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Fanfiction: Light Shifts to Dark

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S5 Red Sky 
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Jack/Daniel friendship.  Sam/Jack UST.  
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

Light Shifts to Dark

Water sluiced over her body as she lowered herself into the waiting bath. Bubbles wobbled and gave way as she settled. Samantha Carter gave a sigh and wriggled her shoulders as she found the elusive comfortable position for her head and neck. She wished for a moment she had remembered to prop a towel on the edge of the bath. She debated briefly whether she should get out and grab one before the soothing warmth of the water around her decided her against the idea.

She let a hand drift across the surface, rearranging the bubbles until there wasn’t a patch of her own skin showing. Her eyes closed and she gave a murmur of pleasure as her muscles relaxed. She breathed in the steam and the scent of lavender that permeated the air. She had needed this, Sam mused as she moved and the water sloshed around her neck, dampening the tips of her blonde hair.

It had been a hard month; constant, non-stop work trying to undo their mistake on the planet of K’Tau. Her mistake. Sam moved restlessly and the water moved with her, rippling over her. She opened her eyes and stared at her bathroom ceiling. She could remember clearly the moment she had almost destroyed the planet; it was etched in her mind in graphic technicolour…

Three members of SG1 were standing in the gate room as the Stargate dialled, spinning around, the metal grinding loudly. Teal’c stood unmoving; she tried to emulate him but found her fingers nervously adjusting the strap on her vest. Their team leader wasn’t even attempting stillness; he was rocking back and forth on his heels, his brown eyes pinned on the gate room door impatiently. He glanced at his watch and back at the gate. Sam hid a smile. She knew if the fourth member of their team Daniel Jackson didn’t show up soon, the archaeologist was in for an earful. The Colonel’s tolerance for stuff like lateness seemed to be at an all time low.

Sam tried to squelch the thought that his mood was her fault. It had been weeks since the incident where she had hidden an Ascended alien called Orlin in her home. She knew she had disappointed her CO by not confiding in him and SG1. There were mitigating factors such the Colonel confirming everyone thought she was nuts because Orlin had originally been invisible and nobody had believed her first report but she knew some of the reasons for continuing to hide Orlin had less to do with that and everything to do with her messed up emotions.

Her eyes flickered to Jack before she hurriedly averted her gaze. If ever she had wondered why the fraternisation regulations existed, she had definitely learnt her lesson. She had fallen in love with her CO and, for a time, she knew he had felt the same way. But after he had believed he had killed her when she had been possessed by a computer entity, Jack had reverted to a completely professional relationship, and while she couldn’t blame him, it had hurt - badly. Orlin had loved her and even though she hadn’t returned his feelings, she couldn’t deny that it had been nice to be wanted and admired openly; to soothe that hurt. Only her indulgence had led to SG16 and Earth being in danger, and that just wasn’t acceptable.

Sam had attempted to be completely professional since the incident – at least with the Colonel. Despite his reassurance that he trusted her, and his behaviour certainly supported his assertion, she couldn’t help but feel the need to prove herself again to him. And maybe, if she followed his lead and tried to move on from their personal feelings, it would help prevent her screwing up professionally. She made a face. Of course, her slightly less than professional behaviour after their last mission was simply down to the close bonds all of SG1 shared. Teal’c and Daniel had been as equally upset as she had been at being refused to help the Colonel after they had left him behind to get reinforcements because no one but them had knowledge of Tyler, the young Lieutenant they had left with the Colonel. It had turned out that Tyler was in fact an alien with an ability to implant the suggestion that he was someone else through a chemical substance his race produced naturally. They had rescued the Colonel only to find Tyler had already confessed his deception.

Daniel ran into the gate room just as the sixth chevron lit up and Sam half heard his muttered apology and the Colonel’s sharp rejoinder as she dragged her mind back to the mission. The gate spun to the last chevron and…nothing happened.

Carter?’ The Colonel jerked his head at the door and Sam followed the unspoken order to find out what had gone wrong and fix it. She ran up to the control room.

Sergeant Harriman made way for her at his terminal. ‘It won’t lock, Major.’

