You've had your taste
Of all that's sweet.
Now you're through
And what does it mean?
Jack stared at the third picture down on his locker door. He didn't know why that boy on P3X-118 reminded him so much of Charlie. Maybe it was because he was athletic, curious, and good-natured. Most probably, it was because the boy was the same age as Charlie had been when he died and had his whole life ahead of him, a whole life stolen by a weapon commonly carried by his team.
No, the situation on '118 wasn't the same, though it felt like his son's death all over again. He was walking in the woods, mad at his parents when they found him only a short walk from the 'gate. When Jaffa troops showed up, the boy had immediately forgotten about the argument with his father. As they were trying to get him back home, a metal-clad Jaffa appeared from the village, which they had thought safe, and shot the kid square in the chest. That boy didn't know what a staff weapon did. He didn't know what the conglomeration holding it might do. Charlie had known. That's why it hurt so much. He knew what guns did, how they worked, what they were used for. And he pulled the trigger.
Jack couldn't help either boy. He couldn't raise his P-90 fast enough. He couldn't comfort well enough. If only they'd had a sarcophagus, the miracle machine that brought everyone else's loved ones back from the dead, or so it seemed. Nothing on Earth could help the blasts that had gone through the boys' hearts. Nothing could help the wounds that bore into his. His team thought he'd forgotten Charlie, that the only times he remembered his lost son was when he wore one of those annoying mind probes. That was fine. No one needed to know that he drank to forget for a few short hours, that he pretended to not understand as a kind of self-punishment for his carelessness. Maybe if he diverted energy from intelligence and understanding, from trying to make himself look smart, and took more care, no one else would get hurt. He knew his reasoning wasn't quite the best in that matter, but it also served as his continuous tribute to his son.
He forced himself to look away. Now wasn't the time to think of Charlie and '118's boy, not when he debriefed in forty-five minutes and couldn't have a beer on the way.
"Are you well, O'Neill?" Teal'c asked from behind him.
Jack glanced from his buddy to the picture again then slammed the locker door, having changed while thinking. "Yeah, fine. Why?"
"You seem pensive." Teal'c stood with his hands joined behind his back, his face open. The mission didn't seem to have affected him, but then again, he was a trained Jaffa; it shouldn't. Jack might not have considered the possibility if he hadn't known Teal'c or that he had a son.
"I do that sometimes," he replied. Then he asked, changing the subject to avoid any discomfort, "We still on for lunch at O'Malley's?"
Teal'c nodded, a shade of a grin tugging at the corners of his lips; he had developed a bit of an affection for the restaurant. "Indeed."
"Catch up with you after debriefing, then." He smiled, trying to ease Teal'c's apparent sense of abnormality. At the Jaffa's final nod, Jack began heading toward his office, wondering if he should file this mission report early just to be done with it and allowed to forget.