Disclaimer: I do not won Stargate SG1 or any of it's affiliated characters and locations.
Summary: It's odd how it is always the last thing on your mind whilst they are living, breathing, fighting beside you but it is always the first thing you want to do when they lie before you cold and dying.
Author's Note: This was inspired by a mixture of the song "What Hurts the Most" by Rascal Flatts and that little smile Jack gives at the end of Revelations after the breeze as he, Sam and Teal'c go to leave the mountain.
Its odd how it is always the last thing on your mind whilst they are living, breathing, fighting beside you but it is always the first thing you want to do when they lie before you cold and dying.
You realise when they're gone how much they meant to you, what they meant to everyone else. And every single mistake you made, every ill-meant word you uttered to them, the ones that you had long since forgotten and they had too come flooding back and you feel ten times as guilty as you did in the first place.
And yet no matter what Daniel had done for him he still couldn't make himself say what he wanted too, what Daniel deserved. The best thing he could say was that he admired him, a big step from the ever-present sarcastic wise cracks but still not enough. It would never have been enough.
Memories of the slightest touch, simple smiles and just the occasional look shared hit you like water from a broken dam and there is still nothing you can do. Exhaustion tugs at your bones until you can't feel it any more yet you feel more energetic than you have in years, you are deaf to everything but the words inside your head and yet everyone seems to be screaming at you.
The room in which Daniel had … ascended was dark save for the dim light that filtered through from the hall outside of the observation room and Jack stood stoically in front of the window, staring through it, focusing on the empty infirmary bed and the switched off equipment surrounding it.
"Colonel?" a tentative voice from the doorway sliced through the eerie ringing of silence.
Jack only glanced up, seeing his second in command's reflection in the glass next to him he took a breath but did nothing more.
"You okay sir?" she whispered, her voice laced with grief and verging on cracking as if tears were about to begin their steady descent all over again.
"I'm fine Carter" Jack said after a moment.
And as much as he hated to admit it he didn't think he was lying, a part of him was fine, a part of him was okay. Yes another part of him, one that overwhelmed him at times still could hear himself saying those fatal words, even at Daniel's request that part still felt like it had killed his best friend.
"Sir I…" her voice caught in her throat and Jack looked up, straight into the glass pane and at her reflection.
Far from the touch military scientist, she was pale and her fists clenched at her sides as if she were fighting the urge to wrap her arms round herself in a way that would have had her almost imitating the ascended archaeologist's regular stance.
Jack turned to face her "Carter"
"He's really gone isn't he?" she bit her lip and swallowed, tears were falling again and she tilted her head back a little as if to attempt to stem them.
"SG1, there's someone here who wants to see you"
The crowd of people in the gate room parted and a man he thought he would never see again stepped through, pausing in front of the rest of the team and smiling one of those rare million-dollar-smiles.
He'd laughed. He'd laughed and wrapped his arms round the younger man without a second thought. With a hand on the back of Daniel's head, just simply to convince himself that he'd pulled through yet again, he'd barely had chance to say "Spacemonkey! Yeah." Before Carter had joined in and even Teal'c had greeted the archaeologist with warmth reserved solely for those closest to the jaffa.
"It's what he wanted" was the reply, his voice soft and without it's usual gruff undertone.
Sam's hands flew to her face and swiped away the tears in a frustrated fashion and she took another breath before speaking again "with all due respect Sir Daniel didn't want to die at all. He saved millions of lives and all they could do was-"
"Daniel knew what he was risking when he threw himself through the glass Carter" Jack found himself snapping, his guilt ridden half rearing its ugly head.
"Daniel Jackson's actions on Kelowna were heroic Major Carter" Teal'c made his presence known, stood just outside the door of the observation room, his hands clasped behind his back as he inclined his head in greeting "as was his choice"
Sam looked from Teal'c too her commanding officer whose eyes had strayed once more to gaze through the window.
Military training had its cons as well as its pros. Jack's carefully schooled face didn't give any indication as to how he was feeling or as to what was going through his mind. Making her feel even more inferior than their rankings made her on a normal day but this wasn't a normal day and that was the problem.
Normal days didn't include watching your best friend save an entire population of people just to die wrapped in bandages and in agony on a hospital bed.
Normal days didn't mean having to tell said friend that the people were neither grateful nor prepared to take the fall for their mistakes preferring to blame him because it was easier.
Normal days didn't mean standing between two of the most important people in your life and still feeling like you're all alone.
Why was Daniel always the scapegoat?
"Major Carter" Teal'c's deep voice broke through the silence abruptly.
The mighty warrior, who would stand with his chin held high in the face of death, would fight until there was no blood left in his body and have both the ability to intimidate and protect you with just a look. Yet the one thing he could not do was show how he was feeling, a word, a look, a touch.
Teal'c had the excuse, Jack didn't.
Even Teal'c had fought back tears as they had watched Daniel slip from their grasp for what now seemed like the last time but Jack… with no word of explanation had simply told her father to stop. They could have saved him and Jack had stopped them.
Later explanations had revealed that it had been Daniel's will that they stop but that didn't make it easier.
Was she angry with Daniel?
Was she angry with Jack?
Did she blame either of them?
"Yes Teal'c?" she said; the control of her voice once more reigned in and the tears having stopped momentarily.
"Are you all right Major Carter? You do not look well" concern flitted across his face and she gave a weak smile in return "you are mourning the loss of Daniel Jackson"
She nodded, swallowing again, loss. God he lost so much, everything, he would keep loosing everything and yet he would still bounce back every time, would still be the same old Dr. Jackson.
Teal'c nodded in what she assumed was understanding "as am I" he looked to Jack with an eyebrow raised.
