A/N: Short ep tag to S1's Enemy Within. It's just something that popped into my fron as I re-watched the ep. Not beta'd, so it's probably more crap than usual, but I didn't think one page was worth a beta. Sorry.
When a Door Closes
"My friend died on the table."
Jack didn't ignore the sting in his knuckles as he slammed them into the punching bag, he relished it. Wanted it. He imagined it wasn't vinyl that his fists were pounding. Instead Ra's face swam in his vision, and then Kawalsky's; his old friend's face flushed almost purple, dripping sweat and contorted with rage. It didn't suit Kawalsky, who'd always been more likely to wear a grin than a scowl. The snake inside him had worn him like a cheap suit.
Jack broke off, snatched up his towel and rubbed it vigorously over his face and neck. He had lost many good friends over his career. It was an accepted fact whenever a team was deployed.
Each man expected to come back, of course. It was a kind of arrogance that was essential in Special Ops; as vital as the weapon in his hand. Still, every man also understood the risk. The best laid plans and all that...there were no guarantees in their profession. And in the end, they were all there precisely because they were willing to risk their lives for what they could only hope was the greater good.
No, they didn't expect to lose their friends, but knew they could. Just as they didn't expect to be killed, but knew they might. A veteran, Jack had stood by too many coffins draped with the stripes of his nation, as family members wept and the mournful notes of Taps rang out with the breeze.
But Kawalsky? In Jack's mind, Kawalsky had been nearly as bullet-proof as he considered himself. All those deployments, all those close calls. They'd always come out the other side, Kawalsky with a self-satisfied smirk on his face. And today, he'd stood beside Charlie Kawalsky's grave. He'd named his son for him.
Jack turned, ready to strike out, break something, when he saw her. How long had she been in here, quietly working out while he'd pounded his frustration and grief into the bag? He found himself hesitating, unsure whether to approach her or just walk away without a word.
Before he could decide, the door swung open behind him and Jack turned to see Daniel glance inside with a perplexed look. He caught sight of Jack almost immediately, and his features transformed into soft sympathy as he stepped into the room.
"Jack. I've been looking for you. How are you doing?"
Great. This was all he needed; Daniel trying to get him to talk. A few choice words formed on the tip of Jack's tongue, but he was interrupted by a sudden crash and clanging. Captain Carter was resetting the weights she'd been using.
He watched her quick, practiced movements as she wiped down the seat. She draped her towel around her neck and spun to face them, just as Jack heard the intake of breath that meant Daniel was about to try again. Why couldn't the man understand that some people just didn't want to talk about their damn feelings?
With a friendly smile, Carter strode purposefully toward them and Jack steeled himself, expecting a tag-teaming. He was ready to tell them both where they could shove their condolences, when she spoke.
"Dr Jackson, I'm glad you're here." With a nod at Jack, she added a respectful, "Sir."
Her name, "Carter", left his lips in reply almost without conscious thought, and it surprised him.
But her eyes were on Daniel again. "I've had hard copy prints made of some of the footage we took on Abydos that I've been looking over in my lab. Some have hieroglyphs on them. I was hoping you could help me out?"
Daniel blinked at her. "What, now?"
"The General's asked for my report, ASAP. I'd appreciate it."
Jack raised a brow. That was a blatant lie. Hammond's interest in those tapes was satisfied when Carter's geek squad had started spitting out viable 'gate coordinates. If she was doing any further study into them, it was off her own back and not on orders. Was it possible she was trying to distract Daniel and help him escape?
"Um." Daniel adjusted his glasses, but Jack knew he wouldn't be able to resist the Captain's earnest plea. "Yes, of course. Sure."
"Great. Thanks Dr Jackson, my lab's on 19..."
Carter gripped Daniel's arm and still chatting away about her project, steered him out the door. Her blue eyes flicked around and for a brief moment her knowing gaze met Jack's, held, before she disappeared.
Jack felt a smirk tugging at the edges of his mouth as he considered his new 2IC. His gaze found the punching back that still wore the marks of his resentment and realised he no longer felt the need to pummel something. He glanced back at the door through which Carter had so effectively maneuvered Daniel. She'd fielded Daniel's unwanted concern; shielded him from the torment of the man's unflagging kindness. As though she'd understood.
Jack flicked the towel over his shoulder. They were due to head off-world tomorrow, for their first real mission as SG1. And you know...this could actually work.