Author: Regann PM
COMPLETE. Missing scenes for "Threads." The events of "Threads" leave Jack with some problems sleeping. JD Pre-slash.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama - D. Jackson & J. O'Neill - Words: 4,560 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 3 - Published: 03-29-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2328181
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
hora somni., at the hour of sleep
I. Insomnia., an inability to sleep
It was funny, Jack had always thought, how people always acted as if telling the truth was necessarily a good thing. When, in fact, honesty was only good and necessary to a certain degree and complete honesty without any sort of regard of circumstances was just plain stupid.
The truth, Jack knew from experience, could get someone into trouble.
That night, around 3AM, it was getting him into a whole lot of it.
He was lying bed with his eyes zeroed in on the blank ceiling, unable to settle himself into sleep. And, the worst part of it was that he should have been able to sleep. He was past tired and it was late and he would be getting up in a few hours and he'd spent a rather large chunk of the early evening having sex. All these things pointed to reasons why he should have been sleeping peacefully, out like a light and dead to the world.
Except he wasn't. He was tossing and turning, small grunts and pangs to accompany movement; he was watching the ceiling as if it were the most fascinating thing on earth which it most certainly was not and his brain was threatening to overload with the amount of information zooming through it.
All in all, not sleeping.
And the thoughts that were bothering him weren't exactly pleasant thoughts either. They were more along the lines of questions like "What does it feel like to disintegrate along with Replicators?" or "How long can you hold onto hope before you have to admit that a certain someone might actually be dead?" because, as another question went, "How many lives did a mortal man have?" and "How many of them has Daniel used up already?"
Damn but he couldn't let any of the questions stop nagging him because he didn't know the answer to any of them. He didn't know if Daniel was dead and he could hardly hope that whatever stubborn guardian once he might have said angel but now Jack was more likely to say alien that usually watched after Daniel had been around to save his ass, again. It was too much; it went past luck, past chance and it was sliding right into destiny to think that and Jack was almost too old and too battle-weary to give fate any faith.
But he clung to the "almost." Because he wasn't quite ready to believe that Daniel was dead, again, after having just gotten himself back to the land of the living. Well, land of those-who-have-bodies, anyway. Point was, it hadn't been all that long ago that Daniel had been a big glowy thing and then a man with no memories, so Jack figured his lease on this particular body couldn't have been up already.
Daniel just couldn't be dead.
Deeply disturbed by the morbid path of his thoughts, Jack grunted and turned again, moving from his back to his side in a swift jerk of motion that made the springs in the bed groan in response. It was that hasty action that jarred the soft warm body snuggled up against his and Kerry murmured sleepily in response, blinking as she opened her eyes to look at Jack questioningly.
"Sorry," he apologized softly to her drowsy face, running a hand idly down her back to soothe her return to sleep.
"It's fine," she assured him, shaking her head as if to turn it. She squeezed him affectionately, the arm she had slung over his chest tightening around him. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing." It was a lie, of course, but a good one, he decided. No need to bother his bed partner with his problems.
It suddenly struck as terrible, shameful and a whole bunch of other derogatory words that here he was cuddled up with Kerry while he didn't know whether Daniel was dead or alive. He felt as if he were betraying his friend's memory no, not his memory but Daniel himself, because Daniel had to be alive and not memory by indulging in this sort of mundane, everyday good kind of stuff when Daniel might be gone again and they had no way of knowing. God, no way at all of knowing what had happened to him.
Kerry, even half-asleep, wasn't convinced by Jack's dismissive answer. "Nothing?"
"Just thinking," Jack conceded, self-directed shame giving his tone a bite. Again, his answer was a lie because "just" was a funny way of describing his thoughts because it didn't seem right that he was "just" thinking about the fact that Daniel was probably dead and gone or "just" realizing how damn disgusting it was that he spent his evening eating dinner and having sex as if the fact that Daniel was dead wasn't an earth-shattering revelation that turned his insides to lead and made him think of dark, forgotten things and hot, sandy emptiness.
"About?" The question was soft, concerned and compassionate. It reminded him of Sara for a moment and he was too distracted to be anything but truthful.