Sam brought up the diagnostic. She bit her lip. ‘Did this happen when the MALP was sent earlier?’

No, Major. Everything was completely normal.’ Walter assured her.

She glanced through the information.

What’s going on, Major?’ General Hammond asked, appearing beside her.

We’re having trouble establishing a lock, sir.’ Sam looked up at him. ‘We’re going to have to bypass some of the protocols.’

Do it.’ Hammond agreed gruffly.

Sam inputted the commands, pressing the enter button to begin the dialling sequence. The gate began spinning. She left with a nod of approval from the General, and a few minutes later, she was walking up the ramp and into the waiting wormhole…

Apart from the rough trip, everything had seemed normal and they had quickly worked out that the planet was under the protection of the Asgard Freyr. But it hadn’t taken long for everything to go wrong; the light spectrum suddenly shifting thanks to their wormhole poisoning the K’Tau’s sun with an unstable super-heavy element. The change would inevitably lead to the plant life dying and ultimately, the K’Tau people. SG1 had contacted the Asgard and informed their allies of what had happened but the Asgard were unable to fix it claiming that any overt help would violate the Protected Planets treaty they had with the Goa’uld. It had irritated the Colonel and it had left Earth to fix the problem alone.

Their first plan – to send a rocket into the sun with a stable super-heavy element that would counteract the poisoning – had gone awry after a small number of the K’Tau people had blown up said rocket. They had lost two men in the explosion; more had been wounded. The Colonel had been furious and ready to walk away. It had only been her pleas and Daniel’s that had led to plan B.

Plan B had been to evacuate the K’Tau to another planet but they had refused to leave, blindly faithful that they were being tested by the Gods; that Freyr would save them.

Which had left plan C: delivering the super heavy element through the wormhole into the K’Tau sun. Sam wasn’t even certain that plan had worked. When they had travelled back to K’Tau, the light spectrum had been the same red hue as they had left. But as they had made their goodbyes and had turned to leave, the light had suddenly changed back. They all believed it was the Asgard using the cover of Earth’s attempt to fix the problem to aid the K’Tau and get around the Protected Planet’s treaty. Not that they could prove it one way or another and Sam doubted the Asgard would ever tell them.

Daniel had realised as the K’Tau had celebrated and thanked them that the K’Tau believed SG1’s entire visit was being seen as a test of faith and that Daniel’s final prayer to Freyr had been the signal to the Gods that they had passed. Daniel had forwarded the motion that it was probably best for the SGC to limit their interaction with K’Tau. Hammond had agreed. He had also ordered them to some leave.

Sam shivered and she realised with a start that the bath water had cooled considerably. She sat up and unplugged the drain before she stood up and took the two steps across the bathroom into the stand alone-shower. The hot spray of water warmed her up again, dissolving the remaining bubbles that clung to her skin. She cleaned up quickly and wrapped herself in an oversize white bathrobe. She wandered to the kitchen and made herself some tea.

She curled up on the sofa with the mug and blew on the hot liquid before tentatively taking a sip. The silence around her seemed deafening and she was suddenly aware of how just how empty the house felt. She sighed and reached for the phone. She dialled quickly.

‘Janet Fraiser.’ The melodic voice of the SGC’s CMO made Sam smile.

‘Hi, it’s me.’ Sam twirled a strand of her hair between her fingers. ‘I just wanted to check in on Cassie.’ The young alien girl Janet had adopted had been ill with flu for the past week.

‘Much better.’ Janet said dryly. ‘She’s in the ‘Mom but why can’t I’ stage.’

Sam laughed. ‘Bored, huh?’

‘Oh, yeah,’ Janet’s husky laughter travelled down the phone, ‘I am bored of it.’

Sam’s smile widened. She knew Janet had known Sam had meant Cassie must be bored. ‘You want me to come over?’ There was a hesitant pause and Sam felt a flicker of anxiety at why Janet might not want her to visit. ‘It was just a thought.’ She hurriedly back-pedalled.

‘It’s not…’ Janet sighed heavily. ‘It’s just Colonel O’Neill came over an hour ago so she already has company.’

