Written by Yum@
Comments? Write to us at YumaDesign@aol.com
Contains spoilers from "Secrets" and mentions "In The Line of Duty"
and "Children of the Gods".
The iris sealed behind SG-1 with a hiss. As the technicians rush in to check for radiation, the team went down the ramp, ignoring the commotion. Colonel Jack O'Neill motioned for a medic to assist with Teal'c. The Jaafa glanced at his burn wound, a result of the skirmish back at Abydos, looking like he just remembered that he had been wounded. He was distracted; his thoughts were directed at the person who was lagging behind him.
"Are you alright?"
"No. But I will be."
"Teal'c?" Carter inquired, her hand on his elbow. The Jaafa had paused halfway down the ramp. She and Jack turned to see what had caught his attention.
Daniel Jackson was walking slowly, behind the others. His eyes were staring ahead, but Jack doubted he saw anything. He wondered what went on back at Abydos, but the story can wait. Jerking his head towards the approaching medics, Jack motioned Carter to assist Teal'c to the infirmary. The colonel paused, seeing General Hammond approaching and shook his head slightly. General Hammond stopped. There was something in the colonel's eyes and the way Daniel looked, which caused the general to suspect that a little peace was needed.
"Teal'c can debrief me, Colonel O'Neill." General Hammond said quietly.
Jack nodded his thanks. He hesitated, looking at Daniel and wondering how he should approach this. What the hell, Jack thought and went up to Daniel. "Come on," Jack said gruffly, "Let's go check on Teal'c."
The young man was startled out of his thoughts at the name Teal'c and realized guiltily that Teal'c was injured. He let Jack grab him by the forearm to lead him to the infirmary.
A concussion, Daniel thought numbly as Doctor Frasier gave the prognosis. It would explain the headache. However, Daniel suspected that his aches weren't that simple.
"I'll need him to stay overnight for observation. Teal'c, too."
"Is Teal'c all right?" Carter said.
"I am well." Teal'c spoke up, approaching them. His left arm was on a sling. "The staff weapon merely brushed against me. The wound is not deep. I will heal quickly."
"The wound is already healing and Doctor Jackson's concussion is only a mild one. Nevertheless," Frasier said as she motioned the nurses to get two beds ready, "I want you here for observation. Both of you." She added, seeing that the two were going to protest.
"One night wouldn't hurt." Jack said lightly, trying to cheer them up. "Think of it as a day off."
"We need to debrief General Hammond about Abydos." Carter reminded Jack.
Jack noticed Daniel winced, but made no comment about it. He was wondering how to ask Daniel when the younger man just got off the gurney abruptly.
"We better talk to him, then." Daniel said, heading over to the general, who was waiting discreetly by the infirmary entrance.
Teal'c and Carter looked at Jack worriedly, but the colonel shook his head. Whatever it was, Jack would deal with it later.
Later, it turned out, to be many hours later. The debriefing that would have taken place in the infirmary, went over to the briefing room after the mention of Daniel's wife Sha'uri. General Hammond listened grimly at the accounts of Daniel and Teal'c. He said nothing as they spoke of Sha'uri's child, how she escaped to hide in her home planet Abydos, and how the parasite took over again after the birth of the child. Jack eyed Daniel during all this, trying to gauge the younger man's emotions. Daniel was quiet, his eyes straight forward as he told the general how he decided to bring his wife home here, even if it meant she might be locked away by the military, in fears of her occupying parasite.
"Are you alright?"
"No. But I will be."
Jack wondered if Daniel was trying to assure himself right now. The Egyptologist was very calm, very accurate in his accounts. Very cold, Jack summarized. He glanced over to Carter, who was quiet during the whole thing. She had looked distracted since her return from Washington D.C. Jack wondered if she was thinking about the reporter. Perhaps sensing Jack's attention on her, Carter turned her head slightly towards Jack. Her eyes were troubled, looking back at Daniel each time he continued. She raised an eyebrow towards the colonel, who nodded. Obviously, Daniel's feelings or lack of feelings right now was apparent to both of them.
The general nodded grimly, his eyes troubled as he took in the implication of the events that had occurred.
