Summary: Season 8 – Episode Tag for 'New Order'--Just a little Jack/Daniel friendly moment
Spoilers: Slight for 'New Order' (Season 8 Opener) and 'The Fifth Race'
Disclaimer: This story is solely for entertainment purposes. No copyright infringements were intended and no money is being made. The characters and situations are the property of Gekko Film Corp., Sci-Fi Channel and MGM Television. They're not mine--more's the pity.
Jack stilled his breathing and willed his heart rate to decrease, striving valiantly to flatten his body even further against the wall of the briefing room and out of sight. He glanced furtively in both directions, relieved to see that so far, the coast was clear. Wishing desperately for SG-1 as backup, or for a diversion, or, hell, for anything, he'd never been more grateful for all his years of Black Ops training. As his ears strained for the slightest sound of the enemy, he glanced again at his objective. So close. So close he could almost taste it. If he could just make the stairway, he knew liberation and safety would lie beyond.
The shrill voice sent his hopes crashing down around him, and his eyes slid shut as his shoulders slumped in defeat. His dream of freedom was slipping from his grasp once again…
Lieutenant Boyle stepped out of the office, once General Hammond's and now by some cruel twist of fate, Jack's own. The clerk-from-hell was waving a stack of papers and stalking toward him, her youthful face twisted into the perpetual grimace that added years to its appearance.
"Sir, I still need you to sign these requisition forms. And you have an appointment with General Avery at 1400 hours, followed by a call from the Chief of Staff at 1500, followed by the debriefing with SG-7. Not to mention the reports on your desk that are still waiting for your approval, and the review of…"
"ENOUGH!" The word shot forth from Jack's lips. The force of it was strong enough to make the lieutenant flinch ever so slightly, and Jack bit down on the pleasure that response gave him. He gave her his best glare, the one reserved for military miscreants and wayward archeologists and watched in somewhat detached fascination as the younger woman straightened her back and lifted her chin, not backing down but daring to return the glare full force. God. Had he ever been that young? Or that uptight?
That answer had to be a resounding 'no.'
He drew in a deep breath, exhaling it slowly before speaking in a low, even voice that exuded false patience. "Lieutenant, tell me…exactly what day is it?"
Lieutenant Boyle gazed at him warily, allowing the smallest hint of confusion to show on her face. "It's Wednesday, sir," she responded obediently.
"And exactly what day did I assume command of this facility?"
"That would be Monday, sir."
"Yes, that would be Monday. As in two days ago."
"And what was I doing the week before that?" Jack continued, the sarcasm growing steadily in his voice.
Boyle sighed in resignation and quoted his own words back to him in a monotone voice. "You were a 'frozen popsicle in the wasteland of Antarctica,' sir."
"EXACTLY!" Jack exclaimed in triumph. "Now, just prior to spending the last SEVERAL weeks as a frozen popsicle in the wasteland of Antarctica, I did manage to save our own world from annihilation; yet again, I might add. After thawing, I was also involved in the task of saving the Asgard homeworld from the destruction of those nasty little bugs, so that Thor, in turn, could save our world. Yet again. Directly after that, I was assigned the dubious honor of keeping things running smoothly around here. In the time since that has happened, I have been in countless meetings; I've read enough paperwork to make me want to claw my eyes out, and I feel like I have a phone permanently attached to my ear. I have also overseen the disembarkation of three SG teams, the arrival of two more, an unauthorized off-world activation, and the relentless hounding of a certain lieutenant who shall remain nameless. Now, do you think it is possible that those who are higher up, who in their dubiously estimable wisdom have chosen to entrust me with this particular all encompassing responsibility, might not think it an offense worthy of court-martial to allow me five minutes to GO TO THE BATHROOM???"
The lieutenant, who after only two days in her current position, was already well used to the infamous O'Neill tirades, allowed his words to roll off her like water off a duck's back. She assumed a rather haughty stance and looked at him pointedly. "Five minutes, sir?" she questioned in a scathing tone that bordered on insubordination.
"Lieutenant…" the general's voice was low and threatening.
Conceding defeat in this battle, but not the war, Boyle nodded pertly. "Yes, sir," she replied, gripping the papers tighter and turning on her heel.
Jack relaxed slightly at the sight of her retreating back, once again glancing longingly at the circular stairway to heaven.
The click-clack of her shoes stopped suddenly, and Jack could feel twin lasers boring into his back. "I'll come find you if necessary, shall I General?" she threatened vaguely.
Jack sighed again, stuffing his hands into his pockets. "Of that, I have no doubt…" he muttered.
Jack breathed a sigh of relief upon exiting the men's room to a hallway that was completely Boyle-free. A glance at his watch made it apparent he should really head back to the office, but his feet just naturally found themselves wandering in the opposite direction. They didn't come to a stop until he was entering Daniel's office. He ambled in and stood there a moment, gazing at his archeologist, whose head was bent at a rather unusual angle as he studied a jumble of photographs in front of him.