‘Oh.’ Sam suddenly understood the hesitation and bit her lip, almost painfully.

‘I’m sure she’d love to see you too.’ Janet said quietly.

‘No, no.’ Sam ran her hand through her still damp hair. She just didn’t want to disturb the Colonel’s time with Cassie, she assured herself; it had nothing to do with avoiding Jack outside of the base. ‘I’ll drop by tomorrow.’

‘It’s probably for the best.’ Janet said. ‘She’ll probably get overtired if she has too many visitors.’

‘Actually, the reason why I was calling was because I was wondering what the plans were for her birthday next week.’ Sam said, changing the subject quickly. ‘Are you going ahead with the party?’

‘Probably.’ Janet said cautiously. ‘I was thinking we’d have an afternoon tea party. She wants to go out with her friends in the evening.’

‘Sounds good to me.’ Sam said. ‘You want me to bring the cake?’

‘A cake.’ Janet groaned and there was a faint sound of a hand slapping a forehead. ‘I knew I was forgetting something.’

‘I take it that’s a yes.’ Sam laughed again.

Her doorbell rang cutting through the house and driving Sam to her feet.

‘Uh that’s my door.’ Sam explained. ‘Got to go. Give my love to Cassie.’ She barely acknowledged Janet’s goodbye before she replaced the receiver into its cradle and headed for the door. She pulled the lapels of her robe closer and peeked out; her eyes widened. She hurriedly unlocked the door and yanked it open.

‘Dad!’

Jacob Carter accepted her hug before he pulled back and smiled warmly at his daughter.

‘What are you doing here?’ Sam said, ushering him into the house. She led the way into the kitchen. ‘Coffee?’

Jacob nodded as he braced his hands on the breakfast bar and leaned over it slightly. Sam was pleased that he had changed from the Tok’ra garb he had no doubt arrived in and was wearing the drab olive green of the SGC BDUs. It made him look more human; more like her Dad of old than the Tok’ra host he had become. It wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate that his symbiote, Selmak, had saved his life but it was just that sometimes it was nice to feel her Dad was still just her Dad.

‘You have room at the inn for the night?’ Jacob asked lightly.

She stiffened wondering if General Hammond had told her father about Orlin. The SGC commander was an old friend of her father’s and it was possible that the two had talked. She decided to take the request at face value. ‘Sure. There’s a guest room with your name on it.’ She switched on the coffee machine and turned back to him. She gave a bright smile. ‘So, what brings you by?’

‘The Reole substance. I finally got away to come take a look at it and pick up a sample.’ Jacob explained, unzipping his jacket. ‘I head back tomorrow.’

Sam nodded in understanding. The Reole had been impressed at how SG1 had protected Tyler even after they had learned he wasn’t their colleague and was an alien. It had led to an agreement; the Reole were providing the strange chemical they produced that allowed them to implant suggestions, and the SGC was helping the Reole build an iris over their new Stargate.

‘Do you have any idea how long the Tok’ra have been searching for the Reole?’ Jacob asked, his dark eyes twinkling with amusement. ‘You should have seen the faces on the Council when we learned that you had secured an agreement with them.’

‘I guess the substance will be very useful to the Tok’ra with the amount of covert work that you do.’ Sam murmured, resting back against the kitchen counter.

‘If we can get it to work for us.’ Jacob nodded. ‘I understand the scientists at Area 51 haven’t had much luck.’

Sam pushed her hands in the deep pockets of her robe. ‘I’m not up to date on the research.’

‘George explained.’ Jacob interjected. ‘You’ve had a busy month.’

The coffee machine pinged and Sam gratefully busied herself with making his drink. She slid the mug across the breakfast bar.

Jacob picked it up and took an appreciative sip. He wrapped his hands around the ceramic and gazed at Sam. ‘You know it wasn’t your fault. You were following orders getting a lock on the K’Tau planet.’

‘Isn’t that just a way of avoiding responsibility?’ Sam shot back defensively. ‘I was following orders so it was OK that I almost destroyed a whole planet?’ She whirled away and paced into the den area. She picked up her tea and winced at the tepid temperature which turned the fragrant brew bitter.