"Would it be, in your opinion, Doctor Jackson, that we keep it on Abydos? Why not back on Earth? We have the resources to safe guard the-"
"No offense, sir." Daniel interrupted, "But I felt it would be in the best interest to the child if he was to stay where his mother was born. Besides, Apophis believes the child was stolen by his enemy." Daniel averted his eyes to the table, "Let them fight it out."
"Besides, sir." Jack interjected, "I do not feel very reassured about having it here near Colonel Melbourne's sight."
Daniel gave Jack a funny look, but didn't comment.
General Hammond nodded, understanding their reluctance to have Colonel Melbourne informed. The colonel had gotten on their bad sides when he tried to stop the Tollans from leaving, wanting to imprison them in a camp in hopes of gaining some of their advanced technology. In their eyes, he was a calculating man and one who wouldn't be too sympathetic to a baby. Especially one that was born by Go'uald parents. General Hammond could understand the colonel's need to follow orders, directly from the President- the colonel was never shy about reminding them of that fact. Apophis' attempt to attack Earth was thwarted by O'Neill and his team. Their success signaled that time was of the essence; the Go'uald may return. The need to advance themselves, preparing for attack from both human and alien, drove their need to find advanced technology. Melbourne was the driver of that need. Melbourne knew the reasons behind the orders. General Hammond, after all, is a military man.
But that didn't mean he had to like him.
"You do know, people," Hammond reminding them, at the same time wishing he didn't, "that this has to go on the report."
"Yes, sir." Daniel said before Jack or Carter could jump in.
"Well, " Hammond said, a bit surprised at Daniel's sudden about face; "I won't schedule any missions for 48 hours. I suggest we all get some rest. It's been quite a day, wouldn't you agree?"
The Stargate was still, its iris closed like a dark and forbidden shield. Carter gazed down at the ring from the window view of the briefing room. Unable to sleep, she had wandered into here. Normally, when she couldn't sleep, she would venture topside to above ground and gaze at the stars. Daniel had once shyly admitted that he used to do the same and he once caught Jack doing it, too. Today, however, Carter didn't want to see the stars. It would remind her too much of what she just gave up and her father's disappointment.
If only you knew. You think my role here is purposeless and thought you were giving me a great gift. I had always dreamed of going to space. That's why I joined the air force, constantly trying for NASA. You knew that. You looked so happy when you told me the news. That you got me my chance- my life long dreams. I'm sorry. I can't tell you why this time, I can't take the chance. My work here is so important. So important to me.
Carter felt her eyes fill up with tears.
Too stubborn to let them fall- yet wishing for the luxury to succumb, Carter sat down in the briefing room. She buried her head in the safety of her arms and grieved in the dark for all the unspoken apologies she wanted to make and the explanations she could never give.
"You did this. Damn you, O'Neill."
Jack woke up with a grimace. It wasn't the worst dream he ever had- bad missions and serpents were the worst, but it was bad enough to motivate him to wake up. The reporter's dying accusation reminded how in the dark Jack was in the Stargate project. Despite the insistence by the general, Jack still felt that hit and run was no accident. The reporter was going to expose the Stargate project. He was heading away from Jack, just about to do that when that car hit.
The colonel never believed in coincidences.
Jack sighed as he rubbed his eyes with his knuckles. There was no point in trying to get back to sleep now. He threw on his uniform jacket and decided to see if any of the late shift soldiers had a poker game going. Or maybe- Jack paused at the door of his bunkroom. He wanted to check on Daniel and Teal'c. Doctor Fraiser had said their injuries were nothing serious, but Jack wasn't concerned about that. He was more concerned with the silence from Daniel after the debriefing. Jack had tried to talk to Daniel, but the Egyptologist had smiled wanly at him.
"I must be more tired than I thought, Jack. Could we talk later? I think I'll get some sleep."
Jack had assumed that the concussion was probably slowing Daniel down and would explain the dazed way he had been in that debriefing. However, Jack wondered if Daniel was actually getting any sleep right now. It's been quite a day, Jack remembering what General Hammond said. So much for poker. I wonder if the Doc is gonna throw me out if I sneak into the infirmary this late.
