(an alternate view)
“We’ll continue to investigate what compelled him to do what he did but it’s been my experience that these questions often go unanswered.” ~ General Hammond.
[ When Jack enters Daniel’s office, he keeps eyeing Daniel, but we don’t understand why. ]
Briefing over with, Jack frowned in puzzlement when Daniel said nothing to him and left. They were supposed to go over the details of their upcoming, highly anticipated weekend at the cabin. Instead, Daniel was distracted to the point of obsession, staring at the Goa’uld device in his hand. He nearly walked over Siler when he stopped at the elevator to get in.
“Yeah, sorry, uh, Sergeant . . . Siler.”
“Daniel, wait up,” Jack called. He was only thirty feet away but he watched as Daniel hit something on the panel that was generally in the vicinity where the [close door] button was. He kept staring at the object, completely ignoring Jack. The doors closed as Jack ran up. He pushed on the call button but it was too late. “What the fuck was that?” he muttered to himself. It was almost ten minutes before he walked into Daniel’s office. Daniel was more distracted than before, and after a snippy, impatient exchange Daniel decided to go over Jack’s head to ask Hammond for a return to the planet now not later.
Something was off.
By the time Jack got to Hammond’s office, Daniel was clearly on edge. An inside voice was telling Jack to find out what exactly was wrong, but Daniel’s insubordination in front of Hammond caused him to lose his temper.
He didn’t go home, didn’t go to Daniel’s apartment to find out what was wrong. He didn’t want to fight and Daniel’s behavior said it would happen.
Something was way off.
At Daniel’s apartment door, Jack found the door ajar. Daniel didn’t leave his door ajar, never mind unlocked. There was probably an excuse, Jack told himself. Until he entered the dining room. Daniel never left half-eaten fruit sitting anywhere, never mind on the dining table. Without a plate or bowl. It was way, way off.
That just did not happen. He was fastidious to the point of annoying. Sometimes when he came over to Jack’s, he began to clean up without realizing he was doing it while talking to Jack.
The tea kettle was whistling on the stove. Since Daniel wasn’t nearby to turn it off soon, that was another thing that was off.
When Jack turned and realized the balcony doors were wide open, he thought that too was off. Not as weird as the apple, the kettle, or the front door, but still. A sign.
He moved forward, eyes on the balcony doors sitting open. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up.
Then . . .
Daniel was out on the balcony, outside the railing. It took a few minutes of uncomfortable talking but when Daniel finally said his name, Jack could tell that he’d somehow come back to himself. It was a relief. He didn’t want to see Daniel jump. Didn’t want to lose him.
Five Days Later
“Hey,” Jack said as he sat down on a crate near the ‘office’ Daniel had set up between two pillars in the palace ‘gateroom.’
“Hey,” Daniel said, looking up. “Gimme a second here.”
“Take your time,” Jack said.
Though Jack meant it, and he sounded patient to boot, Daniel knew he wanted to talk about something. Daniel closed his laptop and folded his hands over it. “What’s up?”
“You know,” Jack began and took off his BDU coat. “Saying three weeks in a palace by the beach sounds great until you realize the weather is more like Seattle instead of Tahiti. Good thing this place is heated.”
“Yeah,” Daniel said with a slight smile. That might be the topic he wanted to bitch about, but it wasn’t on his mind.
“Thing is,” Jack began again. “You remember what Hammond said about how no one could’ve seen Barber’s suicide coming?”
Daniel nodded. “I remember.”
“But it’s not true. There were signs something was off. He wasn’t his usual joking, light-hearted self. He was the only guy I knew who could turn a firefight into a day at the beach.” He gestured toward the beach. “No pun intended. What I mean is, when he ran at the stargate, he had already been showing signs. Other people said that his teammates were showing signs. Their personalities were running counter than the normal way they behaved.”
“In other words, there were signs that all was not normal. And we ignored them.”
Jack inhaled deeply and let it out slowly. “Like you,” he said, guilt coloring his face. “You were acting squirrely. I ignored it. I allowed it to piss me off. By the time you got into Hammond’s face, my brain was screaming ‘red alert’ while my mouth was yelling at you. Hammond reacted the same way.”
“I wouldn’t have,” Daniel said, a sad smile crossing his face.
Jack tilted his chin up. “You’re right. But you haven’t had years of training that make you ignore people’s problems. Ones that require ‘talking about feelings.’”
Daniel nodded. “Think Hammond will institute some training about that? How to recognize suicidal ideation or just plain depressive episodes?”
“See,” Jack said, pointing two fingers at him. “That right there. I have no real idea what that meant.”
Daniel’s sad smile remained as he nodded. “Don’t feel too bad about Barber and his team. We couldn’t have seen that coming, even without the standard emotional ignorance of military protocol and training.”
“How magnanimous of you,” Jack quipped.
Jack studied him. “Something’s up. You’ve usually got a sarcastic quote or two to hit me with.”
Daniel gave him a knowing smile but it faded. “Thank you.”
“For what?” Jack asked, puzzled.
“For saving my life. Twice.”
“You’re welcome. But c’mon. Why do you feel the need to thank me? Was I giving you the impression that I wouldn’t be happy to save your life?”
