[ Daniel’s journal, using fountain pen ]
Daniel hadn’t known how badly he had embarrassed Jack but he discovered later that payback was a dysfunctional bitch. He’d thought he’d been doing him a favor, but the relationship between father and son was irrationally dysfunctional in the extreme.
He’d stopped by Jack’s to tell him how sorry he was about his mom and if there was anything he could do for him. Run to the store, do laundry, stuff like that. But Jack’s dad had been there. And holy hell, you’d have thought Judgment Day had arrived, going by how shockingly brow-beat and docile Jack was.
It was unthinkable. Here was a man who didn’t take any shit from anyone practically cowering . . . not that bad but deferring to the father after Daniel had heard the equally unthinkable insult coming from the living room . . .
“What kind of faggot is visiting you now, boy? Don’t you realize we’re in mourning around here? Tell whoever it is to fuck off.”
It was Daniel’s introduction to Mr. Pádraig Sean O’Neill, or Paddy to his racist, bigoted, homophobic friends.
Daniel had stepped through the door and onto the landing into the living room. He saw an old man, perhaps in his eighties, standing by the fireplace holding a beer. He had a stoop and should’ve been sitting down . . . and that was the last kind thing Daniel ever thought regarding this man.
Mr. O’Neill seemed hellbent on behaving even more like a piece of shit human being.
“Don’t know what the hell it is you do at that mountain. Clean up after bad people, I suspect. You should’ve been an engineer at NASA.”
“I would’ve been,” Jack retorted, “if you hadn’t cut off funding.”
“For your own good. Stand on your own feet, boy. Instead, you’ve wasted your life on saving good-for-nothings.”
Daniel hadn’t intended on getting into the conversation. He intended to leave Jack to deal with his dad. It was clear from the hard look Jack gave him that he wasn’t supposed to be there. Daniel turned away, but something inside him snapped when Mr. O’Neill disparaged Jack’s moral compass.
“Your son is a loving person who leaves no one behind on the battlefield,” Daniel snapped, and to his surprise, it earned Jack’s ire.
“Daniel! Put a pin in it.”
“You can’t let him say that shit and get away with it.”
“Yes I can. Now leave it alone.”
“He left us behind!” Mr. O’Neill snarled.
“Based on the last two minutes, it was for a damn good reason. He’s not your good little soldier who hates who you want to hate so you’re disparaging—”
“Daniel, shut up!”
Daniel ignored him. He walked over to Mr. O’Neill and said succinctly, “He’s not a hateful creature, but I now see why and where he got it from. But he’s better than you.”
“Daniel!” Jack yelled. “No, I’m not! Leave. Now.”
“You’re defending him?” Daniel said, exasperated, shocked. “Fine. I’m leaving.” He grabbed his coat off the back of the couch and slammed the door behind him as he left Jack’s house.
In retrospect, Daniel should never have said a word. He had ended their relationship right there. Although he’d actually done so after Chaka’s kidnapping, meeting Jack’s father was the icing on the proverbial cake.
Two Days Later
While Daniel was in the infirmary for two days—bruised ribs, concussion, and one badly broken right wrist—he had found out a few more things. It had to do with military protocols, and specifically with what had happened between him and Jack outside of Reece’s assigned isolation room.
. . .
Jack entered the corridor junction down the hall from Reece’s room. Daniel was sitting on a stool while Doctor Fraiser examined the back of his head. Carter stood nearby.
“Hey. That went well,” Jack said with heavy sarcasm.
“Maybe she has some sort of programming that prevents her from acknowledging she’s anything but human,” Sam said.
“Robot denial?” Jack asked scornfully.
No one said anything. Carter looked back at Jack and said nothing. She was waiting on Daniel or there was something else she was waiting on. Daniel didn’t know if she was waiting on him, so he said, “Looks that way.”
“Has it occurred to anyone that this thing may have been lying around that planet for, oh, quite some time and that maybe it’s broken? Or perhaps it never worked right in the first place?”