Teal'c opened his eyes, roused from his meditation. Cross-legged on top of the hospital bed, Teal'c wondered what it was that had awoken him. Usually, during the missions, the sound of footsteps, the breathing of an unfamiliar visitor, or the sounds of weapons firing, would alert the Jaafa. However, this was the infirmary back on Earth. Such sounds would not exist in a place like this. The only sounds Teal'c was aware of, were the unfamiliar sounds of high pitched beeps, hushed whispers of the human healers, and other mechanical sounds Teal'c was still trying to familiarize since his defection to the humans of Earth. The Jaafa did not sense any threat around him.
As the alien warrior turned his head to survey his surroundings, Teal'c began to realize what it was that had awaken him. It wasn't a particular noise that did it; rather, it was the lack of one.
The steady rhythmic breathing of Daniel Jackson was not there. His bed, a few feet away from his, was empty. The covers were tossed aside, the indentation on the pillow, indicated that Daniel Jackson had left not too long ago.
"Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c murmured, not wanting to wake any patients who may also be occupying the infirmary. He received no reply. Teal'c got off his bed and looked about. No Daniel Jackson anywhere. Teal'c decided to leave the infirmary and seek out the human scholar.
"Where do you think you're going?" a voice demanded. Jack appeared at the doorway. "It's late. You should be asleep."
Teal'c raised a questioning eyebrow at the colonel, who shrugged sheepishly. "I believe this also applies to you O'Neill."
"Well-" Jack noticed Daniel's bed was empty. "Where's Daniel?" The colonel didn't see the younger man anywhere.
"I believe Daniel Jackson is not here at the present moment." Teal'c pointed out.
Jack impatiently waved his hand, showing that he was fully aware of that. "Do I have to keep you guys under lock and key here?" Jack hastily continued, seeing Teal'c about to ask another question. "Doc wanted you guys to rest up."
"My injuries are healed, O'Neill. The infant Go'uald heals my injuries-"
"Don't you need sleep anyway?" Jack said, exasperated. "You don't go running around after getting barbecued. I don't want anyone in my team half loaded."
"Never mind." Jack frowned as he looked at the time. It was almost three, not the most opportune time to have a talk, but Jack didn't expect Daniel to be strolling around the base during the graveyard shift either.
"I was going to seek out Daniel Jackson, too."
"I wasn't looking for Daniel." Jack muttered. He glanced over to Teal'c and saw that the Jaafa didn't believe him.
"You are concerned about the events on Abydos."
"Not the homecoming Daniel was expecting." Jack murmured, not denying his concern. "Even with the bad news he was going to tell Kasuf, he was looking forward to going home."
"Is not Daniel Jackson home now?" Teal'c was puzzled. "He was born here. This is his home planet."
"I wonder." Jack murmured, getting an uneasy feeling. It didn't look like Daniel was coming back here anytime soon. "Come on, Teal'c. Let's find our geek and drag him back here. He doesn't have super healing like you. He should really be in bed."
Carter stirred at the noise. She looked up, wondering if she was caught crying. Wiping the remaining tears hastily from her eyes, she got up; ready to compose herself and slip back into the role of soldier. No one was at the door however. The noise came again and Carter realized it was coming from the Stargate embarkament room. Curious at who else would be up this late, she peered out the viewing glass to the room below.
A lone figure was sitting on the metal ramp, facing the dark Stargate ring. The shoulders slumped, the head and face hidden in ominous shadows, Carter couldn't see who it was but she instinctively knew.
"Daniel." Carter murmured with sympathy. She wasn't surprise that she wasn't the only one who couldn't sleep. Mind full of troubling questions, she had sought out privacy- something she couldn't get in a bunkroom, sharing it with an unfamiliar soldier. Carter suspected Daniel had also wanted privacy, but she also felt that he shouldn't be alone. Carter took a deep breath, suddenly hoping her eyes weren't red from crying, and left the room to reach Daniel.
Hugging his knees tight, Daniel ran the day's events in his head. His wife pleading with him to help her. The cries of a newborn that sound just as lonely as he felt when he left him with his father-in-law. The way Sha'uri changed after the birth- her voice harsh and arrogant with her eyes glowing at him like as if he was a despised enemy rather than her beloved husband.