‘I’m not saying it’s OK.’ Jacob said slowly, following her. ‘And next time maybe everyone will think twice when there isn’t an automatic lock but you were following orders, Sam, and that does make a difference.’

Sam gestured with her tea. ‘I think I’ll get some coffee.’

Jacob sighed but he registered her want to move topic with a nod. ‘Have you had dinner?’

She shook her head, thinking of the depressing evening she’d had planned of TV and fast food. ‘I was going to call out for a pizza.’

‘Well, how about I treat my favourite daughter to a meal out?’ Jacob suggested. He smiled ruefully. ‘Selmak wants to try Chinese food.’

‘I’ll go change.’ Sam said. ‘Oh, I put some of your clothes in the wardrobe in the spare room if you want to change too.’ She made for the corridor, but stopped suddenly and whirled back around to hug her father.

He hugged her back. ‘What’s this for?’ Jacob asked with a puzzled laugh.

‘I’m just glad you’re here.’ Sam admitted. She gave another smile as she pulled away and hurried to her room before he caught sight of the tears that had sprung up unexpectedly.

o-O-o

Jack looked at the chess pieces. He was stretched out, lying on his stomach on the floor of Cassie’s bedroom. His face was propped up on his hand. The board was between him and his opponent; the dog beside them raised his head momentarily before flopping back down. Cassie sat cross-legged on an oversize cushion with the ease of the young. She was wrapped in flannel pyjamas and a blanket. Her hair was straggly and falling around her pale face. Her nose was red-tipped. Jack thought it looked cute. Cassie was mainly concerned whether the redness was going to disappear before her birthday. Jack suspected a boy.

He frowned. He didn’t really want to think about that; Cassie and boys. It seemed like yesterday that SG1 had rescued her as a cute little girl from the devastated Hanka. But Cassie was a teenager and in a couple of years there would be senior prom and college…there would probably be more boys that he and Teal’c would need to fight off with a bat. Of course, he thought sourly, Daniel would probably just talk to them.

Jack wrenched his mind back to the board. The game was coming to a close; Jack was two moves from winning. He had been waiting for Cassie to move a piece for five minutes. Not that he was in any hurry or had any place to be; no one waiting at home; no hot date. Game, he reminded himself as Cassie yawned.

‘If you want to call it a day…’ he offered.

Cassie’s eyes flickered to him. ‘I’m good.’ She sighed and picked up a bishop. She moved it and took out one of Jack’s knights. She shot him a smug look.

‘OK.’ Jack raised an eyebrow. ‘You got my horse. I have another.’

Her look changed to one of exasperation and for a second, it reminded him far too much of Carter when she was exasperated at his playing dumb one too many times. He looked away and frowned. Cassie had ruined his game plan; check-mate was four moves away. He slid his Queen across the board and took her bishop.

Cassie’s hand struck out like a snake and took his Queen. ‘Check.’

Jack stared at the board. How had he missed that? He glanced up at her admiringly. ‘Sneaky.’ It was said too approvingly to be a reprimand.

‘Sam played the same strategy on me the last time we played.’ Cassie said matter-of-factly.

‘Ah.’ Jack nodded. He’d been playing Carter once removed. He wondered whether it was bad that he got a charge out of that. He frowned. Maybe he should also consider that he shouldn’t underestimate Cassie in future if she was going to memorise Daniel’s and Sam’s chess play.

The doorbell rang in the distance and Jack staggered to his feet. It was his signal to go, he mused. He stretched, easing the kinks out of his legs before he reached for the board. He picked it up and was pleased when the remaining pieces stayed put.

‘Cool.’ He murmured as he set it aside on her desk.

‘Magnets.’ Cassie said. He offered her a hand and she took it. He pulled her off the floor and took advantage of the moment to give her a swift hug. She was getting to the age where she rarely accepted them anymore. He let her go before she pulled away and she hastened to her bed, pulling the blankets up and snuggling into the pillows. The dog followed her, curling up at the end of the bed.

‘Tired.’ Jack stated as he resisted the urge to tuck her in.

