Title: Squirrelly

Author: Angela

Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and characters are not mine. No money is being made from this story.

Spoilers: Icon (Season 8)

Summary: Jack's thoughts during Icon

Thanks to my betas, Heather, Katie MacAlpine, and Carrie. Any mistakes still clinging to the story are mine, not theirs.

Squirrelly

I should know better. Definitely should be able to resist all of his tactics. The pleading look, the passionate speech. I counter that with my best argument.Sometimes things go to hell. Sometimes we send them to hell by stepping through the gate. But, we can't fix everything. Daniel's a smart guy. He knows the risks, and he's learned some caution in all his years of going off world. Even if you wouldn't know it from listening to him now. But, I'm the general now. The man. Top gun. One archeologist with a do-gooder attitude is no match for Jack O'Neill.

"We have to help them. You know that."

Oh, shit, shit, shit! Daniel will use a gun and shoot as well as any soldier when he has to, but his real skill lies in words. He's appealing to that better nature of mine, the one he insists I have. And, he's looking at me like he has no doubt that I'll listen, just because it's the right thing to do. Well, he's wrong. About why I'm listening. I'm doing it because he knows how to push my buttons. Surprised he hasn't talked the Goa'uld into setting up orphanages and nursing homes across the galaxy. I tell him yes, and before I can even finish my instructions he's taking off. Probably scared I'll change my mind. Okay, that won't do. I call him back.

"Daniel! Squirrelly."My finger waggles, and I feel like a father telling his son not to stay out too late. Luckily, Daniel can't read minds or he'd kill me for that one.

"Squirrelly," he repeats. 'No problem, I hear you, you overprotective babysitter."
Dammit. I had just gotten the team back, and here Daniel was lost again. Oh, sure, Ba'al didn't have his snaky claws in them a couple of weeks ago like I thought, but I didn't know that at the time. This time it wasn't a trick.

General Jack O'Neill. Brigadier General. Leader of the SGC. Grade A idiot. I let him go back there alone. It didn't seem like a problem at the time. Daniel would go, do his lecture thing, probably have a few people listen, not nearly enough to satisfy him, and then get his ass hauled back when he called in asking to stay a few more days. Instead, he got himself caught up in a war, and missing to boot. I knew things were going to get ugly. I should have sent backup.
Carter and Teal'c come back minus Daniel. They start explaining. Years of working with Carter have taught me to strip her speech to the essentials. The essential here is this Soren guy isn't going to let them look for Daniel. Well that, not to be too delicate about it, sucks. This is the second time I wish I hadn't taken this stupid job. If I wasn't a glorified pencil pusher I'd be out there right now. Okay, actually, I wouldn't have been able to, with Soren still keeping everyone away. But it would have made me feel better to at least try. Now, even if he does let us a send a rescue team in, I'll be stuck back here, waiting.

Well, after SG9 comes back with nada, and Carter and Davis can't tell if any of the radio transmissions are from Daniel, I decide it's time for me to meet with Soren. Okay, I'm not exactly known for my persuasiveness, but you don't work with someone like Daniel for so long without something rubbing off. Right? I just hadn't counted on how stubborn Soren could be. Oh, I play it cool in front of him. Never let them see you sweat. I'd become an expert at that, ever since I took command. Not even a slip when he suggests Daniel might not be alive.

"He's a resourceful fella," I say with more confidence than I feel at the moment. I mean, I do have confidence. Daniel's gotten himself out of more close calls than I can count. And he has more lives than a cat. Still, I don't want to take any chances that he's used up all of his get-out-of-jail-free cards.

I manage not to put my hands around that weasel Soren's throat as he refuses over and over again to let us go in and look for Daniel. I look at Sam and Teal'c, and see they're having the same trouble holding back. I manage to be halfway civil as I ask him and his people to excuse us. As soon as we head back to my office, I drop the act. I'm antsy, I don't know what to do with my hands, and hell, I'm angry.

There's Carter, saying we can't give up. Sounds a lot like Daniel would. Sounds a lot like Daniel did when he convinced me to let him go on this stupid trip in the first place. "Yes, I know that," I tell her, coldly. What, she thinks I'd actually give up on him?

She barely blinks at that, and continues on. More about radio signals and finding a way to contact Daniel.