"Daniel." The name on his lips was soft and his voice threatened to crack and he could have sworn that it wavered a little on the final syllable. And, god, that one word a name said more than he wanted anyone to know about his early morning thoughts because no one was supposed to know that General Jack O'Neill had ever spent his nights staring at his ceiling thinking Daniel-heavy thoughts when he had so many times that he couldn't begin to count the numbers and ways.
That, he reflected, was why honesty was BAD.
Kerry considered him for a moment, leaning up on her elbow to look into his shuttered, set face. "Dr. Jackson?"
"He's...missing in action, isn't he?"
"Uh, yeah." And Jack knew her hesitation was where she caught herself from saying "dead" because a great deal of people at the SGC were doing the same thing, most of them torn between the same poles of hope and despair that Jack knew ruled his thoughts, swinging like a deranged pendulum back and forth between the chance that Daniel might be alive and the cold truth that there wasn't really any way for him to be so.
Kerry was still acting concerned but she'd added contemplative to the mix. "You two were "
"Excuse me...are. You two are friends?"
"Yeah. Friends." And, Christ, wasn't that the biggest understatement of the year? Friends as if that word really explained what they were and had been to each other. As if that word, so causally used ten times a day to describe dozens of different levels of connection, could convey what Jack felt about him when their relationship had changed and twisted and deepened over the nine years they'd known each other until there really wasn't a word to describe someone that didn't describe what Daniel was to him teammate, friend, brother, son, lover, adversary, ally, opponent; they were all bound up in the bond that tied him to Daniel. And "friend," while completely inadequate, was the only word available and so he went with it. Friend.
"The closest," Jack managed to quip although there was bald truth in that answer, too, because Daniel was as close to him as anyone had ever been except maybe his mother and his son and it had been Daniel's quiet oblivious presence that had pulled him back from an edge he no longer wanted to cross even when faced with this loss, after he'd barely survived it the first time.
"I'm sorry about "
"It's alright, just go back to sleep."
Like Sara, Kerry was easily fooled by a fond, warm embrace and an absent brush of his lips against her hair. She quieted and fell back into slumber while Jack was left to stare at his ceiling and think about Daniel and feel cold and alone despite the warmth and softness pressed against him because he wished, more than anything, that instead of his own bed and Kerry, he could wake up in a soggy tent on some far-off planet as he had so many times before, if only it meant that Daniel would be sprawled out next to him.
Jack couldn't breathe and he couldn't think and he couldn't quite speak because his world was coming to a fast end and he didn't know how to stop it.
Daniel was dying.
Daniel was slowly melting away because he'd been so fucking heroic and had exposed himself to radiation in order to save a planet of people who, in Jack's opinion, didn't deserved to be saved. And Daniel, true to form, couldn't do anything, even die, correctly because he was being awfully calm about it and was looking at death with that sort of resigned acceptance of the good-hearted while Jack wasn't taking it well at all because he certainly wasn't calm and he didn't want to be.
Daniel might have been the one dying but Jack wasn't sure that he'd lived much past that day either.
Damn, it wasn't supposed to hurt this much nothing was supposed to hurt this much. Not after Jack's world had already collapsed once when Charlie died and he'd known deep in his bones that no one would ever matter enough to him for it to hurt so much again and that was fine because all this caring shit wasn't worth it, not at all. His ability to care was supposed to have died with Charlie; he had always thought as much and Sara, in the last days of their marriage, had vocally agreed with the sentiment when she'd looked across the living room and called him a heartless, unfeeling bastard. He wasn't supposed to be feeling like his heart wasn't working properly, like it couldn't decide whether it was supposed to be beating quickly or not at all.
But, fact was that he was feeling that way and he watching his best friend melt away from radiation poisoning, slandered and in dire pain that even Fraiser's medical magic couldn't ease. Daniel was slipping away and there was so many things that Jack wanted to say to him but they all caught in his chest and choked him like bile in his throat. He couldn't force any of it out except through the wild, pained looks in his eyes as he watched the nurses wrap Daniel in bandages or in the way he made sure that Hammond and Jonas Quinn and everybody knew that Daniel wasn't gonna die with his name smeared and tarred when he'd done nothing but save their planet from destruction.
