Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: All your Stargate SG-1 are not belong to me.
Summary: What had to be done, and what Jack wanted to do, had seldom been so much at odds. S8 tag: 1400 words, implied slash.
Spoilers: Set between Seasons 8 and 9.
Notes: For ltkitty. This is my first attempt at Stargate slash, so I'd appreciate constructive commentary.
"Do you remember the first time you called me Daniel?" the archaeologist said out of the blue, staring down through the control room window at the silent Gate.
Jack stepped up close beside him, raising an eyebrow at Sgt. Harriman as he did so. The gate technician nodded, then got up to refill the coffee pot. It was late under the Mountain, and only two teams were out, so there weren't any other airmen within earshot. Probably not a necessary precaution, but the practice of secrecy was an old, comfortable habit for the Air Force General.
"No, not really," he said, following Daniel's gaze to the alien object that had brought them together and driven them apart more times than he could count. "Sometime on Abydos, I'd bet. Though I'm pretty sure I called you 'Chicken Man' before I ever called you Daniel."
Daniel chuckled. "I don't remember that. But somehow I'm not surprised. Those first couple of years before Sha'uri died, it was Plant Boy this, Spacemonkey that..."
"Hey!" Jack objected, more amused than irritated by Daniel's rambling line of reasoning. He always had a point, even if it took awhile to reach it, and Jack wasn't in any hurry today. "I wasn't that bad. And it didn't seem like you minded much."
Daniel sighed. "No, not much. I think I minded more when the nicknames stopped; I knew it meant you'd finally stopped seeing me as a geek first and foremost, but it took awhile longer to get used to the idea of being a soldier as much as a scientist."
"Years," Jack agreed, finally picking up on the reason for Daniel's solemn mood. It had taken Ascension to reconcile Daniel to his evolved role in the SGC, no thanks to Jack's mood swings on the subject of their relationship, and now-- months after Daniel's second, brief foray among the Ancients-- his niche in the project was going to change irrevocably, yet again.
And that thought triggered the answer to Daniel's first question: "It was right after that thing with Ra, wasn't it?"
"'Thing with Ra'?" Daniel asked, turning away from the Gate at last to arch his eyebrows incredulously in Jack's direction.
Jack rolled his eyes. "You know, that thing where I tried to kill Ra, his guards tried to kill me back, you took the shot instead, and next thing I knew you were standing there taking orders from Ra like some ghostly executioner. Got to tell you, Daniel, that's still number nine or so on my top ten list of most terrifying moments ever."
He half expected Daniel to snark back at that, too, but the younger man merely nodded and turned back toward the window. "Yeah. Mine, too. As far as I can remember it was always Dr. Jackson before that, in that stern, disapproving tone of voice. I was sure you hated me. But then you called me Daniel afterward, when we were down in the caves trying to plan the rebellion."
"Well, you were trying to plan a rebellion," Jack replied, remembering that night-- sand everywhere, Daniel and his strong-willed new bride making googly eyes at each other, Ska'ara and the other native boys half-convinced of their own immortality. "You had to argue me into it, if I remember right." Charlie's death had weighed him down so heavily he could barely see straight, but somehow this floppy-haired academic had got through to him when even his wife had failed. Something about his unflagging courage, the direct way he always met Jack's gaze and his continual refusal to back down from a challenge, had opened up a chink in Jack's armor-- and from there, the rest had been inevitable.
Daniel sighed and got to the point. "Would it do me any good to argue with you now?"
Jack winced. "You know why it has to be this way, Daniel. We may have finally taken out the Goa'uld and the Replicators, but..."
"...you still want someone you trust in charge of Homeworld Security, and Landry needs to get his feet wet on the Stargate Project before you hand it over to him," Daniel completed the sentence in a resigned tone.
"If George wasn't about to retire..." Jack said, letting the thought trail off into a shrug.
"How long, Jack?" Daniel continued, quietly. "I know you didn't just decide this today. You have to have been thinking about this for awhile. How long is it going to take?"
"I don't know, Daniel," Jack continued, even more quietly. Even without ears nearby and turned away from the cameras, this wasn't a conversation he really wanted to have on base. "A year maybe? We've managed that long before."
"You've managed that," Daniel said, chuckling quietly. "I remembered more this time, Jack-- Replicator Sam churned up a lot of things when she went digging for information on Dakara."
Jack remembered the invisible breeze on his face right after Daniel died, and all the times over the next year that he'd felt his presence so strongly that he'd turned to tell him something only to choke with fresh grief over his absence. Not to mention all the times an incorporeal Daniel had actually turned up, white sweater, glowing smile, and all. "I don't know what to tell you, Daniel. If I could bring you with me..."
He half-wished Daniel was looking at him, instead of turning that intense blue gaze toward the window, but it was probably better this way. If Jack had to see the expression on his face at an angle the cameras might catch... well, they had more leeway at the SGC than they would in Washington, but not by much. Any evidence at all could easily become ammunition in the hands of the NID.
"I'm putting in a transfer request," Daniel finally said, quietly. "I know you want me to stick around for Landry's sake, and for Mitchell, but I don't think I'm going to be able to handle working here without you for however long it's going to take. And since I can't go to Washington..." He shrugged.
Jack swallowed. "Atlantis?"
"Atlantis," Daniel nodded. "I've worked with most of Elizabeth's command team, when we were at the base in Antarctica. I might not get out into the field as often, but they'll keep me busy, and I know they'll welcome any help I can give them."
"They're in the middle of a galactic war, Daniel," Jack rasped, more harshly than he had intended. He'd been fighting Daniel about this ever since the coordinates for the Lost City had been deciphered, but he'd always figured that whenever he finally gave in, he'd be going along for the ride. Not sending Daniel off by himself, where Jack couldn't protect him and neither Carter nor Teal'c were available for back-up. Sheppard might have worked miracles out in Pegasus over the last year, but Jack knew all too well how that kind of luck came and went, and he didn't know him well enough to trust him to put Daniel's welfare first.
"So were we, Jack," Daniel replied softly. "Please. Don't make me stay here without you." He hitched half a step closer to Jack, not quite touching, but close enough that Jack could feel the warmth of Daniel's body all along his side.
Jack's throat closed up, and they stood there a few minutes more in silence, ten years' worth of history filling the space between them. He knew he needed to give Daniel an answer, but he was at a loss for words; what had to be done, and what he wanted to do, had seldom been so much at odds.
Sgt. Harriman returned before Jack had figured out what to say, clearing his throat softly. "Sirs," he said, a cup of coffee in either hand.
Daniel accepted one of the cups, and Walter took a seat at his station with the other, grimacing apologetically at Jack. "SG-12 is due to check in in about five minutes," he explained.
"Thanks, Walter," Jack replied, then took a deep breath and did what had to be done one more time. "Say, you know that going-away party you're planning for Carter?"
"Party, sir?" Walter repeated, blinking at him.
"Looks like we're going to need another one," Jack said, shooting a hooded glance at Daniel.
Daniel's smile-- bittersweet and grateful-- blazed forth like the setting of the sun.