Disclaimer: 'Stargate SG-1' and all of its characters belong to numerous persons - I, needless to say, am not one of them. There is also a reference in here to an American Children's Program known as 'Mister Rogers Neighborhood' (yeah, don't even ask...) but I don't own anything associated with this series either.
Warning: May contain series spoilers! Proceed at your own discretion.
Genre: Jack/Daniel Friendship - Humor - Hurt/Comfort - Nonsense
Author's Note: I guess I should warn you: this one shot contains a twist. There are hints along the way, so keep your eyes open. Hope you enjoy!
Also I'd like to thank my awesome beta judybear236! Thank you so much for all of your help!
Place: Stargate Command, Level 21
Time: 03:00 hours MST
"Yes. You did."
"C'mon, Jack. I saw you!"
Squinting at this illogical retort, Daniel eyed the ceiling. A pause and deep breath later, his hands spun out in a let's-back-up-and-try-that-again motion. "Jack, I saw you."
"With your eyes?"
"No, with my nose."
"Gotta' be an improvement," O'Neill growled, burrowing into his covers.
"Jack, she's gonna find out."
Two eyebrows arched in challenge. "You gonna tell her?"
"I hadn't planned on it."
"Snitching not in the new job description, huh?"
"I think Janet can figure this one out on her own."
"Meaning the next time you decide to swipe something off of an unsupervised dessert tray, you should rethink your strategy."
"I turned my back to the security camera."
"Yes, which avails you nothing when you're the only one in the hall and a piece of cake from the center of the top rack disappears as you leave."
A perplexed, vertical wrinkle darted in between O'Neill's eyebrows. "But it was chocolate. Everything else was white and looked like... yogurt." Sparing a sneer of disgust for all items of the yogurt family, Jack shuddered. "Besides, the Doc's cleared me to eat desserts."
"True, but she hasn't released you to go wandering through the halls unattended nor has she given you permission to gorge yourself on three slices of cake in less than six hours."
"Traitor," Jack grumbled. "And who asked you to spy on my stomach anyway? Besides you're wrong - it wasn't three slices of cake."
"No," the wayward patient asserted. "The first two - which just happened to be gifts from Carter and Teal'c - also just happened to be pie."
"Turtle Swirl actually."
"Same difference." As soon as the retort left his mouth, Daniel froze. Face pinched in confusion, he sent his eyes climbing up and to the left. "I think."
"This from the man who eats broiled alien lizard and says it tastes like chicken. Dr. Jackson, your head needs work."
"I don't suppose I could answer that with a cliche?"
"You mean something like 'if the shoe fits'?"
"Noo... I was thinking more along the lines of 'the pot calling the kettle black'."
Processing this alternative for a beat, Jack blinked. "You just called me a pot."
"In an analogous sense, yes."
Utterly crestfallen, O'Neill whined in protest. "I'm not a pot."
"No. And, as I have already pointed out, I didn't say you were a pot - not literally just... figuratively."
"Oh great, now I'm a figurative pot - whatever the heck that is. You sure know how to cheer a guy up."
Swallowing his amusement at this purposefully dense behavior, Daniel made a show of being patient. "It's an analogy, Jack. A comparison drawn between two persons or objects for the purpose of explaining an attribute or action. Of course, if you insist upon a more one dimensional interpretation then you should realize that, by the same token, this means I also just called myself a kettle."
Ignoring the wisp of a smile that accompanied this mollification, O'Neill grabbed at his sheets. Giving them a yank and kicking out with his legs, he soon reduced the linens to a pile of rubble.
That did it.
The Colonel's most dangerous glare - the one perfected for use against politicians, Goa'ulds and dessert-less cafeteria workers - instantly appeared. "Why are you here again?"
"Because you called me."
Jack considered this revelation for a moment, head cocking to one side. "I didn't happen to say why, did I?"
Shrugging, Danny took a guess. "You missed me?"
A rare, almost indiscernible softness touched O'Neill's expression. Its appearance was fleeting and soon the snarky persona resurfaced. "... There's gotta be a better reason than that."
These muttered words with their artificial tone of wonder made Jackson want to laugh. Instead, he merely lifted a shoulder and offered another option. "You were bored?"
"Ah! Of course. Boredom. The curse of the infirmary."
"Well infirmaries aren't supposed to be interesting, Jack - especially ISO rooms like this."
"Now, ya' see, I don't get that. Why can't they be interesting?"
"Because they're supposed to be calming... conducive to-"
"... S-sleep," Daniel stammered, somewhat thrown by his friend's interjection. "I was going to say sleep. And, and rest. Lots of rest! With as little stimulation or disturbance as possible."