“So you think we should just shut her down?” Carter asked doubtfully.
“Oh, I don’t know, let’s ask the man who just had his head cracked open!” Jack snapped.
“I don’t think she meant to hurt me,” Daniel said. “I just don’t think she liked what I was saying.”
“I don’t like most of what you say. I try to resist the urge to shove you through a wall.”
Sam had continued the conversation as if nothing untoward had happened. Daniel knew it was because this was “just the way Jack behaved.”
But Daniel had been hurt. Anyone would have been hurt to hear that from their lover, never mind their so-called friend. It had been a mean thing to say.
It had been exactly that same kind of meanness that had happened earlier that day when Jack had suggested he kiss the robot to make her wake up. Which was code for telling Daniel he thought he was acting like Prince Charming or something.
It had put a sour taste on the rest of that day, but it hadn’t been the worse thing. The comments after Reece had thrown him against the wall were so out of left field, Daniel hadn’t known what to say. All it did was confirm that they were done.
What he hadn’t known was that what Jack had said had violated protocol.
Daniel learned about a rule from the Code of Conduct within the Uniform Code of Military Justice: you do not dress down (chew out, yell at) subordinates in front of others, be they other subordinates, superiors, or civilians—sub-contractors or otherwise.
(In Daniel’s private opinion, the reason for it was so that there was no corroboration of the conversation; likely because sometime in the past, a General had lost his temper and hit a junior officer. At some time in the past, it was excused; until the military began to grow the hell up, slowly but surely, and shit like that was no longer excused behind closed doors.)
Jack had been violating that rule on an ongoing basis for years because he had a volatile temper he refused to keep in check where subordinates were concerned and because his somehow positive character flaws benefited him as well as his superiors. He got the job done, in other words.
No matter what had caused Jack to violate a code of conduct, he had no cause talking to Daniel like that. There was such a thing as decorum. There was also such a thing as reprimanding a subordinate, like everywhere else in the world. And Daniel admitted to himself that there were times when he’d earned them. Jack had never gone that far. But . . . this time, what had happened was Jack’s outrageous comments. It had been a personal attack.
Then he’d learned the military facts of life.
With his wrist bandaged, Daniel had entered the briefing room with Sam to find Teal’c waiting there. They were about to issue their formal post-incident report as they experienced it. But to his surprise, Jack was receiving a reprimand.
Hammond had called them to the briefing room, but before Jack’s teammates had shown up Jack had been called into his office. Or in civilian parlance, called on the carpet. Daniel, Sam, and Teal’c hadn’t heard the first part of the discussion between Jack and Hammond. But they had heard Hammond’s end of it.
The General had lost his temper, though in a controlled way.
Though Hammond hadn’t yelled, he had been forceful. It was technically, in Daniel’s mind, a contradiction in action. Everyone heard him dressing down a subordinate. They just hadn’t seen it because the blinds had been pulled. The difference between this instance and ones that had actually violated protocol was not once putting Jack down, threatening him with physical violence, or blackmailing him.
“Have you lost your mind? What in God’s name is the matter with you? You have acted honorably under pressure before so I am at a loss to explain your behavior! You have four days of mandatory downtime to get your head on straight, Jack. Any more instances like this and you’ll be forced to retire. This time will be permanent. You had a second chance, Jack. It’s my prerogative to give you a third. There will not be a fourth. Do you understand me? . . . Dismissed!”
“What just happened?” Daniel asked Sam in a hushed tone.
Sam winced. “The Colonel violated protocol. What he said to you after Reece threw you against that bookcase was out of line.”
“So was me calling him a sonovabitch, but I’m not in there getting dressed down.”
“You called him a . . .” Sam asked, shocked.
“For what reason?” Teal’c asked.
“Because he blew any chance we had of controlling the replicators,” Daniel said dully. “Reece had just sent a mental signal to the replicators to stand down right when he came into the gateroom. You saw them freeze up. They disintegrated only after she was dead, but they’d stopped before that.”
“He couldn’t have known,” Sam said, defending Jack.
