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Fanfiction: Fault Lines

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S4 The First Ones
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Daniel/Team friendship. 
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.  Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

Fault Lines


The sunlight was startling after the dark of the caves. Daniel Jackson blinked heavily as he staggered into it. He squinted blearily trying to get his bearings.

‘Let’s keep moving.’ Jack O’Neill’s brisk order had Daniel grimacing.

‘Jack.’ Daniel said firmly, refusing to take another step.

‘Daniel.’ Jack wasn’t waiting; he was already moving, their team-mates Samantha Carter and Teal’c following after him.

‘Look, I need a rest,’ Daniel stated tiredly, ‘and I don’t think they’re going to come after us.’

Jack stopped and looked back over his shoulder. Daniel’s heart sank at the granite expression. The Colonel’s face was set; the deeply carved lines holding as firm as the hard brown eyes that stared back at him.

‘I thought you said you weren’t injured.’ Jack said shortly.

‘I’m not.’ Daniel said exasperated. Apart from his wrists, which bore raw rope burns, and the scratch across his cheek that still stung a little, he was only sore but he was very tired.

‘Then, we can’t take the risk.’ Jack gestured at Daniel. ‘I want to put some more daylight between us and those Unas before we stop.’ The military man was already marching off again. Daniel could hear him talking on his radio to SG2 informing them to head back to the gate.

Daniel wondered briefly if just falling to his knees would be enough to bring Jack to a halt. Probably not, he considered ruefully. Jack was a lot more stubborn than the juvenile Unas he had been captured by for the last twenty-four hours. Sam gave him a sympathetic smile but she was already grasping her gun firmly and moving after her CO.

‘Do you require assistance, Daniel Jackson?’ Teal’c asked seriously as he paused beside the archaeologist.

Daniel sighed and shook his head. If he asked he was certain the Jaffa would have carried him the rest of the way but he set his jaw determinedly and focused on putting one foot in front of the other. Teal’c fell in line behind him, guarding the rear. Daniel guessed it was for the best. Chaka, his new friend might lead his tribe after killing the Alpha Unas but who really knew if the young male could hold power. Daniel could understand Jack’s position; he could. It was just that he so badly wanted to rest.

He reached for the water canteen Sam had given him and hurriedly took a sip. The cool liquid ran down the back of his throat like nectar. He took another sip and replaced the cap despite his urge to gulp the whole canteen down. His time on the planet definitely hadn’t gone as he’d expected it, Daniel reflected with regret. His hand sneaked up to rub at the bridge of his nose.

It was supposed to have been a few weeks of getting his balance back. He’d wanted some time doing something just for him; to get away from the usual SG1 missions. Exploring ancient Goa’uld fossils had been the perfect opportunity. Daniel had spent the past two weeks immersed in the dirt and loving every moment of it. It had been thrilling to uncover the fragile bones and theorise that about the early primordial beginnings of their enemy.

Daniel was convinced that the planet was the original homeland of the Goa’uld. He should have realised that there might have been Unas on the planet. After all, the Unas had been the original hosts to the Goa’uld. It made sense that there would be Unas…the two species had no doubt shared a homeland given the Goa’ulds’ physical limitations. But they’d believed that the planet was deserted; abandoned by the Goa’uld long before. Instead, the waters still teemed with Goa’uld symbiotes and Unas walked the planet. It was going to be too dangerous to stay and continue their studies, Daniel realised.

He suddenly stumbled into Sam who turned back to him and gently guided him onto a rock. ‘We stopped?’ Daniel asked bemused.

‘We stopped.’ Sam confirmed. Her eyes ran over him critically. ‘Let me take a look at your wrists, Daniel.’

He held out his hands obligingly and blinked as he heard Jack order Teal’c to keep watch.

The Colonel crouched down beside Daniel. ‘How’re you doing?’

‘You stopped.’ Daniel repeated in disbelief.

‘Like I said,’ Jack shrugged, ‘I wanted some distance between us and those caves before we took a rest.’ He patted Daniel’s shoulder. ‘Are you sure you’re OK?’

Daniel nodded slowly, wincing as Sam cleaned his wounds. ‘Just tired.’ He looked around suddenly and frowned. ‘Uh, not that I’m not pleased to see you guys, but why are you here? Where’s Major Hawkins and the rest of SG11?’

Jack and Sam exchanged a look before Jack sighed and took his cap off. He waved it at Daniel. ‘They didn’t make it, Daniel.’

