir.’ Jack said and felt his own pride swell a little at the sign of his CO’s confidence in his team.

‘On that thought, I’ve decided to keep SG1 on stand down for the next two days.’ Hammond said. ‘I understand that Doctor Jackson’s apartment was let to a new tenant soon after the Air Force notified the rental agency?’

‘Yes, sir.’ Jack confirmed and gestured across the desk. ‘You know those rental agencies.’ He didn’t try to hide his disgust. ‘We all thought we’d give Daniel a hand to move out. I think it might be a good first mission for the team, sir. Ease out any problems that might arise because of what happened.’

‘I’d be more than happy to assign him some temporary accommodation on the base…’

‘No need, sir.’ Jack said interrupting. He smiled apologetically at his CO. ‘I’ve offered the use of my spare room until he finds something else.’

Hammond harrumphed a little and Jack wondered at the slight look of dismay that appeared on the General’s features for a moment. The older man leaned forward, clasping his hands on the top of the desk. ‘Have a seat, Jack.’

Four words to make him more nervous than if he was facing down a whole battalion of Jaffa, Jack considered wryly as he sat down obediently and repressed the urge to grimace.

‘There’s something else that I need to discuss with you, Jack.’ Hammond said seriously.

‘If this is about your car, sir, I will pay for the damage.’ Jack winced remembering how he had shattered the car window with his hockey stick at the wake he had held for Daniel. He had been so angry at the futility of Daniel’s death; at his own inability to save him. He had to remind himself that it hadn’t happened; that Daniel was alive and asleep a few floors away.

‘As much as I’m relieved to hear that, no; it’s not about my car.’ The General shook his head. ‘Doctor Mackenzie brought something to my attention that I thought we should discuss.’ The Texan accent tinged the words with a faint air of irony.

‘Oh?’

‘Is there anything you think you should share with me, Jack?’ Hammond asked keeping hold of the other man’s bemused gaze.

‘Nothing comes to mind, sir.’ Jack replied truthfully.

‘The end of the hypnosis session between Captain Carter and Doctor Mackenzie you insisted on sitting in on?’ Hammond hinted.

The Colonel looked back at him blankly.

‘You hugged Captain Carter.’ Hammond said bluntly.

‘Oh. That.’ Jack said. ‘Mackenzie actually reported that?’ He asked incredulously, the first stirrings of anger drifting into his tone.

‘He kept it off the record, Jack.’ Hammond said mildly. ‘You want to tell me what happened?’

Jack didn’t but he recognised the underlying order. His brown eyes flashed warningly. ‘Carter was reliving the first few moments after we got implanted with the memory of Daniel dying. She was distraught and Mackenzie,’ he almost spat the name, ‘wasn’t bringing her out of it. I went over and grabbed her to bring her round. She was upset over the fact that we’d left Daniel behind on the damn planet with the damn fish alien, and I…’ he gestured across the table, ‘hugged her. Sir.’

‘Well, that matches Doctor Mackenzie’s account.’ Hammond noted. ‘He told me in his opinion that the hug was an emotional response by you both to discovering the truth about what had happened on the planet and the realisation that Doctor Jackson was still alive.’

‘Then why did he mention it?’ Jack asked harshly.

‘Lose the attitude, Jack.’ Hammond ordered sharply. ‘We’re all clear that the context of the…uh…hug was innocent enough. But I shouldn’t need to remind you that there shouldn’t be a need for us to have this discussion at all.’

‘Dammit, sir, I would have done the same if it had been Daniel standing there upset and Carter stuck on the planet.’ Jack retorted.

‘I know that, Jack, that’s part of the problem.’ Hammond sighed. ‘Mackenzie has a theory…’

‘Another one?’ Jack muttered and subsided at the look his CO shot him.

‘He thinks you have an inappropriate level of closeness to those under your command.’ Hammond said bluntly. He held up a hand before Jack could explode with indignation. ‘He points out that your relationships with Doctor Jackson and with Teal’c are based on a personal trust rather than military roles or orders.’ He waited a beat. ‘He believes, in time, this will also be true of your relationship with Captain Carter.’