She looked at me as if I was the enemy. No, as if I was one of the Go'uald slaves. Daniel remembered Sha'uri looking right at where he and the others were hiding and not saying a word. Was that Sha'uri in control at the time? Why couldn't we have more time? I wanted to tell her so many things. Why did that parasite had to waken so soon? Daniel swallowed as he realized that it might be a long time before he would find her again. If I do, what then? Could she even be saved? Do I even want to know? I might just lose her again-
Not looking up, Daniel dropped his head lower into his knees. "Go away." He mumbled. Daniel didn't hear anything so he thought that maybe the person did leave. He looked up and saw Carter standing there. She looked worried. Sympathy in her eyes as she just stood there, refusing to leave. Daniel couldn't stand the sympathy. He didn't want it. "I said go away." Daniel told her, his voice a sharp edge now. He lowered his head again, not waiting to see if she had obliged. He tightened into a ball, wishing he could scrunch up into an even smaller ball, perhaps disappearing altogether. That would be nice, he thought wistfully.
"That wasn't a nice thing to say, Danny."
Daniel jerked his head up and found that Jack and Teal'c had entered the room. Carter avoided the colonel's eyes for some reason and went over to Daniel. Jack didn't try to approach Daniel just yet. He stood at the end of the ramp waiting. Carter kneeled down to Daniel and placed a hand on his tense shoulder.
"Daniel, let us help you." Carter said as she squeezed his shoulder reassuringly.
For a brief moment, Daniel wondered why her eyes looked bloodshot. He shook his head and dropped it down to his knees again. "I just- I just need time to figure this out."
"You don't need to do it alone."
Jack finally spoke up. "She's right, Daniel." Carter looked up and smiled gratefully at Jack. It struck the colonel that she looked tired, her own eyes troubled. Realizing she was under the colonel's scrutiny, Carter turned her head back to Daniel. Jack frowned. Obviously Daniel wasn't the only one with much on his mind.
Alone. Daniel felt very alone right now. The overwhelming feeling of being far away in some great distance echoed the feelings he felt when his parents died so long ago. Daniel hated remembering, not the events, but old feelings he tried to bury away.
Heavy footsteps signaled Jack's approach now. "Daniel-" Jack stood there looking down at Daniel. It was like déjà vu all over again. It didn't seem too long ago when he had found Daniel staring off into space, just having returned from Earth.
"They don't know what to do with me. And I don't know what to do with myself."
Daniel had such a lost look on his face that it prompted Jack to take Daniel into his care and bring him home to talk.
Daniel had the same look right now. Jack sighed, wondering if a team leader's work was ever done. What he didn't want to point out to himself, was that team leaders didn't have to do this.
"Come on." Jack said abruptly, echoing what he had said to Daniel back then. "Let's get out of here." He tugged at Daniel's arm and got him up. Carter got up questioningly, but at Jack's look, she nodded. "All of you. Let's go. Teal'c, grab some jackets for you guys." With that, Jack took Daniel by the elbow and guided him out of the embarkament room. Had Jack not done so, Daniel probably would have missed the door; his eyes dulled and unobserving.
The group was sitting in an impromptu circle in Jack's living room. The colonel had brusquely told them to sit down, started handing bottles of beer to them, and then plopped himself down on the couch.
No one was saying anything.
"Don't all talk at once." Jack said dryly. The colonel popped the bottle cap open and took a long sip. Wiping the foam from his mouth, Jack shook his head, studying the silent group. "Guys, listen. I adore you all, but I didn't invite you guys here for a slumber party."
"I don't know what to say." Daniel said dully. He stared at the bottle for a moment then mimicked Jack, taking a long drink. Jack winced as he watched. Daniel was never much a drinker. He learned that when they had both first returned from Abydos. Drinking it too fast was just going to let the alcohol go to his head even faster. Oh well, Jack grimaced, so he'll loosen up a bit. Okay, maybe a lot.
"Daniel, I know this must be hard for you." Carter began.
"Is it?" Daniel looked up with wide eyes. "Is this really so hard? I mean, I should be getting use to this by now. Am I right? I mean, I lost Sha'uri before, this should have been no different-"
"Whoa, whoa, hold on there." Jack leaned forward towards Daniel. "Why should you be getting use to this? Are you hearing what you're saying?"
