Summary: Post-Small Victories
…don’t make me kill you again…
…..”Well, the SGC is bustling with good humour and much-needed relief,” Major Paul Davis said, echoing that relief in his own voice as he sat down next to Daniel on the plane that headed home to Colorado.
“That’s nice,” Daniel replied quietly, hugging his large plastic mug of coffee to his stomach as he stared absently through the port window.
The Pentagon’s Liaison to the SGC took a longer look at Daniel and finally noticed the strain around his eyes and mouth. “Daniel, they’re home and they’re safe.”
Daniel turned his head and gave Paul a tired smile. “I know.”
Like it means a hell of a lot until after I’ve seen them with my own eyes.
Daniel was happy and relieved, but things were gnawing at him and he couldn’t nail down one to focus on. His mind was whirling much too fast, a maelstrom of anger, relief, and sadness.
“Then what’s the matter, if you don’t mind my asking?” Paul asked. They had developed a friendship over the last two weeks, since Jack had been beamed to Thor’s ship. Maybe not a close friendship, but one Paul was finding he liked having.
Daniel gave him a weary look, appreciating the fact that Paul seemed to care that something was bothering him. “I’m just not going to believe anything until I set my sights on them, you know?”
Paul gave him a comforting smile and nod, before opening the thick book he’d brought with him. Daniel took a semi-curious glance at one of the inner pages, finding the title along the top, Ancient Mythologies of the World. His brow rose.
“A little light reading, Paul?”
Paul smiled almost sheepishly. “I think it would probably be a good idea to familiarize myself with all cultures. That way when I’m reading some preliminary report from the SGC, maybe I’ll be able to see something familiar. Though I doubt it, since you guys usually catch this sort of thing long before it gets to the Pentagon.” With a bit of embarrassment, he tried to go back to reading.
Daniel genuinely smiled at him. “Why don’t you request a posting at the SGC? I’m sure you could get one? You said you have doctorates in diplomacy and history. They should be of some use to SG-9 or 10.”
Paul swallowed. “Um, it’s a nice thought, Daniel, but my place is at the Pentagon.”
Daniel studied the man carefully. “But that’s not where you want to be, is it?”
Paul swallowed again. “Truthfully?” he said, lowering his voice. “No. But there’s no one trained enough to take my place…or rather, no one else astute enough in what the SGC needs, as opposed to what the Pentagon thinks it needs.”
Daniel gave Paul a crooked smile then. “Besides you.”
Paul gave it back. “Um…yes.”
“Okay, but if you ever change your mind, let me know…or let General Hammond know. Deal?”
Paul smiled. “Deal.”
He went back to his reading and Daniel took a sip from his coffee as he returned to staring at the clouds out of the window, trying to push away the angry thoughts that threatened to come to the surface. Now that he knew that Jack was okay, the anger was now coming to the fore. Why did that always have to be the case, he wondered?
When Daniel and Paul Davis reached Level 27, they checked in with General Hammond. Daniel would have expected more bustle of activity, but the conference room was empty and Hammond was alone in his office.
Major Davis saluted and sat down, but Daniel was still looking around. “Dr. Jackson?”
Daniel turned to Hammond, then reached forward and shook his hand. “Um, sorry, sir. It’s uh, good to be home.”
Hammond smiled widely at him. “Good to have you home, son. And since you seem to be wondering, they’re down in the infirmary, getting checked over.”
Daniel gave Hammond an embarrassed smile. “Thank you, sir.”
He and Major Davis then debriefed General Hammond through their own part of the mission. When they were through, Hammond looked a bit more sober.
“Major Davis, would you wait outside a moment please. I’d like to have a word with Dr. Jackson.”
“Yes, sir.” Paul gave Daniel a look of surprise, then exited, closing the door behind him. Hammond walked around and sat on the edge of his desk, folding his hands in front of him.
“Colonel O’Neill told me what you just told me, Doctor. There’s just a bit of a problem.”
Daniel stared nervously at his boss, wondering what the hell was the matter. “Sir, he is okay, isn’t he?”