Daniel closed his eyes. “That’s when he should have asked. But he didn’t.”
“He may have saved your life, Daniel,” she said. “It’s a moment’s snap decision. She’d put the base and our lives at risk. From our perspective, she was a clear and present danger and had to be taken out.”
“I’m well aware,” he said, holding up his bandaged wrist. “But he still should’ve asked. Or ordered her. And I would’ve told him. It would’ve only needed five seconds to ask.”
“And five minutes to calm her down while she threw a hissy fit,” Sam objected. “For cryin’ out loud, he saw you on the floor holding your broken wrist. She was a clear threat. Daniel, you may have gotten to her, but that would’ve been blown to hell once he came in with a gun pointed at her.”
“I’m well aware of that, too,” Daniel said, sighing heavily. He didn’t bother to tell Sam that Jack hadn’t even noticed his broken wrist. “I agree with everything you said. It’s still a horrible mistake to have killed her.” He gave her a meaningful look. “In my opinion, it was a hell of a lot worse than we all realized.”
“What do you mean?”
“In my opinion, she never lost control of them on her planet.”
“She told you that?”
Daniel winced as he shook his head. “As I pointed out early on, she’d been evasive. She wasn’t childlike. She was cagey. She didn’t have any morality or ethics code installed in her matrix. So she let her toys do whatever they wanted just as she felt she could do anything she wanted. She was needed for the destruction of her toys, which she felt was a betrayal. She was, in every sense that I can conceive of, insane. She went way past the psychopathic checklist.”
“Wow, are you sure?”
“Yeah,” he said wearily.
General Hammond exited his office. Jack had left through the corridor’s access. “Doctor Jackson,” he said with a very serious expression.
“Sir, I know I shouldn’t have addressed Colonel O’Neill in that manner.”
Hammond frowned. “That isn’t what I wish to talk to you about, Doctor. If Colonel O’Neill wishes to reprimand you, it’s his prerogative to do so, not mine.”
“Oh,” Daniel said, confused.
Hammond sighed. “I allow my officers to run a loose ship because of the nature of the program and the missions, so it is perhaps my own fault for allowing Colonel O’Neill to get away with pretty much anything that doesn’t violate regulations. But there are lines we do not cross. I am interfering with this one instance because this latest incident wasn’t something I could ignore.”
He looked at Sam and Teal’c. “None of you have ever violated the regulations we have set up that are unique to this command, and neither has Colonel O’Neill. But you must understand that when certain unbecoming behavior becomes commonplace, it needs to be addressed. Colonel O’Neill is on mandatory downtime for only four days. Because of that, it doesn’t merit an Article 15. But I could have easily justified a reduce in rank, thirty days’ detention, and a month’s pay.”
Daniel’s mouth dropped open. Hammond gave a measured look. “It’s not just this latest incident, Doctor Jackson. It’s an aggregate of them.” He gave Sam a purposeful look. “It is required of you as the next person of rank in SG-1’s command structure to report to Colonel O’Neill any problems as well as letting him know when he’s stepped over the line.”
“But sir—” she began, but he held up a hand.
“I realize it contradicts the regulation that forbids junior officers having to explain regulations and protocol to a senior officer, but not when the senior officer has violated a regulation or protocol. If you feel the need to go over his head—”
“Sir, I can’t do that because of the chain of command.”
“We have always grappled with the moral and ethical questions of challenging the chain of command, but you need to make a judgment call should Colonel O’Neill or anyone else violate protocol. He can’t violate the dressing-down protocol again.”
“Yes, sir,” Sam said.
“You three have four days off. Make the best of them. You’ll be starting a new mission next week, which has to do with our unenviable task of cleaning up the messes made by Maybourne’s rogue teams.”
Sam grimaced. “Yes, sir.”
“Dismissed,” Hammond said and started to turn for his office.
“Sir,” Daniel said.
“What is it, Doctor Jackson.”
“I need to talk to you in private.”
“I’ve got about ten minutes, Doctor.”