‘It’s true of any relationship in any team, sir.’ Jack pointed out. ‘There comes a point where you rely on someone because they’re John or Bill or…or Daniel, not because they’re ordered to serve with you, especially when your lives are at stake.’

‘I realise that, Colonel. So does the Air Force.’ Hammond replied. ‘That’s why there are regulations…’

‘With respect, General, I don’t think the Air Force regulations were designed to cover a situation like ours.’ Jack said forcefully.

‘Perhaps not,’ Hammond allowed, ‘and unlike Doctor Mackenzie, I know you’ll apply those regulations appropriately.’ He sighed. ‘Just consider this a gentle reminder that hugging female officers under your command in front of a witness no matter how innocent the context is not good idea. I don’t need to tell you after what happened between Captain MacNally and SG1 what such an incident could do to Captain Carter’s career and reputation if it was taken out of context.’

‘No, sir.’ Jack said smartly. ‘You don’t need to remind me.’

Hammond raised his own eyebrows at the curt tone. ‘Good. I’ll leave you to inform your team of the stand down. That’ll be all, Colonel.’

Jack nodded and stood up. ‘Yes, sir.’

The General looked back at the Colonel’s hard brown eyes and repressed the urge to sigh again. ‘Dismissed.’

Jack contained his anger as he nodded at the General very properly, marched out of the office and closed the door behind him instead of giving into the desire to slam it shut.

o-O-o

Daniel shoved the last of his underwear in the dresser drawer and turned around to look at the small room. It was neater than he remembered and he wondered briefly whether Jack had tidied up in anticipation of his arrival. The last time he had stayed, just after coming back from Abydos, there had been an obstacle course of boxes between him and the bed.

He sighed and pushed a hand through his long brown hair, fiddled with his glasses and glanced across at Sam who was placing his rather meagre collection of shirts and pants into the wardrobe. Even six months after his return from Abydos, his selection of off-duty clothing was rather minimal. He sighed. As a member of SG1 he was usually on the SGC base under Cheyenne Mountain and in the uniform of the USAF despite his official status as a civilian consultant.

‘I can’t believe I’m here.’ He muttered shoving his hands in his pockets.

Sam’s blue eyes shifted from the checked shirt she held to Daniel’s bemused face. ‘I know I can’t believe you’re really alive either.’

‘No, I didn’t mean that, that.’ He pulled a hand out of his pocket and waved it at her. ‘I meant that I couldn’t believe I’m here. At Jack’s. In his spare room.’

Sam smiled at his confusion. ‘I think the Colonel felt bad you’d lost your apartment because of Air Force efficiency in notifying the rental agency.’

‘Yeah…’ Daniel crossed his arms, ‘why is it they managed to notify my rental agency of my death within twenty-four hours and yet it took them over a month to sort out paying me?’

She smiled again but didn’t answer as she concentrated on hanging the last of his clothes up.

‘You know I think Jack might have changed his mind about my being here.’ Daniel murmured picking up a random trophy that was shoved on one of the wide shelves. It was for hockey. He put it down again.

‘What makes you say that?’ Sam asked. The Colonel had offered Daniel his spare room without any hesitation the day before and was busily storing the rest of Daniel’s stuff in the garage with Teal’c.

Daniel shrugged. ‘He just seems a little…’ he struggled for a description, ‘off.’ He settled for eventually.

The Captain sighed. ‘Your death hit him hard, Daniel.’ She gestured with his shirt in her hand. ‘It hit us all pretty hard.’ Her eyes dimmed at the memory of Daniel’s death they all still carried. She put the last shirt away and closed the door using the time to recover her own balance. She turned back to him. ‘When we realised that you were still on the planet; that we’d left you behind…’ she hugged herself tightly almost unconsciously at the memory of how upset she and the Colonel had been. The hug had been great though, she thought wistfully. She hadn’t experienced an all-encompassing, comforting hug like the one Jack had wrapped her in at the end of the hypnosis session since her Mom had died.

