Shades of Friendship
by Adalia Zandra
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, they aren't mine, I'm just borrowing them, so please don't sue me. Thanks!
Fandom: Stargate: SG-1.
Category: Angst, H/C.
Rating: The Rating Formerly Known As PG-13.
Warnings: Spoilers for A Hundred Days and Shades of Grey. Certain people act much meaner than they usually do in the show, it might be a bit out of their traditional character in spots. Author does not play well with main characters. Asgard alert!
Summary: Kind of an AU follow-on to Shades of Grey. Jack did his job too well, the SGC and SG-1 especially are having a hard time accepting him back and trusting him again. Hammond is on his side but can only do so much. After two weeks of cold shoulders, distrusting looks, and whispered comments, Jack is at his wits' end. With no other support system to fall back on and unsure if his friendships can be salvaged, Jack makes one, last desperate attempt to set things right. When the other members of SG-1, still angry, unthinkingly shoot him down again, they find that they've pushed him too far. Realizing their mistake too late and wondering if they've lost him for real, they get a hard lesson in friendship from a most unexpected source.
Author's Notes: This is my first SG-1 fic that's not an SG-1/MacGyver fic. There's a first time for everything, or so they say. Of course, I haven't posted any of the others yet, so it's really a moot point. Enjoy the fic!
"SG-1, report to the briefing room. Now!"
It was fairly early in the morning. In three separate rooms on base, three members of SG-1 were startled as General Hammond's voice came blaring angrily out of the base PA system. Heeding his irate command, all three dropped what they were doing and headed for the briefing room. They met in the corridor just outside and, sharing silent looks amongst themselves, entered together.
When they stepped in they saw Dr. Fraiser sitting in one of the large leather briefing room chairs. Standing at the head of the table was General Hammond. He looked like his voice had sounded over the PA. Angry. Daniel looked like he was about to angrily demand the reason why they'd been paged, but before any of them had a chance to say anything Hammond tore into them.
"Do any of you see anything wrong in this room?"
"Sir?" Carter asked, her confusion mirroring that of the other two standing next to her. She looked to Fraiser for some clue, but the doctor remained silent.
"It's not a complicated question. What's wrong here?" Hammond paused expectantly. When none of them had a reply, he asked a different question. "Can any of you tell me how many members there are on SG-1?"
"Last I checked . . . four?" Daniel said, impatiently looking at his companions almost as if seeking conformation on the guess.
"Well, thank you, Dr. Jackson," Hammond replied. "That's absolutely correct. There are four members of SG-1. Now . . . here's another question for the three of you. Where is your fourth?"
The three of them exchanged looks again.
"We . . . don't know, Sir," Carter replied.
"Indeed," Teal'c added. "I have not seen O'Neill since yesterday afternoon."
"None of you have any idea?" Hammond asked again.
Daniel shrugged. Carter shook her head. They both looked at Dr. Fraiser again, but again she didn't speak up. Teal'c raised an eyebrow, but remained silent.
"Well, I know where he is," Hammond went on. He pointed at the closed door to his office. "He's in there, where I found him waiting for me when I arrived this morning. Dr. Fraiser and I were supposed to meet to discuss upgrading some of the medical facilities here on base. Instead, I had to ask her to leave the room and wait here while I spent the last twenty minutes having the most surreal conversation I have ever had with my 2IC." He paused for a moment, eyeing each of them, this time including Fraiser. Then he continued, "I know everyone on base has had a hard time adjusting to what actually happened. But it's been two weeks now, people! The colonel is starting to doubt that things will ever make it back to anything remotely like normal and frankly, I haven't seen much evidence to assuage those doubts! He asked me to call you three down here. He's got something he wants to say to all of you. And I want you to understand that whatever he decides is best as leader of SG-1 will have my full support. Have I made myself clear?"
Teal'c's eyebrow had floated even higher, and all three nodded. Carter was starting to look worried as she mumbled a yessir, but Daniel still had a recalcitrant expression on his face.
