Summary: Post-Last Stand
…heroes can’t save everyone…
General Hammond looked at the many long faces around the briefing table, wishing he could brighten them. Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to happen, not for a while.
“So what you’re saying, Jacob, is that the reason the poison wasn’t used was because it’s better to have all of the System Lords around in order to fight Anubis?”
“That’s correct, George. Though they’ve established a truce by voting Anubis in, it won’t last long. The Goa’uld will always fight and Anubis is especially known for not keeping his word.”
Jacob cast a scolding look at Jack when he mumbled his disapproval.
“You don’t agree, Colonel?” Hammond asked.
“It’s not that, sir.”
“What is it then?”
As Jack paused, looking around the table, Daniel couldn’t help but notice how the man’s glance practically slid off him, and not in a good way. He frowned, wondering what the hell that was about. He knew that Jack was upset about losing SG-17, and more specifically, Lt. Elliot, but couldn’t Jack see that there were other people who were just as upset? Sure, Jack was upset about letting the Goa’uld live, but he hadn’t been in charge of this particular circumstance.
He and Jacob had. Was Jack mad at them for that? No, he was mad at the situation and he and Jacob were a by-product. Daniel knew that Jack was totally pissed off at having to let the Goa’uld slip through their grasp. Hell, they were all sick of it. Just three months before, they’d been forced to let Nirrti go. Jack had really wanted to kill the bitch. Now, more Goa’uld were allowed to escape and god only knew how many people would suffer because of those decisions.
Daniel understood all too well what Jack was feeling, because he felt the same, but if Jack was going to take his mood out on him, he’d better think differently. If Jack wanted to vent, then Daniel would gladly listen until Jack made himself hoarse. But, if Jack wanted to glower and glare and stomp around like a mule with a bad head, then Jack would get an earful in return.
“I’m just sick and tired of letting the bastards go, sir,” Jack finally replied.
Daniel caught the briefest glance in his direction and it was hard to interpret. Was Jack looking for support or was he casting blame? Daniel decided on the former, and even if he was wrong, he could show Jack he was there for him.
“It is getting old, General,” he said, catching a slight twitch to Jack’s mouth, a sign that Jack recognized the support. Relieved, Daniel hoped that Jack would be willing to talk later, if he wanted. Daniel certainly needed to.
“I think we can all agree with that, Doctor,” Hammond replied, then switched his attention to Jacob. “I have people standing by at the Alpha Site to help you and the remaining Tok’ra, Jacob. Until you find another base, you’re more than welcome to use part of it as a base of operations.”
“Thanks, George,” Jacob said solemnly.
“Not a problem, Jacob,” he said, then turned to SG-1. “The memorial will be this afternoon, then you’re all dismissed for 48 hours of downtime. Before you leave, I’d like your mission reports on my desk.”
The memorial for SG-17 seemed both quick and exceedingly long. There were moments when Daniel felt that his tie was too tight, the black cloth of his suit entirely too warm, the air around him exceedingly humid. Jack looked handsome–as always–in his Class A’s, but his stone expression and hurting eyes warred with it. Daniel was suddenly reminded of the time, four years before, when he’d been thought dead and a memorial had been held. Sam had told him about it but she’d said nothing about how he’d looked. Daniel couldn’t help but wonder if Jack looked the same then as he did now, standing there at the podium, giving his own eulogy, looking as if the emotion had been forced from him.
He was speaking, his words rough, yet spoken freely, without restraint. He paused a few times, however. Daniel knew Jack was winging it, as he always did. The man always felt that a rehearsed eulogy was insincere, so he’d always said whatever came to him. Jack was good at it, too, always saying just the right thing.
Before he knew it, Daniel was walking alongside Jack down the corridor. They had been given the rest of the day off, but tomorrow, they’d be back at it. Daniel felt conflicted. He didn’t want tomorrow to come, yet he didn’t want the miasma of death to hang over the SGC – and Jack.
They exited the elevator and walked into the parking garage. “You want to grab something to eat?” Daniel asked, not wondering whether or not one of them should cook. If he wasn’t up to it, Jack wasn’t either.
Jack paused and turned to him. “I’m not very hungry, Daniel. How about I see you back at work, if that’s okay?”