‘Hey.’ Daniel said softly. ‘You guys know I don’t blame you for leaving, right?’

Sam tried a smile and moved over to the desk where another box was waiting to be unpacked. She needed to keep herself busy. ‘Anyway,’ she said as she started to pull books from the depths of their cardboard prison, ‘I think the Colonel’s just dealing with everything.’ Although, she mused, he had been in a strange mood. He’d been calling her Captain or Carter all day rather than the more casual Sam he usually adopted in their off-duty hours.

‘Maybe.’ Daniel allowed.

Sam stopped as she registered the book she held. Wormhole theory by Samantha Carter. ‘Oh my God. Where did you get this?’

‘From the library at the base.’ Daniel said crossing over to stand next to her. ‘I figured if I was travelling by wormhole all the time maybe I should know more about the actual physics of it.’ He smiled shyly. ‘And I figured as you were the expert…’

‘You really don’t want to read this.’ Sam said with a delighted smile as she leafed through the book. She had her own copy sat proudly in pristine condition on a shelf in her seldom used apartment. ‘I mean this was my undergrad thesis and most of it’s all wrong. It makes too many assumptions and…’

‘I think it’s fascinating.’ Daniel said plucking the book from her and flipping to a section he had enjoyed. ‘I mean your theories here on the…’

‘If you kids are done reading, we could do with a hand in the garage.’ Jack’s dry voice had their heads whipping to the bedroom door and he smiled at the twin expressions of guilt. ‘Daniel, Teal’c and I are having a discussion about where to put your game thing. I figured you might want to weigh in.’

‘My game thing?’ Daniel asked perplexed.

‘Yeah, you know.’ Jack demonstrated with his hands. ‘Table about this big with little sticks in it.’

‘The Jackals and Hounds game.’ Daniel deduced.

‘That’s the one.’ Jack said easily leading the way out.

Sam and Daniel followed after him.

‘Wow.’ Sam’s blue eyes widened at the crammed space. ‘I didn’t realise you had so much stuff.’

‘Me either.’ Daniel admitted his gaze flitting over the carefully stacked boxes and furniture. His eyes landed on Teal’c who was guarding one particular box with all of the ferocity required of his previous employment as a First Prime in the service of a Goa’uld. ‘Is that the Jackals and Hounds game?’

‘It is, Daniel Jackson.’ Teal’c’s voice rumbled across the small space. He shifted his stance, clasping his hands behind his back. ‘I do not believe this location provides sufficient security for an artefact of such value.’

‘I’m telling you, Teal’c, it’s perfectly secure.’ Jack argued. ‘Nice neighbourhood. Low crime rate. It’ll be fine.’

‘It once belonged to the daughter of a Pharaoh.’ Teal’c said firmly.

‘Maybe Teal’c should take it to the base just to be on the safe side.’ Sam suggested, earning a sharp look from her commanding officer.

Daniel nodded. ‘Would you mind looking after it for me Teal’c?’

‘I would be honoured, Daniel Jackson.’ Teal’c said inclining his head.

‘Why don’t we put the game in my car?’ Sam walked over to join the Jaffa. She had volunteered to take Teal’c back to base when they finished for the day. She stooped to pick the game up but before she could grasp the box firmly, Teal’c reached down and picked it up effortlessly, swiping it out from under her. She sighed with annoyance as he walked away with it. ‘I could have got that.’ She grumbled under her breath.

Jack and Daniel exchanged an amused glance as they watched her stride after the Jaffa.

God, Carter filled out a pair of blue jeans nicely, mused Jack his brown eyes lingering on her legs. He caught the thought, closed his eyes and slapped his head with the palm of one hand. CO, he reminded himself firmly. He was her CO. Hammond was relying on him to set boundaries. He sighed and opened his eyes to find Daniel watching him curiously. He hurriedly cleared his throat and gestured at a box. ‘Give me a hand with this will ya?’