In the end, there was nothing for him to do but spit out angry words and try his damnedest to make Daniel see that when he said he admired him that he meant so much more because he just didn't know how else to say it.
He stood by and watched as Daniel's life ebbed and Jacob struggled to save him, the ghastly bandaged form surrounded by friends in his last hour. Jack felt a tickle in his mind, deja vu hitting him as if he lived through this terrible scene before. And he vaguely remembered a dream/hallucination of talking to Daniel in a glowy version of the gate room, so he told Jacob to stop and waited for what he knew would happen next Daniel's poor, miserable, radiation-wrecked body would turn into a great, glowing light and float away through the ceiling and away to Ascended-Land with Oma...
Except that wasn't what was happening and Daniel was dying and he'd given the order just like it had been his fault Charlie died and Fraiser another angry ghost that dogged him, a painful memory of the past was looking at him from across the isolation room with her big sad eyes as if she couldn't believe he was letting Daniel die.
Panic was blossoming in his chest because Jack knew that it wasn't supposed to be happening this way; Oma was supposed to be there and Daniel wasn't supposed to die. He was going to ascend and descend so that he could be found naked on some distant planet so that SG-1 could find him and bring him home.
But that wasn't what was happening and Jack's heart was playing passive-aggressive with its rhythm and Daniel was dying and he couldn't stand there and watch it but that was all he was doing and...
Jack started and reared up in a flailing mass of limbs, breath sticking in his lungs as he gulped for air. Kerry was sitting at his side, a bit breathless herself, confused and disoriented after being pulled from sleep by Jack's anguished shout. She watched him with wary eyes as he finally managed a deep breath and then pulled away from her, swinging his legs over the side of the bed to pull himself into a sitting position. Jack rested his elbows on his sheet-covered knees and buried his face in his hands.
Silence veiled them, held them still for a long moment, broken only by another shuddering breath from Jack that shook his hunched shoulders.
"Jack?" Kerry laid a comforting hand lightly on his back in effort to offer solace.
The images and emotions of the dream were finally starting to fade from his mind and Jack had enough sense about him to separate dream from reality. He had hoped that this dream-nightmare-sleep thing that bothered him on occasion wouldn't show itself quite so early in his sleepovers with Kerry. He knew that some people were a bit freaked out when the person who was sleeping next to them had a bad habit of waking up in the middle of the night and swinging fists in an attempt to fight against illusory ghosts. Not only was it unsettling but it also had the potential to be quite painful as Daniel had witnessed more than one occasion. Teal'c, too, had been a witness to one of Jack's little episodes but the Jaffa had had the superior reflexes to stop the fist before it connected with his face.
He didn't answer her but he tensed under her light touch.
Undeterred, she asked, "Are you alright?"
"Yeah," he said, unconvincingly, scrubbing his hand over his face before twisting to look back at her over his shoulder. "It was just "
"A nightmare," she finished. "I thought as much." She paused, uncertain of her next statement. "You were dreaming about Dr. Jackson."
Although it wasn't exactly a question, Jack nodded. "Yeah."
Kerry was still running a hand over his cotton-clad back. "Want to talk about it?"
No, he didn't and he had no intention of doing so and that was one honest sentiment that he had no desire to censure. "No, it's fine. It was just, you know, a thing. I'm over it."
In order to make sure that Kerry got the point about his unwillingness to discuss his dream, Jack resolutely climbed back into bed, tucking the comforter around him as Kerry settled herself at his side. After a couple of minutes he began to relax, although he knew that his chance for sleep was probably shattered for the night and that he'd spend another night with his mind full of questions and his eyes watching oh-so-boring ceiling, just as he had the last night Kerry had stayed over.
At least it was better than vividly replaying Daniel's almost-very-close-to-the-real-thing death scene in his head.
Just when he'd thought that Kerry had fallen asleep, Jack was startled by her voice.
"Yeah?" he answered.
There was a long pause before Kerry said anything. "Never mind. I just...I just wanted to say that I hope Dr. Jackson is alright. It's obvious that you're worried about him."