“Thank you, sir.” He looked at Sam and Teal’c. “I’ll see you in the locker room.”
“Okay,” Sam said, and she and Teal’c left the briefing room with puzzled faces.
Daniel went into General Hammond’s office. He didn’t sit until invited to do so.
“What do you wish to talk about, Doctor?”
Daniel drew a breath. He couldn’t’ remain sitting and chose to pace, which only irritated Hammond.
“Doctor,” he warned.
“Sorry, sir,” Daniel said and stopped moving. “The, uh, regulations concerning relationships between duty personnel and civilians. What are the new protocols, if any, sir.”
“I’m afraid it’s still a don’t-ask-don’t-tell situation, doctor.”
Daniel winced and rose to his feet. “Never mind then, sir.” He started for the door that led to the corridor, not the briefing room.
“Hold on,” Hammond said. Daniel stopped to look at him and the General studied him. “Is it a problem, Doctor Jackson?”
Daniel mentally ran through a barrage of answers. He shook his head. “I’ll work it out, sir. It won’t interfere with my duties.”
“Very good, Doctor.”
When Daniel arrived at the locker room, he found worried teammates.
“Hey,” he greeted as he went to his locker. “Don’t worry. Everything’s okay. He told me it’s still a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell environment.”
“You were going to tell him?”
“Because Jack’s comments might not have happened if we weren’t involved. Or if I hadn’t . . . met his father.”
“His father?” Sam asked. “I thought he was . . .”
“Dead. Yeah, me too. But there’s a reason Jack wanted us to think he was. The man’s a mean sonovabitch.” He explained how his thought to offer Jack any help while he grieved had backfired.
“His mom died?” Sam asked.
Daniel blinked at them both. “He didn’t even tell you guys?” He looked away. “That’s bad.”
Teal’c asked, “I do not understand what has happened with O’Neill.”
Sam blushed with embarrassment as she explained the decorum protocol to him.
He nodded. “There have been many times when O’Neill has lost his temper and violated that protocol. I had thought it . . . unusual . . . but not out of line. I have now been corrected.”
“Doesn’t Jaffa hierarchy have something similar?” Sam asked.
“Yes, but it is far more structured.”
“Meaning that you’re not allowed to form attachments or tight friendships?” Daniel asked.
“Many of us do nonetheless, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c said with a sad smile. “We suffer for it.”
“Can I ask you, um, again . . . why you can’t call me by my first name? Why do you always have to use my full name? After all, I call you Teal’c, not Teal’c of Chulak.”
Teal’c thought it over pensively. “Sire names are part of our names. My father’s name was Crua’c. The apostrophe c is an abbreviated form of Chulak. In the old Jaffa dialect that predates the Goa’uld, my name would have Teal’chu.”
Daniel’s brows rose. Sam’s did as well. “Since you’ve broken away, doesn’t it make more sense to go back to the pre-Goa’uld forms?” she asked.
Teal’c gave him a rare smile. “Perhaps. We have not called on a council of Jaffa elders to discuss the matter.”
“Why not?” Daniel asked.
“Because there has not been the formulation of a council. Many of our elder leaders haven’t called on all freed Jaffa to discuss those matters.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Daniel said.
“That may be,” Teal’c said, after considering the matter. “But we are, as you say, working on it.”
Daniel and Sam smiled, then the three of them went about changing into their civilian clothes . . . although Teal’c didn’t have any. Daniel thought it was high time to get him civilian clothes but Teal’c had never asked. They knew that if he wanted the clothes, he would ask. He was never shy about seeing to his needs.
Before they left, Sam said, “You guys wanna come over for dinner? Janet and I are teaching Cassie how to make perogies.”
“Perogies?” Teal’c asked.
“Come on over. Janet and I will teach you, too.”
Teal’c bowed his head. “I am honored.”
She grinned at him, then looked at Daniel. “How about you? Be good to get your mind off . . . you know.”