Daniel sighed deeply, wishing Jack would accept his offer to talk – which was all the dinner invite was. He also wished that Jack would be there for him, but it seemed that wasn’t going to happen, either.
“Okay. If you change your mind, you know where I am.”
Without any hesitation, Daniel turned and walked to his Jeep.
Not usually hungry when he was sad or upset, Daniel found himself picking up Chinese take-out anyway. The smell of the food made his stomach rumble, as if in reminder that he should eat. By the time he’d gotten home, he was ready to.
Sitting on the couch, making headway into the fried rice (with a spoon – right now, chopsticks were for people who had time), Daniel’s attention was split between the TV (showing Jaws, which Daniel thought darkly appropriate) and his recent memories.
He’d almost had Sarah and blamed himself for not succeeding in getting her into his or the Tok’ra’s custody. But like an intrusive nettle digging into his skin, Jacob’s words came back to him every time he tried to focus on that blame.
They’d been in the infirmary, getting checked over, and Jacob had walked over to Daniel’s part of the room to see that he was okay. He’d found Daniel morose and sullen, chastising himself for what he’d failed to do.
“We need to re-group, Daniel,” Jacob had told him. “A good number of our resources are gone and that includes the lab we used to remove symbiotes from the host.”
Daniel had heard but he’d been too stubborn to listen, shaking his head in defiance. “I could’ve found a way.”
“Listen to you. Don’t be foolish and blame yourself for things you had no control over,” Jacob had continued. “And it’s probably a very good thing that you didn’t get her, Daniel.”
“What? What’s that supposed to mean?” Daniel’d asked with disbelief.
“Danny, had we had our equipment, we’d have tortured Osiris for information about Anubis. You know that.”
Daniel had – and had conveniently forgotten. “And your point?”
“It is better that she’s out there, free.”
“How can you say that?” he’d asked, getting angry with Jacob. “She’s not free. She’s still a prisoner.”
Jacob had given him a kind, fatherly look. “Danny, listen to me. Had Sarah been with us, she would now be a prisoner of the NID. Which fate is better? The NID, or out being out there?”
“I don’t know, Jacob. I just…don’t know.” He hadn’t, either. With the NID, she’d have been a prisoner, and who the hell knew what torture methods the NID were capable of? Out in space, she’d have had to watch as her invader caused the suffering of others. With the NID, others would not have suffered – but Sarah would have. “Maybe she’d have been better off here, but…”
“Well, whether confined by the NID or out there with Anubis, she’d still be the host to Osiris.”
Even now, Daniel winced at the words. Jacob had been right. It didn’t really matter where Sarah was and it was useless to rail against what couldn’t be changed. All he knew was that he’d failed, and it hurt. He had no idea how long he’d stay mad at himself though, and doubted that the anger would ever go away.
Coexisting with that anger, however, was shame and embarrassment. That mission had served to give him another hard lesson about making assumptions. Sometimes those who served the Goa’uld weren’t that innocent.
Stretching out across the couch, Daniel’s weary eyes closed despite the desire to stay awake. Soon, he was lost in sleep.
[ “You hadn’t thought, had you?” he heard himself chastise. “You’d opened up to that Loh’tar of Baal’s without giving it a second thought. You ‘assumed’ that the man was your friend simply because he was a fellow slave. What the hell was the matter with you? Had the academic world taught you nothing? Has *Jack* taught you nothing?” ]
His voice–or conscience–continued to rant at him and Daniel sought escape, running into a blanket of fog, only to emerge in that slave’s kitchen on the space station, once again reliving that section of the nightmarish mission. Only this time, it was as spectator, watching a virtual reality replay of past events.
He saw himself speaking to that Loh’tar, and as he watched, his fists clenched, the fingernails digging into his palm. He was angry at his own stupidity, his own blindness.
“May I speak honestly with you?” he’d asked the Loh’tar.
“Have you not been honest prior to now?” the Loh’tar had returned.
“Yes, of course. What I mean is, can I trust you that no matter what I say this conversation will remain between us?”
[ “Caught in a trap of your own idealism,” his inner voice said with deep sarcasm. “What a fool you are.” ]
The Loh’tar had been suspicious and Daniel should’ve seen that as the young man had nodded. But he hadn’t. He’d simply pressed on, hoping to turn the young man into an ally.