‘Didn’t make it?’ Daniel’s eyes darted to Sam for confirmation before zooming back to Jack’s sober face. ‘How? I mean…’

‘Your new friend took out Loder.’ Jack stated caustically. ‘SG11…we’re not sure what happened.’

‘We found Major Hawkins wandering in the woods alone when we got here.’ Sam explained.

‘He was a Goa’uld.’ Jack added.

Daniel shook his head. ‘I don’t understand.’ He refocused on Jack. ‘How did you even know I’d gone missing then?’

‘Rothman.’ Jack said succinctly. His brown eyes slid away to Sam’s again.

‘Robert?’ Daniel repeated.

‘He came back to the SGC and alerted us, Daniel.’ Sam expanded. ‘The General authorised a search and rescue for you.’

‘Which obviously we volunteered for.’ Jack added quickly.

‘So Robert’s OK?’ Daniel checked, feeling a sliver of relief that his friend had made it back to the SGC. He caught Sam looking pointedly at Jack.

The Colonel sighed again. ‘Not exactly, Daniel.’ He rubbed his hand through his hair. ‘He wanted in on the search and rescue. He came back with us. We stopped by a lake about a quarter of a klick from here…’

‘Oh God.’ Daniel interrupted suddenly putting the pieces together. ‘He’s a Goa’uld, isn’t he? I mean, those waters are teeming with them.’

‘Yeah, he got taken as a host.’ Jack nodded sharply. ‘Daniel,’ he paused and held Daniel’s gaze firmly, ‘Rothman’s dead.’

‘We didn’t have a choice, Daniel.’ Sam confirmed. ‘He attacked Teal’c, shot Griff and he was holding a staff weapon on us.’

Daniel couldn’t speak; he stared at them in shock. Robert was dead? His chest was tight; he couldn’t seem to breathe. He shook his head mutely. He felt Sam rubbing his back and tried a breath. ‘He’s dead?’ He stuttered.

‘I shot him.’ Jack admitted bluntly.

‘You?’ Daniel’s eyes widened.

‘The Colonel was the only one near a weapon.’ Sam jumped to Jack’s defence and Daniel looked at her almost quizzically before he turned his attention back to Jack.

‘You couldn’t have just disabled him?’ Daniel asked passionately, anger sparking in his eyes. ‘You had to kill him?’

‘He was a Goa’uld, Daniel.’ Jack shot back. ‘He was threatening everyone.’

‘So? You didn’t have to kill him! We have allies now; they could have saved him!’ Daniel insisted.

‘I know he was your friend, Daniel.’ Jack said quietly. ‘And I’m sorry.’

There was a sincere look of regret in Jack’s eyes but Daniel turned away from it, not wanting to see it or acknowledge it, wanting to hold onto his anger a little longer. He felt Jack stand up beside him.

‘I’ve finished, sir.’ Sam’s quiet words to Jack had Daniel staring at his wrists and the fresh white bandages she had applied.

‘Will you be OK walking, Daniel?’ Jack asked, gruffly.

Daniel nodded and got to his feet.

‘Let’s move out.’ Jack ordered.

Sam fell into step beside Daniel and he was grateful as she kept silent. He couldn’t believe Robert was dead. They had known each other at university; had studied together. Rothman had been his research assistant during Daniel’s first stint in academia. He’d been a good friend – one of the few that had stuck by him through the professional exile when he’d published his first thesis on the pyramids. When Hammond had asked him to recommend archaeologists for the programme, Robert had been first on his list.

It was his fault.

Again.

He’d gotten Robert involved with the Stargate programme. He was only there because Daniel had pleaded with him to get involved. It had taken three hours to convince Robert that the Stargate was something he wanted to be involved with. Three hours and it had only been a personal plea that had convinced Robert to join him. Robert had no great love for the military and he hated change so Daniel had resorted to using their friendship to pressure the other man.

Daniel trudged on heedless of the trees; heedless of the uneven path. His mind drifted back to Robert’s first day just after SG1 had saved the world for the first time…

And this is your office.’ Daniel waved a hand around the room. ‘I know it’s small but you can pretty much do what you want with it.’

It’s great.’ Robert slung his rucksack on the plain wooden desk. He looked around and nodded. He nudged his glasses up and grinned at Daniel. ‘So I hear from the orientation I had that you’re some kind of hero.’

No, not really.’ Daniel denied it immediately, wrapping his arms around his torso.