“Yes, Doctor Jackson, Colonel O’Neill is fine. I don’t mean to alarm you. What I mean to say is, it’s a very stressful thing that you were ordered to do.” Daniel started to object but Hammond cut him off sternly. “I’ve seen what can happen when the stress of being forced to fire on fellow officers isn’t dealt with or talked about. Most of the time, we in the military like to push things back and not deal with them, but in cases like this, it’s best to deal with them as soon as possible. In your case, as a civilian, it’s a bit different. You’ve never been put in that kind of situation before…and neither has Colonel O’Neill. The two of you are in a frontline unit, a combat unit, Doctor Jackson. The stress of this will need to be gotten over or it will affect your work.”
“Sir, I don’t think–“
“Doctor Jackson, Colonel O’Neill told his civilian teammate to give the order to fire on him. He has tried to put it down to doing his job, and he’s right, but it can’t be dismissed. It wasn’t a normal order. If he and Teal’c had actually died on that ship, you and I would still be having this talk, only for much different reasons. Since they are okay–“
“Only with the intervention of the Asgard, sir.”
“Yes, Doctor, only because of that, and because they are okay, the two of you need to get this talked out. I can’t stress this enough. I’ve already told him the same thing. This can become an issue between you, Doctor Jackson. I’ve been around too long not to know that you aren’t having a difficult time with this. As a civilian, he’s never put you in a position to have to kill him.”
“I can see the strain, son, and I know it isn’t just because you nearly lost them.”
Daniel started to fidget, knowing that Hammond was right, but he did not want to deal with it right now.
Daniel looked over at him, then realized he’d ignored what he’d last said while staring at some plaque on the wall. “Sir, I’m sorry.”
“You are going to have to deal with this, Doctor Jackson,” he said softly. “The sooner the better. The reason I’m stressing this is because this sort of thing may happen again.”
Daniel blinked, then realized that Hammond was right about that, too. He nodded. “Yes, sir.”
Hammond patted him gently on the shoulder, then walked back around his desk to sit down so Daniel took his cue.
“Is that all, sir?”
“Yes, Doctor. Your written report doesn’t need to be in right away so take a few days.”
“Yes, sir, thank you.”
“Now, send Major Davis in, would you…and then…go see Colonel O’Neill?”
“And welcome home, Doctor.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Daniel opened the door and had Major Davis go inside before shutting the door for him. His next destination was the infirmary, but as he made his way there, his momentum slowed. The closer he got, the further he wanted to flee. It wasn’t just giving the order to fire on Jack. Or was it?
Sam was sitting on the bed, her knee drawn up and her chin resting on it. Jack walked over and sat next to her.
“So, Carter…we never had that li’l talk…”
She sighed, hoping he would do what he had always done and just forget it ever happened. Their eighth night there, they had seen more about the other, learned more about the other than they ever should have. Touching hadn’t been involved but it might as well as have have been for all the intimacy that was…shared.
Jack had watched her…really watched her. All the way. Though he hadn’t done it on purpose, and he’d been a few yards away, she’d caught sight of him just as he’d seen her. He wouldn’t take his eyes away, and then…he’d touched himself. And as he had, she had watched him right back; watched…and enjoyed watching; getting off on it, in fact. She’d never allowed herself to ever get off on those things. Just plain old sex for two was all she’d ever done or wanted. Introducing a third element…er, person…in other words, having sex while someone watched…and jerked off…that was just way too intense for her. She wasn’t blind or naïve, but the thought of that sort of thing made her feel embarrassed so she’d never ventured, never tried. It was kinky enough for her to maturbate in front of a lover, for heaven’s sake, like she had with Jonas Hansen.
But, on the planet…she’d thrown her inhibitions out of the proverbial window. She’d been high as a kite, horny as hell, and she hadn’t cared one bit that Jack had decided to watch…and participate. In fact, it had all been much too erotic to be ignored, so…she hadn’t. Sam shook her head suddenly, trying to rid herself of the memory, of the feelings. Too much sun, too much stress, too much hooch and way too much smoke. That’s all it was. It would never happen again, either.