“I believe the Goa’uld are powerful beings,” he’d spoken slowly, “that use humans like us as hosts. I believe they use their power to portray gods so that the masses will follow and serve them.”
“I agree,” the Loh’tar had replied.
“You know this to be true?” Daniel saw himself ask. God, he wanted to smack himself.
“And yet you still serve?”
“As do you,” the Loh’tar had reminded him. The man had been astonished, yet not accusatory. And Daniel had had to backtrack because his logic in attempting conversation–conversion–had backfired.
“Yes, but my fear is that when this is over, my master will not wish me to spread the secrets that I have learned and will kill me to prevent it.”
“You would not be here if your master did not trust you.”
“True. But what if they do not care what we have seen and heard, because when they are done eating the symbiotes, they plan to put the leftovers in us?”
The Loh’tar turned quickly, an expression of incredulous lust on his face. “You should only be so fortunate.”
“Excuse me?” Daniel had asked. He’d been sure he hadn’t heard the Loh’tar correctly, or hadn’t understood him correctly.
“I have served my master so well and so long in the hope that one day he would grant me the honor of implantation.”
“The *honor*,” Daniel repeated. He was literally mystified.
“Yes,” the Loh’tar had said, drawing out the word as the lust inside him had been clearly reflected on his face. “Endless pleasure.”
Even now, in the dream, the words made him cringe and shudder. The Loh’tar had flirted, however briefly, lost in his own selfish, twisted need.
The scene dissolved and the fog settled in once more, thick and heavy, making it difficult to see even two inches in front of his nose. He blinked several times as the wetness of the vapors made his eyes sting. As he took a hesitant step forward, a hand shot through the dense mist to stop him, grabbing his throat, pushing him backward until he lost balance and landed on his back. At first, Daniel thought it was Osiris. But first hand knowledge of the feel of that hand told him that it wasn’t Osiris (Sarah). The hand was different. Male. And instead of Orisis’ voice, underlaid with Sarah’s, the Loh’tar’s voice rang out.
“How unfortunate that Lord Yu cannot trust his slave,” he said, using Osiris’ words, his face appearing as the fog parted. The dagger was there, the point pushing against his throat just as before. Daniel’s hands came up, grasping the wrist and hand that held the knife, trying to stave off the kill.
“Stop,” he managed, trying not to look into the twisted lust of the man’s eyes.
“Stop?” the Loh’tar asked, barking out a cruel laugh. “I have no intention of stopping. I am going to enjoy this immensely.”
Daniel didn’t know how it was possible but he found himself pinned, the man’s body covering his own. The man’s *naked* body. His eyes popped open with fear and surprise as the Loh’tar ground his erection against his groin. Daniel’s stomach threatened to heave as the man began to hump.
“No!” Daniel shouted, trying to push the man off.
“I will enjoy watching you bleed.”
Daniel’s fist shot out, connecting with cartilage and bone. He barely registered his name being called.
“Daniel, wake up!”
“Daniel, wake up!”
Daniel shook his hand and frowned. Dreaming. He was dreaming. Someone was calling his name.
Jarring himself awake, panting harshly, his eyes wide, Daniel looked up.
“I, uh…” he started, trying to catch his breath and looked down at his own hand, afraid he’d hit Jack instead of that Loh’tar. His hand looked and felt fine, however. Pushing himself to sit up, he looked about him, slightly disoriented, wondering how long had he been sleeping. It was still night, judging by the darkness of his living room and the illumination of a single lamp – and the muted TV. His eyes finally rested on Jack. “What’re you doing here?”
Jack blinked at him. “What do you mean, ‘What am I doing here’?”
“You said you’d see me back at work.”
“I know,” Jack replied, wincing at his own reminder. “I’m sorry. I wanted to be alone for a while.”
Daniel moved his eyes away. He wasn’t in the mood to feel charitable…for the moment. Waking up from nightmares were not one of Daniel’s best times. “What the hell do you want, Jack?” he snapped. “Surely it can’t be to talk.”
Jack sighed and sat on the edge of the coffee table. “I guess I deserved that.”
