They spread out as usual. The air was cool and the leaves were changing colors just like on Earth. It was a beautiful, crisp fall day and it looked like this was going to be a smooth mission after all. Jack nodded to himself as he finished his sweep of the perimeter. Teal'c and Carter were already making their own circuits. Which left Daniel. Jack turned back to the gate, just in time to see Daniel sink to the edge of the steps and put his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands.
Crap. He didn't even make it off the gate platform. Jack thought. It hadn't even been a full two weeks since her death. They had all wondered, and actually worried, quite a bit about how Daniel was going to fare on his first trip back through the gate after Sha're's death. His first trip without any hope of getting his wife back. Well, it looked like they had been right in their concern.
By now, Jack saw that Teal'c and Sam had also turned around and noted their teammate's appearance. Jack met their eyes and waved them both off. They nodded and continued their own survey of the area. Jack sighed, repositioned his P90 and slowly walked back to the gate platform. He had been dreading this for a while. Actually, he had been dreading this moment from right about the time they stepped back through the gate after Sha're died on Abydos. He had been afraid that Daniel would quit the team and leave altogether. So far that hadn't happened. But that didn't mean he couldn't change his mind.
Jack silently walked up and eased himself down next to Daniel. Daniel didn't move and Jack didn't say anything. There were times for talking and times for silent companionship. This was one of the times he knew that he had to keep his mouth shut and just give Daniel time. He was going to be patient, if it killed him. Sam and Teal'c could get the samples and retrieve the UAV without them. If they were going to get things back to some semblance of normal, he needed to let Daniel take whatever time he needed.
It only took a few minutes before Daniel lifted his head and glanced around disinterestedly at the scenery. Jack looked over at him and they locked eyes. Daniel looked tired. He also looked like he was literally in physical pain. He said very softly in a desperately sad voice, "I really didn't think it was going to hurt this much."
Jack just nodded. He knew Daniel had been trying to convince himself over the past few days prepping for this mission that it was no big deal. But it was a big deal, and it was obviously killing him from the inside out. They sat for another few minutes in silence, staring out at the pleasant scenery.
"We can go, Jack. I don't want to hold everything up. I'm sorry."
"Daniel. Stop. You're not holding anything up. And you don't have to be sorry." Jack put a hand on his shoulder. "I know we've said it till you're probably sick of hearing it, but I'm still sorry Sha're died, Daniel."
Daniel nodded, looking away. It hurt to hear everyone tell him that they were sorry and it ached to keep remembering she was gone forever. But it helped that Jack was keeping him focused and kept guiding him forward. If it hadn't been for Jack, Daniel had a feeling he'd be a lot more lost than he was right now.
And he was pretty lost as it was.
"You know something." Jack started, shaking his head, "The absolute hardest thing for me was going to get groceries."
Daniel turned to look at him in mild confusion, thrown by the apparent change in subject. He waited.
Jack smiled sadly and nodded, "It's almost funny to talk about now. But I really had a hard time going to get groceries after Charlie died. For a boy, he really loved going with Sarah to the store. He analyzed everything, once he started reading; he read every label he could reach. He wanted to restack the cans and reorganize the apples." Jack rubbed his eyes. "He counted all the different kinds of ice cream one time after he had learned to count to 100. We ended up spending so much time in the grocery store it was ridiculous. But it was one of the hardest things to get over after…" he paused. "I missed him so much and it just ripped me apart walking down the aisle and remembering everything Charlie…."
Daniel nodded slowly, finally meeting Jack's gaze. He didn't say anything.
Jack squeezed his shoulder, studying him somberly, "I'd never lie to you, Daniel. You are going to spend a lot of time finding new ways that you never thought you could hurt, new things that you never thought could make you feel so depressed. But you're going to get through it. You are."
Daniel nodded again.
"You've just got to give it time. You'll find your way and a new hope for the future." Jack tried a small smile. "Trust me?"
"I always trust you, Jack." Daniel returned his smile briefly.
"Good." He repositioned his hat. "Just don't forget we're here for you. Whatever you need. Door's open." He stood up, "Need a few?"
Daniel shook his head, feeling not a lot, but definitely a little better. He took Jack's outstretched hand and stood up. "Thanks. For everything."
"Not a problem." Jack gave him a hearty pat on the back, "So, ruins?"
"Onward!" Jack waved his hand at Teal'c and Sam who waved back.
He smiled as they headed to catch up with the rest of the team. No matter how hard the road ahead, no matter what heartaches the galaxy threw at them, they were a team and they'd always be there to do battle for one another.
It's what we do.