Sparing them one last glare, Hammond turned and went to open the office door. He then stepped back as O'Neill entered the room, hands in pockets and a slight scowl on his uncharacteristically pale face.
Hammond pushed the door most of the way closed again and moved to stand so he could see all of the other five people in the room. Jack had stopped halfway across the room to his team, a position from which he could see both them and Fraiser, who had stood up. He looked at each of them briefly and acknowledged them with their name.
"Doc. Carter. Daniel. Teal'c." He paused to take a deep, but shaky, breath and then continued without further preamble, "It's been two weeks since . . . since I got back. I need to ask each of you a question and I need an honest answer, right now. Okay?"
They each nodded, with varying degrees of expression from Teal'c's cold impassivity to Daniel's outright impatience.
"I need to know right now if you trust me," O'Neill stated flatly. He dropped his gaze from their surprised expressions to the floor and added, "because if even one of you doesn't then I'm going to recommend to General Hammond that he split up SG-1."
Three gasps of surprise and one gruff "O'Neill?" later, the colonel seemed to pick up some steam.
"Why does that surprise you all so much?" he asked, scowling again. "The way you've all been acting . . ."
But Daniel cut him off. "The way we've acted? I can't believe you're going to stand there and lecture about the way we've acted!"
Carter jumped in next, incredulously. "And . . . Sir! Break up SG-1?"
"You can't!" Fraiser agreed.
"Indeed, O'Neill," Teal'c put in his two cents. "I do not believe that such drastic measures are necessary, nor would they be advisable."
"Wouldn't they be, though, Teal'c?" O'Neill replied with an oddly strangled laugh. "What good would we be? A team can't function without trust."
"Trust, he says!" Daniel nearly shouted. "Now he worries about trust!"
Jack sighed. "Daniel, I . . ."
"I don't want to hear it, Colonel," Daniel spat. "What right have you got to demand trust from us?"
There was a sudden awkward silence as that question hung heavily in the air. Then O'Neill shook his head.
"Absolutely none, Dr. Jackson. General Hammond, Sir," he turned to the older man and pulled an envelope out of his pocket. All the expression had gone out of his face, and his voice. "It's my opinion that SG-1 is no longer a viable team. And by the way, here's my resignation. Effective immediately."
"Colonel . . ." Hammond started, refusing to take the envelope and hoping to talk him out of it. But his voice was quickly drowned out.
"Sir! Colonel, please, don't do this to us!" Carter pleaded.
"Don't do this to you, Major Carter?" O'Neill replied with the same dead, expressionless voice. "I'm sorry, but I was under the impression that as the commanding officer of this team it was my responsibility to take action if I felt the team was no longer cohesive. Which SG-1 sure as hell isn't. General," he said, turning to Hammond and holding the envelope out again.
Hammond shook his head, again refusing to take it. But before he could even open his mouth any reply he might have made was again cut short as Daniel lunged forward. He grabbed the envelope from Jack, who stumbled back in an attempt to keep the distance between them.
Daniel followed him, though, waving the envelope angrily, and he kept giving ground until the linguist had him backed up against the briefing room wall. Daniel looked positively furious as he got right up into Jack's face.
"So you're just going to run away and retire? How many times does this make? What is this, the patented Jack O'Neill answer for everything that ails you? Just retire, and hope it all goes away?"
Carter and Teal'c had followed Daniel, coming up next to him and both looking a mixture of confused and accusatory. Fraiser had come up on Daniel's other side, putting a hand on his arm in an attempt to calm him down. But Daniel just shrugged her off and continued his tirade, "Yes, retirement solves everything! Give me a break, Colonel!"
Thus boxed in by his team and trapped with nowhere to escape to, Jack seemed to simply wilt under Daniel's attack. The expressionless mask he'd been maintaining fell away and left behind in its place the desperate, cornered look of man at the end of his rope.