Jack watched her expression and knew exactly what she was thinking about. It was the same thing he was. He wasn’t ashamed about what had happened, not like she was. But considering their work roles, it was a bit…awkward. However, he wasn’t having as difficult a time about it as she was. Which made him smile. The upright, uptight, very-in-control Major was blushing…again.
He bit down on the urge to tease her about her inhibitions and embarrassment because this time, he sensed he wasn’t going to get a smile out of her like he had before, when he’d tried to go off on his ‘vacation’ the second time. He knew he should have talked with her about this then, but he hadn’t. He had been too busy trying to figure out which position would be the most comfortable for Daniel while he gave him his first orgasm of the night.
“Sir, let’s forget it ever happened,” Sam said suddenly, interrupting Jack’s thoughts.
“But it did, Carter,” he said quietly. “I’m not sorry it did…exactly…well, okay, yeah, I am sorry it did, but that doesn’t mean it was…well, bad, if you know what I mean. It was…nice. And nothing happened.”
She grew more uncomfortable by the second. “No, sir…nothing really did. I’m…not sorry…but I am…so, I think I get what you mean. But why discuss it?”
Jack looked at her more seriously this time, trying to will her to meet his eyes. “My point is, can we still work together or do you want a transfer?”
That got her to look at him – in surprise. “No transfer, sir, and yes, we can work together just fine…as long as we forget about this. Nothing did happen and because of that, it doesn’t take away my ability to follow your commands or go into combat situations.”
“And what, sir?”
“I know there’s an ‘And’.”
She smirked, remembering something from their time with Aris Boch. “Well…how are you with me, sir?”
“Am I different to you, sir? Your ability to command, et cetera.”
“Ah. Not a problem, Carter.”
“You’re sure, sir?”
“Good. Now, since we’re both sure, sir, and we’re both fine…can we just move on?”
He smiled roguishly at her. A smile that tended to make her feel a bit warm. She really wished right then that he was an ugly man. She did not believe she would be having such a problem if he were. But…it was in her experience that men like him were always handsome…and charming…and a huge pain in the ass…and he was most certainly that.
The closer and closer Daniel got to the infirmary ward, the more certain he was that he did not want to see Jack right then. He needed to calm down…away from him. At the same time, however, he needed to see, to be sure that he was okay. That Sam and Teal’c were okay. That things had returned to normal. Or whatever passed for normal around here.
He finally found himself standing at the threshold of the main infirmary, taking in the sight of his teammates across the room. Relief flooded him. After the relief settled, the anger came back to him but so did that nagging feeling. As he looked at them, that strange feeling that things hadn’t returned to normal fell over him. That feeling was there again, the one he’d had when he’d stood before his team on the ramp when they’d returned home from P4X-234. He hadn’t nailed it before, but he was nailing it now. His teammates looked…different, just as they did on the ramp; like they hadn’t a care in the world. No, it was more like they were perfectly fine without him. The thought bothered him. He felt isolated all over again.
He scolded himself silently for the selfish thoughts. Of course they could get along without him! It’s not like he was central to their world. What a stupid idea. No one was irreplaceable. But the longer the idea stayed in his head, the more narrow it became, the more focused, and he realized then what it was. They looked complete without him, as if he’d never been part of them. That was what bothered him, what had made him feel isolated and was continuing to make him feel isolated. They were his family, his whole world, and it felt as if they had been taken away from him…and for a while, they had, hadn’t they? His childhood fear of abandonment was coming to bite him on the ass all over again. His anger rose again, only directed at himself for being so foolish.
“Kel Sha, Daniel Jackson!” Teal’c greeted, startling him.
Daniel looked over and saw Teal’c grinning at him and he couldn’t help it; he gently smiled back. “Hey, Teal’c. How’re you doing?” he replied quietly and moved away from the door, walking toward him.
Teal’c smiled at him fondly. “I am well, Daniel Jackson.”