Robert frowned. ‘You just saved the Earth, Daniel.’

Oh.’ Daniel smiled sheepishly. ‘Well. Kind of.’

And you were the one who got this Stargate thing to work?’ Robert pressed.

I just figured out the cartouche. Really it could have been anyone.’ Daniel shrugged.

And you go through that thing every day?’ Robert shook his head. ‘I don’t know how you do it.’

You’d be amazed at what’s out there. There’s so much to explore; to discover.’ Daniel said passionately. ‘Ancient civilisations, Robert. Untouched for centuries.’

Well, you can go have adventures. I’m staying here.’ Robert said firmly. ‘You want me to help you with the stuff you bring back, right? I don’t actually have to go anywhere myself?’

You stay here.’ Daniel agreed.

And I don’t have to wear a uniform?’ Robert’s eyes ran over Daniel’s BDU.

Daniel felt heat surge into his face. ‘The rest of my team tends to wear them so I…’

Hey,’ Robert held up his hand, ‘you don’t owe me any explanations.’

But, no,’ Daniel continued hurriedly, ‘you don’t have to wear a uniform if you don’t want to.’ He stopped and took a breath. ‘So you want to grab some lunch before I fill you in on your new duties?’

Sure.’ Robert nodded. ‘That sounds great.’

Mess is this way.’ Daniel jerked his thumb back over his shoulder.

They made their way to the commissary and piled their trays high. They were in the middle of debating an aspect of ancient Babylonian text when the rest of SG1 arrived.

I don’t agree…’ Daniel said forcefully.

About what?’ Jack asked, sliding his tray onto the table and sitting down next to Daniel. He gave a hesitant nod in Robert’s direction, acknowledging the newcomer.

Robert thinks I misinterpreted a Babylonian text…’ Daniel began to explain as Sam and Teal’c took their seats.

Forget I asked.’ Jack interrupted brusquely. ‘Pass me the salt.’

Hi, you must be Doctor Rothman.’ Sam reached over and shook hands with Robert.

Oh, right.’ Daniel gestured with his fork. ‘Robert, this is Colonel Jack O’Neill, Captain Samantha Carter and Teal’c. Guys, this is Robert Rothman. He’s joining as the new head of the Archaeology team.’

Teal’c inclined his head. ‘I am most pleased to meet your acquaintance, Doctor Rothman.’

Likewise.’ Robert’s eyes were wide as he took in Teal’c’s formidable size.

Scientist, huh?’ Jack commented.

You have something against scientists?’ Robert asked bluntly, picking up the faintly disgusted edge in the military man’s voice.

Not specifically.’ Jack replied, his dark eyes telegraphing his warning for Rothman not to push it.

Robert bristled visibly.

SG1 to the control room. SG1 to the control room.’ The announcement cut across the tension.

Jack looked down at his barely touched food and sighed before pushing his chair back. ‘Let’s go.’ Sam and Teal’c were already on their feet.

Daniel smiled apologetically at his friend. ‘Sorry. I’ll catch up with you later.’

It had been much later when he’d finally made his way back to Robert’s office. He found the archaeologist already immersed in books and artefacts. ‘Hey, sorry about that.’

No problem. Doctor Armitage sorted me out.’ Robert said.

Great.’ Daniel waved at the desk. ‘You OK with everything.’

It’s fascinating.’ Robert admitted. ‘These pots could have created in Iran or Iraq but…’

But they came from a planet almost thirty thousand light years from Earth.’ Daniel finished, stepping fully into the room.

Incredible.’ Robert smiled at him. ‘Thanks, Daniel.’

Daniel shrugged. ‘Listen, we’re going out for pizza. You want to come?’

We?’ Robert probed gently.

SG1 – Jack, Sam, Teal’c and me.’ Daniel expanded.

I, uh, I don’t think that’s a good idea.’ Robert said seriously. He picked up another pot and began examining it. ‘I don’t think Colonel O’Neill likes me very much.’

It’s not you.’ Daniel said immediately. ‘Really.’ He said at Robert’s look of disbelief. ‘He’s like that with everyone. Well, scientists, usually but it’s nothing personal.’

Robert motioned at him with the pot. ‘I’m OK, Daniel. Believe me. I’m beat. I’m just going to head back to my new place and crash.’

OK. Another time.’