"Wh-what . . . what do you all want f-from me?" he pleaded, his emotions leaking out in a mild stutter that made him sound almost like he was hiccuping while trying to speak. "I've told you all a d-dozen times that I'm sorry, that I didn't w-want to do it. Y-you think I enjoyed saying that crap to you? You've made it p-pretty obvious that you d-don't trust me any more, so there's no p-point in m-me staying here. What more d-do you want?"
"You made it pretty obvious that we had no reason to trust you!" Daniel shouted, again ignoring Janet's attempt to calm him down.
"Do you expect us to just bounce right back like nothing happened?" Carter asked, suddenly unable to keep her own anger bottled any longer.
"N-no," Jack winced. He'd gone pale, his eyes glazed over, and was starting to tremble ever so slightly. Suddenly finding the floor fascinating, he dropped his gaze downwards and mumbled something under his breath.
Hammond, watching from his post across the room, recognized that he'd let this go way too far. "That's quite enough, Dr. Jackson, Major Carter!" he said, stepping forward.
Teal'c, the only one with good enough hearing to even make out a few syllables of what Jack had mumbled, suddenly placed a hand on Daniel's shoulder and physically forced the excitable younger man to back off a few steps as he questioned, "What did you say, O'Neill?"
Jack, gasping like he was drowning, closed his eyes and repeated in a hoarse whisper, "I . . . I d-don't think I can d-do this any m-more." He started to slide bonelessly down the wall he was still backed up against.
"Colonel!" both Fraiser and Carter yelped in surprise and moved closer, reaching him barely in time to slow his descent. He wound up lying in a heap at the base of the wall, one arm nearly covering his head, with Fraiser kneeling on his one side and Carter on the other. The slight trembles had become deep shudders as he continued to fight to steady his breathing. Fraiser, who had the only unblocked full view of his face, was stunned to see tears leaking from his tightly closed eyes. She reached out to touch his cheek and thought he felt unusually warm.
Seeing Jack fall, Hammond had realized with horror and no small amount of guilt that he might just be witnessing the nervous breakdown of one of the best officers he'd ever met. Pushing past Teal'c and Daniel he asked anxiously, "Is he alright, Doctor?"
Fraiser looked up at the general, blinking tears out of her own eyes. "I don't know, Sir. He feels a little hot, though. He might be running a fever."
Daniel, still held fast in Teal'c's grip, had finally been shocked out of his rage, the wind stolen from his sails by Jack's collapse. "A fever?" he asked dumbly.
Carter, meanwhile, had pulled back the arm Jack had tried to hide his head under and was staring down into his face.
"What do you mean, Sir?" she asked carefully. "What can't you do any more?"
"An-ny of this," he choked out, opening his eyes and letting the tears flow freely as he looked up numbly first at Carter and then each of the others. "I f-feel like m-most of the SGC still th-thinks I betrayed them. It sc-scared me how w-well I p-pushed everybody aw-way. And n-now I d-don't know h-how to m-make things r-right again. D-daniel is s-so angry and even Teal'c's b-been c-cold. Thought at l-least T w-would underst-stand. I d-don't know what you w-want from m-me. And I'm s-so t-t-tired . . ." his voice trailed off into a sob as his eyes wandered back up to Carter, meeting hers for a moment before he shut them again. He pulled tighter into himself, drawing his arm out of Carter's grasp and throwing it over his head again.
Hammond, Fraiser, and the rest of SG-1 collectively hesitated for a moment as they all stared at the shaking ball of misery Jack had curled himself into and listened to his breathing, now laden with harsh sobs.
Before any of them could recover and gather their wits, Carter and Fraiser were startled into scrambling back when a bright white light suddenly descended upon Jack. With a distinctive sound that they all recognized the light then vanished, taking Jack with it.
"The Asgard?" Hammond wondered aloud as Carter and Fraiser scrambled to their feet.
"What would they want . . ." Daniel started, but just as suddenly the same light claimed the five of them.
So what do you think? Reviews are always welcome. A note on my expected update schedule for this fic: I have four parts of five complete, and the fifth half-way done. I plan to post a new part every Friday evening, hopefully without skipping any weeks, meaning I have something on the order of a month to finish this story. Wish me luck!