She nodded; her eyes were already at half-mast.

‘Get some rest.’ Jack picked up his jacket from the floor and shrugged into it. He made a step toward the door.

‘Jack?’ Cassie murmured sleepily.

‘Hmmm.’ He replied absently, intent on adjusting the collar.

‘Will you stay until I fall asleep?’ Cassie asked. Her eyes opened enough to plead with him.

He nodded surprised. He looked around and pulled over her small vanity chair. He sat down and she closed her eyes with a sigh. Jack leaned forward and watched as Cassie slipped into sleep almost immediately. He’d stay a few minutes, he decided; just in case she woke up.

It had been a long time since he had watched a child sleep, he realised with a melancholic ache. Even when Cassie was younger, he had shied away from getting too close in that way, leaving the ‘parenting’ to Sam and Janet, content to be ‘Uncle Jack’ who got to take Cassie to the park and do the fun stuff without any of the responsibility. In many respects he knew Daniel had assumed the paternal role; helping Cassie with homework, providing her with advice and guidance. Jack had kept out of it although the year after they’d found Cassie there had been Retu Charlie and he’d flirted with the idea of adopting him but before it had really become a serious consideration the young boy had gone off to be a Tok’ra in order to heal his very damaged body. The last time Jack had spoken with Jacob about him, the other man had said he was doing well, and living on a farming planet with two foster parents. Apparently the Tok’ra symbiote who had healed him had insisted that Charlie had a childhood. Jack was pleased.

His thoughts turned inevitably to his own Charlie; his late son. He had loved watching Charlie sleep; as a baby with his thumb firmly in his mouth; as a toddler with a bear called Grump and as a young boy with his hand tucked into a baseball mitt. His chest tightened with a fierce pain at the flood of memories and he stared down at the floor, willing both the memories and the pain away.

This was why he didn’t do this, he thought sadly, and why he might not be ready to do it ever again. He knew his ex-wife had done it; remarried and had a little girl. Jack figured the prospect of him becoming a father again was fairly unlikely given that his last serious romantic encounter was a distant off-world memory, and the woman he really wanted to be with was out of bounds – way out of bounds. He was moving on from his feelings for Sam though; he was. It was for the best; he had to protect her and God knew he figured Sam had already done it. She had been nothing but professional with him ever since the alien in her house thing a couple of months before. Moving on, he reminded himself.

Cassie gave a soft snore.

Time to leave, he decided. He got up and gave into the urge to tuck her blankets closer and to gently brush her hair from her face. He walked out silently, closing the door without a noise. He rubbed his hands over his face and determined he needed to find Fraiser; tell her he was leaving. He made his way down the stairs and hearing the murmur of voices headed toward them.

He pushed open the kitchen door and stopped, taken aback by the sight of Janet and Daniel sitting at the pine table, drinking coffee and looking very cosy – they hadn’t even noticed that he had entered. They both started guiltily as he cleared his throat.

‘Sorry to interrupt.’ Jack said easily, although he was not apologetic at all. He sauntered into the kitchen and smirked at them.

Daniel glared at him.

Janet pierced Jack with an admonishing look. ‘Cassie asleep?’ She asked pointedly.

‘Yeah.’ Jack nodded and thrust his hands in his jacket pockets. ‘So what are you guys doing?’ His brown eyes danced with amusement at their discomfort.

‘We were just discussing Cassie’s birthday.’ Daniel answered defensively. ‘I dropped round with Teal’c’s present.’

Jack repressed the urge to sigh; he might have known Teal’c would have already gotten Cassie her present. He needed to do some shopping.

Janet took her mug to the sink. ‘I’m doing a tea party so Cassie can go out with her friends later.’

Jack rocked back a little. ‘Will she be well enough for that?’

‘I’ll make that determination on the day.’ Janet admitted dryly. ‘You want some coffee?’

Jack shook his head. ‘I’m going to head out.’

‘Me too.’ Daniel got to his feet and handed Janet his empty mug. ‘Thank you.’

‘Any time.’ Janet said automatically. Her dark eyes suddenly flew to Jack. ‘I mean…’

‘I know.’ Daniel said quickly.