“Daniel!” Jack called, bothered that Daniel hadn’t looked at him.
“Daniel!” Sam repeated.
“Hey guys,” he greeted Jack and Sam collectively.
“Daniel, how much weight have you lost?” she asked, getting up and going to him, startled by the way her teammate looked.
Jack blinked. Shit, Daniel had lost a little weight…and why the hell hadn’t he noticed? Wait, of course he had noticed! He had just had a few other things on his mind, is all. Jack took in Daniel’s stance as he smiled at Carter; his arms were folded and he was frowning. Shit, this was not good.
Teal’c took in Daniel’s appearance just as Jack had and made a quick visual reassessment of his friend. “You do not appear well.”
“I’m fine,” Daniel dismissed, but at Teal’c’s doubtful look, he amended, “Well, mostly. I’m on light duties for another week.” He noticed Jack and Sam staring at him in the same manner as Teal’c. “What? I’m fine?” he asked somewhat stiffly, stepping back from Sam’s touch on his shoulder, reclaiming his personal space. It was a move that did not fool his teammates. “How’re you guys?” he asked, looking at Jack and Sam.
“We’re fine, Daniel,” Sam told him out loud, but her expression told him she was worried about him.
“But Teal’c’s right. You don’t look good,” Jack said, standing but staying by the bed.
“I need to eat something…probably,” Daniel told them, “and I will. I just haven’t been hungry.”
Sam was frowning at him now, wondering why he was acting strange. “Is it something else? Wanna talk about it?”
Daniel snorted softly then abruptly shook his head. “No, it’s nothing. I’m glad you guys are okay, so…I’ll see you later,” and he started to turn around and leave when Jack called after him.
“Hey! Where do you think you’re going?” he asked, getting mad with concern. He remembered his talk with Hammond, with what had happened on the sub, and had a feeling this was what was bothering Daniel.
Daniel turned to look at all three of them as he pointed down the corridor with his thumb. “I’m leaving, Jack,” he said with as much calm as he could muster. “You three don’t need me here and I’d feel as if I were babysitting so…I’m going. Is that a problem?”
“I’ll say it’s a problem, Daniel, and where’d you get the idea we don’t need you?” Jack said, angry now. “Of course we do.”
“Daniel, what’s wrong?” Sam asked.
Daniel frowned, hearing his teammates sound the same, but even so, he could help that feeling of isolation. He kept his distance, refolding his arms across his chest in a tighter self-hug. He leaned against the foot of the nearest bed and waited for the room to be empty of all except the four of them. “Nothing much. It’s just the three of you have hardly said ten words to me since you got back. I know you’ve been busy but I feel kind of…left out,” and he added that last part very quietly.
“No, that’s not true,” Sam argued, but Daniel didn’t reply as he finally took a long look at Jack.
“You, on the other hand, you’re probably a bit pissed at me.”
Jack’s browline went up in surprise along with a touch of anger. “Excuse me?”
Daniel clenched his jaw. “For not following your orders right away and killing you when you told me to.” Jack suddenly sat up straight and so did Teal’c. Sam’s eyes grew wide with surprise. She hadn’t known about that.
“You gave Daniel the order to fire?” she asked, staring at Jack. He looked at her, not answering, then turned his eyes back on Daniel.
Just then, Major Paul Davis came into the room, unaware of the increasing tension, although he soon felt it as he came to a halt. “Colonel, Major, Master Teal’c.”
“Major,” Jack and Sam said.
“Major Davis,” Teal’c greeted warmly.
With a bit of embarrassment at the interruption, Paul turned to Daniel. “I’m sorry for interrupting, Daniel. My flight goes out later so I’ve got time to get something to eat. I was wondering if you’d like to join me? You probably haven’t had anything to eat yet, have you?”
Daniel gave him a short shake of his head. “No, I haven’t, and yes, I’ll join you.” With that, he turned away from his teammates, and his lover, and walked out. Major Davis frowned, but turned and followed Daniel out of the room. When Sam looked at Jack for the explanation she hadn’t gotten about the sub and Daniel, she had to look twice at her team leader. He looked pissed.