Daniel was silent again. He took another long drink of his beer. Carter wondered if Daniel wanted to continue or did they lose their window of opportunity.
"We find her again, Daniel." Jack looked at Daniel's bowed head, trying to get Daniel to look at him. "We'll find her."
"I don't think I want to find her, Jack." Daniel choked out his reply.
"What? Daniel-" Carter started towards Daniel from her side of the couch.
"I don't want to find her again and-"
"And take the chance that you might lose her again." Jack finished, understanding dawning on him. "Daniel, you can't just give up. You're going to find her. You'll get her back."
"They kept calling him 'it'." Daniel suddenly said.
"What?" Carter was confused.
"The baby. The General, everybody. They were calling him 'it'." Daniel looked up, his eyes almost accusing. "They didn't see the baby as human."
"Daniel, the general didn't mean anything by it." Carter said, remembering guiltily that she had thought of the child as just Go'uald at first. She didn't remember until later on, that this was still the child of Sha'uri.
"Are you angry at Sha'uri for having another one's child?" Teal'c, all of the sudden, spoke up.
"No!" Daniel looked upset at the idea. "It's just that-" Daniel looked at his bottle. He took another sip, made a face, and looked at Jack. "What if I get Sha'uri back? Is everyone going to call her an 'it', too?"
"She's your wife, Daniel." Jack reassured Daniel.
"Only to me. Not to the military." Daniel swallowed. "What if I get her back? Will we be able to return home? Or will they make us stay?" Daniel turned white as he realized something else. "What if they make me stay and not her? God, I could lose her either way, Jack."
Carter placed a hand on Daniel's shoulder. The younger man took no notice as he tried to stop shaking with the realization of what he just said.
"I don't want to be alone." Daniel whispered his voice a soft slur. The alcohol was making its way to his voice. The scientist took no notice as he emptied the bottle before Carter could take it away from him.
Jack went over and clasps a firm hand over Daniel's shoulder. "Ah, Danny." Jack murmured, dismayed at Daniel's dark mood. "You're not going to lose Sha'uri. And you're not alone. You won't be alone. No matter what happens."
"You are not alone." Teal'c said. "We are with you. You have us, Daniel Jackson."
"Daniel." Carter leaned closer to Daniel and tried to get him to listen. "You must believe us. We're right here. You guys were there for me when I was taken over by a To'kra. I felt very alone then." She was heartened to see Daniel look up at her. She could see dampness along his eyes. Carter squeezed his shoulder reassuringly as she continued. "When Jolinar died to save me, I felt very empty, very alone." Carter felt Jack place a hand on her shoulder now. "You guys helped me. I mean, it was hard and still is, but at least I know you guys will be there to help me through this."
"You know we will, Carter." Jack agreed solemnly.
Daniel looked at her, his blue eyes agreeing to what Jack said. He looked away again, but now Jack kneeled down and placed one hand on his chin, forcing Daniel to look at him.
"Daniel," Jack said slowly, realizing that the alcohol was beginning to take its toll. "Do you trust me?"
Daniel looked startled; his blue eyes clearing up from his alcohol induced haze for a moment. "Of course, Jack. I trust you."
"Then will you believe me when I say that we'll get her back someday? You won't lose her either way? But if anything should happen," Daniel looked pained at the possibility, " you will not be alone?" Jack grinned crookedly; "I hate to tell you the bad news, but you're going to be stuck with us for a long time, Danny boy."
Daniel swallowed as he mulled over what Jack said. He looked at the three crowded around him and felt the tightness in his chest eased a bit. Daniel blinked away the lingering tears and nodded. Carter hugged Daniel and murmured how everything would be okay. Jack absently ran a hand up and down Daniel's back, feeling the tight quivers that were pent up for so long, finally being released. He gave Carter and Teal'c a look. Carter nodded, turned Daniel slightly towards Jack, who gruffly gave Daniel a hug. It was just in time, because Daniel couldn't hold his emotions any longer and cried.