"Yeah, me too."
He closed his eyes and hoped that he could get at least a few hours of sleep because he was getting too old to go without it. At his side, Kerry's breathing finally evened out and he couldn't help but be reminded of someone else's heavy breath in the quiet of night and Jack found himself missing, of all things, the sound of a snoring Daniel suffering from his hyperactive allergies.
Alone the next night and surprisingly without regrets, Jack still found that sleep eluded him. If he had still been the colonel and not the general, Jack might have turned to something stronger than beer to help ease his passage into dreamland, but being in charge was a twenty-four-hour job and one that didn't allow him to look for peace at the bottom of a bottle of scotch.
To top it off, life was going to hell in a hand basket all around him and his hope that Daniel might be found alive was shrinking daily until it was a dried-up fleck of white on his otherwise black mood. There was only so much hope that could be had by an old, washed-up military man who knew that manic-depressive aliens regularly threatened to destroy Earth for the hell of it and even that well was beginning to run dry. Part of him wanted to curse fate, chance or God but he didn't really believe in them enough to spare the energy.
Jack had stopped truly believing in God in any sort of real way some time in the past, somewhere between the Academy and Black Ops and certainly, it had been buried by the time he watched his son die. Jack didn't pray, he didn't go to Church and exclamations like "christ" and "god" were just as empty of deep spiritual meaning as "yeah" and "sure" were for him.
So, deities any of them, even the ones that the Goa'uld hadn't warped and twisted were low on Jack's list of people to ask for help and guidance.
Even in matters involving Daniel Jackson and his nasty habit of dying.
Yet despite all of the reasons that Jack had for not praying and for all the evidence he had to the effect that any earthly god was probably just an alien in disguise, there was one god/alien that Jack couldn't help but whisper a few encouraging words. Because if Daniel did have a guardian anything in this universe, it was a guardian glowy former Ancient by the name of Oma Desala who might who just might have been watching after her favorite son when he got into his latest bout of trouble.
And, despite all the failings that Jack liked to ascribe to the unhelpful, apathetic Ascended, Oma at least had been known to step in and help a wayward Tau'ri once in awhile and she'd shown a particular fondness for ones with blue eyes and letters after his name.
A trend that Jack could only hope had continued up to this point in time.
Because he refused to give in to Daniel being dead again. He'd played that game a few times in the last few years, danced the dance of mourning and moving-on, only to have Daniel turn up again in the most unexpected places. No way was he giving up again, especially after only a week. Carter could buy those damn lilies for his grave but General Jack O'Neill was wise to the fact that the universe enjoyed playing him for a fool. Jack had more proactive things to do on the "Daniel-is-not-dead" front.
He had sleep to lose and nightmares to have and worthless prayers to offer to glowy aliens who wore bland pantsuits because DANIEL WAS COMING BACK.
"Come on, Oma. Be a mensch, would ya, and send him back already."
It was dark and cool and he was lying on something hard and extremely comfortable and Jack couldn't understand for a moment where he was or why he was suddenly awake at dark o'clock in the morning.
Moonlight slanted across him from somewhere because the room was washed in blue and he was definitely not in bed because he'd have tossed out his mattress before it was anything uncomfortable like what he was sleeping on. He shifted, his back protesting as he turned over to look up at the crossbeams of a ceiling that definitely weren't a part of his home in the Springs.
Then he heard the buzzing of a nasty mosquito-type bug around his ear and the chuffing sound of someone trying to breathe coming from a spot just off his elbow and Jack immediately knew where he was.
He was up at his grandfather's cabin by the lake.
He couldn't stop the grin that stretched his face, even if it was only directed upward at the ceiling.
Just because he could and damn it felt great to be able to he gently cleared his throat and whispered, "Daniel?"
Not exactly eloquent but that particular half-yawn, half-growl was music to Jack's ears. His grin widened.
Yeah. Not only was he at his grandfather's cabin, he was there with a very-not-dead Daniel and the rest of his kids. He was sacrificing his ability to be able to walk standing upright in the morning because he'd been a gentleman or rather Daniel had prompted him to be one, with a jab of an elbow into his ribs and gave Carter the one and only bed that the small cabin boasted. Currently, he and Daniel were making use of the hard, wooden floor near the big stone fireplace in the main sitting room because Teal'c had drawn the long straw Jack swore he'd cheated somehow and had won the use of the old lumpy sofa.