"And yet, they let you in."
"Yeah... no. Not exactly."
"Sneak," Jack taunted. "Now who's gonna' be in trouble?"
"No one. They'll never know I was here."
Unperturbed, unruffled and thoroughly unimpressed, Daniel crossed his arms. "You won't tell them."
"How d'ya know?"
"I just know. And since they can't know what you don't tell them, what they don't find out can't hurt me."
Scrunching his features into a frown, Jack struggled to absorb this rather circular logic. Unfortunately, his brain had other ideas. Still fuzzy from some of Janet's 'happy' medicine and the aftereffects of what had landed him in the infirmary in the first place, all it seemed inclined to do was just lay there... and spin. Prolonged exposure to Daniel's rapid tongue wasn't helping matters any either, and he soon decided his sanity was in danger of developing a slow leak.
As if reading his friend's thoughts, Jackson offered a bit of reassurance. "You'll live."
A tad dry, but definitely heartfelt.
"Easy for you to say," O'Neill mumbled, fingers digging into his temples. When the hand finally dropped away, he gave his visitor a hard look. "You're sure, now?"
"Yes, Jack. I'm sure."
"Well that makes one of us."
A warm look of affection greeted this remark, but the Colonel only scowled. Pushing himself into a semi-seated position, he fidgeted once more with his covers. The material was fluffed, jerked and pushed in various directions, then abandoned with a humph. "You know I was doing just fine in here by myself. Just me, myself and I... are you sure I called you?"
"Of course. You know what they say," Daniel reasoned. "Three's a crowd, four's company."
"Nobody says that!"
Jackson cast his optics about the room as though something important had just been overlooked. "I did."
"You don't count. I mean it's not like you're..." the Colonel waggled his fingers, groping for the words he needed to continue. When this pull-from-the-air method failed miserably, as it so often did, he opted for a radical change in topic. Next to cake and sarcasm, nothing solved more problems than Distracted Colonel 101...
"Do you have to wear that?"
"What, why? What's wrong with it?"
"I dunno." O'Neill watched as Daniel unfolded his arms to better view the attire in question. A wince of concentration marred his forehead and eventually the light of understanding began to dawn. "That's it! I know what it is."
"It makes you look like that guy on TV - the nutty one with the trains?"
Pulling his attention away from the offending sweater, Jackson squinted down at his friend. "Mister Rogers?"
"Yeah, him. You've got a bit of the oh-so-cool geek flare workin' for ya' of course, but past that..."
"Aw, c'mon Jack, there's a little more to it to that, I-I mean his sweaters weren't exactly like this, really, they... they had zippers, remember? An-and ties, he wore ties."
"Oh, right. Of course. What was I thinking?" O'Neill plastered a short-lived smirk across his mouth and sighed. "I guess it's not that bad - I guess. Just don't start jabbering about it being a beautiful day in the neighborhood, okay?"
"Well now that you mention it -"
Exasperated, O'Neill slung an arm over his face. "Oi! Here we go."
"As I was saying, it's actually quite a nice day-"
"I may shoot myself," Jack mumbled.
"... I mean, considering."
"Considering I may shoot myself?"
"No, no! Just," Daniel waved his hands in an expansive gesture. "You know... considering."
"Oh, you mean considering that I'm trapped twenty one floors underground in a concrete room, held prisoner by a five foot two brunette ninja armed with an arsenal of needles?"
"Yeah." Jackson hesitated, a pained expression on his face. "Something like that."
The Colonel plunked his head back against the wall in a gesture of total disbelief. "Ya' don't think it's a little too, I dunno - reminiscent?"
Despite the intended flippancy of this retort, the words held an edge that made Daniel tense.
Jack was right. It was reminiscent.
Perhaps the SGC was a far cry from an enemy fortress. Perhaps Dr. Frasier was a friend and not some sadistic Goa'uld. But the sensation of being confined, held without his consent or choice, was the same...
"Yes, Jack. I guess it is."
Flexing the muscles along his jawline, O'Neill intensified his stare. He had spent years building internal walls to prevent just this sort of thing from happening. Walls meant to protect himself from pain; from prying eyes; from the truth.
So why was it that in the face of this geek - this one, wide-eyed, Ascended geek - those walls seemed to be made of glass?
A disturbed almost wild glint swirled into the Colonel's eyes. Then, just as quickly as the emotional storm had risen, it stilled - vanishing beneath a mask of indifference.
