Title: The Poseidon Effect
Email: PG for language
Category: Adventure/Drama/Romance (S/J)
Spoilers: Through season 8
Disclaimer: Stargate SG1 and its characters do not belong to me, nor do I make any profit off this little hobby. This story, however, belongs to the author. Please don't take it out to play without permission.
Feedback: Honest feedback always appreciated.
Acknowledgements: My deepest thanks to my beta readers, without whom this story wouldn't be what it is.
A/N: Poseidon was God of the seas, earthquakes, and general upheaval. Despite the use of his name for this fic, this is not a Goa'uld story.
A/N2: Though I've written quite a few stories for another fandom, this is only my second for SG1. I've worked hard to get it right. Please let me know if I missed the mark.
Summary: SG-1 stands on the edge of a precipice. Will their friendship survive? Meanwhile, an unusual device is discovered on Dakara.
Jack sat down on the locker room bench and dropped the large cardboard box to the floor beside him. The longest three months of his life were finally coming to a quiet close. He ran a tired hand through his hair. It wasn't that he had doubts exactly, it was just that this was a rather lonely way to end eight years of dedication and friendship.
The decision he'd made all those weeks ago, to retire quietly and without fanfare, had been made after many long nights spent tossing and turning instead of sleeping. Hammond hadn't been happy about it. Hell, the President had practically begged him to stay, which was both flattering and, in a way, frightening. Surely he wasn't the only one on the face of the planet who could keep a lid on this joint.
He opened his locker, haphazardly pulling things out and dropping them into the open box. He'd agreed to stay until they found somebody else, but only under the condition that his impending retirement wouldn't be made public knowledge until absolutely necessary. He didn't want pomp and circumstance, didn't want people gaping at him and wondering what he was going to do next. And he definitely didn't want people staring at Carter and speculating about his reasons for retirement. She didn't deserve to be fodder for the gossip mill. God knew there'd been enough of that around the base already.
In the end, he'd decided not to tell his team until after the fact. They'd be hurt, he knew. Hell, they'd probably be furious with him. But he'd rather that than put his friends in the uncomfortable position of having to defend his choices. Besides, if Carter were just as pissed at him as everybody else would be, there'd be little doubt as to the status of their relationship – or lack thereof. And if, by some lucky chance, he was able to win back their trust and acceptance, he'd just be that much more convinced that he still had a tiny bit of good Karma left somewhere in his screwed-up psyche.
He put his jacket into the box and closed the locker, his movements a little slower than usual, a little less sure. When he heard the door open, he cursed under his breath. So much for being gone before anybody noticed. Straightening, he looked up. Daniel. Damn.
Sure enough, Daniel stood just inside the door, leaning almost too casually against the bank of lockers. The overhead lights glinted off his glasses, effectively hiding his expression. Jack decided to play it light and hope for the best. Maybe, if he was especially lucky, he could still escape without Daniel being any the wiser.
"Daniel," he said, the single word rising in pitch at the end, making it both greeting and question.
"Jack." Daniel's response, framed in the same tones, didn't bode well. "What's going on?"
"Not much." Suitably casual. He was proud of himself.
Damn, damn, triple damn. The box. He stood and turned slightly, shielding it from Daniel's view, but he sensed that it was already too late.
"Just tidying up."
"Uh huh." Daniel's tone dripped skepticism as he moved across to the locker. "You took your lock off."
"Yeah. Well…" he hedged. "Time for a new one."
Surprisingly, Jack didn't expect Daniel's next move. If he had, he might've been able to stop it. As it was, the locker was open before Jack could do much more than blink.
"Wow," Daniel said, "That's really tidy."
Daniel had learned a lot about sarcasm in the years they'd worked together. It was pretty damned obvious he wasn't buying Jack's story. Still… Nothing ventured, nothing gained. "It is, isn't it?" He smiled proudly. "I'm thinking of painting."
"You're going to paint." There was patent disbelief in Daniel's voice now.
"Yep. Peridot, I think." Jack grinned and resisted the sudden urge to shift his balance.
The locker door slammed suddenly, and Jack twitched despite himself.
Daniel eyed him quizzically. "Little jumpy, Jack?"
"So." Time for a change of subject. "I'm heading out. Was there something you needed?"
Daniel's arms were folded now. Thunderclouds loomed on the horizon, and here Jack was without an umbrella.
"I stopped by your office a second ago. Wanted to talk to you about something."
"Oh yeah?" Oh no. General Landry. Looming conversational black hole. He saw it coming, but couldn't do a damn thing to escape its grasp. Carter would have a twenty dollar name for that phenomenon.
"Yep." Daniel took off his glasses. So much for hidden expressions. Pissed would sum this one up nicely. "Odd thing, though."
"Odd, you say." Jack wasn't about to wave a white flag.
"And, um… What was odd about it? Exactly." He played for time, hoping inspiration would strike.
"It was nothing, really." There was that sarcasm again.
"And yet," Jack said, reaching for his jacket. "You mention it."
"Yeah, well…" Another theatrical pause.
Jack wondered if he could grab his gear and make a run for it. He eyed the distance to the door and sighed. It'd never work.
"See," Daniel was saying, "it's just that there was this strange general in there."
"Really." Jack tried to sound surprised.
"Yep." Daniel nodded.
"A strange one, you say."
"Well." Jack coughed and reached for his things. "Imagine that."
A large, leather clad foot landed neatly on top of the box, forcing Jack to set it back on the floor. He looked up.
"Name's Landry, apparently." Daniel's arms were folded across his chest again, and his foot remained squarely on top of the box. Jack considered leaving it and making a solo dash for the door, but vetoed the thought. Too undignified. Besides, he'd never run from a fight before, and he wasn't about to start now.
"Landry, huh?" he said instead, pretending he needed to tie his shoelace.
"Maybe." Daniel's response was noncommittal.
The silence in the room began to take on a life of its own, and Jack finally took a deep breath and looked his friend squarely in the eyes.
"What's your point, Daniel?"
Daniel continued to observe him silently for a few seconds before putting his glasses back on with a sigh. "I figure it's one of two things, Jack. Either you're leaving the SGC for good, and trying to slip away unnoticed, or …"
"That's just it." Daniel said. "I don't know what else it could be."
Jack reached for his box again. Daniel's foot didn't move.
"No, Jack. Not until you tell me what's going on."
"Damn it, Daniel. Can't you just leave it alone?"
Jack sighed his exasperation. "Empty locker, empty office, new general… What the hell do you think is going on, Daniel?"
"So you are leaving."
"Without a word?"
"Apparently not." It was Jack's turn for sarcasm.
"Sorry to spoil your big exit." There was anger in Daniel's voice now, and Jack responded in kind, tired of dancing around the subject.
"What would you have me do, Daniel? Should I tell Teal'c I'm tired of fighting a war that never ends? Tell you that I can't stand the thought of looking at one more Ancient artifact? Tell Carter…" He trailed off, unwilling to finish the thought, but Daniel wouldn't let it go.
"Tell Sam what, Jack?" His voice was soft.
Daniel let it drop, finally lifting his foot off the box. "I used to think you weren't afraid of anything."
Jack slid on his jacket, picked up the box, and headed for the door. "Looks like you were wrong."
"Yeah," said Daniel, his voice almost lost behind the closing door. "Looks like I was."