Jack was pissed. Just when had Daniel gotten so fucking cozy with Major Davis?
Daniel carefully pulled on his khaki trousers, wincing as the muscles of his abdomen protested the movement. He thought about tucking his shirt in, then decided not to. Too much effort, too much soreness. All he wanted to do right now was go home and lie down in his own bed, in his own comfort. As he sat down on the bench and bent gingerly to tie his loafers, Jack entered the locker room.
“Hey, Jack,” Daniel greeted quietly.
“Hey. What was that in the infirmary?” Jack asked quietly. Daniel sighed, wishing Jack would just let him be for a while. “Daniel, I get why you’re upset, but did you have to walk off like that?”
Daniel hesitated as he stood up, then turned away and grabbed his coat. “Actually, I did. I didn’t want to talk about…” He made a motion in the air with his hand, leaving the sentence unfinished as his thoughts churned out the many things he had on his mind.
Jack pressed his lips together. “I know it was hard having to do what you did and–“
“What you ordered me to do,” Daniel snapped before he could stop himself. “Why me?” he sighed, now angry at himself, wincing as he slammed his locker shut.
“Why not Major Davis? Why tell me to do it and not him?”
Jack stared at him, not really knowing which answer Daniel would want. “What do you want me to say?”
Daniel hadn’t allowed himself to look at Jack fully, but now, before leaving the locker room, he did. He looked back into those brown depths and all he wanted right then was to take Jack in his arms and tell him how happy he was to see him; to tell him how happy he was that he was alive; to tell him he loved him.
But he didn’t. “I don’t know, Jack. All I know is that you, Sam, and Teal’c are fine and I’m…not,” and he paused a moment, then looked away. “Later, Jack.”
“Daniel, we have to talk. I’ll come over.”
“No…don’t. I don’t want to fight with you. Not now.”
“I don’t want to fight, either. I just want to know what’s wrong. It’s more than just what happened with the sub, isn’t it?”
Some of the unnamed anger rose within and Daniel clenched his jaw. Why didn’t you come see me? Why haven’t you asked to see my scar? Why haven’t you joked or played around with me? Why have you been avoiding me?
“Yes, it’s more. Just…not right now, okay Jack? I need to get some sleep in my own bed.”
Jack started to answer, then stopped. Daniel was right. “Can we talk about this tomorrow then…at home?”
Daniel shrugged. “I don’t know.”
Jack bristled. “You don’t want to see me, you don’t want to talk to me. What the hell’s going on?”
Daniel sighed. “Maybe you should ask why you’ve been avoiding me. Until then, I’m not in the mood, Jack.”
Daniel walked out, leaving Jack standing there, confused and pissed off. He then groaned, realizing how all of his actions had looked since returning from that dratted planet. He’d spoken only a few words to Daniel in his office after he’d showered, then had come the medical checks and the debriefing. Hammond had then told them all to return to their leave time until Daniel was back to full-time duty so without a word, Jack had gone to change, preparing to go home. He hadn’t gone to see Daniel first. He’d gone to see Carter. Just to get one more tease in. Jack hadn’t realized how his actions would be taken. He had thought to call Daniel later that afternoon, after getting home, but he hadn’t said anything to him before leaving.
It was obvious that Daniel had jumped to the wrong conclusion and it was just as obvious that it was Jack’s fault. He had taken Daniel for granted; he’d just assumed that Daniel would be there, would understand everything. But why would he? He hadn’t even told Daniel he’d missed him, hadn’t asked how he was healing, hadn’t even asked to see his scar…
Then time had seemed to wind back on itself and all of a sudden, he was back in uniform and going into that damn sub…giving orders to kill as if it were an afterthought…as if it were nothing. To Jack, at that moment, it was just what needed to be done, but this was Daniel. He’d never been told to kill. In the heat of battle, it was expected, but to order someone, a civilian, Daniel…to kill? On that sub, Jack hadn’t thought twice. He’d gotten mad at Daniel’s refusal to give up and he’d yelled at him, told him to kill him before the bugs did…but Daniel hadn’t, not right away. Then the sub was fired on, exploding around them, and those damn bugs were on him, on Teal’c…and Daniel had been watching it all, hadn’t he?
