Nemesis / Small Victories
“I just hope they made it out in time.”
Daniel marked an X on his wall calendar inside his temporary quarters on the base. Hammond had told him to go home and wait, but Daniel had argued that he needed to be on hand, in case others needed him for artifacts or other information only his expertise could manage. It was a lie. He felt that others could easily do his job. Hammond knew that too. In the end, it had been Janet who’d been able to keep him on the base—the excuse was monitoring his recovery from his ruptured appendix.
“Sometimes there are complications,” she’d said.
That wasn’t a lie.
Daniel felt he existed in limbo. His concentration had been shot to hell. He could focus for perhaps two hours, burying himself in conjured work (pointless testing on artifacts; quadruple checking on UAV scans for naquadah, trinium, platinum, and the elusive iridium—despite the fact that this wasn’t his purview) until his worry would distract and the concentration would evaporate.
It had rarely happened to him outside the SGC. That wasn’t a fair comparison because back then, he had no friends he hadn’t alienated because he’d refused to back away from his beliefs. On Abydos, at the SGC, it was different. He’d never been this close to so many people (Sam, Teal’c, Hammond, Janet. And Jack.) or having the same base ideas in common (Combat, the Stargate) with soldiers that put him in a unique position: a civilian contractor not hated or disrespected by military personnel. His methods were sometimes made fun of, but the results weren’t. Once in a while, he screwed the pooch, as some team members called it but manned up because there was no choice in doing otherwise. That had gained him respect.
Then there was Jack. A man he’d been drawn to from the beginning. At first, it had been because he couldn’t understand him . . . until he’d figured out the suicide mission. He had formed a bond with the man and then it had abruptly vanished for reasons unknown. But Daniel stuck it out because he had Sha’re to worry about.
There were work issues to deal with, but everyone had those. And he was quite frankly used to disrespect and outright derision. Jack hadn’t thought much of him and it was frequently displayed until the day he’d sacrificed his only way to save Sha’re by saving Teal’c’s life. After that, Jack had shown leniency and toleration. Not always. He was an enormous pain in the ass and so goddamn stubborn. Which is exactly what Jack thought about him, Daniel was certain. They’d gotten close, sure, and intimate, but there had always been that disrespect. Daniel had tried not to return the favor but working within military protocol was difficult sometimes. He didn’t mean to return the disrespect to Jack’s position so he was constantly on guard.
And still, the attraction, the desire, the need was always there between them. It made zero sense. They were opposites. Extreme opposites. That mission with those white-painted pod people . . . he needed to stop referring to them that way . . . had shown both of them that when their nerves were frayed (for whatever reason), arguments came as easily as rain. It had also demonstrated that Jack had little use for archaeology and archaeologists. Philology, too, for that matter. Again, the disrespect.
Then Jack had downloaded the Ancients’ database. After that, his attitude had shifted. It didn’t mean his patience had improved, but it allowed him to show a bit of latitude toward the differences between them. He no longer showed disdain for Daniel’s area of work. It didn’t mean he wouldn’t give him a hard time. Kheb had been a notable example of Jack’s latitude. He had finally, begrudgingly, followed Daniel’s instructions instead of overriding them. Good thing too or they all would’ve been crispy critters on toast. On the other hand, Daniel had had to beg him to trust his word. Baby steps.
So as Daniel waited and waited and waited, he had no choice but to reflect on his relationship with Jack. And just how long it would take to get over him should the worst happen.
There was a knock on Daniel’s door and he frowned. He answered it. It was Major Davis from the Pentagon.
“Hey, uh, what’s up?” Daniel asked. “Thought you went back to D.C.” His eyes widened and hope surged. “Are they back? Why didn’t y—”
“No, Doctor Jackson, I’m sorry. Wish I could bear better news.”
Daniel sighed. “Oh. Right.”
“I came by to ask if you wanted to come up to the control room. While we’re all waiting in limbo for the rest of SG-1 to come home, we decided to bend the rules and hold a pizza party.”