"What, no salute?"
Daniel raised his gaze to meet Jack's, a slight smirk on his face "You're joking, right?"
"Noooo." Jack did his best to look put out. "C'mon, I'm a general now. That means you have to salute me."
Daniel leaned back in his chair and placed his hands comfortably behind his head. "I didn't salute you when you were a colonel; why on earth would you think I'd salute you now?"
"A guy can dream." Jack stepped further into the office and leaned over Daniel's desktop, attempting to get a closer look at the photos himself. "Besides, I'm a general. The man. Big guy. Grand Poobah. Head Honcho, buck stops here, all that rot…"
"Your point being?"
Jack narrowed his eyes at him. "Well, I guess somebody's going to be seeing a cut in his oh-so-ample paycheck…" Jack threatened.
"Yeah, right. By the way, I'm not all that sure I'm comfortable with you knowing how much I make, ample or not."
"Daniel, I've been your team leader and the second in command around here for 7 years. I already knew how much you make. Though how in good conscience the American government can afford that, I'll never know. It's like one of those five hundred dollar screws…"
"Excuse me?" A look of confusion crossed Daniel's features.
Jack waved his hands dismissively. "Never mind, that's not why I'm here."
"Yes, Jack, tell me, why are you here? Other than feeling a need to hide out from Lieutenant Boyle?"
"I am not."
"Yes, you are."
Jack sputtered for a moment. "Okay. Fine. I am."
Daniel raised his eyebrow in a near perfect imitation of their Jaffa friend, surprised at Jack's unexpected sudden capitulation.
Jack reached over and picked up one of the photographs and looked at it more closely, still unable to determine exactly what he was seeing. "So what is this, anyway?"
"Well, actually, it's a close up of the wall of cuneiform that was discovered when SG-7…"
"Ack!" Jack raised his hand. "Forget I asked—I don't really want to know."
"At least some things around here haven't changed," Daniel mumbled under his breath.
"Nothing." Daniel gathered the remaining photos together and reached for the one Jack held. "So, how's it going anyway? You know…being 'the man'."
Jack scrubbed his now free hands over his face and then up into his hair. "You don't want to know. All I can say is I've got a heck of a lot more appreciation for Hammond than I ever had before. Remind me again why I agreed to take this position?"
"Let's see, that would be the increase in rank, the increase in pay, and the chance to do whatever you want."
O'Neill eyed his best friend suspiciously. "You suddenly develop photographic memory or something?"
"Photographic memory implies total recall of something you've actually seen Jack, not heard."
"Thank you, Dr. Jackson. Where would I be without you?"
Daniel smiled serenely.
"Anyway, that is SO not true."
"Which part?" Daniel asked, not following Jack's train of thought.
"The part about being able to do whatever I want."
"Big surprise there, huh? I imagine Lieutenant Boyle keeps you on a pretty tight leash."
Jack shuddered involuntarily. "You have NO idea." He walked over to the other side of Daniel's office, leaning down and gazing at the fish before tapping a few times on the glass. Straightening, he made his way over to one of the shelves, picking up one of the many artifacts Daniel had catalogued there and turning it over and over in his hands.
Daniel's gaze followed Jack's every move. He willed himself not to reach over and pluck the Abydonian vase from Jack's hands. You'd think he'd be more used to it by now, but after seven years, he still cringed inwardly every time Jack went near his things. "Jack?"
Jack glanced over at him.
"Was there anything else? Because, if not, I should really get back to work…rumor has it that the new guy upstairs is a bit of a bear…"
"Downstairs, Daniel. I'm the new guy downstairs. My office is lower than yours."
Again, Daniel simply smiled.
"Not that that means anything," Jack hastened to add.
Another minute of silence passed as Jack idly traced his finger over the lip of the vase, noting the smoothness of the rim and thinking that his own attempts at such craftsmanship had never come near this. He was stalling, and he knew it. His cleared his throat nervously.
"Anyway, I just wanted to say, you know, um…thanks." The words left him in a rush.
"Thanks?" Daniel echoed curiously.
"Yeah. You know. For…um, stuff."
"Ahh," Daniel feigned understanding. "Stuff."
"Well, you're welcome. You know, for 'stuff'."
Daniel did his best not to cringe when Jack put the vase back down none too gently. The older man began to pace somewhat agitatedly as he sought to find words to explain himself, words that did not come easily.
Daniel watched him with interest, their years of close friendship having left him with the knowledge of exactly how difficult it was for Jack when he had something to say that crossed that imaginary boundary into the touchy-feely zone. He worked to keep the smile off his face. "Jack," he said, lightly prodding.
That was all the prompting Jack needed. He finally turned on his heel to face Daniel square on. "It's just…well, Carter, she…well, she told me some…stuff."
Again Daniel nodded knowingly. "Stuff."
"About how you fought so hard to get them to go back and retrieve me. How you tried to come up with any option, how you wouldn't let them write me off. You know. Stuff."