The living room was quiet, although occasionally sounds of soft breathing indicated that people were sleeping. Jack, however, was not one of them. In fact, as Jack made another check, only Daniel was sleeping. Jack sighed to himself, a bit satisfied with the end result. Daniel had a good cry and then shuffled away from Jack's embrace, a bit embarrassed at his lapse. Jack smiled briefly as he recalled how Daniel staggered to the bathroom and back until Teal'c guided him to a couch. Before Jack could order him to sleep, Daniel's eyes drooped down on its own accord.
Shaking his head, Jack stepped outside onto the patio with his second beer. He studied the ladder that led to his makeshift observatory. Shrugging, Jack climbed up to where his telescope was. He froze when he realized someone else had beaten him to it.
Carter was looking up through his telescope. She didn't even hear the colonel's approach until he coughed discreetly. Jumping, Carter looked guilty as if she had invaded his private sanctuary.
"Sir." Carter smiled sheepishly. "Sorry. Daniel had once told me about this place. I saw the ladder and seeing I couldn't sleep-"
"You decided to visit space." Jack finished for her with a grin to show he wasn't angry. "Relax Carter. I'm not going to have you court marital."
Carter smiled but that faded as she gazed up in the night sky again, this time unaided by the telescope. Jack held his tongue, knowing that it wasn't merely astrological curiosity that had brought her up here.
"It was my life long dream to visit space, sir." Carter murmured. Jack refrained from correcting her to call him by name. Sometimes, old habits are hard to break, especially if in the military.
"You did go to space. Remember, Carter?" Jack pointed out quietly as he took a long drink out of his beer. The colonel looked up and smiled fleetly as he recognized some of the constellations. "I know it wasn't the best way to visit, in a dead, floating Go'uald death glider-"
"My father said he could get me in NASA." Carter interrupted.
Jack felt uneasy. Maybe that's why Carter is up here right now. She's making a choice. "What did you tell him?" he asked cautiously.
"That my work was important to me." Carter looked nauseous at the memory. "I-I turned him down, sir."
Breathing a sign of relief to himself and surprised that he even reacted that way, Jack nodded. "Our work is important here, Carter. Don't you ever forget it."
"I couldn't make him understand." Carter continued softly as if she didn't hear what Jack said. "I couldn't tell him what I really do here. He thought he was giving me such a great gift. He knew I wanted to be in space since I was a little girl. That was why I had joined the Air Force. Even flying makes me feel like I'm that much closer to space." Carter blinked furiously as tears threatened to spill. She hated this lack of control. "I couldn't tell him, sir."
"Jack." The colonel corrected her gently. Carter looked up for a moment, then realized what he meant.
"I couldn't tell him about the Stargate, s- Jack."
"What we do is top secret. I'm sure- no, I know, your father being in the military, would understand why you can't tell him the truth."
"My father has cancer." Carter blurted out.
Jack froze; the unexpected news took him by surprise. He had forgotten what he was going to say next.
"My father is dying." Carter said it as if she was hearing it for the first time. This time, tears did come down on her pale face. "My father is dying and I couldn't grant him his last wish. I couldn't take his gift. I lied to him."
"Carter-" Jack began helplessly.
"I couldn't tell him about all of this!" Carter's voice rose as she angrily waved at the night sky. "Top secret! I couldn't tell him anything!" She bowed her head and went silent.
Jack pulled her closer and gave her a brief squeeze around the shoulders. Carter wrapped her arms around his middle and hugged him back. Jack winced as his air got squeezed out. Oh well, he thought, I didn't need to breathe anyway. He placed his chin on top of her blond hair and waited as he felt her breathing calmed down. After a moment, she pulled away, wiping the remaining tears with the back of her hand.
"Better?" Jack asked quietly.
"No." Carter grumbled. She looked embarrassed. "I'm sorry, sir. I don't know what came over me."
"You know," Jack drawled, hoping to get the reaction from Carter, "I think I missed my calling." Carter looked up suspiciously. "Judging from tonight, I should have rented myself out as the first human handkerchief."
Carter snorted at idea. "Hardly unlikely." She said, taking the bait offered to her. "You weren't that absorbent." Carter indicated the wet spots on his jacket. "I've seen toilet paper do a better job."
"Ah, but can toilet paper give such great advice?" Jack said outrageously. "I am a species of my own."
"I totally agree." Carter rolled her eyes, feeling a little better. "But then you better watch out for Colonel Melbourne."