Jack hid his grin as he turned and headed for the front door. Janet showed them both out and Jack headed for his truck. He turned on the engine and reached for his CD stash. He wasn’t in the mood for the rock that was currently playing. He selected something classical and shoved the disc in. He reached for his seat belt and stopped; Daniel was propping up the hood of his car and peering at the engine with a confused face. Jack debated whether he should get out before his conscience poked him into turning off his engine and getting out of his truck.

‘What’s the problem?’ Jack asked bluntly.

‘I think it could be the battery.’ Daniel replied. He reached in and pushed at a bolt. ‘Maybe.’

‘Do you even know which is the battery?’ Jack asked caustically.

Daniel made a sweeping gesture; indicating Jack was free to look.

A couple of minutes later, he’d looked at the engine, found nothing and slid into the driver’s seat to try turning it over. Jack stared at the dashboard indicators and got out of the car. He glared at Daniel. ‘You’re out of gas.’

‘Really?’ Daniel groaned and closed his eyes. ‘That’s right. I remembered when I left the base and I was supposed to stop on my way here.’

‘You have a can in the trunk?’ Jack prompted.

The blank look spoke volumes.

Jack sighed. ‘Get in the truck. We’ll go get you some.’

‘Don’t you have some spare?’ Daniel countered, crossing his arms over his chest.

‘My stuff will poison your car.’ Jack said over his shoulder as he pulled the door to the driver’s seat open. Daniel locked his car and got in the passenger seat of the truck. A moment later they pulled away from the curb.

‘Thanks.’ Daniel said as they reached the intersection. ‘For this.’ He adjusted his glasses.

Jack shrugged. It wasn’t a big deal.

Daniel sighed and shifted position. ‘Janet was saying Cassie seemed a lot better.’

‘Yeah.’ Jack nodded. ‘She’s almost over this flu thing. She’s worried her nose is going to be red on her birthday.’

‘She’s a teenager.’

‘I think there’s a boy involved.’ Jack said lightly.

‘Like I said,’ Daniel returned dryly, ‘she’s a teenager.’

Jack shot him a look and his eyes narrowed on the younger man. He waited until they pulled up at a set of traffic lights. ‘You know who he is.’

Daniel smiled and refused to meet Jack’s eyes. ‘I don’t know what you mean.’

‘See I knew you’d do this.’ Jack said, irritated.

‘Do what?’ Daniel asked bemused.

‘Want to talk with Cassie’s boyfriends.’ Jack replied.

‘Not all of us think violence is the answer to everything, Jack.’ Daniel retorted fiercely.

Jack sighed and glanced over at Daniel before he turned his attention back to the road. The lights turned green and he pulled away. ‘You’re still pissed at me because of the K’Tau thing.’

‘I’m not.’ Daniel denied heatedly.

‘You are.’

‘Not.’

‘Are.’

‘Jack.’

‘Daniel.’

Daniel glared at him furiously. ‘I understood why you wanted to kill Malchus.’

‘Why, thank you.’ Jack returned mockingly. ‘That’s very generous of you.’ He made a left turn. The K’Tau fanatic had labelled SG1 as the Harbingers of Doom from the moment they had set foot on the planet. Malchus had been responsible for the destruction of the rocket which had killed two men. Jack knew his own reaction had been extreme; in another life he’d have killed Malchus but then in another life he’d not had Sam and Daniel to stop him.

‘You didn’t have to tell the K’Tau about the Asgard.’ Daniel said suddenly. ‘You didn’t have to try and change their beliefs.’

‘I told them the truth.’ Jack argued but he knew himself that his action had been driven from his anger – at Malchus for the deaths of his men and at the Asgard for not helping in the first place.

Daniel gave him a pointed look.

‘Look,’ Jack lifted a hand from the steering wheel, ‘I may have overreacted but it’s not like they believed me.’ He sighed. ‘Carter figured it out and we fixed it or the Asgard fixed it; it’s over. Can we drop it and move on?’

There was silence and Jack wondered whether that meant Daniel was moving on or…

‘You want to talk about why you’re really angry?’ Daniel asked quietly.