The uncharitable moment was abruptly broken and Daniel gave Jack a look of apology. “No,” he said, slumping back against the couch. “You didn’t.”
Jack reached over and smoothed down a few damp strands of hair, making Daniel realize that he’d been sweating. The touch also sent a great deal of need through him. He really needed Jack to hold him. Just a little.
“Jack, are you here to give me the stiff upper lip treatment? ‘Cause if you are, I’m in no mood for the macho crap.”
Jack shook his head. “No, Daniel, I’m not. I’m here because…well, for support, I guess. I’m sorry I blew you off.” Daniel only nodded. “I think I showed up just in time, too. You were having a nightmare.”
It was then that Daniel remembered that Jack had a key. “So, what? You heard me through the door?”
Jack shook his head. “I didn’t get an answer, so I got worried.”
“I could’ve just been asleep,” Daniel told him.
Again Jack disagreed. “Not after a mission like that. Daniel, I fell asleep and had a nightmare. I’ll venture a guess that your nightmare was far worse than mine.”
Daniel closed his eyes. “You don’t know? Thought you would’ve read my report by now. You get a copy of them.”
Jack cleared his throat and looked down. “I did read it. For once, I had my laptop with me when I went home, so…I read it there.” He paused, staring hard. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Osiris? You mentioned her at the debriefing but you never mentioned the…run-ins with her.”
Daniel snorted derisively. “Run-ins? Yeah, you could call them that, Jack.”
Daniel sighed heavily. “What was the point in mentioning it? I tried to save her. Sarah, I mean. It didn’t work and I nearly got my throat cut for it. Twice, in fact. I can’t believe I’m saying this but thank god for Yu.”
Jack’s browline went up an inch. “The snake? Why?”
“He saved my life.”
“What?” Jack was getting a bit ticked off. Apparently there were things left out of the report. The question was why?
“Osiris had a dagger at my throat, but she forgot to make sure Yu was dead first. He pulled her off me, distracting her long enough so I could get to the escape pod.”
Jack’s eyes narrowed. “You said you stole aboard Yu’s ship and made off in one of the escape pods!” he said, his voice rising. “Guess you left a buttload out of that report, didn’t you?”
Daniel closed his eyes. “Yeah, I did. I didn’t see the point in explaining every little detail, Jack.”
“Daniel, you have to rewrite that report because if something from that mission comes back to bite you on the ass, and Hammond has no idea what happened before, he’s gonna be pissed.”
Daniel frowned. “Like what?”
“Like maybe whatever it was you were screaming about in your nightmare?”
Daniel’s face went pale. “I was talking?”
“Yeah,” Jack nodded. “Something about a slave?” He really didn’t want to imagine what had gone on. He needed Daniel to tell him.
“Yeah. So, what happened?”
“I fucked up big time, is what happened.” When he saw Jack’s look of panic, he amended, “No, no, it was a personal fuck up, Jack, not a mission fuck up.”
Jack sighed and reached out, rubbing Daniel’s forearm with the tips of his fingers. “I wasn’t thinking that. So?”
“So,” he drawled, “if I tell you, you have to promise not to say ‘I told you so’, even though there’s never been a reason for you to say that. More like the other way around–“
“Okay, okay, skip to the story.”
“Fine, I promise.”
Daniel explained everything about the mission, including his ‘run-ins’ with Osiris, Yu, and that Loh’tar, putting everything in their proper sequence.
After a long silent moment, Jack asked, “So, why do you think that slave was in your dream-nightmare-whatever?”
Daniel also took a moment before answering. “He…I, um…”
“Okay, now I realize that I was a bit idealistic about his views as a slave–“
“A bit idealistic?”
“You gonna let me finish?”
“Sorry, go ahead.”
“But I think he was watching me, Jack.”
“You’re certain he wasn’t just looking at you once in a while? You know, one Loh’tar to another?”
“No, he was watching. I could tell, as it’s a trick I learned from you and Teal’c.”
Jack would have said something sarcastic, but decided that he could save that for another, much less painful and introspective, time. “And you think he was watching because…?”
Jack blinked. “Tell me anyway.”
“He had that hungry look that has nothing to do with food.”
