The Nature of Best Friends

"I can't believe you actually let her drag you to one of those boring physics lectures!" Jack said incredulously.

"I find them very interesting, actually," Daniel said defensively. "And she had a big speech, and, well, she's my best friend so of course I went..."

Jack seemed taken aback, and he watched with narrowed eyes as Daniel lost interest in the conversation and moved distractedly across the room to the bookshelf.

Sensing Jack watching him, Daniel spun around and raised an eyebrow. "What?" he asked.

"Teal'c's my best friend," Jack said, rather loudly.

Daniel looked at him strangely. "O-okay."

Jack closed his eyes, wondering what could possibly have possessed him to blurt that out. "I'm just saying," he said defensively.

Daniel nodded, looking very much as though he was doubting Jack's sanity. "Okay," he said again.

"I mean, I just thought you should know," Jack said. "Because we should all know where it is we stand, right? And Teal'c and I, we...ah, have fun together. We went to the cowboy store."

Daniel opened his mouth to respond to this, but then shut it again when he realized he could think of absolutely nothing to say to that.

"We enjoy each other's company," Jack continued, wondering why in the hell he was still talking. "We have so much in common. You know. Like you and Carter. We just love being together."

"I hope you'll be very happy together," Daniel said seriously. "And may you have many more trips to the cowboy store."

"Are you mocking me?"

"Of course," he replied innocently.

"You're the geek!" Jack snapped.

Daniel looked over at Jack. "I suppose, if you're referring to the stereotype of academics with glasses I could qualify as a geek."

"Could?" Jack laughed loudly. "You're the king of the geeks!"

"Right. Uh, how did we get here, exactly?"

"What do you mean?"

"Why are you suddenly resorting to childish insults? Did I miss something?"

"You were mocking me."

"I had to."

"You had too?"

"Jack, you were acting like an idiot," Daniel said guilelessly. "I could hardly pass that opportunity up. What got into you anyway? Is there something going on between you and Teal'c I ought to know?"

Jack glared at him. "I was just informing you that Teal'c is my best friend."

"Yes, I did pick up on that. You were rather adamant about it, actually. I was just wondering why all the sudden you're proclaiming undying friendship to our resident Jaffa? We all already know that you're friends."

"BEST friends," Jack clarified.

"Right," Daniel nodded. "So...?"

"So what?"

"Why do you make it so impossible to have a normal conversation?"

"That's not me. That's you."

"I don't have trouble having normal conversations with anyone else," Daniel said loftily. "You seem to regularly have trouble holding normal conversation with just about everyone, so I hardly think--"

"You need to stop talking," Jack snapped.

Daniel watched him contemplatively. "You're not jealous, are you?" he asked in sudden realization. Then he bit his lip to hold back a smile. "Oh, you are! That's what this is about."

Jack stiffened. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"You're upset because I called Sam my best friend!" Daniel cried triumphantly.

Jack looked affronted at the accusation, never mind that Daniel had hit right on target as always.

"Jack," Daniel said fondly. "You're such an idiot."

The affronted look got upped a notch.

"I would have said that about i any /i of you," Daniel said gently. "All of you guys are my best friends--even more than that, you're my family."

Jack titled his head back. He was actually relieved by this. But he didn't want to admit to being relieved or Daniel would have known Jack had, in fact, been somewhat insecure about the possibility of Daniel liking Sam more than he liked him. Jack mentally grimaced. He was acting like a third grader whose best friend suddenly started spending more time with other friends.

"I barely realized what you'd said," Jack said dismissively.

Daniel sat down and leaned back in his chair. "Oh?" he asked casually. "So I've misread this then? Do tell me then, Jack--just what was that little speech about you and Teal'c about?"

"I just thought you ought to know."

The corners of Daniel's lips twitched upwards. "You thought I ought to know you and Teal'c went to the cowboy store?"

Jack straightened his shoulders. "It was his first time. It was a big deal. He bought an outfit. Its god awful, by the way. He looks like a crazy escapee from a kiddie rodeo."

"Interesting," Daniel said. "Well, thank you, Jack--for telling me. I don't know how I'd have gone on if you hadn't..."

"You're mocking me again."

"You're making it so easy today," Daniel said glibly. "And if you've taught me nothing else, you've taught me never to pass up an opportunity to mock someone."

"Someone ELSE," Jack hissed. "Not me."