Jack leaned against the locker and banged his forehead against it. He was mad at Daniel for not firing right away but the truth was, the bugs were everywhere and it wouldn’t have mattered if the sub had been fired on or not. He would have died by those things if it hadn’t been for Thor. He had to get Daniel to understand that…and after all the emotion died down, he hoped he could. This was going to be one hell of an apology and he just hoped Daniel didn’t dig his heels in. Jack hated that.
Later that night, Jack had called Daniel, but he wasn’t picking up the phone. The next day, they still hadn’t talked. Jack refused to go on leave without resolving things with Daniel first. After all, his whole leave time would be consumed with thoughts of it, so really, what was the point of even being on leave if he couldn’t relax? Jack decided to cancel it…and coming to the mountain, he found Daniel in his office instead of at home.
“Daniel, we still need to talk.”
“Jack, I’m kind of busy.”
“You’re kind of busy on purpose, Daniel. Now you’re the one avoiding me. We need to talk. About everything. Are you going to keep on ignoring me and not let me apologize?”
When Daniel hesitated in his answer, Jack had finally reached his limit. “Fine!” he said with angry disgust, then turned and walked out.
Daniel closed his eyes and dropped his head, knowing that he’d pushed Jack too far. He’d wanted to wait until his anger had died down…but it hadn’t. Was it now too late?
Jack stopped by Sam’s lab and found her tinkering. “Carter, what the hell are you still doing here?”
“I’m working on my project, sir,” she said, lifting the faceplate of welding mask.
Jack sighed and shook his head. “Carter, get…a…life. That’s an order.” He then turned and walked off, his disgust increasing.
Sam stood there with blowtorch in hand, frowning…then sighed deeply, knowing now that Jack’s mood was likely caused by Daniel. Wasn’t it always? She sighed again, dropped the faceplate and went back to work.
A few hours later, a knock came on the door again and she angrily lifted the plate from her face, expecting to see Jack. Instead, she found Daniel.
“Daniel!” she said with pleased surprise, removing the helmeted mask completely. “What’s up?”
“I was wondering if we could have a talk.”
She took in the hands-in-pockets look, the very serious strain on his face, and knew he meant business. “Okay, close the door. I’ve got some vanilla coke in the fridge back here. Want some?”
“Yeah, thanks.” He pulled up a stool and sat down, trying to think of what to say. He wasn’t sure he should talk to her but he had to talk to someone. She was the closest friend he had, next to Teal’c, Janet…and Jack.
She sat down on another stool and handed him one of the two small bottles of coke. She opened hers and took a long drink from it, sighing at the taste. She really liked this new coke. Concentrating on Daniel now, she watched him pick at the label of the unopened bottle, realizing that he was very troubled. She had a few ideas about what, especially after his words in the infirmary had forced her to ask herself why she hadn’t spoken with him since returning from P4X-234. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t had the time, but it had passed so quickly and she’d had her mind on other things along with the busy events. Unfortunately, the only answer she could come up with was that she’d simply taken his presence for granted.
She reached out and touched his arm, startling him from his thoughts. “I’m sorry I ignored you, Daniel. I didn’t mean to. I guess I just took it for granted that you’d be here. Is that what’s wrong?”
He made a face; one of those expressions that told her he had too many things to say. It was true, though. He had too many thoughts, too many questions. He’d started to think something had gone on between Jack and Sam on P4X-234, as their seeming avoidance of him had told him, but how could he ask? He should be talking to Jack but he was too angry with him over the other things. Sam knew about his feelings for Jack as he’d told her a while back, but she didn’t know the feelings were reciprocated and he couldn’t bring himself to tell her. For that reason, what right did he have in asking her about Jack? She’d only keep it from him, wouldn’t she? If any of his unfounded assumptions were true, that was.