"Find it!" Teal'c and Sam both stare at me. Well, I don't want her explaining what she's going to do to find Daniel. I just want her to do it.

While Carter is taking care of the technical stuff, Teal'c and I go back for round two with Soren. It's no better than last time, but I've calmed down enough to put on another good performance. We try to convince Soren that he's dumber than a rock to believe in his gods, but he isn't listening. Teal'c comes right out and calls him a power hungry maniac. Okay, not in those exact words, but go T! Soren just smiles. If the rest of the people on that planet are anything like him, not even Daniel stood a chance of making them see reason.

Another wasted hour with them, then Teal'c and I see them through the Gate. I can't say I'm sorry to see them go. But now what? Then Carter calls me from the control room. What now?

As soon as I get up there, she starts in with the technobabble. I wave my hands at her. Short and sweet. How many times have I told her, short and sweet?

Before she can translate Carter speech into English, Daniel's voice comes through. "Hello?! Guys?!"

"We found him." Nice way of stating the obvious, Carter.

I want to pump my fist in the air, maybe hi-five everyone. Instead,
I just say, "Sweet." I lean over the microphone.

"Daniel?" I'm almost afraid that it's a trick.

"Jack? It's nice to hear your voice."

"Likewise." You have no idea. "You coming home?" Okay, was that me, sounding anxious? I tack on a lame, "Or what?" No need getting mushy, Jack.

Daniel says he's trying to, but then he start speaking gibberish. I lean back and exchange glances with Carter and Teal'c.

"He's ...changed."

Carter says he's speaking Goa'uld. Teal'c starts translating, speaking slowly, like he's having a hard time believing what he's hearing. Okay, I can understand that. Daniel using Goa'uld as a code I can get. Daniel mapping out a battle strategy isn't something I'm used to. Still, I lean over the microphone again and try to tell him I understand what he's driving at. Or, Teal'c understands and he'll explain it to me. I want to keep talking to him a little longer, but it seems the only way to get him back here is to get working on this attack he's organizing.

We go through all the details in the briefing room. I ask Teal'c if he's sure this is what Daniel had in mind. He's sure. Well, okay then. I give them and the other teams permission to go. But I wish I was there with them.

While they're gone, I spend most of my time in the control room. Anyone needs to reach me, they can do it here. I'm going to be at the gate when Daniel comes through it.

"Sir, it's SG1's signal."

"Open the iris!" I 'm already running down to the Gateroom. To hell with professional demeanor. I give a curt nod to the other SG teams as they come through. Well, they weren't the ones missing. Then, finally! I see Daniel come through with Sam and Teal'c on each side of him. They have the goofiest grins on their faces. Well, Carter does. I don't think Teal'c could look goofy if he tried. I'm sure I look anything but dignified myself.

"Daniel! Decided you had enough vacation time?" Oh, I'm cool.

"Nah, but I knew this place would fall apart if I stayed away too long." He gives me a grin, but his eyes are shadowed. Hell. Something must have gone wrong and he's blaming himself. No one survives as much as Daniel has without building a wall around themselves. Problem is, Daniel's never filled in the cracks. I clear my throat and tell everyone that I'll meet them in the briefing room. Daniel turns to follow them.

"Hold it, big guy. I think you have a date with Doctor Brightman."

The morose look instantly turns to one of indignation. "But, Jack!" Okay, I'm almost ready to do cartwheels now that he's back, but I have to say.... For a grown man, Daniel knows how to whine.

I wave my finger at him. "Come on, I'll help you." I put my hand lightly on his shoulder. Honestly, he doesn't look like he needs any help. Not walking, anyway. But, I need to touch him. He seems to understand, because he makes sure his pace matches mine. Maybe he needs it as much as me. As we walk, he lowers his head.

"You did good, Daniel." He lifts his head and looks at me. There's no spark in his eyes. "You did good," I repeat, a little more forcefully. I don't know exactly how things went down, but regardless of the results, I have no doubt that Daniel did his best.

"Yeah," he answers. He doesn't sound too convinced. It'll take awhile. I give his shoulder a squeeze. Sometimes words don't work. He gives me a grateful look.

"Of course, we need to work on your language skills. You call yourself a linguist?"

The look he gives me this time is shock. His mouth is opening and closing like a fish on dry land. "What -what do you mean?"

"Well,it looks like I'm going to have to teach you the meaning of squirrelly."