Daniel stared at his hands, thinking over his answer. “Maybe. I don’t know. You’ve been rather short with me lately. I’ve asked what’s on your mind but you’ve stonewalled me.”
“I haven’t been stonewalling you,” Jack argued. Daniel gave him a look. Jack growled under his breath. “You’re too smart sometimes. So. Okay. Yeah. I was. But only because I couldn’t think up a lie that would sell.”
Daniel’s brows went up. “I’m not some acquaintance you want to sleep with, Jack.”
Jack winced. “Okay. Sorry. But what I said was true all the same.”
“Then . . .” Daniel thought it over. “It’s got to do with your family. I’ll back off because I know that stuff’s sensitive. Just know that I’m willing to listen whenever, okay?”
Jack was silent and maybe it was a growing tension in the air, but Daniel knew there was something else going on with Jack. “What is it? There’s something else.”
Jack swallowed. His face had gone pale. “I just . . . remembered something.”
Daniel said nothing. He waited, trying to appear patient. Five years ago, Jack wouldn’t have noticed. He’d have gotten up and walked away.
“I just remembered that moment. On the balcony.”
“Oh,” Daniel said, blushing with humiliation. “I’m so sorry.”
Jack waved an irritable hand. “No, I’m not asking for an apology. I just . . .” He took a deep breath. “I haven’t been that scared in a long, long, long time. You could’ve easily gone. I was too far away.” He made a face. “It was as if my legs were glued to the spot. I kept thinking if I got closer, it’d spook you somehow.”
“I just . . .” Daniel began. He wanted to hug him but they were in the wrong place for it. “I vaguely remember being there. I remember your arms around me. Then I was on the floor over there, gasping awake.” He pointed to the place Jack had set him down after rushing through the ‘gate.
“By the time I got you in the truck, you were barely walking. Fraiser came upstairs with some corpsmen to get you on an equipped gurney.”
“Equipped?” Daniel asked.
“Monitors, IV Bags.”
“It was only two and a half hours till I started showing signs, then you coded. By the time we got to the gateroom, you’d flatlined.”
His voice was devoid of tone or emotion when he said the last sentence. He shook himself and glanced at Daniel before looking away. He then made himself look into Daniel’s eyes. “Don’t ever do that to me again, got it?”
Daniel gave him a limp smile. “Still trying to give me orders.”
“Follow this one, okay?” Jack said grumpily.
“I usually follow them, Jack. I just tend to . . . do extra.”
Jack sighed. “Can you back my play even once?”
Daniel’s eyes hardened. “I always back your play. There’s a difference between that and following an order or ones I make amendments to. You want to go in shooting, I’ll agree until I think we should find another way. Doesn’t mean I won’t back your play. Do you want a robot who doesn’t think for himself?”
“Carter and Teal’c always back my play,” Jack said, his voice getting edgy as well.
“They’re soldiers, and even they will offer you other solutions before backing your play.”
Jack considered that then tipped his head in acknowledgment. “Fair point.”
“I’ll try to do better,” Daniel said, lowering his voice and leaning over to make sure Jack looked over at him. “And I promise to try not to scare the crap out of you again. And the same goes for you.”
Jack held up a hand.
Daniel smiled then, recalling Jack’s quip about his tendency to make sarcastic jokes. “By the way,” he said, wiping the smile off his face, but it remained in his eyes. “You still owe me twenty bucks.”
Jack scowled. “Not my fault the ‘gate ate it.” He colored. “Yeah. Um. Anyway.” He fished out a twenty and got up to hand it to him. He held onto the bill when Daniel tried to take it. “Want to earn another?”
Daniel rolled his eyes as Jack let go. “And what is it this time?”
“Twenty says we can get Teal’c to try pancakes. In all this time, he’s refused. Chickened out. So let’s have a Pancake Day or something. He can’t get out of that.”
“Uh, there’s a flaw in that plan.”
“That he’ll take that day to—”
“—go back to the SGC,” they said together.
“He doesn’t really need to stay here with us,” Daniel pointed out.
“He’s only doing it because, without us, he’ll grow bored.”
“Or he’ll just plain miss us,” Daniel said.
Daniel walked around the desk. “Sure, why not. But let’s widen the bet. We have a Pancake Day. The bet is whether Teal’c stays or leaves.”
Daniel’s stomach growled. “Pisses me off that we can’t go outside to those orange groves behind the palace.” The fruit was cantaloupe-sized.
“Pseudo-orange groves. And Teal’c can,” Jack said.
“Yeah, but I cringe at asking him.”
Jack sighed. “Me, too. Are we wimps?”
“Yep. He might just do it on his own. He’s always bringing us something when he comes back from Chulak.”
“One can hope. In the meantime, we have to depend on the fruit the base sends us.”
“After it thaws out,” Daniel complained.
They walked across the gateroom toward the hallway that led to their bedrooms.
“Wanna play some chess?” Jack asked.
Daniel looked around them. “No,” he said, under his breath. “I want to fuck you till you go blind.”
Jack groaned. “I wish you hadn’t said that. I was actually having a morning where I resolutely didn’t think about that.”
Daniel groaned. “This is going to be a long two and a half weeks.”