“Daniel?” she asked again.
“Um, sorry. Thanks for telling me straight out. I appreciate it.”
She gave him an apologetic smile. “You shouldn’t have to ask. I didn’t think I was ignoring you and…I guess that’s even worse, huh? I think I was just too wrapped up in getting home, getting back to this project I have, then those replicators…and now…” She shook her head. “I’m really sorry, Daniel.”
He nodded, figuring she’d say something like that. His suspicion of her and Jack, however, kept nagging at him and he gave in. “Um, listen, you can tell me if I’m out of line here, but…did something happen back on the planet…on P4X-234? I’d like to know but I guess you can’t…er, won’t…um, it’s really none of my business, isn’t it?”
She blinked, staring at him. “Daniel, it is your business because…well…because we’re friends. Even though I know how you feel about Colonel O’Neill, you probably feel threatened somehow…right?”
That did not answer his question or reassure him. He nodded silently, staring into her eyes, trying to read what she didn’t say. Unfortunately, Sam was just as good at hiding her own feelings.
Finally, she reached out and squeezed his forearm. “Nothing happened. You read the report, right?”
With hidden relief, he nodded in answer.
“Well, the partying atmosphere was…well…” and she grimaced then. “I let it get out of control and I shouldn’t have.”
His eyes widened and she rushed to reassure him again. “No, no, no, not that. Not with Colonel O’Neill. With…well, someone else. And I’d just as soon forget the whole thing ever happened. It’s…embarrassing…and I’m not going to embarrass myself further by telling you what I did. If, during one of our drinking nights, I ever start to say anything about that time, smack me one. Don’t let me say, okay?”
Daniel finally allowed himself a grin, feeling more at ease. “I promise. I’m sorry for asking something so personal…it’s just I…I really missed you guys and…when you came home, you hardly spoke to me. I felt…distanced.”
She studied him a bit more carefully. “That’s why you said that thing in the infirmary, isn’t it?”
He nodded. “You guys really were ignoring me and I had no idea what I’d done.”
She closed her hand around his forearm again. “You didn’t do anything, Daniel. It was just very bad timing. Laid up like you were did not help matters. I think you were already feeling isolated. I know I would.”
For some reason, Daniel hadn’t thought of that. He blinked in full comprehension at her. “You know, you’re right. I hadn’t thought of it that way.”
“Well, score one for me,” she said teasingly as she licked the tip of her forefinger and drew a ‘1’ in the air.
“Sam…” he replied, though he was grinning about it.
She touched his arm once more. “Have you talked with Colonel O’Neill yet?”
He shook his head. “No. But I will, as soon as I can think a bit more clearly. Unfortunately, I’m a bit pissed with him so…that may be a while.”
She bit at the corner of her mouth worriedly. “You’re pissed? Why?”
“It’s complicated, Sam.” He paused, then went on. “I’ll talk about it with you as soon as I’m not so mad about it anymore.”
“About the sub? I had no idea he’d asked you to do that.”
“No, you were with Thor.”
“Well, yeah, and the fact that I hadn’t read the report yet.” She watched him nod his head, not meeting her eyes. She nudged him. “Don’t wait too long to talk to him, Daniel. You know how stubborn he can get.”
He grinned. “I know. I promise I won’t be the same.”
“Good. Now…anything else on your mind?”
“Nothing I want to talk to you about…or should talk to you about,” he revealed.
She took in the expression in his eyes and read him wrong. “Have you been seeing someone?”
He blinked in surprise, then frowned. “What makes you ask that?”
Studying him more carefully, she was now almost certain that he was seeing someone. She smiled. “I don’t know. Just a feeling. You can talk to me.”
He shrugged, wondering if he shouldn’t take advantage of the sudden misunderstanding. “I don’t think so. Not…not right now. Besides…the person is…military.”
She bit her lips together, understanding that, but she still couldn’t keep the smile from her face. “So, does this mean you’re over…the other…?” she asked, referring to Jack.