There hadn’t been too many of those other times, Daniel reflected. He was always busy; there was always a mission or work. He could only remember a few times in the last year when he and Robert had gone out for a drink or debated the finer points of some abstract historical feature over dinner. Robert had stayed his friend though and importantly, had run the archaeology department wonderfully. He’d come to him though just after the mess with the Replicators…

I want to join one of the off-world teams.’

Daniel choked on his coffee and coughed violently as he tried to regain his breath. ‘What?’

I know but I think I’m ready.’ Robert said eagerly.

Honestly?’ Daniel swiped at the wet mark he’d made on his t-shirt.

I’ve been getting into shape,’ Robert said, ‘I think I could handle it.’ His eyes held a stubborn look; his jaw was set.

You know there’s a lot of danger out there, Robert.’ Daniel pointed out.

Robert nodded. ‘I’ve read your mission reports, Daniel. I know the risks but…’ he sighed. ‘You know I love it here but I miss being an archaeologist, out on a dig somewhere, unearthing clues.’

Daniel looked at him. His friend was serious, he realised.

And it’s not like the base team couldn’t spare me.’ Robert pointed out. ‘Jean Kennedy is more than ready to take over as team leader and Nyan’s picked up a lot of stuff since he joined.’

If you’re sure…’ Daniel began hesitantly.

I’m sure.’ Robert insisted.

I’ll speak with General Hammond.’ Daniel said. ‘It’s his decision.’

Fair enough.’ Robert patted his arm. ‘Thanks, Daniel.’

The General had insisted Robert go through some preliminary off-world training but the archaeologist had been quickly assigned to SG11. The P3X888 mission was their fourth together as a team. Daniel remembered how he had focused on the first report like a lifeline. He’d so badly needed to get away from being a member of SG1 for a while and P3X888 seemed to offer the chance to be himself again for a little while. Jack had acquiesced although reluctantly and Daniel could admit that he had briefly worried whether Robert would be upset at Daniel inviting himself along. He needn’t have worried…

Daniel!’ Robert’s face was lit up with pleasure. ‘It’s great to see you.’

Nice to have you along, Doctor Jackson.’ Major Hawkins indicated for the young Airman next to him to assist Daniel with the additional bags of supplies that he was carrying.

Call me Daniel.’ Daniel offered.

If you want to go directly to the dig site, Loder and I will get your stuff back to camp.’ Hawins offered warmly.

Well, I…’ Daniel began.

Oh, definitely the site.’ Robert said enthusiastically, interrupting him. ‘You should see what we dug up this morning.’

What?’ Daniel asked shifting the weight of the rucksack he was still carrying as they set off.

A full Goa’uld fossil. Male.’ Robert informed him briskly. ‘I’ve called him Julius.’

You always did have a thing for Ancient Rome.’

Robert ignored his jest. ‘Daniel, the fossil has no traces of naquadah.’

No traces?’ Daniel stumbled over his feet and Robert grabbed him to help him upright.

None.’ Robert confirmed, grinning.

They made their way to the site and settled into an easy rhythm, digging in the dirt. Eventually, Robert came over with a pre-packaged sandwich.

Lunch.’ Robert threw it at him and Daniel caught it one-handed. He placed the brush he had been using to gently shift the dirt away from the bones he had been examining aside.

This is amazing.’ Daniel said as he bit into his lunch. ‘This fossil would indicate that the symbiotes were predatory not parasitical originally.’

I know.’ Robert took a seat next to him on the ground.

You could have found the original Goa’uld homeworld.’ Daniel continued with his mouth full of food.

Robert nodded with a smile. ‘Quite a find, huh? I’m not surprised you wanted in.’

Just helping.’ Daniel said hurriedly. ‘It’s your dig, Robert.’

Robert punched him lightly on his upper arm. ‘It’s great to have you here.’ He reassured him.

Daniel smiled gratefully.

And can I say it’s great that Colonel O’Neill isn’t with you.’ Robert continued.

Daniel sighed. The two men had never gotten along; probably never would. ‘Well, SG1’s helping with the Enkaran move; I wasn’t really needed there and I…I just wanted to get back to basics for a while.’ He was unaware that his blue eyes shone with remembered grief; the anniversary of his wife’s death had taken place a couple of days before.

Robert nodded slowly. He picked up his canteen. ‘Daniel…’ he began awkwardly. ‘You know we’ve been friends a long time and I…I just want to say that you know if you need anything, want to talk or anything, I’m here.’

Daniel attempted a smile which fell away quickly. ‘I’m OK. I just wanted to get away; forget about…everything.’