"I'm sorry you're stuck down here, Jack," Daniel pressed. "You shouldn't have to deal with being closed in like this. Not right now. Not after what Ba'al put you through."
"Yeah, well whatever. I might as well get used to it. Looks like I may be here for awhile. According to Mackenzie apparently I still need to 'work through my issues'."
Air quotes and a dramatic head jiggle accompanied this assertion, but Daniel remained serious. "You will, Jack - sooner than you think."
"... Will I do it without Mackenzie?"
"I wouldn't be surprised."
"Oh yeah?" O'Neill's tone lit with anticipation. "So, the next time he comes around, can I break his pencil and tell him he looks like an ink blot?"
Choking with laughter, Daniel wagged his head. "Why don't you ask General Hammond what he thinks about that idea?"
"Kill joy. Geez, you'd think a guy made up of glowy energy would be more fun."
"I'll work on it."
"Yes," Jack intoned, trying to keep things light. "Do that."
But his effort was too little too late. The heaviness that had already begun settling between them simply grew and gained strength... spurred beyond hope of control by the mention of Daniel's other-worldly status. Up until now, Jack felt he had done a fair job of ignoring 'it'; of shoving the truth out of view, deep within the recesses of his mind. He'd remembered it briefly of course. Caught a glimpse of it every now and then. Here and there. On occasion. But for the most part, the illusion had remained intact...
Daniel hadn't ascended. Jack hadn't been put through the proverbial ringer. It was just them. Joking, arguing, name calling... exactly as it should be.
How it was supposed to be.
"I wasn't gonna do it, you know."
Quiet, bordering on inaudible, the Colonel's statement rang through the air like thin, shattering glass. It hung for a time - unanswered, unchallenged - but finally Daniel spoke.
"What, Jack?" he prompted gently. "What weren't you going to do?"
"Let you... go."
"Why did you?"
There was a bitter grunt as O'Neill shook his head. Taught muscles and dark, brooding eyes completed the picture, their presence again revealing untold emotion. The answer to Daniel's question was not hard. If anything, it was all too simple... "S'what you wanted."
"That never stopped you from saying 'no' to me before."
The Colonel rolled his shoulder in a movement that fell just shy of seeming nonchalant. Then in a lowered, reluctant voice he answered. "You said 'please'. Jerk."
A bittersweet smile touched Jackson's lips. He hadn't heard 'jerk' spoken that fondly in ages...
"Why me? You could have picked anyone - why did it have to be me?"
"Daniel - you wanted to leave, okay I get that, but why-" Cutting himself off, the Colonel sucked in a breath. It sounded shaky to his ears and felt miles too shallow, but it didn't matter. He had to keep going. Ignoring the tightness in his chest, he plunged on. "Do you have any idea what that did to me? How much it... for me to stand there and give the order for them to let you die?!"
Silently, Daniel watched as successive waves of pain, anger, and loss flooded his friend's face. When the features at last settled into a look of simple desperation, he ventured a reply. "Would you have accepted it from anyone else? If I'd told Teal'c or, or Sam, Janet, even General Hammond - would you have let them let me go?"
"I don't know - maybe!" Receiving a sigh and an all too knowing eyebrow lift in response, Jack scowled. "Well you could've tried."
"I did. You were the only one who could hear me. Or at least you were the only one who cared enough to listen."
"What do you mean? Carter and Te-"
"Yes, yes, they care - I know they do. They care a lot."
"It's more than that."
"I know," Daniel acknowledged softly. "And I love them for it, but they wouldn't listen. They wanted me to stay."
"Hey, if Hammond had said yes, I was ready to go swipe some filthy, Goa'uld sarcophagus to stuff you in, fer cryin' out loud! I wanted you to stay."
"Look, Jack, all I'm saying is, it was time for me to move on - and, when it came right down to it, youwere the only one willing to see that. Sometimes that's what true friendship means."
"What? Being the only one willing to give up?"
"No. Being the one who cares enough to let go."
Bright, chocolate hued eyes gazed up at the archaeologist. Sadness still clouded their depths, but the anger seemed to be fading. In its place there rose a look of acceptance. Acceptance and perhaps just the smallest trace of understanding.
Glancing away, O'Neill studied his hands. He swallowed, chewed on his cheek and gave the sheets a nervous flick. Why did his mind have to pick now of all times to start agreeing with Daniel? Why?
Unwilling to follow this thought any further, the Colonel inwardly retreated; his mind seeking solace and protection in the usual O'Neill way...
"Y'know," he began, his tone serious. "... That just might be the dumbest thing I've ever heard you say."