“No, not over…just…” He suddenly affected embarrassment, pretending that he wouldn’t talk about it. Truth was, he didn’t want to lie to her. Keeping this big secret from her was enough. “Let’s talk about something else, shall we?”
She sighed, letting it go. “Okay, but I’m here, whenever.”
“Okay. So…” He then decided the safest thing was to change the subject completely. “What was it like being on Thor’s ship…both the first and the second time?” His question inadvertently made her feel guilty as she realized that she reallyhadn’t talked to him…not like she used to.
To make up for it, she proceeded to tell him, in full detail, everything that had happened on the first ship, even knowing full well that he’d read all three reports. She then went on to explain what had happened after she had left the SGC with Thor.
Daniel quickly forgot about everything else…for a while, at least…and found himself actually laughing. It felt good, even though it hurt his muscles to do it.
“He actually said ‘It was your stupid idea’?” he laughed.
Sam nodded, wide-eyed, as she sipped from her bottle. “Took me completely by surprise. The Asgard don’t really strike me as having a sense of humour, but Thor seems to, and a strange one at that. He certainly showed it then.”
Daniel shook his head, chuckling softly, holding the muscles of his stomach.
Sam’s wide-eyed expression became more shocked as she held her hand out. “Oh…my God. I’m sorry, Daniel.”
“For what?” he asked, concerned by the changing tone in her voice.
“For not asking about your surgery, how you were feeling.”
He frowned. “You did, Sam, in the infirmary.”
“Not like…not like I should have.” She then leaned over and gave him a hug. “Should have hugged you when we came home, smelling like a swamp rat or not.”
Daniel grinned and pulled away, looking at her, touched that she cared, relieved that she cared. He’d been afraid that he had somehow lost her friendship. He was abruptly reminded of that old childhood fear that he’d felt while standing at the threshold of the infirmary. He tried to shove it away.
“It’s okay, Sam. Really. Don’t worry about it. So, tell me the rest. When Thor beamed you guys up.”
She smiled softly, told him the rest, then realized that she’d forgotten to tell Daniel what the name of the ship was that they’d blown up.
Daniel stared at her, his mouth open. “‘The O’Neill’?”
He shook his head, then grinned conspiratorially as he leaned forward. “Good thing you blew it up. I don’t think we could have lived with his smug ass for very long.”
She sniggered. “Teal’c would probably’ve locked him in his quarters, disabled the phone, then pretended he hadn’t seen him.”
Daniel sniggered in return. “You’re right. He gets that look whenever Jack gets smug.” He suddenly gave her a mischievous grin.
“Jack asked to see my scar that day Thor beamed him up but I wouldn’t show him. Staples, you know,” and he grinned at the quick grimace that flashed on her face. “But it would give me some measure of perverse pleasure to show you instead of him. Wanna see it?”
Sam started to shake her head, then some of that perverse pleasure Daniel seemed to be getting came over her as well. To get one over on Jack, even if he didn’t know about it right away…well, it was too good an offer to pass up.
“Okay…but just the scar, Daniel,” she teased.
He gave her a sarcastic look. “In your dreams, sister.”
She sniggered at him, then motioned with her hand. “Come on, wonder boy, let’s see it.” She remained sitting while he turned away, opened his trousers, then lifted his black t-shirt and then his fatigue shirt. He turned, slowly, suddenly feeling a wave of embarrassment come over him. What was he doing? But…it was too late. She was looking…and she started to reach out and touch it, then yanked her hand back. That made him relax and smile.
“It still hurt?” she asked quietly, not liking the look of such a fresh, and long, scar on him.
He shook his head as he turned back around to tuck his t-shirt back in and close his trousers. “No, only the muscles…and only when I laugh, get pissed off, go to the bathroom, change clothes, walk, sit, stand, or….yadda yadda, as Jack would say.”
She laughed again and Daniel was abruptly reminded of his earlier worries. He still felt that something had passed between Sam and Jack, though he was fairly certain now that it wasn’t physical. But something had happened and as soon as he resolved things with Jack, he would get him to tell him, under torture, if necessary.