“He stared at me while the Goa’uld ate the symbiotes. Live symbiotes, too, Jack, in case I never mentioned that.”
Jack flinched. “You mentioned that part, yes. Disgusting. So, you think he…you know…wanted you?”
“I know he did. But it was…sick. The way he looked at me. I must be slipping.”
“How?” Jack asked, confused now.
“I didn’t notice it at the time, Jack. I should’ve, but I didn’t. I was too focused on the mission, and then on, Sarah. I talked to him the way I did because I took it for granted that he was a slave.”
“Because all slaves want to be free.”
“Right. So, here I was thinking that I could talk, get info out of him. Trouble is, I disregarded information I’d gleaned about others. I mean, Jacob drilled this stuff into me about some of the Loh’tars and I disregarded it when came to the others, thinking it didn’t apply. I never considered, even remotely, that all of the slaves’ minds were corrupted.”
“And you said you were slipping?”
“Because, as I also said, I didn’t notice it at the time. In fact, I didn’t think of it until I was on the ship heading back to Revanna.”
“I didn’t see it any more than I didn’t consider the possibility that a Loh’tar could be just as corrupt as his or her master.”
“Stands to reason,” Jack told him softly.
“I know. I feel so stupid.”
“You’re not stupid.”
“I know that but I can’t help feeling that way anyway.”
Jack shook his head, but his expression was kind and loving. “What am I going to do with you?”
Daniel didn’t answer. The question was rhetorical. He looked at him for a moment, then slid Jack’s coat off his shoulders, tossing it to the chair before pushing Jack to recline against the opposite arm of the couch. He grabbed the carton of fried rice, the spoon still inside, and leaned back against Jack, nestling between his legs. Jack’s arms closed around him and the warmth from them as well as the heat from his chest was immediately comforting.
“If we ever run into Baal again, I suggest that we run in the opposite direction.”
The hairs on the back of Jack’s neck stood up. “He was that bad?” he asked, just before Daniel offered him a spoonful of rice.
“Baal is subtle. He doesn’t wear the over-the-top clothing the others seem to wear, except Yu, who wears his clothing according to the old Chinese fashion, although his colors were wrong, as he really should have been wearing yellow not red, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is, Baal’s clothing was dark and subdued by comparison, and except for the occasional angry outburst against Anubis, so was his voice. He’s someone to take very seriously.”
Jack couldn’t help but smirk as Daniel had rattled all that off very rapidly. “We take them all seriously, Daniel.”
“Yes, but you know what I mean. The snake’s more creepy than Sokar.”
Jack shuddered. “That’s a comforting thought.”
“Tell me about it. If he inspires such feelings in me, and I never even talked to him, then I can only imagine what he inspired in that Loh’tar of his after 24 years.” He felt Jack nod, his chin brushing the crown of his hair.
“Not just fear, Daniel. Loyalty, admiration, respect.”
“For a Goa’uld?”
“Yes. It’s like the Stockholm Syndrome, Daniel. He was a slave. Probably since birth.”
“Since birth? What makes you think that?”
“How old would you say he was?”
“Twenty-seven to thirty, no older.”
“And he served for 24 of those years, which would mean he’d been a slave since early childhood. He had no choice, and no other way to think. He’d been listening to his master all his life. Don’t feel so bad about misreading him. I think I’d have done the same.”
“Like hell, Jack.”
“Okay, maybe not the same.”
“You wouldn’t have trusted him. I did,” Daniel said as he raised the spoon once more over his shoulder. He looked up and caught Jack grinning down at him as he took the offering. Some of it spilled off the spoon, landing on his shoulder, and without a second thought, Daniel picked up the separate grains and ate them.
“Having a trusting nature doesn’t make you wrong,” Jack told him around his mouthful.
“No, but I…feel like shit. About all of it.”
Jack tightened his arms around him, his interlaced fingers resting over Daniel’s stomach. “I know you do. So do I. But remember this. Neither of us did anything wrong. The Goa’uld took everyone by surprise. This was one of those days where the bear gets you.” He half-believed that himself, but he was just like Daniel in this case. SG-17 had been under his command so their lives were his personal responsibility. Though he knew that the Air Force wouldn’t hold him responsible, it didn’t make their deaths any easier.