Daniel helped Jack heft the box up onto a shelf and Jack gave a barely audible sigh of relief as everyone turned their attention back to organising the last of the boxes and furniture. Jack found his mind wandering back to his discussion with Hammond.

He still couldn’t believe that Mackenzie reported the hug he’d given Sam to comfort her. If he was honest, Jack admitted to himself, the hug had been as much for him as it was for her. Hearing her relive the panic and fear of their experience after Daniel’s supposed death had brought his own swirling emotions to the surface and she had seemed to understand that, simply hugging him back. It had been nice. Hell, Jack thought, it had been more than nice; it had been great. It had also been right on, and maybe just a shade over, the line drawn by the regulations, he acknowledged with a little chagrin.

Regulations.

How was he supposed to apply regulations to a six foot plus Jaffa who was part of the team because Jack had convinced him to join their side in the fight against the Goa’uld? Or Daniel who acted with the incredulity that any military rules could apply to him no matter what the circumstance, never mind those which might govern his relationships with other people. And then there was Carter; the one relationship that had to conform to the regulations.

Jack sighed. He’d managed after the whole Neanderthal virus wrestling match to put his attraction for her out of his head but somehow it had sneaked back in. He knew part of the reason he was pissed at Hammond’s ‘gentle reminder’ was because in all honesty there was a large guilty part of him that had simply enjoyed having an excuse to hold her. And he shouldn’t have enjoyed it as much as he had. Not as her CO. Hammond shouldn’t have given him a gentle reminder; he deserved a kick up the ass, he thought harshly.

His brown eyes flitted across to where Sam was shifting the dining chairs on the other side of the garage. He didn’t kid himself; any hint of impropriety and Carter’s career would be shot and she so didn’t deserve that. She was a good officer, one of the best he’d served with and she had a great future ahead of her. As the senior officer the onus was on him to set the boundary and ensure their relationship remained professional. He could do it, he assured himself. He could.

o-O-o

‘Thanks for this, Jack.’ Daniel took the proffered bottle of beer and settled back in the chair in Jack’s comfortable sitting room. Sam and Teal’c had left earlier after they had helped clean up after the barbeque Jack had made to provide them with sustenance.

‘For what?’ Jack asked as he slumped across the sofa putting his feet up and crossing them at the ankle. It had ended up being a very good day. The team had hovered a little over Daniel but that was probably natural and would ease off over time. He took a long gulp of his beer.

‘Giving me a place to stay.’ Daniel said.

Jack made a face. ‘It’s not a big deal, Daniel. Besides it’s only temporary.’ His brown eyes darted to the other man. ‘It is only temporary, right?’

‘Right.’ Daniel smiled. ‘Sam’s taking me out to look at apartments tomorrow.’ His thumb brushed across the top of the bottle. ‘You know I kind of got the impression earlier that you’d changed your mind about my staying.’

Jack caught the question in the statement and the hidden insecurity of a man whose childhood had been a succession of foster homes for the most part. ‘Nah.’ He answered firmly. ‘I just had something on my mind earlier.’

Daniel felt the knots untie in his stomach at the obvious sincerity and turned his attention to what was bothering his friend. ‘What?’

‘Nothing.’ Jack retorted.

‘You said it was something.’ Daniel pointed out with ruthless logic.

‘I did not.’ Jack said.

‘Yes you did.’ Daniel returned.

‘Did not.’

‘Did.’

‘Not.’

‘Did…’

‘Ah!’ Jack interrupted. ‘Just…’ he gestured with his bottle, ‘drop it, Daniel.’ He swung his legs off the sofa and stood up in a swift move that caught Daniel off guard. ‘I’m going up to the roof for a while. Leave the door unlocked, OK?’

‘OK.’ Daniel said bemused as Jack stalked out of the house. He sighed. He shouldn’t be surprised, he told himself. Jack O’Neill was a master in the art of avoidance. He waited a good half an hour before he snagged another couple of beers from the fridge and headed up the ladder to the roof. Half-way up Daniel considered the stupidity of climbing up a ladder when he had no head for heights or for drink. He pushed the thought away and continued on his mission.