"Oh yeah." Jack pretended to look horrified at the realization. "He may want to dissect me!"
"Or blow his nose."
The two chuckled together. Carter sighed, looked at Jack's beer wistfully. Jack shrugged and offered her a sip. He winced as she took a long gulp. "You know," Jack commented, "you and Danny are not very good drinkers of this stuff. Don't go getting drunk on me here. At least with Daniel, I just need to drag him a few feet to the couch. You-" Jack pointed to the height of the drop from here. "I would have to carry down one flight. Or," Jack grinned wickedly, "just let you sleep up here."
"I can drink a six pack with the best of you guys." Carter defended herself, but handed back the bottle anyway to Jack. "I mean, Daniel only had one beer." She smiled as she recalled Daniel falling asleep in the couch, his voice slurred as he mumbled his thanks once again.
"A cheaper date than my wife ever was." Jack recalled. Jack explained at Carter's curious gaze, "That's what I told Daniel the first night we had came back from Abydos. I had to drag him to a couch that time, too." Jack shook his head. "He needed to talk about Sha'uri then, too."
"You think he'll be alright, s-Jack?"
"He will be." Jack said determined. "Will you be okay?"
"I will be." Carter looked up at the night sky. "I just wish I could tell him, though."
"He knows." Jack said. "Maybe not all the details, but I think he knows."
"I'll keep telling myself that, sir."
"Sorry. Jack." Carter looked up at the sky again. "Do you always come up here?"
"Sometimes." Jack's eyes clouded for a moment. "When I want to forget." Ignoring Carter's curious gaze, he pointed at one constellation with a grin, as if he had found an old familiar friend. "There's Orion's Belt."
Teal'c gazed down at the couch, at the Daniel's sleeping face, frowning as the human tossed and turned.
"You never listen." A hushed voice complained. Jack stood at the door with his arms crossed. "I thought I told you to sleep. And don't tell me you sat there cross legged again like you always do because I know it couldn't have been more than two hours."
"I was concerned." Teal'c indicated to Daniel. "He was talking while asleep."
"Talking in his sleep." Jack corrected him. He leaned over, adjusted the blanket over the younger man. As he straightened up, it hit to Jack how mother hen he must look right now. Jack shook his head at himself, but smiling anyway.
"I have questions." Teal'c confessed.
"You had said that Daniel Jackson was going home." Teal'c frowned in his puzzlement. "I thought Daniel Jackson originated from here."
"That doesn't necessarily make it his home." Jack looked at Daniel. "It should, but sometimes I think Daniel felt more at home in Abydos."
"He was shunned here?"
"Shunned?" Jack cocked his head at Teal'c. "What do you mean?"
"Daniel Jackson had once said that he felt like he did not belong among his own people. Was he shunned?"
"No. I think he just felt- alone." Jack remembered the personnel file he once read before they had first met. "He has no family left here."
"He has family in Abydos now." Teal'c understanding.
"He did. He does." Jack frowned as he heard Daniel mutter something, but Daniel didn't awake. "I think Daniel needs to realize that he does have family here now."
"My family is not here." Teal'c said, understanding how Daniel must feel. "But I do not feel like I am alone."
"We're family, Teal'c." Jack said quietly. "It just will take some more convincing to him."
"Captain Carter told me about the- reporter?" Jack nodded at Teal'c. "I do not understand why do you fear exposure of the Stargate."
"Military secrets, Teal'c" Jack sighed, remembering the reporter's accusation before he died. "Imagine the panic if people were to know that such a thing called a Stargate exists. The other countries would accuse us of collecting weaponry against them. We could lose their trust, we would gain more enemies."
"Or they may stand together against our common enemy." Teal'c pointed out. "Like we are trying to find allies through the Stargate. I do not understand."
"Sometimes," Jack shrugged, "I don't understand it myself. I wonder if I really know what is going on here. Too many secrets."
"Yeah, like how a reporter gets spattered onto the sidewalk just before exposing the biggest conspiracy of the century."
"It was a accident, Jack." Carter said as she came into the living room.
"Yeah, and I got a bridge to sell you on Mars." Jack said sarcastically. "Come on, Carter. Do you really believe that? It was a setup." Jack looked sick. "And I set him up when I told General Hammond."