For a moment, both men stared at each other, frowns etched on their faces. Then in a snap, Daniel snorted, Jack grinned and two simultaneous bursts of laughter filled the air. Before things could escalate too far, O'Neill sent a pillow sailing through Jackson's form.
Though still chuckling, Daniel obediently yielded his attention. "Yes, Jack?"
"What happened to the whole 'you go your way, I'll go mine' thing? You know, 'like to stick around, but have to go' - what changed your mind?"
"I kept hearing your voice. You were calling for me."
"Well, that and you practically ordered Janet to keep everyone away from your room for a solid six hours - I kind of figured that was my cue."
Twiddling with the hem of his blanket, O'Neill half nodded. "Yeah, maybe. Sorta. I guess I kinda thought you might... drop by. But mainly I just didn't want a lot of people lurking around watching me sleep."
"You mean people like Jonas Quinn?"
Annoyed and aggravated by his friend's perceptive reply, Jack shot him a dirty look. "It's not what you think, okay?"
"Okay. Then what is it like?"
"I just can't relax with him around. He's just so... so chipper. It's a pain."
"He's just trying to keep you feeling positive, Jack. Upbeat."
"'Bouncy' is more the word I would use." Employing his hands to fully illustrate the point, O'Neill continued. "I mean, the guy comes bounding in here everyday, this stupid grin on his face, singing out with a big, yellow 'hello' and-"
The Colonel bristled. "What?"
"Yellow?" Daniel repeated, his expression a study in disbelief.
"Yeah, 'yellow'. As in bright and sunshiny? Look, you don't have to understand it just... take my word for it, it's annoying."
"Well it certainly sounds... different. But colorful."
"Hey, a little sympathy here?" O'Neill complained. "I mean, instead of floating there laughing at my agony, you could at least offer to do something about it. You are ascended, all powerful, ecetera, yada-yada..."
"We've been over this, Jack. I'm not all powerful, I can't interfere and even if I was or could, what do you want me to do? Teach him how to say 'hello' in shades of peridot?"
"Well at lea-" stopping mid-word, the Colonel gaped. "Perry doe?"
"Peridot, Jack," the linguist corrected. "It's a color. Named after an olivine gem, it's sort of a deep yellowish-green."
The embodiment of concentration, O'Neill rolled his focus toward the middle distance. "Why do I feel like this conversation is over?"
"Probably because we've managed to lose track of the topic. But, if memory serves, we were talking about Jonas."
"I don't want to talk about Jonas."
"You need to give him a chance, Jack."
"Hey, I've given him a chance. He's not you."
"Well that's a relief."
"He doesn't even know how to argue right."
"There's a right way to argue?"
"Daniel, the guy eats bananas - in space!"
"Strange, but not intolerable."
"And he grins all the time."
"Give him a chance, Jack. Another chance. He may grow on you."
"Oh, that sounds pleasant."
"Like warming up to a fungus."
"I'm not going to win this argument, am I?"
"Not if I can help it."
Heaving a melodramatic sigh, Jack interwove his arms. "Okay fine."
"Fine, I'll try to let him grow on me. Happy now?"
Petulant, defeated Air Force Colonels could be so entertaining.
"Yes, Jack. I'm happy."
"Well that makes one of us."
"You already said that."
Scrolling through his banter-addled mind, Jack struggled to remember. It certainly sounded like something he might have said. Of course that made sense since he had just said it. Dismissing this line of logic for the complicated mess that it was, O'Neill gave himself a mental shake. What did he care about logic anyway? With this in mind, he went for the best, most inscrutable and reliable comeback line in the galaxy...
"No I didn't."
"Yes you did."
And on they went, long into the night...
Author's Postscript: I know tags for 'Abyss' are fairly common, but I just couldn't resist writing one of my own. To keep it from being too predictable, though, I decided to experiment with a sort of learn-as-you-go POV. Hope it wasn't too confusing. Please let me know what you think! Any thoughts, constructive criticism or suggestions are always welcome.
I always wondered how Jack O'Neill managed to land upon something obscure like peridot as his favorite color. It just seemed kind of random, even for him. Then, when I started drafting the dialogue for this scene, the solution above just kind of happened. What can I say? The boys just ran away with me!
Also, I apologize to all the Jonas fans out there! I like Jonas just as much as anybody, really. Not as much as Daniel of course, but the description of him here was meant to be a grumpy Jack's exaggerated opinion of what Jonas was like - not a reflection of my personal opinion or of "reality". Just thought I'd throw that in there. :)
Again thanks for reading!