"A distinction you haven't made until now," Daniel said with false regret. "I'm afraid it's too late now to revise the habit..."

"You're evil," Jack said with narrowed eyes. "All there is to it."

Daniel grinned, in a way that only reinforced Jack's belief. "I do occasionally have dreams of taking over the world," he said, before waving his hand dismissively. "But that's neither here nor there."

Jack looked at Daniel aghast. Dreams of taking over the world? Really?

"I should really sort through these reports," Daniel said. "Why don't you go and bother Teal'c? Seeing how much you enjoy one another's company, and all..."

"We haven't settled this yet," Jack snapped.

"There's something that needs settling?" Daniel asked in surprise.

"Are you or are you not my best friend?" Jack demanded.

It was Daniel's turn to be taken aback. "I thought you didn't care? And what about poor Teal'c? How fickle can you get?"

Jack looked un-amused, mostly because that's along the same lines of what he would have said had their places been reversed, and he was anything but happy Daniel was getting as good at the sarcasm as him. Daniel was better at most everything else--he only got to be better at blowing things up and the sarcasm. He narrowed his eyes. He wanted it to stay that way.

"Don't answer a question with a question," he demanded.

Daniel rolled his eyes. "Okay fine, yes, Jack--I've known you the longest, haven't I? And I suppose that makes you my best friend of even my best friends. Satisfied?"

"You've known me LONGEST?" Jack said in disgust. "After all we've been through, I get "you've known me longest?""

Daniel sighed. Perhaps that wasn't the best way to go, after all, considering Jack's pride was apparently already suffering for reasons known only to him.

"You're the best friend I've ever had ever, and of everyone, I like you best, and maybe, someday, we can even go to the cowboy store together," Daniel said sweetly.

Jack glared more. Daniel realized that probably, that little comment didn't help Jack's pride either and mentally grimaced. But then Jack could blame no one but himself that he was like this.

"Would you quit with the cowboy store comments?" Jack demanded.

"Sorry," Daniel said, entirely unrepentant. "You brought it up. I actually don't even know what the cowboy store is."

"It's a store with cowboy stuff."

"That much, I could guess."

Before Jack could respond, Daniel's phone rang. He picked up. "Oh, hey, Sam. No, I'm not busy."

Jack sneered at him. "Your best friend, is it?"

Daniel made shushing motions. "No, I'm sorry--I can't, I actually do have something I need to take care of. Jack's having a breakdown, and I really shouldn't leave him alone."

Jack froze. "Hey!" he snapped.

"Okay, I'll tell him."

"Daniel!" Jack growled.

"Sam recommends herbal tea," Daniel said when he hung up the phone. "For your nerves."

"I don't need any tea. And stop telling my CI2 I'm having breakdowns!"

"I do believe this is the first time I've told Sam you were having a breakdown," Daniel said vaguely. "Though I would venture to guess this is not by far your first one."

"I just want you to admit we're best friends."

"But you're best friends with Teal'c," Daniel reminded. "And that really isn't fair, is it? You want to be my best friend but yours is Teal'c's and Sam is not mine, so she's whose, exactly? Why do you make everything so complicated? Why can't we just all be friends and let that be it."

"Because you said Carter was your best friend! Right in front of me!" Jack snapped. "Like I wasn't even here."

"I had no idea you were so sensitive," Daniel said softly. "If it will help, I'll never call Sam my best friend within your presences again."

"Ah, but you admit she still will be then, do you?"

"I can't believe we're actually sitting here, saying these things," Daniel whispered in disbelief. "Am I dreaming? No--no, you're always relatively sane in my dreams. Wishful thinking on my part."

"I'm in your dreams?" Jack asked hopefully.

Daniel nodded. "Occasionally." He frowned. "You usually end up dead, though."

Jack's eyes narrowed once more. "And I bet you and Sam both stand chummily over my coffin, do you?"

"I've never actually dreamt about your funeral," Daniel said thoughtfully. "You might not have had one."

"Why the hell didn't I get a funeral?" Jack demanded.

Daniel shrugged. "It's a dream. How should I know?"

"I demand you stop dreaming of my death," Jack snapped.

Daniel looked thoughtful. "Done," he said impishly.

"You're going to dream me dead tonight, aren't you?"

"Probably. It happens most often on the days you annoy me to an extreme. Though, if it makes you any happier, I always feel really guilty once you're dead."