“General Hammond is allowing this?” Daniel asked, surprised, as he grabbed his fatigue jacket.
“We kept asking. I think he agreed to get us to stop asking.”
Daniel smiled, shut and locked his door, and followed Major Davis to the elevator. Chalk up one more friend borne out of necessity. Nice to have, but he’d rather have Jack back.
Several times over the last day or so, Daniel suspected that his friends had been replaced via an intergalactic version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Who were these people he cared about?
Daniel sat in Sam’s lab, watching her work on the Naquadah generator. He should be going home but he was putting it off. Avoiding nearly everyone because he was angry. At Jack. At Major Davis for irrationally making it Daniel’s decision to blow up that godforsaken sub.
He should be elated, he told himself. Jack was alive, safe, and home. Sam and Teal’c were too. But.
Jack, Sam, and Teal’c had been acting oddly. They were behaving as if he was a newbie recruit to the program instead of a veteran and a member of SG-1. He’d complained, in private, to Janet, asking if he was seeing something that wasn’t there.
“Is it because I wasn’t with them? Or am I seeing something that isn’t there?”
“You’re not altogether wrong, Daniel. Something happened and they’re not talking.”
Something was indeed off. They were too aloof with the rest of the base, with their other friends and acquaintances. Worst of all, they were treating Daniel like a fifth wheel. No matter how well he helped, how well he noticed things they didn’t (like the iron construction of the new replicator bits), he found that he had to prove himself to them again. It was as if he was being punished for not sharing in their recent harrowing escape.
And come hell or high water, Daniel was going to get to the bottom of it. Which meant looming over the weak link in the team: Sam. She didn’t like to be cornered and couldn’t keep a secret to save her life. Well, non-Top Secret secrets. And here he was, showing an interest in something that he normally left for her to enjoy solo. Not his thing, in other words. And she seemed to like his presence. She wasn’t at all indifferent to him or aloof. It reminded Daniel of the human tendency to tribal behavior.
While Sam explained what she was doing, she suddenly paused after an hour and asked, “Daniel, you’re not exactly into this kind of thing. What’s up with you? You seem different.”
Daniel stared at her. “You can talk.”
“What?” she asked. She looked dumbfounded for a minute, then a wash of guilt swept over her face before she schooled herself. “What do you mean?”
“What happened?” Daniel asked. “Something happened. Teal’c’s got that horrid caterpillar on his chin. You and Jack are acting thick as thieves about something. You two get intimate while you—”
“No!” Sam said quickly, vehemently. Too much so.
Daniel stared at her for several silent seconds. Then he crossed his arms and said, “Methinks the lady dost protest too much.”
“No,” she said just as fervently, only in a much softer tone.
“Sam,” Daniel sing-songed in warning.
“Daniel,” she lamented. “Just leave it.”
“Not happening. I can’t ask Jack. He’s gaslighting me.”
She blinked. “Huh?”
“He’s acting like the change in all of you is only my imagination. Janet’s noticed. Hammond’s noticed. Out. With. It.”
Sam sat on her stool in a whoosh of a sigh and flapped her arms at him. “Holy Hannah.” She stared off in the distance, clearly seeing something else. “Fine. We—”
“Carter!” Jack hollered from the door.
Both she and Daniel jumped. Then Sam turned beet red and walked out of the lab, saying, “You deal with this mess, sir.”
Daniel eyed Jack, probed his tongue in his cheek, and waited. Jack was not forthcoming. Daniel felt his anger rise. Since Jack, Sam, and Teal’c were clearly happy with letting his imagination run away with him, it meant that the worse thing he could imagine happening did happen.
Jack scowled at him. Daniel dropped his gaze and stared at the floor as the bottom of his stomach dropped out, then he got up and walked out of the room. “Go fuck yourself, Jack,” he said. He went home. And did something he never did. He got drunk.
TBC after The Other Side.