Jack’s gaze shot to him as soon as Daniel stumbled onto the roof.

‘Brought you a beer.’ Daniel said gesturing at him with one of the bottles.

Jack reached out and plucked it from Daniel. ‘You’d better sit down before you fall off.’ He said dryly.

Daniel nodded and carefully lowered himself to sit down beside the look-out chair Jack occupied. He stared up at the stars and the night sky. ‘Wow. It’s so clear up here.’

‘It’s called the outside, Daniel.’ Jack said amused. He looked down at the other man and slipped off the seat to sit next to him on the roof, their backs resting on the old chair. ‘You should try it more often.’

‘We’re outside all the time on missions.’ Daniel said a little petulantly. He gestured with his bottle and the beer slopped out and onto the roof. He swore.

Jack’s eyebrows quirked upwards. ‘You’re a cheap date, Daniel.’

‘Yeah.’ Daniel said forlornly. ‘So, what’s bothering you? Is it what happened this week? With me dying and everything?’

‘No.’ Jack immediately denied it. He sighed at Daniel’s knowing expression. ‘Yes.’ He looked away from his friend and focused on the bottle he held. ‘Not exactly.’

‘So which one is it?’ Daniel asked.

Jack sighed again partly in exasperation, partly in frustration. He put the bottle to his lips and tipped it back taking a long drink before he replied. ‘What part of drop it don’t you understand, Daniel?’

‘Well, if you don’t talk to me, you’ll end up just having to talk to someone like Mackenzie.’ Daniel stated ruthlessly bringing out his ace.

Jack was tempted to sigh again and it didn’t help that he knew Daniel had a point. He gestured with his bottle. ‘Mackenzie told Hammond he thought I was closer to you guys than I should be.’

Daniel frowned. ‘Why?’

‘Why?’ Jack repeated. There was no way on Earth he was telling Daniel about hugging Carter; no way. ‘Because.’ He said impatiently.

‘That’s not an answer, Jack.’ Daniel said with a laugh.

‘You know there are Air Force rules governing the behaviour of an officer with his team, Daniel.’ Jack said. ‘Well, Mackenzie thinks I’ve stepped over the line.’

‘That’s because his assumption isn’t right.’ Daniel said.

Jack stared at him trying to figure out what assumption the archaeologist meant. He gave up. ‘What?’

Daniel waved his beer bottle wildly. ‘He’s assuming we’re a military team; we’re not.’ He took a sip of beer. ‘I mean, we’re a team and we work for the Air Force but we’re not a military team. We’re a family.’

‘A family, huh?’ Jack asked edging into amusement at the other man’s slight inebriation.

‘Sure. Teal’c and I talked about it last week. We’re a family. You try to impose the same regulations on us as you would a military officer and you wouldn’t get the best out of us. That’s why you don’t do it.’

‘Carter’s military.’ Jack said before he could stop himself.

Daniel’s blue eyes zeroed in on Jack like a strike missile. ‘Sam?’ His agile mind put together the pieces. ‘Something happened with Sam and you, didn’t it?’

‘Nothing happened with me and Sam.’ Jack denied, shifting uncomfortably.

Daniel looked at him pointedly.

‘OK,’ Jack admitted with a grumpy sigh avoiding Daniel’s eyes, ‘we might have hugged.’

‘You hugged her?’ Daniel said incredulously. He pushed his glasses up his nose. Teal’c had raised the possibility that their two team-mates might be as the Jaffa had put it ‘engaging in human courtship’ but Daniel had dismissed the idea. Maybe the Jaffa had been right.