Jack stiffened and it was his turn to glare at Daniel who simply looked back at him with a pointed blue stare.

‘You’ve been angry for weeks, Jack.’ Daniel continued. He waved a hand at him. ‘Way before the whole thing with the K’Tau.’

‘Daniel,’ Jack said warningly, ‘drop it.’

‘You need to talk…’

‘There’s nothing to talk about.’ Jack interjected.

Daniel ignored him, ‘…because you’re going to end up killing someone.’

‘Hey, I had justification to shoot that son-of-a…’

‘Jack.’ Daniel cut him off.

Jack pulled into the gas station. He went into the shop and bought the can before he herded Daniel through filling the can and paying for the gas. Jack was grateful for the stop and the activity because it gave him time to push Daniel’s observation to the back of his mind.

They set back off again in silence.

‘All I’m saying…’ Daniel begun.

Jack sighed heavily; he might have known Daniel just wouldn’t have dropped it.

‘…is that lately you’ve been more likely to, how did you put it once? Oh, that’s right: shoot first and send flowers later.’ Daniel said.

‘You’re only just noticing this now?’ Jack remarked. He kept his gaze forward, staring at the roads. ‘That’s just how I am, Daniel.’

‘You’re just jumping straight to military solutions without even considering the diplomatic option.’

‘Yeah, well, we tried the diplomatic option with the K’Tau people and the Asgard, and look where that got us.’ Jack muttered.

Daniel closed his eyes briefly as though he was praying for patience. ‘It worked, Jack. The Asgard did help.’

‘We don’t know that.’ Jack pointed out. ‘Carter’s plan could have worked.’

‘Even Sam doesn’t think her plan worked.’ Daniel retorted exasperated. ‘You said it yourself it was likely to be the Asgard.’ He turned to face Jack more fully. ‘And has it occurred to you that maybe if you hadn’t referred to us saving their little grey butts they might have been more forthcoming?’

‘Is that what this is about?’ Jack argued. ‘You’re pissed at me because you think you could have done better than me at talking with the Asgard?’ He gestured angrily in Daniel’s direction. ‘We had no way of knowing what would happen when we stepped onto that thing. You ever consider that?’

There was an awkward silence.

Daniel sighed. ‘It was the thing with the computer entity, wasn’t it?’

Jack pulled up in front of Janet’s house and turned off the engine. He avoided Daniel’s sympathetic gaze.

‘That’s why you’re so against talking these days.’ Daniel concluded.

‘Daniel.’ Jack’s hands clenched on the steering wheel as the words hit uncomfortably close. Jack didn’t want to talk about it. The time the computer entity had infested the SGC ranked up high on his list of the worst moments of his life. Carter’s attempt to talk with it had led to her possession and his having to shoot her; had led to his thinking he’d killed her…he’d argued against talking to it and he’d been right. His jaw tensed at the memory. Or maybe he’d been wrong. Daniel had talked to it and the information he’d gathered had ultimately saved Carter…

‘Jack,’ Daniel started with a sigh.

‘You should be fine from here, right?’ Jack gestured at Daniel’s car in front of him.

Daniel reached for the handle. He looked for a moment as though he was going to say something more but he opened the door and stepped out. ‘Thanks.’

Jack nodded. He waited until Daniel had closed the door before he pulled away, eager to get away from Daniel’s theories. Daniel was wrong, Jack determined as he navigated the streets to his home. He wasn’t angry and he wasn’t against talking per se. If Daniel had been right, Jack mused, he would have shot Tyler on the last mission when he’d revealed he was an alien – and he’d attempted to talk to the Asgard, hadn’t he? He’d had good reason to attack the Malchus guy; very good reason. But it had been the thing with the computer entity that had prompted him into stopping Sam or Daniel from talking with the Asgard Council.

He sighed as he pulled up in front of his house with relief. Maybe he was a little angry; the thing with the entity had forced him into making some difficult choices; he had reverted to a professional relationship with Carter and he’d even taken a step back from Teal’c and Daniel. Their working bond was as strong as ever but it was rare the four of them spent time outside of the mountain together anymore. Maybe he was angry because he missed them. It was the right thing to do, Jack reminded himself; it was for their protection. Just like his taking the risk of stepping up on that Asgard platform had been for their protection.