Daniel gave her a sad smile and shook his head. “I need some alone time.” He then wrinkled his nose. “Normally, this would be a time where Jack would come over and cook me something but not anymore because . . .”
“When did you guys break up?” she asked in a tentative tone. “If you ever considered being together a thing, I mean.”
“Boyfriends?” Daniel asked, unable to keep from smiling. Teal’c looked confused. “Never mind,” Daniel said to the Jaffa. “Not important.”
Sam’s eyes widened. “Really?”
“No,” Daniel sort of mouthed. “We were . . . lovers. Not anymore. Not since . . .” He winced. “Chaka’s kidnapping.”
“Jeez, Daniel, that was six months ago.”
Daniel sighed wearily. “He’s never forgiven me for getting us captured and tortured with the . . . uh . . . did Janet tell you what the pain stick did?”
Sam and Teal’c stared at him, concerned. “It did something?” she asked.
He nodded. “I had it stuck to me longer. It apparently weakened my heart. She said if I get zapped again, it could cause cardiac arrest.”
“Holy Hannah, Daniel, I’m so sorry.”
“I am dismayed as well. Such a thing is not unknown among Jaffa.”
Daniel gave them another sad smile. “For which part? Breaking up or the heart problem?”
“Both,” Sam said. Teal’c nodded.
“I’ve been waiting for the inevitable ‘other shoe’ when I’m permanently sidelined. It’s a good thing I have a lot of money in the bank. I’m gonna need it if they don’t want to keep me around.”
“I don’t think we can have a program without you,” she said.
“Indeed,” Teal’c added.
“Don’t be silly,” he playfully chided. “Plenty of people can do my job.”
“No, they can’t. No one’s like you.”
They reached the elevator and Daniel didn’t answer. He didn’t want to start an embarrassing back and forth with her and Teal’c. By the time they reached the surface, he’d decided not to say anything else about the matter. “Have fun,” he said, walking away. “Tell Cassie I said hi.”
“Sure. Come on over if you change your mind.”
“Thanks.” He heard Teal’c ask her, “Why are they called perogies?” and Sam’s attempts to answer. It made him smile and he almost turned back to accept the invitation. But he didn’t.
Two Days Later, Part II
Daniel was reading up on the newest discoveries by Dr. Hawass in Egypt when someone knocked on his door. With a look of exasperation on his face, he headed for the door, trying to figure out how to say ‘no’ in yet another way to Sam. She and Janet had been very obvious in their attempts to distract him over the last few days but it hadn’t worked. At least it was entertaining, to a point. Sam had shared the news with Janet, and that he hadn’t appreciated. He should’ve kept his mouth shut about his relationship with Jack.
And the evening was complete. Jack was at the door. Daniel sighed. “If you’re here to yell at me, save your breath. If you’re here to apologize, save your breath. If you’re here to tell me that we’ve broken up, save your breath. Just consider everything said so there won’t be any arguments. I’m really not in the mood.”
“You sure know how to take the horror out of apologizing.”
“It’s a gift. Is there anything else I can help you with?”
Jack sighed. “No. I’ll go. Just wanted to say he left. And he won’t be coming back. If the man croaked tomorrow, I’d attend the funeral for my sisters’ sake, but that’s it.”
“If that’s how you feel, why’d you yell at me at your house? Why’d you say that shit in the hallway?”
“It’s taken me two days with long talks with my sisters to . . . pull the knife out of my back. So to speak.”
“Oh. Okay. Did you want to talk about it? I can listen and make no judgments or comments because it’s none of my business.”
“Um . . . sure. Yeah. I could use an ear. And I really do need to apologize, Daniel. But if Al-Anon has taught me anything, it’s that it doesn’t matter what I want. If you don’t want an apology, then I won’t make one and go home. Ball’s in your court.”
Daniel heard the other shoe. Al-Anon was AA for the families and friends of alcoholics. The old man was an alcoholic. AKA, a mean drunk. This explained a lot. He stepped aside. “Come on in.”
The next two days weren’t a return to normalcy. But at least they were talking again.