Well, you came to the right place.’ Robert said. He patted Daniel’s shoulder. ‘It’ll be just like old times, huh?’

And it had. Right up until the point where Chaka had attacked. He might have made a new friend but he’d lost his oldest. Robert was dead.

Daniel looked up at the alien sky and blinked back tears.

His fault.

o-O-o

His office was dark apart from the single lamp that lit the computer desk. Daniel focused on the monitor and continued writing his notes. He reached for the coffee mug and took a large gulp, wincing at the cold, bitter liquid. He put it down and continued tapping in his observations of the Unas on P3X888. They had gotten back from the planet the day before and after his infirmary check he had immediately fallen into a bed. He’d slept right through the rest of the day and into the night. He wanted to get his notes down before he forgot everything that had happened.

The sharp rap on his doorframe barely drew his attention. He wasn’t interested in speaking to anyone. He’d avoided the commissary, heading straight for his office that morning. He figured it was probably Sam or Teal’c checking on him and he didn’t move from the computer console.

‘Doctor Jackson.’

Daniel’s head snapped around at the sound of General Hammond’s Texan drawl.

‘General…’ Daniel gave an apologetic grimace. ‘Uh, sorry. I thought you were someone else.’ He frowned. He couldn’t remember the last time the General had visited his office. In fact, he wasn’t entirely certain the General had ever visited his office before.

Hammond waved him back into his seat as Daniel started to rise. ‘No need to get up, son.’ He made his way into the office, his pale blue eyes taking in the various artefacts and books with interested curiosity. ‘I just wanted to check in with you.’

‘Right.’ Daniel sighed. He had missed the debriefing.

‘According to the reports I heard yesterday from your team, you had a heck of an experience.’ Hammond noted, coming to a stop half-way long the central bench. He rested against it almost imperceptibly.

‘I’m OK, General.’ Daniel said, crossing his arms tightly across his chest.

‘Colonel O’Neill mentioned in his report that you kept your head in some pretty difficult circumstances.’ Hammond said. ‘You want to tell me what happened out there.’

Daniel couldn’t look away from the General’s compassion. ‘There’s nothing much to tell,’ he began, ‘we’d just discovered the fossils of a Goa’uld queen when Chaka…’

‘The Unas?’ Hammond checked.

‘Yes, Chaka attacked us.’ Daniel continued. ‘I don’t really remember very much about the attack. I woke up and I was tied up on the ground. Chaka dragged me along until I…I fell down so I could rest. I tried to use my radio but he seemed to realise that it was something he should worry about and knocked it out of my hand.’

‘Major Carter noted your radio signal was picked up. It gave them hope that you were still alive.’ Hammond confirmed.

‘After that, we kept on walking until Chaka stopped do some kind of meditation or prayer to the moons. I started to make out his language a little.’ Daniel recounted. He glanced back at the battered tape recorder. ‘He was frightened by the UAV.’

‘I see.’ Hammond nodded. ‘Go on, son.’

‘We passed by the lake and I was allowed to stop for water.’ Daniel recalled. ‘I tried to escape and when I saw how nervous he was of the water I started to swim. He cut me off and as I was thinking about what I could do, I saw something in the water. I ran out and Chaka caught the symbiote that chased me. He killed it.’

‘You think the Unas knew about the Goa’uld in the water?’ Hammond asked gently.

‘I think so.’ Daniel nodded. ‘Chaka was wearing a bone necklace I think as a protection. He indicated that I should only put my hands in the water.’ He sighed. ‘I should have left some kind of warning at the lake.’

‘You were taken to some kind of cave?’ Hammond prompted.

‘Yes, a network of caves actually.’ Daniel pushed his glasses up his nose. ‘We stayed in the outer caves during the night. We, uh, bonded over our food. I saw the pictographs which is when I realised that Chaka was going through some kind of rite of passage and I was convinced that he was still intending to kill me so when he started to drag me through the caves the next morning, I, uh, marked the walls so people could follow.’

‘That was good thinking, son.’ Hammond praised him.

‘We got to the inner caves and as I thought Chaka presented me to the alpha male Unas – which is around the time when Jack, Sam and Teal’c showed up, I think.’ Daniel shifted on the tall stool. ‘I realised that Chaka was trying to tell the alpha male that I was good for the tribe but he wasn’t going for it. He attacked and we shot him. I think we weakened him enough for Chaka to kill him.’