His house sat in front of him; there was no welcoming light shining out from the windows only darkness. Jack climbed out of his truck and went inside.

o-O-o

Daniel watched as the tail-lights on Jack’s truck disappeared. He sighed heavily and pushed his glasses up his nose. He hefted the can and undid the fuel cap to pour the gas into the tank. He wrinkled his nose against the heavy fumes and hunched his shoulders.

He truly hadn’t meant to get into anything with Jack; had actually thought that he had put the skirmishes they’d had on K’Tau behind them. Evidently, Jack had been right, Daniel considered wryly; he was still pissed at the military man.

It wasn’t so much about the fact that Jack had attacked Malchus – he understood that. Jack was incredibly protective of his people and Malchus had killed two innocent people. And putting himself forward to talk to the Asgard – Daniel had been irked about that but he understood it was Jack protecting them again. Jack’s little show to tell the K’Tau the truth, on the other hand, that had been out of line. Not that Jack had listened to him when he’d tried to stop him; not that Jack listened to him very much at all these days, Daniel mused sadly.

Daniel tilted the can to get the last of the fuel out. He couldn’t deny that he was beginning to question his place on SG1 again, he thought tiredly. It seemed like he wasn’t making a difference, like they weren’t making a difference. Since they had defeated Apophis it felt like they’d done nothing but make things worse. They’d almost destroyed the K’Tau and, although the act had been unintentional and they had tried to fix what they had done, it left a bitter feeling.

Even their own government was questioning them. He flushed at the memory of Colonel Simmons interrogating him and insinuating it was fault that his wife, and his ex-girlfriend Sarah Gardner had both been taken as hosts. It was his fault, Daniel sighed, just not the way Simmons had meant it. He would leave but he had no place on Earth to go; he’d determined that the year before. He knew too much to hide away on a dig somewhere. He shook the can and replaced the lid. He recapped the fuel tank and went around the back of the car to place the empty can in the trunk.

‘Is everything OK?’ Janet called out from her doorway. She wrapped an oversize cardigan around her and hurried out to him.

‘Yeah,’ Daniel tapped the car, ‘minor fuel hiccup. Jack took me to get gas. I’m good.’

‘Oh.’ Janet nodded. ‘OK then.’ She turned away and Daniel opened the car door.

Janet turned back. ‘You know we didn’t get a chance to finish our discussion before on Dominic, and I was just about to order some dinner. You’re welcome to join me.’

Daniel shook his head as he climbed into his car. ‘I have to get back to the base. Thanks anyway.’

‘No problem.’ She gave a bright, false smile and stepped forward to help close his door.

Daniel waved at her through the car window and started the car. A second later, he was driving away. He glanced in his mirror and saw Janet returning to the house. It had to be tough for Janet, Daniel thought as he stopped at the top of the road. Cassie was sick with flu and going through the usual teenage angst. His lips twisted in amusement as he recalled his and Janet’s discussion before Jack had interrupted; she had been telling him about the boy that Cassie was interested in. Dominic sounded like a nice guy to Daniel; on the debating team, science club like Cassie. He guessed Janet had just needed the reassurance; it probably wasn’t easy being a single parent…his conscience twinged. That was probably what had prompted her offer of dinner.

He didn’t have to go back to the base. Sure, there was a backlog of translations that had stacked up in the month he had spent on K’Tau but it could wait. It wasn’t like translating it all that night was going to make a major difference. He pressed his lips together, checked his mirrors and abruptly made a u-turn. Five minutes later, he rang the doorbell and waited.

Janet opened the door and her eyes widened in surprise. ‘Daniel.’

‘Hey.’ Daniel smiled shyly. ‘I figured work could wait if that offer of dinner is still open?’

She stepped back to let him in. Daniel walked into the warmth; maybe he couldn’t make a difference at the SGC but, maybe, just maybe, he could make a small difference and be there for Janet as a friend.

fin.

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