‘It wasn’t what you think.’ Jack said quickly. ‘She underwent hypnosis so we could work out what really happened on the planet. She got to the part where we had just ‘witnessed’’ he made quotation marks with his fingers, ‘your death and were escaping from the planet. She was upset, screaming, and Mackenzie was just sitting there.’ He sighed. ‘I grabbed her to bring her out of it and then…’ his brown eyes stayed fixed to the bottle he held, ‘she was just so upset about leaving you behind and so was I.’ He sighed. ‘I hugged her without even thinking about it.’

Daniel frowned. ‘So what’s the problem?’

‘Mackenzie reported the hug to Hammond.’ Jack said.

The younger man rolled his eyes. It was like pulling teeth, he thought. ‘What did Hammond say?’

‘That I shouldn’t be hugging Carter in front of witnesses no matter how innocent the context and that he trusted that I would apply the regulations appropriately with the team.’ Jack summarised briefly.

‘So Hammond basically told you it was OK to hug Sam if the context was innocent just not to do it in front of witnesses and that he trusted you to know how to the set boundaries with her and the rest of your team.’ Daniel ended breathlessly.

Jack lowered his beer. He hadn’t really considered that as a possible interpretation of Hammond’s words. ‘I guess.’ He said uncertainly.

‘Maybe you’re making too much of it.’ Daniel said.

Maybe he was, Jack thought. Maybe because he knew deep down he was attracted to Sam he was making a bigger deal about Hammond’s gentle reminder over what had been a comforting gesture he would have given to anyone. Well, maybe not Teal’c. Or Hammond.

Jack went over the conversation with Hammond in his mind. The General had shown that he had every confidence in his leadership, Jack realised with a start. ‘I know you’ll apply those regulations appropriately.’ Maybe Hammond hadn’t been inferring that Jack hadn’t been applying the regulations appropriately to date; maybe he’d actually been telling him that as far as the General was concerned he had been applying the regulations appropriately and would continue to do so. He took a gulp of his beer and felt the tension in his shoulders and gut, that he’d carried with him since his session in Hammond’s office, dissipate.

Daniel shifted beside him and Jack looked over at his friend fondly. ‘It’s good to have you back, Daniel.’

‘It’s good to be back.’ Daniel looked down at his beer. ‘I thought…I mean there were times back on the planet…I thought there was a real possibility I wasn’t going to make it.’ He confessed his voice broke a little and he was surprised at the sudden rush of emotion that flooded his eyes with tears and clogged up the back of his throat.

Jack glanced over at the younger man and without thinking threw an arm around him. He pushed Daniel’s head down onto his own chest cradling him like he’d done his own son in the past as Daniel broke down.

Eventually Daniel pulled back and swiped at his nose with his sleeve.

Jack sighed and reached into his pocket. He brought out a tissue. ‘It’s clean.’ He said as he handed it over.

‘Thanks.’ Daniel said. His voice slightly muffled by the tissue as he blew his nose and scrubbed at his wet cheeks under his glasses. ‘Sorry.’

‘Feel better?’ Jack asked without any of his usual flippancy.

Daniel considered the question for a long moment. ‘Yeah, actually I do.’ He folded his arms around his body. ‘I guess it affected me more than I realised.’

‘It’s going to take a while for us all to get over this.’ Jack said drinking down the last of his beer. ‘But we will.’ His tone was confident.

‘Yeah, we will.’ Daniel said, meeting his eyes firmly.

Jack’s eyes gleamed with sudden amusement. ‘Teal’c might hover though.’

‘Just Teal’c?’ Daniel asked dryly.

‘Maybe Sam too.’ Jack allowed.

‘Not you?’

‘Well, I’m getting used to you coming back from the dead.’ Jack said.

‘I didn’t come back from the dead, Jack.’ Daniel said huffily.

‘Yes you did.’

‘No I didn’t.’

‘Daniel, we had a memorial service.’ Jack said.

‘Because you thought I was dead not because I was.’ Daniel retorted.

‘So, by my reckoning you’ve died and come back three times now.’ Jack said blithely ignoring him.

Daniel glared at him.

Jack grinned and raised his now empty beer bottle. ‘Still glad to be back?’

fin.


 

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