“We’ll get through this, Daniel.”
“I’m tired of having to.”
“I know. Me, too.” He paused for a long second, then asked, “Got any more of that rice left?”
“Yeah, here.” He handed Jack the carton as he snuggled further into him. “Thanks for coming over.”
“I needed to.”
“You wanna talk?”
“Not right now. I just needed…”
They were silent for a few minutes while Jack finished off the rice in the carton.
“So, anything good on TV?” he asked as he reached out and set the carton on the coffee table.
“I have no idea.”
“Hmmm. Just wanna lie here then?”
“For a while, yeah.”
“Feel like doing anything?” Jack followed the question by tugging on Daniel’s ear with his teeth.
Daniel closed his eyes. “Maybe, but the nightmare was…”
“Gotcha. How about something simple?” he asked as his fingers slid inside the sweats and boxers to take Daniel’s flaccid cock in hand.
Daniel sucked in a small breath. He wasn’t so much in the mood as he simply wanted Jack’s contact. He carefully turned round, keeping his lover’s hand on his cock. His gaze told Jack everything he wanted, yet to be clear, he whispered, “Let’s make this mutual.” As Jack scooted down far enough to rest his head on the arm of the sofa, Daniel opened his pants, pulling them down hastily. Laying himself between his lover’s legs, he took Jack’s thickening dick in his fist and squeezed.
Jack looked up, biting his lips together as two fingers moved down the length of his cock. “Nice,” he breathed, and followed it by rubbing his thumb over the silky head, feeling the organ swell. “Like this?” he asked seductively.
“Yes,” Daniel breathed, emphasizing the ‘s’. He leaned down and brought his lips to Jack’s, kissing softly at first until Jack’s tongue ran over his lips and pushed through his mouth. After that, Daniel’s tongue was too busy tasting Jack’s and searching all the tantalizing spots in his mouth.
Jack moved his hand with purpose, working his lover, knowing all the secret twists and simple touches, the right time to slow down, the right time to speed up. He felt the shivers run through Daniel when he touched a certain spot at the base of the glans and when that happened, he knew it was time to speed up. His free hand snuck behind the boxers to slip a finger between the buttocks. Daniel’s reaction was predictable, bucking into his hand, jerking backward against the finger that probed but never entered.
“You want?” he asked, teasing the hole, gasping as Daniel returned that tease with a few quick pulls.
“I want,” Daniel replied, losing all composure now as his hips jerked with need, fucking Jack’s fist with needy, rapid thrusts.
“That’s it,” Jack encouraged, his voice low and deep in Daniel’s ear. “C’mon, give it to me.”
A certain rhythm and pressure reached, Daniel bit his lip and came, groaning as his semen spilled over Jack’s hand.
Daniel’s need suddenly skyrocketed and his return caresses matched that of his deep kiss. He broke their kiss with a finger, slipping it into Jack’s mouth, only to remove it slowly and slide it underneath Jack’s body, finding and definitely not teasing the puckered entrance. Jack would’ve said, “More,” but his voice was stolen when Daniel latched onto his neck and bit down. Panting in harsh breaths, he thrust into Daniel’s caresses on his cock, then seemed to forget to move at all when Daniel abruptly said,
“Take this, baby,” and shoved his finger deep inside.
Holding his lover’s hips securely, Jack thrust back and forth, not wasting time, needing the release that Daniel was determined to pull through his body. The heat of Daniel’s body, the teeth on his throat, and the dual action of his hand made Jack thrust faster and faster, intent on coming and hopefully coming hard. It seemed Daniel wanted it too as he increased the speed of his hands, forcing Jack to the edge a lot more quickly than he normally would have.
“Come for me,” he growled, sucking even harder at the junction of the neck. Jack’s panting warmed his ear, followed by a hitch of breath and a harsh exhale. “That’s it, Jack,” he cajoled and suddenly Jack was coming, his tense body shaking with pleasure. Daniel held onto him, riding out the shudders with him, and let go only after his cock began to soften.
Kisses next, deep and languid sometimes. Silence greeted them as they cleaned up, their hands never leaving the other for long. Their eyes acknowledged it, knowing exactly why the movements were necessary, knowing why there was no need for words. They needed to feel the other…alive.