"You think General Hammond did this?" Carter asked shocked.
Jack thought for a moment. "No, but I think there are things about our own project that even he doesn't know." Jack looked like he had a bad taste in his mouth. "Cloak and dagger stuff really sucks, Carter."
"But necessary." Carter pointed out. "It's just like you said. Imagine the panic. Teal'c, I have to disagree with your guess. I think we would be too busy bickering among ourselves to even realize the danger we are in."
"Then it is up to us." Teal'c decided, referring to the entire Stargate project. The other two nodded.
"Up to us?" Jack nodded again. He grinned as he looked at Daniel again. "That is, if we can stay sober."
Carter grinned. "How come I didn't see you drink the beer, Teal'c?"
Jack pretended to be shocked. "Can you imagine Teal'c being drunk? Who do you think will start singing first? Him or his buddy down there?" Jack pointed to Teal'c abdomen area where the Go'uald parasite was incubating.
Giggling, Carter was about to reply when she heard Daniel mumble something again. Teal'c cocked his head towards the sleeping scientist with concern.
"You know, I really shouldn't have given Daniel that beer." Jack murmured, a bit concerned. "Doc isn't going to be very happy that I gave her concussion patient alcohol."
"I'm not too happy either." Daniel mumbled as he cracked open an eye.
"Daniel." Carter admonished. "You should be sleeping."
"Like he could sleep with our philosophy club going on here." Jack pointed out, coming over to the couch. He sat down near Daniel and ruffled his hair. "Feeling better?"
"Do I look as bad as I feel?" Daniel groaned, getting up.
"Worst." Jack said cheerfully. He grinned. Daniel did look a little better now, though. There was no pain in the back of those blue eyes.
Daniel looked up at the three. Turning a bit red, he smiled shyly. "Guys, I-"
"You're not very pretty when you're drunk, Danny boy." Jack scolded as Carter handed Daniel a damp cloth for his face. "Next time, just come to us instead. And don't let me catch you sitting in front of the Stargate again. What were you trying to do? Waiting to get vaporized when it opens?"
Eyes wide, the possibility didn't occur to Daniel, he tried to explain but fumbled with the words.
"I don't think any of us are going to sleep, sir." Carter said suddenly, rescuing Daniel from further embarrassment. "What should we do to pass the time?"
"We could talk." Daniel jumped in, "About the next mission. I heard there were some temples found there."
"Perhaps I could tell you about the Go'uald training so we could be better prepared." Teal'c volunteered.
"Sir, I had some theories about the quantum physics of the gate itself."
"Sam, I heard that SG-2 found some artifacts similar to those we found on P3X229."
"Really? That's interesting. I heard that-"
Jack looked pained at the suggestions. "Ah, guys? No offense. I'm sure all of this is fascinating, but I was thinking of maybe some poker."
"Poker?" the three chorus.
Jack grinned. "Hey, that was pretty good. Maybe we should try out as a barber quartet. Yeah, poker. Come on. General Hammond gave us 48 hours rest. Talk shop when we get back."
"What is poker?" Teal'c inquired as Jack's grin grew wider.
"A strategically game of cards to out bluff your opponent." Jack said as he dug out a pack of cards from his stuff strewed about the coffee table.
"Ah, Jack. I don't really know how to play poker, either." Daniel hedged doubtfully.
"Great! More suckers!" Jack cheerfully started to contribute the cards. Teal'c picked them up with two fingers, dangling the cards with curious examination.
"Uh, Teal'c." Carter flipped the cards over for the Jaafa. "They need to face this way."
A few moments later as Carter tried to explain to Teal'c the concept of poker and everyone else examining their cards, Daniel suddenly spoke up.
"Uh, Jack?" Daniel eyed his cards critically. "If everything is in order and same shape, is that good?"
"I don't believe this." Jack muttered, throwing down his cards
in disgust. His pair of twos was no match to Daniel's royal flush,
but Jack was smiling anyway.
© 1998 The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.
This story is dedicated to my friend Sing. Sometimes family comes in many faces that are not necessarily of blood. And also to all those who have sent such kind comments about the fiction we are doing. This website's family is growing, too.