"Oh, that makes it all better," Jack hissed.

"Good. So are we done yet? Can I get to work?"

"No. I want to know how I die."

"Well, it varies, Jack, we could be here all day if I list all the ways it's happened..."

"Just how many times has it happened?" Jack growled.

"Well, pretty much weekly since the day we met," Daniel said nonchalantly.

"Oh, my god!" Jack shouted. "You really are evil."

"Jack," Daniel said tiredly. "They're nightmares, I don't enjoy them."

"Well that's good to know, at least," Jack snapped. "Jesus. No wonder I'm not your best friend. I bet Carter never dies in your dreams."

Daniel thought about it. "No, she hasn't. Teal'c doesn't either. Maybourne died in a dream once. But that's about it."

"Maybourne?" Jack asked disgustedly. "So you kill off me and Maybourne?"

"I don't do it consciously, Jack," Daniel said wearily. "Don't you ever have nightmares?"

"Sure, all the time."

"And I've never died in one of them?" he asked.

"Well, sure. Lots of times. But you always come back to life before I wake up. It's what you do."

Daniel seemed thoughtful. "I suppose next time you get killed, I could try and dream up a sarcophagus and bring you back."

"I'd rather you not kill me at all!" Jack said harshly. "Why don't you just kill Teal'c and Carter instead?"

A gasp was heard from the doorway. Jack and Daniel winced simultaneously, then, as one, turned reluctantly towards the door. Sam was standing there with Teal'c right behind her, looking utterly confused and quite insulted, holding a cup of what could only be herbal tea. "Sir?" she demanded.

"Oh, keep your BDU's on, Carter," Jack said. "I only meant that he should kill you in his dream."

Strangely enough, Jack noticed this didn't seem to make Carter feel any better. She turned to Daniel for explanation. "What is going on?"

Daniel met her gaze, and mouthed 'breakdown.'

Teal'c raised an eyebrow, and Jack leaned over to hit Daniel upside the head.

"Daniel," Sam sighed. "Why are you guys talking about killing us in your dreams?"

"Jack's just upset because I told him he has, on occasion--" Daniel was interrupted at this point by Jack mumbling "Weekly, you mean" before he continued speaking without acknowledging him, "died in my dreams. And he's upset because you two never have."

"I've never died in one of your dreams?" Sam demanded, sounding hurt.

Jack turned to look at her as though she were mad.

"Well, no," Daniel said, sounding bemused. "This upsets you?"

"Yes!" she cried. "You die in my dreams all the time."

"Oy," Jack said, before dropping into the chair by Daniel's desk and resting his head in his hands.

"I do?" Daniel said. "But what does--"

"In a way," Sam said tightly, "It shows how much I care and worry about you! That's my worst nightmare, Daniel. And you don't care enough about me to dream that I'm dead? I thought you were my best friend?"

Jack's head snapped up. "I'm his best friend. He told me so."

Sam turned to Daniel, and glared at him accusingly. "I'm not your best friend?" she demanded.

"I," Daniel started. "I just, you guys are all--I --I didn't, I--"

"That's a no," Jack said smugly. "I'm his best friend. Teal'c, you're mine."

Teal'c allowed a small satisfied smile to pull at his lips.

Daniel turned to glare at him. "No, you know what, Jack? You're not. Sam, you're my best friend."

Sam crossed her arms. "Oh, now I'm your best friend all the sudden, huh? Too late, Daniel. Teal'c's my best friend."

Teal'c's smile became a little more pronounced.

"What do you mean I'm not your best friend?" Jack snapped.

"You heard me!" Daniel yelled. "Neither of you are. Teal'c! You're my best friend too."

It was quite obvious now that the smile Teal'c wore could be described as nothing less than smug.

Daniel's phone rung again, and with a resentful glance at both Jack and Sam, he picked it up. "Yes, General--we'll be right there." He hung up the phone and looked up. "We're needed in the briefing room--he wants us to be there for the debriefing with SG-3 about PX54321."

"Fine," Sam said tightly, before turning and marching from the room.

"Fine," Jack echoed, before jumping from the chair and following her out.

Daniel sighed, then headed out after them.

Teal'c remained behind for a moment, smiling in the empty room. It paid not to get involved in the childish disagreements of the Tauri, he thought complacently. And smiling all the way, he turned off the light, and headed to the briefing room after his best friends.

The End.