Daniel could feel the blush as it crept up his neck onto his face. He wasn't sure that was the kind of stuff he'd have like Sam to share with Jack.
"It's more than that, Daniel. I've also, well, I've been remembering…stuff. You know. Like Thor said, my memory would be coming back to me, and it has been, little by little. I pretty much remember it all now, I think. I remember what happened since that thing grabbed my head and overloaded my brain. And I know you stuck by me, just like the last time it happened. That you translated for me when I went Ancient."
Daniel nodded. "Yeah, as you so pointedly reminded me when I tried to look into the device, I was the obvious choice for translator," he said wryly.
Jack snorted. "Didn't take a genius to figure that out."
He cleared his throat and began again. "Anyway, I know I don't always appreciate your gift for languages. How important it is that you can do what you do, so that we can communicate with damn near anyone in the galaxy. I'm trying to tell you that I appreciate it now. On a personal level." Jack smiled to himself. Very few people knew the inordinate amount of pride he took in Daniel's amazing linguistic abilities, and he figured he'd be better off keeping it that way. But at least he could throw Daniel a bone now and then.
Daniel removed his glasses and made a show of holding them up to the light before cleaning them against his black t-shirt and returning them to his face. "Well, thanks, Jack. Or, you're welcome, or…whatever." He too cleared his throat.
Jack shoved his hands deeply into his pockets, his brow furrowing. As he spoke, his voice lowered. "I hated the fact that nobody knew what I was doing, not even me. But worse than that was the feeling that they couldn't understand what I was saying. It…it left me alone. Cut off, or something. But you, you always knew what I meant. Even if I didn't need the words to say it. No one, not even Sara, has ever known me well enough to know what I was thinking or what I needed by just looking at me. For a while, it used to creep me out when you first started doing that. Now though…" Jack let the sentence trail off as he stared at the floor.
"Aw, hell," he muttered, forcing himself to lift his eyes to meet Daniel's. "Now I don't know where I'd be without that. You're the best friend I've got, Daniel. I know I don't say that much. Well, more like never. But it's true. And I thought you should know."
"I…uh…" Daniel stared at Jack for long moments, his mouth opening and closing, but no intelligible words coming out. His hands waved distractedly in front of him as if they would help him get his point across. He looked so much like one of his own fish that Jack had to let out a laugh.
"Well, I'll be damned. Shocked you speechless, huh? I'll have to remember this being sensitive crap next time I want you to shut up about something," Jack smirked.
That comment was enough to snap Daniel back, and he let out his own relieved laugh. "Yeah, I can just picture you trying this in the briefing room."
As that image sank in, Jack let out a shudder. "Okay. Maybe not." He made a move towards the door, knowing his time here was limited. "Anyway, that was all I had to say…"
Jack turned back to face Daniel once again, waiting.
"I've, uh, I've learned several new languages since coming to the SGC—Goa'uld, Unas, the language of the Ancients…I'm not sure any of them were as difficult to pick up as learning to speak 'O'Neill.' That one, well that one was tough. But worth it. Definitely worth it." Daniel smiled and ducked his head in that old familiar gesture, and for a moment, Jack was tempted to walk back over there and ruffle his hair.
"General O'Neill?" The ever-shrill voice of Lieutenant Boyle echoed off the hallways, the sound definitely coming closer.
Jack looked at Daniel with pure, unadulterated panic on his face. "Hide me!" he hissed.
Daniel rolled his chair quickly back out of the line of fire. "Nothing doing, buddy, you're on your own."
Jack glared at Daniel as Lieutenant Boyle came and stood in the open doorway. "Thanks a lot," he mouthed.
Boyle's haughty gaze took in O'Neill in much the same way a principle would eye a misbehaving eight-year-old. "Sir, if you recall, I mentioned that you have a meeting at 1400 hours."
"Oh, I recall, lieutenant, I recall," Jack said dulcetly, feeling the hackles on the back of his neck rise.
"It's nearly that now, sir," she said pointedly.
"Well then, by all means, let's head back to my office, shall we?" he asked, rolling his eyes at Daniel as he followed her out into the hall. A few seconds later, his head popped back in the doorway, followed by two hands that grasped around his neck as he mimicked being dragged away kicking and screaming.
Daniel laughed at the sight as he once again began to sort through the photographs from SG-7. The smile already on his face grew as he overheard Lieutenant Boyle's chiding words to her CO, "Really, general, if you're going to try and hide somewhere, I'd think of somewhere other than Dr. Jackson's office. It was the first place I thought to look."
For some reason, that knowledge pleased Daniel no end.
As he attempted to settle back down to his work, Daniel thought over everything that had happened in the past month. 'The times, they were a-changing,' that was for sure. But he was willing to bet a month's ample salary that in the weeks ahead, life at the SGC with Jack O'Neill in charge would become every bit as adventurous as his time off-world.
Definitely something to look forward to.