‘And then…this Unas Chaka let you go.’ Hammond concluded.

‘Yes.’ Daniel gestured at him. ‘General, I know the planet isn’t safe but I’d like permission to set up a remote anthropological study with cameras. The Unas are a fascinating species…’

‘Doctor Jackson…’ Hammond attempted to interrupt him.

‘Please hear me out.’ Daniel pleaded. ‘If we can learn more about them as a species it may help us in future encounters with the Unas who are Goa’ulded. I don’t know, provide us with better information about their weaknesses, and if we can maybe even befriend them…they know a lot about the Goa’uld physiology, General, more than we do.’

Hammond looked at him evenly for a long while. ‘We’ll be sending in an extraction team to recover our assets. You can set up the study then.’

‘Thank you.’ Daniel breathed a sigh of relief.

‘If you can write up your report; given the losses we incurred I will need it asap, I’m afraid.’

‘Of course.’

‘Doctor Jackson, I also wanted to offer my condolences.’ Hammond said quietly. ‘I know Doctor Rothman was a friend of yours.’

‘Yes.’ Daniel looked away from the General’s kind face. ‘Thank you.’

‘I was hoping you would say a few words at the memorial service?’ Hammond enquired gently. ‘It’s scheduled for the end of the week.’

Daniel stared at his feet. ‘General…’

‘This wasn’t your fault, son.’ Hammond cut across him and Daniel was startled into looking up into the older man’s face. He wondered at how accurately the General had read him.

‘It was.’ Daniel blurted out. ‘I convinced Robert to join the programme. If it wasn’t for me, he would have stayed in academia; safe.’

Hammond gestured at him. ‘It’s always hard to lose the people you feel responsible for, Doctor Jackson, no matter what the circumstances.’

Daniel took in the older man’s sincerity and nodded slowly. He knew the General felt each loss under his command.

‘Even harder when it’s your finger on the trigger.’ Hammond continued solemnly.

The archaeologist flushed at the allusion to Jack. He’d hardly spoken to the military man since he’d informed him of Robert’s death.

There was a moment of silence.

‘Perhaps you can think about the memorial service, Doctor Jackson, and let me know.’ Hammond said quietly.

‘That won’t be necessary, General.’ Daniel said quickly. ‘I mean, the thinking. I’d be honoured to say something.’

‘Thank you.’ Hammond raised his hand from the bench. ‘I’ll leave you to it.’

Daniel watched him leave and picked up his coffee again, turning back to the computer. He began typing again.

It’s always hard to lose the people you feel responsible for…no matter what the circumstances. Even harder when it’s your finger on the trigger.’

The words resounded in his head and his fingers slowed on the keyboard. He looked blindly at the words on the screen and down at the tape-recorder. His notes could wait. He pushed back and made his way out of the office. He barrelled straight into Sam in the corridor.

They grabbed onto each other to stop from falling.

‘Woah, Daniel.’ Sam extracted herself gently. ‘I was just coming to look for you. You missed breakfast.’

‘Yeah, I wanted to get my notes done. Listen, have you seen Jack?’ Daniel asked hurriedly.

‘He and Teal’c went to the gym. They should probably be hitting the showers right about now.’ Sam informed him.

‘Great.’

‘Daniel…’ Sam caught hold of his arm.

‘I’m fine, Sam. I just…’ Daniel smiled sheepishly. ‘I need to talk to Jack.’

She nodded and let him go. He headed straight for the locker room.

‘Daniel Jackson.’ Teal’c greeted him as soon as Daniel entered. The Jaffa was in the middle of dressing.

‘Hi, Teal’c.’ Daniel adjusted his glasses and glanced around the room. It was empty. ‘Where’s Jack?’

‘Colonel O’Neill elected to remain in the exercise room.’ Teal’c informed him. ‘You were missed at breakfast, Daniel Jackson.’

‘Yeah, I, uh, I wanted to write up my notes before I forgot them.’ Daniel hurried out. ‘Which exercise room did you say Jack was in?’

‘I did not.’ Teal’c said simply. ‘He wished to spend some time alone.’

Daniel looked at Teal’c’s impassive face. ‘I need to speak with him, Teal’c.’

‘Indeed,’ murmured the Jaffa.

Daniel realised Teal’c wasn’t going to offer up the information. He could check out the exercise rooms without Teal’c helping him, he decided. He turned back to the door.

‘Daniel Jackson.’