Jack for his part never moved, he heard their conversation and kept to himself, remembering almost fondly the years his friendship with Daniel, the help they had both given each other. It was Daniel that had pulled him back from the proverbial cliff edge their first trip to Abydos, whom he'd held in the dark storeroom as the younger man wept as the effects of the sarcophagus addiction rode themselves out, who he'd shared pizza, beer and hockey games with.
With whom he'd argued and mocked to an extent most people had turned their back on him long ago but Daniel was different. Whether he was just too naïve to know when enough was enough or if it was just another act of self-sacrilege Jack did not know. All he knew was that he had lost his best friend and that in itself was almost too much to bear but no where near enough for it to break through the iron chains that bound the emotional side of Colonel Jack O'Neill.
"Are you serious?"
"It's what he wants"
What Daniel wanted, Daniel didn't want to get hurt, he never did, he didn't want to die, but it happened. He was gone and that was a choice he'd made himself.
" Hammond's cleared us for active duty"
"What?" Sam's disbelieving face took full form in the window as she took a step towards him "but Daniel-"
Jack turned "is gone Carter, we can't just stop our lives because he's ascended or whatever it is he's done this time"
"Daniel Jackson's ascension has caused me to feel a great loss but I agree with Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter"
Sam looked incredulously from the jaffa to her CO "so you're just forgetting him?" she was too wrapped in grief induced pain to realise she had not added the formality to her sentence.
Jack gave her; a look from what he could tell from her expression was far colder than he had intended "look Carter-"
She nodded "I understand sir" she muttered, glancing at her feet when what she really wanted to do was scream at him, how could he be so indifferent?
Jack glanced at Teal'c who inclined his head and departed abruptly, Sam just flicked her head to watch him go then looked back at Jack.
"Daniel made his choice, we have to make ours" he explained as best he could, a tone of earnest desperation creeping into his voice.
"You mean you make ours" she snapped then paled "god, I'm sorry sir"
Jack gave her a weak smile "Carter" he took a breath as if trying to figure out the most diplomatic way to put it, no not diplomatic, that was what Daniel did …
"We're peaceful explorers from a planet called earth, my name is Daniel Jackson"
"It's my job, I have to make these choices" his voice, pained.
"I know sir. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that"
"No" he smirked, "you shouldn't. But I'll let you off this time" he winked at her.
Tear filled blue orbs turned to pin him with their intense gaze "I'm gonna miss you guys" but they stayed in check as he glanced first to the open gate then back at Jack.
Jack paused a moment "yeah, you too" he said.
"Thank you. For everything" Daniel said with sincerity.
"So, what? See you around?"
"I don't know"
"Hey we're you going?" he called. Daniel turned.
Daniel looked pensive for a moment then gave a slight smile "I don't know" and with that he turned and stepped through the event horizon.
"I know it's what he wanted but… he has helped so many people and he just…" she licked her lips and sniffed. She was crying more today than she had in years.
"Always happens to the good guys Carter" he found himself saying, the ones that don't deserve it. Memories of another person lost arose, his dead son lying in his arms, covered in his own blood far beyond any hope of being saved. The murderer, his own gun.
Sure he was the hard ass US Air Force Colonel, the special ops trained Jack O'Neill but that didn't make him above guilt. Firing a P-90 at an attacking jaffa was far different to having your son accidentally kill himself with his own father's gun. Than having to tell your friend's one hope of living to stop. People who got in that close, who meant that much to you got killed, it was part of the job, he knew that.
"Why?" she asked, she was pathetic, she felt it, she knew that she was falling apart and she had to stop herself but how? She seemed to be the only one who cared surely that gave her the right to cry, she appeared to be doing more than enough of that anyway, enough for everyone.
He snorted; typical Samantha Carter "it's the world we live in Carter; people die. They aren't supposed to but they do"
"Daniel's more than a simple fatality!" she cried indignantly, "you don't even seem to care" to hell with proprieties, this was Daniel they were talking about.
Jack glanced back through the observation window "dammit Carter! Of course Daniel was more than a fatality but the fact of the matter is that he's gone, ascended and he's not coming back." He allowed himself to calm a moment before he spoke again "and I do care but… look that's just the way it's gotta be"
He could see she was shaking, her fists clenching and unclenching at her sides "goodnight sir" she said calmly.
Jack sighed "goodnight Carter" he turned back to the window, and she gave him one last glance before she left. Tonight it didn't matter that she wasn't being military-bred Major Samantha Carter; tonight it was okay for her to be simply Sam. At least she could mourn Daniel without the complications of feeling guilt at telling her father to stop, honour at being the one Daniel had chosen to do it, and then, this was the worst one of all, being perfectly okay with all of it.
He did not know how long he stayed there, only jerking out of a sea of memories when he saw the door the to observation room open slowly and a petite figure creep in, Janet.
She paused in the doorway and he could see she was fighting crying herself, steeling herself she moved forwards and went and stood by the bed, skimming a slender hand over the pristine bed sheets, as if tracing the now lost figure that had lain there hours earlier.
Janet pressed her hand into the mattress a moment, squeezing her eyes shut yet the tears still escaped and Jack saw her hang her head as they fell.
"People miss you Dannyboy, more than you know" Jack whispered, deciding on giving Janet the privacy she obviously thought she had. He turned from the window and walked from the room a gentle breeze flitting through behind him, tickling his skin and ruffling his hair as it passed, he paused and glanced back "night Danny" he smirked before continuing to leave.
Author's Notes: My first SG1 fik and considering I have only seen like 75 episodes I don't think that was torturously bad… and the usual: review, don't flame.