That turn of events had left him and Daniel to use sleeping bags on the floor, huddled together for warmth against the chilly night air and dealing with the awkward logistics of two grown men squeezing into the slot of space left between the sofa and the fireplace barely big enough for one of them.
Jack confessed to loving every minute of it.
Rolling over so that he faced his drowsy, drooling companion, Jack tried again to get a coherent response. "C'mon, Daniel. You can do better than that."
Daniel groaned in protest but slit his eyes open to glare at Jack. "What?"
Daniel's hair was sticking up six ways to Sunday, he didn't smell very nice, and he had a look on his face that he would have taken care of Anubis if Oma already hadn't but he was the greatest thing Jack had seen in awhile. "Just wondering if you were asleep, that's all."
"Uh huh." Daniel opened his eyes a little more, a hint of blue under his sleep-swollen eyelids.
"No, really. I thought I heard you choking or something. I guess it was just you snoring."
"Jack, the jokes about my allergies and my non-existent snoring problem got old years ago."
"Non-existent? Only 'cuz you don't have to listen to 'em."
The look of irritation was becoming pinched but Jack could see the amusement behind the exaggerated expression. Daniel sighed dramatically, clutching at his pillow. "Jack, go to sleep, okay? Because I'm not gonna protect you from Teal'c when you interrupt his beauty sleep."
"Like I need you to protect me?"
Daniel, though his eyes were closed, grinned wickedly. "Oh but you do."
Jack considered that for a moment, suddenly serious despite the fact that he was wacky on sleep deprivation and the incandescent fact that Daniel was alive and well and sleeping so close that he kept putting his cold feet on the back of Jack's legs at inopportune times in his REM cycle. "Yeah. I do."
Daniel, noticing the soft change in Jack's inflection, struggled valiantly to open his eyes again but couldn't quite manage it. "Yeah, sure. No way you could survive without big old bad me to protect you." The words were light and teasing, but the affection in the tone was unmistakable. "Now go to sleep."
Even Daniel couldn't stifle a snort of amusement at that pronouncement from Jack who, in turn, was mighty pleased with the reaction.
"I need to sleep anyway," Jack continued talking, as if he weren't in danger from cranky Jaffa or archaeologists who wanted to sleep. "'Cuz we're gettin' up in a few hours to do some serious fishing."
"You might be, but I'm not."
Jack stopped fluffing his pillow to shoot Daniel a disbelieving glance. "What? You can't seriously think I'm letting you get out of fishing when I finally got you and Carter and Teal'c all up here?"
Daniel seemed to consider his words for a moment before speaking. "You can take a man to Wisconsin, but you can't make him fish."
"Yeah, yeah. Spoilsport."
"And Teal'c has vowed never to step on the deck again, if he could help it," Daniel added helpfully.
"Ingrates, both of you," Jack announced, finally finding a comfortable sleeping position on the hardwood floor, laying on his stomach with his aching knees bent ever-so-slightly, so that they brushed against Daniel's every so often as he shifted. It was not only comfortable but it rescued his calves from having any contact with Daniel's ice-cold toes, which was definitely a plus. "Fine, then. Me and Carter will do some serious fishing. You and Mr. I-hate-Mosquitos can be in charge of the munchies."
"Ya know, the standard fishing menu."
"You mean, beer and chips?
"Certainly not fish since there aren't any to be had."
"Ha, ha, ha."
Daniel chuckled low in his throat before another yawn broke through. "It's all fine with me as long as you let me get some sleep and I don't have to fish. Good night, Jack."
A few minutes later, Daniel was snoring again and his elbow was lodged somewhere between Jack's fourth and fifth ribs and his cold feet were heat-seeking again but Jack really didn't have any complaints.
He could barely keep his eyes open; there was fishing to be done, beers to be drank and Daniel would be there for all of it.
Jack figured life couldn't get any more perfect.