Teal’c’s call stopped him. Daniel turned back inquisitively.

‘I did not get the opportunity yesterday to offer my condolences at the loss of your friend, Doctor Rothman.’ Teal’c said quietly. ‘I also wish you to know that his death could not have been avoided.’

‘I know it wasn’t Jack’s fault, Teal’c.’ Daniel responded. ‘That’s kind of why I want to talk to him.’

Teal’c held his gaze for a long moment before he turned back to his locker. ‘I have observed Colonel O’Neill usually prefers the punching bag when he works out alone.’

‘Thanks, Teal’c.’ Daniel said softly not waiting for Teal’c’s nod of acknowledgement before he bounded out of the door. He made his way through the corridor and back to the exercise rooms. There were only a couple with a punching bag. Daniel found Jack in the second. He slipped into the room and watched.

Jack was dressed in grey sweat pants and a black vest top which was already soaked through with sweat. He was hitting the bag in a ceaseless rhythm of punches and jabs. He stopped suddenly and whirled around as though he had sensed the younger man.

Daniel straightened. ‘Jack.’

Jack headed for the bench at the side of the room, pulling his gloves off as he went. ‘Daniel.’ He threw his gloves down and reached for a bottle of water, taking a large gulp.

‘I’ve been looking for you.’ Daniel started uncertainly as he made his way over to the bench. He hovered just behind Jack and wondered if the other man was in a bad enough mood to actually hit him.

‘Yeah?’ Jack glanced at him over his shoulder.

‘I wanted to say thank you.’ Daniel said solemnly. ‘For coming to my rescue yesterday.’

Jack’s head bowed a little and he sat down abruptly. ‘I’m not sure you needed the help. You did a pretty good job of saving yourself, Daniel.’

‘I don’t know about that.’ Daniel gave a small self-deprecating smile. ‘I don’t think Chaka would have killed the alpha male if you hadn’t, you know.’

‘Shot it?’ Jack finished wryly. His guarded eyes met Daniel’s briefly before he dropped his gaze back to the floor.

Daniel sat down slowly. ‘I’m sorry for what I said yesterday.’

‘You were upset.’ Jack said succinctly. ‘I understand.’

Daniel sighed heavily. ‘I was feeling responsible. I mean, Robert was only there because of me.’ His words were coloured with the guilt he still felt. ‘I shouldn’t have taken it out on you.’

‘He was there because I didn’t stop him when he volunteered for the search and rescue, Daniel.’ Jack twisted the water bottle in his hands absently. ‘I should have stopped him.’

‘Why didn’t you?’ Daniel asked curious.

Jack hesitated and gestured with the water bottle. ‘He wanted to help save his friend.’ His eyes flickered back to Daniel. ‘I understood that.’

Daniel smiled sadly. It was a shame that Robert’s last act of friendship seemed to have been the one that finally gained Jack’s respect for the archaeologist. ‘It wasn’t your fault, Jack.’

Jack shrugged and refused to look at the archaeologist. Daniel realised Jack would always feel responsible for Robert’s death just as he would although for different reasons. Daniel sighed again. ‘Hammond’s asked me to say a few words.’ He gestured. ‘At the memorial service.’

Jack nodded in understanding.

‘I have no idea what I’m going to say.’ Daniel admitted, leaning back against the wall.

‘You’ll think of something.’ Jack said confidently. He got to his feet. ‘I’d better go shower.’

‘I should go and do my report.’ Daniel said, getting to his feet. ‘Jack, we’re OK, right?’

Jack motioned with the water bottle. ‘Sure.’

‘OK.’

Their gazes held for a long moment. They both turned for the door.

o-O-o

Daniel took his place behind the podium and looked out at the gathering of SGC personnel. There was a sombre tone befitting the memorial service. Daniel glanced around at the solemn, grave faces. The small archaeology department was gathered in one corner; the small group of scientists had been devastated by Robert’s death. It was evident in the pale faces and tear-stained cheeks.

His eyes shifted to SG1 at the bottom of the ramp; to his team. Sam gave him a small smile of reassurance; Teal’c inclined his head almost imperceptibly. His gaze moved to Jack. The military man stood ramrod straight, his expression giving nothing away. Daniel wondered if he was the only one who saw the regret in the brown eyes, the ghost that played in the shadows that flickered in and out of the depths.

Daniel cleared his throat. ‘Robert Rothman was my friend,’ he began, ‘and I will miss him.’

fin.

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